Friday, February 29, 2008

Katie Hamilton: A Super Senior

The following feature was written by Davidson Assistant SID Lauren Biggers. The original story can be found here.

Senior Katie Hamilton’s college career hasn’t played out quite as she expected.

A late signee with the Wildcats, Hamilton was uncertain she even wanted to play basketball coming out of high school. At Davidson, though, she found the perfect mix of academics and athletics for which she had searched, which translated to immediate success on the court. Her first season, she led the team in scoring (11.9 ppg), 3-pointers made (45) and steals (35) and became the first Davidson player to earn Southern Conference Freshman of the Year honors.

After a sophomore campaign where she was again an All-SoCon selection after leading the team in scoring and ranking second in the league with an average of 15.8 points per game, Hamilton disappointingly missed all of the 2005-06 season after tearing her ACL in the offseason.

The following fall, her rollercoaster ride continued, and she returned to the starting lineup to help the Wildcats to the most successful campaign in school history. The 2006-07 team won a school-record 23 games and earned the program’s first postseason berth, a trip to the Women’s NIT, and individually, the two-time All-SoCon guard became just the 10th 1,000-point scorer in program history.

With enough credits in hand to graduate, Hamilton decided to play out her final year of eligibility for the Wildcats and get a dual-major. A five-year player is a pretty common thing on athletic rosters across the country, but more rare at Davidson, where there are no graduate programs to make such a stay-over more logical. Hamilton, though, didn’t think she was quite done with basketball.

“In terms of what made me want to come back, I kind of thought about it like, would I regret not coming back? Is there anything that I was rushing off to that won’t be there in another year?” she said. “And the more I thought through it, the more I thought if I don’t give it a shot, I’ll always wonder.”

Entering the 2007-08 season, Hamilton ranked sixth on the Davidson all-time scoring list with 1,134 points, while ranking in the top-10 in 11 other categories, and earned Preseason All-SoCon honors.

But the high hopes for her final season on the hardwood were quickly dashed. She was sidelined for most of the fall with a recurring knee injury that forced her to miss 14 games and still limits her playing time. It’s not exactly the finale for which she had hoped, to be sure, but don’t expect Hamilton to complain. It’s just not in her nature.

Always a major player in the team dynamics off the court, Hamilton rejoined the Wildcats on the hardwood in the SoCon matchup at the College of Charleston Jan. 2. She didn’t score, attempted just one shot and grabbed a rebound in seven minutes in the Wildcats’ 66-51 win. It was not a dynamic debut, but she was back to playing the game she loves.

“It’s an opportunity to be a part of this team for another year, which has been the most amazing part of my college experience in general,” Hamilton said. “The thought of getting to spend time with my teammates and getting to play basketball for another year. Why would I turn that down?”

Unsure of her on-court role this season, Hamilton decided to focus her energy on her off-court leadership.

“I have been really lucky in the past to have older teammates who were strong leaders on the team,” she said. “Physically, I was unsure about what my role on the team would be, so I think I had a goal of wanting to just be a consistent leader through encouraging my teammates.”

One of the best and most proven scorers in the conference, Hamilton at half speed is better than plenty at full speed, and any contribution she may offer is valuable to the Wildcats this year. Proving she can still add something, Hamilton scored 25 points in 24 minutes of action over the Wildcats’ three-game winning streak versus Appalachian State, at Greensboro and at Elon.

“I was hopeful that I’d be able to fill a more consistent and tangible role on the court, so I was hesitant to set too many athletic goals,” Hamilton said. “At same time, I was kind of like, ‘Well, we’ll see what comes, and if I do get the opportunity, I just want to play hard and enjoy it.’”

As a “super senior,” Hamilton has had the rare opportunity to play with a lot of players on a lot of different teams over her five-year career at Davidson. And with last year’s graduation of the three players she came in with – Brynn Kelly, Tia Washington and Jessica Mitchell – there were several question marks on this Wildcat squad entering this season, in addition to those surrounding her own playing time.

“This year early on, we were filling new roles,” Hamilton said. “We had people getting a lot more playing time than they had had before, and so it was an adjustment. But seeing the growth and seeing people come into their own has really allowed us to peak more towards the end.”

She points to the development of sophomore point guard Alex Thompson and junior forward Mercedes Robinson as the two most obvious examples.

“Alex is a great example,” Hamilton said. “Last year, she didn’t get a lot of playing time, but really wanted to learn. She comes back ready to fill the starting point guard role, this huge responsibility. And then Mercedes has completely dominated this season, which has been awesome. It’s been fun to see that development.”

It was also fun to be a part of the record-setting 2006-07 team along with Kelly, Washington and Mitchell, Hamilton acknowledges, but cites no particular team as more special than another.

“Every year is unique because every year has a different feel with different players and different people contributing in different ways,” she said. “Honestly, all of my years are pretty vivid.”

When the curtain does close on Hamilton’s career, the religion and sociology double-major intends to take some time off in Decatur, Ga., before heading back to graduate school to pursue a master’s in counseling.

“I’m really thankful,” Hamilton said. “I feel like I’ve gotten the opportunity to play the game I love and a lot of it. I think no one anticipates injuries or pictures those as a part of their career, but they happen. But those aren’t the defining aspects of my time here.”

No, those can be found in the record books.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Davidson Basketball Seniors 2008

The following was printed in the Davidson-ASU game program from Wednesday, February 27.

In order to let Davidson fans get to know seniors Thomas Sander, Boris Meno and Jason Richards a little better, we thought it would be best if we sat the winningest class in school history down together and let them interview each other. We gave them a little help with questions, and it took off from there. Assistant sports information director Lauren Biggers was there to take it all in.

Jason: What annoys you most about your roommate?
Thomas: Well, first of all, he leaves the TV on when he falls asleep. Just because I can’t fall asleep. And he also snores, so I can’t fall asleep. And he’s dirty, which makes me be dirty. Is it supposed to be one thing?
Jason: Do I get to answer that too? His girlfriend. Don’t put that.
Thomas: No, you write that and see what happens.

Boris: Do you Google yourself? Jason?
Jason: Yeah, who doesn’t? I have. (To Thomas) Do you?
Thomas: I have. There’s nothing on me.
Boris: Do you YouTube yourself?
Thomas: I did YouTube myself one time. When I YouTube myself, Steph usually comes up.

Jason: If you could meet anyone in history, living or dead, who would it be?
Boris: Michael Jackson.
Jason: You like Michael Jackson?
Boris: Never, never land.

Jason: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Boris, you are pretty crazy. Have you ever bungee jumped?
Boris: I’ve bungee jumped.
Jason: Have you really?
Boris: Yeah. It was pretty fun, pretty crazy.
Jason: There’s no way I would ever bungee jump. Was it over water or rocks?
Boris: Rocks.
Jason: Wow. No Way.
Boris: It was fun. I would like to go skydiving.
Jason: I’m scared of jumping out of a plane.
Thomas: I’m scared of heights so there’s no way I would do that. I hate heights.
Boris: I heard that doesn’t really matter when you skydive.
Jason: No? I’m scared of dying. How about that?

Thomas: J, what’s your favorite way to spend an off day?
Jason: Sleeping. Probably go see a movie.
Thomas: Yeah, you always go see movies. Play pranks on freshmen.

Boris: What is the best road trip you have taken with the men’s team?
Jason: Can we put Italy in there?
Thomas: Yeah.
Jason: Italy, definitely.
Boris: Not Slovenia.
Thomas: (laughing) Me and J went to Italy. Boris got stopped at the border.
Jason: Boris, did you make it there?
Boris: Yeah I made it there. I couldn’t go to Slovenia.
Jason: Because he’s a French citizen they wouldn’t let him in.
Boris: I needed a visa to go to Slovenia. So Landry (Kosmalski) and I drove back to Italy and spent two days. We had to go to the embassy and everything.
Thomas: How many games did you miss? Two?
Boris: I missed two. And you guys lost.
Thomas: I missed two too actually. One was the Italian national team, and we got blown out by 40.
Boris: Just so you guys know, I was 100 percent. Nothing but wins in Italy.
Thomas: I was too.
Jason: I wasn’t. Ok, I got a good one. Who would play you in a movie? Who would be your love interest?
Boris: The Rock.
Jason: Does it have to be an actor or just a celebrity? I would say Brad Paisley.
Thomas: I would pick Nick Lachey.
Boris: You want Nick Lachey to play you?
Thomas: Yeah, he’s calm and collected. Just a normal guy. Hard working guy.
Jason: And he’s from Cincy. Who would be your love interest?
Thomas: I don’t know. His girlfriend, Vanessa Minnillo?
Boris: My love interest would be the girl from Bad Boys 2.
Jason: Bad Boys 2... Oh I know who you are talking about. I don’t know her name.
Thomas: The one that dates Will Smith?
Jason: Yeah.
Boris: Gabrielle Union.
Jason: I would go with either Jessica Alba or that girl from Heroes. Ali Larter?

Thomas: Hey J, where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Jason: Who picked 20 years? Ten years would be better. In 20 years I’ll be 40.
Thomas: You’ll be the 40-year-old bachelor, man. Living the dream.
Jason: I’ll be in my mansion in Vegas or somewhere. What about you Thomas, where will you be in 20 years?

