The Case For Duke

The arguments against the Blue Devils are not exactly new. They live by the three and die by the three. They're undersized. There's no way they can hold their own in the paint against the DeJaun Blairs and the Hasheem Thabeets of the big, bad Big East.

And these arguments are valid. This season, Duke shot 43 more 3-pointers than any other ACC team. When the Blue Devils go cold from downtown, they lose.

Lance Thomas and Kyle Singler do represent the only big men that get significant playing time for Duke. Brian Zoubek, who's Duke's only true center and a former starter, has been MIA for the most part, averaging only 6.8 minutes over the last 12 games. Dave McClure is good for a defensive stop, but is far from an offensive threat.

Yes, the naysayers, as always, have their ammo.

And while this Duke team may seem the same as its predecessors, which didn't advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, it's not.

Not even close.

With a coaching move that is certain to go down in Blue Devil lore when Duke prevails in Motown, head coach Mike Krzyzewski benched Greg Paulus, putting Jon Scheyer at point and bringing Elliot Williams from the farthest reaches of the bench to play the two. The spectacular results have been well-documented.

The Blue Devils have gone 8-1, including an utter beat-down against Wake Forest and a win against Florida State in the ACC Tournament that was essentially over by halftime. The move has given Duke a bonafide defensive stopper in Williams, as well as a point guard in Scheyer who simply doesn't turn the ball over.

But more than anything, the Blue Devils have found a trifecta of stars that is as good as any in the country.

Scheyer's averaging 20.2 points a game since he moved to point, and he's been lights out from beyond the arc, boasting a 46.1 3-point percentage.

Kyle Singler has been a rock. He was the lone bright spot in the near-fiasco against Boston College in the ACC Tournament quarterfinal, and there's no reason for him to not continue to fill up the stat sheet during the Big Dance.

And Gerald Henderson has been, well, Gerald Henderson. He's come a long way this year, and he has game-changing abilities that Duke has lacked in recent years. Who else in the country do you want to have with the ball down one with 10 seconds left?

The Blue Devils' path to their first Final Four in five years is not easy. There's a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Villanova, a possible showdown with the much-bigger Pittsburgh and, of course, a national semifinal game which could cause a thousand minds to explode along Tobacco Road.

But for the first time in a while, the Blue Devils look ready. They're peaking now, and playing basketball that the Duke faithful haven't seen for a while. It won't be easy, but Duke will win it all.


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