Sunday, March 23, 2008

From Rocky Mount Telegram

Davidson bandwagon continues to grow
By Jessie H. Nunery
Rocky Mount Telegram
Sunday, March 23, 2008

RALEIGH — One of Davidson coach Bob McKillop's favorite phrases is "Smell the roses."

Wildcats players are not the only ones breathing in the sweet fragrances of NCAA Tournament life.

The school is developing quite a following after the Wildcats defeated Gonzaga on Friday for their first NCAA Tournament victory in 39 years.

Davidson will have the backing of people in different countries and continents when it faces No. 2 Georgetown (28-5) at 2:50 p.m. today in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Davidson has players on its roster from the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. From Davidson to New York City – the latter is McKillop's hometown – the Wildcats' stature has grown.

"That tells you what this experience is about and what this event is about," McKillop said. 'It's just wonderful for me to be able to talk to someone by either text or e-mail or phone that I haven't talked to in 50 years."

Players and coaches said their phones either rang or buzzed with text messages after Friday's victory. Sophomore guard Stephen Curry, who scored a tournament-high 40 points against Gonzaga, did not have the most calls. That honor went to senior forward Boris Meno, who had the busiest phone with more than 170 messages and calls.

Meno, who hails from Paris, is part of the team's French connection. William Archambualt and Max Paulhus Gosselin are both from Quebec, Canada.

"They speak it a lot during practice, but I have no idea what their saying," Curry said. "It's pretty cool to be a part of this diverse team. Everybody brings their own culture and language to the table and we form what we are here at Davidson."

The city of Davidson declared Friday "Davidson Wildcats Basketball Day." The city's residents wore black and red.

"When you're able to do that by performing as a team on the basketball court, it gives you a great sense of pride," McKillop said. "I think our guys have channeled that as just affirmation. What they have done is not a fluke. What that have done is something to be very proud of."

Georgetown players and coaches watched Friday as the RBC Center crowd gave its support to the Wildcats. Hoyas coach John Thompson III said he isn't concerned as much about the Davidson fans as he is the team's sharp-shooting guard.

"You got any suggestions?," Thompson said when asked about how to slow Curry. "No one has guarded him yet. He's a terrific player. He's a special player and he's the focal point of everything that they do. We just hope he misses – and we haven't seen to many games where he's missed – so we'll see."

Davidson (27-6) has the nation's longest winning streak – 23 games. Georgetown is a physical, defensive team with an imposing 7-foot-2 inch center.

Roy Hibbert's size will challenge Davidson in the post. The Wildcats do not have a player in their normal rotation who stands taller than 6-8.

But Davidson's roses are smelling pretty good right now. Wildcats freshman Mike Schmitt, a former Rocky Mount Academy standout, said the team is sticking to what brought it to this point. Besides, parts of the world will be watching the Wildcats.

"Basketball is a team sport," Schmitt said. "We're aware of Hibbert's presence but we don't want to deviate from our game plan to much just to stop him."

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