Thomas: I don’t know. I’ll be somewhere I guess. Hopefully have a family. Some money... What was or is your favorite place to play? ... I love playing in Charleston.
Jason: Yeah. I like the atmosphere there.
Boris: Yeah I like Charleston.
Jason: The Southern Conference tournament in Charleston.
Boris: I don’t like The Citadel though.
Thomas: No, I like playing at the College of Charleston.
Boris: Southwest Missouri State.
Jason: That was fun.
Boris: Yeah, that was good.
Thomas: I didn’t like that one.
Boris: I loved it. It was intense.
Jason: I don’t think any of us played.
Boris: We didn’t.
Thomas: I got in for a minute, and I turned it over.
Jason: I got in for two minutes. I got one steal. That’s all that matters.
Boris: I got in. I think I had a turnover, too.
Thomas: Did you come right out?
Boris: Yeah.

Thomas: If you didn’t play basketball, what sport would you play?
Jason: Golf.
Boris: NASCAR racing. I’d be the first 6-8 black guy.
Jason: (To Thomas) What about you? Football?
Thomas: Yeah. I’d definitely play football.
Boris: Yeah, I’d play football too.
Thomas: Come on Boris. The hands? What are you gonna play? Lineman?
Jason: Lineman?
Thomas: Dude, they are all 6-8. You just have to put some weight on.
Jason: Like 250 pounds.
Boris: Are you serious? I can catch a football. I’ve been practicing with my roommate.
Jason: Yeah, in your apartment right?
Boris: Yeah, and throwing it outside too.

Thomas: I don’t want to answer this question.
Jason: What is it?
Thomas: How long does it take you to get ready to go out? It doesn’t take me that long, but J is already done in like two seconds. And I put something on.
Jason: Thomas is like, “J, Which looks better? This or this?” I’m like (snaps). Boris is always looking good.
Thomas: Boris is always dressed really nice. It must take Boris really long because he’s always late.
Boris: I was never late because I didn’t know what to wear.

Jason: Something about you that people would be surprised to know? ... Not many believe that I dunked in high school.
Thomas: You didn’t.
Jason: I did. I have it on videotape.

Thomas: Worst question you’ve ever been asked by a media member? Steph, come here and answer this one.
Boris: So, what does Steph think right now?
Thomas: Somebody didn’t ask me about Steph. That was weird. I kind of expected it. I’m sorry, are you just trying to make me feel good?

Boris: Three people you would like to go to dinner with?
Jason: Michael Jackson? You said you wanted to meet him.
Boris: Yeah, but he wouldn’t be invited to dinner.
Jason: Bob McKillop.
Thomas: Let’s do that tonight.
Jason: Oh, for that other question, people would be surprised to know that Boris actually gave me the cut above my eye. We slowed the tape down. It was you.

Jason: Here is a good one. What is the funniest thing Coach McKillop ever said to you?
Thomas: How about weird?
Jason: Coach wanted to call Thomas “The Colonel.” Colonel Sander. But Thomas didn’t want him to.
Thomas: I thought it was clever.
Boris: We had to vote.
Jason: We had a thing in the locker room that said Colonel or General for Thomas.
Boris: All of the players picked Colonel, but somehow it was General.

Thomas: Coach listens to me... Oh, favorite muscle to work on? If I had to choose one, I’d probably say pectoral muscles. I like that.
Jason: I’d say bis.
Boris: I’d say tris.
Thomas: Together we could win a competition.

Jason: Yeah, together we would be huge. What’s your favorite basketball memory?
Thomas: Italy was fun. Also winning SoCon last year was cool.
Jason: Yeah, because no one expected us to do it. Going 16-0 was nice.
Thomas: Yeah. It lost a lot of luster though because the other stuff.
Jason: Winning the Arizona State thing last year.
Boris: Steph Curry.
Jason: Steph Curry committing to Davidson College.

Boris: Most memorable shot you made? A lot of Steph Curry shots that I was close to.
Thomas: Mine was definitely my first three against Charlotte, sophomore year. First three I had ever made. No one expected it, and we were up like three.
Boris: What about the dunk in Charlotte, sophomore year?
Jason: The one you blew up the picture of and put on our wall. We had this huge picture of Thomas dunking on our wall.
Thomas: I gave that to my dad. I got self-conscious.
Jason: (To Boris) What was yours?
Boris: I have two. The alley oop from Kenny. I almost made Top 10... And Jason’s out of bounds play.
Jason: Oh, this year? I don’t have any memorable shots. I have memorable assists.

Thomas: Steph or Dell Curry?
Boris: I never played with Dell Curry so I have to take Steph.
Jason: (Nodding to SID office) Is Steph in there?
Thomas: I would pick Seth.

Jason: I’d take Steph. He’s my teammate. What’s your favorite thing on the menu at the Brickhouse? (To Thomas) I know yours. Quesadillas?
Thomas: I like the quesadillas. Those are good.
Boris: Chicken parm.
Jason: Yeah, you always get that. I like the flounder. The flounder sandwich.

Thomas: What’s your favorite meal at Commons? ... Chicken parm.
Jason: Chicken parm. It’s everybody’s favorite.

Thomas: What’s your favorite non-basketball memory at Davidson? ... Going out on the boat.
Jason: Yeah, hanging out at Lake Campus.
Boris: I’d say hanging out with the football guys this summer.
Thomas: It’s definitely interesting.
Jason: Very.

Boris: If you could do it again, what would you do differently?
Thomas: I wouldn’t get hurt so often.
Jason: College, or just basketball? I wouldn’t do anything differently.
Thomas: It panned out pretty well. I’d still be an econ major, unfortunately.
Boris: I wouldn’t lose to UNCG freshman year.
Thomas: I would have lifted more. In-season. I lift a lot out of season.

Jason: Favorite Davidson professor? Favorite Davidson class?
Boris: Oh, for the other one. I would try to come on time. Not that I didn’t try.
Jason: Favorite class? I would say the Vietnam Experience. What professor do I have now that I need help with?
Thomas: I’d say Dr. Appleyard. And Dr. Roberts. And Dr. Smith.
Jason: I like Dr. McMillen. My thesis professor.
Boris: I would say Dr. Yoder, my French advisor. Favorite class I would say that sociology class...
Jason: Gender and Society.

Thomas: Thing you can’t live without?
Boris: Steph Curry’s jump shot.
Jason: Can we all say Steph Curry?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Davidson 68 ASU 55

Appalachian State is wearing their brand new solid yellow uniforms. They didn't bring them the best luck against Niagara. The crowd is still filing in here in Belk Arena. We've got all of our resident videographers here tonight...Austin Bell, Wells Black...the NY Times is in the house.

And the white towels are waving as the Wildcats take the court. We have complained a lot about "low" weekday attendance this year...but I swear that this is the biggest crowd before tip for a Senior Day game that I have seen in my four years. We're improving.

They will introduce the senior cheerleaders and Boris, Thomas and J-Rich here in a second. The game-day program featured a four-page feature on the seniors where they interviewed each other about every topic under the sun. I will be sure to get the full text of it up on the blog a little later.
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16:10 D 4 A 3
Wildcats lose track of the shot clock and Max airballs Davidson's first shot, but then Minter shows his colors and is once again unable to deal with the double team. He had a lot of trouble with that the first time in Boone. Jason scores Davidson's first point by staying with the play and putting back the trash bucket. Thomas does the same a minute later. ASU having trouble with Davidson's double team.

And these refs might not want to blow their whistles at all tonight. Thomas was absolutely murdered underneath and all the players stopped for the whistle...but it never came. Fancher was pretty surprised...the fans were mad.
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13:20 D 10 A 3
First media timeout and Meno remains in the ballgame, despite having mishandled his first touch of the game. In case anyone forgot, Jeremy Clayton is not a shooter. Kellen Brand is holding Stephen all over the place and the fans in this corner don't like it. They finally get Brand for it, but no one on Davidson's squad wants to shoot it. Jason does. For three! ASU subs out Brand and puts Ryann Abraham on Curry...it doesn't work. Curry for three!
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11:53 D 12 A 5
Another inbounds turnover for a Davidson opponent. Max forces them to throw it in the backcourt and Steve picks it up. J-Rich short on the three but he turns around to get a steal and finishes with the layup. Wildcats finally with a little energy here.
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10:21 D 18 A 10
Curry gets it going with two straight threes off some nifty passes around the perimeter. Curry with nine so far and Jason with 7. ASU not finding too much success inside, outside of one Minter put-back. Davidson's double team forces horrible first shots but sometimes there's another forward with good rebounding position.
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7:23 D 22 A 16
The refs are letting them play tonight. Lots of physicality on both ends. Not sure that it's been called uneven so far...but guys are getting killed without recourse. Minter with his third paint basket, but J-Rich gets to the line and now has 9 points. Richards again to the hoop. He's going off again, but it's because they can't stop his penetration. Kellen Brand gets crushed by Bryant Barr going for a loose ball...they let them play for a while and Fancher goes nuts. Barr looked pretty bad on two three-point attempts.
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4:10 D 27 A 17
Barr makes up for it by hitting a nice teardrop off the drive. In "moments you don't see everyday," Andrew Lovedale takes a charge. Thomas says, "hey wait a minute," and takes a charge on the very next posession. Davidson is trying to go tit-for-tat with ASU's physicalness and now they are getting called for it. That's starting to suck a little. No one in big foul trouble yet. Davidson has had some nice looking shots rim out right in front of me. Jason breaks the scoring drought with a nice three. He's got 14.
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2:26 D 32 A 17
So apparently Dcats.com was down. It's up for me right now. Calm down everyone.

