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- American basketball player-coach
Ask one of his Louisville basketball teammates about Sydney Curry and you’re likely to get some version of the same answer.
El Ellis will tell you that Curry “comes into practice every day just trying to get better.”
Noah Locke will say of Curry that, “Every practice he’s the same dude.”
“Syd’s the same guy every day,” forward Dre Davis says. “Someone that always keeps his head down, continues to work, grind, never complains, never gives you bad energy. He’s the same guy every day.”
What you saw when Curry scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s loss to N.C. State, Davis said, “is what we get (in) practice every day.”
Ask Chris Mack about Curry and the answers are much the same.
And they come with a smile.
Mack practically beamed Friday in discussing Curry, a sharp and not-coincidental contrast to his dour postgame comments after the Wolfpack stunned the Cardinals (10-6, 4-2 ACC) on Wednesday. After that game, Mack lamented Louisville’s lack of consistency, saying, “I don’t know what I’m getting when I put a player in.”
He’s starting to have a real sense of what Curry will give him, and that consistency has “everything” to do with his recent surge, Mack said before Louisville’s last practice ahead of Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh.
“His attitude doesn’t reflect his production,” Mack said. “It doesn’t reflect the opportunity he gets (to play) in games. He just continues to be the same guy every day.”
So much so that Mack has held up Curry as an example. The 6-foot-8 junior-college transfer started the first game of the season and played 14 minutes, then was mostly buried as a backup center, averaging 4.4 minutes in his next nine appearances.
The past three games, he’s averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and 19 minutes.
The guy who’s balling now is no different than the one who was sitting then. It’s clearly refreshing for a coach who’s seeking consistency all the way down the roster.
“Look what that attitude, look what that consistency has gotten him,” Mack said he told his team. "And it hasn’t gotten him that all year long. There were times where, I’m sure when he was siting in that (locker) stall after a game that he didn’t play, it was tough. But it didn’t change his approach the next day.”
He’s the same guy, Mack said, and “that same guy is a guy that works really hard, questions nothing and just continues to improve.”
When Curry, a transfer from John A. Logan College, arrived at Louisville in late summer after transferring from John A. Logan College, Mack said, he weighed 300 pounds. He’s slimmed down to 265, Mack said, “with guidance from others, but it’s all his own work ethic.”
He shows up to work in practice. He listens to what the coaches tell him. He asks for clarification when he doesn’t understand.
“I try to bring toughness, rebound the ball and finish everything around the rim,” Curry said. “I just try to be the same guy every day, whether that’s in the practice, in the game — when I do get in, be aggressive. I just try to be the same guy every day that coached talked to me about.”
Lately his approach is paying off in production.
“I mean, he’s been a monster,” Locke said.
Louisville could use another big game Saturday, when it takes on Pittsburgh (6-10, 1-4) for the second time in 11 days. The Panthers run their offense though 6-9, 280-pound center John Hugley, who fought foul trouble in Louisville’s 75-72 win Jan. 5 at the KFC Yum! Center.
Slowing him is key if Louisville hopes to snap a two-game losing streak and complete a regular-season sweep of Pitt.
Curry won’t get the chance to do it from the get-go. Despite Louisville’s starters combining for 11 points against N.C. State, Mack said Friday that he doesn't want to be "shuffling lineups constantly" and isn't planning a change.
That means Curry will come off the bench again. He’s been doing it since the second game of the season.
Three times this season — against Navy, Michigan State and in Louisville’s first meeting with N.C. State, in December — Curry never got off the bench. He played two minutes against Maryland and one at Georgia Tech.
“Nothing changed,” Mack said. “He became the same guy, determined to figure out a way to get on the floor. We need more guys to have that type of consistency with their attitude. Not with their production. With their attitude and their effort, and good things will happen to you.”
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville basketball: Center Sydney Curry showing consistency team lacks