‘A twinge of immorality’

Whitlock after the Kansas game:

Davidson stripped me of any pretense. Victory is all that mattered.

Sunday afternoon, you wanted the Kansas Jayhawks to join the other No. 1 seeds in the Final Four by unleashing a magnificent display of sculpted athletic ability and power. You wanted Bill Self’s Jayhawks to look as impressive as Roy Williams’ Tar Heels, John Calipari’s Tigers and Ben Howland’s Bruins.

Davidson refused to let it happen. For the better part of two hours at Ford Field, the undermanned and better-disciplined Wildcats walked the Jayhawks through a clinic on execution, effort and determination.

Davidson vs. Goliath was just that, and as the afternoon wore on, you felt a twinge of immorality rooting for the basketball mercenaries instead of the student-athletes. Sure, you wanted Self to exorcise his Final Four demon and KU’s seniors to make it to college sports’ grandest stage.

But you would’ve felt better about it had the top-seeded Jayhawks crushed the 10th-seeded Wildcats and created the impression that a Kansas victory was the only legitimate option. You didn’t want to think about it. You didn’t want to spend all day with a knot in your stomach and the creepy feeling that Davidson just might be the better team.

And then, in the final seconds, as Jason Richards unspooled a would-be game-winning three-pointer, you were emotionally down on the same knee as Self, praying that might would trump right.

Richards’ shot banged wide left, preserving Kansas’ 59-57 victory and, more embarrassingly, laying bare your win-at-any-cost mentality.

Matt’s new Mayberry

Matheny: “This is Mayberry. But this is Mayberry with a killer instinct, because Elon is ready. There’s an eagerness here and a readiness to work toward a common goal. I can’t wait. I’m ready.”

Orange County Register

Trivia question.


Up to the altar

From the book:

At this moment, when Rudell’s TV was paused in Washington, D.C., Davidson sophomore Wes Calton was up in the stands in Detroit, feeling the way he had felt right before he proposed to his girlfriend over Christmas break. Everything had led to this moment. The ring was in his pocket. All he had to do was reach down and pull it out. All he had to do was ask.

Say yes, he thought to himself in Detroit.

Those were the words running through his head.

Say yes.

Say yes.

Say yes.

Down closer to the court, Ashley Smith, Class of 2002, felt the way she had felt at Myers Park Presbyterian Church on May 8, 2004, after the bridesmaids had gone away, when it was just her and her father, and the music changed, and the wedding director opened the doors, and all that was left was to be surrounded by people she loved and to walk from the vestibule into the sanctuary, and down the aisle, and up to the altar.

The shot taken

William on DavidsonCats.com:

I’ve seen some pictures of Stephen Curry since Sunday, and he has been smiling. I haven’t seen any pictures of Jason Richards, but I hope he’s smiling also. Because the last play of that great game was a very good play. It was probably the perfect play.

Jason had a good, clear shot, and Stephen did exactly the right thing to get the ball to him. I don’t know as much about basketball as many people here, but I know that all this was just fine. It was in perfect harmony with this team’s way of doing business, a way that got them to the regional finals. Some people who are new to all this may not know exactly what it means to play in the regional finals, but that game is, in my observation, the heart of the tournament.

I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’m guessing Jason was somewhere in the 30 to 40 per cent range on three pointers in the tournament. The shot he took was a little beyond the line, so let’s say it was a 30 per cent shot.

Three times out of ten, it goes in. Seven times it doesn’t. Let’s talk first about the seven. That’s where Coach’s emphasis on Trust comes into play. I can’t take that shot, because I don’t have the strength of character to take what happens if I miss. But Jason took the shot, because he had the nerve to do it, and I suspect, because he Trusted the coach and his teammates to continue to love him if he missed the shot. And maybe he had some sense that all the Davidson people, even all the general public, would also continue to love him if he missed. Subsequent events have proven that trust to be well-founded, and that is probably why all this is worth the amount of attention we have given it.

Now let’s consider the three times the shot does go in. It is instantly the greatest moment in college basketball history. Christian Laettner’s shot would be the equal in some ways, but essentially allowed a team to win a game it was reasonably expected to win. To do the same thing as such a clear underdog, to get a team to the FF for the first time, would be exponentially more dramatic.

The very fact that such a turn of events would have been so dramatic, so joyful for so many people, makes the sense of loss all the more painful, and consequently puts even more emphasis on the value of what Jason did in taking the place of Teddy Roosevelt’s man in the arena who ‘fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.’ If I could meet Mr. Richards, I would simply shake his hand and thank him for doing this thing while wearing the name of our school on his jersey

As a Southerner, I cannot help thinking about what Faulkner said in Intruder in the Dust:

For every Southern boy fourteen years old,
not once but whenever he wants it, there is
the instant when its still not yet two o’clock
on that July afternoon in 1863 … and it’s all in
the balance, it hasnt happened yet, it hasn’t
even begun yet … and that moment doesn’t need
even a fourteen year old boy to think This time.
Maybe this time with all this much to lose and
all this much to gain.

I love that passage, and I think of it today because it captures the pregnancy of that moment when Jason’s shot is in the air. Please God let it go in. That is not blasphemy because it is just what jumps into my heart and of course I know God doesn’t care whether it goes in or not.

But in that moment, we had in our hearts and minds, proleptically I think the theologians would say, the joy of having it go in. Before it was not in, it was as good as in. For that fraction of a second, we had that experience, and it is enough. It is well worth the journey. At least for me it is, and I guess the ultimate point of this too-long post is that I hope it is also worth it for Jason. He took the shot. He gave us that moment. He trusted, and all we can do is be sure our reaction is worthy of that trust.

Our responsibility, if that’s not putting it too boldly, is to be alert to the value of that moment, to cherish it and remember it. (Henry V one more time: “This story shall the good man teach his son.”) Stan’s brilliant post elsewhere says well some important things about Davidson. All those things are distilled in the fraction of a second that shot is in the air. They are in the reactions of the players, the coaches, the families, the fans. I have been amazed how many people were watching and truly seemed to care about what happened.

One wonders if we are too partisan, too fond of our own reputation, in our feelings about what happened in those four games. There is a danger of that, but if nothing else, the short attention span of the public (see the current issue of SI, which says almost nothing about the game) will keep us from going too far overboard.

But I choose to see the end of the Kansas game as one of the most wonderful things I have ever seen, one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I thank everybody who helped make it possible. I don’t know why the fates of basketball couldn’t have smiled on us one more time to let that shot go in. But they didn’t. This is the experience we have been given to digest, and I’m increasingly convinced that it is as it should be.

Coach McKillop said it was about Trust. That goal was not missed.

One man’s view

Mannix: He’s not ready. Also: this guy.

An open letter

Queen City Sports Blog to Stephen:

At the end of the day, it’s your decision. I wish you the best of luck in making that decision. I know you’ll do what’s right for you. You should have no shame about going to the NBA if that’s what you truly feel is right. You’ve already done so much for Davidson. It’s awesome how you and your teammates galvanized alumni and catapulted the school on to the national stage.

First-team All-American

According to the AP.

A real school?

Will Bryan:

Because of transfer rules, Seth will have to sit out a season and wouldn’t be able to face Stephen even if the Davidson guard decides to return for his senior year.

However, in 2010, the entire country will set their eyes on Duke to provide a misguided answer to an over-asked question: How would Stephen have fared at a real school?

A year ago today

Seth’s next stop




In the New York Daily News: Man, Stephen Curry is my favorite player in college basketball, by a lot, but Blake Griffin is the Player of the Year.

Thoughts on Matt

Here in the spring of ’09, as the people who care about Davidson basketball spend quite a bit of energy thinking about a decision over which they have no control, it’s important to remember that there have been essentially two constants in this program as it’s become what it’s become over the last decade and a half.

The first of course is Bob McKillop.

But the second is Matt Matheny.

That’s what makes this latest news -- Matt Matheny, head coach, Elon University -- a huge, huge deal.

