Some quick thoughts:
*** Those boys from Samford like to play in the 50s. They win in the 50s. This was the game they wanted to play. AND they got help from Davidson. Foul issues, all kinds of shots missed that almost always are shots made, etc. And Davidson won.
*** Bookish, 58 years old, his school’s all-time winningest coach, absolutely knows what he’s doing. Bob McKillop? Yes. Also: Jimmy Tillette.
*** McKillop and Matheny and the rest of the staff have these literally thick files on all the teams in the Southern Conference. What they do. What works against them. What doesn’t. Longevity has its perks. So much institutional knowledge. So many little bits of earned and accrued wisdom and tricks. Samford’s the new kid. The Samford file’s not as thick.
*** League play is hard. No matter the league. Losses happen. They just haven’t for Davidson for two years and 11 days. And counting. Which is totally insane. Really. It’s preposterous.
*** What Davidson wants at a place like Duke is what every team in the Southern Conference now wants against Davidson. To have the game be a game with under 10 minutes to go. Then you have a chance. Then you see what happens.
*** Not Will’s best game, obviously, but he did draw a charge with under two minutes left.
*** Bryant Barr. Balls.
*** Stephen. Can’t be on all the time. Box score says he was 2-for-11 from three. But he also, twice, drew fouls from behind the line, then hit three free throws. Those are as good as three-pointers made in my book. And that body-control layup under the basket midway through the second half? Put it on the list of No. 30’s top 10 plays so far.
*** But No. 41 came more than anything else because of No. 41.
*** Showed up in my DavidsonCats.com inbox: “Was that THE scare, a game that we never trailed in despite playing horribly?”
*** Moving on. Western Monday.
A lot of people who have never seen a Samford University men’s basketball game at the Pete Hanna Center will be there today.
Like, for example, the fire marshal and Stephen Curry.
The fire marshal will be there to make sure the 2-year-old facility won’t be packed with too many more people than its 5,000-seat capacity. Curry is there because Southern Conference powerhouse Davidson will be playing Samford in the 2 p.m. game.
Samford students have been allotted 1,000 spots in the gym on a first-come, first-swipe your activity card to get in basis. Some were already in line at 2 Friday afternoon.
Also: Davidson. Samford. Charlotte. The Sports Network. Last time. At Belk.
Just to take the suspense out of it, we’ll go ahead and confirm the news. Yes, Stephen Curry is our unofficial player of the year at the midpoint of the Southern Conference basketball season.
Why not? No other SoCon player has earned his own highlight video with music by Queen (“Flash! Ah-ahhhh! Savior of the Universe!”). And he’s been named SoCon player of the week six times in 10 weeks. They ought to retire the award or at least establish a non-Curry category.
Curry hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Wildcats a 41-28 halftime lead.
Suppose that’s true.
Then the video of said 3-pointer showed up today, oh, here, here, here and here. And here. Also here. Probably plenty of other places, too, but these’ll do for now.
I could be wrong, but seems to me the shot’s path to everywhere-ness started with local TV news in Chattanooga, then went to DavidsonCats.com, then to personal blogs, then to wider-audience blogs and YouTube ... and then to the Charlotte Observer’s charlotte.com and SportsCenter and ESPN.com.
I feel like all this says something important about media here in the early 21st century.
But give me till the weekend to mull that over.
4. The fan diaspora.
6. The Steelers are good assessors of talent, both seen and unseen. ... Consider the fact that two of their very best players, Willie Parker and James Harrison, were undrafted.
7. The Steelers are a small-market team ... that manages to always play big.
9. Mike Tomlin, the current head coach ... at the press conference immediately after the Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens to gain the Super Bowl ... quoted Robert Frost.
Stephen Curry proved to be worth the price of admission.
The Davidson All-American and the nation’s leading scorer helped draw 9,234 to McKenzie Arena and lived up to expectations with a dizzying array of shots, passes, ball-handling and a play destined for SportsCenter in a 92-70 Davidson victory over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
It might be worth a minute to check YouTube for a new Stephen Curry highlight.
The Davidson guard swished a 3/4-court shot -- not a heave -- at the halftime buzzer and led Davidson to a 92-70 victory over Chattanooga on Wednesday.
Doug Cook ’70, Dec. 16, 1998, Montclair, N.J.: “Mike had some problems down there. He played it off because he had such a great personality. If you’re a black guy, do you really want to go to a Southern school with all these rich, white kids?”
“Mike was Mr. Personality. He was just that type of guy. Very fun-loving. I don’t think Mike ran into problems with students on campus. He ran into problems with fans.”
“But I think he felt like he was something of a novelty like he was on stage all the time. I think some of the local activist people got to him by senior year. He was just no longer the happy go-lucky guy. He was more concerned with what was going on in the world.”
Fox DeMoisey ’70: “Maloy had arms like an albatross, and huge hands. When he caught a basketball, it’d be like you catching a tennis ball. You really had to make an awful pass for him not to catch it.”
