Colonial Athletic Association in 1985, the Tribe won a game while holding sole possession of first place in the conference this late in the season. That jumble of words is about as tortured as the emotions of W&M fans right now, wondering if this is the year.
The win over Elon boosted the Wrens' record to 16-8, 10-3 in conference play, and avenged W&M's first loss of the conference slate. The Tribe is 8-0 against the top six teams in the league, and 2-3 against the three cellar-dwellers.
Sophomore guard Daniel Dixon missed the Elon win with a hamstring injury that may keep him out for a few weeks. Dixon's having a breakout season, third on the team with 11.2 points per game, and second in the CAA in three-point percentage. He's knocked down 45.6% of his triples, making all six of his attempts from deep in the Tribe's 100-79 drubbing of Hofstra. His perfection in that game set the school record for most three-point makes without a miss. Dixon followed that performance up with a career-high 25 points in a win over JMU. He's also an active, athletic defender.
W&M is among the deepest teams in the league, but it's fair to say that Dixon's absence bears watching, especially if it drags into March. Sage CAA heads don't think the Tribe can win the league tournament without the 6'5" sophomore.
Since that time, though, Prewitt's shaken off whatever sophomore slump had ailed him (for the most part, though he only tallied a total of 11 points in wins over Hofstra and UNCW), averaging 15.8 points per game in nine games (18.7 if you throw out the pair of stinkers). Prewitt connected on 59.7% of his field goals over the span, which saw him put up three 20+ point totals and a career-high 30 against Delaware. His scoring average has risen to 13.2 per game, and his confidence is headed the same direction. Prewitt's 18 first-half points paced the Tribe to a 42-23 lead against Elon.
Prewitt showed a bit of a gunslinger's confidence in the 2014 CAA Final against Delaware, his driving dunk pacing the second-half run that nearly carried the Tribe to the title. His indifferent play in the early part of this season was a cause for some concern, though the rest of the Tribe's contributions masked some flaws. Tellingly, Prewitt's made 86% of his free throws in his current streak, after making only 55% through the season's first 15 games. For a shooter as talented as Prewitt, that latter number is close to inexplicable. His resurgent form speaks to a confidence that's vital to W&M's ultimate success.
All the pieces are fitting together, with senior Tom Schalk putting up a career-high 13, including the game-winner, against UNCW, junior Sean Sheldon adding a solid 7.8 points and 4.8 boards, and underclassmen Greg Malinoski and Oliver Tot giving Tony Shaver solid minutes.
And we haven't even mentioned Marcus Thornton (80 points away from W&M's all-time scoring record) and Terry Tarpey, both of whom are likely (or at least deserving) first-team all-CAA selections.
People in the know are saying things about W&M's talent. Unprecedented things. Things that at once make me proud of this team and anxious about the next few weeks. The Tribe is showing up in all the mock brackets posted now, and even if that's only because the leader of every one-bid league gets the default slot right now, it's easy to dream.
Dreams die hard, don't they.
But sometimes they come true.