Monday, December 28, 2009

And the Oscar Goes To...

By Lauren Biggers
Davidson vs. Penn

In tiny, quaint Davidson, we’re pretty far removed from the celebrity scene. I mean, sure we’ve had some run-ins with some famous people over the last few seasons – King James, Dick Vitale, Joe Gibbs, etc. etc., but for the most part, Belk Arena is not exactly the place you find celebrities sitting court side to see and be seen.

So word got around quickly that a real-life celebrity was to be in attendance to witness the Wildcats’ 79-50 win over Penn Monday night. As I arrived courtside – very casually and incognito, of course — an hour before tipoff, there he was, one of only a handful of people watching the Davidson Wildcats shoot around. Well, probably watching his son Malcolm, a freshman at Penn, shoot around.

O.M.G. Coach Boone! (Confession: I might know Remember the Titans by heart... I know football, but what you did with those boys. You’re the right man for the job ... You’re a hall of famer in my book... etc. etc.)

All “How was your holiday?’ chatter was trumped by two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. Um, he’s kind of a big deal.

Denzel is undoubtedly very, very cool... His black conductor’s cap cannot tell a lie. (His IMBD biography calls him the ‘tall, strikingly handsome leading man of films and television.” Um, CHECK.)

But what was pretty cool about Denzel on Monday night at Belk Arena was that he just one of thousands watching what turned out to be a pretty good show. For the Wildcats, at least.

Davidson opened up a 21-8 lead behind a pair of treys from the W.L. and the first of five for the youngest McKillop. In the game, the pair combined for eight of the Wildcats’ 13 treys on the evening.

Hey, what’s your favorite Denzel movie? I asked the W.L. post game, post radio appearance, post win.

“Man on Fire... OHHH... say Brendan was a man on fire!”

Um, have we met? I probably said that every time he made a shot all night. “The Man’s on Fire!” Clearly, He Got Game.

I conducted an informal survey of Davidson players, coaches and staff, meaning, basically I shouted ‘What’s your favorite Denzel Washington movie?” at whomever I happened to run into after the game.

Here’s a quick breakdown (I did not provide options. They just watch a lot of movies together.):

Man on Fire: the W.L., Asst. coach Jim Fox.

Pelham 1,2,3: Ben Allison (though, he wasn’t thoroughly convincing.)

Glory: Student Assistant Coach Billy Thom, Asst. coach Landry Kosmalski, DOB TI, assistant director of marketing Richard Agner, SID Marc Gignac.

Training Day: Clint Mann, J.P. KOOLman, athletic trainer Ray Beltz.

He Got Game: Asst. Coach Matt McKillop, Will Archambault, Nik Cochran.

Remember the Titans: Brendan McKillop, Steve Rossiter, A.J. Atkinson

Malcolm X: Team photographer Tim Cowie, ticketing director Jamie Hendricks. (Is he in Malcolm X? ...He IS Malcolm X.)

The Preacher’s Wife: Me. (Kidding. Kinda. That’s an awesome soundtrack, though.)

Denzel Washington: Cry Freedom, Glory, Malcolm X and Training Day.

(Confession: I did not ask him, though I wanted to. I learned this on IMBD. You can too. I also learned that he vacations with his family in Italy every summer, and “where he handles or uses sidearms, there's always a scene of him swiftly ejecting a bullet from the loaded chamber by pulling back the slide assembly and subsequently catching the bullet before it falls to the ground.” You’re welcome.)

Collectively, the Wildcats carried a 46-19 lead into the break. They won the second half by just a bucket, but won the game handily, 79-50. It was the sort of outing the ‘Cats needed after (what I read was) a tough weekend in New York and not even Denzel could steal the spotlight.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finding A Voice

By Lauren Biggers
Davidson vs. The College of New Jersey

First of all, apologies. I haven’t written since Nov. 7. Before Thanksgiving. Before the snow storm canceled my Christmas trip to The Big Apple. Before Tiger Woods. (…Too soon?)

I have been meaning to, and I have wanted to. But I just haven’t quite been able to. Because much like this team, I am still finding my voice.

Of course, I like to write about wins, and forget about losses. I also can’t write about what I can’t see.

But by these criteria, I should’ve easily been able to write about Davidson’s 78-37 win over Fredonia State in Belk Arena on Nov. 25. And yet … nothing.

For the past three years, I knew what to expect and thus, how to write it.

See... While Stephen was entertaining you on the court, he was entertaining us off of it. And thus, there was always plenty to write about.

He’d make daily visits to our office, usually for interviews, but sometimes just to watch youtube. He always greeted with an enthusiastic high five (LISA!) and proceeded in a very specific pattern around the office. No. matter. what. Those not in their seats were treated to air high fives. (Riiiiichard! Imaginary Richard!)

You could always count on The Cheese to do something noteworthy. Everyone depended on him. The players, the coaches, the students, the fans, the marketing department, the ticket office, the Southern Conference, CBS, ESPN. We are still learning how much.

And I am no exception. Writing about Stephen (and Andrew and Jason and Thomas and Max and co.) was easy. Because I knew him. I know you’re probably tired of hearing the ‘Without Stephen’ story. Me too.

But there’s something to it. Because we are still figuring it out without him.

His roommate, the WL, carries on his traditions admirably, and this week, he inducted transfer Clint Mann. While juniors and seniors tend to have no problems wandering confidently into the SID office, others are not always so. Typically, Clint lingers in the doorway, as Bryant and I encourage him.

“You sit over there,” the WL directs.

He enters hesitantly and sits where he’s told. Proceeds to eat his lunch quietly as the WL and I go through our routine. How was class? What did you learn? When is practice? Do you like this (t-shirt/poster/newspaper ad) design? Too girlie?

We explain things to Clint. Like who is who. Like what we do. Like why Bryant’s supposed to eat lunch in the SID office at least once a week. Because it’s just what you do. Because I said so.

“It’s your first SID lunch!” I tell him. “This is a REALLY big deal.” Though I don’t think he believes me.

“What’s SID?” he asks, seriously. But he’s beginning to warm up now.

We all laugh. Because he doesn’t know. (Sports information department. You're standing in it.) Probably has no idea about this blog.

And I know this isn’t really a game story.

But you can read the actual game story for the play-by-play. There you will find Steve Rossiter’s double-double (Stats people love to write about double-doubles. As if 10 rebounds is significantly better than nine... It’s not.) There you will find Jake Cohen and J.P. Kuhlman. And the WL.

When I finally decided I could write about this team, my (very weak) attempt at an interview with one of the new kids failed. Next time. But I got it on good authority that Clint Mann and Will Reigel DID coordinate their game-day outfits.

In the future, I hope to write more game-like stories. But please, just be patient with me.

We are all still getting to know each other.

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