“Maloy had a damn near photographic memory. He didn’t make the grades simply because of disinterest.”
Mike Dickens ’69, October 1998, Bethesda, Md.: “A very bright guy. Incredibly charming. His life is about being smart and charming, and never stringing it together.”
“Maloy would get out there, Rodney Knowles would stand there, Maloy would make three moves, and Knowles was still reacting to the first.”
“Mike didn’t have anything but friends. Mike would hang out socially with black folks from the other side of the tracks. But by and large, he socialized with us, his fraternity brothers, playing Frisbee, playing bridge.”
Bob Dunham ’70, Jan. 6, 1999, Chapel Hill: “He went through a hard time at Davidson, just like anybody else who was African-American in those days -- not just at Davidson, but in the South. He took some verbal abuse, not from Davidson fans so much as other fans -- he would get heckled on the road.”
“Mike had this sense that he often felt somewhat used at Davidson as just a sports figure. The people who knew Mike didn’t feel that way. A lot of us just liked to spend time with him. One of the regrets of my life is that he drifted away from Davidson and from his friends there.”
“Mike had an infectious laugh.”
“I think he just didn’t care a lot. There was no question about his ability. He was as bright as can be.”
Tom Couch, Jan. 11, 1999, Davidson: “Lefty was a disciplinarian until it came time to win. Mike knew that, and played to that.”
“Everyone loved the guy to death. Everyone loved Mike Maloy.”
“He was so smart it was unbelievable. Mike was the kind of guy who passed without even buying a book.”
Wayne Huckel ’69, Nov. 5, 1998, Charlotte: “Mike had the best of both worlds, in my opinion. He fit in so well because he was so likeable. Plus he was also embraced by the black community across the tracks.”
Steve Kirley ’71, January 1999, Clemmons, N.C.: “He had some of the biggest arms and biggest hands you’ll ever see. He played like a 7-footer.”
Jan Postma ’70, Dec. 11, 1998, Spartanburg, S.C.: “I liked Mike a lot. He was real smart. Unbelievably smart. He could pick up languages just like that. His biggest problem was he was just immature.”
“Mike tried to laugh it off, but it was pretty stressful. I think that all blacks at the time felt like fish out of water. It didn’t matter where you went. Personally I wouldn’t have wanted to be a black student at Davidson.”
Lester Strong ’72, Dec. 24, 1998, Boston: “I’ll never forget being in the low post defending him and his body. He was like a whirling dervish. You never knew which way the guy was going to go. It was like hitting this wall of muscle.”
Here, with his permission, is a piece of his note:
As background, I played high school basketball in this area in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s and was moderately recruited by Davidson the last time they were really on the national sports stage. I remember watching them lose to UNC on TV on the Charlie Scott shot at the buzzer. I visited the school on a recruiting trip then, but Davidson ended up being my second choice for college. Nevertheless, I’ve looked at the school fondly and with a lot of respect ever since.
I have a middle school son who loves playing basketball. When I saw Davidson won in the first round of NCAAs last year, I told him about the school and we watched as much as we could of their remaining games. Obviously, we were cheering hard for them along with millions of others. Last summer, he went to the UNC basketball camp (this year he’ll probably go to Davidson’s). While driving there, we took him to Davidson to show him the campus. Who’d we meet working at the information desk in the gym but Andew Lovedale. He couldn’t have been nicer and his first words were “you need to do well with your studies, don’t just focus on basketball.” It was almost a scripted message you’d want a teenager to hear. Several people on campus also told us how the basketball players were also just normal students.
On a whim that day, I got the application for season tickets for this year -- which I ended up buying. I figured there isn't a better player for my son to watch and admire than Stephen Curry, and not a better program to follow in terms of what college athletics should be about. My son and I have been to three games so far this year and will be able to get to one more. At one game, we met Bob McKillop walking into the gym before the game (I assume from his home a few minutes away), and last Saturday my son was able to say hello to Stephen Curry as Stephen was chatting with family and friends outside after the game. Both the coach and Stephen were very nice and signed an autographed ball.
ESPN will announce its BracketBuster pairings on Monday, and unfortunately, the matchup of Liberty freshman Seth Curry vs. older brother Steph Curry is unlikely. While Davidson is on the home list and Liberty is on the road list, Liberty's RPI of 170 is likely too low for ESPN to consider pairing with Davidson, who has an RPI of 37. Wouldn't it make great television?
My best guess for the top matchups:
Butler at Davidson -- Steph Curry would face one of the toughest defenses in the nation.
... the margin for offensive error is being wiped out by the pride of French Canada, William Archambault, who has been a real parlez-vous ass-kicque for opponents of late. The 6-6 junior is putting in 50 percent-or-better shooting nights on a regular basis now, and can reliably be counted on to hit key 3's whenever the team needs them. Now all he needs is his own YouTube video.
