News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

November 9, 2007

Given to Fly: Blank soaking in moment with teammates, Gardner-Webb campus

TERRE HAUTE — This week was circled on Nate Blank’s calendar back in April when he made his decision to play basketball for Gardner-Webb.

The 2007 Terre Haute North graduate knew he would have a chance to play in Rupp Arena at Lexington, Ky., but it was no guarantee the Bulldogs would have a chance to face off against the winningest program in college basketball history.

Gardner-Webb had to defeat Alabama A&M; first, which it did as the freshman Blank tallied 10 points in that victory.

Then it was time to make history against a program that had been 401-50 all-time at home. Gardner-Webb, on the other hand, just became Division I during the 2000-01 season.

Blank played a scoring role Wednesday with 12 points and ended up a little physically beat up, he said Thursday when reached on his cell phone.

Blank drew two charges against the Wildcats and also was the recipient of an elbow to the face that drew an offensive foul call on Kentucky. The former Indiana All-Star suffered a broken nose, he said.

“My eyes are black and my nose won’t stop bleeding,” Blank said, “and I’ll do it again to see Rupp Arena clearing out with about 7 minutes to go when you’re up 20. It’s a great feeling.”

Before holding on for a 84-68 victory, Gardner-Webb bolted out to a 14-0 lead with Blank hitting a 3-pointer and a 2-pointer during the run.

Blank spent Thursday like most other students at Gardner-Webb, taking the day off from classes at the small university at Boiling Springs, N.C., and soaking in the moment.

“We’ve been getting standing ovations walking into the cafeteria,” Blank said. “They started like a pep session. People were just out of control. People were out all night last night just running around campus, taking it in just like we are.”

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