Forget the rough stretch. Forget the two loses to Carolina. All the headaches and even the joy. Because today Duke stood alone at the Georgia Dome and cut down the nets after its record tying 17th ACC Championship.
The “Big Three” for Duke once again brought down the house. Scheyer, Henderson, and Singler finished with 29, 27, and 14 respectively. For the tournament, Jon Scheyer put up scores of 14, 22, 29 and as he always had protected the ball while playing against great defenses. For his efforts Jon Scheyer was named the tournament MVP in one of the most star filled leagues in college basketball.
Today the threesome struck big early and never stopped pouring it on. The three point barrage by them in the first half really set the tone of this game and put Florida State on the ropes. While they might of gotten a few punches in, they never recovered as Duke ran the score back up for a final time and closed the game in typical Duke fashion.
Gerald Henderson, who has had a really tough couple games in the tournament, came to play today. Every shot he put up seemed pure, and usually found the bottom of the net. For the people who were scared that he might be falling off at the wrong time, he gave us a definitive “Hell No”.
While Kyle Singler might not have had his typical efficient game, he did all the little things that makes him one of the complete players in the country. He has had a tough timing shooting the ball by a percentage stand point, but you can never count out the fact that he might explode for 20 on any given night.
The combination of Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams is now a definite force it its own rights. Both are great on the ball defenders, who have shut down some of the best guards in the ACC. Even though Toney Douglas got his points today, he couldn’t make anyone around him any better and that is a testament to Duke’s defense and its starts with these two. Add in the fact that Nolan is finding ways to score it is an added bonus.
This was a great stretch of basketball by this team. Three games in three days against quality opponents and Duke still looked fresh at the final buzzer. They said they were coming into the postseason with a lot of confidence, and now it seems like they will have even more going forward. In this wild Week of conference championships that saw many of the top teams fall, Duke kept winning and in the end get back a little of that typical Duke swagger in the process.
So now we come to the deciding factor of the season. Duke is measured by what it does in late March, not early March. And so even with the ACC Championship in their back pocket, a new season starts Thursday. This team is playing great basketball, and looks to be ready for the challenge. All I know is it will be one hell of a ride.