Shulman’s answering machines have been filled for months with people calling him for tickets for this game. Over the Christmas holidays, his wife Amy got more than one call from family and friends wondering if she or John could get their children a Stephen Curry No. 30 Davidson jersey to put under the tree.
Also: Davidson. UTC. Bleacher Report. Even more from the Chattanooga paper. Charlotte. Big crowd.
“I didn’t believe in the turn-the-other-cheek method because it doesn’t work. I felt if blacks just sat back and waited nothing would come of the situation.”
“For blacks in America it’s gone downhill. It’s back to the ‘50s, like the ‘60s never happened, less and less of the population controlling more and more money. After Reagan it was ‘I’m rich and you ain’t.’”
“The situation at Davidson was probably the best years of my life. I loved it there. I loved the weather. I loved the school. There’s something to be said for a campus when you can walk around barefoot.”
“I was happy to be there. I probably enjoyed Davidson a little bit too much.”
“I look back on that now and grades weren’t that important to me. I don’t think that was a conscious decision. I just didn’t know exactly where to go. My goal had always been to get out of New York alive. I didn’t mind just getting by. This was fun. I probably could’ve made A’s but it wasn’t about that.”
“I left late in my senior year. There was a lot of bad shit going on. I didn’t want to play pro ball. That wasn’t even on my list. But there was really nothing on my list. I didn’t think I was that kind of player. I was a 6-7 center. You don’t have 6-7 centers in the pros. One of the reasons I was so good was because I was playing with such a good team.”
“I was actually spoiled at Davidson. When I got open, I expected to get the ball, and I did get the ball. The pros were me, me, me. One of the reasons I played basketball was that it wasn’t me, me, me. I wasn’t happy at all in the pros. It just wasn’t for me.”
Why did he leave at the end of his senior year? “I don’t know. There was a real phase there where I got really, really down. I was playing hurt all year. Some friends of mine died at home. One day I was at Davidson. The next day I wasn’t.”
“I drove around. I think I was in Florida and then New York. I really couldn’t tell you where I was, what I did. I ran out of steam.”
“I thought it wouldn’t be bad to see some of Europe while I was still young. Europe kind of suits my mentality. One of the nice things about Europe is that you get in a plane for an hour in any direction and you’re in some place completely different. Plus, Austria was something different, something I always wanted to do. And got back into basketball too. I started to enjoy it again.”
“It wasn’t about the money. It was about chilling out and getting my head straight. Going over here was a typical Maloy move. Some might say that.”
“Europe’s been good for me. I just kept saying, ‘I’ll stay another year,’ and I’ve been doing that for 25 years now.”
“I cut ties because that’s just the way I am. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I’m absolutely the worst person I know about staying in touch. Fortunately I’m back in touch with my family now.”
“I didn’t realize people were looking for me. I had no idea. It surprised the hell out of me.”
“The only thing I’d do differently is probably stay a little longer. I played on great teams. Everybody doesn’t get to do that.”
Does he regret leaving early? “Yes and no. You say you can do that later. Don’t say that. It’s something that is unfinished business for me. I do regret that in that sense.”
Yes, he does have a chance. He has shown he does have some point-guard skills, he is a very willing worker and we all know he is a leader who can shoot like crazy. So, he has a chance, and given the fact that the skills he does have are obvious and impressive, he is worth a lottery pick.
But if the question is, do I think he will be a great point guard … I am not so sure about that. Great point guards have a certain natural ballhandling ability and court vision, and though it can take time to develop both of those on an NBA level, you can usually see signs of it when the guy is in college. I don’t really see Curry as someone with great court vision. I think he is a capable ballhander -- he can get the ball up the floor and start the offense -- but no one is going to confuse him with Jason Kidd.
Having said that, Curry is an NBA player, and he’ll have a good career, even if it is as a guy you bring off the bench in a combo guard role -- think Jason Terry. He can play the point in a pinch, he can stretch defenses with his shooting and he has a good basketball IQ.
Understand that we were a crowd of rational people. We knew that a home run cannot be produced at will; the right pitch must be perfectly met and luck must ride with the ball. Three innings before, we had seen a brave effort fail. The air was soggy, the season was exhausted. Nevertheless, there will always lurk, around the corner in a pocket of our knowledge of the odds, an indefensible hope, and this was one of the times, which you now and then find in sports, when a density of expectation hangs in the air and plucks an event out of the future.
More than 7,000 spectators are expected to witness the SoCon matchup between UTC (9-11, 5-4) and Davidson (16-3, 9-0) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in McKenzie Arena with a subplot of the game being Stephen vs. Stephen.
“You get a chance to say later, ‘I saw him when ... I was there when ... He did such-and-such and I saw it all.’”
“I wanted to get out of New York. New York sucked back then. Drugs killed a lot of my friends. College and basketball were my way to get out of New York.”
“Lots of green. North Carolina weather.”
“Lefty had gotten a few people to take me out. I had a great time at this after-hours joint. So I was sick as a dog. I was barfing when the security guard came. Everyone else took off.”
