Plugged In: Redick's Shot Returns
March 10, 2006
By DAVID DROSCHAK
GREENSBORO - His shot is back. Just in the nick of time for No. 3 Duke. Scoring ace J.J. Redick, battling one of the worst slumps of his career, came to life against Miami when it counted most Friday, scoring 25 points as the top-seeded Blue Devils escaped with an 80-76 victory over the Hurricanes to advance to the ACC Tournament semifinals.
The 6-foot-4 senior was 23-for-80 from the field in his last four games - two Duke losses - and started the ACC quarterfinals 0-for-4 from 3-point range.
Was this going to be another bummer of a game for the ACC Player of the Year, a guy who had carried the Blue Devils all season with his monster scoring average of 27.8 points a game?
None of his Duke teammates were worried Redick would recover and be clutch in the end against the Hurricanes.
"He had some great looks early and he'll be the first one to tell you that," said point guard Greg Paulus. "He has been feeling confident in practice, so we knew he was going to have a break-out game. Whenever he misses four in a row you know he has the potential to hit four in a row. We had no problems with his misses."
"When he misses it seems like the whole world is surprised, so that shows what kind of shooter he is," added Sean Dockery. "He's a warrior. He has had some tough games, but what he did today shows what type of player he is. He's not afraid to fail. He made us win."
Redick indeed willed the Blue Devils to victory, helping avoid the program's first three-game losing skid in a decade.
After his slow start, Redick made nine of his final 13 shots, including a fall-away 15-footer with 32.3 seconds left that gave the Blue Devils a 76-73 lead.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski had called a timeout 11 seconds before Redick's key shot. Of course, everybody in the Greensboro Coliseum and on the Miami bench knew the play would be set for Redick, which makes his clutch hoop even more remarkable.
"That's the kind of shot we want him to take. He makes that shot all the time in practice, so why not shoot it in the game?" said DeMarcus Nelson. "When he took the shot I was fairly confident the shot was going in. Any shot he takes I'll run with."
It did go in with a soft swish.
"I take tough shots, difficult shots every game, sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't," said Redick. "But I try to focus on being a leader. I didn't do a good job of being a leader in the first half, being vocal.
"Yeah, it feels good to make some plays down the stretch, but it always feels good to come up with the win, no matter how you got there."
Duke got the matchup it wanted on Redick's game-changing shot with the smaller Guillermo Diaz, giving away three inches, to the Duke star.
"He is going to make shots, he's a great shooter," said Diaz, who was just 2-for-10 in the second half. "That's why everybody in the nation respects him."
Miami, unlike most teams in the ACC, played zone the entire game. But of course, shading toward Redick's every move. It worked at times, at other times, well, Redick was Redick.
"We were just trying to locate him and know where he was at at all times because if you leave him open he's going to make the shots," Diaz said. "We did a pretty good job but he makes shots over people. He's a great player."
"My thing with Duke is they are a high percentage team, so I'm real pleased with the fact that we held them to 41 percent shooting," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "But J.J. is a great player and when the game is on the line your players have to make plays. He knew he was going to try to make a play and he did."
And Redick's two free throws - almost a given in his career - sealed the deal with 5.7 seconds left.
"J.J. is an All-American, the player of the year, and we know he's human, he's going to have off games," said Lee Melchionni. "But we know he's going to come back and play well and he did that today."
"Everybody who is watching television or is in the stands always thinks his shot is going down. We feel the same way," added Dockery. "It's great to have him back and hitting great shots at the end."