What led to the record-breaking free throw was also Marcus Thornton. Movement, recognition, an open lane to the basket. An explosive, almost violent dunk attempt that would impose his will on the game, that would provide one more memorable moment in a career full of them.
wrote our farewell appreciation of Marcus Thornton back in December. So we won't rehash it in painstaking detail this morning, twelve hours after a first-half free throw against Towson gave him 2,053 career points and broke the nation's longest-standing career scoring record. If you're into the details, we commend to you Dave Fairbank's gamer (which includes the quote above), which will tell you that Thornton scored 23, but junior do-everything wing Terry Tarpey dropped 24, grabbed 13 boards, blocked 5 shots, and recorded 3 steals and as many assists in W&M's 65-50 win. (While you're at it, you should read Fairbank's feature on Chet Giermak, who held W&M's career scoring mark for 65 years.)
I really like listening to W&M coach Tony Shaver talk about Marcus, because his love and admiration for William & Mary's greatest-ever basketball player is evident. The words are one thing: “I’m just really proud for Marcus,” Shaver said. “I mean, this is not about him and I think our team really understands that. But I am happy for him. He’s helped take this program to a new level, and he deserves it. He works so hard. I’ve never coached a player who spends as much time in the gym as Marcus – ever.”
But watch Shaver's face, and listen to the tone of his voice. Makes you proud to have had the opportunity to watch Thornton wear green and gold for four years.
Those four years are nearly at end, that skinny hyper-kinetic kid replaced by a still-lean, coiled, explosive yet controlled veteran. Saturday marks the final home game of Thornton's decorated Tribe career. While he'll justifiably receive the loudest cheers from the Kaplan Arena crowd, the entire team still has work to do.
With a win against a depleted Drexel squad, missing its best player, CAA Player of the Year candidate Damion Lee, W&M will clinch its first-ever CAA championship. Sure, they'll likely share that honor with at least one other school (UNCW and Northeastern are good bets to finish with the same record), but the Wrens hold all the tiebreaker advantages. The win would give the Tribe the top seed in next weekend' CAA Tournament, and advance them to at least the NIT.
Miles to go before they sleep, then. And Marcus Thornton's great promise to keep.
William and Mary's Marcus Thornton breaks the oldest school scoring record in the country. #SCTop10 pic.twitter.com/LVIMjXKlNjLate update:
— Sean Petrizzi (@SeanPetrizziWM) February 26, 2015
Here's a great video of the point that broke the record. Voiceover from Tribe radio play by play man Jay Colley, and a terrific shot of Thornton's parents. Check out the smile on Marcus' face after he was fouled on a dunk attempt that would've made SportsCenter.