Steph, make sure you graduate. A Davidson degree is special, and if you don’t graduate, what’s the point? At its core, that’s what being a Davidson basketball player is all about; getting a quality education and graduating.
Trophies tarnish with age, and the press clippings fade and yellow. But lasting meaning comes from the things you do off the court, in the classroom and with your friends and teammates.
Also, I hope you appreciate what you have; step back and look at it objectively. As time moves on, you’ll come to appreciate just how special your time was there, and what an honor it was to be part of it.
I hope you come to appreciate it as much as I do. You will understand the uniqueness of it and the value of it, and it will continue to have an effect on you.
Almost a year ago by now, with Stephen and Jason and Thomas and the rest of the team, too, there was, I’ve come to think, a very rare convergence of ability and innocence.
The guys on last year’s team were good enough to do what they did. But they were also inexperienced enough and unburdened enough to not quite know what was on the other side.
That was the simple and unspoken and yet somehow tangible bond between the players and the coaches and the people who stopped to watch.
Here we are.
Here. We. Are.
I’m thinking now of those still photos, and maybe you are, too. That’s what everybody saw.
This year, of late in particular, it feels like maybe this team has gotten away from that, and certainly some of the fans have. Maybe it’s human nature. I don’t know.
Earlier this week, I flew though Detroit on the way to Pittsburgh, and when I was walking through the terminal I found myself thinking about a moment from Ford Field that Sunday last March.
During the timeout, with 16.8 seconds left, I was in Row 25 and I turned around and looked a row behind me and saw Tripp Cherry ’99, and he was on the phone, talking to his wife, Carrie ’01, who was back home in Charlotte studying for law school finals.
I couldn’t hear what he was saying, the place was too loud, but I could see the big, wet tears that had pooled in his eyes.
Many months later, over a supper at the Soda Shop, I asked Tripp about that moment. I ended up writing about this in the book.
Tripp said he and Carrie had talked about the play that was about to happen.
He said she told him just before the ball was put in play that she should probably let him go.
And Tripp said into the phone:
The point here is this: There’s a game here at Belk in a minute. There’s a game Monday at Elon. There’s a game Saturday in Chattanooga, then maybe Sunday, then maybe Monday.
To ask March 2009 to be March 2008 is to forget what made March 2008 what it was.
The don’t miss this.
The here we are.
The No. Stay.
Seriously? Are there people out there who believe this garbage to be true, relevant or inspirational? The part that’s missing here is that time doesn’t stop, and there’s no happily-ever-after or The End with a great victory. Nowadays, as Lombardi’s battle-man lies expended, agents will pick his pocket, and sportswriters will demand endless repeats of the performance for the sake of “validity.” Then, some guy’s liable to come long, pull down the hero’s pants, and take a picture of his schwanz for Deadspin.
Number 1 has to come back and defend the title, over and over. Unless this great and noble warrior keeps winning, stays in first place forever, maintains a pure and perfect Johnny Champion image, the story arc always points to the same place: loser. With all due respect to Vince Lombardi, losing is not a habit, it’s the default state of the universe. There is as much room for second place as there is for first, and a whole lot more room below that. To defeat enemies, expectations and the passage of time in equal measure is impossible, and nobody goes undefeated.
Vince Lombardi died of colon cancer several years after giving that speech.
I’m not a great coach, and as famous former colleagues have rightly pointed out, I never played the game. But I do know about losing. I see it every day after every contest, and I get to see the emotions it brings out: flashes of anger, somber regret, numb acceptance. No team that I’ve ever covered won at the end in March, and it always ends in a loss. The true alternate subtitle of this website is A Chronicle Of Loss Management.
I’d say most folks have heard more versions and more different versions of the uncomfortable Brown coming-and-going tale from 1969.
But the John Kresse deal? No great mystery there.
He took the job in the spring of ‘81.
He was the head basketball coach at Davidson College for six days.
Then he wasn’t. Just went back to Charleston.
C of C was an NAIA school at the time, and a good program at that level, having gone 25-5 the year before. Kresse knew about Davidson and its basketball program. He had been an assistant at St. John’s in the late ‘60s and those St. John’s teams played against Lefty’s Davidson teams, and lost to them, twice, in the NCAA tournament.
“So when Davidson courted me strongly,” Kresse told me back in ‘99, “my immediate impulse was to look to get to Division I as a head coach.”
Quickly, though, he regretted the decision, he said, because of the city he left behind and the players he left behind. Who knows if those were the only reasons? Those essentially were the reasons he gave to the Charleston Post & Courier, too, in a story that ran in ’99, C of C’s first season in the Southern Conference.
From that story: “The situation with Davidson certainly wasn’t pretty, an ugly glitch that I’ll always remember and feel badly about.”
“It was the most embarrassing time in my entire life,” he told me.
Here’s what else he told me with more specificity: “When I finally realized I needed to ask out of the Davidson contract, I was recruiting in Dayton, Ohio, for the Wildcats. I called Thom Cartmill from Dayton. I met him at the Charlotte airport. Cartmill was kind enough to allow me to return to the Port City.”
Kresse won an NAIA national championship two years later. Davidson, meanwhile, hired the late Bobby Hussey. Eight years later he was fired.
His replacement was Bob McKillop.
4. Mental Toughness:
a. You will be at your best at the defining moment.
b. You will keep your poise even in the most difficult situations.
c. You will put complete trust in yourself, your teammates, and our system. You will believe in yourself, your teammates, our system.
d. You will fight from the beginning of the game and persist until the final buzzer. You will never give up. We will play for 40 minutes, every second, every game.
e. If you make a mistake or things get emotional, you will have the discipline to remain passionate, but you will take that passion inward.
f. You will not get distracted by the referees’ bad call, opponents’ trash talk, fan reaction, of if you are taken out of the game.
g. You will listen, you will see, you will hear, you will watch.
Before the game, I read “Taking The Shot: The Davidson Basketball Moment,” by Michael Kruse, who chronicled the Wildcats’ 2008 run to the Elite Eight. I was continually struck by how much Butler and Davidson resemble each other. Both are small colleges that stick to a system and play big-time basketball. Wish I had more time to tour the beautiful campus here. It looks like what we would all imagine a college campus to be. Davidson’s enrollment is 1,700, or less than half of Butler’s.
When Curry is not the best player on the court, the Wildcats rarely are the best team. And Curry struggled mightily against the Bulldogs, missing his first eight field-goal attempts. He scored 20 points, but he needed 23 shots to get them. He had seven turnovers and no excuses.
