I saw a bizarre tweet the other day related to Cody Doolin. The name Cody Doolin rattled around in my head, but I couldn't quite place the source of it. So I clicked the link, and there it was. The San Francisco Dons senior point guard Cody Doolin was retiring from college basketball.
I couldn't be happier. I know that the kids that play the college game are just that -- kids. Sometimes the passion of sports blurs that line. You yell at them like adults, you demand things from them like adults, you treat them like adults. But really, Cody Doolin is still a college kid preparing to graduate with a degree in finance this year.
As a fan of Gonzaga basketball I have a natural tendency to hate players on opposing teams. Some players relish that role, and live it up as much as possible, generally much to the chagrin of Gonzaga fans. Omar Samhan was public enemy number one. He knew it, and he loved it.
Doolin was not public enemy number one. He played for the San Francisco Dons, who are not WCC enemy number one. But Doolin is partially responsible for ruining one of my weekends years ago, and for that he is forever on the hate list.
Let's flash back to the 2010-11 season, where a talented Gonzaga team was one of the more frustrating in many years. Gonzaga entered conference play at 10-5, having already gone through a three-game losing streak that was lowlighted by a 22-point loss to the Washington St. Cougars. That would hardly be the lowlight of the entire season, however.
A bunch of friends and I found out that the game against the Dons was one of the best away games to attend. I reside in Seattle, and flights to San Francisco are easily procured. The University of San Francisco sits in the city, and really, who doesn't love a weekend in San Francisco while trying to survive the drudgeries of the Pacific Northwest's fall/winter/spring.
The War Memorial Gymnasium on the USF campus is quite a fun arena. It harkens back to the old days of the Kennel, and there is something a bit charming about watching WCC teams scrap it out in basketball floors more suited for a high school game. Also, because it is USF, it is quite easy to buy a ticket. Granted, the University of San Francisco athletic department is quite smart. Basketball tickets normally cost ten dollars, but if you buy a ticket to Gonzaga, you have to buy two more tickets as well. Still, 30 dollars to see the Gonzaga Bulldogs is well worth the cost.
We had been making the trip for a few years, and combining that with the Battle in Seattle, it was just enough live college basketball to remind me of my college days. But lately, just like in the Battle in Seattle, the Bulldogs were having problems in San Francisco. In 2007 they needed overtime to win. 2008 they had no problems, but in 2009 it was a lot closer -- just a five point win. 2010 it was a loss. 2011 it was a loss in overtime. 2011 it was Cody Doolin fueling that loss in overtime.
Going into the game on Jan. 22, 2011, Doolin was averaging 6.7 points per game. After the game, he would boost that average to 7.5 points per game. On Jan. 22, 2011, Doolin, a freshman at the time, rang up a career-high 23 points on the Bulldogs, including the crucial three-point play with 4.1 seconds left in overtime to give the Dons a 96-91 win.
That would be Doolin's best game of the entire year, and it came at the expense of my vacation happiness. We had gone in expecting a win. We spilled out meandering towards the nightlife of San Francisco trying to figure out how to most economically wipe out the evening's memory.
The loss to the Dons was the second-straight for the Zags. The Santa Clara Broncos had trounced GU the game before, and the following week Mickey McConnell would hit an off balance shot to give Saint Mary's a win in Spokane, their first since 1995. The three-game losing streak in the WCC would be the first since 1997.
Doolin scored 23 in his first game against the top dogs of the WCC. He would score a total of 40 points in his next five games against Gonzaga. Like someone always seems to against Gonzaga, a nobody became a somebody on national TV and it came at the expense of a Gonzaga win.
That is my story of Cody Doolin. It really isn't much of a story. But Cody Doolin is representative of what it means for Gonzaga to play in the WCC. Cody Doolin exists on all teams, and is waiting like a dormant gene ready to be activated against the Bulldogs.
The rest of the story of Doolin is unfortunate, and hopefully one where he comes out on top. This is the part of the story where I force myself to remember that Doolin is just a college kid first, who happened to play basketball second. Doolin left the team, originally announced for personal reasons, and later announced to be from a physical altercation in practice. Doolin is going to stay at school to graduate with a degree in finance, and I wish him all the best in that achievement.
Counting Doolin, that makes seven players that have left the Dons' basketball program in the last year and a half. That is a lot of transfers, and hopefully a situation that doesn't cripple the team. I rarely wish good tidings for opposing teams, but at the heart of it all I just want the WCC to remain competitive. Losing players willy nilly makes that a tough thing to do.
Doolin will finish his collegiate career averaging 9.8 points and 4.4 assists per game. He is fifth all-time in the WCC in minutes played. He is 12th all-time in assists in the WCC (both of these records only going back to 1997-98). In a league of big name guards, Doolin was quietly one of of the better guards in the league. He had a solid basketball career, and hopefully his life career is even better. Now, I can safely take Doolin off my hate list because he won't cost the Gonzaga Bulldogs another win.