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Duke Outlasts Holy Cross, 57-45

Holy Cross came into Cameron and played like a team with no fear. They
were smart, aggressive, and for much of the game, the better team. They
had every right to expect to win, because they played like winners. For a
good bit of the game, it was easier to say that about them than it was to say it
about Duke.

In the first half, Holy Cross was tougher and smarter. They passed
better, they shot better, they defended better. They were better. And Duke
knew it.

After the game, Jon Scheyer said it wasn't a very positive locker room, and
that it shouldn't have been. Point taken.

When the second half started, things changed. Duke became the aggressor and
started challenging Holy Cross. Duke scored six points fairly quickly, on
three point shots, and tied the game on a Josh McRoberts dunk. But it still took
the offense a few more minutes to get on track, and when it did, it was a
DeMarcus Nelson three, followed in short order by two more from Gerald
Henderson. It was a 10 point lead, and Duke never looked back.

And to their credit, Holy Cross kept plugging away. They never game up,
never quit trying.

Frnakly much of the game, with Duke's aggression lacking, was a bore. But in
the second half, we started to see some interesting things. Duke's defense
roared back to life and the Devils limited HC to 7-24 in the second half and
just one three pointer. The freshmen all showed some neat stuff, with at
least one nifty drive by Jon Scheyer, some fight under the boards from Lance
Thomas, a nice jump hook by Brian Zoubek, and some clutch offense by Gerald
Henderson, right on cue.

And while Greg Paulus didn't have a great game, he's pushing hard to get it
done - perhaps too hard at times. He knows what he can do, that he can
control the flow of a game, and he's trying to do it though it's hard right

DeMarcus Nelson scored in the first and second halves pretty equally,
something he hasn't done (largely because as Duke's main and at times only
offensive threat early in the season, other teams just keyed on

There was a view of the verve we've all become spoiled by, with steals and
fast breaks, dunks and (attempted) alley-oops. But in many ways, the most
interesting thing in this game was the play of Josh McRoberts. We wish
sometimes he were more determined to score, because he could score a lot.
And obviously you have to score to win. But he is growing very rapidly,
and it's becoming clear that he's not an ordinary player. Certainly not an
ordinary 6-10 player.

In the part of the second half where Duke played well, McRoberts was at
times, just really, really good. He rebounded. He brought the ball
up. He drove the lane. He made some very sharp passes. He
blocked shots.

In short, he understands the game well enough to influence it in any number
of ways, most of which don't require him to shoot. Now he's beginning to
drive and shoot, which he wasn't prepared to do earlier.

The only two Duke players who we can even begin to offer as comparisons are
Danny Ferry and Grant Hill, and neither are quite apt. Ferry was a big man
with guard skills, but he was more of a scorer and you got the impression he
liked scoring, although like McRoberts, he was a superb passer. But you
weren't going to see him bring the ball up, and his outlet pass wasn't as

Grant Hill was a guard who happened to grow to 6-8. But he has always
had guard skills, although he could certainly rebound and shut down really good
players like Glenn Robinson.

McRoberts is really a hybrid, a 6-10 player who can bring the ball up,
dribble behind his back, throw pinpoint passes, start the break, lead the break,
finish the break, hit the boards, block shots - he's just really good. And
getting better fast.

The mysterious part to us is why his classmates aren't out in force.

Yes, this is a young team, and right now anyway, it's not always exciting, at
least offensively. But watching this kid develop is going to be
amazing. We'd urge all Crazies to go out and support the team, and also to
see a truly unique player emerge. But please, use the seats.

After the game, Coach K expressed bewilderment over how many empty seats
there were, saying, "we could sell them [for a lot of money]."

He then said he didn't' want to do that, and nobody does, but the temptation
for the athletic department must be periodically intense, because if the seats
upstairs can draw hundreds of thousands of dollars, courtside seats could really
raise some cash. That would kill the spirit of the place, but it would
raise some big bucks in a hurry.

And while we understand that the pyrotechnics of the Redick years were
amazing and hard to live up to, the fact is that watching a young team take form
is an immense amount of fun. We hope you guys will take all the seats from
now on, if for no other reason that most of you will never again be able to walk
into a major sporting event for free. You get one of the great
arenas, one of the truly great coaches, and an emerging young player who is
showing he can become something very special indeed. We know not everyone
likes basketball, but for those of you who do, don't miss this
opportunity. It's going to be a lot of fun.