Davidson baseball, Steph Curry combine on incredible moment for … – Charlotte Observer (blog)
Is it possible to play the roles of both David and Goliath at the same time?
Yes it is — if you are Davidson.
Davidson’s baseball team slew Goliath – twice – over the weekend.
The Wildcats edged North Carolina, the No. 2 overall seed in the country, for the second time in three days Sunday night, winning 2-1 in a dramatic game that featured a Tar Heel being thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning to help seal the win.
At the exact same time that was happening, Steph Curry was lighting up the NBA Finals with his first triple-double in playoff history (32 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) in another blowout Golden State win over Cleveland.
Curry, Davidson’s most famous athlete ever, long ago shook off the underdog cloak. He is a two-time NBA MVP who plays for a ridiculously talented Golden State team that has gone an extraordinary 14-0 in these NBA playoffs.
So in other words, this was quite a weekend to be a Wildcat. And this will continue to be quite a week to be associated with Davidson – undoubtedly one of the finest athletic times in school history if you are a fan of all Davidson sports.
One week ago, Davidson star pitcher Durin O’Linger proclaimed to The Observer: “Everyone knows we’re gonna go win the regional. I feel bad for whatever No. 1 seed has to play us.”
I laughed when I read that a week ago; maybe you did, too. I never really expected it to happen. And now it has.
The Davidson baseball run reminds me to some degree of what Davidson basketball accomplished in 2008 with Curry. Davidson basketball coach Bob McKillop and baseball coach Dick Cooke bear some similarities, too. They are each beloved figures who have coached well over two decades at the school. Cooke’s backstory also includes a horrible car wreck in 2012, which he barely survived and which I wrote about last week.
That Davidson basketball team of 2008 sneaked up on a lot of people and came within one missed three-pointer of getting to the Final Four.
The difference between that 2008 basketball team and this 2017 baseball team? Curry. As baby-faced as he was, as frail as he looked, Curry even as a sophomore in 2008 was already a sharpshooter who was going to be one of the best players in the world.
Davidson baseball doesn’t have anybody like that. There are no first-round draft choices on this roster. The Wildcats have less than three full scholarships to divide among a roster of 35 players.
O’Linger, has rubber-armed his way through two straight amazing weekends. O’Linger’s pitch count would be way too high under normal circumstances – he threw 236 pitches in the Atlantic 10 tournament and 128 more in the Chapel Hill regional this past weekend. But these are not normal circumstances.
O’Linger doesn’t dream of a baseball career. His right arm will be mostly used to count pills in his adult life — O’Linger is a Phi Beta Kappa student at Davidson who starts pharmacy school at the University of Florida in the fall.
This is his last hurrah, but it keeps getting extended. Who’s to say how far the Davidson run will go? The Davidson campus is practically empty these days — the 1,950-student college doesn’t offer on-campus summer school, which is one reason why Curry has had a hard time finishing his college degree after leaving a year early. But the baseball team just keeps showing up and plugging along.
If you can beat the No. 2 team in the country, you can conceivably beat anybody. Davidson had never won a conference baseball championship in 115 years until this team did it. Davidson now needs to win a “super regional” — a two-out-of-three series on the road against an opponent yet to be determined — to make the College World Series.
While the Davidson baseball squad certainly acts happy to be here, it isn’t satisfied. This Davidson baseball team shows a lot of the inherent joy and camaraderie that the 2008 Davidson basketball team did, as well as a similar level of competitiveness.
Curry, meanwhile, is going to win another NBA championship soon – perhaps before the week is out. He is playing remarkably well, and with Kevin Durant has become just about an unbeatable tandem. (I predicted before this NBA series began that Golden State would sweep Cleveland; the Warriors are now halfway there but would have to win two games on the road to accomplish that).
Regardless of where it stops, what a ride this is for Wildcats fans.
Davidson will try to keep slaying Goliaths in one sport, Curry will keep trying to play Goliath in another, and we will just have to see who can best use a slingshot. It is going to be fun.