I am sure you all have heard by now of what Loyola Maryland did against Davidson in their game Tuesday night. Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos had two Greyhound players cover Stephen Curry at all times when Davidson had the ball. Yes, for the entire game. Yes,even after Davidson scored 18 straight points to turn a 9-4 deficit into a 22-9 lead as the Wildcats went on to a 78-48 win. Yes, even after the lead was 34 points with a few minutes left. Davidson coach Bob McKillop, so bothered by Patsos' continuing the strategy after the game was no longer in doubt, left Curry in the game so that the Wildcats' reserves could hit open three pointers.
But what most stories have focused on is Patsos' incredibly questionable decision about employing this strategy and I will talk about it later, but I want to focus more on what Stephen Curry did.
When the Greyhounds first came out with their defense on Curry, Curry was obviously confused, perhaps even dumbfounded. But by the Wildcats third possession, Curry knew what he had to do. He basically went to the end corner of the court and took his two Greyhound defenders with him. The Wildcats then basically had a four on three power play when they had the ball. And the Wildcats took advantage.
Stephen Curry had taken himself out of the offense for the good of his team. During their second timeout, the Davidson coaches were trying to build a strategy to get Curry involved. Curry told McKillop "Coach, I'll just stand in the corner and keep two guys with me and we'll play 4-on-3."
Think about that. One of the nation's five best collegiate basketball players just told his coach that he was willing to take himself out of his teams' offense for the good of the team. How many players are willing to do that? How many players are willing to end up with zero points just so that their team can win. He sacrificed himself for his teammates and his team.
That tells you how great a player and more importantly a person Stephen Curry is. Its team first with Curry. And as Curry said, he had "the best seat in the house" for this game. Not only that, Curry said the strategy made him and his teammates incredibly focus more on defense where they forced 21 turnovers, held Loyola's leading scorer, Brett Harvey, scoreless. With an opportunity to run up and down the court and score perhaps 100 points plus, the Wildcats instead played a team game, with Curry leading the way.
Curry's selfless act also helped his teammates to work on their offensive game and scoring balance, which Davidson so desperately needs. Bryant Barr hit six three pointers. Andrew Lovedale had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Reserves Aaron Bond and Will Archambault scored in double figures. Ten Wildcat players played 9 minutes or more in this game. This game was very important in the development of Davidson. They have two men to thank for that. Stephen Curry and Jimmy Patsos.
Now by many standards, Patsos' decision was very questionable. But there is no question in my mind that this was an all around absolutely terrible strategy by Patsos. The biggest problem with Patsos' strategy is that he has now created a very negative feeling on his team. He had to. He basically told his team that even with a traditional double team help defense, they couldn't stop Curry. Patsos even said this in his post game comments. Here are several of them.
"I'm not too worried with how people perceive me. Why, for playing triangle-and-2? They only had 78 (points). The problem is we had 21 turnovers and 48 points."
"We had to play against an NBA player tonight. "Anybody else ever hold him scoreless? I'm a history major. They're going to remember that we held him scoreless or we lost by 30?"
"I know the fans are mad at me, but I had to roll the dice as far as a coach goes. I'm not some rookie coach. I won a national title as a top assistant coach to Gary Williams (Patsos was an assistant at Maryland under Williams). For 13 years I spent on Tobacco Road. I coached a couple of No. 1 picks in the draft. And we scored 48 points. That's the problem that Loyola basketball had today."
No, coach Patsos, the problem Loyola basketball had on Tuesday was that a coach decided it was more important to completely shut a player down then win a basketball game. Is the object for people to "remember that we held him (Curry) scoreless" or to be competitive and win the game? Patsos also basically told his team with that Oklahoma statement that you are not anywhere good enough to stop Curry.
Right now, if I was a Loyola player I would really question my coach's belief in my ability and my teammates' ability. If the Loyola strategy vs Davidson and the post game comments weren't enough, perhaps this other tidbit will sway you on this. Against Cornell, Patsos went into the stands and let his assistant coaches coach the game for a period because he thought he was targeted by a referee after getting a technical foul. If I am a Greyhound player, I would wonder who comes first in Patsos' mind; the team or Patsos. Finally, this from Curry might be the best evidence of how the players felt about this.
Perhaps they weren't too happy about it either. My guess is that they weren't.
But let's get something straight. The true reason that this all went down, that we will wonder about Patsos' decision for the rest of the season and perhaps beyond, is because one person realized the gravity of the situation. One person saw that it was more about the team than that one person. That it was more important to get his teammates involved than to worry about being scoreless for the entire game. He sacrificed himself for his team and the real goal, to win a basketball game. And by doing that, he made his team better. That person is Stephen Curry. Dell Curry should be really proud of his son today. He is the ultimate team player and the ultimate person.