Will Archambault with a nice three. And almost gets another one. The form looks good. Curry's been quiet lately...but he finds a cutting Archambault and Fancher calls a quick TO. ASU is forcing shots instead of getting it to Minter. Davidson's hot right now.
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Half D 34 A 25
Ooooh...and Archambault with a great drive...hit #1: gets called for the charge...hit #2: he went down hard on his right elbow. Yikes. Updates to come. ASU going on a little mini-run now with another O foul on Davidson. Wildcats need to lead by more than 10 at the break. It's nine now. 7 now. Wildcats tip it in at the buzzer as they fought for the rebound for 6 seconds in the air. What an athletic play and a little mo to cut their run.

To answer a question from anonymous...when I say "take a charge" I mean draws the offensive foul on the opposition. I will try to say "charge" or "called for charging" if it's on us. Andrew and Thomas "took charges," while Will "charged." Hope that clears things up.

Jason Richards with 14 first-half points and three assists. Steph is stuck at nine while Boris and Steve are scoreless. The Wildcats do have a huge edge on offensive rebounds, however, 8-1 (good for a 9-2 advantage in second chance points). Davidson is shooting 38% from the field while App is at 45%...neither team has gotten to the line much.
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17:50 D 38 A 33
Boris Meno drives from the top of the key and hits a J-Rich like jumper off the glass.

MPG now following a fast break...Bermudez loses the ball and stops in front of him...Max barrels into him like a car screeching on the interstate and is called for an intentional foul. The students are all over the refs for that one. They are beginning to be a little annoying. ASU should be called for that "two hands" thing on every possession. Minter hits and we have a close game.
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17:10 D 40 A 33
Lovedale now picks up his third foul away from the ball and that's another questionable call. McKillop wants a summit meeting but they won't talk to him.

Curry hasn't gotten going in a good long time. Jason has felt that and taken over quite nicely. I can't wait to see what happens when teams cover Jason for his drives and his threes and have to cover Stephen and maybe need to double team Andrew or Thomas...so far, they are only on the shut-down Steph phase.
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16:18 D 42 A 33
I love this inbounds defense...it's almost funny. Steph gets the steal on that one after ASU has to throw it to halfcourt. Steph played wide receiver and went up and Lynn Swann-ed it.

The refs heard McKillop and evened it up quick. Not that they called bad fouls on App...but they blew the whistle quick. And again. Fancher knew it was coming sooner or later.
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15:20 D 46 A 33
Davidson now on a 10-0 run over the last two minutes after Jason Richards tabs his 18th point. Willie Archer back in and we'll see if he can get going as well.
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14:23 D 46 A 35
Curry is very cold right now though. He missed two jumpers on that last one and Minter is beginning to eat the Wildcats up inside. He's got 13 points and is on the line after Rossiter fouled him before the media timeout. Minter is hip to the double team and he's making moves quicker before it can come. Davidson can't handle him one-on-one.

Will seems to be fine after landing on his elbow earlier. He shoots his first shot which is way short...but I don't think that was an injury thing.
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12:10 D 46 A 41
Minter is eating Davidson alive. The double isn't coming and Rossiter can't take him one-on-one. Davidson is ice cold. This is getting scary. At least the fans know it and are screaming loud. They are discovering for the first time this year that we could lose in here. Scary, ain't it?
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11:06 D 48 A 43
ASU on a 10-2 run. And Curry hasn't scored in nearly 20 minutes of game-time. The crowd falling asleep again, though. Davidson hasn't lost a night, conference game in Belk Arena in six years. Now that's a streak.
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9:11 D 50 A 43
Jason now with twenty. Here is the negative right now: ASU is eating Davidson alive inside. The positive: unlike last year, Davidson isn't panicking with the three point shot. They are shooting twos.

Curry is something like 3-14 right now...his decisions aren't bad. But he just looks very human when the ball hits the rim.
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7:57 D 53 A 45
Thomas loses his man chasing screens and what not and Davis Bowne is wide open. Max comes over and whacks him for the and-1 attempt. He misses and Clayton whacks Thomas on the rebound. This thing is physical, physical....

And Curry is back. NBA three and the crowd is on its feet. BOOM BOOM BOOM...out on App State, and the dagger has been thrust. Sweet Caroline keeps the mo going.


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5:00 D 64 A 47
Three from Steph. Steal and finish from Richards. And the white towels are out. ASU might not be able to withstand this now that Curry is back. Richards has 24 points, a new season high.

Max forces yet another steal off an in-bounds. I just told our SID that if I get my hands on some tapes, I will work up a stat for steals off inbounds in the last month. I'm sure it's something outrageous.

Davidson students get the wave going. But it died in the Pines section. Ouch. That's harsh. I'm sorry (but it's true...).
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1:50 D 66 A 53
Steve Rossiter slips the screen to get his sixth point of the night and Minter walks out of bounds on a loose ball. App is really bad. Another charge drawn by Curry...several for him tonight. Wildcats haven't landed a knockout punch yet. But they are sparring until the time runs out. App certainly is landing anything.

I like not having Jeremy Clayton slam the ball down our throats. It feels good to win this one after last year.

Students with a "Let's go Seniors..." as all three are still on the court.
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Final D 68 A 55
And they announce a sell-out crowd...5,838...and a standing O for the seniors. It's a great day to be a Wildcat...and a senior. It's been a fun four years.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Exclusive Chat with Kyle Whelliston

The following is the transcript of a recent email interview that Will's World had with ESPN.com's Mid-Major Expert, Kyle Whelliston. Whelliston attended Davidson's BracketBusters victory and wrote an excellent article about Wildcat point guard Jason Richards.

What impressed you the most about Jason Richards' performance on Friday night?

Definitely his poise. It's easy to forget that he has about as much experience starting games as Stephen Curry does as a sophomore. When Steph went to the bench in the first half with two fouls, he took complete control of the game and looked like a four-year starter at point.

Is this year's Davidson team comparable to last year's Winthrop team? What similarities and differences do you see?

Not really, that team was all about forwards, I think Davidson 2007's guard play is better. Last year's Winthrop team had more talented size than this Davidson team has. They had a 6-10 guy named Craig Bradshaw who was fast enough to quarterback the press and created all sorts of matchup problems when he stepped out to the perimeter.

Where does Max Paulhus Gosselin rank among defensive forwards in the mid-major ranks? In all of college basketball?

I can't say, because we haven't created stats yet to properly measure the accomplishments of a guy like Max. It seems like he's a part of every play when he's out on the floor. All I know is that every time I cover a Davidson game, I write his name down at least seven or eight times for doing something good, but then I look at the box score and he's scored three or four points.

I saw on your marathon chat that someone asked you about Steve Rossiter. After another look at him on Friday, how do you assess his contributions to this team, this year?

He's never going to be a superstar, but there will always be matchups he can exploit, like in the N.C. Central game and the first game with Wofford. I hope he develops into a good role player in his final two years.

How do you think mid-major schools will fare in the NCAA tournament this year compared to last season?

One thing we saw a lot of last year was regular season champions going to the NIT instead of winning the autobid via the league tourney, unlike in 2006. As a result, there weren't a lot of low-seed upsets. Winning both the regular-season title and tourney championship is a good measure of a team's upset chances, and the volume of upsets will likely hinge on the number of double champions.

Davidson is now just outside the AP Top 25 poll. If they are ranked going into the conference tournament and falter, do you think they will still miss out on an at-large bid?

Yes. A 3-6 record in nonconference shouldn't get you in as an at-large, no matter who was on the schedule. Remember that they were 4-7 in 2005, and the perfect regular season couldn't get them in.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thompson, Gassie leave it all on the parquet in Wofford

They say that true commitment is built by always playing your hardest, even when no one is watching. On Friday night, the men's basketball team fought hard to a secure a very important Bracketbusters victory in front of a national television audience. On Saturday afternoon, the women's basketball team worked even harder to overcome a double digit deficit to win yet another SoCon battle on the road and pick up a game on Georgia Southern for the all-important third seed in the conference tournament. But only their families, three Davidson students, and a handful of Wofford fans were there to see it.

Davidson overcame a 20% shooting first half and a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Wofford 84-76 in overtime. Several Wildcats put up gaudy stats...Julia Paquette went 8-16 for 23 points, Mercedes Robinson picked up yet ANOTHER double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Alex Thompson recorded 18 points, 9 boards and a career-high 6 steals.

