Duhon's spirit difference for Devils

Guard hungry for win

teammates follow lead

January 22, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Duke point guard Chris Duhon said this week that he felt his team played scared last year, when the Blue Devils came into Comcast Center for the first time.

Determined to erase the memory of that loss - an 87-72 thumping that forced Duke to surrender its No. 1 ranking - Duhon made certain that hunger, not fear, was the Blue Devils' dominant emotion this time.

"Chris Duhon was huge for us," coach Mike Krzyzewski said after Duke's 68-60 victory. "I told him in the locker room at halftime, `If I put up the word determination, I'd put your picture right next to it.'

"You'll hear all about J.J. [Redick] tonight, but we wouldn't have won without Chris. ... He had three [offensive rebounds] I think where he just tracked them down. He just went and got them."

Duhon's enthusiasm and effort appeared to be contagious, and nowhere was that more apparent than on the offensive glass. Though Redick scored 26 points, the more important statistic was clearly the Blue Devils' season-high 24 offensive rebounds.

Time after time, Maryland managed to come up with a huge defensive stand in the second half, only to see the effort go for naught because the ball stayed at Duke's end of the court.

"We were just crashing the boards," Duhon said. "Our big guys did an amazing job on the boards, and on the perimeter, whenever we can sneak one or two in there, we do. It was just all effort. The refs let us play and we just had to adjust to the officiating. Our big guys did an amazing job down the stretch."

No offensive rebound was bigger, however, than the one Duhon had off his own miss with 4:56 to play. With Duke leading 58-55, Duhon went up in a crowd and grabbed his own missed jumper, then sent it out to Redick, who hit his fifth three-pointer of the night. The raucous Maryland crowd was silenced.

"Sometimes, a three-pointer off an offensive rebound is the best kind to shoot," Krzyzewski said. "It gets kicked out, the shooter gets squared up, and he takes a good shot. ... Buckets were very difficult to come by because of the defense of both teams."

For the night, Duhon played all 40 minutes, had eight points, eight assists and seven rebounds, but his emotional intensity was just as important. At one point, he slapped the court with both hands, then barked at his teammates to keep fighting. It seemed to work.

Luol Deng had five offensive rebounds and Shelden Williams grabbed six. With the Blue Devils shooting only 31 percent in the second half (11-for-36), it was enough to hold off one last spirited Maryland run, led by Nik Caner-Medley, that pulled the Terps to within 63-60 with 1:40 to play.

"I'm not going to say we were hungrier than Maryland, because they were really hungry," Krzyzewski said. "But we matched that hunger. And in order to win on the road, you have to do that. Maryland played really great. They had great crowd support and they put themselves in a great position to win. We feel really fortunate to get a victory."

"I think if this was last year's team, when they made their run, we probably just would've gave up," Duhon said. "But this time, we just made some defensive stops and we found the will to win."

Just a freshman, Deng had an ugly shooting night in his first Duke-Maryland game, going 5-for-18. But he still made his presence felt with his wide body and long arms, grabbing 12 total rebounds, and plugging up the lane much of the second half.

"Deng is a unique player who allows you to do some unique things," Krzyzewski said. "But I thought our entire team played well defensively. ... I've had some teams in the past that played good defense, but when it came down to it, they were going to beat you by scoring. I think this team really believes it's going to beat you with defense."

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