Happy birthday to one of my alma mater’s most distinguished alumni–Stephen Curry. From 2006 – 2009, Stephen Curry put Davidson College in the national spotlight, taking the Cats as far as the Elite Eight before they lost to eventual champ Kansas by two. I’ll never forget sitting in a bar in Nashville with other Davidson alums and watching CBS segments about our nerdy school with its gorgeous campus and honor code. Although I left Davidson before Stephen Curry (and his gorgeous mom) came along, I can brag that he lived in my sophomore dorm. Take that, Kevin Bacon!
Curry left school early and was drafted by the Golden State Warriors. After four years and a few injuries, he’s finally hitting his stride, averaging 22 points 6.7 assists a game. He even went back to Davidson over the summer to finish his degree. It’s hard to believe that the sharp-shooting Curry only received scholarship offers from Davidson, Virginia Commonwealth, and Winthrop. Who’s laughing now?
So the next time you grimace at his brother Seth during a Duke game, remember that not all the Curry’s are bad. Happy 25th birthday, Steph.
News and Views time from a chilly Bridgestone Arena…
— The SEC Tournament officially began on Wednesday night, with Mississippi State beating South Carolina and Auburn and Texas A&M still battling as this goes to press. I wish there were some more informative, analytical things I could say about the games, but I was honestly too distracted by all of my surroundings. This is my first time covering the SEC Tournament, or in that case, any major sporting event. As I walked into Bridgestone Arena Wednesday afternoon, I had no idea what to expect. Here are five quick observations from this SEC Tournament rookie:
1. I will never get over sitting on press row
The media seating at Bridgestone is the first three rows off the court opposite the benches. Aside from keeping Matt’s courtside seat at Rupp warm while he and Drew were in California, I’ve never been this close to live action. While I am eternally grateful for this blessing in life, if there comes a day that I don’t flinch when a player dives towards the press tables for a loose ball or an actual ball flies at my face…well, it will be a rare day for sure. If the cameras ever catch this happening to me, I guarantee I will make a face so awkward it will be a meme in no time.
2. SEC Tournament is Team Sunkist > Team Diet Pepsi
The media soda fountain serves the following items: Sunkist (two slots!), Diet Dr. Pepper, Dr. Pepper, Water and Pepsi. That’s right, no Diet Pepsi. As a former Diet Coke addict, I am both relieved and furious.
3. BC Headache Powder is free!
The most interesting thing in the backstage areas? Free packets of BC Headache Powder, a headache medicine I didn’t realize was still around. Apparently, country music star Trace Adkins is the face of BC and it has a history with the Grand Ole Opry, hence the free samples around Nashville’s Arena. Who knew?
4. Jimmy Dykes enjoys casual time
Media seating wasn’t assigned Wednesday night, which meant we could sit wherever we want. Naturally, KSR BFF Les Johns and I chose to sit right behind “the ESPN talent” and next to the South Carolina pep band and dance team. Jimmy Dykes and Brad Nessler came by to catch the action during the first game and surprisingly, Dykes was sporting a hoodie. See, even important color guys need their casual wear.
5. There is no one here
The game of the night between the Kentucky media was “guess how many people are here.” Estimates ranged from 4,000 (me and Les) to 8,000 (Oscar Combs). Sadly, I can assure you that Oscar Combs is being very favorable. Bridgestone Arena seats roughly 19,000 for basketball games, and a very small percentage of the arena was filled for the first few games. Of course, that’s because it’s the first night of the tournament and the games aren’t exactly thrilling, but still. Most of the fans that are here are wearing blue, so take faith that the Big Blue Nation is doing its thing.
Now, let’s talk about the Cats, shall we? The big question on everyone’s mind right now is what the Cats have to do to clinch their spot in the NCAA Tournament. Here are all of the scenarios:
If the Cats lose on Friday night, they will continue to slide around the Tournament bubble. Instead of cheering on the Cats in Nashville, Kentucky fans will be watching the other bubble teams to see if they clear up some much-needed spots. Selection Sunday, normally a holiday in the BBN, will be white-knuckled and worrisome.
If the Cats beat the winner of Arkansas/Vanderbilt, Kentucky fans will get more than just a fun Friday night in Nashville; they’ll have some insurance that their team will be in the Tournament. Joe Lunardi thinks that at least one win in the SEC Tournament will secure Kentucky’s spot in the Dance. Inconsistency has plagued this squad all season; a win would show the Committee that Kentucky’s win over Florida wasn’t a fluke and that this team is capable of following up with another winning effort.
Now we’re talking…seeding. Two wins would ensure the Cats are in and give their resume a boost if it comes over Missouri or Ole Miss. It would also give this group even more momentum and confidence heading into the Big Dance. Kentucky fans could stop worrying about getting in and start pouring over seeding scenarios. Plus, Saturday night in Nashville.
Party time, excellent! Dare I say it, but an SEC Championship would mean that this team had turned the corner. March is fun again!
— The team arrived in town Wednesday just as the sun was going down. Enjoy this video of them getting off and rolling their personalized rolling bags alongside a parking garage:
+1 for Alex smiling
— It was expected, but the crowd at the first night of games was predominantly blue, despite the fact that Kentucky doesn’t even play until Friday night. Kentucky fans outnumbered the other fan bases by far, with the Lower Broadway already bustling with blue and white. Scalpers on the street said that most Kentucky fans are playing it smart and waiting until the end of Wednesday night or Thursday’s games to poach tickets off the losing squad’s fans. (We’ve done this a time or two before.) Jennifer Palumbo spoke to a scalper, who said that fans wearing Kentucky gear can expect to pay $75/ticket for upper arena and $150-300/ticket for lower arena for Friday. If you’re still considering making the trip, come on down…and bring something other than a blue jacket to wear for at least part of the time. I know it hurts to cover up our colors, but it will save you some $$.
— Random SEC fact of the night: South Carolina’s Michael Carrera rolls up his shorts as a tribute to his dad, Luis Carrerra, a professional Venezuelan basketball player. And here I thought he just wanted to show off his thighs. (Thanks to Les Johns for dropping that knowledge.)
— Boone’s Butcher Shop Injury Update: according to John Calipari, Nerlens Noel’s ACL surgery went well and he’s doing fine. He spoke to the team on Tuesday afternoon, which apparently lifted everyone’s spirits.
Things get somewhat back to normal on Thursday, with Matt and Drew returning to the morning show from the Clear Channel studios in Nashville. We’ve got another day of non-stop SEC Tournament action, so get some sleep. See you soon.