Over the years, and especially these last couple years, as I’ve started again to watch Davidson basketball more closely, I’ve often thought that Matheny brought certain intangibles to the operation that were so much in line with the way the program does what it does.

He grew up in Statesville. He comes from a lineage of Matheny men who are small but tough and who absolutely bust tail. In high school he was 5-foot-9, maybe, and he guarded the best player on the other team, always. He came to Davidson to play football but also ended up on the basketball team as a walk-on who became a captain. That happened in part because of that trait. The story goes that he earned his keep because in practice among other things he’d get in the face of 7-foot-tall Detlef Musch. He was a little guy who didn’t play small.

“Defense is heart. It’s desire,” his father David told me last spring when we talked for the book over lunch at the Brickhouse. “I think Bob had that and I think he saw that in Matt.”

Matheny joined McKillop’s staff in August of ’93. He had been in Germany that summer playing some low-level professional football but he had taken the LSATs. He was going to go to law school. One year on the bench next to McKillop led to another, and another, and another, and other assistants came and went, and Matheny stayed, and here, too, is where I think his own narrative really began to dovetail with the program’s compelling, instructive anti-get-rich-quick quality.

Sometimes, seems to me, going is easier than staying, and this past season was Matheny’s 16th as a coach at his alma mater. That title as associate head coach that he’d had since ’03? It’s not something McKillop throws around lightly. By last March, though, he was calling Matheny “the architect,” and like a “kid brother.”

All that came because of two things. Time and trust.

This afternoon in his press conference at Elon, Matheny didn’t say much about McKillop, because it looked as if he would’ve started crying had he said any more. But anyone who’s paid attention to Davidson basketball and watched the Internet feed of that press conference heard a lot of Davidson in there.

Get better every day.

“Bite by bite.”



There are some mixed emotions here. The first emotion, the main emotion, is that Matt is a good, good man, a son, a husband and a father, as likeable and as genuine and as competent and as capable as they come. But after being really, truly happy for Matt, and for Jennifer, and for Brock and for not-yet-month-old Ava, and for the rest of the extended Matheny family -- well, the second emotion is: On the Davidson staff, which has had such atypical continuity for a staff at the mid-major level, Matt’s going to be a heck of a difficult person to replace.

Still: He has so earned this opportunity.

Campus as haven

Stephen last fall when we talked for the “Staying Stephen” story for Charlotte magazine: “I’m not sure what classifies a celebrity. I’m probably a local celebrity more than a national celebrity. But that’s why I like Davidson so much -- I’m pretty sure if I was at a state school, or somewhere bigger, it might be like that. But here you know who is real and who is not. It’s kind of difficult now to meet someone somewhere outside of here to determine what their motives are. At Davidson I see ’em enough to know what the people here are about.”

From a fan

In my inbox:

I haven’t thought about this until you brought it up because it has been my belief all along that he will stay. But my immediate thoughts are that prior to the last week or so folks were being a bit selfish about wanting him to stay. They didn’t want to be deprived of another year of seeing that magic that still makes us shake our heads in disbelief.

Up in Lynchburg ...

Ritchie McKay: “It’s not Black Tuesday around here, or anything like that.”


How this works

Last summer in my reporting for the book a coach told me a story about early Bob McKillop.

This was in the mid-‘80s, at McKillop’s summer basketball camps at Long Island Lutheran High School, and this coach -- young guy back then, recent Bucknell grad, a coach at the time at Division III University of Rochester -- loved to go to McKillop’s camps and take notes while listening to him tell the kids about the importance of little things.

Like how to wipe the outsides of your socks before you shoot free throws because that’s the driest part of the uniform.

Like how to take some time tying your shoes to give your teammates a chance to catch their breath.

Like how to take a charge: make a sound like it hurt, like you really took a hit, but when you pop back up don’t slap your hands like you’ve fooled the official -- don’t act like you got away with something.

This coach, this young coach, the one taking the notes, last summer when we were talking said he’s always remembered one of the terms McKillop would use during those camps at the school known as LuHi -- “a tuxedo player.”

“Guys that look cool,” this coach told me, “as opposed to a guy who plays hard and doesn’t care what he looks like.”

Another thing McKillop talked about that really made an impression on this young coach was the lecture with the paint-stirring sticks. I wrote about it in the book. The “he” here is McKillop.

He called a boy out of the bleachers and gave him one of the sticks.

“Break it,” he told the boy.

The boy broke it.

He gave the boy two sticks stacked together.

“Break them,” he told the boy.

The boy broke them.

Then he gave the boy five sticks stacked together.

“Break them,” he told the boy.

The boy tried. He could not.

One five, McKillop believed, even back then, is harder to break than five ones.

Anyway, last March in Detroit, that coach, Villanova’s Jay Wright, brought his notes from those camps 25 years ago and showed them to McKillop. Villanova was in Detroit, too, if you’ll recall -- lost to Kansas in the regional semis -- and Wright sought out McKillop on the practice day up there. He showed him his McKillop/LuHi file.

“He was stunned,” Wright told me last summer.

Tonight, of course, Wright’s Villanova team beat top-seeded Pitt to make it to the Final Four.

Ain’t no tuxedo players on that team of his.

Matheny to Elon?

Says here it’s so. Press conference is tomorrow. Here’s Charlotte.


This would be interesting. Update: Chattanooga’s AD says a decision on this is going to be made quickly. Also: Charleston.

More from fans

In my inbox:

I don’t understand all the people that are obsessing over Steph’s decision. I would love to ask all those people that are so concerned about what Steph is going to do if they had tons of people stressing about which job offer they accepted coming out of Davidson. I know it’s not totally apples to apples but you get my drift. The way I see it is that if he comes back I will be elated but I will know that it is what HE decided is best for him and the fact that it may also be great for Davidson’s basketball program and fans is just a bonus. On the other hand, if he decides to go to the NBA, I would be happy about that as well and if I had the opportunity to speak to him after that decision I would wish him luck and thank him for every thing he’s done for my alma mater. I mean, how could you not just sit back and want what’s best for him …


Bob Kravitz in Indy on the tourney: Where was this year’s Davidson? … How about Stephen Curry?

Friday night in Detroit

Mike Lopresti:

Can this be happening? Really?

This is no longer reality. This is the Wizard of Oz in short pants. The Lord of the Rings in sneakers.

Davidson 73, Wisconsin 56. Nobody saw this coming from the little school that could. Absolutely nobody.

Davidson has not run out of karma, or nerve, or Stephen Curry feats that make witnesses go wow in the night. By Friday, the Wildcats were supposed to have come back to Earth.

Instead, they’re going to Jupiter. Or somewhere out there. Maybe the Final Four, too.

Remember George Mason? Sure. George Mason eked out a lot of tough victories in its historical run two years ago. But it never put a beat-down on a big-name favorite like this.

“We got a lead on them,” guard Jason Richards would say afterward, “and never looked back.”

One way to look at it

Dime magazine tells Stephen to take the money and run.

On the Wisconsin game

Thomas Sander, the first time we talked for the book, in Davidson last April: “None of us even thought about them dominating on the inside. We’re going to hit you, and hit you, and hit you. Every time Butch came down the court, I hit him, at the foul line -- bumped him with my chest, little nudges, an extra foot, an extra second. Then hit him again, with your chest, tag ’im with your arm, as long as you don’t reach and grab. He started going to the refs. He didn’t post up the whole game. He’s whining to the refs. Are you kidding me? The Big 10 champs?”

A year ago today


September 17, 2005

Dave Telep on Scout.com:

Stephen Curry reached a college decision Friday. The son of a former NBA marksman is staying close to home where he’s expected to have a major impact on one program.

Bob McKillop and the Davidson Wildcats have recruited some strong players over the years. On Friday night, they landed a guard who should have a major impact on their program. Stephen Curry, a point guard and son of former NBA standout Dell Curry, committed to the Wildcats after considering Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth.

The 6-foot-1, 162-pound point guard averaged just under 20 points a game as a junior Charlotte (N.C.) Charlotte Christian.

