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Before the game started, the entire Duke team came out and signed their names
on the dark part of the center circle. They were making a commitment: to
Duke basketball, to each other, to taking it to Maryland in the starkest, most
severe way possible. And so they did, beating Maryland by 24, 76-52.
But that reflects a bit of casual second-half play. It wasn't anywhere
near that close. If Duke had kept doing what they did early, they could
have named the final score. They were that dominant. The only down
note is that DeMarcus Nelson left the game at halftime and came back out wearing
an air cast. His status is not yet known.
Shelden Williams had a remarkable game, earning just Duke's third-recorded
triple double (Dick Groat may have had a few, but we'll never know), with 19
points, 11 boards, and 10 blocked shots. And while Maryland defended J.J.
Redick admirably for part of the first half, holding him to seven points well
into the half, he erupted shortly thereafter and scored seven more points in
just over a minute, and ended up with 27, and something you don't see too often from him, a dunk. No one has seen it since high school: that was his first dunk at Duke.
But the story of this game was Duke's ferocious defense: Maryland had - count
'em - 29 turnovers. That's incredible. And while Duke was pounded on
the boards, with Maryland getting 21 offensive rebounds, many of those were from
misses followed by misses followed by more misses: the Terps had 11 second
chance points. Duke, according to Johnny Dawkins on the radio, had 13 with
far few rebounds.
Maryland was thoroughly discombulated from the beginning, and you could see
the tension building as players questioned and barked at each other and tried to
assign blame for bad plays. It perhaps peaked when Ikene Ibekwe, perhaps
the conference's most annoying punk since Kenny Inge, got whistled for a
technical in a jump ball situation.
Not that that's surprising - if you watch Ibekewe closely, you'll see he is
constantly on the verge of starting something. Last year he got into a
slapping match with Shavlik Randolph which was under the radar since the
slapping was at waist level. Shavlik had his hand on Ibekwe on an
out-of-bounds play, as players often do. It was nothing, and he gained no
advantage. But Ibekwe almost lost it over something trivial.
He has a nasty temper and sooner or later someone is going to coax him into
crossing the line if he's not careful.
But back to Duke. Greg Paulus is growing into the point position
rapidly. We were somewhat concerned that the bigger Maryland guards would
be able to lock him up, but to our surprise, he went around them with
impunity. He did have five turnovers, but a few of those were during that
lackadaisical stretch of the second half. We were also surprised to see
him drive so easily against the Terps. The comparisons to Bobby Hurley
will never end, but whenever Hurley drove, we always expected him to come out of
there on a stretcher. He just seemed to small and too frail to do it, even
though he did do it.
Paulus though, maybe because he's had big guys throwing him to the ground for
a few years in football, has no fear of it at all. And he's getting better
at it quickly.
Sean Dockery also had no particular problem going through Maryland's
guards. There were several times he would just either drive to the basket
or drive through the lane and come back out again.
We expected Duke would be able to force turnovers against Maryland - everyone
else has, and Duke focuses on that. But we were very surprised at how weak
they were defensively.
And speaking of weak, the frontcourt was abysmal.
Last year, Will Bowers started, in a smart move by Gary Williams. This year,
he barely played, as Travis Garrison, Caner-Medley, and the aforementioned
punkish Ibekwe got the nods.
All rebounded well - there were plenty of misses to go around - but none shot
well. We were barely aware of Garrison being on the court, and
Caner-Medley was unmelodic to say the least.
Ibekwe had a few moments, but not very many.
Maryland could be a good team, though, if they can find a point guard in that
roster. But the odds of that happening by the end of this season seem
slim. If you look at their physical talent, yes, they should be better
than they've often been this season. A solid point guard would make a
world of difference for that team (imagine what they would be like with Sean
This is speculative, but we may be witnessing the final whiffs of vapor from
the Blake-Dixon-Baxter teams, which were superb. Maryland lived off of
that for a few seasons, but there's nothing in this team - or last year's team -
that even begins to suggest dominance. We're not saying it's a complete
train wreck, but did they parlay that wonderful team into a long-term
success? Anyone would be hard-pressed to make that argument, least of all after this game.