Wednesday, March 26, 2008

From Fort Wayne paper

Busted bracket? Time to cheer Davidson
By Ben Smith

My bracket rests in peace now, buried with full military honors in the backyard mud. A 21-turnover salute sent it off to eternity. The epitaph on the tombstone is a simple one: Here Lies Stupid.

I can’t believe I picked Pitt to make it to the Final Four. Stupid.

I can’t believe I picked Duke to get to the Elite Eight. Stupid.

I can’t believe I fell for all that Big East hype again . Stupid, stupid, stupid.

So now I’m a Davidson guy. I’m a Davidson guy because I just watched Dell Curry’s kid, Stephen, motor past five Georgetown defenders like they were traffic cones, and I want more.

I’m a Davidson guy because the place has only 1,700 students, and my high school was almost as big as that.

I’m a Davidson guy because once, long ago, novelist Pat Conroy was a point guard for The Citadel, and he played against Davidson, and then he wrote about it in “My Losing Season,” a hoops memoir that is wistful and anguished and triumphant all at once.

The Citadel lost to Davidson twice Conroy’s senior year. The guy who guarded him in both games, off and on, was from Fort Wayne.

“I can still see Moser’s tough, Indiana face …” Conroy wrote.

Moser being Dave Moser, the Mr. Basketball runner-up for By Hey at North Side in 1965 and later the MVP for Davidson teams that reached the regional final in 1968 and ’69. That was the last time, until now, that Davidson ever got past the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“Back then, it was a little different,” says Moser, who works in Charlotte and speaks with the soft drawl of a naturalized Carolinian. “You didn’t have to play as many games then. And quite frankly we were all playing for second against Kareem, or Lew Alcindor as he was known then.”

Moser recalls losing to Carolina by four in ’68, and returning in ’69 believing Davidson was the better team this time. But Charlie Scott made a jumper from downrange at the buzzer, and the Wildcats were done, 87-85.

“Just one of those things,” Moser recalls.

And now?

“Oh, it’s exciting,” he says. “A week or so ago, I wrote (Davidson coach) Bob McKillop a note saying I remember how exciting those times were for me, and to enjoy the moment. And they certainly are.”

So there’s another reason to be a Davidson guy.

The plain truth is that we adore teams like Davidson this time of year, because the Davidsons are what give March Madness its texture and heft. If Villanova or Western Kentucky or Davidson doesn’t make the Sweet Sixteen, how sweet is it, really? Can anyone with no real rooting interest really cheer for North Carolina, no matter how much you like Tyler Hansbrough’s game?

Of course not.

I’m a Davidson guy because it’s a de facto Ivy League school, and when was the last time an Ivy League school (besides Princeton) made noise in this thing?

I’m a Davidson guy because Lefty Driesell, one of my faves, was Dave Moser’s coach when he played there.

I’m a Davidson guy because it’s still called Davidson College . And because it’s a North Carolina school not named Duke. And, of course, because of Stephen Curry – who has become That Player, the Bryce Drew or Popeye Jones who always emerges from the shadows sometime in March.

If Curry can lead the Wildcats into the Final Four, that would be wondrous. It also would be one more blow to the rotting corpse that is my bracket. But, as the counselors say, part of the grieving process is learning when to move on.

So move, Davidson. Move.


-The Matt said...

what a great article! we have been getting great press for three straight weeks, and i think this is one of my favorites. thanks for posting it.

Anonymous said...

Who says that history doesn't repeat itself? As Jason Richards is this team's leader, as was Dave Moser for Lefty's championship teams of the late sixties, Thomas Sanders plays the game just as did another great DC player of that era - Wayne Huckel. Both Thomas and Wayne have (had) only one speed - full out hustle, using grit and determination to garner every available rebound and loose ball. We of that by-gone era are so very proud of the current 'Cats because we really did see them once before. KAO '71