“I just felt like it was the best fit for me,” Curry said. “I felt like they wanted me the most. I know Coach McKillop will work his players hard and I know that he’ll push me. Plus, I’ll have a chance to play right when I get there. It’ll set me up good academically right when I graduate.”

Curry, who has improved and grown in stature each season since his freshman year, is a major score for Davidson. While Curry is a strong mid-major prospect right now, he’s likely to blossom into a higher level player over the next few seasons.

When you consider how he’s consistently grown, advanced his game and maintains elite level family genes, Curry should be the type of recruit that leaves a stamp on the Davidson Wildcats program.

“No matter where I go, I have to play how I play,” Curry said. “I expect to be good in college no matter where I go.

“Physically I’m maturing a lot but every year, I’m getting bigger, and I’m working on my game whenever I can. I still have a ways to go.”

Curry’s father was a stud at Virginia Tech and the Hokies were involved with Stephen but the Hokies’ scholarship situation and recruiting plan dictated special circumstances that Curry would have had to accept if he decided on Blacksburg.

“I was going to go to Tech and my parents would pay the first year,” Curry said. “I don’t know if they were going to label me as a walk-on. I would have redshirted and I would have played five years but I wouldn’t have played my freshman year.”

Sitting out wasn’t something that Curry was ready to do. Instead, he picked a program that is losing perimeter firepower and guards from its rotation. McKillop will replace some outstanding seniors with a freshman who has a chance to become the best of the bunch.

A fan’s thoughts

In my inbox:

I feel like he is having his way with the system, advancing DC and SC while sports media is most focused on college hoops. This 53-47 business is pure folly. I swear I can hear a group of college juniors yukking it up as I write this.

Today’s interviews

WFNZ, Dan Patrick, PTI: Guess what? He hasn’t decided yet.

More words

Stephen: “My whole family does want me to get my degree. That’s why I came to Davidson in the first place, and that’s something that will be in the back of my mind when I make a decision. I’ve worked hard for three years, so I’ve got to finish that off.”


From another fan

In my inbox:

He doesn’t really owe it to Davidson so much as he owes it to himself to stay and graduate so that it can be said that he genuinely “walked the talk.”

The kid has “TCC” engraved on his body, right? And it’s the only thing engraved on his body, right? And he’s not the kind of kid to do something like that just on a whim, right? Given his strong spirituality (constant pointing upward as an ever present reminder) he likely believes in the “body as a holy temple of the divine” thing and so “TCC” engraved on the “holy temple” is something pretty significant, right? When he originally signed up, he understood and appreciated “TCC” better than most, right? All about how it is supposed to mean through thick/thin and good/bad and 4 years rather than 2 or 3 he’s got to be as much a part of “TCC” as “TCC” is a part of him. He invested in all that more than most, right? And so “TCC” will win out in the end, right? The decision is already engraved on his body and all he needs to do is look and realize it, right?

That amateur (NCAA)/pro (NBA) line is to me one that will likely forever equate at least to some extent to some childlike innocence still left/not so much childlike innocence left anymore and so I guess I’ll never really fully understand why anyone would cross that divide before absolutely needing to …

The backlash to the backlash

The Big Lead.

The Maloy question

Students Graham Younger and John Rogers in this week’s Davidsonian:

There is a scenario that everyone at Davidson College is thinking about, but no one wants to talk about. Stephen Curry is projected to be as high as a top-ten pick in the NBA Draft, and if he were to declare for the draft and forgo his senior season, the entire school would be devastated. But would anyone suggest that Curry does not deserve to have his number retired?

The late Mike Maloy’s statistics make it clear that he is one of Davidson’s all-time greats. He is still Davidson’s all-time leading rebounder and sixth all-time in scoring, and tallied three All-American selections, despite the fact that players were not allowed on the varsity until their sophomore seasons. He led Davidson within a game of the Final Four twice. As the first African-American student athlete to come to Davidson, his contributions extended into a political realm well beyond statistics. The story of how basketball superstar Charlie Scott choose UNC over Davidson after being denied service at a local restaurant is still known on campus. But if Maloy had not become the first African-American to play basketball at Davidson, that story could have had a much larger impact on both the basketball program and the town of Davidson.

And it seems as if anyone who came into contact with him will tell you exactly how warm and engaging he was. However, none of this matters, since Davidson College has a rule that refuses players who do not graduate the honor of entering the Hall of Fame or having their jersey retired. While the idea behind this rule (to show students the importance of finishing school) is a good one, Maloy’s situation clearly shows that it is better in theory than in practice.

Maloy left school shortly after his senior basketball season was over, after he was drafted by the Boston Celtics. It is hard to believe this sets some sort of poor example for other students. People can only play basketball for a living for so long before their bodies break down. The decision to leave school and begin working on a basketball career is a personal one, and after being such an excellent ambassador for Davidson throughout his time as a player, Maloy deserved the chance to make that decision. Not even the most impressionable people could see Maloy’s jersey in the rafters of Belk Arena and think that it somehow condoned dropping out of school. His situation was a unique predicament that, has not been a factor in the vast majority of Davidson basketball careers.

Davidson is an institution that should realize how many different ways there are to succeed in life, but cannot seem to accept that the decision not to graduate was Maloy’s to choose. Why can’t the powers that be in terms of choosing whose numbers are retired accept that students here can be prepared for their futures even if they do not graduate? Anyone who watches Coach McKillop mold basketball boys into men knows that being on the team at all surely prepared Maloy for later life, and gave him the skills he needed.

Almost every basketball fan in the state of North Carolina, if not the entire United States, can remember how Davidson’s run to the doorstep of the Final Four felt. If Stephen Curry decided to capitalize on his exceptional skill and enter the NBA draft, and we saw another player wearing his 30 during the next college basketball season, the public outcry could be heard from space. Mike Maloy gave Davidson fans that same elation of Elite Eight appearances twice, and his jersey should hang from the rafters. Unfortunately, he passed on without ever getting to see his number honored.

From a fan

In my inbox:

It’s not our business. I’ve enjoyed what he’s given me as a fan so far, and I’ll let him do what he needs to do.

I’m proud of him.

LeBron last night

On Stephen and his decision: “If he needs the advice, he can call me. He’s got my number.”

What I’ll say

I’ll start by saying what I won’t say. I won’t say he should stay. I won’t say he should go.

What I will say:

1. It’ll be the right decision. I know that because Stephen’s not a knucklehead, and neither are his parents, and neither are his coaches, and neither are his friends. It’ll be the right one because he’ll have good information. It’ll be the right one because he’ll make it for sound reasons. It’ll be the right one because it’ll be his.

2. Here, so far as I can tell, and in severely condensed form, is what he’s said publicly about this to this point: He loves Davidson. But there’s some risk in coming back. He’s 50-50 right now.

Anybody can parse in any number of ways the available snippets of quotes. But ultimately what they add up to is what we already knew: He has a decision to make. It’s not an easy decision. He’s got a lot to think about.

And he doesn’t know yet.

3. The only time I’ve ever talked about this with anybody in the basketball office was last summer. The answer I got was essentially: We haven’t even talked about it. Why would we? There’s a season to play. We’ll talk about it when it should be talked about. That means after the season.

Which is now.

Which is another way of saying: He just started really thinking about it.

4. Last June, when I was up in North Carolina doing the work for the book, one evening in Charlotte I visited for a couple hours with Sonya Curry.

Sonya told me the story most everybody’s heard by now about the evening in September of 2005 when Stephen decided on Davidson. This was in the living room of their home. Stephen committed, Sonya told McKillop they’d “fatten him up” for college, and McKillop on his way out the door smiled and told Sonya that he’d take Stephen “just the way he is.”

But Sonya also told me what happened after that door closed and when she went back inside.

Boy!” she said to Stephen. “What did you do?”

Stephen had surprised everybody but himself by committing where he did and when he did.

