By Michael Hunt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MCT)
---- — LEXINGTON, Ky. — Marquette guard Vander Blue was a sophomore at Madison Memorial when Wisconsin played Davidson in the 2008 Sweet 16.
It happened so long ago in Blue’s personal time frame that he thinks he was still a Badgers fan at the time.
But the memories are vivid.
“I just remember Steph Curry taking over the whole tournament, making amazing shots and playing with unbelievable confidence and leading that team. Steph Curry just took over and the Badgers didn’t have anybody to put on him.
“Nobody had an answer for what he did in that tournament. It was amazing to watch what Steph Curry did in that tournament. We’ve just got to make sure nobody does that to us.”
Of course, Curry, who shot down UW with 33 points, isn’t going to take temporary leave from the Golden State Warriors when the third-seeded Golden Eagles play 14th-seeded Davidson on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
But there is a larger point here.
To Davidson College, a school with fewer than 2,000 students, Curry was their Dwyane Wade. And here the Wildcats are, back in the tournament for the third time since Curry’s departure.
When it comes to granting Davidson respect, nothing earns it quite like that for Blue and the Golden Eagles.
“Definitely,” Blue said Wednesday. “To lose somebody like that and to be the kind of team they are, that just shows the tremendous confidence and heart that they have.
“They could have laid down years ago after losing a guy like Steph Curry, but they continue to win and get to the tournament. We’ve got to come out here and fight because they’re not a 14th seed.”
In fact, Davidson’s ‘08 tournament victory against the heavily favored Badgers is one reason Marquette is playing a team that many are picking for the upset. The Wildcats’ best players — Jake Cohen and De’Mon Brooks — said they chose Davidson after watching that game.
“It did it for me,” said Cohen, the 6-foot-10 forward who is Davidson’s leading scorer and rebounder. “To see Davidson on that national stage and be successful showed me that not only could Davidson provide me with a great academic situation, but it could put me on a national stage in a place to do something where I could really be successful.”
Said Brooks, “I was a local guy (from Charlotte). Seeing Davidson going on the ‘08 run shows how far the program, no matter how big or how small the conference is, as long as you come in and do the work . . . Davidson verified that with hard work and great teammates and discipline, you can go anywhere you want.”
If Marquette loses to Davidson, it won’t be for a lack of respect or looking to a possible rematch with future conference member Butler.
“Believe me, we know plenty about Davidson now,” guard Trent Lockett said. “They’re very well-rounded, very disciplined. They’re very physical as well. I think we agree as a team that they’re better than a 14th seed. They’re a very good team that we cannot take lightly.”
Marquette coach Buzz Williams has been particularly sensitive to the fact his team has been targeted as a 3-14 upset special.
“Well, according to all the pundits — I noticed they’re not in the audience now — nobody has picked us to win,” Williams said. “So it may be the 3-14 Cinderella story.”
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