But this win wasn't about the stats. It wasn't even about beating a high-profile SoCon opponent on the road (which Wofford certainly isn't). This game was about Davidson continually coming out on top in situations when they should have been defeated. This was about overcoming all of that rationality in your gut that tells you that your doubt in the outcome is well based. The Wildcats kept hoping...on every steal, every jump shot and every rebound, and ultimately came out on top.

With four Wildcat players ultimately fouling out throughout the contest, Davidson coach Annette Watts had to go the end of her bench to find players to keep battling back as time was extended. But ultimately, she needed to look no further than her gutsy backcourt of Kelly Gassie and Alex Thompson.

Davidson went to a full-court press in the second half to keep Wofford off-balance, and the Cats' came up with several steals, despite allowing some easy Terrier shots. At one point, Wofford scored on four straight possessions late in the game. At another point, they drew fouls on Davidson for six or seven consecutive possessions. The Wildcats were nearly down and out at the end of regulation as Wofford was at the line with a three-point lead and just 40 seconds remaining. After the Terriers missed the free throw and got their own rebound. Things were even hairier. But Davidson forced a turnover, Paquette cut the lead to one. Wofford only got one point from the line on their next possession and Mercedes Robinson rebounded her own miss in traffic and put-back the game-tying basket with 3 seconds left in regulation.

After two more Wildcats fouled out in overtime, Thompson and Gassie took over on both ends of the floor. On one end Thompson is getting a rebound, then she sets up Julia Paquette for a basket. Then Gassie gets a huge steal and a fast break, misses her layup, gets a defensive rebound after another foul on Davidson, rebounds a miss by Kelsey Cary on the other end and gets the ball right back to her. After yet another Gassie defensive rebound, Thompson came open at the top of the key and hit the dagger three-pointer to put Wofford down for good. Thompson iced the game with her 9th and 10th straight free throws. Her 10-10 mark from the line ties a Davidson record for 100% free throw shooting with a minimum of 10 attempts.

The two Wildcat guards were breathing hard by the end, but it was their determination and savvy that pulled the rest of the team through when most of their veteran teammates could only watch and cheer.

This game could very well go down as one of the most exhilirating and hard-fought Davidson Wildcat games this year that no one ever saw. There are no SportsCenter highlights or parties on campus to welcome the team home. In fact, they are staying down in Spartanburg in prep for their road game at Furman on Monday. They will try to keep going about their business and working, step by step, towards a strong showing in the SoCon tournament.

But I don't have to look ahead quite yet. I get to reflect that today's game was one of the most special and gutsy performances that I have seen in a very long time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wildcats hold down Winthrop in BracketBusters, 60-47

Jason Richards scored 21 points and tallied five assists on national television as Davidson knocked off Winthrop 60-47 in the ESPNU Bracketbusters opener. The game featured a raucous crowd of 6,105 and the level of intensity was extremely high for forty minutes despite sub-40% field goal shooting from both teams.

"This game had a feel like a second-round NCAA Tournament game," said Winthrop coach Randy Peele. "Davidson is NCAA Tournament worthy. It felt like the second round because we played them on one day's prep. They have a very good basketball team."

Davidson coach Bob McKillop came into the press conference with the highest praise for his team defense. The Wildcats hassled the Eagles on every inbounds pass, forcing multiple turnovers. Max Paulhus Gosselin followed up his seven steal performance with three steals tonight.

"We've become a very good defensive team," McKillop said. "Max Paulhus Gosselin is the catalyst. He's like a Spiderman. He has a knack and passion to play defense. He sets the tone. And then at each position we can defend. Sander played great help defense. It was a collective effort."

Winthrop's defense was very good all night, holding Stephen Curry to 4-17 shooting and 12 points, his season-low. But at the end of the day, it was Davidson's defense that stole the show tonight. They held Winthrop to 47 total points and 15-50 shooting from the field.

"We feel good about the statement we made to the national media," McKillop said. "Steph Curry is a legitimate All-American candidate, but if he doesn't have an All-American game, we have the players to step up and take over."

Both coaches were asked in the postgame whether Winthrop and Davidson would meet after the Bracketbusters was over. Both coaches made very positive statements about the environment of tonight's game and the level of competition that has risen since the two teams last met over a decade ago.

Peele was very complimentary of the Cats afterwards, commenting on the play of Richards.

"Steph Curry is their most outstanding player," Peele said. "Jason Richards is their most valuable player."

Davidson has continued to raise their level of performance as the days roll closer to March. Tonight's performance was no exception. 17 straight and App State is next on the plate.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Davidson 60 Winthrop 47

The Wildcats will have yet another chance to shine on national television this Friday when they head to Rock Hill, S.C. to take on Winthrop in the BracketBusters game. You can check out previews for the game at Bracketography and ESPN.com.

This post will be updated throughout the game as I live blog all the Wildcat action. Be sure to send in questions via the comment feature about the game or things that you would like Kyle Whelliston to answer about the Wildcats.
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Most of Davidson's media/staff crew got here a little after five and made our way around the arena. Asst. SID Lauren Biggers used to work here so she gave a brief tour of the athletic facilities. Their baseball stadium is state of the art. The basketball gym is nice as well, but the dark maroon colors make it seem very dark as you get farther away from the court.

Kyle Whelliston is indeed here, although I didn't get to talk to him because of his marathon chat. He had his iPod on and was sitting at the far corner of the media room when I came in. Now he's hanging out with his ESPN cronies...for someone who preaches this whole "rage against big-timing, big schools" he certainly seems to act pretty big-time himself with his whole ESPN credential. We'll see how things develop...

The two student sections are literally right next to each other. Davidson's fans are in two sections behind their bench and going into the corner, while the Winthrop students are in the facing section behind the basket. They just got into a cheering match that was precipitated by the Cat in the Hat, Boxer, and Pirate/Ninja (?).

Finally, Winthrop ran out of staff/media food. They put the spread out at around 4 p.m. and all the ESPN people ate it up before Davidson people got here. I had to do a Chick-Fil-A run to fill some stomachs. Winthrop needs to get it together.
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TV Teddy is back in the building. Twice in one week. I hope we get the same type of reffing like Tuesday. That seemed to work out well for us.

Winthrop has a really nice video board over center court, but their lineup video wasn't working right. They REALLY need to get it together.
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18:20 D 6 W 0
Winthrop is known for their defense and they looked pretty much like Max on that first possession. Flailing arms, lots of intensity. Two problems though. They aren't 6'6". And um...Stephen Curry.
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17:00 D 8 W 5
Oooh...Curry cools off though with two turnovers and then gets called for a blocking foul as the guy leaped into him on the fast break. Very questionable...Steph got called for a charge for much less against Duke. And here we go...Davidson hasn't penetrated much so far...and then Lovedale gets a good look.
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15:50 D 8 W 8
Because of both student sections being in one corner, all of the noise feels very concentrated. Davidson will be shooting into it in the second half.

Winthrop's D is nothing to scoff about. They are playing physical and hustling more than Davidson right now. Three steals and a block...make that four. Five.
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14:20 D 12 W 8
Davidson has the reputation of being a very physical team around the SoCon. And right now, they are the ones looking to the refs for protection and they aren't getting it. The Wildcats need to man up a little and play to the refs as they are. Unfortunately, that led to a charge on the last possession by J-Rich. Woop, TV Teddy with an offensive foul on Winthrop at the beginning of their possession. And Sander gets to the free throw line at the other end.

The scoreboard sightlines in here are weird. Both scoreboards are in the upper corners behind fans while the main board over center court just has an Eagle logo.

Jason Richards with the outside touch tonight which is great. He has two threes.
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12:41 D 16 W 8
Wildcats are cutting well and throwing lasers into open cutters in the paint. While Winthrop is turning it over on their entry passes. Curry showing the Rock Hill crowd how effective he is at defensive rebounding and starting transition. Wildcats on a run now.
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11:08 D 20 W 8
Davidson on a 12-0 run after Stephen Curry does the impossible and comes out with the ball from two Winthrop guys who are trying to control it in the corner. Then he whips the ball to Lovedale in the paint. Davidson's crowd is pretty loud and rowdy. If we could get all of the random collections of dedicated fans that we have in these two sections and put them right on top of the court at Belk, we'd have our "energy" problem solved. Phi-delt and ninja cheering together peaceably...it's a beautiful thing.
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9:30 D 20 W 10
One Canadian causes five seconds while the other air balls a shot on the other end. Let's go Will. Winthrop fans a little chippy after another call doesn't go their way. Ooh...Lovedale now getting in on the air ball action. I wonder if there is a sight line problem on that baseline. Winthrop breaks the drought on a nice jumper. And Curry is on the bench with two fouls. This 10-point lead might evaporate quick.
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7:39 D 22 W 13
Davidson is in the bonus, however...J-Rich draws a block on an overzealous Eagle defender and gets two easy ones from the line. Archambault will need to help out with the offense, as well as Boris. The Wildcats scored over thirty in the paint against Greensboro. This team isn't much bigger...they need to look for close shots. Richards isn't a bad option either.

