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.