Sunday, March 23, 2008

Good Times Never Seemed So Good

Davidson was just supposed to come into this NCAA Tournament and play to win. They were supposed to get better. And they were supposed to have fun. Everything else was deemed gravy. I'm not sure if the Wildcats can stomach this much gravy.

Davidson overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half to come back and beat the Hoyas from Georgetown, 74-70. With the win, the Wildcats advance to the Sweet 16 in Detroit to face the third-seeded Wisconsin Badgers.

The Wildcats looked dead in the water at several instances as stud sophomore Stephen Curry got in foul trouble and only scored five points in the first half.

As he did against Gonzaga on Friday, Jason Richards kept the Wildcats in the game by attacking the gigantic Georgetown forwards and getting them in foul trouble. Richards finished with 20 points and five assists.

The CBS Highlights will once again show several Stephen Curry shots from late in the game as helped give Davidson a lead it would never relinquish, scoring 30 points including a 9-10 performance from the line. But the story of this comeback was Davidson's defense.

The Wildcats forced 20 Georgetown turnovers and they converted those into 20 points on the other end. Those turnovers were crucial to Davidson being able to overcome Georgetown's 63% shooting mark from the field.

"At halftime, we made a slight adjustment with our pressure," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "And that put them out of rhythm. It all started with that."

With the momentum from big defensive stops, Davidson was able to bring the crowd back in the game and force Georgetown into a pressured mental state. The Hoyas keyed on Curry and he found Wildcat forwards for easy layups.

"They were swamping me everywhere," Curry said. "But Jason took advantage of that. Our big guys did a heck of a job down low."

Andrew Lovedale, Boris Meno, Steve Rossiter, and Thomas Sander had the games of their lives as they continued to battle with Georgetown's big forwards, forcing DaJuan Summers and Roy Hibbert to commit eight turnovers and only hit seven field goals.

Sander's play was particularly awe-inspiring as he battled through an injured thumb to record eight points and bring down six rebounds. He put his body on the line constantly, taking the brunt of Roy Hibbert and drawing several offensive fouls on the Hoyas. He earned a standing ovation when he fouled out at the end of the game.

But ultimately, this game won't be remembered for the stat lines or any particular "Pontiac Game Changing Moment."

Davidson fans will remember this one forever because the Cats overcame so much when the threes weren't falling. They fought even when the shots weren't going in. Even when the crowd of North Carolina faithful stopped cheering, the Wildcats didn't give in.

"There was never a moment when we thought that we couldn't win this game," Jason Richards said. "You can't think you're not going to win the game. Instead I told Steph just to keep with it and keep shooting."

Eventually, the defensive pressure led to two-pointers. Then the twos begat threes, and the crowd was back in it for Davidson's signature Sweet Caroline moment.

"That's our anthem," Richards said. "When the whole stadium started singing it and we felt it inside of us, it was just so much fun. If you aren't having fun in the NCAA Tournament, then there is something wrong with you."

By the time I made it to the Davidson locker room, the media crowd has disassembled and the players were left to eat their sandwiches and field text messages. And as the national media gets a whole other week to revel in the uniqueness of Davidson basketball, I fielded some of the most important questions on the minds of these incredible individuals.

"Do you think our professors will be OK with us skipping class this week?"

You know what? I think they will.


JEFF SHAW aka JWS said...

Will, your writing gets better and better with every game. How many more years do you have at Davidson?

I'm going to miss your blogs when you're gone. Make sure someone keeps up YOUR tradition of game blogging and continues to carry to torch after your departure.

Have fun in Detroit.

Austin said...

didn't you hear? Bob McKillop got them to cancel classes on Monday and Tuesday for us!!!

Anonymous said...

good times never seemed so good!