Sunday, March 04, 2007

From Charlotte Observer

Curry takes over, propels Wildcats

NORTH CHARLESTON - Freshman Stephen Curry's slight shoulders don't seem wide enough to carry a team on his back. But he did so this weekend at the Southern Conference tournament, and as a result Davidson rocketed into the NCAA tournament.

Curry scored 29 points in Davidson's 72-65 win against College of Charleston on Saturday night and was correctly named the tournament's most valuable player.

Whenever Davidson needed something, Curry provided.

And it was at this tournament that Curry cemented something important.

Right now in Charlotte, Stephen is no longer Dell's son.

It's the other way around -- Dell is Stephen's father.

Curry is not usually demonstrative. But after hitting three straight shots in the first half and getting fouled to the floor on the third, he got up and yelled three times in a row at his teammates: "They can't stop me!"

And they couldn't.

Curry did make some freshman mistakes as usual -- the most glaring on a breakaway dunk attempt. The 6-foot-1 Curry couldn't get high enough for the dunk and never even got the ball over the rim.

"I've been getting a lot of talk (from teammates) about how I do it in practice, but never in games," Curry said, laughing. "I had an opportunity, but I just forgot how tired I was on the court. It was a big stage, and I kind of choked on it."

But teammate Boris Meno got Curry's rebound and scored, anyway, and that's how the whole weekend went for the Wildcats. Curry had 30 points in 24 minutes against Furman in the semifinal. But he played an awful first half in Davidson's quarterfinal, and his teammates made sure it didn't matter.

Davidson is certainly more than a one-man show. But the Wildcats wouldn't be nearly the same team without Curry, who set the NCAA record for most three-pointers by a freshman this season. He plays a lot like Duke's J.J. Redick did early in his career, before Redick became so canny at pump-faking three-pointers and driving for easy points.

Curry played out-of-position at point guard for much of the first half Saturday because Jason Richards was on the bench with two fouls. Curry grabbed eight rebounds. He had three assists, two turnovers and played all but about 30 seconds of the game.

It all left College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins with a bone to pick.

"When I see (Virginia Tech coach) Seth Greenberg," Cremins said, "I'm going to give him a piece of my mind. The kid wanted to follow his dad to Virginia Tech (where Dell Curry was a star). I'm disappointed in Seth, that he didn't take that kid."

That would have gotten Curry out of Cremins' famous white hair. Cremins had Charleston ahead at 56-53 and 59-56 with about seven minutes left, but both times Curry immediately hit three-pointers to tie the game.

After that, Davidson crept ahead for good. The Davidson fans got to enjoy Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" over and over, the song that inexplicably fires them up. Curry got some more hugs and hardware.

Curry won't be entering any dunk contests anytime soon. But he -- and Davidson -- have earned their spot in the NCAA's biggest show.

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