Sunday, December 9, 2012

Doubleheader Game 2 - A Fun Night at Davidson - Recap of Wofford vs. Davidson

I have had great admiration over the years for Davidson.  First, the Wildcats Coach is Bob McKillop, who happens to be a Hofstra graduate.  When I was growing up on Long Island, McKillop was the coach of Long Island Lutheran, a major power in New York high school basketball.
McKillop took over as head coach of Davidson in 1989.  He has taken the Wildcats to six NCAA Tournaments, including three tournament appearances in a row from 2006 through 2008, which was the year that Davidson made the Elite Eight and was a Stephen Curry three away from beating Kansas and going to the Final Four. The Wildcats were back in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 barely losing to Louisville in the second round.

I was fortunate enough to have gone to the NCAA Regional in Raleigh in 2008.   It was truly a magical experience to watch Stephen Curry and Davidson rally to beat Gonzaga in the first round.  Then in the second round game, once again Curry and the Wildcats rallied to take down the Georgetown Hoyas in front of a very pro Davidson crowd made up of mostly North Carolina fans (North Carolina lost to Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament the year before).

So during yesterday’s Charlotte vs. Central Michigan game, Matt Cayuela told me he was going to see Davidson host Wofford at 7:00 PM.    It turns out that Davidson is about thirty minutes from Charlotte.  Since I am still by myself in South Carolina until my house closes, I had no plans.  So Matt and I got into our separate cars and went to Davidson.

Davidson is your truly classic college town, a small town with a main street with the school as the main focus.  Matt suggested a place recommended by Trip Advisor called the Brick House Tavern.  The Brick House Tavern is a very large restaurant/ bar/brewery that's a short walk from Main Street.  It looks like it was once a large warehouse.

The hostess noted that there were two seats at the bar.   My seat was right behind a tap.  The female bartender said I was hiding.  I noted that being near the tap is one of my favorite places.

Both of us had a Blue Ridge Burger, which had bleu cheese.  I had mine with bacon and a side of mashed potatoes.  Matt had his with Mac and cheese, which would have impressed my seven year old son.  We each had a restaurant brewed beer, which was quite good. I recommend The Brick House Tavern highly.

We decided to walk from the Brick House parking lot to Belk Arena.  The walk briefly brought us onto Main Street into the main section of town.  Then we made a left and we were at Belk Arena in about ten minutes.

Matt had already had a ticket through a Living Social deal.  My deal was awaiting me at the ticket line.  An older gentleman asked if I needed one ticket.  He had bought a two for one ticket deal.  My cost for the seat, $9.00.  I thanked the very kind man who I ended up sitting next to during the game. Matt ended up sitting next to me since there were a decent number of available seats for the game.

Belk Arena seats a little over 5,000.  When you enter the arena there is a main concourse with concessions as well as a downstairs with concessions and bathrooms.  To make sure I would be able to drive home after a long day, I got myself a coke (there was only one size) and Matt got a drink as well. We went back up stairs to our padded seats.

In Belk Arena, what you first notice are the banners in the rafters.  One of the things you see among those banners is the 2008 Elite Eight banner.  But it’s not the only Elite Eight banner. There are two from 1968 and 1969 when Lefty Driesell coached the Wildcats (he also coached Davidson to a Sweet Sixteen in 1966).

The next thing you notice is that the students sit in one of two places, behind the opponent basket and behind the opponent bench.  Matt noticed that it was like a high school dance.  The male students sat behind the opponent’s bench while mostly female students sat behind the basket.

Before the game started, Matt pointed out to me that Wofford has a player from Australia named Indiana Faithfull. Faithfull plays twenty minutes per game.  Davidson also has several foreign players including starting forward Chris Czerapowicz from Sweden, Ali Mackay, a forward from Scotland, Nick Cochran, the starting point guard from Canada and seldom used Youssef Mejri, a forward from Tunisia.

It was the first Southern Conference game of the season for Wofford, who along with Davidson are the two schools that have represented the conference in the NCAA Tournament six of the past seven seasons (Wofford made the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011).  Davidson had won their first conference game at Chattanooga on December 1st.  Wofford had come into the game having won two games in a row over Winthrop and Gardner Webb.   Davidson was coming off a tough home loss to North Carolina rival Charlotte.

The Wildcats came out firing away from beyond the arc as they hit their first six three point attempts.  Tyler Kalinoski made three of those shots from beyond the arc.  The score was already 18-4 Davidson not even seven minutes into the game.

Davidson’s first points that weren’t a shot from beyond the arc came on a De’Mon Brooks layup and one.  Thus Davidson’s first points came from three point plays, six three pointers and an old fashioned three point play.   Brooks then scored again on a layup and one, but missed the free throw.   After nine minutes, the Wildcats were up 23-6.

During one of the media timeouts, Davidson had one of those kids’ games where they dribble a ball, get dressed in basketball gear and then race to shoot a layup.  A blond haired girl impressively won the contest, and then just walked off the court without celebrating, as if it was nothing big.  It reminded me of Reggie Miller running off the court after beating the Knicks.  It was pretty cool.

Davidson’s lead swelled to twenty one, 31-10 with three and half minutes left in the first half after two Jake Cohen free throws.  The fans were very much enjoying the Wildcats’ impressive play.  It looked like it was going to be a blow out.

But as previously noted, Wofford is a team with a lot of success the past three seasons (last season, the Terriers won 19 games and made the CBI Tournament). They responded by outscoring Davidson 12-0 over the final three and half minutes.   Faithfull had three assists and a layup during the run.  Two of his assists setup three pointers by Taylor Wagener.   Davidson entered the half now only up nine points, 31-22.

After halftime, which featured a fourth grade AAU basketball game, Faithfull hit a jumper to cut the Davidson lead to seven, 31-24?   But the Wildcats responded with a 14-6 spurt over the next eight minutes. Brooks got another old fashioned three point play to put Davidson up 45-30 with twelve and a half minutes left.

But, as feisty Terriers are known to do, again Wofford refused to give up.  The Terriers outscored the Wildcats 20-8 over nearly an eight minute span.  Again, it was Wagener and Faithfull  in the middle of the run.  Wagener had eight points and an assist while Faithfull had two assists.  Karl Cochran’s three made it 53-50 with a little less than five minutes left.

But Wofford would not get any closer.  Jake Cohen hit a jumper then followed with a layup to put Davidson up seven, 57-50.  That would be the margin of victory as the Wildcats held off the Terriers 63-56.

For Davidson, Nik Cochran led the Wildcats and all scorers with fifteen points, including ten of eleven from the free throw line.  Kalinoski was the only other Wildcats player in double figures scoring with eleven points. Four players, Cohen, Brooks, Czerapowicz and Tom Droney each had eight points.  After hitting their first six three point attempts, the Wildcats went one of fourteen from beyond the arc the rest of the way.

Wagener had fourteen points to lead the Terriers. Faithfull added eleven points and five assists.  Wofford shot only thirty five percent from the field.

After the game, Matt and I walked our way back to The Brickhouse parking lot.  We said goodbye since both of us had long drives home.   I enjoyed hanging out with Matt and was glad he told me about the Davidson game.  I plan to be back at Davidson next Saturday when they host UNC Wilmington.

Depending on my plans, I plan to be back at the Brick House Tavern again next Saturday.  A good burger, a beer and basketball.   All good things start with the letter B.

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