The workday started with team shootarounds in the early afternoon, and they were even more helpful than I anticipated. Charleston went first, and we watched from the side with Director of Athletics Communications Marlene Navor and the radio crew of Jeff McCarragher and Everett German. Our familiarity with them would pay off later.
On the Baylor side, the big story was that sharp-shooting guard Brady Heslip would miss the game while recovering from appendicitis. We found this out at the shootaround, but we could not get anybody from Baylor to confirm it on the record, even though we tried right up to tip-off. Of course, much to our frustration, it ended up in the Associated Press recap of the game, so it was definitely not a secret.
The game itself was fascinating - Charleston rained 3-pointers early and led at the half, then survived Baylor's revved-up defense in the second half despite getting just one point from leader Andrew Lawrence. He instead turned provider, setting up teammate after teammate for key baskets. The Cougars had six of their eight players contribute at least eight points, and sophomore center Adjehi Baru hauled in 15 rebounds. The key man was his frontcourt partner Willis Hall, who went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line (his teammates were 4-for-10) and hit his only two field goals in the final minutes for the 63-59 win.
|Up close and personal, shortly before tip-off.|
Finally, as we got into the final five minutes with College of Charleston still in the game, I used my phone to email Charleston's Navor, who was sitting diagonally across the court from us, and I asked her for the date of Charleston's last win against a Top-25 team. I had noticed earlier that the season (2009-10) and opponent (North Carolina) were in the notes, but not the exact date. I never figured it would come into play! I could see Navor across the court, rifling through records, but I was still worried she hadn't gotten the message. In the final minute, my phone finally buzzed with the crucial email, telling us the exact date (Jan. 4, 2010) and the fact that this win was only Charleston's second ever on the road against a Top-25 team and first since 1993. I let Jeff relay the message to the graphics crew, and we were able to get it on the air at the final buzzer. Perfect execution!
|Stephen even has a height advantage in post-game interviews.|
|Basketball never ceases to make me feel short.|