Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats (Thanks for the memories)

We'd seen them take down Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. In other years, that game would have been a crowning achievement as they captured their first NCAA tournament win in 40 years.
The Davidson Wildcats then set their sights on the No. 2-seeded Georgetown Hoyas. After dropping 40 points on Gonzaga, sophomore guard Stephen Curry's sharpshooting had captured the nation's imagination.
After falling behind the Hoyas in the first half, Curry ignited for 25 of his 30 points in the second half and Davidson stunned Georgetown, 74-70.
Next came Wisconsin, the Big 10 champs, and Curry twisted, spun and rained down jumpers on his way to 33-points. The Wildcats coasted to a 73-56 win in front of LeBron James and hundreds of Davidson students bused to the game by the school's trustees.
One more win would mean the seemingly impossible - this tiny, academically challenging school of 1,700 students would be headed to the Final Four.
I'd first seen Curry play as a high schooler when I was assigned to photograph one of his games for The Charlotte Observer. He was overlooked by the bigger schools and Davidson pulled off an incredible coup when he enrolled there.
At Davidson, we saw him play as a freshman and were immediately impressed. We went to several games and even photographed a few this year.
With our studio in Davidson, we felt a connection with the team and the town. My brother and dad both followed the team's progress and I would get calls from Georgia and New York as they talked about the team's exploits.
Our son Sean and I made a frantic trip to Davidson on Easter Sunday to catch as much of the Georgetown game as we could at The Brickhouse, a gathering place for local fans.
We had a small family party at our house for the Kansas game and Betsy cooked up some chicken wraps with a special spice (Curry) and red-velvet cupcakes with chocolate chips in keeping with Davidson's red and black color scheme among other dishes.
Davidson played incredible defense and seemed to have the Jayhawks on the ropes much of the game until they made a late run to take 59-57 lead with 16.8 seconds left.
Everything seemed to be in place for an amazing upset as Curry brought the ball upcourt.
Kansas bottled Curry up and he passed off to teammate Jason Richards, whose 26-foot shot was off the mark as the final buzzer sounded.
It was hard to believe it was over.
As a former journalist, I appreciated what made Davidson's run such a great story. Although led by an amazing star, Davidson won as a team under the leadership of coach Bob McKillop. And the players are true student-athletes who aren't just using college as a stepping stone to the NBA.
As a fan, I just enjoyed following along like everyone else.
Congratulations to all involved.
It was a great ride!

I love this shot our son Sean got of Curry in a game at Belk Arena

Coach McKillop helps out on defense against UNCG


These guys always seemed to be having fun

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