“I had to write a latter to the school to apologize -- the usual bullshit. But I was not the first or the last to do that at Davidson. It was just some young guys hanging out. It was actually good. It forced me to really choose to go there because I had to write that letter.”
“It was a stupid thing to do. But when you’ve got to barf you’ve got to barf. I had a good time.”
“I read all the time. Still do.”
“My French was pretty good at that time. I want to learn Italian now. That’s next on my list. I know German and English now and some French still.”
On Charlie Scott: “I thought Charlie was going to be there. I assumed we were both going to be there. We hooked up down there for our visit.” When did he find out Charlie wasn’t coming? “When I got there. But it didn’t influence my decision. The first day I got there, I said, ‘This is where I’d like to go.’”
“Charlie Scott was one of the best players who ever played. Carolina was very good. They were very deep and we weren’t that deep. Lefty played seven guys. Every coach has his own philosophy. Carolina could get every player they wanted.”
On Dave Moser: “Dave was a great guard. He never made any mistakes at all. People underestimated him.”
On Wayne Huckel: “Wayne was the toughest. Lefty made him use hip pads. He was just one big bruise. When you played with Wayne you really felt bad if you didn’t dive for a ball on the floor. Because Wayne would bite somebody’s leg off for it.”
“Lefty wasn’t comfortable playing with everybody. You’ve got to stay with it. If we make a couple more shots against Carolina, Lefty’s coach of the year. Shit, man, we were a great team, and we lost to a great team.”
“Lefty’s a great guy. He was the hardest worker. He could move his ears. He doesn’t lie to you. I liked him.”
On the SigmaChi situation: “We did that just to make a thing.”
“I spent a lot of time across the tracks. That was necessary. You’ve got to have some kind of balance. That’s where I could just relax, not have to look over my shoulder. That was necessary at Davidson, a very, very, very white Southern atmosphere.”
“I had some very good friends there. But not everyone was my friend there. Where are the black folks? Across the tracks. Literally. I had to go over and get some soul food.”
The people at Davidson? “A little bit of everything. They were generally tolerant and friendly. I thought they did pretty well, actually, for the ‘60s. My roommate accepted me right away. There were some great people there. Some embraced the idea.”
“But in 1999 even you still have people there that are going to be racist. In 2099 too. Racism is a fact. You accept it. There was no overt racism. People who didn’t like me stayed away from me.”
Any incidents? “Every day, man.”
“When you’re in junior high and high school in New York, you read about things, but you’re not confronting them. One of the deep reasons I wanted to go to Davidson was because there weren’t many blacks. You have to seek confrontation in situations like that.”
“The thing that was really disappointing to me was you realize it’s not just the rednecks that are racist. Looking around, some of the most racist people in the world are in the North. I still think Boston is one of the most racist cities in America.”
“People you consider to be intelligent have that blind spot. And that’s disappointing because we’re talking about America, the richest country in the world, and they’re not doing anything about it. That’s one of the reasons I’m over here.”
Here, with his permission, is a piece of it:
Mike Maloy, who enrolled in 1966 along with Calvin Murphy, took part in possibly one of the most controversial racial events relating to Davidson College history. Maloy, a three-time All-America selection, led Davidson to three straight Southern Conference titles and three trips to the NCAA Tournament while winning the honor Davidson’s all time leading rebounder and fifth leading scorer. Despite these athletic credentials, the Sigma Chi National Fraternity purposely raised the GPA standard for membership from 2.0 to 2.5 so that Maloy could not pledge in the spring of 1970. Davidson College President Robert F. Vagt stated in an interview, “Mike never took any umbrage about those sorts of things.” Irregardless of Maloy’s often outgoing and positive reactions, Davidson’s Delta Gamma chapter of Sigma Chi experienced a schism. More than half of the fraternity walked out in protest and created an eating group called the SigMachis. The other members paid dues through the 1971 academic year, not because they were racist, but because they intended to fight the national fraternity in a legal battle. However, the normal academic grind of Davidson’s rigorous course load prevented the fraternity brothers from ever developing a defense for Maloy’s membership.
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
“Geography used to be important. A tribe might be everyone in a certain village, or it might be model-car enthusiasts in Sacramento, or it might be the Democrats in Springfield. Corporations and other organizations have always created their own tribes around their offices or their markets -- tribes of employees or customers or parishioners. Now, the Internet eliminates geography.”
“In addition to the messages that go from the marketer or the leader to the tribe, there are the messages that go sideways, from member to member, and back to the leader as well. The Grateful Dead understood this. They created concerts to allow people not just to hear their music, but to hear it together. That’s where the tribe part comes in.”
“Too many organizations care about numbers, not fans. They care about hits or turnstile clicks or media mentions. What they’re missing is the depth of commitment and interconnection that true fans deliver. Instead of always being on the hunt for one more set of eyeballs, true leaders have figured out that the real win is in turning a casual fan into a true one.”
