Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sporting News preview: Davidson/Georgetown

G'town vs. Curry: No. 1 'D' vs. No. 1 shooter

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The politically correct thing to say when some reporter tries to bait you into making a basketball game personal is that there's no extra challenge, no extra motivation to shut down one guy. We're a team, they're a team and the only thing that matters is moving to the next round.

The Georgetown players stuck to the script when prodded about how the best Division I defense (the Hoyas) would cope with facing quite possibly the best Division I shooter (Davidson's Stephen Curry) on Sunday at 2:40 p.m. ET.

"Our defense has definitely won games for us," Georgetown forward Patrick Ewing Jr. said. "Just because of one player, we're not going to change anything. It's about us and the things that we do. They're a good team other than Curry. They've got other great players there."

That might be true, but Curry is the one who pumped in an NCAA Tournament-high 40 points Friday against Gonzaga in the first round, including 30 in the second half to fuel an 11-point comeback. He hit eight three-pointers in 10 attempts. The other Wildcats? They were setting screens and/or passing the ball to No. 30.

Curry can't beat the second-seeded Hoyas alone.

So there has to be a little, just a little, extra motivation for Georgetown players -- proud of their grinding-and-banging-and-denying reputation -- to not get poster-ized by Curry, right? You can't hold opponents to 36.7 percent shooting (best in the country) or 57.6 points (fifth best) without being angry at every ray of light coming from the scoreboard.


Not to hear the Hoyas tell it. Or, more accurately, not tell it. Curry's great. They'll do their best and hope it works out.

You're not going to get any opponent mad with talk like that. What, are the Hoyas afraid Curry will score 50?

Maybe. Actually, after his performance against the Zags, probably.

"Every team that's still playing, you're not going to reinvent the wheel this time of year," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "You have to pay special attention to him and how they get him the ball, but we're not going to go in and come up with the special Davidson-and-Curry defense.

"He's averaging 25, 26 points a game, so no one has stopped him all year. And no one was stopped them all year from scoring points. So you have to focus on doing what you do."

Which is shut down opponents. Fordham's Marcus Stone scored 27 on Georgetown this season, the best effort by an opponent, but the Hoyas won 82-66. Friday against Maryland-Baltimore County, a talented squad that averaged more than 75 points per game, Georgetown allowed just 47 points on 16-of-50 shooting (32 percent).

Nevertheless, Curry looked and sounded Saturday like a man who fears no defense. Perhaps that's what happens when you've drained 45 percent of your three-pointers in an astounding 327 attempts.

"I don't think we're going to see anything different (from Georgetown)," Curry said. "It's just going to be different players on the defensive end. We just need to stick to our system. I'm not going to try to do anything special or anything that I'm not capable of. So I'm not worried."

Well, somebody should be. Shouldn't they?

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