Friday, March 24, 2006

Duke Quits-Redick Chokes?

I was surprised that LSU defeated Duke last night. LSU doesn't play with a great deal of basketball IQ, but they may have the best collection of athletes of any major college team in the nation. I haven't seen a lot of teams that can swarm all over ballhandlers and block shots from any angle like the Tigers. Just imagine if they could actually run a half-court offense.

I was shocked by the way Duke wilted toward the end of the game. They appeared to just roll over and let LSU put a fork in them. Even Coach K seemed subdued, sitting somewhat passively watching the youthful Tigers take the game away from his veteran team. I thought the Blue Devils were tougher than that. I was wrong.

I wasn't all that surprised by J. J. Redick's troubles, although I figured he'd shake loose for a quick burst that would tip the game in Duke's favor. It was bad that he shot 3-18, but it was even worse that he lost his composure. The often overshadowed Shelden Williams (in my opinion the third best player in the nation behind Redick and Adam Morrison) put the team on his back for most of the game, but they weren't going to win without something from Redick.

Redick had nothing. As was the case vs. Memphis and Temple earlier this year, Redick couldn't get his shot off against long, athletic defenders. Unlike those game, both of which Duke won, Redick started forcing shots and making bad plays. As the game went on, he wasn't just a non-contributor. Redick was outright hurting his team.

I'll be writing a lot more about Duke in my Duke Basketball Report column that will be linked here Monday morning. I'll close this post with this thought. Although Redick's game from November through February grew by leaps and bounds over his career at Duke, his performance in the NCAA's didn't. The Blue Devils lost to Kansas in the 2003 Sweet 16, Redick's freshman year. In that game, he shot 2-16; 3-18 isn't much of an improvement.

There are players in every sport who fail to match their outstanding regular season play with clutch play in the post-season. J. J. Redick is now a lifetime member of that club.

Here's an article written by Sporting News Radio host Chris Russell that is inspiring some lively discussion. I think he is being a bit harsh toward Duke but he does make some excellent points.

I am also posting a link to the cover picture from today's New York Daily News showing the embrace between Coach K and Redick when J. J. came off the court for the final time last night.

Crying Games


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