“Kellogg’s owns hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cereal factories. They have a well-trained sales force, miles of shelf space, and tons of advertising. So why was Bear Naked able to build a significant business right under their nose? Without expensive factories or a huge sales force, Bear Naked took a very simple, very traditional product and changed the way many people buy their breakfast.”
Southern Conference teams can’t touch Curry. He scored 33 points in a win over Wofford and 30 in a win over Furman this past week. He made 13 treys in the two games, but just as impressive was his assist-to-turnover ratio. He had 12 assists and only two turnovers in the two games. Curry also made five steals in the win over Furman.
Wofford freshman guard Brad Loesing said the Terriers can take another lesson from the game against the Wildcats.
“They play hard from tip to final buzzer and that’s what makes them so good,” Loesing said. “It’s something we can learn from and something every team in the league can learn from. They just play relentlessly the whole game.”
Just like when any rock/pop/rap star -- from Paul McCartney to Lil’ Wayne -- rises in prominence, Curry will start receiving extra security attention starting this week.
The Davidson bus was set and ready to leave an hour after its game at Georgia Southern, but Curry was still in the gym signing autographs for children.
Iamarino, the SoCon commissioner, said Friday that security for Curry and the Cats has become an issue that nobody in the league has dealt with before.
“Curry is very gracious about signing autographs, but the Davidson AD (Jim Murphy) said, ‘We can’t have him out there for an hour and half, and we’ll need help to make it more orderly,’” Iamarino said, recalling a conversation during recent SoCon meetings in Asheville, N.C.
“They’re nice problems to have,” he added. But it has forced people to think about extra security and protocol to deal with somebody who has become the face of college basketball.”
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.
“Brad,” Young said he told the kid.
“You’ve got Curry.
“He’s No. 30.
“He’s pretty good.
“You’re gonna have to roll your sleeves up on this one, buddy.”
Like Eddie says: “the bright, sunlit uplands.”
Some thoughts here before heading back to the Sunshine State:
1. Will Archambault every game gets at least one rebound he shouldn’t have gotten. Not talking 50-50 boards. Like 30-70. Or 20-80. He’s one of the five best players in the Southern Conference. Y’all know that, right?
2. Last night, in the front row behind the near basket, there was a ninja, there was a boxer, there was a white lobster, there was a cat in the hat with Mickey Mouse hands, there was a kid wearing a red Max No. 14 jersey made of nothing but body paint, there was a kid wearing a red Rossiter No. 23 jersey made of nothing but body paint.
3. One lineup last night for Davidson: an NBA point guard, two 6-foot-6 Canadian run-and-jump athletes on the wings, a stone-cut 6-9 Nigerian at one big and at the other a 6-9 Brit who seems to be sucking down more than his fair share of protein shakes. No wonder these guys are 9-0 in the league.
4. Just scads of unmolested jumpers for Davidson. Hardly any for Wofford.
5. 30’s gone for 30 now 25 times.
Words: Spartanburg. Charlotte. Observations. Wofford. Davidson. Triple double? AP.
I met with Jarman in late November 1998 at a steakhouse in Gastonia to talk for the old book.
Some quick bits from my notes:
“The varsity was a joke in 1959. They had a 6-2 center who could only shoot 50 percent unguarded in layup lines. Dr. Scott liked him because he could jump. He was a kangaroo but he couldn’t dribble and he couldn’t shoot. But he was a super-nice guy.”
“Lefty didn’t take to losing. That was unacceptable.”
“Lefty used to play players 1-on-1. He’d call fouls if he was in danger of losing.”
“While I was playing for him I was sure he hated me. After I graduated, though, he’s been one of the nicest people in the world to me.”
“Sometimes Lefty was dumb like a fox.”
Like many Davidson graduates, Michael Kruse ‘00 watched the Wildcats’ Elite Eight run last March, much of it from the stands at Detroit’s Ford Field. In the days that followed, he thought about what he had seen, talked about it with others, and read an Internet post by the Rev. William Robertson ’75 about that final shot in the Kansas game, and about Trust, with a capital T.
Kruse decided to take a risk -- and a three-month leave from his job with the St. Petersburg Times. Many miles and 300 interviews later, he wrote a book about that game, those players, that coach, that season, Davidson College, and Trust -- Taking the Shot: The Davidson Basketball Moment.
What does Bob McKillop have to say about Taking the Shot? “Michael gets it,” said the coach.
(Update: At Belk, meanwhile, now 22 minutes to tip, both White Lobsters are in the house -- the one with the costume in the front row behind the near basket, and also the one with the blond, spiky hair going through layup lines.)
“At the same time, if you go on the road to play basketball, you don’t expect calls, you don’t expect help. It’s that old line -- 50 percent of the people don’t care what your problems are and the other 50 percent are glad you’ve got ‘em.