Sonya thought Davidson was too close, but also, and more importantly, she thought if Stephen had waited and played his senior season at Charlotte Christian he could have and would have earned offers from bigger schools with more high-profile basketball programs. She was probably right.

“The competitive side of me,” Sonya told me in June, “wanted Stephen to wait.”

That evening in their home, she said, she asked her first-born why. How had he come to this decision?

Stephen told his mother he didn’t want to drag out the process. He saw an opportunity to play right away, and he liked the coaches, and he liked the players, and he liked the school. What was the holdup?

But what convinced Sonya that her son had made the right decision, she said, was what he said next.

He said he had prayed not long before on a school retreat up to Windy Gap. He told his mother that what had popped into his head was Romans 12:2. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”



“I’m 50 percent in the middle. Every five minutes I’m thinking one way and then I’m thinking the next way.”


“I love this college, this school, everything about it. Actually, the thought of leaving it before I have to, it’s a tough decision if I have to make it.”

And also:

“I guess that’s one of the points -- going when you’re hot. If I can be confident I can be a lottery pick, there’s a lot of risk involved in coming back and having that draft stock fall a little bit.”

And Dell too:

“It’s obvious he’ll be a high draft choice, but he is a student and he desperately wants to finish school.”


The other night

Stephen’s choice

McKillop: “I am absolutely certain that the people who will have the most impact on his decision are his mom and dad.”

What it means

On March 25, 2008, on charlottemagazine.com:

There’s Jason Richards, the point guard from the suburbs of Chicago, underrated and unflappable, a history major who wrote his thesis earlier this academic year on the African-American reaction to Jackie Robinson and the breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The first hug he got Sunday night when the bus got back from Raleigh was from Dr. Sally McMillen, his advisor, and also, I should say in the interest of full disclosure, a mentor to me, too, when I was here in school and ever since. Bill Cobb, Class of ’84 and one of the Wildcats’ most devoted fans, said Monday: “This is our team. It's the community's team. We all won.” And I think this is what he means. I don’t know Jason the way I knew the guys on the team when I was in school, not by any stretch, but I FEEL like I do, I feel like I know him, and that feeling somehow is because of things like Dr. McMillen giving him that hug. That’s something we share.


It’s official

Seth’s leaving Liberty. Where to next? Lynchburg. AP. Charlotte.

There’s this

Stephen: “I don’t have a time limit or anything like that, but my heart’s still at Davidson.”

On DavidsonCats.com


Its almost 4:30, and Im wondering if my mind and body have decided that if I dont go to sleep the season wont be over. But as the middle of the night arrives, I will sign off by saying thanks to the team and the coaches. It was a good season, a noble campaign, an honorable wrestle. To my untrained eye, it seemed that things were often one little bit short of perfect, and I would imagine that our heroes were frequently frustrated by that. But they fought on, and as MM15 points out, they won a bunch of games and were in historical terms quite successful. There may be a lesson here, that if one tries to evaluate the present in terms of either the past or of some imagined ideal, then one is not on a path to peace and happiness.

Chronicle insight

Ray Ratto: ... ultimately the difference wasn’t so much that St. Mary’s had Patty Mills. It was that St. Mary’s had Wayne Hunter.

The journey

One last Michael Murphy passage:

So Shivas Irons would have us learn to enjoy what is while seeking our treasure of tomorrow. And -- you might have guessed it -- a round of golf is good for that, “… because if it is a journey, it is also a round: it always leads back to the place you started from … golf is always a trip back to the first tee …”


So the Year After ended on the opposite coast 2,711 miles from the village at not quite 2 in the morning in the East.

Maybe it wasn’t how some folks thought it would end, or where, in terms of geography, tournament or television network, but it’s got to end sometime, and tonight the right team won. St. Mary’s is a team with an NBA guard and two bigs who are pros and those kids did what they had to do in front of a home crowd that made a difference. They made the shots they needed to make and got the stops they needed to get.

This is a simple analysis, too simple, but the story tonight in a way was the story of the season: Stephen … and then what? Will had some terrific moments in the first half, with threes, with drives, with some good, needed work on the glass, but it didn’t last. This year’s team wasn’t a one-man team all the time -- talk about too simple -- but that was too true too much of the time. There’s ample opportunity to ruminate on the anatomy of that dynamic but now is not the time.

Now is also not the time to begin a discussion of some of the questions expected to come up in the offseason -- one in particular of course -- to the extent that an offseason is a thing that really even exists at this point for this program. For now, though, consider: Only four teams in 101 years of Davidson basketball have won 27 or more games in a season -- the 1968-69 team, and the last three.

The Class of 2008 graduated as the winningest class in the history of Davidson basketball.

Come May the Class of 2009 will do the same.


Tonight in California

McKillop: “This really is a very, very good moment for us.” Contra Costa Times. San Francisco Chronicle. USA Today.

And back in Davidson ...

From the St. Pete Times:

The drive back from the games in Raleigh ended with a police escort into town past toilet-papered trees. The lights of the team bus swung toward Belk Arena and landed on 500 cheering fans. The first hug Richards got was from his history thesis adviser.

At the Brickhouse, with satellite trucks outside, the crowd hollered and yelled every time the Davidson highlights played on ESPN. Then came the clip of Curry in the postgame news conference. The people looked up at his face and the place went hush.

March 23, 2008

“I’m leaving Raleigh right now, and I live in Florida,” I said over the phone to the woman at the Village Inn. “But I need to be in Davidson tonight.”

“You should’ve heard all the horns honking,” she told me, “here in this little town.”


The Georgetown win

From the book:

And then came the tournament comebacks in March that made so many around the nation start watching. One fan said a timeout late in the game against Gonzaga had been what he considered a long-sought-after “moment of equilibrium.” It wasn’t a feeling of imminent victory. What it was, he said, was an overwhelming feeling of opportunity. The chance. We can win this. It was, for some alums, particularly for those who had been boys during the Lefty years of the 1960s, something like a reawakening of the possibility of national success. Two days after that, late in the second half of the comeback against Georgetown, one fan turned to his left and looked down his row in Raleigh and saw a white-haired alum with a single tear running down his cheek and then turned back to his young son and asked him to please watch this game close.


More of this

Tomorrow night

Taking the spotlight to the NIT.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis ...


In the Twittercast yesterday, I mentioned that I fastened something to the court underneath the curtain. I can tell you now that it was a small (3 inch-by-2 inch) printed-out picture of Stephen Curry that I taped to the floor while security wasn’t looking, to help the Bison pull off the big upset. It was clear that the tactic worked, as Woodside scored a very Curry-like 37 points on 13-for-23 and hit some fallaway jumpers in the second half that were very very reminiscent of a certain shooter’s form. But unfortunately, it worked so well that a guy on the other team had the game of his life too. The magic was dissipated and unfocused, and for that I apologize.

Either way, let it be said that Stephen Curry was indeed represented at the 2009 NCAA Tournament after all, and that his impact was strongly felt.

(Read this too.)

A thought

Claire’s post yesterday made me pop in the Gonzaga DVD. The moment with just over a minute left when Andrew gets that offensive-rebound loose ball by the baseline, and when he turns around and looks for Stephen, and when he whips the ball back out so Stephen can break the 74-all tie -- at that moment, yesterday, I had the thought I always have when I re-watch that play: If Jeremy Pargo had tried only a little harder. If only he had reached a little more. If only he had lunged a little longer.

The line is thin.


March 21, 2008

From the book:

Thomas reached for a loose ball near the basket and jammed his right thumb. An X-ray just before halftime showed a break on the side of the tip of his thumb. The team doctor said the decision to play or not was up to Thomas. The decision was easy. Thomas was going to play. In a room off to the side, the doctor shot, with a .22-gauge needle, directly into the part of the bone that was broken, a mixture of numbing, fast-acting pain medications Ethyl Chloride, Marcaine and Lidocaine. Thomas looked away.

He came back into the main part of the locker room where his teammates had gathered for halftime. The coaches were still out in the hall. He had his thumb stuck in a cup of ice.

