Marc Narducci: Ex-Paul VI star Ron Curry reflects on first year at James Madison

Ron Curry looks for a way around Indiana defender Jordan Hulls during James Madison's loss in the NCAA tournament. TERRY GILLIAM / MCT
Ron Curry looks for a way around Indiana defender Jordan Hulls during James Madison's loss in the NCAA tournament. TERRY GILLIAM / MCT
Posted: March 24, 2013

The playing Sunday of the Albert J. Carino Boys' Basketball Club of South Jersey all-star game reminds us how much things change in a year.

A year ago in the Carino was the last time guard Ron Curry represented Paul VI in a game. Recently, he has received valuable television time while playing for James Madison University.

Curry, a reserve freshman point guard, averaged 27.4 minutes and 5.6 points for the Dukes. Since James Madison had a senior point guard in Devon Moore, Curry often played off the ball.

It was a big jump from playing in the Olympic Conference to competing in the NCAA tournament in one season. The Dukes, coached by Paul VI graduate Matt Brady, beat LIU Brooklyn, 68-55, in an NCAA play-in game Wednesday at the Dayton Arena.

The Dukes' season then ended Friday with a 83-62 loss to Indiana in a David-vs.-Goliath matchup.

For Curry, this was a whirlwind of a season, one that ended in a desired destination but only after a bumpy trip. That's because freshmen face a tremendous adjustment to college sports.

"It's been a big transition," Curry said after that opening NCAA win. "I had a lot of expectations coming out of high school."

Those expectations still exist, but he understands how difficult it is to receive playing time. Everybody he faced in practice was an all-star. In the case of opponents such as Indiana, many were all-Americans.

"It's been different," Curry said, smiling.

So was playing for a coach who didn't let up on Curry in trying to improve the youngster's game.

"It's not easy playing for him because he pushes me," Curry said. "Me being from Paul VI, he's looking to get the best out of me."

Brady said he has been satisfied with Curry, but as coaches do, he is looking for more.

"He has made some big shots for us, but he needs to know the hard work it takes every day," Brady said.

Curry isn't unlike a lot of freshmen who think they are working hard but have another level to scale, Brady said.

That Curry has played extensively shows Brady has confidence in him. It's likely Curry is the point guard of the future.

Curry conceded that he was nervous in that first NCAA tournament win. In 17 minutes, he didn't score, taking only two shots, but he had two assists and a key blocked shot.

"This was a big stage, and when you first get there, it's a different vibe and it took a little time to get used to," Curry said. "I think in the second half I settled down."

In truth, Curry is like so many hotshot freshmen in that he expected to walk in and continue to dominate as he did in high school.

It works that way only for a select few. The others, regardless of their high school resum├ęs, have to scrap and fight for playing time.

It can be humbling, and a tremendous learning experience. Curry certainly learned his share this season and is looking forward to the next three years to put the lessons learned into practice.


Contact Marc Narducci

at mnarducci@phillynews.com.

Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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