NEW YORK — I'm here at Madison Square Garden with press credentials for the Jimmy V Basketball Classic. Check out my preview for the games here.
Fifteen minutes until tip and the Davidson and West Virginia players are on the court warming up. Some quick thoughts:
- Curry's shot looks even prettier in person. The arc is tremendous. And he doesn't seem to be bothered by any depth perception problems of shooting in a pro arena—he's still knocking down everything.
- West Virginia looks a lot bigger. This is like what would happen when my high school team would go a bit upstate for a game. The fans of the opposing team would always gasp and say, "They are so big." The size difference is quite that drastic, but it will be interesting to see if WVU controls the glass.
- ESPN's Dick Vitale, John Saunders, Digger Phelps, Bobby Knight, Jay Bilas, and Sean McDonough are all here. Vitale, as always, is being very friendly with fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures. I did see he had some hot tea, likely to help him with his throat problems. Herbal tea—it's AWESOME, BABY! Bilas was also very friendly.
- There are 10 minutes until tip and Curry is the only player on the court at this point. He is taking a few extra shots (as if he needs the practice) and swishing everything. His final heave was from out of bounds, right in front of the first row of media seating on the north side of the court, and it didn't even touch the rim. Wow. I wasn't the only one watching, either, as the crowd roared when it passed through the net. I think New Yorkers are expecting a show from Steph.
All right, well, three minutes until tip. Hit refresh periodically for more updates!
8-7 Davidson. WVU is paying extra attention to Curry, who has twice found a teammate under the hoop for an easy lay-up. Also, whenever a Davidson player grabs a board or gets a loose ball, he immediately gives it to Curry—they know who the leader of this team is. So far he's got 2 points.
Second TV timeout, Davidson still up one, 15-14. On a recent possession, Curry missed a three, and the crowd "Ooohed," hoping to see him hit it. Davidson grabbed the offensive board, though, and Curry fired again. This time he hit, and the crowd roared. They like their stars in NYC, and the fans are certainly pulling for the brightest one on the court. Andrew Lovedale, who I will be writing about after the game, has already hit a couple jumpers and had six points. His play is something I'll keep an eye on as the game progresses.
Under eight-minute timeout. Davidson still leading, 22-20. Curry needs no more than a few inches to get his jumper off; it's incredible. Great defense doesn't stop him from making shots. He has turned the ball over a couple times, though, while trying to get his teammates involved. One was from a lack of anticipation on his teammate's part, another was simply a bad pass. WVU is getting out on the break and scoring, so Davidson is going to have to do a better job of transition defense.
Curry just gave a shot-fake, drove to the hoop, and blew a wide-open lay-up. I mean he SLAMMED it off the glass. I guess he just couldn't believe how open he was. Hard to believe Curry gets nervous at this point in his career, and his left hand is usually reliable. WVU is looking sloppy on offense. Several turnovers, offensive fouls, and general incohesiveness. This has been WVU's weakness so far this season, and they better correct it against a Davidson team that can score a bunch in a hurry. I think they need to go inside more and challenge Davidson's big men. Lovedale is playing well offensively, scoring eight so far, and benefitting from the extra attention Curry is getting.
Halftime. Davidson leads 36-29. WVU must have a dozen turnovers. I think Curry played all 20 minutes, and since he has the ball in his hand most of the time on offense, it will be interesting to see if he shows signs of fatigue in the second half. His shot has been a bit off -- the release looks good but it's just not falling too often. But guess who's picking up the slack? My Impact Player of the Game, Andrew Lovedale. He's tied with Curry for the Davidson scoring lead with 10 points. Da'Sean Butler has 12 for West Virginia. Time for Jimmy V's speech on the big screen.
6'9 Davidson forward Ben Allison took a pass and slammed it home, all while absorbing contact and drawing a foul. The freshman only averages 12 minutes per game, so any contributions he can provide will be helpful for the Wildcats. Allison just tipped in a miss for another basket. Curry is still struggling from the field. The free throw shooting so far has been horrible. Even Curry missed one in the first half, and WVU is particularly terrible. I'll get the numbers at the next TV timeout, but I know they're ugly. WVU's offense still looks discombobulated, but the Mounties are hanging around, trailing 49-44.
Davidson still leading, but only by one. Curry continues to struggle, but boy does he draw a crowd. Pat Riley, Warren Sapp, Vince Carter, Devin Harris, and other sports celebrities are in the house, presumably to watch Curry. He leads his team with 14, but is only shooting 5-21 from the field. Ouch. Free throw shooting stats: WVU is 9-21, Davidson 4-9. Ouch again.
Curry hit a three to tie it at 56 just under the five-minute mark and then he gave a frustrated fist pump that said: "It's about time!" Curry is off, but you know he could explode at any moment. With the game so close, he's got to be thinking he can make up for his bad start. Just as I typed that, he hit another jumper to tie it at 58. Wow. WVU timeout with 2:40 left. This might be my last post before it ends, then I'll head down to the locker rooms for interviews. What a game!