Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stephen Curry: Big Gun in the NCAA Sweet 16

Jason Richards decided to do a little crisis counseling when Stephen Curry, of the underdog and upstart Davidson University team, was missing shots and being frustrated by Georgetown University's tough and highly rated defense.

"If you're not going to have fun in the NCAA tournament, there's something wrong with you," Richards said to Curry during a timeout. "We just kind of stayed relaxed, got him to smile finally, and I think that really got him going."

As a result, Curry scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half, and 10th-seeded Davidson surprised everyone and rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to stun No. 2 seed Georgetown 74-70 on Sunday, March 23rd qualifying the Wildcats for a improbable spot in the round of 16.

Davidson (28-6), which hadn't won an NCAA tournament game in 39 years before Friday, faces No. 3 seed Wisconsin in the Midwest Regional in Detroit.

"I'm a dreamer, and I've been a dreamer my whole life," says Wildcats coach Bob McKillop said. "For me to not think we could get to this moment, would be selling myself and the people who are behind me short."

Davidson has been an NCAA tournament surprise behind a player the top schools thought was too short and too weak. Curry, the son of former NBA 3-point specialist and former Charlotte Hornet Dell Curry, wanted to go to his father's alma mater, Virginia Tech. But no major school offered Curry a scholarship.

Since enrolling in Davidson, he's grown a much needed four inches to 6-foot-3, and his sensational second-half performance Sunday helped put Davidson in a spot it hasn't been since Lefty Driesell led the school of 1,700 students to two regional finals in the 1960s.

"I have confidence to shoot the ball every time I shoot it," said Curry, who missed 10 of his first 12 shots. "In the open court, that's my game — get my feet set and knock down shots. ... When I start getting my shot going, it does feel good."

Jason Richards, who had 20 points of his own in the win against Georgetown, will have to remember what he did for Curry the next time he experiences a shooting slump.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is North Carolina positioned for another NCAA run?

The UNC Tar Heels won the 2008 ACC basketball tournament, but are they really shooting for an NCAA title. How does the current Tar Heel team compare to the 2005 NCAA championship team, who occasionally visit this team at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill? If mindset and tradition is important, the Tar Heels could be difficult to beat.

"They don't say anything to us. We see the banner every day when we practice, and Coach is always stressing it. We really don't know how it feels because we haven't accomplished that. But we can just tell in their eyes when they come back it's something special for all of them."

--Tyler Hansborough, talking about the occassional visits from the
2005 NCAA Men's Basketball Champion Tar Heels players to the Dean Smith

"We play the same style, we believe in the same things. But that team in '05,
when it got into the tournament, really clamped down defensively. So, I'm
hoping that this team will decide to do that as well."

--Roy Williams, UNC head coach.

"These guys have an unbelievable swagger about them. As a player you love to see
that. There's a difference between cockiness and arrogance. But these guys
are just confident in their abilities. I see the same characteristics in the
team that we had."

--Sean May, current NBA Charlotte Bobcats' player and member of 2005 Tar Heels team.

"Just the hard work and the passion. It see that as far as the 2005 team and
this team, the unselfishness of both teams. We have a lot of similarities."

--Quentin Thomas, senior UNC guard who is the only holdover from the
2005 team, when asked about the similarities of the two teams.

" They're built for a title run. I don't think there's any question about it."

--Clemson coach, Oliver Purnell, who lost on Sunday 3/16/08 to UNC in
the ACC conference finals.

Sounds like the Tar Heels are well positioned and have the right mindset for a successful tournament. Let's see if their mindset gives them an advantage.

excerpts taken from the New York Times article by Viv Bernstein, 3/19/2008.