|In New Book, Alumnus Looks at "The Shot" as the Reward for an Era of Trust
January 20, 2009
Contact: Emily Matras '12
Davidson’s run to the Elite Eight last year was more than surprising to many people who saw the Wildcats as a “Cinderella team.” But to Michael Kruse ’00, the run was the culmination of a longtime effort by a coach, players, and an overarching philosophy whose main tenant is trust.
Kruse’s fascination with that run resulted in his new book, Taking the Shot: The Davidson Basketball Moment. The “moment” of the title refers to the final shot of the 2008 NCAA regional final game between Davidson and Kansas, when point guard Jason Richards ‘08 missed a three-pointer that allowed eventual champion Kansas to advance to the Final Four. Kruse weaves into his story historical background on the Davidson program and descriptions of how coach Bob McKillop, the players, and Davidson fans experienced that moment.
Kruse was inspired to write the book by his personal experiences during that final moment.
“I was trying to take it all in, the final 16.8 seconds,” he said. “I understood better than a lot of people the buildup to this moment. I wondered ‘How did others experience that moment?’”
The Tuesday after the Kansas game, Kruse read a post by William Robertson ’75 on davidsoncats.com, a forum where fans discuss Davidson athletics. Robertson’s post eloquently spoke of the team, and of the community trust that allowed Richards to take that shot. “Reading that post was the beginning of my thoughts about taking time off to write this book,” said Kruse. “Mid-April, during a town celebration, I met William in person and grew even more excited.”
Kruse took a week of from his job at the St. Petersburg Times to interview people in Davidson. What many students told him about the Kansas game was unexpected.
“I expected them to say ‘Darn, wouldn’t it have been cool if the shot went in,’” said Kruse. “What I heard instead was ‘I didn’t need it to go in, that moment was enough.’ I expected good stuff -- what I got was even better.”
Kruse then took off three months from work for the project. He conducted more than 300 interviews, from 20-minute phone calls to repeated sit-down discussions. An index in the book lists all the alumni, fans, students, players and others with whom he spoke.
“There’s an unspoken bond when you meet another Davidson person,” said Kruse. “Meeting people from the classes of ’68, ’69, and so forth made me feel a part of a larger Davidson contingent.”
|Kruse arranged interviews from a table outside Summit Coffee in Davidson last spring.|
Kruse said the project changed his relationship with his alma mater for the better. Conducting interviews allowed him to form not just a relationship with Davidson College, but the community as well.
“I frequently drive to Davidson, 585 miles one way from St. Petersburg, for 40 minutes of basketball and a few beers at the Brickhouse,” said Kruse. “It’s really nice to have a place like that.”
Taking the Shot is actually Kruse’s second attempt at writing a basketball book. He took a year off before his senior year at Davidson to attempt to write a history of the basketball program from the famed Lefty Driesell to the McKillop era, but it never came to fruition. However, it did provide great background for Taking the Shot.
Kruse hopes his book will help readers look at losing in a different light. He explained, “This is Bob McKillop’s twentieth year at Davidson. Today, trying to climb the success ladder means moving, not establishing roots. McKillop came to Davidson wanting to keep moving and keep hot. But this is a story about a guy who didn’t get to leave, and didn’t get the payday for almost two decades. Then he’s rewarded with a whirlwind, a chance, a moment.
“I hope readers think about that moment and sports a little differently. It’s not just win or lose, in or out, that’s not the goal. Motivation comes from working well, rather than getting the raise,” he said.
So, does Kruse think Davidson will make it far in the NCAA tournament again this year? “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “The goal is to play their best basketball every day. To play a little bit better every day. Maybe it happens again... Okay, maybe it doesn’t. It probably doesn’t. But that’s not the goal.”
Taking the Shot: the Davidson Basketball Moment is available at the Davidson College Bookstore. Main Street Books in Davidson, Park Road Books in Charlotte, and online at www.butlerbooks.com/tashdabamo.html.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.
Posted By: Bill Giduz