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October 12, 2009

Celebrating a Silver Anniversary

By: Jimmy Robertson

In the spring of 1984, Doug Waters started the Hokie Huddler, a publication devoted to the coverage of Virginia Tech athletics. The publication has changed names and formats over the course of 25 years, and this year, we want to celebrate the silver anniversary of the publication by taking a look back at what transpired at Virginia Tech in 1984.

In conjunction with our basketball preview in this month’s issue, we’re taking a look at the 1984 basketball preview issue and a story on Hall of Fame guard Dell Curry, who’s ranks second on Tech’s all-time scoring list and is listed as one of the top players in Virginia Tech history. Here is an excerpt from a story that Mr. Waters wrote in the Nov. 13, 1984, issue of the Hokie Huddler:


Dell Curry has that All-American combination

By Doug Waters

Maybe it was in the cards for Dell Curry to become a pure shooter.

Being raised as the only boy with four sisters, Curry often played basketball by himself, which meant shooting baskets.

“The only way I got to play was to play by myself,” said the junior from Grottoes, Va., who was a high school All-American at Fort Defiance High School.

Curry has everything it takes to be a superstar at big guard: he’s 6-4, which means he can shoot over most guards; he’s extremely quick, which allowed him last year to lead the Metro Conference in steals; and he’s got one of the sweetest jumpers you’ll ever see. Last year, he hit on 52 percent of his shots from the floor on the way to leading the team in scoring with a 19.3 average.

Curry’s talent has not gone unrecognized. He was invited to try out for the 1984 Olympic team and made it to the final cut before being released by Bobby Knight. This summer, he was the leading scorer on a U.S. national team that won an international round-robin tournament in Taiwan.

Now, halfway through his college eligibility, Curry will admit that All-American honors are on his mind, even though he doesn’t much like talking about individual goals.

“I think I can have a good year without scoring 20 points a game,” he said. “We have other players who can take up the slack. It’s just one of my jobs to score.”

That may be true, but on a team without a dominating center – at least to this point – much of the scoring is going to have to come from the outside, and there is no better shooter on the team than Dell Curry.

How does a guy become such a good shooter?

“Practice,” he says emphatically.

Practice combined with the right natural ability, which in Curry’s case is height and quickness.

Curry eschews the conventional wisdom that a good shooter will keep his eye on the rim throughout a shot.

“A lot of people say you should look at the basket at all times. But me, I glance at the basket once and then follow the ball. I watch the ball out of my hand.

“I’ve tried it the other way and it feels weird, awkward.”

And, being no fool, Curry wasn’t about to tamper with success, so he still watches the ball from hand to basket.

Curry’s height allows him to shoot most jumpers without having to jump very high and so he often appears flat-footed. If he doesn’t have to jump over an outstretched hand, he’s not going to.

In fact, you’re not likely to see Curry ever wasting energy on the basketball court. One rap against him is that he appears to be dogging it, not giving his all.

“I hear that all the time,” he said. “At (summer) camps, people would say that I was nonchalant, not aggressive enough. I tried to be more aggressive, but it’s just not my style.

“When I’m playing, I know I’m going all-out. Everyone has his own way of doing things.”

Coach Charlie Moir is certain that Curry gives 100 percent effort. “People say he’s lazy defensively, but then he leads the conference in steals,” Moir said. “He’s deceptive. He sees the floor as well as anybody. He’s a glider. He’s so smooth that he can afford to glide, because he’s got great basketball instincts. You may think he’s laying back, but all of a sudden, the ball’s going the other way.”

Curry thinks his outwardly laid-back style helps him. “The offensive guy may think I’m relaxing, but I’m not.” Maybe that’s one reason for his 89 steals last season.

Defense probably was what kept Curry off the Olympic team, and that is what he wants to improve this season. He said playing international basketball helped his defense and his dribbling – he sometimes played point guard, which he had not played before.

Did Curry ever imagine he’d get to play with that kind of talent?

“I never knew these things existed,” he said. But the basketball world knew Curry existed early on. He started getting letters from recruiters in the ninth grade, and then after his ninth-grade season, attended one of the Five-Star Camps. “That’s when everything started.”

He was one of the most highly recruited players in the state, and he chose Virginia Tech before his senior season was over. He saw in Tech a chance for the program to excel and a chance for himself to be one of the leaders here.

Much earlier than that, he had seen in himself the makings of a very talented basketball player. When asked when he realized his potential, he said, “I think it was in the eighth grade. I played junior varsity, and I remember we always practiced on Saturdays before the varsity practiced. One day they asked me to stay after and practice with them, and I was surprised at how well I played with the varsity.”

Curry sees this season as a critical one in his growth of the Tech program. “I have to have more of a leadership role this year. Next year, we lose a lot of players.

“This has to be a good year. If we do well this year, next year will give the young players something to strive for.”

With the start of the season only a few days away, Curry makes no effort to conceal his enthusiasm. “I’m anxious to see what happens. I wish I could look ahead.”

If he could, perhaps he would see a strong finish in the NCAA Tournament, or an All-America spot for himself. Such success would only continue the pattern for Dell Curry.