Standing in a narrow hallway on the heels of a 106-78 USA shellacking of Croatia, 38 journalists and I grew restless waiting for an American to pop their heads out long enough to give us something useful. Chauncey Billups came out and was swarmed immediately. Danny Granger showed up and the seas parted once more. Then in the corner I spotted Stephen Curry, leisurely strolling down the corridor with a coach by his side. After a bead of sweat from a journalist’s overhanging arm landed on my neck, I ducked out and headed in his direction. Glad I did. He had some good stuff to say.
[Journalist X comes onto the scene and asks about the competition between him and Eric Gordon. Gets diplomatic answer, leaves.]
Freaknick: In a game like this when you get up by 20 or 30, do you use the opportunity to work on new stuff? Or is it more important to keep honing in on what you’ve done from the beginning?
Stephen Curry: It’s more defensively, you just try to stay aggressive and stay focus to finish out the game. Offensively at that point you can kind of get what you want, it’s more open; but defensively you can always show up and keep that momentum so you don’t have lapses where guys start knocking down shots, because that might carry over to the next game.
SC: We want to be disciplined. We want to make the easy play. We’re so athletic and so versatile with our attack that if we just make the easy play then we’re going to finish, we’re going to execute, instead of trying to finish with the highlight play. That will get us farther in the tournament.
[Journalist Y, unaware of his impending redundancy, asks Steph about—shocker—his competition with Eric Gordon. Who’s the better shooter? Do you two ever play HORSE? Satisfied with Steph’s answer, he also walks away.]
FN: How much more are you focusing on the competition now? It seems like you’ve got a decent feel for your own team, so what about some of these guys that are unknowns? For instance, did you know Bojan Bogdanovic was a lights out shooter coming into this game, or did you find that out about midway through the first quarter?
SC: You kind of feel it out as you go. You have a scouting report and you know what each of them is capable. You watch film, and you know anyone can have a breakout night so you have to be prepared and respect your opponent at all times.
FN: How in-depth are those scouting reports? They pretty good or…?
SC: Yeah we have two days worth of film, coach breaks down their sets and what they run so, we’re pretty familiar with everything even though we haven’t seen them live or played against them before, so we’re familiar enough to go out and attack them.
[Other journalist asks about Slovenia, Curry says they looked good against Tunisia and that the team knows what Goran Dragic can do with the rock. It’s going to be a challenge, he says. I see my segue.]
FN: Dragic played more of a controlled game out there today. We’re used to seeing him in Phoenix where he comes in and gets what he wants, goes in pretty heavy. He’s changed a little bit, playing point guard, playing FIBA style. How have you individually and then as a team had to change the way you play to fit in with the style over here?
SC: Well everyone has different roles and you’re playing less minutes so you have to really focus on the time you’re out there. You have some guys playing out of position, we’re running different plays that we’re not used to and it’s all an adjustment. And for Goran, he needs to be the leader of that team and the one to facilitate the offense. But he still needs to be aggressive when he needs to and get his shots, so we’ve gotta expect that tomorrow.
FN: Playing with all these guards now, did it help you playing in a Golden State backcourt with Monta [Ellis] this past season? All the turmoil surrounding the team plus playing with another guy who likes to dominate the ball? Does that make this a little bit easier?
SC: Yeah, just because you have different looks and you’re not stuck on one role. It’s not “OK, I’ve gotta get the ball, I gotta run the offense.” Sometimes he grabs it, sometimes I grab it. You kind of play a 1 and 2 at the same time so it kind of makes things a little easier for me to play individually and figure out how I’m going to be effective and run it.
FN: Cool. Well, my Granddaddy played basketball at Davidson (Curry’s Alma Mater).
SC: Oh yeah?
FN: Yeah could he get a little shoutout?
SC: What year did he play?
FN: Oh man, 1800’s some time I think. Been a while.
SC: [Laughs] Oh ok, cool.
FN: Well he wanted me to say hello, so hello. I’m Nick. Good work. [Fist pound. Because the hand shake leaves too much to question.]