Nov. 14, 2007

William in my inbox:

Did you watch the Davidson-UNC game from 2007 on ESPN Classic last night? I was flipping channels and there it was. I was a little surprised it didn’t draw some comment on the board. It was a great game, and we should have won, whatever should means. One thing about that game was that when we were tied with less than five minutes to go, I realized that the maturity of age had not very much inhibited my heart’s response to Wildcat basketball in close games. I have several games from that season recorded, but I haven’t watched any of them for various reasons. So as I watched, I was impressed with how important Thomas and Jason were. That sort of falls into the “duh” category, but maybe not really. When you watch what the team did with those two, it becomes very clear that the expectations for this year’s team were truly unrealistic. It also proves what some resisted saying out loud, that Curry at point was never going to be as conducive to team success as Jason feeding to ball to him. One has to go back and watch to see how smooth and fast those assists were. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but it was an interesting thing to watch while the Sox and Yankees were having a rain delay. Also, just sort of cool that Davidson pops up now and then as a “classic.”

Me in William's inbox:

I think the more time that goes by the more we realize that the 2008 team had three extraordinary players on its roster: There was Stephen, yes, a first-round NBA guard -- but Jason, too, was an NBA-caliber guard, which doesn’t mean he definitely will play in the league, only that he could, and wouldn’t be totally overmatched or outclassed, and then Thomas, of course, who wasn’t an NBA player, to be sure, but might have been an NBA-caliber (i.e. world-class) basketball thinker, setting screens, getting in the proper defensive position, taking charges. I remember watching that game, on TV, at the gym, down here in Florida, and thinking: Man. This is not a "normal" Davidson team. One play in particular: Jason made a hard driving move on the left baseline, stopped and turned and pulled back for a second, then drove hard again toward the basket. He met a Carolina guy at the rim, took the hit, drew the foul, and finished. My eyes literally got wider when that happened. That’s never happened before, I thought to myself. This is something different.

And again:

One other story about that game: That afternoon, in the gym at Elder High School up in Cincinatti, the coach of the team told his boys at practice to watch Thomas, their guy, their alum, play against Carolina later that evening on ESPN. The coach also gave his boys a guarantee: Thomas is going to draw a tech on Tyler Hansbrough. Just watch, the coach told them. The next afternoon at practice? Told you so.

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