Jason Richards, his roommate and his best friend, looked up at him.

“Is it broken?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Thomas said.

There was a short anxious silence in the room.

Davidson was down by five.

“Are you still going to play?” Jason said.

“Yeah,” Thomas said.

He sat down. His teammates looked at him. All of them, he thought to himself, would do the same thing for him.

People close to the team knew about the injury, but most people did not, and the hope was that opponents wouldn’t, either.

“I’ll be okay,” Thomas told reporters who asked about it.

Thomas got the painkilling shots before the next three games in the tournament. They made his right hand so numb he sometimes had to look down at the ball to make sure he had gotten a rebound. And yet in the Kansas game, midway through the first half, he somehow had made a three-pointer with a hand he couldn’t even feel.

‘Feels like yesterday’


The Davidson guys on our row who I know by sight but not by name are murmuring disbelievingly -- this has only happened in dreams, there’s no frickin way it's happening for real right in front of us in a matter of seconds. Years of waiting, years before we were born, before we knew anything about this school that has become our home, suddenly come crashing down into our reality. “Oh my god,” I say to them, searching their eyes with mine and finding the same indescribable emotion, “OH MY GOD.”

Not just hoops

Bryant: Nothing But Nets. Also: Help send Lauren to Nigeria.

One five

Bay Area buzz

San Francisco:

... potentially most entertaining game of the coming week.

San Jose:

NCAA Tournament officials must be jealous.

In Toronto

Dell on Stephen and the NBA: “I think he’d do well. He can shoot the basketball. He’s proven he can play both guard positions. And he loves to play. This is not just a dad talking, this is just a guy talking: He has no range. It’s much like mine. He’s comfortable shooting pretty much everywhere on the floor.”

A year ago today

Dear America,

It was, up until now, a hopeful but hypothetical conversation. We’ve had it over beers in bars. We’ve had it on cell phones from Boston to San Francisco, from New York to Atlanta, from Charlotte to Tampa. We’ve had it in the fall and in the winter, and in the spring and summer, too. We’ve had it for years.

What if?

What if we won in the tournament?

It’s SUCH a good story, we said to each other -- little school, big dreams, cute town, smart kids. People, we kept saying, WANT to tell this story. They just needed a reason. They needed us to win.

This tournament is a series of finite 40-minute windows of opportunity. Seize one and you earn another. Win and you get another two days of news cycle. Win and you get to tell your story.

You have to understand something about us and our school. I don’t know if it’s Southern gentility or Presbyterian humility, but we’ve always been institutionally reluctant to say, Hey, look, look at us. It’s just not what we’ve done and so it’s not what we do.

But we want so badly for people to know.

So we’ve looked to Bob McKillop and his basketball team.

He went 4-24 in his first season at Davidson. That was 19 years ago. He has taken us from the Southern Conference tournament to the NIT to the NCAAs and now to a win in the NCAAs. He built this. He didn’t leave us when he could have. He has raised his family in a house across the street from campus. His oldest son played for him. His youngest son plays for him now. His daughter went to Davidson and is engaged to a Davidson man. He tears up when he talks about this.

His team went to the NIT in ’94.

His team lost in the conference finals in ’96 after going undefeated in league play. Another NIT.

In ’98, a conference tournament title, a trip to the NCAAs. It seems so, so long ago, but not really, and we were giddy. That felt like this feels. Really it did.


There were trips back, in ’02, in ’06, in ’07.

Close, close, close. But never that win.


Make no mistake: We beat a good team today. This was not about the bounces or the breaks. No. We beat a really good team that played really well because WE played really well.

Because we got a ballsy gutsy late three from Max.

Because we got 13 rebounds from Andrew.

Because we got two huge buckets late from Rossiter.

Because we got nine assists and 15 points from Jason.

And also, of course, because we got 40 from Steph. Not just any 40. An 8-for-10-from-three 40. A 14-for-22 40. A five-steals 40. A first-round-record-setting-40. A forever 40.

But this whole thing is less about how it happened and more about what it means.

After the game, Joey Beeler, the men’s basketball media relations guy, was looking frazzled. His life just got crazy. He said his phone started going off right as the buzzer sounded.

Let it be told.

We are one of the smallest schools in Division I.

We are 1,700 students in Davidson, N.C., just north of Charlotte, that’s it, all undergrad.

We are NOT Davidson University.

We are ranked ninth in the U.S. News and World Report and 23rd in the AP poll.

We keep in touch with our professors after we graduate.

We watch basketball games on grainy Web video from wherever we live.

A couple weeks ago, at the Southern Conference tournament championship game, there was a man with a sign, and the sign said:





And they do, and in a way that’s much, much more intimate than most other Division I program, and certainly most other programs that are playing this weekend for a spot in the Sweet 16. This program, our program, is now big enough to matter but still small enough to touch.

After the game on Friday, in the locker room, there were the lights, the mics, the pens and the pads, the bigness, and there was Steph, surrounded by a scrum three- and four-deep, saying what he said, tired, happy, the faintest of facial hair, as always, on his chin and his upper lip.

We saw in the peach-fuzzed face of this pretty kid from Charlotte the potential of what happened today.

The hypothetical is no longer hypothetical.

He helped make our conversation real.


Michael Kruse
Davidson College
Class of 2000

Monday night

The fastest sellout in St. Mary’s history. It took 45 minutes.

Something’s missing

Mark Schlabach:

I'm betting the NCAA tournament’s opening round would have been more exciting with guys like Davidson’s Stephen Curry and St. Mary’s Patty Mills.


On last March

Bill Self: “When we played Davidson, you could just sense, ‘Let’s get through this one.’ When we played Carolina, it was like, ‘I can’t wait for these next two hours.’”


Watching him

Taking the Shot

The book makes its second appearance on the NYT’s Quad Blog. Old Chapel Hill friend and Carolina man Mike Ogle gives a mention in today’s tourney live blog:

I was talking with a Davidson friend recently, Michael Kruse, who wrote a book about last year’s Stephen Curry-fueled run called Taking The Shot. I was asking him how cocky Davidson fans are getting about where their program is headed (aside from the N.I.T.). He said a lot of them think they could be the next Gonzaga. But there are probably too many things working against such a tiny bookish school in the heart of A.C.C. and Southeastern Conference country.

Either way, Curry is missed in this tourney.

Terry Holland

On why he wasn’t at any of last year’s tourney games: “It could’ve been a little distracting for Davidson, and it certainly would’ve been distracting for the East Carolina fans. Obviously, my first duty is here and I’ve always tried to make sure that I approach things in a professional way.”

The Fertile Void

More Michael Murphy:

He believed that somehow, by some unconscious process, the constant exercise of the sense of perspective required in golf sends a message through to our higher centers that you can never be in the same place twice in relation to the target. Every moment on the course, like every moment in life, is to some degree unique and unrepeatable. And from that realization the mind begins to grope, perhaps unconsciously, for some secure place that never requires a final standpoint in this always shifting world. The mystics have described such a place, or such a no-place, and have called it by names like the Godhead or the Brahman or the Fertile Void.

Such exercises in perspective are a good thing, he said, “for nothing seems satisfying to us short of that. And this Western world is finally getting the message -- just before the game is over.”

SI’s second team



Taking it


This boldness is also an attitude we all share on this side, because the only other options are mediocrity and failure. I recall something that Davidson head coach Bob McKillop mentioned during the throes of the Wildcats’ February losing streak that ultimately cost the team its chance to follow up its amazing run to the Elite 8.

After the BracketBusters loss to Butler, McKillop said, “Last year we got to the Elite Eight because there was no sense of entitlement. We went after it, we grabbed it, we took it. At this point, in the last 10 days or two weeks, we’ve kind of let it come to us, rather than take it.”

Davidson took again last night -- beating South Carolina on the Gamecocks’ own floor in the NIT. And with superior game plans, coaching ingenuity, heroic performances, solid systems (and yes, ball control), they’ll take more in the future. Those teams that will excel and win over the next several days will do so because they, like the Wildcats in 2008, take what wasn’t readily offered, and wasn’t for sale anyway.

