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July 26, 2007
Stephen Curry played the role of hero this past March. Now, the Davidson guard knows what it feels like to be the villain too.
Curry, who carried the small school into the 2007 NCAA Tournament, helped lead the Americans to the silver medal earlier this week at the U-19 World Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia. The Americans faced a hostile environment every time they took the court.
"In every game we played, no matter who we played, the crowd was against us," Curry told Rivals.com. "We didn't have any fans. In the close games, the calls didn't go your way. It required a lot of mental toughness. We learned how to win on the road."
Curry and his new teammates also learned how to play just about every type of offense and defense imaginable.
"Every game presented a different style of play," Curry said. "Argentina would often pass the ball 20 to 30 times on a single possession, so you had to work hard to close out on your man. France is a very up-tempo team like us so we had to concentrate on getting back on defense. They could really shoot it. Serbia was very detailed, using a lot of screens and movement."
Serbia gave the U.S. team the most problems, racing out to a 19-point lead in the second half of the final and holding on for a 74-69 win.
The Americans, who won their other eight games, beat Serbia 82-78 in pool play behind a 19-point performance from Curry. The sophomore guard from Charlotte, N.C., averaged 9.4 points a game and finished second on the team with 2.4 steals a game.
"It gave me a lot of confidence to know I can play with guys of this caliber," said Curry, who was not offered a scholarship by any ACC school. "It was another step toward putting myself and (Davidson) in the national spotlight. Hopefully we'll get a little more attention."
Curry grabbed plenty of attention in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, scoring 30 points in a loss to Maryland. He finished the season with a NCAA freshman-record 122 3-pointers.
That postseason performance helped land Curry on an American team consisting of some of the nation's top sophomores and incoming freshmen.
Arkansas' Patrick Beverley, who led the squad in scoring (13.0 ppg) and steals (3.4 spg), may have had the best tourney of any player.
"(Beverley) led the team," Curry said. "He was very unselfish, playing great defense and giving a lot of effort."
Curry said North Carolina power forward Deon Thompson was the Americans' most improved player. Thompson scored 18 points and pulled down 13 boards in their 78-75 win over France in the semifinals. He led the team in rebounding (6.1 rpg) and blocked shots (1.4 bpg).
"Deon went up against bigger guys down low and had to figure out how to get his shot off," Curry said. "Once he did, he did really well. Against France we needed somebody to step up with (Kansas') Darrell Arthur out. Deon scored six key buckets down the stretch."
"(Beasley) is a great talent," Curry said. "Once he gets into a college system he'll learn you can't take possessions off. You get hurt doing that in college. But, I expect him to have a lot of success."
When it came to the international competition, Curry was most impressed by French forward Nick Batum and Argentine guard Nick De Los Santos. Batum has been listed in the top 10 of some 2008 mock drafts.
"Batum is like a silent killer," Curry said. "He didn't do anything flashy, but you'd look up and he'd have 20 points. De Los Santos reminded me of (San Antonio Spurs star Manu) Ginobili. He is a very crafty player."
Curry and the Americans did not face Australian center and Vanderbilt signee Andrew Ogilvy, who finished second in the tournament in scoring (22.3 ppg) and third in rebounding (9.8 rpg).
Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.