Thankfully, it seems that Winthrop doesn't really score in bunches. They look really athletic out there but they've only got 13 points.
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7:20 D 22 W 13
Paulhus Gosselin with a big kick of the ball right in front of me. He knocked over Martin McCann's water. And then Steve knocks the next one out of bounds. And then Max steals the third. I wouldn't want to inbound against us.
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4:40 D 25 W 17
Richards now with 3 threes. Always "interesting" to watch Davidson's offense when Curry is on the bench. Archambault misses another one. Where's that Furman effort? McCullough and Gaynor have six apiece for Winthrop.

Teddy Valentine with his patented "i'm gonna stop the game without calling anything" just to talk to you on TV. He gets away with everything.
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3:13 D 28 W 17
Richards with his fourth three and he has 14 points on the game. He gave a very fired up look to Davidson's crowd.

Will and Bryant are way off. Short on everything. That's so frustrating because we know they can shoot.

If you think that watching Max play D on TV is fun, you should try it from courtside. He always yells at himself when he can't come up with the steal and on his last steal in front of me...he uttered some sort of "Oooh (look there's a loose ball, I'm gonna get it)." It's incredible to watch someone with so much passion for defense.
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Halftime D 31 W 21
Barr finally connects. I have to say, though, that it doesn't feel as if Davidson has a 10-point lead. Without a scoreboard in here, it feels as if the game hinged on each possession. Gaynor is very quick...very quick. But there's still no reason for him to have this many steals. We have to be more careful with simple swing passes.

However, Winthrop should probably be pretty disappointed that Curry played so little time and they still trail by ten. Davidson's defense stayed strong throughout the half and their transition D did not allow too many easy points.
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18:00 D 31 W 24
So Stephen Curry isn't hurt. ESPN announcers can be boneheads sometimes. They implied that Curry saw limited time in the first half (9 min) because of an injury when it was just because of his second foul.

But, that aside, Winthrop has taken a page out of Davidson's book and come out very strong and emotional so far to start the half. The Wildcats' offense has looked anemic so far.
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15:32 D 37 W 27
Max draws yet another five-second call. He is a maniac on in-bounds plays. And then he hits a three. He seems to put a little more arc on the ball when he is confident and he is playing with a lot of it right now.

After a Winthrop three, Lovedale keeps a rebound alive and J-Rich knocks home his fifth three of the game for his 17th point. Curry is about to break out here. You can feel it.

And I try to keep things respectful on here, but Winthrop's cheerleaders/dance team is well...they are laughing out there. They know how ridiculous this thing looks. They do.
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12:05 D 40 W 31
Wow white ref. Wow. You are really bad. He just made a ridiculous out of bounds call saying that Sander lost it off his knee. And Curry continues to be cold. This place is really loud after an Eagle dunk. They realize that they have been able to do something very special. Hold Curry down. So far.

Boris Meno draws an elbow to the face which is called intentional and he hits 1 of 2. The ref who called it just took about 150 decibels from McKillop on consecutive possessions. Now the Eagles cry foul. Yet another foul away from the ball and this place is pissssssed off. I didn't see the recent foul or the intentional one too well so I can't comment on their viability, but these refs seem to be going back and forth and back and forth on questionable plays.
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9:20 D 44 W 31
Apparently the Winthrop Eagle is named Big Stuff. He isn't very big...in any way that you look at him.

This game is a real grind. Curry is so far off. I haven't seen anything like this in a long time. Maybe ever.

Davidson is having trouble tracking down rebounds and they send MPG back in. Sander picked up a pretty bogus foul as Buechert dropped the ball with Sander straight up and down.

And Curry finally hits. Finally! A little MPG and Rossiter get the rebounding going for Davidson and Winthrop is out of sorts on offense.
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6:09 D 51 W 36
Richards is having his way tonight. He gets points number 18 and 19 off that patented hesitate and roll on the baseline. Davidson's defense has made Winthrop look silly on offense. The Eagles are down 15 but their fans are still going nuts with every play. Meanwhile Davidson's fanbase is loving this. Working toward a non-conference win on the road. It feels good.
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2:49 D 51 D 42
Winthrop with a little run and this thing is a little too close for comfort. Davidson has not gotten off a good shot after several long possessions, while the basket has gotten really big on Winthrop's side of the court. And the Eagle fans are still here. The Eagles' scoring has been few and far between tonight, but 2:49 is still a good bit of time. Davidson can't just nurse this and hope Winthrop misses.

Coach might not know that Lovedale's got four fouls (he picked up three in the last few minutes). Meno has been riding the bench for a while. At this point, though, it might not matter.
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1:06 D 53 W 42
Lovedale with a huge dunk on a feed from Steph and the drought is broken. That might have been the dagger right there. Davidson has won the hustle battle tonight in the second half.
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34 sec D 57 W 44
And the students strike up an a capella Sweet Caroline tune. They did a great job tonight. And so did Jason Richards. More on him later. Davidson wins its 17th in a row. Depending on what happens tomorrow in Tennessee, that might become the longest winning streak in the country.
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Final D 60 W 47
Great statement for Davidson on the road on national television. Curry didn't have his best night but his good buddy Jason stepped up huge for 21 points. Curious to see what Whelliston will write about this one. Big Stuff and his cheerleaders sway on the court to the alma mater and we wrap things up here on press row.

Davidson Show #4

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Davidson 75 UNCG 66

As should be obvious by now, I didn't do a live blog for Tuesday night's ESPN2 matchup between Davidson and UNC-Greensboro. I was drafted into service for ESPN's stat coordination team and had to sit on the other press row next to the statting/blogging Lauren Biggers and UNCG's assistant coaches. Here are some late night thoughts from Davidson's 18th conference win this season.

-After listening to the chatter all night on the headphones about Davidson and Stephen Curry, I am convinced that all a committee member needs to do to give the Wildcats an at-large is watch a little part of one game here in Feb/March. All of the uninitiated were thoroughly impressed with their first look at Curry and Davidson. They tried to get some features on Hines and his statistical accomplishments up on the screen, but then Davidson would go off and do something great again.

-Curry scored 30 tonight and everyone felt like he could have scored more. Curry had several bunnies rim out, but his most spectacular plays came on some of his interior passes to find open forwards after the defense shifted to help. If Davidson's frontcourt can convert on the chances they get, Davidson could be unstoppable. Curry is so dangerous if you don't guard him heavily and the rest of the Wildcats become dangerous when you do.

-Davidson's 46 points in the paint are largely due to the Wildcats being patient and allowing the Spartan defense to rotate too far as they found open players on the backside. Some of the passes to set up easy layups were absolutely pristine. Despite several uncharacteristically sloppy plays, Jason Richards finished with a strong stat-line of eight points, eight assists, and four steals.

-Max Paulhus Gosselin played like a man possessed tonight...he took a normally pestering defense to another level by actually picking off passes and converting them into scoring opportunities. Gosselin finished with 7 steals and should be credited with several more forced turnovers (including a five second call). Max's classmate, Andrew Lovedale, once again poured in a very quiet 14 points off some rangy pull-up jumpers. Lovedale led the defensive charge against Kyle Hines with three individual blocks.

-Stephen "I'm-going-to-throw-this-off-your-back-to-show-how-much-I-deserve-POY" Curry's crazy inbounds play where he threw the ball off of Kyle Hines' back and then caught it for an easy layup, made ESPN's Top 10 plays for SportsCenter and College GameNight's Gym Gems. Guest color analyst Doug Gottlieb was left speechless.

-TV Ted Valentine (on the left in this picture) made an appearance in Belk Arena tonight to...well...be on TV. Valentine did his normal gesturing and marching down the court after a pair of controversial charge calls. But mostly, he was pretty quiet. You don't often watch a game reffed by Valentine and forget that he is a ref. The best moment of the night came during a timeout when he was standing right in front of me and the football players were shouting various things at him. He slowly turned to them and raised his finger to his lips to shush the crowd. The students were very proud that they got such a reaction out of the TV Teddy himself.

-The blog's good friend Will Brinson was back in action tonight, this time live-blogging for AOL's Fanzone. I got to talk to him a little at halftime and I can promise you that all of his blogged Davidson praise is no front...he really likes watching this team play. I'd have to agree with his assertion that Davidson and Greensboro are probably the best two teams in the conference. Hines is certainly the best player not wearing a Davidson uniform and I personally think that Dement is the best coach not named McKillop. Greensboro was unfocused at times tonight but they did outrebound the Cats and had 10 second chance points to Davidson's two. Davidson will probably have to go through the Spartans again in the SoCon semifinals to get to a Chatt/GSU/App State final matchup. It's too bad that Davidson will have to face them so early.

-I noticed tonight that Davidson might be the only team in the conference that doesn't have a SoCon logo on their uniform, the SoCon arena floor logo blends into the baseline color scheme (thanks Bobc63). Don't even think twice about leaving this conference anytime soon (Mr. Cary made some "observations" about those who have)...but Davidson certainly doesn't appear to have much respect for its organizing body in its signage.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Profiles in Managing: Omar Pickett

Behind every great team, there is a great manager. And with Davidson's Omar Pickett, the greatness often overflows the kettle. Pickett is known to Wildcat fans the world around for his pinstripe suits and his unceasing energy behind the Davidson bench. I recently had the chance to sit down with Omar Pickett "Tha Ticket."

