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Redick, Ewing, Depth Causes For Concern

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

  December 15, 2003

DURHAM — When J.J. Redick was a freshman, he was the team's second-leading scorer, played only one minute less during the season than star senior Dahntay Jones, and shot 40 percent from the three-point line. It was Redick's 30-point outburst, including five threes, that enabled Duke to rally from the dead to defeat N.C. State in the ACC Tournament final. He wasn't the MVP as the Blue Devils won their fifth straight league championship — Daniel Ewing was — but it was the rookie from Roanoke, Va., who carried the team in the stunning comeback against the Wolfpack. State led by 15 before Redick scored 23 points in the final 10:05.

It also was Redick who made only two of 16 shots against Kansas in the Sweet 16, Duke's final game of an otherwise productive year. He converted just one of 11 three-point attempts in a four-point loss to the Jayhawks.

Unfortunately for Duke, that shooting slump carried over to this season. In the Blue Devils' first six games, Redick shot 27 percent from the field, while overall the team shot 35 percent. Part of it, Mike Krzyzewski said, was that J.J. was trying to do too much, too fast.

Redick even lost his starting job after the Alaska Shootout, where the Blue Devils struggled offensively in all three games. He and Ewing came off the bench against Michigan State. Ewing started against St. John's, but Redick didn't.

Against the Red Storm, Redick missed his first two shots. Coach K called him over and said, “Just shoot the ball. I'm not going to pull you if you miss, but just take good shots.” Redick had two chances with his feet set from outside the stripe. He drained them both. He missed five of his six other threes.

›After returning from a recruiting trip, taken in mid-December while the players finished exams, Coach K had his staff make a video of every shot Redick had taken in those six contests. Then he and the sophomore guard met for a two-hour study session. Krzyzewski pointed out that when Redick concentrated and followed his regular routine, he was still a stunning shooter.

“I told him that he hadn't missed a free throw,” Krzyzewski said, “when he takes his time and concentrates.”

Redick has almost limitless range, but he's been the target of everybody's defensive strategy. He has tried hard — perhaps too hard — to drive the ball, especially in the middle near the foul line. Last year, rookie Redick had the fewest turnovers of the Duke starters. This year is a completely different story.

“He's leading us in turnovers (this season),” Krzyzewski said. “That should never happen. … We looked at all his shots. It did him a lot of good. He can see that he forced them, that he took many of them off-balance. When he sets his feet, he can shoot it.”

Moving without the ball, Coach K said, is where Redick has been getting into trouble. He's been going full-speed all the time, which has led to many of the turnovers and too many forced shots.

“He's got to take his time, to let the play come to him,” Krzyzewski said. “He'll be fine.”

Redick started this season with an injury to his leg. He missed almost all action for a USA Basketball team this summer because of an Achilles problem. He's much more healthy now, but he hasn't yet regained the form that made him the ACC's most dangerous long-range shooter.

Ewing also has had physical problems. He had a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone, suffered just before the season began. He could have faced surgery, getting a pin in his foot as centers Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer did when they played for Duke, or he could play with the pain and get help from the medical staff.

Ewing chose to play. He was fitted for an orthotic in his shoe, and the shoe also was refined so it wouldn't flex as much. Ewing suffered a serious blister on the outside of the foot after his first game, and while he's still improving, he isn't 100 percent yet.

“He doesn't have the explosion on his jump shot,” Coach K said. “We've taken more x-rays, and the injury is healing, but there's still a ways to go. Daniel is more comfortable now, but he still can't jump the way he could. He can play, and he wants to play.”

Coach K said in mid-December that his team was still evolving. He praised inside players Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph for their improvement. He said freshman Luol Deng is learning well, but that he's not yet playing instinctively.

“(Deng is) such a serious student,” Krzyzewski said. “He's thinking all the time about what to do, rather than just do what comes naturally.”

Duke also needs to extend its bench. Coach K recently had individual meetings with senior forward Nick Horvath and sophomore wing Lee Melchionni, who have seldom played this season. When those two are playing well, the Blue Devils have a very strong nine-man rotation. Without them, and in the aftermath of Michael Thompson's midseason transfer, Duke goes only seven deep. With some of those seven struggling….

“We just have nine (scholarship) guys. We need them,” Krzyzewski said. “They'll get their chance.”

Krzyzewski said he had met briefly three times with new football coach Ted Roof.

“You can see his passion,” Coach K said. “I hope he does well. I hope he hires a dynamite staff.”

Recruiting Plan Bolstered Roof

Nothing had been made official at press time, but Roof reportedly dumped all of his offensive assistants except Fred Chatham. That would mean coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jim Pry, veteran line coach Rich McGeorge, wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill and tight ends coach Louis Clyburn, a former Duke player.

In mid-December, all of the defensive assistants who worked with Roof for two years were still around: eighth-year defensive line coach Scott Brown, seventh-year inside linebackers coach Brad Sherrod (another former Duke player) and first-year outside linebackers/special teams coach Don Yanowsky. Roof handled the defensive backs this season, in addition to his role as defensive coordinator.

The big surprise, if he survives the transition, is Chatham, a North Carolina graduate who has been at Duke for 15 years and has worked under head coaches Steve Spurrier, Barry Wilson, Fred Goldsmith and Carl Franks.

Chatham coaches the running backs and has been the recruiting coordinator. One of the pluses Roof had in his job interview was a plan to completely revise recruiting, including getting an early start with sophomores, something the school hadn't done in the past. In fact, Roof may not have anyone with the recruiting coordinator label.

“Ted will be in charge of recruiting,” Duke athletic director Joe Alleva said on the day he announced the hire.

Included among Duke's first eight commitments this year were five prospects from Georgia, a talent-rich state that also has a lot of players with solid academic credentials. All five were recruited by Roof, a Peach State native who played and coached at Georgia Tech.

Obviously, in a league that will be strengthened by the additions of Miami and Virginia Tech next season — both will be in Duke's division — the Blue Devils will have to recruit far better than they've done in the past.

One early December commitment, Baltimore lineman Cameron Goldberg, picked Duke over scholarship offers from two other prestigious universities (California, Stanford) located much farther away from his home. That's exactly the kind of development that didn't happen often enough under Franks, who missed an alarmingly large number of outstanding student-athletes from the East Coast to Cal, Northwestern, Stanford or Vanderbilt.

Roof certainly has the positive, high-energy temperament of most successful recruiters, and he will not use Duke's stiff academics as an issue. One big key will be if the Blue Devils can establish relationships with players at an earlier stage of high school.

“If they want an education and they can play, we'll go after them,” Roof said when he took the job. “There are enough good students who are good football players. We just have to find them earlier, before other schools have gotten a head start.”

Alleva, who said improved recruiting is the only answer to Duke's traditional football woes, insisted that the personnel and money needed to get the job done will be made available to Roof and his staff.