Saturday, November 7, 2009

A.S.I.F.

By Lauren Biggers
Davidson vs. Lenoir-Rhyne


It’s basketball season?

No matter how masterful you are with words, you can’t express inflection.

So what I was thinking as I turned onto Baker Drive today was not, “It’s basketball season?” as in “Did basketball season ever really end?”

But rather, “It’s basketball season?” as in… “Really? Are you sure?”

Because quiet isn’t even the right word to describe this offseason. I can count the interview requests on one hand. Not one single photo shoot. ESPN hasn’t called, and it seems no one is talking about These Wildcats.

Yet as I arrived today for the Wildcats scrimmage against Lenoir-Rhyne, early and way ahead of the crowd, I found a Wildcat and a coach working out in the gym. A couple of freshmen walking the hallways. Working. Quietly. Getting better.

And as I hit the trails for inspiration in anticipation of flexing my rusty writing muscles, I thought, Yep. It’s here. It really happened, and He’s not coming back to save us.

By now, we have adjusted to life A.S., (my cell phone is always exactly where I left it, for one) but now we get to see how it plays out on the court.

I used to joke and say that I was the same year as Stephen, because we both arrived to Davidson at the same time. And like a lot of people, I don’t know Davidson Basketball without him.

In our freshman year, the Wildcats had lost seven seniors and were picked to finish fourth in their Division. Fourth out of four. The expectations were low, but they were there, and we heard a ton about this skinny kid from Charlotte who was going to be an impact player, Just you wait and see.

Our sophomore year was magical. You remember that, of course. Good times never seemed so good. So good. So good.

But by junior year, the expectations changed. Suddenly they became the game. At the very least, the Wildcats needed to replicate that success and at the most, well, we were going to Disney World. The pressure, the expectations at times seemed tangible. We all felt it, but it was His to bear.

But as I pounded the hills, I wondered, how do you manage expectations when there are none?

You can’t. You don’t. You just play.

Sitting in my office Friday, Super Senior Steve (can we go back to Stephen now?) Rossiter asks if I’m coming to the game.

Nah, I tell him. I’m pretty much over you guys. Anyways, I was only in it for SteFF-in.

Yeah, that’s what I thought, he responds. Sarcasm perfectly pitched.

But of course, I came. And so did you. Because you wanted to see what Davidson Basketball A.S. was like.

And in my humble estimate it was pretty. good.

I didn’t take a ton of notes about the actual game, but I noted the monster dunk from WILL A. (um, yes. more please.) And I very much enjoyed the offensive rebound from the WL to J.P. to WILL A that resulted in a bucket for Super Steve. “That’s gonna make the highlight reel,” I heard later. And while there’s no way to tell, I felt proud that I jotted it down nonetheless.

But exhibitions aren’t about highlight tapes (just ask Syracuse… too soon?), they are about learning. So what did we learn tonight?

We learned that life A.S. is gonna be just fine.

Four guys in double figures. An “equal opportunity offense,” as Coach McKillop called it in the post-game.

And you can bet he’ll be stressing about those 20 turnovers, demanding his Wildcats take better care of the ball. And without a defensive stopper, he’ll continue to mold his into a “team of defenders.”

But polls are just polls. And opinions are just opinions. Yes, even mine.

But This Team? A.S. I.F.

After Stephen, Is Fine.

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