It was role reversal for new Elon University men’s basketball coach Matt Matheny last week.
That’s because it wasn’t long ago that he was one of the pupils in the annual Villa 7 Consortium, which is a program set up to benefit assistant basketball coaches on the college level.
With the sixth installment of the program last week in Las Vegas, Matheny was tabbed as one of the speakers. The program is designed to help selected assistant coaches be prepared for head coaching jobs.
This wonderful but cruel game never stops testing or teaching you. “The only comment I can make,” Watson told me after, “is one that the immortal Bobby Jones related: ‘One learns from defeat, not from victory.’ I may never have the chance again to beat the kids, but I took one thing from the last hole: hitting both the tee shot and the approach shots exactly the way I meant to wasn’t good enough. ... I had to finish.”
So Tom Watson got a brutal lesson in golf that he’ll never forget, but he gave us all an incredible lesson in possibilities -- one we’ll never forget.
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As writers like Scoop Jackson try to come up with new angles and names for this whole Davidson/Curry thing, it seems like one adjective has been glaringly omitted.
I mean we’ve danced around it with terms like unique and special and one-of-a-kind, but frankly Davidson basketball can be downright odd.
Case in point: As we were watching highlights of Kansas’ elaborate banner-raising ceremony last night, I was told of the story of Davidson’s own Elite 8 banner-raising ceremony.
It consisted of a guy on a ladder and three Sports Info staffers standing in an empty gym clapping.
Upon hearing the clapping from the hallway, a skinny kid wearing a hoodie bounded onto the court and started yelling.
“Steph, stop yelling at the guy on the leader. You’ll make him fall off.”
So the NCAA’s current points leader, first team All-American and now-leading candidate for National Player of the Year runs into the Sports Info office and turns up Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and sings it a little off-key.
We are odd.
Hall played at Charlotte Christian, where he averaged 15.6 points and 7.8 rebounds. He shot 59.8 percent from the field and scored 1,545 career points, breaking the school record previously held by Stephen Curry, a first-round NBA draft pick out of Davidson.
Applications to Davidson are at an all-time high, perhaps due to basketball success and The Davidson Trust, which meets full demonstrated need with no loans.
It’s interesting. Going in, I didn’t see Davidson as the best fit for me. You could say I was basketball motivated. I mean, I was excited, but a little hesitant. I could not imagine what it would be like. So I guess one of of the best lessons from Davidson is not to go into a situation judging what it will be like. Being open to things. Because you never know.
When I was making this NBA decision, I wasn't worried about missing basketball -- I knew I would have basketball. But giving up being a student -- I just loved all of that, the social aspect. Giving that up before I had to, that was the hardest part. ... I loved being a Davidson student. I loved every bit of it.
At the conclusion of the Warriors/Hornets game, a crowd of kids gathers to try and get an autograph from Morrow. Morrow finishes with media and throws his jersey into the throng of kids, only to have them lunge at it and break the security barricade fighting for it. A younger fan desperately clutches the jersey while another fan struggles to rip it away from him.
While this scene is unfolding, I am interviewing Steph Curry and the two of us stop to watch what’s going on. We are both a little unsure of what to do to comfort the boy who is about to cry. Curry then stops the interview, goes over and gives the boy who lost out on the jersey his game-worn shoe.
Tom Droney doesn’t believe he’s the next Stephen Curry. But what Davidson College did for Curry’s basketball career intrigues Droney.
That’s one of the reasons Droney made a verbal commitment to Davidson yesterday. Droney is a 6-foot-6, 197-pound guard at Sewickley Academy and the Post-Gazette Player of the Year.
Curry was a first-round NBA draft pick last month. Another former Davidson guard, Jason Richards, was on the Miami Heat roster last season until a knee injury ended his season.
“I can see the path Steph Curry took and I can see what coach [Bob] McKillop did with him and Jason Richards,” Droney said. “I’m not going to say I’m going in the NBA draft, but maybe I could have a somewhat similar college career. That definitely is an intriguing aspect about Davidson.”
In the Tribune-Review: “I like scoring, but I love getting guys their open shots and getting the assists.”
SI’s Chris Mannix:
Two years ago, Gilbert Arenas told me he could tell if a player was going to be a superstar just by saying his name.
