Cutting Duke Down to Size
In a resounding victory, Maryland revealed the Blue Devils'
Moments after Maryland toppled No. 1 Duke 87--72 in College Park
last Saturday, the Wall came tumbling down. The West Wall, that
is, as the near-vertical section of students seated behind one of
the baskets at the new Comcast Center has been christened.
Starting from the bottom and crumbling upward, it disintegrated,
the red-clad Terrapins fans spilling onto the floor in a gleeful
It was a fitting ending to a game that not only rejuvenated
Maryland (10--4) but also proved that the previously undefeated
Blue Devils (12--1) were beatable. Duke may yet win the ACC and
go to its third Final Four in five years, but this year's
freshman-laden squad had many weaknesses exposed on Saturday. The
Terps provided this guide on how to beat Duke.
Fluster them. The Blue Devils, who hadn't been tested on the
road, started three freshmen against Maryland--shooting guard
J.J. Redick and forwards Shavlik Randolph and Shelden
Williams--and the youngsters finally looked their age when
confronted by the Terrapins faithful, who showered them with
taunts. "The upperclassmen were telling us how tough and hostile
this was going to be," said Randolph afterward. "But nothing can
prepare you for this. You have 18,000 people who hate you, who
want to see you fail."
Go inside. Duke's weakness in the post became clear in narrow
victories over Georgetown and Virginia, but no team exploited it
as successfully as Maryland. The Blue Devils' big men have length
but not width; gangly Randolph and junior forward Nick Horvath
are decent shot blockers but don't play good position defense;
Williams has been a nonfactor; and senior center Casey Sanders is
a liability on offense.
Terrapins coach Gary Williams made rebounding the team's priority
before the game, stopping practice every time a player didn't hit
the glass. The result? Maryland outrebounded Duke 43--32, with
senior center Ryan Randle pulling down 17 boards.
Contain Redick. Duke's guards are among the best in the country,
and they can beat you from the outside or by driving to the
basket. None can stick the dagger more lethally than Redick. To
counter him Maryland treated Redick as if he were a dominating
inside player, often doubling him when he came around screens.
"We helped too much a couple of times, and they got easy looks
down low, but you have to do it," said Gary Williams. In other
words Sanders shooting from six feet is better than Redick firing
Make them earn it. Free throw shooting was Duke's Achilles' heel
last season, and it undid the Blue Devils again on Saturday, when
they shot 9 for 20 from the line. When Sanders and Shelden
Williams got offensive rebounds in the second half, Maryland
defenders fouled them before they could finish the plays.
Ignore the uniforms. Yes, Duke has a 176--20 record over the last
six seasons and has been No. 1 for 37 weeks during that span. But
the Terps have beaten the Blue Devils four times since
1999--2000; no other team has beaten them more than twice. The
reason for Maryland's success? "We don't look at them as
'Duuu-uke,' all high and mighty," says senior shooting guard Drew
Nicholas, raising his hands in a we-are-not-worthy gesture. "To
us, they're just Duke. We beat them before, and we're gonna beat
them again." --Chris Ballard
Tough Team Tickles Alford
With about three minutes remaining in a tight game against No. 8
Illinois on Jan. 15, Iowa coach Steve Alford turned to his
father, Sam, who's an assistant coach, laughed and said, "I want
to win this thing, but man, our guys are really fighting out
there." The Hawkeyes did win, 68--61, leaving them with a 3--0
record in the Big Ten (11--3 overall) through Sunday, a mark
reflected in Alford's demeanor. "I can't remember a time when
I've been in a laughing mode at the end of a close game," Alford
Before the season few expected Alford to have much to smile
about. Following a rash of transfers and suspensions in the
off-season, Iowa had just eight available scholarship players,
one of whom was a walk-on last year. Alford dictated a team-first
mentality in October when he informed the players that he was
having their names removed from the backs of their jerseys. The
relative scarcity of talent has helped the team's consistency,
and its chemistry. Says 6'11" junior center Jared Reiner, "It
doesn't matter who's scoring. All of us know we're going to get
plenty of minutes and plenty of shots."
