NEW YORK — “I mean, they’re only human,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after Saturday’s win over St. John’s.
Well, yeah, we knew that. But don’t tell me you weren’t somewhat disturbed that our “big three” played like a big nothing for 30 of the 40 minutes.
Scoring well below their averages, Duke’s triple threat of Daniel Ewing, J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams was just off. As a trio they scored four points in the first half and hit 10 buckets overall. Individually, the stats were no more impressive but a little easier to understand.
- Ewing, who averages 15.6 points per game, was scoreless with 10 minutes left in the game. He had gone 0-for-6 in the first half and ended 3-for-13 overall.
Without junior point guard Sean Dockery for the first time this season, Ewing was forced to take on more of the point guard responsibilities. He has shared these duties with Dockery throughout the season and the transition could account for his dwindling statistics.
“The dynamic that is created in not having [Dockery] in is a huge one,” Krzyzewski said. “It changes Daniel’s role where it’s tough for him to score because he’s defending their best player, he’s bringing the ball up and when you do that kind of stuff you get tired. By the time you get to your shot it’s not easy.”
Ewing, who played all 40 minutes, limited Daryll Hill to 10 points after he dropped 33 on Syracuse in the Red Storm’s last game. The senior showed that without Dockery, his defensive and leadership abilities don’t suffer but his point production does. Krzyzewski may want to look into finding some time for Ewing to rest so he has something left in the tank come tournament time.
- When you finish a game with 13 points, it’s tough to say that something went wrong. But when Redick finishes 10 points short of his average and contributes a measly two points in the first half, it’s a little easier.
Redick scored eight of his 13 points from the line and connected on one of his seven trey attempts. Additionally, his defender, Hill, repeatedly blocked him from driving the lane and forced Redick into committing five turnovers.
“I don’t think anybody can play him tougher than Daryll played him today,” St. John’s head coach Norm Roberts said. “Daryll has done that all year. He can take the other team’s best player out of the game.”
- Role reversal: The landlord paying rent?
On Duke’s first possession of the game, Williams was being pushed around. Guarded by Lamont Hamilton, Williams was blocked and then forced into a travelling violation in the opening 20 seconds.
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Williams matched Redick’s score for the first half, also registering two points from the line. He finished with eight points, the lowest tally among the “big three,” and managed only one block against Hamilton’s five.
“It was hard for us to score tonight and we didn’t get anything inside,” Krzyzewski said. “We got the ball there but we couldn’t score on it.”
Williams only took five shots the whole game, three of which dropped. For a team that lacks depth in big men to begin with, a lack of presence from Williams could easily become Duke’s Achilles’ heel.
With both teams registering field-goal percentages below 40, a muted “big three” did not have a grave effect. But with UNC less than a week away, the Blue Devils will have to quickly figure out what went wrong if they expect to defeat a team that won’t give them similar leeway.