“Look at some of [the] names,” Arenas said. “Kobe Bryant. Tiger Woods. Anything with Michael in it. It’s like if you have a name like that, you’re automatically a star. O.J. Mayo, the kid hasn’t played one minute [in the NBA], but you already know he's going to be great.”
As I watched Warriors rookie Stephen Curry play here over the last few days at the NBA Summer League, Arenas’ words came back to me. Curry’s name isn’t exactly melodic, and it doesn’t tell me he’s going to be great -- but everything else about him does.
Sewickley Academy guard Tom Droney, whose 40-point effort led Sewickley Academy to a victory against Serra Catholic in the WPIAL Class A championship this year, said today he has made a verbal commitment to Davidson.
Droney, who will be a senior this year, said he also considered Harvard, Boston College and Virginia, but he chose Davidson because of his relationship with coach Bob McKillop.
“He is a tremendous coach and proven winner. It is also a place where I think I can step in and play right away,” Droney said.
His high school coach: “No. 1 is his court vision. No. 2, he is a tremendous passer, both off the dribble and off the catch. No. 3 is his shooting ability. He has improved himself so much as a shooter. No. 4 is his work ethic. He wants to be the best and he is going to work as hard as he needs to and then he is going to work after that.”
No one disputes that Stephen Curry was the best shooter taken in last month’s draft, but after four games, no one can make the claim that he’s the most consistent. He’s enjoyed a few hot streaks, but after a 3-for-15 performance from the field on Tuesday, he’s shooting just 31.4% from the field.
Despite the rough introduction to the NBA, Curry doesn’t seem to be losing confidence. He’s usually running the point when he’s in the game, and the Warriors have encouraged him to continue being aggressive looking for his shot, and he’s followed orders.
Thompson’s notebook. Thorpe: disappointing.
Tripp took this picture. Ann Arbor. First weekend of Stephen’s college career. Everyone who cares to know probably knows something about the circumstances: 13 turnovers against Eastern Michigan one night, 32 points against Michigan the next. Who knows what exactly McKillop is saying to his freshman shooting guard here but Tripp and Bro like to think it went something like this:
Thus beginneth and whatnot.
Anyway, right now is the first time I’ve opened my laptop since flying from Tampa to Denver Friday night, but I’ve been half-following the action in Vegas on the BlackBerry via Google Alerts and the occasional e-mail and text. I scanned the stats and the coverage off his first game with the Warriors and thought to myself: Interesting, but his second game will be more telling, because if I know Stephen ...
Here: 29 points, 27 after halftime, and quotes like this: “But he never dropped his head ...”
It’s hard not to think about Gonzaga, Georgetown, West Virginia, etc., etc., etc.
Claire sent an e-mail last night with a link, and also some words from the past, spoken on CBS on March 23, 2008:
“He’s not gonna stop shooting, I can assure you that, Jim.”
“Yeah, it doesn’t look like, he’s not hangin’ his head … Shots definitely not anywhere close to droppin’ like they were on Friday -- but he can still light it up with half the half to go…”
1. Of all the things that can be said about Stephen, and are said, and presumably will be said, this I think is the absolute key:
From Staying Stephen:
When Stephen got to Davidson, the fall of his freshman year, he was bigger, stronger, faster, and taller than he had been at Charlotte Christian. All of that, though, was not what struck the Davidson coaches the most.
Stephen was able to take the information given to him and correct mistakes almost immediately. It wasn’t that he never made mistakes. He made a lot of them. He just usually didn’t make any of them a second time. McKillop has been coaching for three and a half decades, and he says he has never had a player like that. It was as if Stephen listened to what he was told, painted a picture of the movements in his head, then channeled those movements onto the court, at full speed, the very next play.
McKillop in this morning’s story:
“I was flabbergasted how quickly he took to coaching, how smart he was and how he was able to put coaching into action. He could make something a habit after hearing how we wanted it done one time.”
Somewhere in there is the intangible why and how of what by now is Stephen’s proven pattern of exceeding expectations.
2. Good answer from Dell: “He was drafted higher than me, took a college team further than me and is better than me at golf, so if he felt like he had to live up to something, I’d say he’s done pretty well.”