A lesson

Max: “It wasn’t going to a restaurant that changed things. It was a change in our mindset and the way we see the games.”

Will Bryan

Good read.


Assist from Kenny

Ron Green Jr.:

A day before the South Carolina game, McKillop received an e-mail from Kenny Grant, who played on Davidson’s 2004-05 team that endured a similar disappointment when it failed to make the NCAA field.

In the message, Grant told McKillop that aside from his NCAA experience, playing in the NIT was the most fun he had at Davidson. McKillop read the message to his team.

“The guys saw this could be fun and fun had escaped them,” McKillop said.

They felt like dancing again.

One more thought

Wildcats coached by Lefty Driesell won five national postseason games. Tuesday night made six for Wildcats coached by Bob McKillop.

Just saying

A note from the win Tuesday night: No. 30 scored 30 for the 30th time in his career and moved into the top 30 on college basketball’s all-time scoring list.

He’s a freshman


Win in Columbia

This was a difficult game. Quick turn. On the road. The NIT and not the NCAA. It was made more difficult by the officials’ apparent decision to call a foul on what seemed like just about every touch in the first part of the second half. Max and Steve with four fouls before the first media timeout? Seriously not ideal.

Davidson has a reputation for being very very physical. I don’t think I’m revealing any great secret by saying that. They have that reputation because they’ve earned it. There’s a difference between being big and being physical. Duggar Baucom told me that last summer in my reporting for the book. The guys who play for Davidson, he said, almost every one of them, almost every year, are the latter. They play physical because they have to. Refs who for whatever reason decide to call an abnormally tight game typically mean not good things for Davidson.

And yet: 70-63.

A win like tonight’s is the kind of thing that makes a team like Davidson that plays on Davidson’s level a program. It’s not as important as beating Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin on CBS -- obviously -- but it’s still really important. It is.

To be a program like Davidson wants to be, and is, and to do that from where Davidson sits within the structure of the sport, you win your league in the regular season. You do that more often than not. In Davidson’s case, of course, at least over the better part of the last decade and a half, you do that far more often than not. You don’t beat teams from power conferences every time you play them but you do beat them some of the times you play them. You win, like, 18 games in down years. You don’t go to the NCAAs every year but you are in the running. You have a real chance every year.

And in the years where it doesn’t happen and you don’t get to the NCAAs?

You get invited to the NIT.

And you win there.

Tonight down I-77

At South Carolina. AP. The P&C. The State. More from The State. And more. The Observer. Davidson. QC Sports Blog.


‘The heather and the sea’

Michael Murphy in Golf in the Kingdom:

I watched Shivas whenever I could, and slowly his example began to influence me in a peculiar way. I became more and more aware of the feeling of the game, of how it was to walk from shot to shot, how it was to feel the energy gathering as I addressed the ball, how the golf links smelled. It was not that he said anything to me, but his example. He was so physical in the way he moved and responded, like a big animal. The only thing he asked me in fact during those middle holes was whether I could smell the heather. “It’s growin’ way over there,” he said, pointing to a distant hill, “but you can smell it from heer.” I could smell it, and though I didn’t tell him, I could also smell that powerful odor of eucalyptus and baking bread.

Those middle holes were a lesson in resignation and simple sensing. No more ambitions for prodigious shots and scores, they seemed out of reach; just a decent modest game and enjoyment of the endless charms of Burningbush. It was a new way to play for me. I had always focused on the score and the mechanics of my swing. Now my focus included other things, like the heather and the sea. The holes ran along water, and you could see for miles along the sandy links land, across gently rolling hillocks lavender and yellow in the afternoon sun.

Won’t be the same

Stephen: “I’ve got to make a new story.” Also: Jeff calls him the Tiger of college hoops.


Stephen’s on the USBWA’s first team, along with Tyler Hansbrough, DeJuan Blair, Blake Griffin and James Harden. From the release that just showed up in my inbox:

Davidson’s Stephen Curry earned his way on the team as the Southern Conference Player of the Year. His 28.6 points per game led the nation. He shot 38.2 percent from 3-point range and also added 5.2 assists per game. Curry is the fourth Davidson player to earn USBWA All-America honors, but the first since Mike Maloy in 1969.

Insiders over outsiders

Arthur Staple:

Bob McKillop wasn’t yet resigned to his fate on Saturday evening, but he had a good idea what was happening.

“Last year, we were on the inside,” the Davidson coach said. “This year, we’re on the outside.”

And outside is where all the wannabe Cinderellas ended up this year.

Which is a pretty big shame given how much joy McKillop’s team, led by the jaw-droppingly excellent Stephen Curry, provided last year.

‘The new Davidson’

Pete Thamel:

Siena is the new Davidson. That means that the Saints star Kenny Hasbrouck is the new Stephen Curry. While he cannot shoot like Curry, who had 128 points in four tournament games last year, Hasbrouck is the best scorer on a deep and talented Siena team that beat Vanderbilt in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament last year.

The difference between Hasbrouck and Curry is that Hasbrouck is not a one-man show. Davidson’s struggles this season can be traced to Curry’s not having a strong enough supporting cast. Hasbrouck can score -- he led Siena with 14.8 points a game -- but the Saints have three others averaging double figures and six over all who score more than 8 points a game.


Rainy Sunday night

McKillop: “The picture is very clear that the opportunity to go through the door for us is not as big an opportunity as for the BCS programs. The margin for error is ever so slight.” South Carolina.


On ESPN.com: “The Man Who Wasn’t There.” It feels wrong to hold the NCAA tournament without Stephen Curry ...


I’m feeling anxious and melancholy right now for a number of reasons. Davidson’s exclusion from the NCAA tournament is not one of them. This season, the Year After, started in earnest with a four-point loss on the home court of one of the best teams in the country, on national TV, in which Stephen had 44 points, after which my phone rang with a call from a friend in the basketball business, who started the conversation by saying: “Whoa.” We saw gyms full and records fall. We saw a win in the program’s old second home in the city of Charlotte. We saw a win in the world’s most famous arena in which the buzz was for one of ours. One man moved from Oregon to Davidson to watch his alma mater’s basketball team. A man and his son from Florida with no connection at all to the school bought season tickets and started flying up from Tampa for Saturday games. Two kids from Michigan drove all the way down, just for a game at Belk Arena in January, and then turned around and drove back. Bob Knight called Stephen Curry the best passer in the history of college basketball. Now comes the NIT. Davidson has been playing basketball for 101 years. Only 15 of those years have ended with national postseason play. More than half of those 15 berths have come under Bob McKillop. This is one of them. This is the fifth in a row. That’s never happened before. It is the continuation of the most consistently fine time to be a fan of Davidson College’s basketball team in at least the last 40 years and maybe ever.

News on Frank

It’s not good.

March 15, 1969

Forty years ago today, Carolina beat Davidson in the regional finals in College Park, Md., 87-85 on a buzzer-beating shot by Tar Heel great Charlie Scott.

Here, from my notes from the late ‘90s from some of my reporting for the old book, are some of the memories of those who were there:

Dave Moser ‘69: “It’s been hard to swallow for 30 years, that game. I still feel we were the better ball club. I have to say: Charlie Scott was a heck of a player. You could play good defense but still couldn’t stop him from shooting a 15-foot jump shot. In ’68, I could accept it, but I still feel we were the better team in ’69.”

Jerry Kroll ’70: “I was really pissed in ’68. I knew we should have won that game. It stung. But ’69 was worse. We had the ball with a minute to go and the official calls a charge on me and I foul out. At best, it was a questionable call; Gerald Tuttle fell down, and they called a charge on me.”

Wayne Huckel ’69: “We were the better team.”

Bob Dunham ’70, former Davidsonian sports editor: “I knew, if they couldn’t deny the ball to Charlie Scott, as soon as he got the ball -- it was over. It was not a matter of defense. It was Charlie Scott. He was magic with the ball.”