“So if you’re looking for sympathy, don’t be involved in athletics. There’s nothing fair; the fair is where you take your tomatoes.”
“Curry. Do we define athleticism by guys who can do a triple back flip? I don’t. There’s not a better cutter, so help me goodness, than that guy. His ability to change direction is uncanny. His ability to read screens, read defenses and cut accordingly is just a sight to behold.”
“Golly dang, Michael, he’s played five NCAA tournament games, for God’s sake, and he’s scored 145 points.”
(Note: Actually, in five NCAA tournament games in his career, he’s scored 158 -- but point taken.)
“Curry might well be the Preseason Player of the Year -- out of the Southern Conference. That’s not supposed to happen, last time I checked, Michael.”
“You’re not going to beat the kid up. He’s a lot stronger than people give him credit for.”
“There are different ways to define athleticism. LeBron James? Kobe Bryant? No. I categorize athleticism by ability to move your feet. On first glance Max Paulhus Gosselin is not a great athlete. But Max Paulhus Gosselin is a great athlete.”
“Their spacing offensively is exceptional.”
“They teach a style of play they’re comfortable with. They execute very, very well.”
“They’re very responsible. They’re not going to get caught where they’re not supposed to be.”
“This team” -- last year’s Davidson team -- “was the most physical team we played. We played Purdue, we played Wisconsin, but I’m not sure they weren’t the most physical team we played. And they play very, very hard.”
“I admire what they do defensively.”
“It’s a program that anybody at any level would aspire to have. Some people can have a good couple of years, three years -- but different teams, different makeups, they keep right on going.”
“Two years ago, they lost Winters, they lost McKillop, Kenny Grant. They lost like 80 percent of their scoring. And they win the league again.”
“Something I’ve talked about with colleagues is their player development. It doesn’t just happen that Jason Richards goes from a good Southern Conference point guard as a freshman and a sophomore to one of the best in the country in his junior and senior years. He could’ve played for anybody. That doesn’t just happen because you want it to.”
“Lovedale? As a freshman he was just incredibly raw. Now he’s become not just a good player -- he’s become a hell of a player. He got to the point where he could guard any perimeter player in our league. Then in the tournament? Lovedale was just another guy through his sophomore year.”
“They’re interesting to watch, a joy to watch -- when you’re not playing against them.”
“They went to another level in a blink of an eye.”
But such groupings -- what might be called “voluntary tribes” -- are assuming a new importance in America. As neighborhoods and schools become more diverse, marriages become more mixed and social hierarchies break down, old lines are getting blurry. Voluntary tribes are a way of recreating a sense of community.
More than “associations” -- the kind Tocqueville noticed were so numerous in America -- these are emotionally intense affinity groups based on shared aims, obsessions or political crusades, not on DNA. Fueled by the Internet, according to Princeton historian Julian E. Zelizer, they’re “filling the gap of the neighborhood institutions of the 20th century.”
Part of our job here at TMM is to track Stephen Curry, the most beguiling and enigmatic and talented player we’ve had at the mid-major level since we started doing this. While we stop short of reporting on his meal choices, his iPod or his usual walking paths across the Davidson campus, we do stalk his boxscores. He sure has put together an interesting set during his junior season.
Take, for example, his line from last night’s blowout win over Furman. The Wildcats won by 40 points, and Curry had 30 to keep his national-best scoring average (29.1 ppg) intact. He hit 12 shots of 18 attempted, including 6-of-10 from three, and ... did not attempt a foul shot. It’s the third time this has happened for Curry this year: there was the Patsos game, last week’s Appalachian State tilt in which he battled foul trouble and played only 16 minutes, and last night.
And it’s very hard to score that many points without the benefit of one-pointers. There have been 233 personal performances this year of at least 30 points across Division I this season, and Curry’s was only the fifth that included a 0-for-0 notation for free throws.
A small bit:
Durwood Settles was never a basketball superstar. He played the game of his life in the Virginia state tournament in the spring of 1960 with Lefty watching from the bleachers. After enrolling in Davidson’s Class of ‘64 with grandiose visions of basketball glory, he broke his foot in his freshman year and was never a factor, really, in the Wildcats’ plans after that.
That, however, didn’t mean he was completely out of the picture. Working in a management training company at a New York City insurance company, Settles received an unexpected call from Lefty in the spring of 1966.
“Durwood,” the coach said. “We got a ballplayer up there. And we need him down here. Can you drive him?”
A 10- to 12-hour drive with a kid he didn’t even know? Settles told Lefty absolutely. After all, in spite of his abbreviated basketball experience at Davidson, Settles felt a debt of gratitude to Lefty, the school and the program.
Two days later, he drove his two-seat MGA sports car to Queens and picked up the kid who was to become Davidson’s third basketball All-American.
“A smarter, more jovial, more gregarious kid you couldn’t find,” Settles said. “All the way down he’s spouting Shakespeare. He was a bit of a poet, a real bright, engaging and delightful young man. And he wasn’t putting on some sort of New York con.”
