Wednesday, November 14, 2007

From Wilmington

Davidson no opening-day cupcake
By Andrew Jones
Star-News Correspondent

North Carolina's date with Davidson tonight at Bobcats Arena in Charlotte isn't your typical season-opener for a major conference program.

The top-ranked Tar Heels could have opened up at home against a directional school with a hyphen or two in its name, but instead, coach Roy Williams agreed to take on the dangerous Wildcats not far from their campus.

"(They are a) very confident team," Williams said about tonight's foe. "Very, very well-coached team; a very dangerous team."

Davidson finished 25-8 and lost to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The Wildcats are six spots outside the Associated Press Top 25 and two spots from making the ESPN/USA Today poll.

Just a sophomore, wing Stephen Curry might already be Davidson's most notable player since the program's heyday in the 1960s and early 1970s, when Lefty Driesell and Terry Holland were at the helm.

Curry, the son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, led the Southern Conference in scoring at 21.5 points last winter. His 122 3-pointers are a Division I record for freshmen.

"Curry is a youngster who, like his dad, can shoot the dickens out of it and doesn't need a lot of room to get it off," Williams said.

Williams isn't concerned only about Curry. Davidson returns its top seven players, prompting him to say, "This is a major challenge for us."

The coach appears less worried about his team, which finished 31-7, won the ACC title and advanced to the Elite Eight a year ago. Even though Carolina lost Reyshawn Terry and Wes Miller to graduation and Brandan Wright to the NBA, the Tar Heels are deep and can play numerous combinations.

Junior All-American Tyler Hansbrough and his banged-up right thumb and sophomore point guard Ty Lawson are guaranteed starters, Williams has maintained. He might tinker with the other spots, although it's likely sophomore guard Wayne Ellington and junior small forward Marcus Ginyard will get the nod tonight.

The other forward spot will be either sophomores Deon Thompson or Alex Stepheson. Williams won't say of the California natives he'll go with and claims it's not an issue.

"I don't know; it will have to work itself out," he said. "I don't worry about that. I guarantee you, when I go to bed at night that's the last frickin' thing I worry about."

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