Favorite food: Rice and Hot Dogs (HA!!! YOU THOUGHT IT WAS BOJANGLES!!!)

Favorite academic subject: Anything about Political Science

Favorite piece of clothing: Anything Under Armour

Reason you became a manager: Free Powerade after practice

Favorite moment in your managerial career: When the team got me an IPOD Nano

Player you like going 1 on 1 against the most: Dan Nelms

How often have you beat him: Once (he was on his cell phone the whole time, but a win is a win)

Plans for the summer: Internship in DC or a Christian Nature camp in Tennessee

Favorite road gym you've managed in so far ... why? Cameron Indoor Stadium...Cause I found out how crappy it looks in real life.

Favorite Davidson coach ... why? They're all great, but I'd pick Coach Matheny, cause he can be smooth and intimidating at the same time

Biggest conspiracy in professional sports: Right after 9/11, when everyone wants to be PATRIOTIC, the PATRIOTS win the Super Bowl..

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Furman post-game thoughts and quotes

***Photo by Brian Westerholt***

-The main story from today's game was Will Archambault. Finishing with a career-high 28 points, Archambault paced all Davidson scorers, including Stephen Curry who finished with 26. Both players scored more than half of Furman's overall point total of 51. Archambault's performance came on the heels of a solid seven points and four offensive rebounds against Greensboro.

"Will is a mirror of what our team is," McKillop said. "He is getting better. Throughout the season, his entire game has improved...much like our entire team. We know his potential, and to see him turn that potential into production is exciting to see as a coach."

"It was just during the games that [my shot] wasn't falling," Archambault said. "I had been playing well in practice, so I tried to attack the basket more and I kept shooting. It just started falling."

-As soon as the game ended, the Wildcat team rushed up the side steps with a signed ball for Dick Sanderson, a lifelong Davidson fan with ALS. Kevin Cary wrote an article about him last year after the Wildcats presented him with the championship net after Davidson's SoCon championship.

-Andrew Lovedale had a superb game...finishing around the hole with authority and not leaving the ball on the rim where it might fall off. He finished with 14 points and five rebounds.

-Davidson's defense was absolutely spectacular. They held Furman scoreless for the first eight minutes of the first half and first 4.5 minutes of the second half. "We put pressure on the ball and cut the court in half," Curry said. "We tried to limit them to one shot so we could get back on the offensive end."

-Jason Richards had a huge game at the point. Seven rebounds and nine assists despite not hitting a field goal. "We have put an emphasis on gang rebounding. Jason Richards had a huge game with seven rebounds," McKillop said. "We want all of our guys rebounding. We want all five guys working on every play, every rebound, every in-bounds. If you don't get rewarded, someone on your team will and that will be a reward to you."

Despite playing a five-win team sandwiched between big TV games against UNC-G, Davidson came out with fire and intensity and knocked Furman to the mat from the beginning.

""I thought we were very consistent today," McKillop said. "We built on our first half and that was encouraging to me. Our seniors understand that their careers are in the twilight. They want to savor every opportunity. They look at it as a gift and they want to use this gift wisely."

Davidson 86 Furman 51

Davidson looks to win its 15th consecutive game and 27th consecutive conference match today when they take on the Paladins of Furman in Belk Arena. The 3 p.m. tip will be televised on SportSouth, marking the 12th time that Davidson has played a televised game this season. Davidson's winning streaks rank third and second respectively among all NCAA schools.

The Wildcats are led by Stephen Curry, the nation's fourth highest scorer with 25.6 points per game. He bolstered that average with a career-high 41 points against UNC-Greensboro to lead Davidson back from a 20+ point deficit for a five-point win. Stephen Curry leads all current NCAA sophomores for most career points with 1,345, nearly 300 more than second place Ryan Anderson out of California. Curry is only one three-pointer away from tying Matt McKillop's career mark of 223.

Curry's lowest point output of the season came when Davidson played Furman last in January. The sophomore only had 14 points, which is one of six instances that he has not scored at least 20 points.
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7 minutes to tip

Sitting here next to John "Killer" Kilgo of the Davidson Radio Network. On my left are the guys from CSTV's "Going Mad" road trip blog. You can check out their video blog on this site sometime tomorrow. They were at Elon for the Appalachian State upset earlier this week.

Turnout is absolutely atrocious for today's game. Atrocious.

Sander in the starting lineup.
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18:29 D 2 F 0
Furman opens in a zone and Curry misses his first shot but hits on the next possession.

The Paladins took the ball at Sander immediately and knocked him on his back without a call.
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16:51 D 7 F 0
Curry hits a three and ties Matt McKillop for the second most threes in a Davidson uniform (223). Lovedale with a nice turnaround and MPG forces an offensive foul. All Davidson so far in Belk Arena.
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15:44 D 7 F 0
Furman stays in zone and Richards misses a three badly. If Furman keeps this defense up, Davidson will be jacking threes all night. I don't particularly mind that. Davidson's defense has been outstanding so far...forcing a shot clock violation, offensive foul and nearly forced a five second violation.

Lots of stoppages of play so far.
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13:52 D 12 F 0
Archer for three. He had a quiet game against UNCG but a very productive one none the less. He then comes and hits a nice runner. Good to see him playing productively and confidently.

I'm beginning to wonder how long it will take before Furman scores. They haven't put up many good shots so far. They are like a B-league team from Davidson intramurals.
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12:30 D 17 F 0
Curry for three. Sander for two. Offensive foul on Furman...and the students are chanting, Nananana nananana hey hey goodbye. Archambault continues to look very confident as he rips the ball through the defender and sets up Sander with a crisp pass.

And now the whole arena is doing the wave. I have never seen that in Belk Arena! Lovedale with a huge block! Wow, this is fun.
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11:42 D 19 F 2
Furman finally on the board and the students go nuts. It only took them eight minutes to do it. Curry with 10 points so far. This is absolute domination. I was talking with Kevin Cary beforehand and he thought that this would be a pretty nondescript 15 point win. So far, Davidson is very focused and intent on burying the Paladins...alive.
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9:40 D 25 F 8
Holy cow Stephen Curry. Elevates 10 feet in the air to get a steal, tracks it down along the sideline and then does a reverse layup around a Furman guy to put it home. It is really hard not to smile on press row (be objective...be objective...be objective...dang we are really good).
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8:14 D 25 F 13
"We are all human...except Logan." Gotta love it Kilgo. Furman has hit a few nice runners to keep this thing somewhat respectable. Davidson can't let up at all. Greensboro was up by more than this...but then Furman isn't Davidson.
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7:00 D 28 F 13
Furman's zone has forced one or two errant entry passes but Stephen Curry's three-point shooting largely nullifies its effectiveness. You can't stop him if you don't try to guard him. You can't stop when you guard him either...but oh well. Curry leads Furman again (15-13). How often does he do that in first halves? Over/under on Curry outscoring them the rest of the half?
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5:00 D 35 F 16
Furman hits a three and Curry counters by getting fouled on a three point attempt. Curry also fed a wide open Archambault for a dunk with a Steve Nash-esque pass. Kilgo is still talking about it. Curry 18 Furman 16. Curry's free throw streak continues.
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3:57 D 38 F 16
Can't say enough about Will Archambault lately. He has been playing some incredible basketball. He's got 10 points already today on two threes. His energy is way up and he's really creating the mismatches that we expected back in November. I'd rather get it now than never. Good for Will.
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Halftime D 46 F 22
Curry misses a three on the play that he scored on to end the half against Greensboro. But Furman doubled the screen and saw it coming. Curry finishes with 18 while Archambault has 16 on 4-7 3 pt shooting. Huge game for him. Lovedale has eight points as well. Davidson as a team had a 3:1 assist/turnover ratio (12/4). All Davidson all the time here in the first twenty minutes.
And the Hall of Fame inductees take the court. Rod Knowles is really really tall. He was a very special component to all of those Lefty teams that has gone under the radar a little bit. It's great to see him get the recognition he deserves here today.

Alex Deegan, Davidson's goalie during the Final Four season, is also here today. He took part in some of the most memorable Davidson sports moments ever. His save in the quarterfinals will go down in Davidson history because of his elevation (unlike Knowles, he is not very tall) to tip the ball over the top of the net in OT shootout.
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17:20 D 46 F 22
Sander is playing today but you can tell that he's still feeling it. He missed a transition layup that forced him to turn quickly. Then he comes back down to take a charge. McKillop rewards him with some rest time on the bench. He is so beat up.

It's been a defensive struggle here early. Davidson's shots have come from the paint and have rimmed out. While Furman is just throwing up bricks.
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15:54 D 51 F 22
Curry breaks the sloppy shooting with a big three and he's got 21. Big Cat is starting to pad his rebounding numbers (4, 3 in the second half). Wow, Furman cannot shoot at all. They are now 26% from the field overall.

Kilgo says that the "yard dog" might come out. We'll have to see.
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14:30 D 53 F 22
Davidson's offense is very slow right now, but thankfully their defense still has a lot of energy. Furman didn't score for eight minutes at the beginning of their first half, and now they haven't scored for four and a half minutes to start the second half. Archambault back in the game to jumpstart some offense.

