Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Last Six Minutes

By Lauren Biggers
Men's Basketball vs. Chattanooga

“This doesn’t have the last six minutes.”

I have just delivered the stats book to Coach McKillop, sitting in our office-turned-media-holding-room and awaiting his turn at the podium after the ‘Cats’ 100-95 Win over the Chattanooga Mocs Saturday night. Naturally, he flips to the last page of the book. Naturally, he is right.

“HM. OK. Let me go find it.”

The last six minutes, after all, sort of was the game.

Assistant SID Matt Harris has two last pages from which he is writing the game story from press row, which, naturally, should be twice as good. Problem solved, crisis averted.

With all of the last-six-minuteless books and the last page in hand, it’s back to the copier (Have you seen the SportsCenter commercial with Lebron James and Stuart Scott? With Lebron looking for paper jams, exasperatedly, and Scott scoffing, ‘Chosen one.’ If only.)

Try writing a game story for this one without the last six minutes.

Talking about the game in the office before the game, projections are made. (I’m pretty superstitious, so don’t worry. Nothing crazy.) Someone else is due for a big game, and we also would like for The Mouthguard to duplicate his performance in Belk against this team from a season ago.

He doesn’t, but there is Andrew LOVEdale trying, with 14 rebounds to Chattanooga’s 19 in the first half. (14! 19 minutes!)

And Will Archambault, five-for-five with a team-leading 13 points in 12 minutes off the bench.

But the ‘Cats trail four, 44-40.

But there are 20 minutes left.

The WL hits a three as does The One who color coordinates, after a pair of gimmies, and the ‘Cats are up four behind an 8-0 run in 2:30. Game on.

(I met the costumed version of the WL at the NC State game. A friendly freshman named Morgan, whose hallmates chipped in $80 for the suit and paint, after he was recruited by Wes the Boxer. Looks a torturous way to watch a game to me, but on him, I’m a fan. Next, a dance…)

But the ‘Cats just couldn’t seem to shake the Mocs, and soon another Stephen reclaimed the lead for his team. (Sounded weird, didn’t it? Another Stephen?)

Will and The One in White would put the ‘Cats on top again, 53-50, but again, the other Stephen for two. Chatt, 58-57. Well, let’s just get further ahead next time.

And when the youngest McKillop made a layup for his 11th and 12th points to give the ‘Cats a 12-point lead, it felt a pretty good distance with three minutes left. Not keys-shaking good, but close.

The gap ballooned over the next minute to 94-81 and fingers were flying over keyboards. And then a 14-3 run, in 1:24 (!), and it’s 97-95… wait, 97-95?

Fortunately, fouling The Mouthpiece to win a game hasn’t proven a great way to win a game, and he hits 3-of-4 from the line to put the 100-95 win in the books. (Do we get biscuits? Washer fluid? Tacos? Coffee? What?)

And the Wildcats, 1-0 in the league, survive and advance in the Southern Conference.

And there’s a knock at the door.

“Did you find it?”

I did.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Year and Five Days Ago

By Lauren Biggers
Men's Basketball vs. NC State

The last time the Davidson Wildcats played at Time Warner Cable Arena it wasn’t called Time Warner Cable Arena. The opponents weren’t simultaneously members of the all-mighty ACC and underdogs. There was no such thing as a White Lobster, and it’s quite possible that The King had never even heard of his newest BFF.

The AP story started like this:

“Gerald Henderson scored 21 points and Greg Paulus had two key baskets and a steal in the final 2 minutes as No. 7 Duke remained unbeaten by holding off pesky Davidson 79-73 on Saturday.”

A year and five days later:

“Stephen Curry had just drilled a 30-foot fadeaway despite an awkward release that resembled a set shot - and it was too much for his buddy LeBron James to take.”

Well, one thing’s for sure, this was nothing like the last time the Wildcats went Uptown.

This time, Davidson brought a national ranking. Defended it. The battle on the boards? Won it. A late lead. Held it.

These Wildcats have, in fact, come leaps and bounds in a year, and in the light of the RBC Center, Sweet Caroline and that really cool police escort, the journey sometimes gets taken for granted.

After the game, I took my dad and my uncle, both NC State alums, to the
post-game press conference.

“I’m not very happy right now,” my uncle says, and I am reminded that not everyone in the world pulls for Davidson. Strange.

Behind the podium, sits a subdued trio of Wildcats. It’s a scene that looks and feels strangely similar to a season ago, but I’m struck by the profound difference.

A season ago, A Coach and Two Wildcats sat on the stage mutedly, sadly answering questions about running with the big boys.

A year and five days later, A Coach and Two Wildcats sat on the stage mutedly, thankfully answering questions about Lebron James.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Good to be Home

By Lauren Biggers
Women's Basketball vs. Furman

The Davidson Wildcat women kicked off the 2008-09 home portion of their season with a (tidy) 67-57 win over the Furman Paladins in their Southern Conference opener at Belk Arena Tuesday night.

Leading the way was once again preseason SoCon Player of the Year Merecedes Robinson, who finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and a “She’s got six of their points already” declaration from the other team’s head coach around the 10-minute mark in the first. (Um-hm, coach, (cough, cough) preseason Player of the Year…I'm just saying...)

Sophomore Ashley Lax tossed in 17 points (four from long-range), and junior Alex Thompson finished with 10 points, seven assists, a steal and a pair of nose plugs. (The nose plugs, incidentally, from an injury incurred during a collision in player introductions at South Carolina between Thompson’s nose and Julia Paquette’s elbow. Ah, unlucky.)

Apart from a lone exhibition, it was the first time these Wildcat women have played at Belk this season, so we’re still getting to know each other.

These ‘Cats are still getting to know each other, too, but a pretty challenging non-conference schedule and some serious road environments tend to speed up the process a bit.

“It’s a whole new season,” Alex said of kicking off conference play. “We try to look at preseason and the non-conference games and apply what we learn to the conference season.”

Tuesday night the ‘Cats kicked off the SoCon season with a win over Furman. A good start and a great result in a homecoming of sorts.

“There’s more heart and desire on this team than on any team I’ve been a part of,” Alex offers. “And that’s saying something because I’ve been on some pretty special teams.”

2008-09, part II, is officially under way for the Wildcat 2008-09 women, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them.

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