Published March 15, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. – There's a Curry in the NCAA tournament again.
Only this time, he's not the underdog.
Seth Curry, the younger brother of 2008 tournament darling and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, had to sit out as a transfer during Duke's run to the national title last year.
Now he's headed to his hometown of Charlotte to start what he hopes will be a deep postseason run of his own, beginning Friday when the top-seeded Blue Devils (30-4) play 16th-seeded Hampton in a West Regional opener full of Curry-related subplots.
"It's like a dream come true," Curry said. "I can't wait to get out there in the NCAA tournament and play my first game. I've seen it from all angles. Now I'm just ready to get out there and be a part of it."
In his first season on the court with the Blue Devils, Curry has proven to be an indispensible member of coach Mike Krzyzewski's rotation, leading the team with 61 3-pointers despite starting only half the time.
And during Duke's run to a third straight Atlantic Coast Conference championship last weekend, he scored in double figures in all three games despite what coach Mike Krzyzewski said was a hip pointer. It didn't stop him from showing a knack for hitting big shots; he swished a critical 3 in the title game after North Carolina had cut the Blue Devils' lead to single digits.
He has the same sweet, familiar stroke that his father — NBA veteran Dell Curry — developed while becoming one of the league's top 3-point shooters, and that his big brother flashed while busting so many brackets three years ago and carrying tiny Davidson to within a shot of the Final Four.
"His experience in the tournament is something he'll never forget," Seth Curry said, "so I'm just trying to cherish that."
Back then, Seth Curry was a senior in high school and was headed for Liberty a few months later for one high-scoring season in which he averaged 20 points and was named the Big South's freshman of the year in 2009. Seeking another challenge, he announced he would leave for Duke and sat out the 2009-10 season as a transfer.
That decision wound up giving him yet another perspective on what it takes to make memories in March: Though he could practice, he was was stuck on the bench in street clothes for the games while the Blue Devils stormed through the tournament to reach their 11th Final Four under Krzyzewski and claim their fourth national championship.
And when Duke's ceremonial first practice of the preseason rolled around and the championship rings were handed out, Curry wasn't allowed to receive one because of NCAA rules that cover transfers. At the time, Krzyzewski said it was "one of the tragic things about our NCAA rules" and labeled it archaic and "totally, totally wrong."
On the eve of starting the pursuit of a ring of his own, Curry said watching that team advance through the bracket taught him some valuable lessons.
"I kind of learned from them just what it takes to prepare for the NCAA tournament, and how every game is the most important game you play in," Curry said. "You've just got to go out there and leave it all on the court, every game, take it one step at a time and not skip a step or skip a team because, you play bad one game, you're out. I learned so much from that team last year, I'm just trying to put that into play."
And in one of those delicious coincidences that always seem to pop up in the tournament, Curry's first tournament game will come against a familiar face — and in a city full of them.
Hampton coach Edward Joyner Jr. played college ball at Johnson C. Smith, a Division II school in Charlotte coached by his uncle Steve Joyner. Curry knew the Joyners growing up and said he attended their summer camps.
Then again, Curry — a four-year star at Charlotte Christian High School in the mid-2000s — is sure to know plenty of the folks who will pack the Charlotte Bobcats' arena this weekend.
"It's very special. That's my home," Curry said. "It's going to be fun to go back there and play again in front of a whole lot of family and playing in a building where I went to a lot of games growing up. It's going to be exciting, and I can't wait."