If you need another reason to like Davidson, here it is. Neither Curry nor coach Bob McKillop cited Curry’s obviously injured ankle as a reason for the loss. Curry said that once the game began, he was fine. Rather than talk about the ankle, McKillop talked about Butler’s defense.
Curry, in fact, seemed to be about to lead a Davidson spurt when he knocked in his first three-pointer 20 seconds into the second half, trimming Butler’s lead to 34-32. But the Wildcats (22-6) turned the ball over their next four possessions, and the Bulldogs (23-4) went on a 10-0 run.
“They have a winning attitude,” McKillop said of the Bulldogs. “They have great confidence. Their players are custom-made for their system -- versatility, the ability to put it on the floor, the willingness to defend any position.
“And they have that inside/outside presence. They’re a superb basketball team and deserving of a Top 25 ranking.”
I’ll say it anyway.
It was a phone interview with Stephen, no picture, and the guy from ESPN who was interviewing Stephen, I forget who it was, said something along the lines of how Stephen should hurry up and heal so he could play against Butler because that would make the “family” of networks happy.
I wish I could quote here but that was the gist.
It bothered the fuck out of me.
One of the things that most interests me about sports in America here in the early part of the 21st century is the space between game and show. The space between sports and entertainment. It’s getting smaller. It’s getting fuzzier.
Made-for-TV cage fighting? Yes.
Think steroids in baseball.
All you hear about is how wrong it is, and how it’s shaming the game, and how baseball as we knew it is dead, and you see old-man sports columnists shaking their old heads and wagging their fat fingers, and you see A-Rod asking for forgiveness and pretending to cry, and you see his teammates standing there trying to be appropriately solemn about the whole charade.
Know what else you see?
Big crowds, big crowds that couldn’t get enough of the show, bigger crowds than ever before, at least until the economic slowdown. It was the economy that finally made some of the foam-finger-buying, hot-dog-inhaling, fantasy-baseball-playing people stop coming. Not the steroids. All the steroids did was make the show better.
The Super Bowl is a TV show. The NCAA tournament is a TV show. The Super Bowl I have no problem with. Those actors are getting paid. March Madness? Not so much. That’s the setup and there are too many dollars involved and there’s too much inertia by now for any of the people in positions of power to even think about changing it.
For Davidson, because of last March, obviously, and for the first time ever, that space between sports and entertainment -- it shrunk.
The games are shows.
If you’re the school, you understand that, and you take the good with the bad.
Having a man from a TV network tell a 20-year-old college junior to please get well soon essentially so more people would watch that network’s noon-to-2?
That’s part of the bad.
Maybe I’m just grumpy.
Maybe I tend to overthink these sorts of things.
Or maybe the video is no longer there because I wasn’t the only one who thought it was pretty fucked up.
1. The last really good Davidson team that played better basketball in January than it did in February was maybe the ’95-’96 team. Or perhaps the ’04-’05 team. One of the trends within the Davidson basketball story over the last decade and a half or so has been consistent, constant in-season improvement, and it’s been a really cool trend. That doesn’t make it a rule.
2. Got a call at halftime. The caller said: “There’s a level of exhaustion to this year. I’m tired. And I’m not playing.”
3. Butler was the better team. The five-point margin at halftime wasn’t right. The game even at that point felt like what it was for most of the second half -- a 10- to 15-point kind of deal.
4. McKillop has talked, always, for as long as I’ve been following Davidson basketball, about the tissue-thin line between success and failure.
5. Things I liked about Butler: Those kids looked like college kids. They played defense. They won loose balls. They earned “slobber” points, one of the ESPN guys said, which I thought was a neat way of putting it. Back on the night this BracketBuster matchup was announced, on the radio after whatever game that was, McKillop, and then Bryant Barr, too, talked about how Butler was not only a great team but a great program. That distinction means a lot to McKillop, I think, because he knows well how hard it is to win this year, then the next year, then the year after that. My point here is: There’s no shame in losing to Butler. I’d much rather the team at my school lose to Butler than to any of the many outfits in the college game with gunslingers for coaches and knuckleheads for kids.
6. Another McKillopism: “Proud peacock today. Feather duster tomorrow.”
These are my thoughts.
That’s all they are.
I think last year’s team had two guards who could play with anybody. I think this year’s team has one. I think this year’s team asks Stephen to do a TON. I don’t think there’s any way around that. I think Stephen does more for his team than any other player in America. And I thought that before this week’s Stephen-less Citadel loss. I think he’s carried an enormous burden this year. I think it’s remarkable that he’s performed the way he’s performed and that he hasn’t gotten more worn down than he has. I think last year’s team had a post player in Thomas Sander who did all kinds of things that were invisible to most folks watching but made all of his teammates so much better. I think that kind of player is as rare as a player like Stephen is rare. I think last year’s team was backed by a fan base that was filled with such genuine hope but not necessarily debilitating expectation. I think it created an authentic experience. I think it’s an experience Davidson people will be talking about for a long, long time.
The No. 56 RPI is still dicey at this juncture, though. The fact is, Davidson has exactly one win against a team in the top 85 of the RPI. So suffice it to say, beating Butler would do wonders for the Wildcats’ profile.
Don’t tell me the NCAA Tournament is going to take place without Stephen Curry. I don’t want to hear it. Don’t you remember how exciting it was to watch Curry in the 2008 tournament?
Will Stephen not play?
Furman coach Jeff Jackson: “What people don’t realize is that Davidson has a lot of veteran players who have played in some unbelievable venues. They are not going to get shaken, they’re not going to get all weepy because Stephen Curry sprains an ankle. They are the most physical team in our league, and they are the best defensive team in our league. Those things don’t go away because Stephen sprains an ankle.”
I continue to think about those 16.8 seconds, and that message board post, and what they might mean. Bob McKillop, the Davidson coach, has been at Davidson for 20 years, and Jason was a senior who hadn’t played much his first two years in college, and Stephen was a sophomore who hadn’t been recruited by any big schools, and so there was something very, very anti-get-rich-quick about the team’s tournament run last March. That last moment, watched by so many, was created by so many people at Davidson doing so many things well for so many years, while being watched by so few -- and here was the reward.
In the end, though, the reward wasn’t Hoosiers.
It was more interesting than that.
If that shot had gone in, I probably wouldn’t have written a book -- you’ve read that book before, you’ve watched that movie -- and I definitely wouldn’t have written this book.
