Pete | H-S
Beach | W-S
J.J. Redick , like a classic gunslinger in a Western, is a
fairly stoic guy on the court, but that's not to say he doesn't hear
stuff. And that's what was behind the little wave he did at halftime - it
was an answer to some of the stuff he was hearing from the FSU crowd. And
just what happened? "That's between me and them," the gunslinger
said. Clint Eastwood couldn't have put it better.
Whatever they said, Redick made them pay, scoring 31 points
and leading Duke to a 32 point victory, 88-56 . He got on one of those
rolls he sometimes gets on and started hitting some ridiculous shots, including
one in the second half from just in front of the Duke bench that apparently
surprised even him. Not Krzyzewski, though. The replay showed him watch
the arc of the shot like it was an everyday thing, which, of course, for Redick
Coach K is calling Redick the best shooter he has ever
coached, and during the game, one scout was quoted as saying Redick had accurate
form from 40 feet. We never expected to see a better shooter than Trajan
Langdon, but Redick has really established himself.
And so, now, has this Duke team. When Shavlik Randolph
was out, Duke was initially shaky. Remember the Clemson game, and how
there was a definite sense of uncertainty? Or the Christmas games, and
how, while Duke won, there was no sense of dominance? And then Reggie Love
went down as Duke was starting to come back together. And since then, this team
has really formed an identity. Though still thin, they are playing superb
defense, Shelden Williams has become a premier big man, Sean Dockery has turned
himself into a solid point and a tremendous defender, Redick and Ewing are
explosive offensively and underrated defensively, and Melchionni and Nelson have
done a great job of filling in the gaps.
In the first half, Florida State did a very effective job of
keeping the ball away from Shelden Williams. Yet Duke took the game over
early, building a double-digit lead quickly.
A lot of that was due to hot shooting - Duke hit 56.7% in the
first half - but just as much if not more was due to great defense. FSU
got 13 points from Isaiah Swan, 10 from Von Wafer, and nine from Alexander
Johnson. No one else scored more than 4 points.
And despite everything, it wasn't totally clear in the first
half that Duke was going to run away with it. Florida State is a very
athletic team, and capable of explosive play, as we saw the other night against
Wake Forest. They have some problems, but they are certainly capable of
playing with most teams if they are really engaged, and when they cut it back to
11 on Diego Romero's three, we thought, you know, a couple of stops, a couple of
shots, and this is a game.
But they weren't fully engaged, and when Duke gets a team
that's not fully ready, they usually shred them.
After a remarkable first half, Duke came out in the second
determined to use Shelden Williams as a battering ram, going to him three
straight times for six points. Despite a Todd Galloway layup, Duke was
suddenly up 50-28, and the game was basically done.
For Duke, Redick's hot shooting aside, Shavlik Randolph's
performance must have been immensely encouraging.
His minutes increased for the third straight game, he shot 5-5
from the floor, had four boards, and drew a charge. All in all, that's an
impressive performance from a guy who is recovering from mono.
In the second half, Duke just really pulled away from FSU. Like the Miami
game, the camera showed Leonard Hamilton at times just shaking his head,
evidently angry at his team, as they fell further and further behind.
Eventually, it became either comic or terrible, depending on your perspective,
as a guard passed to Alexander Johnson when the big man was on the perimeter,
and the ball bounced off his chest.
Duke picked it up and headed the other way, as they did quite often.
Len Elmore said at one point that FSU was bending over to get loose balls, and
that, really, pretty much summed up the game. Duke outshot the 'Noles, of
course, and played better defense, but they also won almost all of the hustle
So now, to everyone's amazement, Duke is 15-0 and alone in first place in the
ACC. The road ahead though is daunting: Maryland and Virginia Tech at
home, Wake in Winston, then Tech and UNC at home, Maryland on the road, Virginia
Tech on the road, and Wake at home. But Duke is improving, too, and their
confidence must be sky high. Onward!