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.


KAO '71 said...

Mike: Thank for your immediate insights on the game. The lads had a truly excellent season by any human standards for student atletes, but as you point out, the media attention created superhuman demands on these 'Cats.
Nonetheless, the players, coaches and DC community handled this situation with grace, and reflected nothing but honor on our school.
So, as an alum of the Lefty era, I want to thank everyone involved for making us feel young again, and for making us wrong, as for decades we had told our friends that we would never see DC on top of the college basketball world again. KAO '71

Mike McCabe said...

It's true. I watched the game. I was all upset. And then i was... relieved. I was relieved I didn't have to watch on Monday. I was relieved I didn't have to stress over another game. I was relieved the season was "over." Weird... but if I think of how that might be magnified as a player, I think it might explain how the season unfolded. Better early, not as much late.

Davidson Dad said...

As always you place things in perspective. What has been difficult for me as a parent of a freshmen is that I have not lived your history. I like everyone in the Charlotte area followed along with interest last year but then my daughter had a chance to go to Davidson. I was hooked, not on basketball, but Davidson. I have not missed a home game, the NIT games and I just got back from Chattanooga. During the long 6 hour drive back I thought "what if?" My daughter was dejected last night and we hugged in the lobby as she boarded the bus for the long drive back to Davidson with the Pep band and cheerleaders. In true Davidson fashion they will be in classes today after the drive last night. When I got a little sad at the thought of losing during my drive I thought about eating breakfast with my daughter across from the Sheraton. Going to dinner with the Pep band and cheerleaders and I thought about how proud they were to represent Davidson. They love their school!! I get it!! I am a spectator on my daughter's journey into adulthood and I feel blessed to see her enjoy the ups and down of basketball and soccer and football and swimming and women's basketball. She has friends on all the teams and cheers for them. Living so close I have gone to soem of these games with her. I will renew my seats next year and cheer for Davidson. I am wearing my Davidson shirt as I type this. I am proud of what Davidson is doing for my daughter.