| Recap |
Box Score |
As much fun as it would have been to embarrass Maryland, it
was probably better to let them get close enough to taste it, then rip their
heart out. For that you can thank J.J. Redick, whose critical block (and
just as importantly a falling-down pass) and free throws in the waning seconds
of the game put it away. You might have seen him grinning at that
point: it was likely because the Maryland fans, as is their wont, were by then
chanting "___you J.J.," embarrassing their school yet again. It probably does suck when you see a 92%
free throw shooter step up, swaggering like a gunslinger, laughing even, and you
and he both know there's no chance he's missing. It's money. What else can
you do? So you chant a useless obscenity at a guy who is already legendary
at the line. Of course he's laughing. Having thousands of people curse you
because they know you're great - what an amazing feeling that must
be. More, please!
As always, we draw a distinction between Maryland fans and
their team, which usually has some admirable characters on it. We took
some flack earlier this season for admiring Nik Caner-Medley, but come on, the
kid's turned out to be a super player. He's tough, hardnosed, and works
his butt off. Plus he's really changed his body. He went from being
a skinny guy to a pretty powerful guy. And we tremendously admired
D.J. Strawberry's defensive desire. Collectively, the Terps showed a lot
of heart when they could have just packed it in.
For Duke, obviously Redick is the hero, and to the hero go the
phone numbers. But Luol Deng played a really good game, Duhon also had a
great outing, and a lot of other guys played well in at least spurts.
Deng ended up with 12 boards, and played really hard around
the basket in general and at times played outstanding defense.
Duhon played all 40 minutes, and while he didn't shoot all
that well (almost no one did), he had seven rebounds and eight assists, and some
critical, backbreaking plays.
Daniel Ewing played but didn't shoot well. No one did,
and some of the credit goes to Maryland's defense, certainly. The Terps
held Shelden Williams to six points, Shavlik Randolph had moments but not
consistency, Sean Dockery wasn't his usual bundle of energy, and more than
anyone else lately, Maryland at times had little trouble getting through Duke's
Still, even though Duke buckled after making Maryland look
like road kill for a big chunk of the game, the most important fact is that when
the game was on the line, they kept their composure, fought back, and made it
clear: not tonight.
Redick's heroics aside, while Duke's shooting suffered
somewhat, and certainly partly at Maryland's hands, some aspects of the game
were really sensational. First, may we point to rebounding: Duke
outrebounded Maryland 44-30, and by a 3-1 margin offensively. Against
Maryland, that's pretty much unheard of for Duke. That's a huge
change. And at times Duke absolutely owned Maryland, completely shutting
them down for long stretches.
And yet despite that success, the Terps came back. It's
a testament to their team's character and leadership. Some of the same
things which happened over the last two years happened again - slicing through
the defense at times, easy baskets, Duke temporarily appearing nervous or in a
lull, and getting lost in a flurry of baskets and the roar of the crowd.
For Duke, they're really in the driver's seat in the ACC now
at 5-0. Tech and State are at 3-1, and then it gets somewhat
ridiculous. Wake is 3rd at 2-2, UVa follows at 2-3, followed by UNC at
1-2, FSU and Maryland at 1-3, and Clemson at 1-4. At this point, Tech
could catch up, but anyone else will have to count on a lot of factors beyond
their control, and it won't be easy.
There are a lot of weapons on this team, but what a luxury it
is to have a guy like Redick, who basically can just start to dribble out the
clock whenever it is handy. You can't not touch him and you can't touch
him. Either way, he's the third rail.
Next up for Duke is Georgetown, and the Devils will just stay
in D.C. for the next couple of days. Maybe it's a nice couple of days for
For Duke fans, it's a nice time to reflect on the second great
clutch performance of Redick's career (by our count). The ACC Tourney
Final was more of an epic, but gutting Maryland 68-60 on the road was really something
to take pride in. The kid is building an enviable portfolio, and we are
incredibly lucky to have him. We loved that block, but for us, a lasting
image of Redick will be his trying to balance, and finally falling backward
and finding a receiver after he denied Strawberry. The shots are
great, but what we really love are his instincts, which are increasingly superb.