Recently, I had a chance to make my first visit to Davidson and call a game involving All-American, Stephen Curry. My gut feeling tells me that Curry is going to follow the actions of football superstar Tim Tebow at Florida and make the same decision as North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough and return for his senior season at Davidson. Do you think that would put a smile on the face of Davidson alums and certainly coach Bob McKillop?
Battier’s game is a weird combination of obvious weaknesses and nearly invisible strengths. When he is on the court, his teammates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse -- often a lot worse. He may not grab huge numbers of rebounds, but he has an uncanny ability to improve his teammates’ rebounding. He doesn’t shoot much, but when he does, he takes only the most efficient shots. He also has a knack for getting the ball to teammates who are in a position to do the same, and he commits few turnovers. On defense, although he routinely guards the N.B.A.’s most prolific scorers, he significantly reduces their shooting percentages. At the same time he somehow improves the defensive efficiency of his teammates -- probably, Morey surmises, by helping them out in all sorts of subtle ways. “I call him Lego,” Morey says. “When he’s on the court, all the pieces start to fit together.”
Davidson star guard Stephen Curry’s injured left ankle is not broken, and the nation’s leading scorer will be listed as day-to-day.
Curry met with doctors on Sunday, a scheduled off day from practice, and underwent X-rays that were negative. Coach Bob McKillop said Curry will sit out Monday’s practice, but no determination has been made for Wednesday's game against Southern Conference foe The Citadel.
The Wildcats (22-4, 15-1) host No. 15 Butler on Saturday in a Bracketbusters game.
Stephen Curry is fine.
The Davidson star guard injured his ankle last night in a win over Furman and had to leave the game on crutches, but he is hopeful of playing Wednesday against The Citadel after X-rays revealed it was just a sprain.
“I think I’ll be back soon,” Curry told FOXSsports.com on Sunday afternoon. “If I heal as quickly as I have since last night, I should be able to play Wednesday.”
If Curry had torn something and been out the rest of the season, that would have put a huge damper on Davidson’s season. The Wildcats might have still made the NCAA tournament, but it would have been no beter than a 50-50 proposition. As it is, I’m sure Davidson coach Bob McKillop will be careful with Curry and perhaps sit him out Wednesday vs. The Citadel. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet Curry will play Saturday in a huge non-conference home game against nationally-ranked Butler.
Stephen Curry is the most durably prolific collegiate scorer of our lifetime, but he has a chance to reach Maravich’s 3,667-point milestone only with two enormous advantages: One, he would have to play four seasons of college, one more than Maravich. Two, he has averaged close to four 3-pointers per game. Had he played in Maravich’s era, before the 3-point arc, Curry wouldn’t be able to come within 500 points of Maravich’s record -- not even in four seasons.
And that’s not a shot at Stephen Curry. I love Stephen Curry, platonically speaking.
The Davidson College basketball player is so big-time that he doesn’t even sign autographs much anymore. He had to stop because fans were hounding him day and night.
When did that happen?
“Where in the world is Mike Maloy?”
“Whatever happened to Mike Maloy?”
“Does anybody ever hear from Mike Maloy?”
The questions never stopped coming, even after Mike Maloy ’70 played his last college basketball game for Davidson in 1970 and his last professional game for the Virginia Squires three years later. At last, there are some answers for the frequent questions.
Maloy’s contact with former friends and family in the U.S. has been minimal for the last 15 years -- a long time on anybody’s calendar. He’s been playing and coaching basketball in Austria. Maloy has also taught at the American School in Vienna and currently coaches club basketball teams.
Don’t overlook the Boring Blues Band, although the name is changing to BBB! Mike sings with the BBB when he’s not coaching basketball. Besides being a great basketball player, Mike was a party animal, too.
We caught up with Mike through one of his former teammates, Ralph Wimmer, who inquired by e-mail about Maloy. He was curious about how good his former teammate was.
The answer, Ralph, was “damn good.” In fact, he was better than that.
Maloy was on several first team All-American selections and led Davidson to three 20-win seasons, three top 20 finishes. With Maloy at center form 1968 to 1970, twice the Wildcats were whisker close to reaching the NCAA Final Four.
Now, Mike is on the telephone from Vienna. Maloy’s charm, one of his many talents, comes through despite the miles. He’s anxious to hear about Davidson team and coaches. Last March, he watched the Wildcats’ NCAA game against Michigan on television.
Now 50 and an Austrian citizen, he played professional basketball until four years ago, but the sport remains an integral part of his life. “I’m coaching a club team with players aged 14-17. It’s really neat,” Maloy said. “We’re at the second level, but I hope to move it up to the top level. That will take a lot of hard work to get the necessary sponsorship.”
At 6’7”, Maloy didn’t appear on paper to be a threat to taller centers in college basketball. But, with perhaps the quickest first step in college basketball, he would catch the ball down low as one of Davidson’s two post players. His long arms and huge hands made the catching part easy.
Few opponents could stop what happened next. With exceptional quickness, Maloy whirled around taller defenders to render them ineffective. When defenders backed off, he pulled up for medium range jumpers. He possessed one of the highest vertical leaps in college basketball, making him a devastating rebounder, as well as a great shot blocker and defender.
From Bryant High School in New York City, Maloy was among the first blacks (the term “African American” hadn’t been invented yet) to play for a predominantly white team in the south -- the star on a deeply talented Davidson team. With an engaging smile and charming personality on top of exceptional basketball talent, he was a media and fan favorite -- before Michael Jordan, Mike had a jump shot.
Combining talent with finesse, he became one of college basketball’s best inside player. In 1969, he was one of the ten best players in the game, good enough to earn a spot on several major first team All-America teams and a second team consensus All-American.
With Maloy setting the tone, flanked by Doug Cook ’70 and Jerry Kroll ’70, Davidson was 27-3 in 1969 and finished third in the final United Press poll. Except for a last second shot by North Carolina’s Charlie Scott, who had originally committed to Davidson, the Wildcats would have been in the Final Four. In December of ’68, he and Scott, along with Kentucky’s Mike Casey, were on the cover of Sports Illustrated, hailed as threats to UCLA.
After leading Davidson to three Southern Conference championships and NCAA bids, Maloy was a first round pick of the Pittsburgh Pipers, an American Basketball Association team in the middle of a bidding war with the NBA. The American part of his professional career ended after three seasons.
