WHY WOULD you take the nation's top shooting guard and turn him into a point guard? Well, if you're Davidson coach Bob McKillop, you're seeking to replace the graduated Jason Richards, who led the nation in assists last season. If you're Stephen Curry, a slender 6'3" jump shooter who was the breakout star of last spring's NCAA tournament, you're hoping to show NBA scouts that you can run the point as a combo guard. The reasons behind the move are sound, but it remains to be seen whether the most intriguing position switch in college hoops will be successful. For while Curry admits that all the attention he's received since March has been "sort of overwhelming," learning how to balance his new passing duties with his proven scoring ability has been even more challenging.
"Sometimes I try to pass the ball when I have an open shot," says Curry, who averaged 25.9 points last season and would become the No. 2 scorer in NCAA history if he were to keep up that pace for two more years. "I'm making a lot of mistakes, but I'm learning from them."
McKillop says his motion offense is flexible enough that Curry doesn't need to be a pass-first point guard like Richards, and he also reserves the right to move Curry back to his old position if necessary. For that matter, Curry can always revert to shooting guard mode as soon as he makes the first pass in the Wildcats' half-court offense. "A lot of guys who move to point guard think it's incumbent upon them to get an assist," says McKillop. "But Steph's strength may be to make an easy pass that leads to a pass coming back to him. We're putting him through some challenging scenarios in practice."
The Davidson coaching staff has simulated all sorts of diabolical defensive schemes that opponents may use on Curry, from junk defenses to double teams off ball screens. Curry has seen some of them before—Georgetown tried a box-and-one in the NCAA tournament only to lose as Curry exploded for 30 points—but rarely from the point guard position. Then again, Curry isn't the Wildcats' only offensive threat. McKillop expects solid production from senior forward Andrew Lovedale, junior guard Bryant Barr and senior swingman Will Archambault.
Yet the headlining act will again be Curry, who knows as well as anyone that NCAA tournament games can turn on the thinnest of margins. "We just talk about being consistent," Curry says. "We think we're as good as we were last year, and hopefully we'll be better."
Perhaps even at point guard. McKillop sends chills through Davidson's foes with five simple words about Curry: "He has extended his range."
West Virginia (in New York City)
Purdue (in Indianapolis)
at College of Charleston
*NIT Season Tip-Off in Norman, Okla. (also Oklahoma and Mississippi Valley State)
If the Wildcats and the Blake Griffin--led Sooners both win (as expected) in their opening games of the NIT Season Tip-Off, a showdown in Norman could be an entertaining shootout—and a good test for Davidson's big men.
Bob McKillop (20th year)
Southern Conference record
Seth Davis weighs in on who might be this season's Glue Guy and on the X factor for the Wildcats.
Well-Positioned The nation's top returning scorer is moving from shoot-first guard to playmaker.