Sunday, March 23, 2008

From the Charlotte Observer

Davidson needs more Curry magic

RALEIGH --Davidson's win against Gonzaga on Friday was one of the biggest in school history -- the first time one of coach Bob McKillop's 19 Davidson squads had ever beaten a ranked team or won an NCAA tournament game.

But the players' celebration was necessarily brief. If Gonzaga was like climbing a 10-foot ladder for Davidson, Georgetown will be like climbing a crane. If Davidson could somehow beat Georgetown today (2:50 p.m. tip-off), a national spotlight would shine on the Wildcats for at least four more days.

To pull off that upset, Stephen Curry will have to be magnificent. Again.

Curry's 40-point performance in the win Friday against Gonzaga was amazing, but it would be even more amazing if he scored 30 against Georgetown. No player has scored more than 27 against Georgetown all season. I think Curry will need to score in the high 20s for Davidson to win, and one other unsung hero would need to emerge.

"They are a very physical team," Curry said of Georgetown. "I think they are a little bigger than us from top to bottom."

Georgetown might play better defense than anyone in America. North Carolina fans still remember the way the Hoyas shut the Tar Heels down in overtime last season, upsetting UNC to move to the Final Four.

Said McKillop: "You have to find a crack here, you have to find an opening there. ... You need to steal points against them to be successful."

Georgetown loves to play a zone and will likely open up in a matchup version today. But when the Hoyas play man-to-man, they will first try to stick Jeremiah Rivers on Curry. That will be a matchup between two former NBA players' sons -- Stephen the son of Dell, Jeremiah the son of Doc s.

When I asked Georgetown coach John Thompson III how he would guard Curry today, he joked: "You got any suggestions? Because no one has guarded him yet."

More seriously, Thompson said the Hoyas would not "re-invent the wheel" to guard Curry.

"We are not going to try to come up with the special `Davidson/Curry' defense," the coach said.

Curry said he expected Georgetown to use a lot of zone, and the Hoyas are very adept at switching on screens so as not to allow shooters any space. He also expects the sort of physical defense that UCLA played against him this season (when Curry went 6-for-19 and scored only 15 points).

"I see it a lot, cutting through the middle trying to get open, I get elbows and shoulders just to get me off my cut," Curry said. "I think I'm pretty good at getting around it and maybe using my quickness to counteract my lack of size."

Curry often tries to get his teammates involved early in the game, passing up the deep shots he takes in the second half. He scored only 10 in the first half vs. Gonzaga, then led Davidson's comeback from 11 points down in the second half with 30 more.

One big advantage for Davidson today: It should feel like a home game. North Carolina fans will fill the arena early -- the Tar Heels play the second game in Raleigh against Arkansas, at 5:20 p.m. -- and no UNC fan worth his salt likes Georgetown after last season.

Will that be enough? Only if Curry has one more heavenly performance left inside that frail frame.

Georgetown's defense

The Hoyas (28-5) are once again one of the NCAA' top defensive teams. A look at the numbers:


Number of individual players who have scored 28 or more points against Georgetown this season.


Number of teams that have scored more than 60 points against Georgetown this season.


Field-goal percentage Georgetown's defense allows (lowest in the nation).


Total point average of Georgetown opponents this season.

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