Wed Dec 10 10:43am EST
Everything you've read about Stephen Curry is true. He's a well-rounded kid with one of the sweetest jumpers in basketball. Sitting down and talking to him, it's easy to understand why so many people are hoping he'll lead the Davidson Wildcats back to the NCAA Tournament.
At some point in the near future, Curry will have to decide if he'll take his show to the next level, but for the time being, both he and coach Bob McKillop are enjoying the ride.
When I asked the coach if there was a question he had hadn't been asked yet about his young star, his response might have summed up Curry better than anyone else could: "Questions keep arising because he keeps erasing any doubts about how special he is as a person and as a player. He's a once in a lifetime player for a coach, a once in a lifetime player for a program and probably a once in a lifetime young man to represent a college and a family the way he does."
That's a lot praise to heap on a 20-year-old, but you get the sense that he can handle it.
The Dagger: I talked to your dad [Dell Curry] and he jokingly told me that the only thing you can't do on the floor right now is block a shot. Is there anything that you feel you can't do on the floor right now?
Stephen Curry: (Smiles) Not really. I think [I'm] just doing what I can at the right times. Sometimes, I still find myself making mistakes, trying to do too much. Sometimes you feel you can
make a play, sometimes it's there, and sometimes you force it. So you have to pick and choose where to attack and where not to.
But I think I've gotten better every year I've been here. I worked on little parts of my game that I struggled with freshman year, up
until now; I think it's been a big progress. I think I'm pretty comfortable out there on the floor, just making the right decisions.
TD: When you're playing, do you find yourself still thinking about the games you had during last year's run in the NCAA Tournament?
Curry: A little bit. When I'm in that arena [last Saturday against N.C. State] I flashed back right to [playing] Georgetown. Those kind of games when we're down early, and come back, so those kinds of experiences are very similar. With those experiences you had last year, if you remember how you felt, remember how you went through that game in the past, I think it helps to figure out how to win the games you're playing in now. It's a different situation, different teams we're playing, but the situation is always the same.
TD: So you're comfortable even in the pressure-packed situations.
Curry: My aunt pretty much said it best. With all the tension and the hype from the tournament last year, the game on Saturday, [everyone was thinking] "They're in this, they're fine, we'll be all right."
TD: So the family knows that you've always got things in control.
Curry: (Smiles) Right.
TD: Since the tournament run in March, how do you feel like your life has changed? Or has it?
Curry: You get a lot more attention outside of the gym. People recognize us, and congratulate us on the year we had. But being at a small school like this, and a small community, I pretty much knew everybody before the tournament started. So, you don't see too much chaos going around campus. Everyone's just excited about this year. So, other than that, life is pretty much the same.
TD: So you're telling me that if we walked over to The Soda Shop right now, nobody would bother you?
Curry: If I got lucky, and everybody was a townie, then yes. But, sometimes you see people who aren't from here; they don't really realize that seeing the basketball team walk around Davidson is a normal thing.
TD: Do you ever get tired of all the attention?
Curry: Not really. Only when it interrupts stuff that I want to do sometimes like just hanging out. Maybe after the game, I want to see my family, who's in town, but I can't really get to them because of all the people trying to get autographs, but that comes with [the territory] and I just [try to] have fun with it.
TD: When you're playing in a game against a team like UNC or Duke, do you ever wonder what it would have been like to play at a bigger school?
Curry: Um, not really. Those arenas we play in here ... we have 6,000 fans that can get in this gym. We played in front of 15,000 people [on Saturday]. You do see that [difference], see bigger arenas that people are playing in, and you're like, "Oh, that'd be fun" But you realize that's not what [the college experience] is about. I find myself looking at my team and [thinking], "This is where I'm supposed to be." This is how I think the college life for me should be. I guess with the success we've had, it's easy to say that. [Davidson] is a very unique team, the atmosphere we have here, so I like to indulge myself in that and not really play the mind game.
TD: The what-if game.
Curry: Yeah. What if I was at Carolina playing at the Dean Dome or something like that.
TD: Plus, if you played at Carolina then you wouldn't have The Soda Shop.
Curry: (Laughs) That's true.
TD: All right, lets talk about the Loyola game.
Curry: (Smiles and puts head down)
TD: How the heck did you get through that game without going crazy?
Curry: I really don't know, because the first four possessions I thought, "[The defensive strategy] was pretty creative."
TD: Did you ever start laughing?
Curry: I laughed halfway through the first half, when were up by twenty and still doing it, and still really motivated about it. The [Loyola] coach was still yelling, "Stick on him," because we were just picking the [strategy] apart. That was when I thought it was really pretty funny. And then I threw up I think a 28-footer, the only good look I had, and I missed hit horribly. (Laughs) I laughed after that one. Just the fact that we were up so much ... I think it's a good strategy every once in a while, maybe a possession here and a possession there, but the whole game when [the strategy] is obviously not working, and we're getting great shots for my teammates, made it easier for me to just sit in the corner, hang out and go play defense.
TD: Did you feel like you were playing YMCA ball again?
Curry: (Smiles) A little bit. A little bit.
TD: Were you talking to the two guys who were guarding you?
Curry: At dead balls I'd ask them how long they were going to continue to do this for with the score like that.
