Sunday, February 04, 2007
Article in Chattanooga paper
Fresh stars help SoCon
By David Uchiyama
Davidson guard Stephen Curry spurned Virginia Tech. Western Carolina forward Nick Aldridge backed off a commitment to the University of Cincinnati after Bob Huggins left.
Their choices have been great for them and bad for the rest of the Southern Conference.
For the first time since Jason Conley and Kevin Martin entered their freshman years, the SoCon has two freshmen carrying huge loads for their teams with efforts that may land them on the allconference team.
"When you get freshmen playing experience and they learn how to win, by the time they’re juniors and seniors they know exactly how to win," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "A lot of freshmen are getting an opportunity to play."
Curry and Aldridge aren’t the only talented SoCon players who needed directions to classrooms a few months ago. Adept freshmen highlight rosters across the league.
There are Tony White Jr. at the College of Charleston, Kendall Toney and Ben Stywall at UNC Greensboro, Kellen Brand at Appalachian State and Junior Salters of Wofford, along with the lesserknown William Archambault at Davidson and Jake Robinson at Western Carolina.
"Each year there has more been good freshmen coming into the league," Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price said. "You’re not going to see any down slide in our league."
Curry has received most of the attention so far this season. The son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry has been featured on ESPN.com, in a long story by the Associated Press and in other media across the South.
He is second in the SoCon in scoring with an average of 19.5 points per game and second also with 75 made 3-pointers.
Unlike most of the rookies who hit the "freshman wall" this time of year because of the extended season compared to high school, Curry has maintained his production.
"He has a 12-month cycle," McKillop said. "I don’t think the length of the season is impacting him. That second wind is something Steph has a great hold on.
"Curry is in a special situation where the Wildcats are maintaining a successful program. Davidson scared Ohio State in the NCAA tournament last season and won Arizona State’s tournament this year.
But Aldridge and Robinson chose Western Carolina because they want to be part of something new. The Catamounts haven’t been in the SoCon tournament final since 1996, when WCU beat Davidson under former coach Phil Hopkins.
"It’s an opportunity to turn things around and get a winning program at Western," said Aldridge, who is fourth in the SoCon with 16.1 points per game and 10th in rebounding at 6.5 per game.
"Lots of guys want to go into a winning program," he said. "You’re remembered more when they haven’t been winning and you start getting the fan base going and campus buzzing.
"That’s more satisfying than being at a program that’s already arrived."
Posted by WB at 12:25 PM