3. Most of the “Steven” and “Stephon” stuff seems to have gone away, which was overdue, so now I look forward to the day I never have to see or hear Davidson “University” again. Perhaps that’s a pipe dream.
Brings to mind what Jason said at one of those press conferences in Detroit, and I’m paraphrasing here: It’s a college, actually. Davidson College. A lot of people get that wrong.
It was quick, almost inside spoken parentheses, and I don’t think it totally registered with the guy who had asked the question about the “university,” or anyone else in the room, either, but I heard it, and loved it.
Stephen: all signed up.
Simmons: The NBA rookie pay scale slots the seventh pick’s salary at about $2.26 million, but teams may pay 120 percent of that requirement making the first year worth $2.71 million. There is a bump each year with the possible fourth season at about $3.96 million.
Thompson: The amount of a contract is based on the NBA rookie salary scale. The No. 7 pick is scheduled to make $2.26 million. But teams are allowed to pay up to 120 percent of the preset salary, which Curry received, according to a team source. So Curry will make $2.7 million in his first year and $2.9 million in his second season. The Warriors have a team option for $3.1 million in 2011-12 and $3.96 million in 2013-14.
I’m having some trouble warming up to Curry, but unlike with Flynn I really can’t say for sure that he’s overrated. He’s like Westbrook last year. There was nothing in Westbrook’s numbers that suggested he’d be as good as he was, but there was also nothing that indicated he wouldn’t. Curry is the same way. I still see a 6’1” gunner who was a great scorer at the small college level. I still have my doubts about whether he can play the point or not, which will be necessary if he’s going to be a special player. But there’s no one stat I can point that says he can’t. The fact that several NBA teams seem to love this guy is probably a good sign. It’s also good that he’s going to the Warriors where his offense will be valued and put to good use.
In other words: I don’t know much, or anything, really, but I’ll just keep typing.
It’s cool. It’s so cool. I’m really excited for him, and proud.
But about thirty minutes ago I watched his press conference in Oakland (he’s already THERE. Wow.) and I just burst into tears. I don’t really remember why, what triggered it. Maybe the whole thing, the weirdness of seeing him so professionalized. Because it’s strange knowing he’s so far away, so separate. Because sometimes, even though I was there and have watched it all happen, sometimes I can’t actually comprehend how he went from Steph Curry December 1 2006 to Steph Curry June 26 2009. How he did things to make this happen. Even though I was there the whole time. I switched back and forth between today’s presser and his post-Gonzaga interview in the locker room, listening to his voice and his tone, trying to make it from that moment to this moment in my mind.
And then I cried harder. Because this little boy said “I got to meet Stephen Curry for the first time today and I’m very excited!” And then he went up and asked Steph why he wears #30. And Stephen smiled down at him and went on about Dell and how it’s a family number and he looked this little boy straight in the eyes and said, “And I started wearing it my freshman year at Davidson College --” and he was smiling and I was sobbing. And then, as the little boy turned to leave, Steph grinned and said, “Thanks for your question, man.” THIS MAN IS GOING TO DO SO MUCH GOOD.
I have no doubt in my mind, and I can’t get over that. I can’t get over being tied to him as part of our collective community and seeing him up there now ...
I just lost it. Because I don’t know if I will ever find the right words to explain. I WATCHED him become this and it’s still unfathomable. I witnessed children (and adults) begin wearing #30 jerseys because they love Davidson, they know him, he’s one of our own, he’s damn good. And now (suddenly? Not suddenly, but it feels like it) it has exploded so far beyond Belk Arena -- 3000 miles -- and I just can’t quite wrap my head or my hands or my heart around that. It almost doesn’t feel real.
That’s why Davidson worked for Curry.
He immediately got on the court.
He immediately showed he’s a special talent.
And it didn’t matter that he was barely on TV through his first two years of college (except for the NCAA tournament) or that he didn’t “do it every night” in the Big 12 or Pac-10. All that mattered was that he performed when placed on a stage, at which point the NBA found him and made him a rich man.
McKillop: “A lot’s to be said for the role you play. You can be in the chorus or you can be the lead singer. You can be one of the dancers or you can be the dancer.”