Luol Deng thinks J.J. Redick is the best shooter in college basketball. Chris Duhon once called his shooting inhuman. Even high school junior Ruthie Furman of Providence, R.I., though removed from the Duke basketball program, thinks so highly of Redick and his talent that she leads an 80-member Redick fan club hosting "Watch Parties" complete with makeovers, pillow fights and, of course, Duke basketball.
The sophomore's shooting talent has made him one of the most respected and hated outside threats in the nation, but Redick, has been up and down all season.
At his usual place behind the arc, Redick started the season slowly, hampered by a hamstring injury. Until mid-October, Redick was out of action, having strained and twice re-aggravated his left hamstring.
Despite scoring 19 points against Detroit in the home opener, he was 4-of-10 in field goals and 1-of-4 in his three-point shooting. Duke escaped a half-time deficit after the Titans scored the first 12 points of the game to win 67-56 against unranked Detroit.
Shooting woes continued for Redick during the Great Alaska Shootout, especially in the championship game loss to Purdue when Redick went one-for-seven from three-point territory.
However, as the season's schedule picked up, so did Redick's shooting during some tough mid-winter matchups. Starting with the Dec. 20 game against Texas at Madison Square Garden through the Feb. 15 loss at N.C. State, Redick shot 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Redick led Duke with 20 points in the team's dominating victory over Texas. In the monster 89-61 win, he was 4-of6 from three-point range.
As temperatures have started to warm up, and the regular season came to an end, the Roanoke, Va., native's shooting has again cooled down.
Duke's Feb. 18 loss to Wake Forest marked the first career game for Redick without a field goal. During his 21 minutes of play, Redick's only scoring came from two foul shots.
In the final home game against North Carolina, Redick was a perfect eight-of-eight from the free throw line, but went three-of-nine from the field.
"I think he's getting good looks," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said earlier this week. "Sometimes when you miss in anything, you can lose a little bit of your edge. That just knocks you off a little bit."
Redick, who led last year's team with a .919 free throw percentage and 95 three-point shots made, has shown this "edge" in many of the team's mid-season games including the Texas game and the squad's Jan. 21 matchup at Maryland. While the Terrapins' fans wore vulgar T-shirts and screamed obscenities at to Redick, he responded by scoring a season-high 26 points, including a nine-of-nine free throw shooting performance, compared to Maryland's team seven-of-nine foul shooting.
"J.J. [Redick] was great for us," Krzyzewski said after the 68-60 victory. "We tried to get the ball in his hands down the stretch so when they fouled he would be the one getting fouled, and when J.J. gets fouled he usually makes his shots."
However, in the third matchup of the year with the Terps, Redick did not have the same shooting success from that first matchup. He missed seven of his eight three-pointers and 11-of-17 shots overall.
With three seconds left in regulation play, Redick missed a three that would have given Duke an 80-77 win to secure its sixth-straight ACC Tournament victory.
Despite his recent shooting drought, the team still looks at Redick as the best shooter in clutch situations.
"If he's 0-10, I have confidence that he'll make the next one, and he's confident too," Shavlik Randolph said, adding that the team will still look to Redick to take the final shot of a game.
Shelden Williams is also confident that Redick's drought will soon end.
"I think he'll do well in the tournament," Williams said. "NCAA does a lot of things to different players... [there is] a lot more adrenaline."
The adrenaline involved in the tournament may be the spark that Redick needs to get back to shooting well, as other fans and foes around the country watch Duke's every move.
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