And Kilgo is timing Curry's free throws.
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13:10 D 56 F 24
Archambault now with 19 as he gets an AND1 after hitting a runner in the lane. He is a man possessed today. Furman still under 28% shooting.
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11:39 D 61 F 26
The CSTV guy just leaned in and asked me whether Curry has ever outscored a team for the whole game. Curry trails Furman by three. I suggest that Will Archambault might do it today, he has 24 points with five threes.
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9:00 D 69 F 34
Archambault gets a standing ovation as he takes a break with 26 points on the game. Lovedale also having a nice game with some steals and 12 points, the latest coming on a dunk assisted by Richards (9 assts). Then he gets his fifth rebound and is fouled. 13 points...14 points...
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7:37 D 72 F 39
Davidson's perimeter defense needs a little shot in the arm. Curry back in to do it. The Paladins have had some wide open three point looks. This one is all about image and Davidson can't afford to let the last ten minutes become a snooze fest like they have in the past. Curry for three...
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4:30 D 78 F 47
McKillop into the game at point and there's lots of dribbling around the perimeter. Davidson really doesn't have a full squad of reserves, so there will be a lot of experience in the game until the end. Curry is still stuck at 26...but it's ok because Rossiter and Meno are scoring inside. Davidson's defense continues to be solid.

Nelms in the ballgame along with Barr.
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3:00 D 80 F 47
Archambault with 28 points and he beats Curry today. Huge game for him. Lots of aggressiveness...precision shooting...quick defense...hustle plays...excellent, excellent. Davidson hasn't played the best second half as a team, but I would argue that it's better than it's been in other blowouts (CofC, WCU, Wofford...)

And apparently the yard dog's name is Chambers?
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1:00 D 84 F 51
I'm not liking Davidson's perimeter defense in the second half. Furman has had some wide open three-pointers and they've hit a few.

Overall, though, this game shows how dominant Davidson really is in this conference. UNCG is beating App...Furman has played others close...this conference has a lot of parity. We aren't a part of the conference.

And Nelms gets a point after Civi fed him with a solid pass. He missed the contested layup and the first free throw.
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Final D 86 F 51
Can Civi gets the exclamation point on this victory after an impressive drive and scoop shot around two Furman defenders. The crowd on their feet...huge win from everyone in red and white. And it's on to UNC-Greensboro. Post-game thoughts and quotes coming from the press room soon...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thoughts from Greensboro

-The stars were aligned for Davidson to lose tonight. Greensboro had been underperforming...Davidson had been blowing people out...Sander was on the bench. The Spartans scorched the nets shooting 9-12 from three in the first half. Their intensity and home crowd helped ignite a first half blitz that found Greensboro sitting right below their average offensive output of the last week: at halftime. But Davidson won by five. Their defiance of the basketball gods tonight was extraordinary to say the least.

-Boris and Andrew played very gutsy basketball against the league's reigning POY. Rossiter also played very physical all night long. However, it seemed like the close quarters and frenetic pace of the game led the forwards to start dropping the ball again as they had earlier in the season. Several good offensive looks turned into turnovers while defensive rebounds turned into loose balls and second chance opportunities. That being said, Lovedale's late game free throws and d rebound combined with Meno's three-point play helped put Davidson over the top after they had caught the Spartans.

-The heart of this team literally came spilling out on the court tonight. Richards' eyebrow was split open in an ugly way, bleeding all over everything...yet he came back to make the game-winning drive and free throw. Max Paulhus Gosselin recovered from endless "air ball" jeering to make the game-saving steal leading to Richards' drive. Andrew Lovedale overcame foul trouble to bring down the rebound with a scream after Greensboro's late attempt to tie the game. Thomas Sander did not let his sidelining keep him from supporting the team...he was the first one on the court at every timeout and was never quiet on the sidelines even when the Wildcats trailed big. And then, of course, there was Stephen Curry.

-After the game, Max Paulhus Gosselin was asked: "So, do you think that Stephen Curry is an All-American." Gosselin answered honestly. "I actually only care about Davidson basketball, so I don't really watch other teams or sports on ESPN. I don't know who else is really good. But yeah, Steph is an All-American in my book."

-Although Curry recalled that he thought the turning point of the game came in the end of the first half when the Wildcats cut the lead to 15, I would argue that Davidson knew they were coming back much later, when they were trailing by more than 10 in the second half. Curry and Gosselin double-teamed a Spartan and forced a loose ball out of bounds. Although the official rewarded Greensboro the ball, Curry turned to Max with a big smile and winked at him. 2 seconds later, Curry had stolen the inbounds pass and gone the length of the court for a layup.

-Curry only hit 1 three in the first half. Some might say that could have had something to do with his shorts. He broke the drawstring in warmups and was forced to don an XL pair which he tied tightly and rolled down a few times, exposing the white waistband. It was a good look for Curry, maybe he should do it more often.

-I had the privilege of sitting next to a fellow blogger who was writing about UNC-Greensboro. Will Brinson is a regular contributor to AOL's Fanzone and did his own live blog over here.

-The more I think about it, the more that I really don't mind Kyle Hines winning last year's SoCon Player of the Year honor. He truly is a remarkable player at this level, especially for his height. He had several incredible hustle plays that put Greensboro ahead late after the Wildcats caught them, while his first-half dunks and blocks were things of beauty. I say that I don't mind because I know that this year's real POY was outmatching Hines throughout the entire second half. Curry's constant toughness and "next play" attitude were put on display at Fleming. The country's fifth-leading scorer led his team to another win because of his knack for hunting the mid-range shot. At a time when all college players either shoot threes or layups, Curry has perfected the mid-range two which makes him such a unique basketball player. He was absolutely phenomenal.

-Davidson's attitude in the second half was definitely one of a team finally kicking it into overdrive. The several hundred fans in attendance got into a shouting match with Spartan supporters while Davidson was not unwilling to show a ton of emotion on the court. This was probably the first time that I have seen Davidson win a game and have the team run out to celebrate in a very long time. It felt like a game one more time.

-We almost got lost driving back to Davidson as the snow covered all of the street signs in Greensboro and our directions weren't retraceable because of one-way streets. Wildcat blogger Lauren Biggers escaped with ticket office guru April Albritton while Davidson's SID and myself were stuck going around in circles. We finally found the highway and a Wendy's. The only times I have traveled to away games with our SID department, I have come home in the snow. Maybe I can make it snow in Charleston in March if I keep this up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Davidson 83 UNC Greensboro 78

18:30 D 0 G 5
G controls the tip and MPG guards the 5-9 Dwayne Johnson. Things start well for the Spartans with a Hines layup and a travel on Richards. Stywall hits a three and this place is the most intimidating place in the SoCon so far. G is ready to go. How did they lose to Furman? Hines blocked Lovedale on Davidson's only good look at the basket.
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15:42 D 4 G 14
I am being told by a UNCG reporter that the Spartans jumped out to a big lead on Wofford here last week before losing at the end. Davidson won't fold mentally, but Hines is getting big looks and drawing contact. One less big is a problem with fouls. MPG is making things happen defensively as he guards Johnson. A steal and a huge Hines dunk gets this place going nuts. Yikes. McKillop waited for the media to calm his players down.

Curry seems a little short on his contested looks while Meno and Lovedale are a little hesitant offensively with Hines looming. Hines has 8 of G's 14 points so far.
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12:16 D 13 G 19
At times, I have gotten that sort of nervous chills that I remember from last year's SoCon championship game when CofC went on runs and the Coliseum exploded. The sound cascades down onto press row. But at the same time, this game should have been expected. I'm glad that the SoCon isn't rolling over. Hines is a big man for 6'6". Davidson is taking its time in the halfcourt O. Not sure if that's good or bad right now. But they've pulled closer with a few Curry shots.
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11:36 D 14 G 22
Greensboro has not gotten our frontcourt in too much foul trouble yet. Meno has 1. Oleksiak hit a difficult fallaway three that last time though. Lovedale just picked up one.

I'm underneath the basket in a pretty exposed area to any Kyle Hines swats. Lauren Biggers has promised to protect me if I'm typing but I'm not sure if I trust that.

Hines now with 11.
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9:42 D 16 G 27
Oleksiak is quite a shooter.

Meno picks up foul number 2 on a sketchy loose ball near the UNCG bench. Dwayne Johnson did some acting and he gets 1 and 1 as Davidson is now in the bonus. Johnson missed the front end and Andrew Lovedale put Hines on his back.

Another tough call on the other end of the court as MPG was pressuring Hines after a rebound. McKillop is not happy with the refs right now. These fouls really hurt because they are so far away from the basket.
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7:38 D 19 G 30
Hines isn't getting the ball much in the half court O...but it doesn't matter too much because of his rebounding and blocks...and his teammates' three-point shooting. Curry's outside looks are short and he looks tired standing in front of me. Davidson hasn't given up this many points in the first twelve minutes since entering SoCon play. Give the Spartans credit, they are running and gunning and Davidson's not hitting outside shots nor finishing around Hines.