Much of the offense has come from 6foot senior guard Chauncey
Leslie, who at week's end was leading the team with 16.1 points
per game, and 6'7" junior forward Glen Worley (13.1). The biggest
reason for Iowa's resurgence, however, has been the surprisingly
mature play of 6'3" freshman point guard Jeff Horner. Having had
surgery in August to repair a stress fracture in his right foot,
Horner played sloppily at times early in the season, but in his
last five games through Sunday he had 30 assists and just six
turnovers. Against Illinois, Horner had 16 points, 11 rebounds,
five assists and four steals. "At the beginning of the season, I
was really tentative," Horner says. "I'm trying to be more
aggressive now, so I'll make strong passes without even thinking
Eastern Illinois' Domercant
Unheralded but Unstoppable
Henry Domercant is on the verge of joining an exclusive club. At
week's end the 6'4" senior from Eastern Illinois was the nation's
second-leading scorer (26.4 points per game), and if he maintains
that pace, he almost certainly will become the 11th player in
NCAA history to be among the nation's top five scorers for three
straight years. (Domercant was second last year and fifth as a
sophomore.) The list of players who have accomplished that
trifecta includes Larry Bird, Bill Bradley, Pete Maravich and
A native of Naperville, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, Domercant has
honed his marksmanship through early-morning shooting drills at
Eastern Illinois' student rec center three or four times each
week. "The days when I really don't feel like going are the days
I make sure I go," he says. Domercant's sessions are so intense
(he tries to sink 100 to 150 jump shots in an hour) that last
season Panthers coach Rick Samuels told him to scale them back
because he was worried that Domercant was wearing himself out.
As prolific a scorer as Domercant is, he's no shameless gunner.
He's a heady player who moves well without the ball. In addition
to his routinely superb perimeter game (through Sunday he was
shooting 42.2% from the floor and 39.3% from three-point range),
he gets more than a quarter of his points at the foul line, where
he was sinking 80.0% of his attempts.
Last summer Domercant held his own in Chicago-area pickup games
that featured several NBA players, including Michael Jordan,
Antoine Walker and Michael Finley. That experience helped
reinforce Domercant's belief that he'll play in the NBA one day.
"I don't know when it's going to happen, but it's going to
happen," he says. "You can count on it."
Read Hoop Thoughts by Seth Davis every week at
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO Tough inside play by Holden (45) helped ground Dahntay Jones and the Blue Devils.
COLOR PHOTO: CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/AP The gritty Horner (right) is a major reason the Hawkeyes were second in the Big Ten.
COLOR PHOTO: CATHY CLARKE/KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL/AP
1. Cal--yes, Cal--is the second-best team in the Pac-10. With a
5--0 league record (12--2 overall) through Sunday, the Golden
Bears trailed only 6--0 Arizona and were off to their best
conference start since 1957, led by high-scoring forwards Joe
Shipp (21.4 points a game) and Amit Tamir (17.1).
2. Ricky Clemons is crucial to Missouri's success. He was
suspended last Friday after being charged with second degree
domestic assault, and Mizzou was blitzed 76--56 by Oklahoma
State. Clemons has denied the alleged altercation took place. He
was reinstated on Monday.
3. UConn has a penchant for scoring droughts. The Huskies scored
nine points in the first half against UMass on Dec. 10 before
rallying to win, seven points in the first 10:14 in a Jan. 7 loss
to Oklahoma and four points in the first 9:42 of last Saturday's
defeat at North Carolina.
Who Is... Ron Slay?
He is Tennessee's 6'8", 240-pound senior forward, and in the past
he has been known as much for his mouth as his moves. This season
Slay has also been making some noise with his game. After missing
the second half of last season with a torn left ACL, Slay at
week's end was leading the SEC in scoring (21.0 points per game)
and ranked third in free throw shooting (83.0%). Here are this
Volunteer's thoughts about matters on and off the court.
On the art of trash talking: "I like to know a person's
background. I'll read his bio in the media guide and find out
what his likes and dislikes are. If a guy has a dog, I'll tell
him I'm gonna beat up his dog. Whatever weakness he might have, I
try to use it."
Favorite basketball player: "Kevin Garnett. He came into the NBA
with a lot of pressure on him, and he never backed down."
Dream Date: "[Actress] Stacey Dash [Clueless]. She seems real
energetic. She looks like she'd have fun."
If I could be an animal I'd be: "A lion, because a lion is always
going to survive."
Person I wish I'd met: Malcolm X
If I couldn't play basketball, I'd be: "A lawyer. Because I've
got the mouth for it."