|Small player doing big things: Davidson's Stephen Curry learned from the best|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 25 March 2008 10:38|
Stephen Curry was easy to spot at those workouts in the 1990s. He was the one with a ball on the side of the court. Far from messing around and creating a nuisance, Dell Curry's son studied plays and observed how Dad would run off screens.
When practice was over, he'd often challenge the player closest to his size - 5-foot-3 Muggsy Bogues - to a game of 1-on-1.
``He was just like a son,'' Bogues recalled this week. ``You always wanted to encourage him and tell him little things that he could use. He was always inquisitive, always asking questions. 'How do you do this? How do you react to that situation?' He always was competing.''
It was Bogues' turn to watch Curry last weekend. Bogues, like the rest of the country, was stunned by what he saw.
The sophomore guard, who looks as if he's still in middle school, hit eight of 10 3-pointers and scored 40 points in Davidson's upset of Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA's Midwest Regional.
Two days later, Curry scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half to send Davidson (28-6) past Georgetown and into the round of 16 for the first time in 39 years.
Curry, with an elegant stroke like that of Dad himself, is making a star turn on the NCAA stage. He is averaging 25.7 points and has hit 152 3-pointers, six shy of the NCAA single-season record.
``You could tell that Stephen had a knack for the game,'' Bogues said. ``He was always the quietest one of the bunch, but you could see his skills and the way he played the game. You knew one day he was going to be a good basketball player, but not thinking what he turned out to be today.''
Curry is listed by the school at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, but that's probably generous by about 2 inches and a dozen pounds. His basketball IQ, however, is hardly inflated. It has been honed from watching countless NBA practices and games, and it was an education that began early.
At 2 weeks old, his mother, Sonya, took him to a game in Cleveland, where Dell Curry played for the Cavaliers. The infant stayed awake the entire game, eyes fixated on the court.
A year later, Dell Curry was selected by the Hornets in the expansion draft. He spent the next 10 years in Charlotte. He took Stephen and his younger son Seth to every practice and shootaround he could.
``I took them at a very young age because I knew nobody was going to have to be a baby sitter,'' Curry said. ``They were very disciplined and they were going to watch what was going on, not make noise and just soak in what was going on.''
Stephen Curry would spend entire games watching his father, a career 40-percent 3-point shooter. It's where he learned how to read screens and defenses.
``Little things you pick up, they help you a lot,'' Stephen Curry said. ``Just knowing where to be and seeing things in advance. For my size, that helps me a lot, just being one step ahead of everyone else.''
Size was the dirty word for Curry growing up. He was only 5-6 as a sophomore in high school and shot the ball from his waist because he lacked strength. His father made him change his release to eye level before his junior year. For a while, Curry couldn't hit the rim from outside the lane.
``I wouldn't allow him to shoot anything that changed his form,'' Dell Curry said. ``It was a struggle for him, a tough summer. He was frustrated. I was frustrated, but he stuck with it. And that shows his determination that he wanted to be good.''
In a couple of months Curry developed correct form and a lightning-quick release. Still, Curry was small. The big schools, including Dell Curry's alma mater, Virginia Tech, wouldn't give him a scholarship.
``I understood that he did not have the body that most ACC programs, SEC programs are looking for,'' Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. ``He did look a little frail. He did look very young for his age.''
But McKillop had known Curry since he was 10 years old and the youngster played on the same baseball team as one of his sons. He knew about Curry's basketball pedigree. He knew about that great shooting touch. He quickly offered him a scholarship.
Two years later, Curry and Davidson are preparing for Friday's matchup with No. 2 seed Wisconsin in Detroit.
``We couldn't have scripted it any better,'' Dell Curry said. ``There was a reason he was the smallest kid in high school. There's a reason he didn't get recruited big. He couldn't be on a brighter stage right now. Small school, small player doing big things.''
And Bogues, who used would toy with Curry in those 1-on-1 games after practice, will be watching again Friday.
``You knew he was always going to have a jump shot,'' Bogues said. ``But the decision-making, moving without the ball, it's amazing to see how he's grown.''