Monday, January 17, 2011

Cats and Dogs

By Lauren Biggers
Men's Basketball vs. Wofford
January 15, 2011

“I hate losing, Biggers.”

This is how whatever-his-title-is-now Billy Thom sums up the Wildcats’ 69-64 loss to the Wofford Terriers, and I think its fair to say that the large majority of the crowd at Belk Arena Saturday night felt the same. That was a tough one.

Things got off to a rocky start early with the malfunctioning microphone for the National Anthem. The crowd did a stellar job, (the opposing fan behind me had quite a nice voice), and after Mike Young promised not to spill his water on us, we were off and running.

The WL checked in from an Oakland vacation to plead for scoring updates while stranded at an Office Depot appearance with The Kid (free pens!!), but things weren’t going so great early for his Wildcats. Not yet attempting a three, the Terriers had hit 4-of-5 from behind the arch and some fella not named Noah Dahlman (or even Noah Dahlberg, Charlotte Observer preview) dropped in 20 in the first half. (p.s. I will need someone in the D-block to explain a. calling Cameron Rundles “Treasure” and b. continuing to taunt a guy who scores 20 in 20).

The ‘Cats held last year’s POY Dahlberg to just three points in the first half, but on the wings of Rundles, Wofford opened up an 11-point lead with 8:20 left in the half.

After moonlighting for the marketing staff by removing the Monkee’s banner from center court, BMcK missed a three, got it back on a Tommy Droney offensive board, and made the next, to cut Wofford’s lead to 25-16. After Rundles got his 15th point on a FT to more “Treasure” (because he was money?) chants, Tommy Droney hit a layup (that he probably shouldn’t have), and Davidson was down just four with 4:05 to play.

Jake Cohen stripped Noah Dalhberg, as the defense came up with the stop they needed, but on the other end, the ‘Cats didn’t quite get the shot they were hoping for. Tim Johnson clanked a pair of freebies, so it’s all a wash anyways. A couple possessions later, a block from Cohen and a defensive board for Nik (needs a nickname) Cochran lead to two fast-break points for JP Koolman, and Davidson trails just a pair, 27-29 with 51 seconds remaining.

Lest we forget about him, Rundles drains a three, gets a steal and hits a fall away jumper at the buzzer, putting up a five-point flurry in 29 seconds, to send Wofford into the locker room with a 34-27 halftime lead.

After some more scoreboard confusion (“this is getting old”), Mike Young starts to get really interesting. Frustrated by fouls on Dahlberg (“how many is that on him?”) and Kevin Giltner, he starts begging the refs to “Let them play!” JP Koolman musta got into the candy at halftime, because he starts with a Rundle-like flurry, scoring six of the Wildcats’ first eight points.

Koolman’s runner puts Davidson down just three, but this feels a lot like the Western game, where there’s some kinda invisible line keeping them from getting closer. NK’s jumper from Jake Cohen puts it back at three, 37-40, and suddenly he’s guarding the inbounds play right in front of the table. He does a pretty good job, but it just makes me miss MAX again.

Mike Young is spitting and shouting about the foul disparity (It doesn’t HAVE to be equal, fellas), and well, it does help that the ‘Cats are a perfect 10-for-10 at the line. Make it 11-for-11 as Clint Mann gets one to rock and rattle in. Fun while it lasted, he misses the next. Not too long, though, before Davidson’s back on the line, and Mike Young wants to know how JP Koolman is doing tonight. Yeah, he’s about to be 4-for-4, coach.

But before you can blink, Wofford’s again turned a six-point lead into a 10-point one as Noah Dahlberg musta glanced at his resume at halftime. Mike Young wants to run something called “Bobcats,” which is just funny. He also has a play called, “Cougar,” and I’m having a tough time deciding which is better.

Before long JP Koolman’s back at the line, staying perfect, and Davidson’s cut it to five, 51-56, with 2:01 to go. As you knew they would, the ‘Cats solved Rundles at the half and he doesn’t get his first two points of the second til 1:22 to play to put Wofford up eight.

BMcK comes curling off a screen at the top of the key and drains a three from NK, and it’s 56-61 with 1:12 left on the moody game clock. A pair of free throws from woefully misnamed Terry Martin, though, give Wofford a seven-point cushion, but with the Wofford bench shouting “It’s OK” at his defender, can-I-get-little respect NK hits a huge three and comes back down the floor 12 seconds later and does it again. Wofford’s lead is just two, 64-62, and it’s not OK anymore, is it, coach?

Cohen gets whistled for a foul, and Brad Loesing makes good on his two chances at the charity stripe, and it seems the invisible line has shifted to two. Without any timeouts, there’s some confusion on the court, and even I briefly forget that I can’t shout out instructions to the guys in white. Jamar Diggs does the ‘Cats a favor and misses both, and JP Koolman goes the distance with 6.4 seconds remaining.

Mike Young is shouting again, this time “they can’t huddle here,” as “Terry Martin” misses the first, makes the second from the line to give the ‘Cats a chance, trailing three with 6.4 to play.

And the winner of player-who-does-not-deserve-this-ending award goes to NK, who gets stuck in the double team and turns it over. Diggs makes up for missing earlier by making both at the line to seal the 69-64 deal.

“ I hate losing, too, Billy.”

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