Maloy got to Vienna in what was for him typical fashion -- whim and opportunity. He was on a club team in Dallas in 1975, when a friend asked if Maloy would be interested in playing for a “pretty good team” in Austria. “It was Monday and I had to be there on Thursday,” Maloy said.
“My wife and I were separating. There were a bunch of things on my mind. Austria sounded interesting, so I went. I was there for one year. Then another. And then another. Europe, especially Austria, suits my mentality.”
The pace in Vienna, Mike says, is like New York or Paris minus the “hustle and bustle.” He hasn’t driven a car since he got to Europe. “The transportation system here will get you anywhere.”
Basketball was different, too. After playing center for three years in college, he was a power forward or small forward in Europe and had a long, satisfying career with USBC-Vienna, the best team in Austria. He also played for teams in Mattersburg, Klostennurburg, Gra ABC, Munich-Graz, and two other teams in Vienna. He played for another in Paris, but can’t remember the name of the team.
“I played until about four years ago,” Maloy said. “I knew it was time to quit when I started playing against the sons of some players I had faced when I first came to Europe.”
Maloy has not remarried but has lived “for quite a long time” with an Austrian woman. Their 10-year-old son Ryan, is beginning to develop sports interests, including basketball, karate, swimming, and music.
Maloy left Davidson before graduating. Only a term short of his degree, he might be interested in finishing the requirements for his diploma. He could be eligible for an NCAA program that encourages and offers financial support to former athletes who didn’t graduate but desire to finish.
“The days at Davidson were some of the best of my life,” he said. “It’s amazing when you think about how good we were. We only lost three games my junior year. One of those losses was to St. John’s in overtime and another was to North Carolina on a last second shot.”
Although basketball has been -- and still is -- a major part of his life in Vienna, Maloy has other strong interests. In addition to English, Maloy is fluent in German and speaks “adequate” French. He has taught English, German and history at the American School in Vienna.
The club basketball teams and the BBB -- a.k.a. the Boring Blues Band -- are his primary focus now. His club team is at the second level in Austria and has developed a plan to attract the sponsors that would make the jump possible.
Maloy is the group’s lead singer, which plays clubs around Vienna. The group has an agent and has recorded a CD. “We do a lot of rhythm and blues and a little rock and roll -- some Sinatra and 30’s to 60’s kind of music,” Maloy said. “It started about seven years ago. I had a friend who played piano and another who played guitar. Another had a small band. One day we decided to form our own band. Somebody asked us to play and we did one show. Then somebody else asked us to play. Now we’ve done quite a number of shows.”
Most of the questions have been answered, but we’ve got one more. What’s next, Mike?
Heroes never were meant to be an accurate reflection of daily human enterprise. They were meant to be examples of the rare capacity to exceed ourselves. Go back to ancient mythology, and you’ll see what I mean. The Greeks understood that becoming a hero didn’t absolve anyone of being human. In fact, that was usually the point of the story.
The Coffee Cup incident happened.
Here’s what Charlie Scott told me in November 1998 when we met for the old book in Atlanta:
In the fall of ’65, on a visit to Davidson with his coach from Laurinburg and his coach’s wife, Scott stopped in at the basketball office. Terry was there. Terry said Lefty was over at the Coffee Cup.
The Coffee Cup was where Jasper’s is now, on Depot Street, by the Davidson Inn. There was a counter in the middle of the restaurant, as I understand it, and whites sat on one side and blacks sat on the other.
“I knew this restaurant was segregated,” Scott told me back in ’98, “so I knew we were going to have problems.”
But as long as he and his coach and his coach’s wife didn’t order anything, and if they were sitting with Lefty, Scott thought at the time, maybe they could get away with it, and get out of there without any trouble.
According to Scott, though, his coach’s wife said to Lefty: “Man, those black-eyed peas look good.”
To which Lefty said: “Why don’t you order some?”
More from Scott: “So he called the owner’s wife over and she took the order. The owner came over shortly thereafter and said, ‘I’m sorry, Lefty, but my wife won’t serve n---ers on this side.’”
“That,” Scott said, “was the beginning of the end.
“I was all set, going to Davidson,” he said. “I wanted to sign early, but my coach wouldn’t let me, and after that he started taking me up to North Carolina and pushing me toward Carolina.”
In ’98, in Atlanta, Scott told me he didn’t think the deal at the Coffee Cup was Lefty’s fault.
But he also said this: “Coach Smith would not have been eating there. Lefty was eating there.”
When we talked, in December ’98, also in Atlanta, he called it “the unfortunate incident downtown.”
“It was probably my fault for eating in there,” he said. “I never thought much about it. I guess I should have.”
And as I sat there in the midst of the low murmurs I thought. I thought about the framed newspaper that hangs above the water fountain, two faces beaming with resurrection (little r) miracle. I thought about the yellowing article on the bulletin board by the printer, red jerseys sitting in wooden booths. I thought about all that I have heard and seen in the last two and a half years because of this team, the places I've been.
*** It’s okay to rely heavily on the production of one of the best players in the country. It’s real nice to have him on your team. But you also have to be willing to accept the consequences when for whatever reason he’s not at his best.
*** This was the West Virginia game without the shots from No. 30 at the end.
*** Stephen in the second half last night looked as exhausted as I’ve seen him since the second half of the Kansas game. Maybe ever. He looked … haggard. His actions are usually markedly quick and crisp. Last night, in the second half, and it seemed to happen all of a sudden, they were more slow, more dull.
*** Antwaine Wiggins, by the way, had something to do with that. Kid’s rangy. Kid’s long. That’s not new. He’s given Stephen difficulties before. Remember last year’s game at Charleston? Check out the box score.
*** But the biggest play(s) of the game? Max’s second foul with 59 seconds to go in the first half. Max’s third foul with 38 seconds to go in the first half. That made his early foul in the second half, of course, his fourth foul, and that basically made him a non-factor the rest of the way. So what this game became in the last 20 minutes was in a sense Davidson’s worst-case scenario: The team played a second half not only without Stephen’s offense but without Max’s defense. With Max’s defense, and the stops that come with it, I’m thinking that 14-point lead becomes a 20-point lead and Charleston rolls over. No?
*** There’s no rule that says Davidson can’t lose a Southern Conference game. It’s okay.
*** Davidson has played 58 games league games the last three years and has won 56 of them. Not too bad.
*** Back to Florida.
For 30 years, Dick Vitale has analyzed basketball games on TV.
