On the Road

DETROIT -- March has almost ended, but the madness remains; madness comes naturally for us now. It's a sickness, a gift, and a pleasure. I'm no Sal Paradise and no one in our minivan Ol' Glory closely resembles Dean Moriarty, but we are here, a modern-day beat generation of sorts, mad for something so wonderful right here and now, racing toward Detroit -- a motor to its brethren in Motor city.

"…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"

Preston Davis '06
Dorsett Clark '05
Matt Hanson '05
Matt Dellinger '04
Rob Hawk '00 (Our chaperone)

Thursday, March 27

5 p.m.: I'm making sure I have all the essentials: iPod with playlists including variances of “Sweet Caroline,” Davidson Sweet-16 shirts for donors (about as hard to find as snipes in the dark…the shirts that is), every Google map direction found from Davidson to Detroit, and an unbreakable spirit to ride against the night, all the way to Detroit. All of this for Davidson has been a journey; now many of us just put the foot to pedal to take a journey within a larger, more wondrous one.

6 p.m.: Matt Hanson and his shopping bag of cold medicine climb into my car. He coughs. “This is going to be awesome!” I agree. A 25-minute drive up I-77, a left onto I-40 East, we stare down the setting sun and then put the mile markers of NC behind us in favor of the plateau of TN.  

10 p.m.: We ease into Knoxville to hear from Dorsett that Chapel Hill put a hurting on Washington State. Dorsett meets us at the downtown Hampton Inn adorned totally in Carolina blue. Something must be done about this. We pile into our free hotel room for at best four hours of sleep. Big Thanks to Terry Hummel '77 for the accommodations.

Friday, March 28

Midnight: In bed.

1:30 a.m.: Wide awake. Sickly Matt maintains a persistent cough during the few hours we have available to sleep. No one sleeps, we just pretend to. I dream, gleefully, of putting a pillow over his face.

You notice when you can't sleep you only think of negative things? Goes for everyone. I watch the green indiglo of the clock tick away like gold slipping from my fingers. I don't think of the good things: Andrew Lovedale's offensive rebounds, Steph Curry going 8 for 10 beyond the ark, Thomas "The General" Sander — bad thumb and all — tirelessly forging ahead no matter the circumstances.

I could use these wonderful thoughts. But only nagging question pop up in my mind: did I set my out-of-office message? Could Matt have taken more Tussin?

2 a.m.: I give up on sleep and begin reading DavidsonCats.com

4 a.m.: Out of the hotel, we consolidated in Ol' Glory! with the other half of our party that just arrived from Columbia: Matt Dellinger and Rob Hawk — a tandem of Davidson grads, now South Carolina law students, who have just driven four hours to get here. Despite it all, they are giddy. It's infectious.

Dellinger's first words, "I kind of feel like I'm stalking Steph. Everything makes me think of him." Typically I would think that weird. But at 4 a.m. on the day of the Sweet 16, it kind of makes me excited.

6 a.m.: Just south of Lexington, Ky., the capital of the state of "unbridled spirit." Lightening and rain pound around us. My only comfort for such a foreboding scene is the hope that Wisconsin fans are subject to something similar. My body has begun to take on that vitriolic feeling of travel without sleep. Everyone else begins to show the same tell-tale signs.

8:20 a.m.: Arrival to Cincinnati, home of Thomas Sander. The city possesses that lunch pail, hardhat mentality, and I can see Thomas Sander's toughness in its rugged attributes.

Besides Dellinger and I, the crew sleeps in the back. We tear up I-75, through Ohio and the spine of America, where the eye can span out over flooded farmland and manufacturing America.

9:15 a.m.: Dayton, Ohio. A city that looks like architects and engineers found as many beige Legos as possible, stacked them together, and proclaimed Dayton a city.

10:08 a.m.: First signs for Detriot. 132 miles! Dellinger says, "you know if we take a right up here we can go toward Akron…Steph was born there." I look at him but don't respond.

10:30 a.m.: Hanson begins to cough again. It's official, he's on his last leg. Rob Hawk has yet to say one word.

11:20 a.m.: We hit mile marker 190 and everything goes snow white and stays that way for the rest of the trip. I think, "Isn't March almost over?"

11:30 a.m.: We circumvent the edges of Toledo. In unison we proclaim: "HOLY TOLEDO!" 50 miles to Detroit. I could even hear Rob Hawk. With everyone involved it feels like a road trip again.

12:30 p.m.: We pull into downtown Detroit. Everyone goes hush. Looking at the cityscape, the word barren comes to mind. It's been 19 hours since Matt and I left Davidson. We look like zombies, but we fit right in. Detroit looks like a ghost town with vandals.

But there's life here yet. You can sense it beneath its ice-covered surface. We find the Detroit Beer Company where all of Davidson's alumni have convened. We watch our team on Sports Center, catch up with people we haven't seen in years and Davidson College Athletic Director Jim Murphy promises us over 60,000 people in attendance at Ford Field tonight—the largest crowd in NCAA history.

Somewhere in middle America 7 buses carrying 400 Davidson students rush our way. We can't be bothered with badgers now. Davidson red and black brought this nation to life last weekend. And we plan on doing it again, even if we have to bring life from a ghost town.

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

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