So apparently, in the NBA, there is this little guard named Stephen Curry, who alongside his Golden State Warriors, is absolutely lighting up the league. So much so that here is just a snippet of some recent headlines:
"Stephen Curry is transcendent" by CBS Sports
"It’s Stephen Curry’s Game Now" by The New York Times
"Stephen Curry is more Lionel Messi than Michael Jordan" by For the Win
And here is the one that everyone in Spokane remembers:
"Curry's reliable stroke good for 40 as Davidson advances to second round"
The Gonzaga Bulldogs had shockingly dropped the WCC Tournament championship game to the San Diego Toreros. Gonzaga, in the unfamiliar position, had to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. It wasn’t much of a question of whether or not the Zags would make it in, just how low they would go.
Not many people in Spokane knew much about the Wildcats. Davidson had run through the Southern Conference with an efficient offense. They were small ball at its finest, and were on their third-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The previous two had ended in first-round losses.
Things were a bit different this time around, thanks to some kid named Stephen Curry, who at the time, was still referred to as the son of NBA player Dell Curry. Curry was fourth in the nation with 25.9 points per game and hit the most three-pointers that year as well. Production from the rest of the squad, albeit a good squad, dropped off sharply after that. Jason Richards averaged 12.7 points per game for the 2007-08 Davidson squad, the only other player in double-figures.
The preview of Davidson was simple. Curry will score a lot of buckets. Gonzaga found out the hard way, as the entire NBA now has, that Curry scores a lot more buckets than anyone thinks possible.
Curry dropped 40 points on Gonzaga that afternoon, hitting 8-of-10 from beyond the arc. He was dogged by Steven Gray all game long, who was by all rights a solid perimeter defender. The Zags tried any and all defensive approaches against Davidson, but none of it mattered. Whether it be a zone defense, a man-to-man, or a hodge-podged triangle defense, Curry got the ball, went over the screen and hit his shots.
Steven Gray was visibly tired as the game wound down.
"Personally, I don't know if I've ever run off that many screens trying to defend someone," Gray said. "And he knows how to use them. He's very knowledgeable in that way."
That first-round game against Gonzaga was the first taste the nation had of Stephen Curry. The Zags had the game virtually wrapped up, practically twice. Gonzaga botched two separate 11-point leads, one in each half of the game. Every time Gonzaga started to stake out some separation, Curry was there to put the Bulldogs right back in their place.
Davidson would go all the way to the Elite Eight in 2008, knocking off No. 2 Georgetown and No. 3 Wisconsin along the way. They were one bucket away from taking down No. 1 Kansas to make it into the Final Four. The nation was in love with a scrawny 6’3 guard from a small liberal arts school in North Carolina with an enrollment of under 2,000.
In no way, shape, or form did I watch that game against Gonzaga and think to myself, Stephen Curry is going to turn the NBA on its heels and leave everyone in the dust. But it was quite obvious that he was a special basketball talent. Gonzaga just got a taste of what the rest of the NBA is getting, and what the rest of the world is noticing, a solid eight years beforehand.