Tonight, after nearly 1,000 games, Vitale goes to Davidson for the first time.
Davidson (20-3, 13-0) has won 43 straight SoCon regular-season games, just one short of the league record of 44 in a row set by West Virginia and another basketball icon -- Jerry West -- from 1956-60.
Of all the Division I players who have averaged five assists in a season in the past 10 years, Stephen Curry ranks first in terms of scoring average. In addition to his 6.3 dishes a game, the Davidson star manages a nation-leading 28.9 ppg.
Off on the side courts of conference play, Curry has taken a backseat to the weekly ACC and Big East slugfests, but you can almost sense him building for another March run.
McKillop: “I ain’t ‘there’ yet. I don’t know where ‘there’ is.”
More: Davidson. C of C.
While some teams might take the opportunity of an easy walkover regular-season championship as a chance to take the odd night or two off, the Wildcats are using the SoCon slate to sharpen their knives for another March run. The defense keeps getting more and more devastating, and the team’s at the point now that Stephen Curry can be somewhat human (as much as a 29 point performance can be), and can still dominate with a Lovedale-Rossiter double-double one-two punch.
It has been a difficult week for all of us. Thank you for your best wishes. We met as a school this morning. We listened to some of Mike’s music, looked at some photos and listened to a message from his JV Boys team. It was perfect.
We have set up a web page in honor of Mike. The page also launches the MIKE MALOY FUND. Should you wish to make a donation simply follow the instructions.
On a day when Davidson’s basketball team was not at its best -- not nearly at its best -- the Wildcats eventually managed to pull away from UNC Greensboro Thursday night ...
The Wildcats weren’t particularly sharp on offense, but they wound up with a 75-54 victory over UNCG. The Spartans made a close game of it for a while but eventually were ground down by a bigger, stronger team. The big number that UNCG really wanted materialized with the attendance of 11,687.
More: Ed Hardin. Davidson. UNCG. N&R slideshow.
1. Man’s double doubles.
2. “Off-night” 29-spots.
3. When Andrew guards people 25 feet from the basket.
4. When a team can shoot 38 percent from the field, 22 percent from three and 56 percent from the line -- and win by 21.
5. 11,687, on a weeknight, for Davidson at UNCG.
That’s about it. Time to sleep. See you Saturday.
There is something to be said for the fact that I’ve been to Purdue-Oklahoma, UNC-Wake Forest and UConn-Louisville this season -- all huge games between top 10 teams -- and I was more hyped to cover West Virginia-Davidson than I was for any of those. Steph Curry was the reason for that.
The most fundamental principle of Davidson basketball … what sets it apart from just about all other Division I programs … is that you are a student who happens to play basketball. It’s about education first, basketball second. It’s what makes us unique. If you play basketball at Davidson and don't graduate, then, what’s the point?
That is why, despite the fact that he was the greatest basketball player in Davidson history, Mike Maloy’s jersey should not be in the rafters.
There are two distinct categories when considering Davidson’s greatest. The first is the greatest basketball players to play at Davidson (Maloy, Adrian, Snyder, Hetzel). And the second is Greatest Davidson Basketball Players (Snyder, Hetzel. Rucker). There is a difference.
Maloy’s accomplishments and the trials he endured in an unjust world of which Davidson was a part were unsurpassed. But if Davidson compromises this, the most fundamental principle of the Davidson basketball ideal, we will lose the very thing that makes us unique and so proud of what we have accomplished.
It’s going to be interesting … with Mike’s passing and if Steph leaves before finishing his degree … whether that dual set of pressures will lead to the policy being changed. I hope not. In short, it’s important that educational institutions make it clear, though their words, but more importantly, though their actions, that educational achievement is more important than athletic accomplishments.
That said, Mike Maloy deserves something different. Something more significant than a jersey hanging from the rafters. Something that puts his life and times at Davidson into context. His is a story that deserves telling, not simply a quick visual of a jersey in the rafters. It’s history. And he, and Davidson, played a part in it.
The public will come out tonight for UNCG’s only coliseum appearance this season. More than 9,600 tickets have been sold or given away, with proceeds for the partners of about $75,000.Greensboro:
But the attraction for fans tonight is unique. Davidson, like UNCG, belongs to the Southern Conference, but the Wildcats played deep into last season’s NCAA tournament, losing to Kansas in a regional championship.
Davidson’s best player is Stephen Curry, who leads the nation in scoring with 29 points per game and is a first-team All-America.
The scent of humiliation is in the air. UNCG could be in for college basketball’s equivalent of a public flogging in the town square tonight.Charlotte:
Just when the struggling Spartans desperately need to retreat from scrutiny and gain confidence by playing an equally wretched opponent on some far-flung, tiny campus, the Spartans instead get Southern Conference leader Davidson.
At the Greensboro Coliseum. In front of about 10,000 fans.
The Wildcats shoot for their fifth straight 20-victory season in the huge Greensboro Coliseum, meaning that anyone in the Triad who wants a peek at Stephen Curry, the nation’s leading scorer, can do so. A win would also be Davidson’s 43rd straight in league regular-season play, leaving them one short of West Virginia’s record 44.
Curry’s ascendancy has caused an interesting dilemma for SoCon sports information directors, who choose the league’s player of the week each week.
Curry won the award this week for the third week in a row, seventh time this season and 15th time in his career. And it was probably a below average week for the Wildcats’ junior -- he averaged 26 points, 6.7 assists and 5 rebounds as Davidson went 3-0.
No SoCon team relies more on one player than Davidson does on Curry. And he’s so great that even a below average week is good. Should SoCon SIDs judge Curry by his own high standard, and reward other players who might have had exceptional weeks by their standards? Or should they just shrug and vote for Curry every week?
Major: Political Science
Hometown: New York, N.Y.
Maloy most likely will go down in Davidson basketball history as the school’s greatest player. He was named to the Look, Converse and Helms Foundation all-America teams last year and was second team according to the Associated Press … Coach Terry Holland is expecting the 6-7 senior to make everybody’s team this year … Davidson teams on which Maloy has played have recorded 67 wins and have lost only eight … The only undefeated basketball team in Davidson history came when Maloy was a freshman … Last year became the sixth player in school history to score more than 1,000 points in his varsity career … Twice has been all-Southern Conference, last year was most valuable player in the conference and was conference tournament most valuable player as a sophomore … Twice has been most valuable player in Charlotte Invitational tournament … Was voted team’s most valuable player last two years and top defender in 1968.