Luther Moore ’69, team manager at the time: “He earned it. Mike O’Neill was on him and had his hand in his face.”

Moser: “It wasn’t like O’Neill was playing bad defense.”

Bobby Vagt ’69, former Davidson president: “Pain. Agony.”

Tony Orsbon ‘69: “It’s an image that sticks with you, and that’s an image I’ll never forget, Charlie Scott going up in the key.”

Charlie Scott UNC ’70: “There was no doubt who was going to take that last shot. I wasn’t going to pass it. A lot of the Davidson guys are still upset about that. That’s North Carolina basketball, though -- people got long memories.”

Selection Sunday

Feinstein: “There’s no better example of that than Davidson. The Wildcats have one very good nonconference win: West Virginia. They have road losses to Oklahoma (by four), Purdue and Duke. Two of their seven losses were the direct result of Stephen Curry’s injury. And yet, few people expect them to show up in the bracket this evening.”


Hang his jersey

A letter to the editor, in the Davidsonian last month, written by William E. Jackson ’57, a former political science professor who still lives in Davidson:

On Feb. 5, The Charlotte Observer proclaimed in a front-page story in the sports section: “Davidson Great Dies.” It referred to the death in Austria last week of three-time basketball All-American Mike Maloy-heralded by Coach Lefty Driesell as “the best player [Davidson College] ever had.” He “was the most consistent player I ever had. He never had a bad game.”

Maloy led the Wildcats to back-to-back NCAA regional tournament finals in 1968 and 1969. He remains the school’s all-time leading rebounder; and seventh leading scorer (1661 points) with a 19 points per game average.

But today’s students would never know who Lefty was talking about if they looked for his retired jersey (# 15) hanging above Belk Arena, or checked the list of athletes in the college’s Hall of Fame. Mike Maloy was a sharp and joyful student from Bryant High School in Long Island City (Queens). Coach Terry Holland accurately remembered him as “one of the most enjoyable human beings that I have ever been around.”

Mike was in my course on "Southern Politics” -- that’s right -- at a time when the student body was overwhelmingly white males from southeastern states.

Despite the fact that he did not graduate from Davidson College, Lefty is absolutely right when he makes the case that Mike should be in the college’s Hall of Fame. It gives me “the blues” to read about Mike’s passing.

(Hat tip: Rob Hooker.)



Congratulations to Matt and Jennifer Matheny. Again proud parents.

Making the case II

Stephen: “We are 26-7. The seven losses are all against 20-win teams. We have some good wins against N.C. State and West Virginia. I think we showed we can play and actually win games. Things didn’t go well late in the season, but based on last year, if we get a shot we can do something with it.”

Making the case

Whitlock: He belongs in the Big Dance. And truth is, so does his mama, Sonya Curry.


Stephen makes the Sporting News first team. (This list too.)

Words from Vienna

From the AD at the American International School:

I would to express my personal thanks to the hundreds of people who have contacted me over the last month with stories, photos, music and above all; moral support. It was a truly amazing experience and one that has changed my life forever.

Mike’s JVB team ended their season at the weekend. Mike would have been very proud of them.

We host the ISST Division 1 European Girls Basketball Championships starting tomorrow and we have dedicated this event to Mike’s memory. Below you can see the page we have in the program.

We will close the Mike Maloy Fund this Friday March 13th. As of today the fund stands at Euro 13.810,99.

Also this:

Mike Maloy, since the 1970’s our dear friend, colleague coach and musical inspiration, passed away suddenly on February 2nd.

Drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1970, Mike instead played in the ABA league before joining USBC Wien in 1976, the first American to play basketball professionally in Austria. USBC dominated the Austrian league in the 70’s and also played in the European Championships. Mike went on to play or coach with Klosterneuburg, Graz, Mattersburg, OTB Favoriten, WAT Donaustadt and BBC Tulln. AIS students would attend the Saturday games and cheer with the crowds when Mike dunked the ball; “Jaaaa, unser American Import hat es wieder geschafft.”

The crowds were always still, however, when Mike, with his Boring Blues Band took the stage to sing. Today we are silent again.

Mike’s Funeral was an exceptional event that was attended by more than 500 people from around the world. Tributes from the Boring Blues Band, the American International School and basketball friends were warmly received, as was the moving performance of his band.


Hokie fans?

Stephen: “Still football fans, definitely.”

Slate on Stephen

Two keen insights from Tommy Craggs:


Curry is less athlete than folk hero, a star who shares a strand of DNA with the knife throwers, crack shots, and pool-hall massé artists of the world.

And this:

Curry wasn’t ruined by premature ubiquity. He is the closest thing we have today to a species that has become extinct in the age of sports television: the star who came from nowhere.

This year’s Davidson?

How about Siena?

Games left to play

Katz: McKillop said Curry is handling the possibility that he might not play in the NCAAs this season well, saying he was just wondering what time they will practice Sunday.

Keep fighting

Bob McKillop, after a loss in the Southern Conference semifinals in Chattanooga, in an e-mail to his team on March 7, 2005:

Fellas --

Rather than wallowing in pity, I spent the past 48 hours trying to show as much care as I could to as many people as possible. God works in amazing ways. I am motivated, excited, and energized at a very high level right now in preparation for the new season that awaits us.

I also spent some time “smelling the roses.” Do you realize that we went unbeaten for 2 months? Do you realize what an accomplishment it is to go unbeaten in conference play? There are 325 Division I teams that play in a conference. We were 1 of 2 teams to go unbeaten. Watching Ohio State beat Illinois yesterday indicates how difficult such a task is. What an amazing story about you guys!

Did you also happen to see that the top rated team in the RPI, Kansas, lost to Missouri on the same court that we beat Missouri to open the season?

We have so much to be proud of, so much to be thankful for, so much to be excited about. We need to keep fighting, and keep fighting, and keep fighting.


Tourney sans Stephen?

Terry Holland: “The committee is not allowed to take into account Star Power or how a team did in previous tournaments. But still, each member is a human being and you never know for sure what factors they favor or influence their thinking.”


How you lose

Fan Barry Dailey via e-mail:

I’m a UConn grad and have lived in Davidson for 14 years. It took a lot of Davidson basketball to get me to replace my Huskies Hat for the Wildcat. It was Thomas Sander who finally coaxed me into Wildcat Country. Never saw a player who not only always seemed to be positioned so thoughtfully on the court -- but at the right angle. Not only was his body where it was supposed to be, but his feet too. Textbook feet. Great high school coach + Bob I guess.

Anyway we went to Chattanooga. After Sunday’s game we were at the hospitality event at the Sheraton. Understand we are not insiders to the program. We keep our distance but remain captive to how artfully Bob runs things. So he comes up to our table, leans over and introduces himself to our 7-year-old girl who has a Wildcat tattoo on her cheek and a Wildcat basketball in her hands. “Hi Megan, I’m Bob McKillop.” (The guy was less than 2 hrs from a really tough loss.) His emotion was all over his face. He looked exhausted -- but his class would not be denied. He stays a while and chats with my wife and I. … Strangers mind you.

I asked coach about Frank and he told me straight up what I guess most people now know and won’t say. He told me Frank was going to be DC’s secret weapon in the tournament.

When most coaches would be at the bar or hidden away in their hotel room … not this guy.

After Sunday’s game we again talked with our daughter about how there are lessons to be learned when you win and when you lose. How Steph embraced those C of C guys after the game … not with that half hug kids do … but a real, sincere embrace to kids that just beat Davidson -- again. No pouting and no excuses. Good luck guys … great game. That’s how you lose. That’s how you live.

Yesterday our daughter was awarded the “school bear” for sportsmanship by her gym teacher … coincidence I suspect but who knows?

Other folks? Thoughts? Stories?