Oleksiak has a great line right now: 8 points and 4 assists. Richards has 2 assists and a turnover.
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5:19 D 25 G 39
Press row and the Davidson fan base erupts after a horrible call on Jason Richards after he made an incredible block on Ben Stywall. Davidson's outside shooting isn't there, and this is what it looks like when the shots aren't falling and the opponents have a dominating big. Greensboro is running roughshod over Davidson with everything falling.
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3:52 D 27 G 44
Meno is left with the ball at the top of the key. Richards is on the bench and Boris has no option but to dribble...off his foot. Davidson isn't playing its best but the refereeing is bordering on extremely incompetent. I try to stay off the refs as much as possible but media reps of UNCG are a bit appalled for their own team. This is insanely bad.

Davidson is really missing Sander who could provide a little physical punishment out there. He might get called with everyone else but at least he could make the Spartans back off a little.

Statline of the night so far...3 pt shooting Davidson 1-9 UNCG 8-10
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2:40 D 32 UNCG 48
Davidson is forcing threes now and they don't look good. Way short.

You won't see this every day. Dan Nelms and Brendan McKillop in the game with 3 minutes left in the first. Perhaps a wakeup call to the starters. No matter the final result of this one, this will go down as one of those "memories" that coach always refers to. As long as no one gets hurt, it will be beneficial come SoCon tourney time.
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Halftime D 37 G 52
Curry sends Davidson into the locker room with a little momentum as he hits his first three pointer of the game. He leads all Davidson scorers with 18. No one else has more than five. Meno, Lovedale and Rossiter have a combined 2 points. That is not encouraging.

For Greensboro, the story of the first half was three-point shooting. The Spartans have scorched the nets for 9/12 shooting while Davidson is putting a paltry 3/14. Five Wildcats have two fouls. Hines has 18 points and four boards, while Oleksiak has 17 points on 4/4 3 pt shooting.

This will be an interesting 20 minutes to come. The Spartans have blown leads before but Davidson has not really overcome a large deficit to win a game this season. The last big come-from-behind one that I remember was last year's win at Georgia Southern where Davidson went over 100 points.

It seems like it has been a long long time since Davidson wasn't in control of a game. Not just the score, but the mentality on the court. Davidson is not playing like a favorite.
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18:36 D 41 G 56
Lovedale attacks the paint and gets to the line. That's a good sign because Davidson cannot abandon the paint altogether just because Hines is there.

But Stywall immediately comes down and draws number 3 on Lovedale...then Max shoots a three whose trajectory was under the rim the entire time. The G fans will chant air ball every time he touches it now. Oleksiak again.
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16:33 D 43 G 60
Davidson is pressing to try to create a loose ball in the backcourt but G is breaking it and putting Lovedale/Meno in a tough position defending the paint by themselves. Kyle Hines now picks up his first foul of the game...how had three at this point last year. Davidson isn't getting the run they need...this will be tough to come back from.
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15:00 D 47 G 60
Wildcats showing a little courage with a Meno block and a Richards drive. That's what they need right now: courage. That takes them into the first media timeout with the ball after a G turnover. Foul trouble will be a problem later on but Davidson has to get tough as nails on defense to slow the Spartans down. They have already outscored their finals in the last two games they played. One key positive for Davidson on the stat sheet is o rebounds. They have 11. And the two sections of Davidson fans open the break with a big cheer. That was a good sign.
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13:44 D 50 G 60
A little life after yet another D stop as Hines walks into a triple team. Curry gets the ball off a hand off screen and nails the three. The mental accomplishment of getting it to 10 is big. Now Davidson has to remain consistent while keeping the pressure on.
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13:04 D 54 G 61
Stephen Curry! He cracked the first smile I had seen all day after he and Max doubled the ball and knocked it out of bounds. He stole the ensuing inbound and took it all the way to the hoop.

That was followed by misfortune as Hines drew foul number four on Lovedale.
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11:20 D 60 G 65
Six point game after Meno converts a three-point play. The X-factor is foul trouble and depth right now. Stywall makes it eight on a nice step back. Curry for three!!!!
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10:23 D 62 G 65
Richards all the way down the court and gets killed at the hoop with no call. He comes back down with blood gushing from his brow. Greensboro fans show their class by booing his efforts. Everyone in the building is standing and yelling at the top of their lungs. Great basketball environment.

Curry now has 30 points while Hines has only scored one point in the second half. The Wildcats can pull away if foul trouble and Richards' eyebrow don't stand in their way.
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7:36 D 69 G 71
Curry with 35 and he is yelling at the Greensboro crowd on the way down the court. Richards is back in the game as G calls a timeout. On the way up here we were talking about Curry's new attitude this season. Confidence ranging on cockiness.

But Meno picks up his fourth foul as Hines ties the game. Fouls will be a problem late. Hines is returning the favor now. He won't let Curry upstage him. But then Curry on the other end with a crazy scoop shot. Things are back and forth now.
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5:30 D 69 G 74
Greensboro has all but abandoned the three point shot in favor of giving the ball to "Karl, I mean Kyle" Hines. Curry is tired after that run. He can't score everything at the end like he tried to in Davidson's last loss in conference (ASU last Jan.). As I type Oleksiak hits a three, I guess the Will curse goes both ways.

McKillop calls a timeout to regain a little composure. It was almost as if Davidson spent all their energy catching G that now they can't play with them close. The frontcourt is back to their old ways of losing the handle in tight spots.
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3:50 D 73 G 74
Interesting to see Steph handling the ball while Jason Richards is in the game. Boris gets knocked to the paint as he catches an entry then is called for the travel.
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1:50 D 77 G 78
Two o rebounds and four points for Hines. Davidson has to box him out (I say that like it's simple). Dement takes a timeout with a one-point lead. Curry has finally got the career-high: 39 points. I hope to see him break 40...maybe it will be dramatic. Like with 5 seconds left. To win.
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50 sec D 80 G 78
Huge defensive stop by Max and J-Rich gets fouled and hits the shot at the other end. Need one more stop.
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26 sec D 80 G 78
Got the stop but J-Rich misses a huge front-end free throw. G will have another chance. That hurt a little inside.
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Final 83 G 78
Dwayne Johnson misses the game tying three with five seconds remaining and Curry ices the game...41 points. And the Davidson fans go nuts and Kevin Cary flashes a huge smile. "Man! I didn't want this article to be about Curry!" More later on in the night.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

State of the SoCon

Here's a quick glance around the Southern Conference's internet outlets to find out what's on the fan's minds:

In Davidson-land, fans have begun to get over the slight from ESPN that placed Davidson in a Bracketbuster game with a Winthrop team that is 40-50 RPI points its inferior. Fans are now more concerned about how to keep themselves interested and involved while the Wildcats blow out their conference opponents. There has also been a recent little discussion over how students get tickets, where they get them, and how the stadium staff enforces different sections.

Down in the lowcountry, College of Charleston faithful have joined the ranks of UNC-Charlotte fans in questioning the heart of their team's players and the strategy of its coach. While the Cougar faithful have not been called out by the local press for their gab, things are getting pretty downright depressing in Cremins' backyard. College of Charleston suffered their worst defeat in SoCon history on Saturday and the anger that usually accompanies a proud following has started to border on exasperated resignation. It seems that the only corner of South Carolina where basketball still has legitimate standing is in, of all places...Clemson! The Tigers are third in the ACC and go into Chapel Hill tonight with a chance for a signature victory after falling to the Tar Heels in OT a month ago.

In the North Division of the Southern Conference, the Chattanooga Mocs suffered yet another loss to the "dirty", "better than they look" Davidson Wildcats before dropping an embarrassing loss to Western Carolina, a team with only eight players on the active roster after several mid-season defections. But wait, it gets worse. Chattanooga then went on to beat 4-win Furman by a mere three points, and then was kicked out of the North Division lead thanks to a 20-point blowout by Georgia Southern. Things are so bad up in Chattanooga that starting point guard Kevin Bridgewaters rolled his ankle in pre-game warmups just so he could stop committing turnovers.

So, all this means that reigning North Division champ Appalachian State is now back in first place and ready to make a run at Davidson in the Southern Conference tournament...right? Well, Appalachian State gave up 10 unanswered points at home to fall to the Cougars in the final minutes on Thursday. (Yeah, those Cougars...) Then the Mountaineers end up needing the karma of a missed Citadel free throw just to get the Bulldogs to overtime on Saturday. The Appies came away with the win and the outright lead in the North Division. But that doesn't matter too much, because...they scheduled LSU to start next year's football season! Heck, there is more discussion on Baton Rouge hotel rooms than App's loss to the College of Charleston on Thursday.

So...um...who else? Oh yeah, Georgia Southern! They did beat Chattanooga by 20 on Saturday and are now the projected three seed for the tournament. But...um, I can't find their message board. I did find this, but it seems that's just football-only. Heck, even the Eagles' own fanbase have somehow found better things to do than attend a home basketball game against the North Division-leading Chattanooga Mocs. Only 2400 people were on-hand to watch the Eagles shut down that high-flying Moc attack.

I would mention Wofford's recent streak of winning six out of their last eight games, but I'm afraid they would immediately want to kick me out of the SoCon for not playing D-I scholarship football. Oh wait, I was complementing the Terriers on their basketball team? Well, nevermind.