Dec. 4, 2003
We saw the real Duke team on Wednesday night in East Lansing, Mich. The Blue Devils put on a clinic, a brilliant performance offensively and defensively, in a 72-50 dismantling of Michigan State. This looked more like the team ranked in the preseason top five than the one that lost to Purdue and struggled against the likes of Detroit and Liberty.
As I broadcast the game for ESPN -- as part of our coverage of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge -- I was shocked by the way Duke took charge. After all, coach Mike Krzyzewski's club was playing in a difficult environment at the Izzone. The crowd was pumped up, but one key was the way the Blue Devils took the fans out of the game early.
Duke simply played its game, getting easy baskets in transition and converting off Michigan State turnovers. The Spartans gave the ball away a stunning 17 times in the first half.
Duke is clearly a different team when J.J. Redick tickles the twine.
In a six-minute spurt, the Blue Devils went on a 20-2 run -- and it was off to the races, baby!
Earlier this season, the Dukies weren't putting opponents away early, failing to get easy transition baskets off their defense. It was a different story Wednesday.
I was impressed with the way Duke executed in the 2-3 offensive set. Sophomore forwards Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph both contributed with their inside presence. Williams did a great job on the interior -- he was physical and worked hard for position.
Duke is clearly a different team when sophomore guard J.J. Redick tickles the twine, and he had his moments in the first half as the Blue Devils gained momentum. Once he gets in rhythm and finds his touch, he is capable of breaking a game open.
Mechanically, Redick doesn't have a flaw. Just look at his shooting range -- on Wednesday night, it seemed like some of his shots were coming from Saginaw, baby! After a slow start this season, Redick came off the bench against the Spartans. Coach K sent a message and it was heard. Redick is too good a shooter to struggle for long. Duke really needs his firepower.
This victory demonstrates the resilience of Duke's players. It was a big W in a tough place to play.
Click here to send a question for Dick Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.