NCAA Tournament: Students take Davidson up on its offer
Associated PressRALEIGHó It’s a free-for-all at Davidson College.
Thanks to the deep pockets of the school’s board of trustees, nearly 300 students will travel to Detroit to watch their beloved men’s basketball team continue its surprising run in the NCAA tournament Friday night.
Students are getting bus transportation, two nights lodging and a ticket to see Davidson play Wisconsin in the Midwest Regional ó all for free.
Trustees pledged Wednesday to pay for any student. Within a day, 275 students ó nearly 20 percent of the student body ó had signed up. That sent officials at the small liberal-arts college, located about 20 miles north of Charlotte and about 650 miles south of Detroit, scrambling.
“The response was tremendous and frankly, surprisingly large,” school spokeswoman Stacey Schmeidel said Thursday. “We actually have a lot more students who want to go, but we’re trying to find more buses.”
Behind sophomore sensation Stephen Curry, Davidson upset Gonzaga and Georgetown last week for the school’s first NCAA tournament wins in 39 years.
Curry is the fourth-leading scorer in the nation at 25.7 points a game, and is first with 152 3-pointers. Richards is tops in the country with eight assists a game, and the Wildcats rank fifth in scoring margin (15.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4).
“We really don’t want that title of Cinderella,” Richards said. “We’re just a good basketball team making a run in the NCAA tournament.”
The folks back in Davidson were so excited, forward Thomas Sander got a standing ovation when he was spotted pumping gas. Point guard Jason Richards got a lift to class from someone on the campus maintenance crew.
Curry hit eight of 10 3-pointers and scored 40 points in Davidson’s upset of Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA’s Midwest Regional. Two days later, Curry scored 30 points to send Davidson past Georgetown and into the Sweet 16 for the first time in almost four decades.
When students learned they could witness Curry and the Wildcats in person, they jumped, even though the seven buses pull out at 5 a.m. for the 11-hour trip.
Davidson coach Bob McKillop credited the enthusiasm not only to the Wildcats’ success but to the size and atmosphere of Davidson, a private school with about 1,700 students.
“The sense of intimacy that exists on our campus is unparalleled in NCAA Division I basketball,” McKillop said Thursday as he and the team prepared in Detroit.
“But when the Board of Trustees votes in a meeting on Thursday to go into their personal pockets and put out the money so that every student can go to this game with a free bus ride, free hotel room, and free game ticket, that reaches a level that’s unprecedented.
“I’m stunned by it, thrilled by it.”