Saturday's semifinal game against Georgia Tech was one of those games you
watch once in awhile and just really enjoy it. Beaten last week by Tech,
Duke turned the tables and totally outplayed Tech, particularly in the second
half. There were a lot of wonderful moments and numbers in this game, but
the best numbers were probably 37 and 0: that's the minutes Shelden Williams got
and the number of fouls he was charged with. Playing probably the most
minutes in his careers, Williams ended up with 20 points and 18 rebounds, and is
building a strong argument for tournament MVP, should Duke win on Sunday.
The turning point in the game was probably in the second half, when Daniel
Ewing stole the ball and headed downcourt, only to be fouled by Ismai'l
Fouled is probably not the right word; mugged is closer. Muhammad ended
up with Duhon's jersey in his hand and threw the junior to the floor, where he
stayed for a minute. It was a bad mistake on Muhammad's part.
Duke already seemst to feel that Tech is just this side of a dirty
team. We recall the game of a couple of years ago, when Krzyzewski was so
mad that his handshake with Paul Hewitt was more of a stab than a shake.
And after this game, Duhon said that "we feel that they take cheap shots at us,"
which is the first public confirmation of the sentiment we can recall.
After the foul, Ewing made both free throws for a 10 point lead, and from
there on, Duke just strangled an increasingly frustrated Tech.
After the game, Marvin Lewis said "for the most part, they did the same thing they've done in every single game. Deny, get in the passing lanes, and force us to do things we aren't used to doing. The main thing is they rebounded the ball and they played harder than us."
True enough, and we'd love to see a breakdown of rebounding in the last seven
minutes of Duke games. Over the years, Duke has not always been regarded
as a great rebounding team, but when the game is in the defining stages, Duke
closes out incredibly strong on the boards.
The loss clearly frustrated Tech coach Paul Hewitt, who said after the game,
"we're not the Washington Generals. We're a program that's building; we're doing some good things. They've accomplished a lot, coach Kryzyzewski is a hall of fame coach, but give our guys a little respect. They're growing and
"We're not the Washington Generals. We're out here playing as hard as we can and today they got the better of us.
Food for the Crazies for the next game in Cameron, whenever that ends up
As we said earlier, Shelden Williams was magnificent, and in fact wasn't too
far from a double-double in the first half. With 47 points and 26 rebounds
so far, he's having a magnificent tournament - and his points have come on 14-17
Chris Duhon also had a spectacular game, with 17 points, eight assists, and
only one turnover. Luol Deng kicked in 19 points; Daniel Ewing added 10, and JJ
Redick had his second straight subpar game, with only six points and serious
foul trouble again.
Nick Horvath, it should be mentioned, made several critical plays, including
some timely rebounds. He has really come on in recent weeks as a reliable
and mature reserve, and the team rarely suffers when he is in the game.
That's an invaluable asset this time of year.
It's worth noting that not too long ago, Duke was thought to be overly
dependent on JJ Redick's offense, at least by some in the media. With
Redick clearly not playing well at the end of the season, Duke has won several
games after remarkable performances by Duhon, Williams, Deng, and Ewing.
One hopes that Redick will get out of whatever funk he's in, but clearly, the
team has improved to the point where they can weather a bad performance by J.J.
You couldn't always say that earlier.
On Sunday, Duke takes on a sky-high Maryland team, which has already upset
Wake Forest and N.C. State. The comeback in the State game was one of the most
remarkable in Maryland and tournament history, and should the Terps win, they
will have gone through 75% of Tobacco Road to do so.