Coach Terry Holland says: “I think Maloy’s greatest ability is that second, third and fourth effort. That’s a habit he has developed and it is a good one. Many coaches will agree that inch-for-inch he is the best in the country.”
It was 1966, and Davidson basketball coach Lefty Driesell was certain that he had two very special recruits—a 6-foot-7 center with big hands and a stunning vertical leap named Mike Maloy and a 6-5 guard with the ability to take over a game named Charlie Scott.
Both were African American, and Davidson, just like virtually every other school in the South, had never had a black player. Lefty was getting ready to bring that barrier crashing down.
“I had Charlie Scott too,” Driesell said Wednesday, a day after Maloy was found dead in Vienna. He was 59.
Maloy held to his pledge. At the last moment, though, Scott decided to attend North Carolina. Twice, in 1968 and ’69, his Tar Heels and Maloy’s Wildcats would meet in NCAA Regional Finals. Twice, Scott’s teams would prevail, winning by four points and then by two. The two came on an 18-foot, final-seconds jumper by Scott, who had 32 points in the game.
Is there any doubt that had Scott gone to Davidson, the Wildcats would have won both of those games? Is there any doubt that they would have won them easily?
Davidson would have been in two Final Fours, might well have won two national championships. And with that kind of base to build from, maybe the administration would have tried harder to keep Lefty, who left for Maryland following the second of those losses.
Maybe today when we talk about traditional basketball powers, it wouldn’t seem strange to say North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky and Davidson.
Unless somebody has recruiting a mongoose, this guy’s going to score many points. He’s that quick. “I can’t think of words to tell how quick he is,” Coach Lefty Driesell says. “It’s amazing.” … At 6-7, he’s the equal of many 6-9 and 6-10 players because of exceptionally long arms … Can dunk two basketballs at one time although they won’t let him do it in a game … Has great leaping ability and precise timing … Defense is superb … May be best close-to-basket player Driesell has recruited … Has been named on several pre-season all-America teams … Driesell expects him to be on several actual all-America teams by the end of the 1968-69 season … Was first team all-Southern Conference in 1968 … On all-Charlotte Invitational, all-Southern Conference tournament and all-NCAA Eastern Regional first teams … Second team member of Converse Magazine’s all-America as sophomore … Most valuable player in Southern Conference tournament and Charlotte Invitational.
Driesell on Maloy: “Probably the most exciting player ever to wear a Davidson uniform. A great leaper, great defender and has speed, quickness and tremendous hands. A bona fide all-American.”
The 1966-67 freshman team remains the only undefeated basketball team in school history. The “Wildkittens” went 16-0. Under Terry Holland, still only two years removed from his playing days, the Davidson first-years that season beat seven ACC teams, averaging approximately 90 points and 50 rebounds a game.
In their debut, Maloy had 26 points and 21 rebounds, Cook had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Jan Postma scored 24 points. Davidson’s rookies beat Wake Forest’s rookies 103-90. After beating Wake twice, South Carolina and Duke -- and many others -- the group closed its perfect season with an 88-80 victory against North Carolina State.
Maloy put up astounding numbers throughout his freshman season. He had 34 points and 25 rebounds Jan. 8 against The Citadel. After breaking his hand in a fall on campus, though, Maloy sat out the final five games.
But it hardly mattered.
Supporters of Davidson basketball had seen the future.
“I won’t say that this year’s team is the best I’ve ever had at Davidson,” Lefty told the Davidsonian in the fall of 1967. “But I will say it sure has the potential to be.”
Bob Dunham told a story decades later. During 1966 freshman orientation, he was in the same group with Maloy, and Chalmers Davidson, then the head of the library, made some reference to Chapel Hill, where they played, in his words, “real basketball.”
Maloy, Dunham said, just laughed.
“Mike knew what was coming.”
“He’s so quick he’s unreal.” That’s one way that Coach Lefty Driesell describes Mike Maloy … Maloy has super leaping ability and uncanny timing … These two things should enable him to guard the Davidson basket with considerable pride this year … Name a move under the basket and Maloy will pull it off … He can dunk two basketballs at one time … He broke his hand last year and missed five freshman games but that injury is completely healed … He goes to the offensive board as hard as anyone Driesell has ever coached … And he has that quickness that Driesell was talking about earlier in this piece … No way to keep him out of the starting lineup.
Driesell on Maloy: “He could be great. That’s about all I need to say. He has every move in the book under the hoop. And he should be outstanding on defense.”
We pledged Mike in the fall of his freshman year (1966) in the pledge class with among 20 others Fox Demoisey and Jerry Kroll. If memory serves in our region the Sigma Chis at Wake Forest and Duke supported us and the chapters at UNC, NC State and especially the University of South Carolina were not pleased. I believe the intemperate words by one Sigma Chi at USC was that they were going to come up to Davidson and burn down our fraternity house.
We never faced the issue of presenting Mike for membership in the National Fraternity because he never made his grades. I am not sure if that rule was a school rule or a fraternity rule. In any case in 1970 when the chapter voted to leave the National Fraternity and become the Macchis (our school nickname) it was largely because of the feeling that the national fraternity was racist generally as well as specifically in some of their dealings with our chapter. Jerry Kroll was our president (I think the Greek title was Consul) and he would know the story better than I.
Mike faced a racism both overt and subtle that we can only imagine. Remember he came to Davidson just two years after the Freedom Riders in Greensboro and one year after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It’s is impossible to know what the pressures were like that forged the man he became. It is awfully sad however that someone who was such a good friend to a number of us could have disappeared so completely from our lives over the last almost 40 years.
The last time I saw Mike was in the fall of 1971. I was coming back from playing pro basketball in Belgium and he was playing with the Virginia Squires. I went by Norfolk and met him at his apartment. After getting into horrible shape the previous year playing for the Pittsburgh Condors he had completely turned himself around. He was 220 lbs and in the best shape of his life. He told me he was playing the best basketball he had ever played and he was the starter at small forward going into the season. But he said there is a rookie on the team that does things every day in practice that nobody has ever seen on the basketball court and I should remember his name. Well his name was Julius Erving and when the season started Mike was on the bench. He was making too much money to not start so the Squires traded him to Dallas after 7 games. With Charlie Scott averaging 34.6 ppg and Erving averaging 27.3 ppg and 15.7 rebounds a game the Squires finished 2nd in the ABA Eastern Division.
