Guarding J.J. Redick

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –-- It goes against nearly every basketball principle Dean Smith ever taught, that ultimate success or failure should rest so heavily on one player's shoulders. Yet, such is the case with Duke and its senior sharpshooter, J.J. Redick.

And that's not the only difference in philosophy between North Carolina and Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils.

Traditionally, the Tar Heels (14-5, 5-3 ACC) would rather look inside first, strive to shoot 60 percent from the post and pick up as many offensive rebounds and stick-back baskets as possible. But in many cases, the Blue Devils (21-1, 9-0) would rather shoot 40 percent from three-point range, which often makes for long rebounds, helps negate size inside and, you guessed it, more opportunities at three-point shots.

The numerous differences between the policies of the two regimes can be discussed ad infinitum, but when Duke and Carolina hook up Tuesday at 9 p.m. in the Smith Center, UNC's toughest challenge defensively will be trying to slow down the nation's finest outside shooter.

Redick, ranked second nationally in scoring, is averaging 28.1 points per game, including three games in which he's scored 40 or more points, and seven more with 30-plus. Redick's 85 treys are one more than his team has allowed this season.

He's no gunner mind you; Redick is making good on 50 percent of all his shots, 44 percent from three-point range, and 87 percent from the free throw line this season. However, he's not in there for his defensive prowess either.

"I can't remember anybody in my time of college basketball averaging 27-28 a game," Roy Williams said. "To do it on a top quality team, especially when defenses are aimed to stop you… Every year there's somebody that leads the country averaging 27-28 a game, but his team is usually not very good. For J.J. to shoot the ball as effectively as he has with the other team's defense aimed at him is about as impressive as it can be."

Jackie Manuel, who took part in UNC's Monday afternoon practice, knew a little about guarding Redick, and was on hand to provide his insight especially to Bobby Frasor, Wes Miller, Marcus Ginyard and Danny Green – all of whom are sure to see significant action for the first time in this storied rivalry. It's freshman Tyler Hansbrough's first time around in this series as well, and his battle in the paint with Shelden "The Landlord" Williams provides for another thrilling subplot.

In his Senior Game, Manuel, with help from Noel, shutout Duke's prolific shooter in the second half, enabling the Tar Heels to gut out a 75-73 victory the last time these two teams met.

This year the Tar Heels may try to combat Redick with a little each from Frasor, Miller, Ginyard, Green and/or Reyshawn Terry, at least until Williams can find the best match-up and then stick to it. Noel won't be able to help much this year since he'll have his hands full in giving up four inches of height to Duke freshman Josh McRoberts.

"Hopefully we won't have to use that many guys to guard [Redick]," Green said. "I think we'll do a good job on him. We've been practicing chasing guys through screens and just finding the shooter."

Frasor kept Arizona's 6-4, 220-pound super-athletic Hassan Adams in check for an ineffective 12 points and held Maryland's D.J. Strawberry scoreless in the second half last Thursday at College Park.

"Obviously everyone knows J.J. is a great scorer," Ginyard said. "All the guys who will have a shot at him tomorrow have to fight their best to be all over him, challenge every shot and just make him as uncomfortable as possible. He's going to knock down some tough shots, but you've just got to stick with it."

Ginyard started the first 14 games due to his defensive effectiveness. And when he began to fall off a bit, Miller stepped right in not just because of his three-point shooting, but because he was playing solid defense in the backcourt. Terry, who's beginning to fulfill preseason expectations offensively, has also gained his coach's favor of late due to his on the ball stopping power.

"I think Reyshawn's worked extremely hard to try to become a better player, and I think he's going to be a big-time defensive player," Williams said following UNC's 76-61 win over Clemson on Saturday.

And while the Tar Heel head coach has a roster filled with inexperience, the most impressive aspect of his young team has been their defensive intensity, which bodes well for a matchup like tonight's showdown.

"They've really bought into the defensive end of the floor and bought into playing with an energy level and passion that's really impressive to me," Williams said.

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