TD: Speaking of funny things, there's been talk that you need a nickname, do you have one that people just don't know about?
Curry: I don't. Our trainer calls me "Prime-Time," just being funny, but I don't have one that I go by everyday. One guy gave me freshman year, [the name] "Babyface Assassin." which if I said I had a nickname; I'd say that one.
TD: When was the first time you actually talked to LeBron?
Curry: That was at the Bobcats arena, the weekend after we played in Detroit [last March]. He had come to our game against Wisconsin and I guess when he got back [to Charlotte] me and three and my teammates went to the game. Me and Jason Richards got to meet him afterwards, actually talk to him.
TD: He said he actually forgot to pack his Witness shirt for the NC State game.
TD: When I asked him to compare your game to somebody in the NBA, he actually mentioned Richard Hamilton. Do you feel like that is a fair comparison to your game?
Curry: I think it's pretty [accurate]. I know how to use screens, I know Rip does a great job of working without the ball. I think that's a lost art in basketball, how to get open, with the screens and all that stuff, which is what I worked on pretty much all last year. This year, that [Hamilton] comparison might not be fair, because I'm at the point now. I find myself with less opportunities to use screens, more trying to make plays with the ball in my hands. I'll give it up every once in a while, and be back in the [Hamilton] role, but primarily I'm bringing the ball down the floor, orchestrating the offense, and I don't know who to compare that to.
TD: Steph Curry. You're making your own name for yourself.
TD: It doesn't seem like you get too star-struck when LeBron shows up to your games.
Curry: Yeah, it helps that I grew up in an NBA atmosphere, with my dad playing 16 years. Little stuff, like going to the practices and meeting all the players he played with ... I just see [LeBron] as everyday normal people ... it is pretty cool, he's coming to watch our game, sitting right there cheering for us, so it's pretty awesome.
TD: Speaking of famous people, you got a little nervous in front of Danica Patrick and Annika Sorenstam over the summer, have you stepped your game up since then?
Curry: (Laughs) Yeah, hopefully I want slip up ad stutter and make my dad start laughing at me [again].
TD: So if Halle Berry comes to a Davidson game this year ...
Curry: Ohhhh, that's a different story. (Smiles) That's a different story.
TD: What's the craziest Facebook message you've gotten, since you've been in school?
Curry: A guy just out of college, I think, was starting an agency and wanted me to be his first client. He wrote me pretty much a whole life story kind of thing, like where he's come from, and I actually read the whole thing.
TD: Did you humor him with a response?
Curry: I did not. I didn't want to show any interest, just in case he tried to contact me [again].
TD: I was gonna say, the guy would probably be knocking on your door right now, if he knew you read his message.
Curry: Exactly. So that was probably the craziest [message]. It was pretty interesting.
TD: Do you still average 10,000 requests a day on Facebook?
Curry: It's like cycles. Every time we play on TV, [the requests] come back. I guess people watch ESPN and stuff, see the name, and [the number of requests] go back up. It hit a dry spell this summer, but once we played Oklahoma ... it gets pretty crazy after that.
TD: Would you like to play for the Olympic team down the line?
Curry: Definitely. I've had an experience already playing with the U-19 team, two summers ago. That was definitely a cool experience ... [I] definitely kept up with the Olympic team this year, stayed up and watched the championship game. That definitely would be a cool experience, I know they need shooters. (Laughs) So hopefully I'll fill that role.
TD: I read that you're a five-handicap in golf.
Curry: Used to be. When I played maybe three, four times a week, I was that good.
TD: What else are you doing in your free time?
Curry: I'm on the Wii. I got a Wii at the apartment. Me and my roommates have a thing called the Wii Olympics where we have Tiger Woods' [game] is involved and we have all the Wii sports games. And a couple of the shooting games and stuff like that, I'm pretty good at that. But yeah, [my hobbies] are just the normal video games, TV, golf, that's about it. I don't have much free time around here (Laughs).
TD: Does anyone mess up and still call you Stephen (STEE-ven)?
Curry: (Laughs) Yeah, [Saturday] after the game. He said (STEE-ven) can you take a picture with my daughter, or something crazy. I wanted to be rude and say, No. It's (Steff- in) but I was just like, whatever. I saw some shirts actually that say STEFF with a little dash, and then in.
TD: The phonetic pronunciation.
Curry: Yeah. I've seen those, and hopefully it gets the message out a little more. Since the tournament, (the mispronunciations) have gone down dramatically. But, I still get an occasional one or two.
TD: If you ran for mayor of Davidson, NC, would you win? And by how much?
Curry: (Pauses) That's a good question. It would depend on who I was going against, I guess.
TD: You REALLY think somebody could beat you?
Curry: (Smiles) Popularity wise maybe, I don't know.
TD: You're being too nice, man.
Curry: Maybe if LeBron ran somehow ...
TD: We'll close it out on this: Everyone is already started to ask you whether you'll declare for the NBA Draft at the end of the year. Has that thought even entered your mind yet?
Curry: Not really, because I know there is plenty of time to think about it after the season. Right now, [I'm] just working on my own game, getting better, my team getting better, which will in turn help down the road for that decision. If I was constantly thinking about going to the League, and the decision I have to make, that could influence my game ... [The decision] will come, hopefully whenever the Final Four is over. (Smiles).