Mike played in 9 games at Dallas in the 1972-73 season but I think was in Austria well before the season ended. I talked to him in Dallas a couple of times but never saw him or talked to him after he went to Austria.
Sending one of the nation’s top defenses against the nation’s top scorer was an irresistible college basketball matchup. So it was that ESPN paired No. 11 Butler against Davidson and All-America guard Stephen Curry in a BracketBuster game Feb. 21.
Butler at Davidson, the highlight game Feb. 21, is a blockbuster game. Both teams will be in the NCAA tournament, regardless of whether they win their conference tourney. This game could easily be an NCAA second-round matchup, considering the way both teams have played at times this season. Butler’s Brad Stevens said Monday the good news was that the two teams probably won’t face each other now in the NCAAs.
ESPN apparently decided sending Butler to play Stephen Curry-led Davidson held more television appeal.
Though No. 11 Butler lost just as the schedule was announced, this will still be the highlight of the event, as ESPN nary misses an opportunity to televise Stephen Curry.
Can it happen again?
Some people thought yes.
More people thought no.
These interviews happened in 1998 and 1999. It’s interesting, given what’s happened since, especially these last few years, to re-read their words now.
Charlie Marcon ’65, Dec. 18, 1998, Bethlehem, Pa.: “It’s a delusion. I think it’s very naïve to think Davidson could ever do it again.”
Danny Carrell ’63, Oct. 15, 1998, Richmond, Va.: “Davidson can never do it again.”
Tom Franz ’84, Oct. 15, 1998, Richmond, Va.: “Absolutely not. It’ll never happen. It would be an absolute stroke of luck for it to happen. I just don’t think Davidson is going to get the kind of kids necessary to maintain that caliber. You might get one -- but not enough. And that’s okay.”
Bill Jarman ’63, November 1998, Gastonia: “I don’t think so. Because now the emphasis on basketball is a total commitment -- and the academics at Davidson aren’t going to allow that.”
Bill Beermann ’64, Feb. 17, 1999, on the phone from Jacksonville, Fla.: “I don’t think they can get the kind of players the bigger schools can get -- guys who think they can be NBA players. Lefty was in an era when he could find these guys and recruit these guys. He was way ahead of a lot of other coaches in recruiting. That just doesn’t happen today. I don’t think it’s possible for a school of Davidson’s size to appeal to enough of those high-quality players.”
Davis Liles ’70, Nov. 16, 1998, Charlotte: “Now I think kids look at where they can go to get the most exposure and sign a big contract in the NBA two years later. That kid’s not coming to Davidson.”
Pepper Bego ’86, Feb. 10, 1999, Charlotte: “What hurts Davidson is its conference. Kids nowadays want to get exposure. The top 50 high school kids want the short stop to the NBA. And the academics, they’re uncompromising -- at Davidson, you’ve got unrelenting academic pressures.”
Terry Holland, Oct. 29, 1998, Charlottesville, Va.: “It’s driven by the conferences today. TV is the whole game. That may not be true in two years, six years, 20 years from now. But Davidson has no control over that.”
Jerry Kroll ‘70, April 15, 1999, on the phone from Houston: “The game has moved on. I certainly think it’s possible -- but highly unlikely.”
Ace Tanner ’87, Jan. 19, 1999, Charlotte: “I think the scene of college basketball has changed too much. Revenue generation has become the primary motivation. Big-time programs -- their coaches are getting a million dollars from Nike and half a million from merchandising. It’s very hard to compete with that for a small liberal arts school like Davidson.”
Dick Snyder ’66, Nov. 15, 1998, Paradise Valley, Ariz.: “Never say never. The thing about basketball is, it’s still conceivable because you only need a couple of guys with a good supporting cast. I think it’s still possible. But I think it’s much harder than it used to be.”
Tim Bowker ’80, Dec. 15, 1998, Delran, N.J.: “I think they could get in the rankings every once in a while. That’s possible. But to expect that every year is unfair. You’re just not playing from the same gene pool. If Davidson is worried about maintaining its academic standards -- and I think it should be -- it should be very satisfied with having a competitive program.”
Mike Dickens ’69, October 1998, Bethesda, Md.: “You can build a program with one great player a year. But the thing that probably makes it difficult today is the TV contract is so critical. Not being a member of a conference with a TV package is a major drawback. Kids today want to play in a conference that gets a lot of publicity. … But top 64 year in and year out can be done. And every two, three or four years, when the stars are aligned right, you could win a game or two. I don’t see why Davidson couldn’t get to the Sweet 16. The goal should be to be in the tournament every year.”
John Gerdy ’79, Dec. 18, 1998, Conestoga, Pa.: “The basketball program is right where it needs to be. Challenge for the Southern Conference championship every year, win 20 games, go to the NCAAs every few years -- that’s perfect.”
Wayne Huckel ’69, Nov. 5, 1998, Charlotte: “It depends on McKillop’s ability to get one or two players who can make the program. He could do it. But I think it’s unlikely. That’s not a knock. It’s just a fact of life.”
Doug Cook ’70, Dec. 16, 1998, Montclair, N.J.: “You don’t need a lot of basketball players to have a really good program. You need one or two great players and a supporting cast.”
Todd Haynes ’81, Feb. 18, on the phone from Bloomington, Ill.: “I think it can get back into the top 25. With basketball, if you get one or two really good players to come in, I can see them getting into the top 25. Coach McKillop has come close. He’s been maybe just one franchise player away from being there.”
Tony Orsbon ’69, Nov. 12, 1998, Charlotte: “What Bob McKillop needs most is that one guy who is an All-American. This team that Davidson has right now could go fairly deep into the NCAAs if they had what they don’t have right now -- that one All-American. Davidson can get him. It’s possible. But it would take some extraordinary effort.”
Larry Horowitz ’75, November 1998, Charlotte: “It only takes one player.”
Pinky Hatcher ’68, October 1998, Atlanta: “It’s a great dream. You just need one kid.”
*** There was a play with like five minutes to go in the first half that was classic Davidson basketball. A kid from Western threw in a crazy bank-shot three. The kid from Western wanted a foul. The fans were wondering how the heck the shot had gone in. And all of a sudden, there was Brendan, son of the coach, laying the ball in on the other end.
From Taking the Shot:
Inside that tiny moment is weakness, and inside that weakness is opportunity for McKillop’s team.
Brendan’s layup? Not an accident.
