- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

Some hard work on the glass turned out to be just as important for Duke as its machine-like 3-point shooting.

Though it’s easy to cite the third-seeded Blue Devils’ eight 3-pointers as a key to yesterday’s 76-69 defeat of N.C. State in the ACC tournament semifinals at MCI Center, Duke was just as impressive on the boards. The Blue Devils’ 12 offensive rebounds in the second half led to a dozen second-chance points as Duke erased a deficit as large as eight.

“Whenever they got a second shot, they made us pay dearly with a couple of 3s,” N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said.

Freshman guard DeMarcus Nelson and senior center Shelden Williams shared the Blue Devils’ lead in rebounds with nine. Nelson grabbed six offensive rebounds, often wresting the ball away from an N.C. State player.

“DeMarcus has played well,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He’s gotten better and better. He had nine rebounds and six offensive, and that’s the thing he does best. The next thing we want him to do well is play defense. His offense will come. He can be and has been very valuable to us when he does those things.”

Court matters

Krzyzewski complained after the Blue Devils’ quarterfinal defeat of Virginia on Friday night that teams that didn’t play in Thursday’s first round had no shootarounds at MCI Center before their games. That denied five teams the opportunity to become accustomed to the arena’s lighting and court.

J.J. Redick, who scored 35 points for the Blue Devils yesterday after going 4-for-17 from the floor Friday, agreed it made a difference.

“When you’re used to having an hour and 15 minutes every game [to practice shooting] and then you get only 20 minutes, it kind of messes with your head as a shooter,” Redick said.

Hodge takes a pass

N.C. State’s Julius Hodge didn’t turn in an explosive offensive performance in his final ACC tournament game, scoring just 11 points. Still, he had seven rebounds and six assists while turning the ball over just twice to keep the Wolfpack in it for much of the game.

“I was just trying to run my team out there,” said Hodge, who is 10 points shy of joining Rodney Monroe and David Thompson as the only N.C. State players to score 2,000 career points. “Guys were open and they were hitting shots. There was no need for me to force any shots.”

McCants harmful?

North Carolina coach Roy Williams deflected criticism that guard Rashad McCants’ return over the past two games after missing three weeks with an intestinal ailment caused the Tar Heels’ offense to slump. Williams felt North Carolina floundered at season’s end without him.

“Before you start writing about how Rashad disturbed our chemistry when he came back, we weren’t exactly setting the world on fire those last two games [before the ACC tournament],” Williams said.

The nation’s top-scoring team managed an 88-81 victory over Clemson on Friday before losing to Georgia Tech 78-75 yesterday. McCants scored 17 points in 22 minutes against Georgia Tech, including a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining to close within 76-75.

Elder impact

Georgia Tech is 6-3 since guard B.J. Elder returned from a strained hamstring. Although Elder scored only two points and missed all four field goal attempts, Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said North Carolina was forced to spread its defense because of him.

“Just his presence on the floor opened things up,” Hewitt said. “It didn’t matter how many points he scored. With him on the floor, they gave a lot of space to [guard] Jarrett Jack. His presence is more important than anything else.”

Five locals honored

Walt Williams (Maryland), Danny Ferry (Duke), Dennis Scott (Georgia Tech), Bobby Lewis (North Carolina) and Kenny Carr (N.C. State) were among 11 former players named to the ACC tournament legends at halftime of the North Carolina-Georgia Tech game.

Williams (Crossland), Ferry (DeMatha) and Scott (Flint Hill Prep) were area prep stars in the late 1980s. Lewis (St. John’s) was a local standout in 1964, and Carr (Mackin) starred in the 1970s.

Wally Walker (Virginia), Bobby Conrad (Clemson) and Skip Brown (Wake Forest) also were honored. Rick Barry (Miami), Allan Bristow (Virginia Tech) and Dave Cowens (Florida State) also were named, though they played before their schools entered the ACC.

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