Settles, impressed, went out of his way at Davidson to find Ed White, then the school’s director of admissions.
That’s how Durwood Settles played his part -- however small -- in the continuation of Davidson’s basketball success in the ‘60s.
“I take credit,” he said, “for having whispered into Ed White’s ear.”
There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue, whence -- depressed
By false opinion and contentious thought,
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse -- our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
He has disappeared back into the anonymity of the Southern Conference. When the folks at ESPN run Davidson’s scores on their crawl, they don’t even show how many points Curry has scored -- even though it’s almost always a newsworthy total, and even though we all are at least as interested in his numbers as whether Davidson wins. He leads the nation in scoring and is 10th in assists. Yep, he’s a point guard.
No single player is working harder on a nightly basis to help his team succeed than Davidson’s Stephen Curry. He’s averaging 29 of the Wildcats’ 81 points per game and assisting on another 13 points per game. More than 50 percent of Davidson’s point production passes through Curry’s hands on its way to the basket.
11,599 N.C. State at Davidson in Charlotte.
8,350 Davidson at Appalachian.
5,368 Davidson at Charleston.
5,336 Davidson at The Citadel.
5,223 Elon at Davidson.
5,233 Samford at Davidson.
5,233 Chattanooga at Davidson.
5,233 Guilford at Davidson.
5,233 Winthrop at Davidson.
The temptation is to call it absurd. But I won’t. I’ll just call it what it is.
Really it is.
It’s just an incredibly fine thing.
To have 10 other teams in your conference, and to beat every one of them TWICE, your gym, their gym, on nights, off nights, good refs, bad refs, and to finish it off by beating a 20-win team, at its place, on its senior night, and to BEAT THEM DOWN?
“I told them in the locker room,” Coach McKillop said after the game here. “In 35 years of coaching I have never been a part of such an accomplishment.”
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Here’s something to kick around: the more talented you are, the less likely you are to be a great basketball player. The catch, of course, is how you define great.
If greatness is defined by physical ability, then the argument is moot. But if you look at basketball as a series of adaptations to physical challenges, then the less talented player has to make more adaptations to continue competing at a higher level than does the more talented player.
You could argue this case with Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain, Reggie Miller vs. Michael Jordan, or with Larry Bird or Magic Johnson vs. any number of their contemporaries.
You could, one supposes, start to make that argument about Davidson’s Stephen Curry.
Interesting. It made me think about something I read last summer when I was up in Davidson. Pat Jordan on Tom Seaver in his anthology:
The point is I could bring it faster than Tom. I always could. In Little League. In high school. Tom never had the luxury of my blinding talent in his youth. ‘I never threw hard then,’ he says. ‘I was aware of my physical limitations at fourteen. I had to adjust.’
Pitching became for Tom, at fourteen, not a physical activity, but a mental one. He learned how it felt to be shelled unmercifully one inning and then have to walk out to the mound to begin the next. ‘It’s a terrible feeling,’ he says. ‘You want to quit. You feel it’s hopeless. You have to force yourself to start again. Some guys can’t do that. They’re always fighting things beyond their control.’
Tom Seaver learned, earlier than most, to deal solely within the framework of his limitations. To circumvent those limitations. Unlike me, I raged against my limitations, and in the process, my very real talent suffered.
Which made me think of Stephen.
Lots of people have tried to identify the reasons for his immense appeal -- reasons, obviously, that go beyond points scored.
How he looks is on that list.
If he can do that, well, maybe I can do …
But what I like about this idea here is that it at least starts to demystify. It doesn’t stop at the notion of some nature-and-nurture tonic that makes Stephen able in some extra-special way to do what he does. No.
The suggestion here is that perhaps a gift can be what’s not there.
That it’s up to us how we choose to respond.
Burlington: Twenty seconds later, Curry tossed in the first bucket in what became a 39-point pile as Davidson, the gold standard of Southern Conference men’s basketball, buried Elon 83-68 to polish off another victory Wednesday night at Belk Arena.
“We couldn’t guard him. He almost single-handedly beat us by himself, really,” Elon forward Ola Atoyebi said of Curry. “We just let him play. We weren’t physical enough on him. We let him get going, and once he gets going ... .”
By now, most of America probably knows how that statement ends.
Charlotte: There are times when Davidson guard Stephen Curry simply takes charge of a basketball game and you sense that the other team really doesn’t have a say in the matter.
Will Bryan: Steph did his thing again. It actually made a message boarder eek that he’s back (he’s back?!?). Dagger three at the end of the half off a 50-50 ball that made new Elon assistant Wes Miller slam his clipboard and Bob McKillop nod.
If Davidson junior Stephen Curry comes back for his senior season, can average approximately 30 points per game and gets enough games, he has a real chance.
Curry’s NBA plans will be announced after the season. He has played a lot of point guard this season to get ready for the NBA. Anybody who does not think he can play in the NBA is confused. He can, now or some time in the future.