Thinking out loud

Another e-mail:

Or maybe it’s not exhaustion at all. Maybe we as fans know that going to the Sweet Sixteen, or the Elite Eight, or the Final Four is just not something that is going to happen with any regularity for a school like Davidson. So we feel somehow that the magic of the run of ‘08 can’t be duplicated, nor should it be. Do we subconsciously think that a “lesser” NCAA run this year would push the memories of ‘08 out of our minds? Do we not want that to happen? Do we need another year, or two, to revel in the excitement of ‘08? Do we think the magic of the run of ‘08 will be somehow diminished by getting to the same place, or farther, every year?

In or out?

Mark Bradley in Atlanta: The Madness will be less mad without Stephen Curry.

After Cloud Nine

Claire from her files to my inbox:

APRIL 4, 2008.

April showers have been beating down all night. A bunch of us went to see Leatherheads at Birkdale (in the lobby we saw one kid wearing a Sweet Sixteen shirt and Zach muttered something under his breath about a bandwagon). It was strange to slouch in the dark, quiet, half-empty theater like we might on any other Friday night, our legs slung carelessly over the railing... still not over the last seven days, when most of us had been standing and screaming, half-starved but adrenaline-buzzed in the Cloud Nine storm of fifty thousand people, more than six hundred miles away from this little town where it started oh so quietly.

At the end of the movie, George Clooney’s character huddles with his football team. They’re down, despondent, caked with mud, surely will lose.

“You guys having fun out there?” George asks, with his sparkling trademark grin shining under all that muck.

I have minor convulsions in my seat between Mike and Zach. “THAT’S WHAT BOB ASKED THEM!” I yelp in a whisper, bouncing my legs up and down on the rail.

They smile.

They know.

Reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about of late: 2008 was so special because 2008 was so special. It sounds like a tautology but I think it’s worth some consideration.



All-this. All-that.


This showed up today in my inbox:

Extremely interesting feelings on the part of some, me included, and apparently Claire. Not sadness, not disappointment, not anger. Just a sort of relief. I can’t say it is a memory of last year’s physical and mental exhaustion in Detroit. I don’t think I usually remember such things that far in the past.

Maybe it’s a deep, somewhat hidden feeling that this is not a great team. Not even a really solid team. At least on a consistent basis. Spectacular at times. Awful at other times. Maybe in places we don’t want to look we’re relieved these kids won’t have to face the possibility of an ugly beat down when they have one of those awful games.

Delving into why we feel this way might be more difficult than trying to find out why we felt the way we did last March.


Observer Q&A


Is there a more over rated team and player than Davidson and Curry? Very weak division, they lost every hard game they played. Curry a NBA pro? Uh no … maybe in Uzbekistan. Also what local kid goes to Davidson? For 40k a year?


if you saw what i saw last season, if you were there when davidson beat georgetown and wisconsin and almost kansas, you would have been mesmerized, also. we wrote about curry almost every day, it seemed. but he was one of the great stories in the sport, locally and nationally, and a great guy. he will play in uzbekistan only if the nba puts a franchise there. he had little help this season. missed his point guard, richards, tremendously. like hansbrough, he’ll be a first-round pick.

More here.

Out of Tennessee

An idea.

Grinding together


The bit of me, the smallest part of me that can see without feeling (or maybe feels the most in a way), thinks that this season needs to be over. I don’t quite know why (and the rest of me screams at that little bit, HOW THE HELL CAN YOU SAY THAT?!); something about past and present and future grinding together (over on top of too much) and pressure (lights/stats/crowdsurfing) and living up and expecting and not really smiling anymore. Worn down, worn out.

So rest.

Rest and come back.

I will.


Davidson’s biggest advocate?

It might be Mike DeCourcy.


Jeff Goodman’s Facebook status: “Was set to head to Chattanooga for Stephen Currys Play-In Game; Scrapped that plan and headed home for a couple days before Big East tourney really gets going.



Alas, the loss Sunday almost certainly knocks the Wildcats out of the NCAA tournament. Some other team will be this season’s Davidson. But those of us who watched last season, and that was almost all of us, will always remember the original.

Thoughts from Chattanooga

There are always reasons.

Antwaine Wiggins made Stephen work hard, and struggle, and that was not a surprise. He’s done it before.

Charleston beat Davidson on the offensive glass, and that wasn’t a surprise, either. Some of those offensive rebounds came late in the game, and made a big, big difference.

All sorts of other things, too, are right there in the box score -- Will and Bryant a combined 1-for-14? -- but I’m not a big box score man anyway.

If you’ve watched this team, not just on the TV or the web feed, if you’ve been to Belk, if you’ve been around Davidson, if you’ve been around this group, and if you’ve watched and felt how this season has developed, and how these guys have developed -- and how they haven’t -- you sort of saw this coming. Easy to say now. But you did.

This has been a fun year, at least at times, and even here and there a really fun year, but mostly -- mostly it’s been a long year. I don’t mean season. I mean year. Last March to this March.

There was no off-season this year.

What happened with Davidson basketball over these last 12 months, for the coaches and for the kids and for the program and for the institution they represent, was totally unprecedented. There was no blueprint.

It’s going to take some time, maybe, to sort this out, but something interesting was at work ever since Jason took that shot.

I’ve listened to enough fans the last few months say that the wins this year didn’t feel as good as they once did and that the losses felt worse than they ever had.

Fans are tired.

The guys on the team? They’re not robots. They’re not pros. They’re very serious about their basketball, yes, but -- they’re college kids, they’re students.

I think they’re exhausted.

And I’m not even talking about physically.

Cremins, in the press conference after the game last night, unprompted, said this:

“Maybe they’re tired from what they did last year. They might be tired. They might be a little tired.”

McKillop, back at the hotel, in the lobby, with people packed in around him in a large, open room, and with people leaning over railings from the balconies above, said this:

“I don’t know if you understand the pressure that’s been on our guys since last April.”

It’s tough to measure pressure. Expectations. Exhaustion. There’s no box score for stuff like that. But those things, and anybody who’s been paying attention knows this -- those things, all season long, were thick in the air around this team.

One final thing from last night: When the buzzer sounded, the TV cameras, I’d imagine, did something they haven’t done in a while. They shifted away from Stephen Curry. Charleston was jumping and hollering and TV cameras love winners.

So there was a moment there, perhaps, however small, when Stephen was, for the first time in quite some time, relatively unwatched.

He walked over to the bench. He stood at the rear of the line of his teammates as they started to walk up the sideline to shake the hands of their opponents. He looked down for not long and then looked back up. He seemed to take a deep breath.

And then he did what he’s always done. He tapped his chest, quick, with his right hand, and he pointed up high.

He turns 21 on Saturday.

The Davidson debate

Thamel on the NYT’s Quad blog:

Could Curry’s rainbow jumpers end up in the N.I.T.? Would you rather see Davidson or, say, Providence? Be prepared for a week of debates, starting now.



That 2008 team was no fluke. It was extremely good, the best of three straight Davidson teams that have dominated the Southern Conference.

That domination officially concluded Sunday night. Davidson thudded back into the Southern Conference pack with its 59-52 tournament semifinal loss to Charleston -- the second time Cremins has coached Charleston to a big win against Davidson in the past month.

All streaks must end sometime, and Charleston has ended most of Davidson's key ones in the past month. The Cougars finished off Davidson’s 43-game regular-season conference win streak Feb.7. On Sunday, Charleston ended Davidson’s three-year run as the Southern Conference’s official representative in the NCAA tournament.


This year vs. C of C

The win. The loss.

Fan shot

Stephen and Jerry West

There’s a column in the sports section of this morning’s Chattanooga paper, not online that I can find, only in the buck-fifty, bought-and-paid-for Sunday print product, in which a Sam Woolwine compares Stephen to Jerry West.

The headline: “Curry career is reminder of Jerry West.

West, of course, played his college ball at West Virginia, and then his pro ball for the Lakers, and then he grew up to be … the NBA logo.

Woolwine talks about West for 11 paragraphs.

Then: “I mention West today because the Southern Conference tournament is in town and one of its current players, Stephen Curry, is the most celebrated player to suit up in the conference since West.”