Photo by Chase Olivieri/The Chronicle
ATLANTA -- Freshman guard Elliot Williams had never faced the type of defense Maryland threw at him Saturday in the Georgia Dome. Williams is used to being played tight, but Terrapin guard Greivis Vasquez took a different approach. He backed off and dared Williams to shoot 3-pointers.
"That's the first time I've ever seen that," said Williams, who scored just two points in 15 minutes, the least amount of time he's logged since he entered the starting lineup Feb. 19. "They just played off of me--just got to knock my shots down. I'll be all right."
Williams was visibly frustrated with the Terrapins' strategy to contain him, and consequently, he was forced to make room for Nolan Smith, who played 30 minutes. But Williams can't remain down for long, because in less than 18 hours, he'll have the daunting task of hounding one of the country's best guards, Florida State's Toney Douglas. Williams earned that assignment in Duke's 84-81 win over the Seminoles March 3, when Douglas went off for 27 points.
"He's what makes their team go," said Williams, who has also guarded Ty Lawson and Vasquez this season. "One of the tough things about him is he's a great shooter and a driver, so you have to play him straight up. He moves without the ball, and his teammates look for him."
"Toney Douglas is as good a player as there is in the country," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I've said that in the last few weeks of the season, and it's proven out."
The freshman played 30 minutes in that game, but Smith was still sidelined with a mild concussion. Having the luxury of Smith on the bench should help the Blue Devils Sunday, but Williams will still be the one to stick the All-ACC guard at the game's start.
"Toney Douglas is just a scorer. He's a player, and he does everything for that team," Smith said. "He'll be Elliot's to start off. I played good today, but I'm not taking his spot. Elliot's played great basketball, so I'm going to come in and pick up wherever Elliot leaves off."
And while his primary task will be stalking Douglas, Williams wouldn't mind if his defender played tight on him, too. That way, he might be able to contribute more than just defense in his first ACC Tournament final.
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