Ricky Price and Kyle Mattson are students at Michigan State, which is in East Lansing, which is nowhere near Davidson, and yet the two of them drove all the way down in Ricky’s red Hyundai for Saturday night’s game at sold-out Belk.
This is something I’ve been interested in since last March. I know why I’m interested in Davidson basketball. I know why people like Cobb and Sink are interested. They went to Davidson and the place helped make them who they are. And I know why people like Meg and Chip are interested. They didn’t go to Davidson but they live in Davidson and they know the people who make Davidson basketball go.
But why do Ricky and Kyle from Michigan watch Davidson games whenever they can on TV or the Internet?
Why did Ricky do a Google search to find DavidsonCats.com and then register and then start posting?
And why were the two of them in Davidson, on Saturday, early in the evening, sitting at a table in the Brickhouse with William and Sink and Sink’s wife and daughter? The two of them even were wearing matching black homemade screen-printed shirts that said DAVIDSON and had the cat head logo on the front and a CURRY and a 30 on the back.
Davidson seems different. That’s what Ricky said. Ever since March, when he watched the Gonzaga game, he’s followed the team. He stressed that last word. Team. At Michigan State, he said, it feels like the guys are there more to try to go pro as fast as they can.
And also Stephen.
Of course Stephen.
They like watching No. 30.
“There’s just something about him,” Ricky said.
The story of Ricky and Kyle I think says something important about what Davidson basketball is at this remarkable moment in its history. The program right now is big enough to draw them in but still small enough to take them in.
On Saturday at the Brickhouse before the game William bought the boys’ pizza. For the game Eddie donated a ticket, and Reed Jackson donated another, and they sat in Eddie’s seats, Section 103, Row C, Seats 5 and 6. Wells gave them some gas money. David Rorie gave them some more. Big John Harper the hot dog man at the Wildcat Den gave them nachos and Cokes.
After the game Sink took their homemade shirts down to Rossiter. Rossiter took them back to the locker room to Stephen. Stephen signed them in silver Sharpie. Later, back at the Brickhouse, Ricky and Kyle showed them off.
They stood in the lobby and told me how much fun they had had and how awesome it was to watch Stephen have 23 at the half and how it was a smaller but louder crowd than at Michigan State and how much they liked Sweet Caroline. They said it seemed like everybody knew each other. They said they were shocked at how many people seemed to know them.
When I was talking to them, and I swear I wasn’t in on this, Sink and Eddie were out in the parking lot up to no good. Which is why when Ricky and Kyle got back in their little red Hyundai and drove all the way back to East Lansing, all hopped up on Mountain Dew and 5-hour energy shots, they did it with a brand-new Davidson license plate bolted to the front of that car.