But Curry may want to continue the college experience. Anybody who followed Davidson’s journey last season knows what joy it brought to the team and its followers. That feeling is not something you can take with you to the NBA.
One of the more bothersome trends I’ve noticed among college fans in recent years is the inevitable backlash occurring toward pretty much any great team or player as soon as people feel said team/player receives too much “hype.” Rather than celebrate a player’s greatness, we feel the need to tear him down.
Why do we do this?
I understand in today’s age of media overkill, the most popular players get an extraordinary amount of coverage, and I understand we media types tend to throw hyperbole around too generously. But to anyone who’s tired of reading or hearing about Tebow’s on- and off-field greatness, I ask you: Who/what would you rather hear about instead? The prima donnas who view college as an unavoidable stopover on the way to the NFL? The guys who know they’re so good that they only play hard when they feel like it? The guys who don’t go to class, run afoul of the law and are genuinely jerks?
Some games on the schedule, every year, scream potential loss, and this was one of them. These guys were in Charleston on Saturday night and then had to be in Boone on Monday. That meant the Southern Conference was asking them to bus back to Davidson and arrive in the wee hours of Sunday morning, practice at Belk Sunday afternoon, get back on a bus, drive up into the mountains, spend another night in a hotel, and then play a game against a team that was angry coming off a home loss and was so torqued up to play Davidson the Appalachian game ops people passed out black T-shirts that said BEAT DAVIDSON.
And then Stephen got into foul trouble and played all of 18 minutes.
It says some things about this group, Davidson basketball in general, where the program is right now, but also about this team in particular.
It says it’s a team that can win games 100-95.
It says it’s a team that can win games 70-52.
It says it’s a team that can win when Stephen scores in the 40s.
It says it’s a team that can win when Stephen scores in the teens.
It says McKillop and Matheny and Fox have been doing this for a long time now, and together, and that they know what they’re doing, and in a way that is very unusual.
It’s the kind of win that makes the 20-0 talk at least understandable if still more than a tad premature.
Again, I wasn’t there, and I didn’t watch the Web feed, so I don’t know what it looked like, and felt like, and stats are only stats, but …
22.2 percent from three for Appalachian.
3-for-4 from three for Max.
1 turnover in 22 minutes for Brendan.
Eight guys in double figures in minutes and four guys in double figures in points.
Davidson: 17 assists, 9 turnovers; Appalachian: 8 assists, 17 turnovers.
And absolutely the craziest number on that box score? 8,350 -- the biggest crowd ever to watch a game at the Holmes Center up there, bigger even than the facility’s very first game, against Carolina.
What this is right now, what this has become, it’s stunning, it’s still stunning, and I don’t know that it will ever be anything other than stunning.
*** Been to three games over this last week -- Samford in Davidson, Duke in Durham, The Citadel in Charleston -- and you’re reminded in Southern Conference games that no one in the league can guard Stephen. With the ball in his hands, at this level of play, he can create space for a jumper if he wants to -- whenever he needs to -- and he can get into the lane at will and at worst get to line. He shot 18 free throws last month against Chattanooga. He shot 14 last night.
*** BLOCK by BEN-EZE, Frank.
That’s what the stat book’s play-by-play says happened with 3:11 left in the first half.
That’s not what happened at all.
What happened was Citadel guard Zach Urbanus drove right baseline and put up a shot and Frank volleyball-spiked that shot to the floor.
And that’s not all that happened with Frank last night. He had a dunk. He had a tap dunk after a whistle. He played 13 minutes, he had another block, he had three boards, he altered a Citadel shot in the lane with a hand that was so high above the floor it was almost startling, and certainly not something Davidson folks are accustomed to, and there was this one time when he guarded an inbounds pass in a way that looked like Max, only if Max had oars for arms.
*** Cremins is always calling Davidson the Duke of the Southern Conference, and here we were in Charleston, and I thought about that when Davidson did to The Citadel in the first five minutes of the second half what Duke did to Davidson the other night in Durham.
*** Had a good spot on press row to hear poor official Roger Parramore get ragged on by both coaches.
Here was The Citadel’s Ed Conroy early in the second half yelling at him when a call went against his team early in the second half. The “he” is McKillop.
“He yells at you and you give him the next three!”
“You afraid of him?”
Then a little later:
“You guys are scared!”
*** 5,336. At The Citadel. Over break. With no cadets. Last year’s Davidson game here drew 1,204.
*** The contingent of ‘Cat fans, including Meg, Sink, Cobb, Jim and Jip, the Nicholson brothers, the Archambaults, David Rorie, Randy Lawrence, others -- they sang a little piece of Sweet Caroline coming out of the 8-minute media timeout. Nice touch on the road.
*** Nine Davidson players with double-digit minutes.
*** No Observer staffer down here. This will help.
*** From The Citadel game notes: “The Citadel looks to slay the dragon Saturday night in McAlister Field House …”