*** Western called its first timeout of the second half with 20:00 on the clock. Max.
*** Bryant can shoot. Bryant’s always been able to shoot.
*** That’s No. 42.
*** These guys will go for their 20th win of the season on the fifth day of February. Makes me think of Eddie’s post. The bright, sunlit uplands and whatnot.
*** I hear the college bookstore bought more books today. They keep buying books because you keep buying books. For which I say, humbly, sincerely: Thank you.
On No. 2 Stephen Curry:
Do yourself a favor and go see Curry play before he’s finished at Davidson. There are subtleties in his game that don’t translate as well on TV as they do when you’re in the arena. Watching him shoot is a treat in itself; the operation appears effortless. If ever they decide to remake “The Natural” as a basketball movie, Curry is the logical star. Consider that he has won the Southern Conference Player of the Week award six times this season, and 14 in his career. They should put his name on it and retire it. He leads the nation in scoring at 29.5, but I believe he could average 40 if he wanted to; he’s also in the top ten nationally in assists.
On No. 1 John Gerdy:
You had to see him to believe him, and not that many people did. Gerdy was pretty much the only weapon on several of the Wildcats’ poorer teams, but wound up the leading scorer in school history against defenses geared to stop him. That was without a three-point line, and long-range jumpers were his specialty.
After a sensational performance against South Carolina, Gamecocks coach Frank McGuire said simply that Gerdy was the best shooter he had ever seen. Gerdy almost personally upset then No.4-ranked Wake Forest by himself. The Deacons won on a last second shot, 70-68. Gerdy had 40 of those 68, on 18-of-24 shooting. Deacons coach Carl Tacy said, “We played a box-and-one on Gerdy. We should have played the box on Gerdy and the one on the rest of those guys.”
As far as I’m concerned, he was the best there ever was.
He’s Class of ‘71.
He’s an emergency room doctor.
He lives in Oregon.
And he told me at the Brickhouse, standing there in the noisy, crowded lobby, and practically parenthetically, that for the rest of the basketball season, well -- he’s kind of … moved to Davidson.
But you know how the Brickhouse is after games. Too many people to talk to and too little time to do it. So I told Floyd that I wanted to chat with him some more, and he gave me his card, and I gave him a call a few days later.
He graduated 38 years ago.
He lives 2,820 miles away.
Here’s what he said:
“To be a part of this …”
Floyd was born and raised in Alaska. He played basketball in high school and he played it well enough to get letters from Lefty. He wasn’t offered a scholarship but he was invited to come to school and try out for the team. He ended up playing freshman ball, back when they had that, the same class as Steve Kirley, Duncan Postma and Billy Pierce.
He went to med school in Chapel Hill. He’s lived out in Salem, Ore., since 1977. For the longest time, he kept track of Davidson’s basketball scores in the form of teeny-tiny print in the back of the sports section of the Salem Statesman Journal, and that was about it, because that was basically all there was.
In the mid-‘90s, though, he started to pay a little more attention to the basketball team. The Internet started to kick up. He didn’t have to just look at the scores in his paper back home. Now he could read about the games.
Then Bobby Vagt ’69 became president of the college. Vagt was his hall counselor way back when. A little more interest.
Then his daughter decided to go to Davidson. Molly Strand, now Molly Strand Deis, is Class of ’02. Her roommate for three years? Kerrin McKillop. Even more interest.
Then his son decided to go to Davidson. Peter Strand is Class of ’05. Even more.
Floyd bought season tickets for the first time before last year. He has four seats, Section 103, Row E, Seats 5, 6, 7 and 8.
Then last March.
“One of the great experiences of my life,” he told me on the phone last week.
“I had to be there,” he said.
“I ran into people I hadn’t seen since I was a student,” he said.
“It was a religious experience,” he said.
This man from Oregon who for the next couple months is living in Davidson is perhaps a particularly eye-catching example of something I’ve been seeing and hearing about all season long.
It is in my mind the very coolest part of this quite cool moment in the ongoing Davidson basketball narrative.
The McKillops’ team, the Mathenys’ team, the Currys’ team -- our team -- it’s drawing back in alums who had lost touch, and for those who already had a bond it’s making that bond that much tighter, and it’s connecting them to this place, and to this idea, and to each other.
It isn’t just about basketball.
But life for geeks has been transformed. For one thing, they aren’t alone anymore. They probably still loathe school, but when they go home, their computers are passports to a vast, complex, and communicative world, one still largely invisible to many parents educators, and other adults.
High priests in journalism and culture are fond of fussing that the Internet is dislocating, isolating, dangerous. After spending so much time online, talking to so many kids like Jesse and Eric, I view it differently. It isn’t the Net that drives kids into isolation or creates lonely children; the Net attracts lonely and ignored kids, and puts them in touch with others just like them.
This sport represents the only true prism that captures what this country is truly all about. Only in American football can you find short bursts of action punctuated by long meetings about how to proceed, a testament to the inactivity that has allowed every other country on earth to surpass us in productivity. This game also teaches important lessons about one’s place in society: everybody has one small job, assigned by body weight and intelligence level, and the thinnest and prettiest employee gets paid the most. Everyone has a preassigned number, and if one is caught doing something that is not in that number-holder’s job description, penalties are assessed.
The Stephen Curry road show attracted the first sellout crowd in the two-year history of Samford's 5,000-seat Pete Hanna Center. But what the fans witnessed Saturday afternoon was a Davidson squad that showed it is far from a one-man team.
The Samford Bulldogs almost hustled themselves into history on Saturday in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Pete Hanna Center.
The Bulldogs came within an off-balance fall-away 3-pointer and just one more free throw of upsetting Davidson College and ending a 40-game Southern Conference win streak. But Josh Bedwell's jumper with two ticks left on the clock bounced off the front of the rim and Davidson escaped with a 55-52 victory in front of 5,116 fans -- the largest crowd to see a game at Samford.
No doubt many of them showed up to watch Davidson star Stephen Curry, the leading scorer in college basketball, but they were treated to so much more.
They saw a Davidson team that, even with Curry struggling to find his shot, showed why it's to the Southern Conference what Memphis is to Conference USA.
At NCAA Tournament time, pick the Wildcats to win at least one game.
McKillop in the Birmingham gamer: “They play as a team of defenders. There’s no greater compliment than I can pay a team than that particular comment. You couldn’t just beat one of them; you have to beat their team.”
And Stephen: “I don’t have to do anything special for us to be good.”