Game #9-540: Davidson Wildcats vs. Marquette Golden EaglesMarch 21, 2013 3:10 pm
I knew exactly what I was going to write for this recap. I'd had 39 minutes and 32 seconds of game time to figure it out, and it was going to be a deep, thoughtful piece on Bob McKillop's lifestyle choice to stay at Davidson and why he's the pinnacle of American happiness.
His Davidson team had pulled away from Marquette. With 28 seconds remaining, the 14th-seeded Wildcats led by five points. This would be a significant upset, but there had been no doubt in my mind before the game that Davidson would win. Even post-Stephen Curry, these players on McKillop's roster were used to winning. They played in a winning program for a winning coach, so they fully expected to pull this "upset." And with 28 seconds remaining, nursing a five-point lead, I started to imagine how my Mid-Majority recap might look.
I'd talk about how McKillop's win over Marquette was proof that the fundamentals of winning are the same across all levels of basketball. I'd talk about how much I admired him, how I thought he was at least one of the top-10 coaches in college basketball, if not better, and that his decision to turn down major-conference suitors to stay at Davidson was one of the most admirable things I'd see a man do in quite some time. Amidst this landscape of corruption in college sports, McKillop has been an idol of mine ever since I began watching basketball. I was going to write about all of this. It was going to be easy.
Everything I wrote about McKillop in the above paragraph is true. The events of the final 28 seconds of his game against Marquette change nothing, but they do change how I must structure this recap.
This isn't a recap about McKillop anymore. It's a recap about heartbreak. In the final 28 seconds, Marquette made some off-balance threes, Davidson threw the ball out of bounds and Vander Blue made a game-winning layup with one second remaining. It was so predictable, almost as though a higher being were guiding Marquette's shots into the basket and forcing the Wildcats to miss free throws and make stupid mistakes.
But for as predictable as the collapse was, I have never walked away from a basketball game as stunned as I was after this one. I knew Davidson would win three hours before the game. I knew it would win in the first half, I knew it would win at halftime, and I knew it would win when it led by five points with 28 seconds left. I just had no doubt that the man who'd won 400 games at Davidson and has created a Southern Conference powerhouse would close the deal.
And then they lost, in the most brutal fashion possible. De'Mon Brooks, the guy who threw the ball out of bounds on accident in the final seconds and gave Marquette the game-winning opportunity, put his jersey over his head and slumped over. The loss ended the terrific career of forward Jake Cohen, and it ended the Wildcats' dream of returning to the glory days of Stephen Curry and the Elite Eight.
The deck is stacked against Bob McKillop. At Davidson, he may win the SoCon just about every year, but he's almost always the underdog when the NCAA Tournament begins. He pours his heart and soul into this program, only to have to orchestrate major upsets and overcome talent gaps in March Madness.
If Bob McKillop coached at Duke, he would be Coach K. If he coached at Kentucky, he would be John Calipari. I firmly believe that. He's that good. However, he has chosen Davidson, and there is nothing wrong with that.
After watching this heartbreaker against the Golden Eagles, I admire McKillop even more for staying with the Wildcats. He could hop to the SEC, ACC, Big 12 or Big Ten at any moment. Name your school, and just about everybody would take him in a heartbeat.
Instead, he's decided on this path-- the path of low seeds in the NCAA Tournament, recruiting obstacles and a conference without the limelight and attention. He's likely turned down millions of dollars, and for what? To collapse like this in the final 28 seconds of a game against a three-seed with four-star recruits and an enormous recruiting budget?
That's precisely what McKillop has stayed at Davidson for. And you know what? He seems OK with it. There's more to fame than people knowing your name. As long as the people who matter know he's one of the best college basketball coaches in the game, that's all that really counts.
MARQUETTE 59, DAVIDSON 58
DAVIDSON 26-8 (17-1) -- N. Cochran 3-3 4-5 11; D. Brooks 3-6 5-11 11; J. Cohen 8-18 2-2 20; C. Czerapowicz 2-9 0-0 5; T. Kalinoski 1-5 0-0 3; J. Kuhlman 1-3 1-2 4; T. Droney 1-2 2-2 4; C. Mann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-46 14-22 58.
MARQUETTE 24-8 (14-4) -- T. Lockett 2-7 1-2 5; V. Blue 5-15 4-4 16; J. Cadougan 2-9 0-0 4; J. Wilson 4-13 4-6 14; C. Otule 4-5 3-4 11; D. Gardner 3-4 3-3 9; J. Anderson 0-3 0-0 0; D. Wilson 0-0 0-0 0; T. Mayo 0-1 0-0 0; J. Thomas 0-1 0-0 0; S. Taylor Jr. 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-58 15-19 59.
Three-point goals: DAV 6-17 (J. Kuhlman 1-1; N. Cochran 1-1; J. Cohen 2-5; C. Czerapowicz 1-4; T. Droney 0-1; T. Kalinoski 1-5), MARQ 4-15 (J. Cadougan 0-1; J. Thomas 0-1; T. Lockett 0-1; J. Wilson 2-4; V. Blue 2-6; J. Anderson 0-1; T. Mayo 0-1); Rebounds: DAV 23 (D. Brooks 8), MARQ 38 (C. Otule 11); Assists: DAV 12 (J. Kuhlman 4), MARQ 5 (J. Wilson 2); Total Fouls -- DAV 17, MARQ 20; Fouled Out: DAV-None; MARQ-None.
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