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Duke Runs Past Bucknell, 84-50

| N&O | Rocky

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Knowing what Bucknell has done to powerful teams in the recent past, and after being unhappy with their performance against Greensboro, Duke was in no mood to take chances against Bucknell.

Josh McRoberts, who mentioned a desire for redemption after Duke's
not-great defense vs. UNCG, lived up to his word personally, scoring his first
double-double, and generally having a sensational game. He ended up with
14 points on 5-6 shooting, and every shot except the one he missed was a dunk,
most of them spectacular. He also took the ball out on the break a fair
amount and did some very impressive things there as well. Toss in the 10
boards and it's hard to argue that it was not a breakout performance.

Yet as well as he played, Shelden Williams was better. As a freshman,
Williams was awkward offensively, even while he was a sensational
defender. He has worked consistently on his footwork and his offensive
moves, and the result is a guy who can pivot out of traffic, who can go up with
people hanging on him and still score, who can step out and shoot jumpers, and
who can now, as we saw tonight, whip out a classic, full form hook shot.

And it's worth mentioning that this is the second ACC player recently to show
the shot off: Illian Evtimov of N.C. State made a beauty against GW the other

It's nice to see Williams employing the shot first of all because it is very
effective, but secondly because it's a gorgeous, if underused, shot. The
last great master, and indeed the greatest master of the shot, was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
who raised it to nearly an art form. We realize a lot of people didn't see
him play, or remember him as an older player, but if you ever see any film of
him as a younger player, you'll see an impossibly tall, lean player who could
shoot it from pretty much anywhere, and it was virtually impossible to

The odds of anyone taking it to that level again are slim, but still, it's a
tremendous weapon for a big man. One hopes high school superstar Greg Oden
is working on it, because with his talent, it could be devastating.

The other thing which we should mention, and which we would hope any idiot
can see now, is that Steve Wojciechowski is doing a great job with the big

Duke took Bucknell out from the beginning, shooting out to a 14-2 lead, and
then building a 42-19 halftime lead.

But Bucknell hasn't built a reputation as a program which demands respect by
chance, and so the Bisons stampeded back into the game early in the second half,
cutting the lead to 14 in the first two minutes.

As well as Josh McRoberts played, though, it wasn't McRoberts, or even J.J.
Redick, who took over the game, but Shelden Williams. Williams scored six
points between the 15:59 mark and the 15:02 mark to personally push the lead
back to 51-25 and effectively kill any nascent hope Bucknell suddenly

And they were playing exactly as you'd expect a tough-minded veteran team to
play at that point, with confidence and a bit of a swagger.

Williams effectively took that away single-handedly, which is pretty
impressive. We're big fans of McRoberts - he has immense talent and
potential - but it's not something he could do at this point in his
career. But when you look at the work Wojo has done with Williams, and
earlier with Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Shane Battier, Shavlik Randolph, who
rarely had the opportunity to show he was learning but who evidently learned a
fair amount, and even Reggie Love, who effectively defended 7' Brendan Haywood
when he was needed, you have to think good things will happen to McRoberts as he

The big men came through on a night when J.J. Redick was not shooting well
(most guys wouldn't complain much about a 9-21 night which led to a 22 point
total, but Redick's standards are a bit, shall we say,
different). He was of course helped by Sean Dockery, who
scored 10 points, including some beautiful drives.

Martynas Pocius and Lee Melchionni played 17 and 19 minutes respectively,
with Melchionni scoring five points.

Duke held Bucknell to 30.9% from the floor, far below their average, while
shooting 54.2% themselves. They also forced 20 turnovers, including 14
steals, out rebounded the Bison 36-29, and generally harassed them into numerous
mistakes. Bucknell did do something surprising, outscoring Duke from behind the
line, 7 baskets to 4, which doesn't happen all that often.

Incidentally, another sign of Wojo's hard work with the big men: have
you noticed lately that both Williams and McRoberts are making a lot more
steals? Williams is in particular, but McRoberts had three against
Bucknell, and both big men are perfectly willing to dive on the floor to get
balls and are harassing dribblers on the perimeter. It's not something
they were doing earlier.

All in all, a solid performance by the Devils, with a brief lapse at the
beginning of the first half.

ACC play begins in earnest on Saturday with a trip to Wake Forest, then
Maryland, Clemson, and N.C. State in short order. Duke has developed a
pretty solid rotation with seven guys sharing most of the minutes. As
Krzyzewski has done in previous years, when depth seemed like a problem, he has
been creative in how he sends guys in, and generally everyone who needs a blow
gets one, and he subs periodically around timeouts to give, say, Redick or
Williams an extra bit of time.

Before all that much longer, DeMarcus Nelson will be cleared to return.
We don't know exactly when that will be, but it'll give Duke another weapon and
an intense dose of athleticism as Nelson works his way back into things.

All things considered, Duke has played very well in his absence. 13-0
at times seemed like a stretch. No one is going undefeated this year -
like that happens often anyway - but with a healthy Nelson, Duke figures to be
that much better, and, one hopes, even more capable of a deep drive in March and