ATLANTA -- After Duke's last game against Boston College, an 80-74 loss in Chestnut Hill Feb. 15, head coach Mike Krzyzewski was prompted to shuffle up his starting lineup for the second time this season. Greg Paulus, recently promoted to the starting five in lieu of Nolan Smith, was replaced by freshman Elliot Williams, and the Blue Devils reeled off five straight wins to essentially salvage their ACC season.
On Friday, third-seeded Duke gets a chance to show No. 6 Boston College its revamped squad at 9 p.m. in the Georgia Dome. The Eagles advanced to the ACC Tournament quarterfinals by beating No. 11 Virginia 76-63 Thursday.
The shift in Duke's starting lineup hasn't gone unnoticed by Boston College head coach Al Skinner, but he attributed the Blue Devils' run not to Williams' spark, but to the development of junior Jon Scheyer as another offensive option. Scheyer scored just eight points against the Eagles, but since then, he has averaged 19.5 points per contest.
"I'm not sure they're that much different. The personnel is a little bit different, but to me, the biggest difference was Scheyer wasn't scoring that much," Skinner said. "Now he's scoring a little bit better. They needed a second scorer. Henderson had been playing well, but they didn't have a real good second scorer, and now he's playing better, and that's the difference in the club. Because he's shooting the ball better and scoring more--that's why they've been able to win these last few games."
Whether it's Williams' rise or Scheyer's development, Skinner wasn't afraid to say that the revamped version of Duke was a better team than his Eagles beat in February.
"Yeah, I can say that," said Skinner, who added that he'd like to think his squad was improved, too.
Duke (25-6) may be different--since Feb. 15, Williams has averaged 11.6 points in 32.5 minutes per game, including 38 in a season-ending loss at North Carolina Sunday--but the strength of the Eagles (21-10) is the same. Their two leading scorers, Tyrese Rice and Joe Trapani, combined for more than half of the team's output last time, and the duo will need to be staples of Boston College's offense for the Eagles to knock off Duke for the second time this season. Rice and Trapani combined for just 21 points Thursday, instead allowing Rakim Sanders to take charge with a team-high 25 points.
Still, playing Duke is different from beating up on Virginia. There is a reason, after all, why the Boston College students flooded the court the last time the two teams played.
"I mean, obviously, Duke. It's very prestigious, rich in basketball tradition," Trapani said. "They're obviously one of the teams you want to knock off, especially in the ACC Tournament."
"Everytime we play Duke, it's been a real intense game," Rice said. "Real physical, a lot of talking, a lot of guys pushing and shoving. It's been a real intense game, but at the end of the day, there's a respect factor there."
Rice and Trapani's team, though, won't have much time to prepare for the Blue Devils, who have been idle since last Sunday and are the last team to play in the Tournament. Skinner said the team wouldn't begin to look at film until Friday. The head coach maintained that at this point in the season, teams have to focus on themselves more than their opponents.
Rice, however, said he has noticed a difference in the Blue Devils--and it doesn't have anything to do with Scheyer's increased production.
"They added Elliot Williams to their lineup, which really changed a lot," he said. "I think he really makes their team go, and they really get a lot of energy off him. We didn't see much of him when we played them the first time, so that's definitely a big adjustment we're going to have to make."
They may disagree about Williams' importance to the team, but neither Rice nor Skinner would mind if the Eagles didn't have to make any adjustments to the way they celebrated after their last game against Duke.
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