Two teams that at one time or another were top teams in the nation, trying to find out how good they really are. Round 1 was a heart breaker for Duke. Round 2 was a offensive slug fest, that left Duke fans flat out giddy. After suffering through a rough stretch of the ACC schedule, Duke had two games in one week that might show how they will finish. The first one against St Johns was just a simple victory, but no one was convinced that this new Duke lineup was ready to compete against better teams. And so it came down to one of the biggest games of the year. A game that would show how tough Duke is. 101 points. 35 from Henderson. 30 from Scheyer. 4 steals from Williams. Any questions?
Duke stormed out to an early lead and looked very dominate. However, you knew Wake wasn’t done much like Duke wasn’t done when they lost at Wake. Duke was ready. Henderson, Scheyer, and Williams were ready. Coach K was more than ready. The end result was Duke walking off the floor with more confidence then they have had all year. They faced a truly great opponent, that didn’t want to die. They were up to the challenge. They believed in themselves and in their Coach.
I don’t think anyone in Duke nation wanted this win more than Coach Mike Krzyzewski. We have seen him emotional before, but nothing like this. Before the game, he was shown pleading with the fans, and telling his team to “fight”. I can’t remember the last time Coach K ditched his jacket, but that is what happen when Wake started to make their run. Every Duke player on the floor saw this, and responded. I have never seen a team respond so well to how motivated their coach was to win. Do you think Henderson was going to let Coach down? Scheyer? No, these players showed the exact fire that Coach K was exhibiting. And their reward was two career games on the big stage. When Henderson came out of the game Coach K was waiting to embrace his star. Nothing had to be said. Henderson knew he had brought emotion out of his Coach, that he hasn’t felt since he brought gold back to America. Shortly after Scheyer would get the same result. A Coach that was beaming at the performance, of a player that had been in a slump. Coach K got everything good out of his players, and showed why he is one of the best.
Nothing was going to stop Henderson tonight. He did everything he had to do to find the basket. Instead of settling for the 3 pointer, he drove to the lane like he hasn’t before. He shot 14 free throws, making 12 of them. On any given night Gerald can score 20. However, when he uses his best abilities like this, he will score 30. And that is what separates Gereld Henderson from the great player to the elite player. The turning point of the game, and the play that finally put Wake away, was Gerald’s unbelievable fade away three with a few seconds left on the shot clock. Poetic justice would be an understatement. Gerald took so many big shots this game, but this one considering the time and difficulty was amazing.
Jon Scheyer was in the middle of a slump like never seen before. So what does Coach do? He gives him the ball and wants him to lead the offense. Everyone knows the result. And considering Henderson took 15 shots, it is amazing Scheyer found a way to take 16, and score 30 points. Jon is coming of his second big time scoring performance. Both as point guard, and only committing 1 turnover in two games. When he has the ball in his hands he is one of the smartest players in college basketball, and he is proving that now.
Elliot Williams is the new crush of every single Blue Devil fan. Everyone wanted to see what this kid was capable of. Coach K couldn’t hold the stud back any longer. Thus, Coach has unleashed a serious compliment to the big three of this team, and Elliot is answering the call. His defense in the first half was remarkable, considering Jeff Teague and Ishmael Smith are two of the better guards in the ACC. And his second straight game in double figures shows why this kid is something special. You never worry when he drives the lane, because time seems to stand still for him, and he makes a smart decision. Most players you worry about them committing the offensives foul, but Elliot knows what to do, and for that he might have earned a starting spot for the rest of the year.
If you really want to focus on some bad things, then we can talk about the defense. Kyle Singler shot the ball poorly, but was also terrible in defending James Johnson. Singler couldn’t stop him in the lane, and looked out of position many times. Duke got killed on the boards, but considering the height of this lineup that will happen. And why in the hell would I waste my time talking about the cons, when the best pro is Duke won a big game when they needed it most. Defense is a funny thing. Sometimes even allowing a team score 91 can be looked at as good defense. Because Duke forced 20 turnovers. And in the late minutes of the game, Duke waited for Wake to make the first mistake, and when they did they made them pay. They were more patient on both sides of the floor than in any game this season.
There are to many good things to talk about after this game. Lance is playing good, Miles seems to be getting quality minutes, and the new lineup is playing good together. But just sit back an take this victory in. Take a short time to enjoy it. Duke’s emotional celebration is already over, and they are probably watching the UNC-Maryland game right now. Duke is ready to move on with a confidence that has been lacking. They know where they are going on Wednesday. They know that the season is far from over. They are ready for the fight. And the entire ACC is on alert.