Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Devils I Know

Now this is more like it, Duke by 8 at Maryland. JJ with 35, ho-hum. (More on that later) Big game from Sheldon Williams, and Paulus didn't kill them tonight.

Incidentally, what's the deal with all the coaches wearing white sneakers today? Is it an Eddie Sutton thing? Both benches had them in the (very good) Washington-UCLA game. Brandon Roy is nice for UW.

Anyway, it's worth noting that the anti-anti-Redick pushback has started. First, one of ESPN's resident TarHeels, Bomani Jones, says stop hating:
Is all this hate really necessary? ACC message boards are full of fans spewing millions of reasons to hate Redick. They range from his supposed arrogance to anger that more wasn't made of the suspicion he smoked marijuana in a dormitory in 2003. Many refer to the dreadful poetry he read aloud in an interview last season. And none of this is helped by the multitude of broadcasters who credit him for everything from his work ethic to the flawless form with which he ties his shoes. It seems like only Billy Packer doesn't rush to slobber all over the kid.

But no one has any good reason to hate Redick. There's no way he is more detestable than Chris Paul, who cowardly punched Julius Hodge last season -- from behind, no less -- but was "secure" enough in his "manhood" to cry on the bench during losses. And he's definitely not in the same league as the gold standard for collegiate villains, Christian Laettner. Before he was the Dream Team's bellhop, Laettner could be seen sneering across the country and, if the situation called for it, stepping on players' chests in the NCAA Tournament without receiving an ejection or suspension. Redick isn't even as objectionable as Steve Wojciechowski, the current Duke assistant who tap-danced on the thin line between being scrappy and being dirty during his playing career. And he's surely not as overrated as Danny Ferry.

. . .

But if my fellow Duke haters aren't careful, they'll miss their chance to appreciate one of the best shooters in recent memory. They'll miss the only player I've seen who must literally be guarded as soon as he crosses half-court, someone whose accomplishments are amplified when you consider that Shelden Williams is, unequivocally, the most overrated player in America and freshman point guard Greg Paulus wets the bed when the heat's turned on.
Mighty MJD also sings some praise:
I think Redick will make a fine professional, too. I question whether or not he has the combination of size and speed to guard NBA 2-guards, but… he’s the kind of player that finds a way. Two years ago, he was nothing like what he is now. He will work to get better. Yeah, there are things you can point to that he doesn’t have, but when you look at what he does have… a pure jumpshot with almost limitless range, a great sense of timing, he’ll work like hell to get open, he’s an underrated passer, he plays unselfishly, and when the game’s on the line, he’s got balls of steel. That’s too rare to pass on. If I were an NBA GM, there’s no way I’d let him get past the middle of the first round.
Well, there are occasionally good reasons to hate JJ

Though some aren't specific to JJ, more of a larger Duke thing. This serves as a crisis of conscience for the combo Red Sox-Duke Fan.

(best caption at the link? "Chop! Chop! Hey, this is easy! Why, it's just like the move I pulled on Brandon Arroyo!" Nice McCarver shot in there as well. Heh.)

That being said, I have to agree, from a pure basketball standpoint, how can you not like Redick? Watch him, just him, on offense some time. He does nothing spectacular or complicated, but he never stops moving and has so much stamina. He just makes simple basketball moves and makes shots. In many ways, he reminds me of Rip Hamilton, underated by many (though Redick is hardly the athlete or the defender).

Incidentally, I'm not sure if there has been a recent player who I've incorrectly doubted more coming out of college than Rip - I thought he'd struggle to create his own shot, and didn't have sufficient range. Well he can't creat his own shot... with the ball and he's leading the league (or near the top) in 3-pt shooting, though he doesn't take many.

The thing about players like Rip and JJ is that you always have to know where they are, every defender has to pay attention. It's not like the guy who dominates the ball like AI, or Kobe or the enigmatic Gilbert Arenas. It's much more subtle, looking at the Pistons, the guy guarding a Wallace or a Wallace has to hedge over a screen and suddenly Rasheed is open to knock down a 3 or Big Ben (BONG!) is tip dunking. Their scoring ability without the ball does so much to make the whole team better.

Trust me, next time you watch Duke or Detroit, watch how often another player gets an advantage because their defender is worried about Rip or JJ when they don't have the ball.


Kaiser said...

I love, love, LOVE that you mentioned Rip Hamilton in this post, because that is a perfect player to compare Reddick to, in my opinion. Oh by the way, J.J. has twice the range of Rip too. The other player I would liken him to is Kirk Heinrich in Chicago, formerly of Kansas fame. Henrich is bigger and considered more of a defender (although I'm not sure this is true), but their styles are similar to me. Comparing their college careers, I think it would be safe to say that Reddick has a much bigger upside than Captain Kirk. I've only liked a half dozen Dukies (or less) in history, and J.J. is one of them. He'll be an important part of a pro team near you soon...

Pooh said...

I dunno, I think Hinrich needs the ball in his hands much more than either Rip or JJ. Just thinking about it, there aren't a whole lot of "off the ball" guys in the League. AI could be, and might be at his best when he is playing that way. Ray Allen was when he played for Milwaukee (by neccesity, since Sam I Am had the ball the whole time). Marion is really good off the ball, but he's handling more this year with Amare out.