Writer: Stewart Mandel
Post time: 3:20 p.m., Sunday
DETROIT -- During the off day between games here Saturday, a fellow writer and I tried to come up with a recent college player one could compare to Davidson star Stephen Curry. We couldn't.
What Curry has accomplished the past three games -- averaging 34.3 points, highest in the tourney (minimum three games) since Loyola Marymount's Bo Kimble in 1990 -- would be remarkable for anyone, nevertheless a diminutive, 6-foot-3 shooting guard.
It's one thing for a big man like Tyler Hansbrough or Kevin Love to dominate the way both did in Saturday night's Elite Eight games. It's easier for them to simply impose their physicality. Shooting guards are susceptible to so many factors -- a cold shooting night, a taller defender, not getting the ball in the right spot -- that make his three straight 30-plus nights that much more remarkable. We've seen shooters go off in the tourney (remember Gerry McNamara's title-game performance against Kansas?) but often it's because they're left wide open by the defense collapsing on someone inside (like Carmelo Anthony). Curry, for the most part, creates his own opportunities.
So how does one go about describing Curry's game? His sweet shooting stroke is reminiscent of Duke's J.J. Redick, but Curry has a much quicker release. The way he flies around the court is reminiscent of Illinois' Dee Brown, but Brown was nowhere near this kind of scorer. And as Curry showed with his acrobatic reverse layup against Wisconsin and his late-game drive through the entire Georgetown defense, he's much more than a shooter. He's also a pretty darn good defender, notching four steals against the Bagders.
It doesn't help that Curry himself doesn't find anything particularly unique about his skills. "What I do best is run around like a little kid off screens," he said. "... It's nothing special that I do. I just get screens and when I'm open, I get the ball. I have a lot of confidence to shoot it. Nothing special I'm doing it."
If anyone can think of a comparable, modern college player, by all means, let me know. I can only say that the way Curry single-handedly takes over such big games reminds me of watching Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals. Obviously, I'm not delusional enough to think the scrawny Curry is as talented as the greatest player in the history of the sport ... but then again, Jordan himself was never this dominant in college.