Duke Blue Devils
RESULTS| STATS| HISTORY | MESSAGE BOARD | DUKE INSIDER
RECORD: - REGION: West SEED: 3|
COACH: Mike Krzyzewski CONFERENCE: ACC
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
This is a different Duke team, but still very good. Dahntay
Jones is the Blue Devils' best athlete. When he attacks the basket off the dribble,
in transition and off of second shots, he is among the best players in the
country. J.J. Redick is an elite shooter who needs only a sliver of
daylight to get off a shot. When he has an open look, it is usually
bottoms. The key to Duke's ability to advance in the NCAA Tournament will
be the play of Chris Duhon at the point and Shelden Williams inside. Duhon
has been erratic as a scorer and on-ball defender, but has been good with
the ball. Williams has given Duke an inside presence. If Duke can defend
the dribble, the Blue Devils can beat people.
|Player to Watch|
Tats and 'tude doesn't fit Duke. But the senior's style still fits into leadership role, something this young Duke squad will need in March.
How They Got Here
For one thing, it wasn't as easy as the Blue Devils' final regular season record makes it look. On Feb. 13, the Blue Devils were a solid 16-4 overall but a shaky 6-4 in league play, and even coach Mike Krzyzewski looks back on that time of the season with a sigh of relief.
"Sometimes (players) think, 'We're at Duke, we're going to be waved into it," he said, referring to the NCAA Tournament. "It doesn't work that way."
Duke didn't have to find out, winning its next four games to get its ACC record to 10-4 and reposition itself on firm ground for another high NCAA seed. It then went to Greensboro, N.C., and won its fifth straight ACC tournament. Until its tourney run, those four games might have been the best four of the season for Duke, which sandwiched road victories at Virginia and Georgia Tech around home wins against Maryland and N.C. State. Only the Maryland game was decided by single digits, and while the 75-70 final was close, the Blue Devils were in control from start to finish.
With six freshmen, Duke's players showed some of the up-and-down play Krzyzewski expected to see. Forward Shavlik Randolph went from scoring 24 points against Butler to being shut out the next game by Florida State. Shelden Williams went from the starting lineup to the middle of the bench and back to the lineup by February.
Even a junior, Chris Duhon, had his ups and downs. The preseason ACC Player of the Year went into March with only an outside shot at making the All-ACC first team.
What We Like
Very few teams have as much talent as Duke, which has seven McDonald's All-Americans -- and that doesn't include its best player, Dahntay Jones, a Rutgers transfer who can score from anywhere and is one of the ACC's best defenders.
The Blue Devils are so deep, they have four McDonald's All-Americans on the bench, one of whom, center Michael Thompson, almost never plays. The other three are Daniel Ewing, Sean Dockery and Randolph, all of whom would start for most teams. Ewing gives Duke a second scoring option from the wing in the occasional game when freshman J.J. Redick isn't shooting well.
What We Don't Like
Very few teams are as young as Duke, either. The Blue Devils took a huge step forward in winning the ACC tourney, and their 94-80 loss at Wake Forest on Feb. 13, requiring two overtimes before losing, was impressive. But none of the freshman has played in an NCAA Tournament game -- obviously -- and all it takes is one night of multiple stage fright for Duke to be bounced from the bracket. It doesn't help that Duhon has been shaky at times, causing him to be benched in the second half of one game and at the start of another.