James tips balance toward Duke at end

MARYLAND NOTEBOOK

Blue Devils forward emerges from shadows, beats UM with put-back

March 11, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht and Don Markus | Gary Lambrecht and Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - Duke forward Nate James is the other guy, the one playing next to stars like Shane Battier, Jason Williams and Mike Dunleavy, the guy who has watched prized underclassmen like Corey Maggette and William Avery come and go while he has toiled in the shadows in Durham.

And lately, at the end of a fine senior season, James had found his way to the bench. Remember that 1-for-9 shooting performance in the 91-80 loss to Maryland on Feb. 27 on Senior Night at Cameron Indoor Stadium?

James, who played at St. John's at Prospect Hall in Frederick, re-awakened at an opportune time in yesterday's thrilling 84-82 victory over Maryland in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals at the Georgia Dome. James scored Duke's first points on a three-pointer, after the Terps had opened the game with a 10-0 run. And he finished the job with a tip-in that won the contest.

"As soon as Jason penetrated, I said to myself, `I'm going to get a tip,' " said James, who beat Terence Morris to the carom. "Tournament time is a new season."

James, who scored 14 points yesterday after scoring 12 in his last three regular-season games, sat on the bench in last week's regular-season finale against North Carolina, and has not started in the ACC tournament.

"I still know I had to bring my leadership," James said. "I know my coach [Mike Krzyzewski] had confidence in me. It's just a matter of going out there and playing to my capabilities."

Bench chips in

Maryland's bench can't play much better than it performed in yesterday's loss. The quintet of Drew Nicholas, Danny Miller, Mike Mardesich, Tahj Holden and Chris Wilcox shot a combined 12-for-15 and produced 31 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five turnovers.

Holden, who has 31 points in three games against Duke this year, had 10 points in seven minutes. Miller had nine points, three rebounds and three assists. And Wilcox, the dynamic freshman, was dazzling with four points, four rebounds and two assists in eight minutes.

Love affair with Duke

Duke freshman Reggie Love is becoming something of a cult hero among his team's fans and something of a go-to guy for its coach, Krzyzewski.

While Love, a wide receiver on the school's hapless football team, didn't play as well in yesterday's game against Maryland as he did in the quarterfinals against North Carolina State, he still did mix things up like, well, a football player.

"That's my job, to give us a spark," said Love, who had one dunk, five rebounds and five fouls in nine minutes.

It's a completely different experience than playing for a team that went 0-11 last season.

"I think the biggest difference is the leadership we have on this team," said Love.

Love forgot another huge factor: talent.

The 6-foot-6 freshman is one of three players Kryzyzewski has used to fill in at center in the absence of injured sophomore Carlos Boozer, who broke his foot against Maryland last week in Durham and is expected to miss the first week of the NCAA tournament.

Against Maryland, sophomore Casey Sanders contributed seven points, three rebounds and two blocked shots in 26 minutes and would have been even more of a factor had he not missed six of seven free throws. Matt Christensen had three points, all on free throws, in three minutes.

Long distance

What makes Duke so dangerous is that no matter how big the deficit, the Blue Devils have the capacity to come back with their three-point shooting. After missing their first 11 shots yesterday against Maryland, it was a three-point shot by James that finally got Duke on the scoreboard.

It was also their three-point shooting that enabled the Blue Devils to build a 14-point lead in the second half. After making only three of 13 in the first half, Duke hit its first five threes in the second half.

"We don't worry if we're not hitting them," said Jason Williams, who wound up making five of nine for the game after missing his only three in the first half. "That's a big part of our game and we're not going to stop doing that."

The Blue Devils wound up 12-for-33 for the game, compared to 7-for-17 for the Terrapins.

Semi-frustration

Since Maryland last won the ACC tournament in 1984, the Terps have made it back to the final only once, losing in the semifinals nine times:

Year Results

1986 L, Georgia Tech, 64-62

1988 L, N. Carolina, 74-64

1989 L, N. Carolina, 88-58

1995 L, N. Carolina, 97-92, OT

1996 L, Georgia Tech, 84-79

1997 L, N.C. State, 65-58

1998 L, N. Carolina, 83-73, OT

1999 L, N. Carolina, 86-79

2000 W, N.C. State, 64-61

2001 L, Duke, 84-82

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