Sean Dockery used to be a liability in Duke’s set offense.
Blue Devil opponents challenged him to beat them with outside jump shots, and a Dockery three-point attempt was a good defensive stand in years past. When there was an open shot, Dockery would either pass it up or gingerly toss up a scared jumper and pray for the best. The Chicago high school scoring machine hit his occasional transition hoop, but in his first two years at Duke, never found any sort of consistent shooting rhythm.
That’s all changed now. Against Georgia Tech, Dockery continued his season-long resurgence from long range with a 2-for-2 performance, including one key bomb in the second half. But more important than a couple threes is the attitude Dockery now exudes on the court in the set offense.
“He called for the ball,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after his team beat Georgia Tech. “He asked, and then he just shot it and knocked it down. I’m really pleased.”
Dockery shot 12 percent from three-point range last year. Twelve percent is bad for your average 10-year old shooting to win a rubber basketball prize at an amusement park. Teams playing Duke would allow Dockery to catch the ball with his toes on the three-point line completely unguarded. So, essentially, Dockery shot abysmally from behind the arc last season, even though almost every attempt was uncontested.
But work in the off-season has paid dividends for Dockery, and he has nearly tripled his three-point shooting percentage this year. He has also converted on 52 percent of his shots from the field and 72 percent of his attempts from the free-throw line on his way to an efficient seven points per game.
The turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time for Dockery. He spent his first two seasons at Duke as a very high-profile recruit who never looked like Coach K’s next point guard.
Krzyzewski has always applauded Dockery’s on-the-ball defense, and as the sixth man last season, Dockery almost always gave the team a spark. Even when he was at his worst offensively, Krzyzewski gave him significant minutes because of his presence and attitude on defense.
But last year, Dockery was even considering transferring when Michael Thompson bolted for more playing time at Northwestern. When highly-touted point guard Shaun Livingston committed to Duke and continued to put up big numbers for his high school team, Dockery’s future role became even more uncertain. Livingston ultimately chose to go professional, leaving the door open for Dockery.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.