Tom Sorensen

Davidson, college basketball without temps, played a game I was thankful to see

Davidson’s Jon Axel Gudmundsson (03) drives to the basket past Rhode Island’s Cyril Langevine (10) late in Friday’s 63-61 win against Rhode Island, then ranked No. 17 in the top 25.
Davidson’s Jon Axel Gudmundsson (03) drives to the basket past Rhode Island’s Cyril Langevine (10) late in Friday’s 63-61 win against Rhode Island, then ranked No. 17 in the top 25. DavidsonPhotos.com

College basketball features players that spend a season at a school and move on, or attempt to move on, to the NBA. We'll cheer them in the NCAA mens basketball tournament and, next season, in the NBA.

There’s nothing wrong with attempting to fill a college roster with temps. But I’d like to salute a team that features no one-and-done players, yet wins anyway. That’s the Davidson Wildcats. In Steph Curry, they did feature a three-and-done player. But that's as close as Davidson gets.

Last Friday, I went to Belk Arena and watched the Wildcats play Rhode Island, which has been the best team in the Atlantic 10 this season.

Belk Arena, which accommodates almost 6,000 fans, was jammed. Fans were passionate enough that after the game Davidson coach Bob McKillop and his players took turns standing on the court, pointing to the bleachers and saying thanks.

The Rams led the Wildcats by seven with 2:47 to play. The Rams appeared to have won this game. They appeared to have won this game at least 10 times. Davidson had home court. But the Rams had a 15-2 record in the Atlantic 10. Davidson came in 12-5.

But if you’ve watched McKillop’s teams play, you know that when the game clock runs low they are calm and cool and well-coached. The Wildcats scored the game’s final nine points. Down by one as time was running down, Jon Axel Gudmundsson, one of the best players to come out of Grindavik, Iceland, drove to the basket, scored, drew a foul and hit a free throw. Only 3.1 seconds remained.

The Wildcats won 63-61 and fans walked out delirious and dazed.

Being there, in that crowd, watching that comeback, I felt as if I should thank somebody. After the game, I found McKillop, so I thanked him.

Davidson next plays Friday in an Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinal.

Gudmundsson is a sophomore. He’ll be back next season..

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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