Purdue exposes Davidson's one-man show in blowout win
INDIANAPOLIS -- Stephen Curry cut left, and Chris Kramer went with him. Curry cut right, and the 2008 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year stayed nose to nose. Curry feinted left and went right, zigged one way and zagged back, sliced off screens and Kramer was there, in his face like halitosis, unshakable.
There were some glimmers of an answer in the second half Saturday. McKillop's son, Brendan, did a solid job running the offense. Senior guard Max Paulhus Gosselin chipped in some table-setting duties as well.Those two could combine to let Curry shift from point guard to shooting guard for stretches of time, alleviating part of his humongous workload. And now that Davidson has navigated most of its ambitious nonconference schedule at a healthy 8-2, the Southern Conference slate provides two months to develop the supporting cast. Right now, Davidson understandably misses the contributions of 2007-08 seniors Jason Richards, Thomas Sander and Boris Meno. They were the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 scorers on last year's regional finalist team, but that was just a fraction of their contributions. Richards expertly ran the point, allowing Curry to hunt shots off screens solidly set by Sander and Meno. It was strikingly evident Saturday how many of Davidson's screens missed their mark, as Purdue defenders easily slid past and stayed with Curry everywhere he went. "A lot of people don't realize," Purdue coach Matt Painter said, "they lost some good players." Going forward, the Wildcats will need more from post players Steve Rossiter (two points, no rebounds, five fouls in 10 minutes) and Ben Allison (two points, three rebounds, four missed free throws in nine minutes). If they can develop raw-but-promising, 6-foot-9 freshman Frank Ben-Eze in the coming months, that would be a huge plus.
Davidson had survived an 18-miss night from Curry against West Virginia because the Wildcats hung around and Curry got heroically hot at the end. Davidson had hung in the game at Oklahoma on a 17-miss night from Curry because the guy went 14-for-14 from the foul line. But the combination of Curry's 0-for-8 start and Purdue's own torrid shooting (11-of-18 from 3-point range) was too much to overcome.With the ball going in the basket routinely against some major mismatches, the Boilers finally resembled the top-10 team they were billed to be. They were panicky late in a neutral-floor loss to Oklahoma and panicky early in a home-court blowout loss to Duke, so there was something to prove in this game against a Top 25 team and a top-two player. "It was a great team defensive effort [on Curry]," Kramer said. "We had a lot of guys guard him. In the first half I thought we got him pretty tired. We jammed him off every screen." They also picked him up the entire length of the court, making Curry work against lightning-quick freshman Lewis Jackson just to get the ball up-court and initiate Davidson's offense. That took its toll. "Their three-guard rotation can pressure you all the way down the floor," Curry said. "I think that's the first time all year we've seen that for 40 minutes." They'll see it more in the near future. Stephen Curry can count on that. Which means he's going to need a little more help from his friends if Davidson is going to reprise last season's dream run.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.
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