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July 14, 2008

Monday Tip: Is Curry making the right move?

Stephen Curry has made the college game look easy despite not being highly recruited coming out of Charlotte (N.C.) Christian.

But what he's attempting to do as a junior in 2008-09? No one will pretend that is going to be easy. Curry, heretofore a shooting guard and one of the nation's best at the position, will transition to point guard for Davidson. The Wildcats come off an amazing run to the Elite Eight led by Curry, who ranked fourth nationally in scoring (25.9 ppg). But they lose senior point guard Jason Richards, necessitating the move.

Will Curry's scoring suffer? If it does, will the Wildcats suffer?

We asked basketball editor Bob McClellan and staff writer Andrew Skwara how well they believe Curry will handle the change. Here's what they said:

McCLELLAN: NO PROBLEM

Everybody missed on Curry coming out of high school. I'm not foolish enough to underestimate him at this point, given what he has done in his first two years.

I trust the player and longtime Wildcats coach Bob McKillop. They're both smart guys who know what they're doing. Curry always has been able to get his own shot anyway, so his handle is fairly solid. The game has been transitioning to point guards who can score for the past several years, and no one on earth will debate that Curry can score with the ball in his hands.

Yes, there will be questions about how much he'll distribute and how much he should get others involved. But, really, if he takes a majority of Davidson's shots, is that going to hurt the Wildcats? Would it be such a bad strategy to tell the other four guys to hang out around the rim and be ready to crash because Curry is going to bring the ball up and shoot it every time?

My only concern would be fatigue. If he's handling the ball most of the time, will he still have the legs to hit the big 3-pointer in the waning moments? Something tells me he'll be in the best condition of his life come November, and the Wildcats won't miss a beat with their new point guard.

SKWARA: NOT SO SMOOTH

If I had the choice of any player in college to shoot a 3-pointer with the game on the line, I would take Curry every time. Curry is a phenomenal shooter. He has ridiculous range and seems to shoot his best in the biggest games just check out footage of any of Davidson's four games in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

But much like his father Dell (a longtime 3-point specialist in the NBA), Stephen doesn't do anything else particularly well. Curry is an average ballhandler and below-average when it comes to attacking the basket. He averaged just 4.2 free-throw attempts per game last season despite jacking up 650-plus shots.

That's not the kind of makeup that translates into a good point guard. Can Curry really penetrate and create for others? He suddenly will have to worry about running Davidson's offense, deciding whether to run or slow the pace and making the critical choice of whether to shoot or pass. That's a big transition for anyone. Most college coaches will tell you point guard is the most difficult position to play.

Curry's surrounding cast will make the transition even tougher. There is no other proven scoring threat. Departing point guard Jason Richards wasn't just a great assist man; he averaged 12.7 points, second-most on the team. The Wildcats also are losing two veteran big men.

Curry still will put up some big numbers in 2008-09. He's too good of a shooter and takes too many shots not to. But moving a guy who excels off the ball to point guard is not the answer to Davidson's problems. I'm afraid this Cinderella story isn't going to have a sequel.

VOTE: Is Stephen Curry making the right move?

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.
Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.



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