By Lauren Biggers
Women's Basketball vs. Mars Hill
Officially, basketball season began Oct. 17, 2008, but for most of us, it never really ended.
For coaches, this season began the day after the last one ended. For players, summer meant camps, drills and conditioning. For sports information and marketing, well, we’ve been busy, too. And around town, the excitement is palpable. Even at church this morning, one greeter said to the other, “It’s basketball season at Davidson!” as I walked in.
Sunday afternoon at Belk Arena, it’s officially basketball season again.
While the energy surrounding the 20th-ranked men’s team is off the charts, the old saying “All ships rise with the tide” more than applies to this women’s team, who opened the 2008-09 season with a 75-48 exhibition win over Mars Hill Sunday afternoon at Belk Arena.
And Davidson’s other SoCon Preseason Player of the Year, Mercedes Robinson, dropped in a mere 20 points and 10 rebounds to ensure it.
The senior from Mansfield, Texas is the top returning scorer for the Wildcats, averaging 12.7 points and 8.4 rebounds a game a season ago. And with all that (decidedly deserved) chatter about the school’s other POY, Mercedes sometimes flies under the radar. (She says in a game of one-on-one she would let Him win, btw.)
But if you don’t make it a point to see her play at least once this season, you lose. Her play is so consistently good you sometimes forget to notice her. “She has 20 points?” Women’s basketball SID Gavin McFarlin, already in mid-season form, calls it a quiet 20.
Mercedes, though, is neither quiet, nor shy. She wonders into the SID office and quickly makes herself at home in the chair.
The point of this story is to introduce you to a player you should know. (She cites The Color Purple as her favorite movie, Erykah Badu as her favorite artist, and Mexican as her favorite type of food. Oh, and she has a job lined up for next year already... running Davidson’s neuro-science lab for a year before going on to medical school.)
“I was honored,” she says of being named SoCon Preseason Player of the Year. “I wasn’t expecting it, so I guess I just got more excited about the season. But there is some added pressure, too.”
The point of an exhibition is to stimulate a regular-season game.
“It lets us get out all the jitters,” she says. “They show us exactly what we need to work on and give us the opportunity to prepare for a real game.”
Mercedes’ play certainly wasn’t the only thing the coaching staff will feel good about after today. Point guard Alex Thompson added 12 points and six assists, and junior forward Julia Paquette was dominant inside, finishing with 13 points, two blocks and five rebounds. Likewise, the game tape will reveal weaknesses to address as the Wildcats begin working towards topping last year’s third-place finish in the conference.
“Our only expectation is to win a championship,” she says. “That’s the mindset that we have worked with all year. We are young, but I think we definitely have the talent to get it done.”
Mercedes and the women’s team won’t have to wait long to find out. Saturday in a 3 p.m. contest at Winthrop, things get official.