- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. — Legend has it that William “Billy the Kid” Bonney earned his nickname for his deceptively youthful appearance.

“Yeah, I think I’ve heard that,” said Davidson guard Stephen Curry, who doesn’t own a razor but is the deadliest sharpshooter in the Midwest Region of the NCAA tournament, in which his 10th-seeded Wildcats (27-6) will face second-seeded Georgetown (28-5) today for the right to advance to the Sweet 16. “I do enjoy it when I hear people say that I don’t look like much.”

Liberally listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, the wispy sophomore wouldn’t make anyone’s all-airport team. He is college basketball’s anti-Joey Dorsey, all game and no frame. But perhaps Curry was weighed while holding two season’s worth of Southern Conference hardware.

The fact is there isn’t a major conference coach in the country, much less one in the ACC-crazed region around his native Charlotte, N.C., who won’t admit his staff didn’t whiff on Curry.

“Yep, we all missed out on Stephen [pronounced Stef-en],” North Carolina’s Roy Williams said. “Here’s a kid right under all our noses who can shoot it silly, and he doesn’t get a single ACC offer.”

Curry did get one half-hearted offer from Virginia Tech, the alma mater of his famous father, Wardell Stephen Curry. The Hokies’ Seth Greenberg didn’t have a scholarship available for the 5-11 senior from Charlotte Christian two years ago.

But he offered Curry the option to walk on last season and sit behind seniors Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon before taking one of their scholarship slots this season.

“Steph always talked about wanting to go to Virginia Tech, but he just didn’t feel like they really wanted him,” said Dell Curry, the longtime NBA 3-point specialist who now works for the Charlotte Bobcats. “I think he still has a chip on his shoulder from all the schools that said he was too small.”

Curry stood 6-1 by the time he reported to Davidson to play for coach Bob McKillop.

He then scored 32 points in his second college game against Michigan, put up 30 in Davidson’s season-ending loss to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA tournament and finished just behind Kevin Durant among freshman scorers while setting an NCAA freshman record for 3-pointers (122).

Adding two more inches and considerably more defensive attention this season, he finished fifth in the nation in scoring (25.5 points) while leading the Wildcats to a 23-0 record in the Southern Conference, including the tournament, and an active NCAA-best 23-game winning streak.

“He has a sense of poise that is unparalleled I think for a 20-year-old,” McKillop said. “He has a great basketball IQ. And he’s physically gifted. He has an ability to change speeds very, very quickly. He has great feet.”

And one of the quickest and most sublime shooting strokes the college game has seen in some time.

In Davidson’s first-round victory over Gonzaga, Curry dropped 40 points on a defense designed to contain him.

The Bulldogs tried a matchup zone, man-to-man, triangle-and-two and even a box-and-one against Curry, all to no avail as he connected on eight of 10 3-point attempts to lead the Wildcats to an 82-76 comeback victory.

“Have you got any suggestions [on how to play him] because no one has guarded him yet,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “You watch tape after tape, and people are paying attention to him. They are dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s defensively, and the kid makes contested shots with guys draped all over him that he doesn’t need any time to get off. …

“Does it worry me? Yes. He’s a special player, and he’s the focal point of everything they do.”

[2] Georgetown (28-5) vs. [10] Davidson (27-6)

2:50 p.m., RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.

BREAKING DOWN GEORGETOWN

Georgetown coach John Thompson III rarely has seemed so nervous about an opponent. Davidson can match Georgetown’s athleticism, and it plays an efficient style similar to the Hoyas. Ordinarily, the Hoyas know going into a game that opposing teams will outstrip them in the bad-shot department. Not Davidson. But the Wildcats make few mistakes on offense, take few suspect shots and allow few uncontested hoops on defense.

The Hoyas would love to pound the Wildcats’ undersized frontcourt with senior center Roy Hibbert. But that’s unlikely to happen. Davidson’s veteran big men held North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough to 14 points and UCLA’s Kevin Love to 12 points with a combination of early doubling and entry denial. Don’t be surprised if the Hoyas shift to a smaller, quicker lineup featuring Patrick Ewing Jr. in the post in lieu of Hibbert. Open shots from the perimeter will be available, but the Hoyas will have to improve upon their weak first-round performance from behind the arc (8-for-23) if they expect to advance.

BREAKING DOWN DAVIDSON

The Wildcats are a tough team to figure. While they did push a slew of elite opponents (North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, N.C. State, Charlotte) early in the season, they didn’t manage to beat any of them. And while it’s impossible to dismiss the nation’s longest winning streak (23 games), Gonzaga was the only team among the Wildcats’ list of victims ranked among the top 100 in the RPI.

There are two things about Davidson that are beyond debate: Longtime coach Bob McKillop is one of the shrewdest men in the business, and sophomore Stephen Curry might be the best pure shooter in the nation. The Wildcats’ offense is structured around finding ways to get open looks for Curry.

MATCHUP TO WATCH:

Stephen Curry vs. the Georgetown defense

The Hoyas are likely to throw every set and player on the roster at Curry, who is like a more elusive version of Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds. Expect the Hoyas to switch defenses regularly, experimenting early with both junior guard Jessie Sapp on Curry in a man set and the entire team jumping out on him as the Hoyas switch on every screen out of their base 2-3 zone. Perhaps the ultimate solution will be sophomore guard Jeremiah Rivers, the Hoyas’ best on-ball defender. Georgetown will do everything in its power to make somebody other than Curry beat them.

Prediction: Georgetown 62, Davidson 56

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide