tampabay.com

Double dribble: Men

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published March 4, 2006


TAKING A TOLL?

Duke guard J.J. Redick has enjoyed a history-chasing and making season, but it has perhaps had an affect on his J.

In his past three games against Georgia Tech, Temple and Florida State, he has hit a combined 18 of 59 shots (31 percent), including 6 of 26 3-pointers (23 percent).

All three were away from Cameron Indoor Stadium, and he might find there's no place like home today. But he was shooting 51 percent from the floor, 45 percent from 3-point range, in his other games.

"There's always concern with players on how you're bringing them along," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said recently. "I think J.J. suffered the effects of the emotional stuff, the 3-point record, the Duke (scoring) record, the ACC (scoring) record. It was like, "Okay. What's the next record?' "

He saw that kind of attention, demands and pressure, both internal and external, take a toll on Christian Laettner back in 1992 as Laettner racked up awards and hit one of the most memorable shots in NCAA Tournament history against Kentucky en route to the Blue Devils' second consecutive national title.

"It's not as much physical as it is emotional," Krzyzewski said. "You can get emotionally drained. . . . It was good to see J.J. accomplish those things. (But) there's a price to be paid for all of that."

TOP 10

Redick, teammate Shelden Williams and Illinois guard Dee Brown are finalists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy for the second straight year. They're joined by Michigan State guard Maurice Ager, Memphis forward Rodney Carver, Villanova guard Randy Foye, West Virginia forward Mike Gansey, Louisiana Tech forward Paul Millsap, Gonzaga forward Adam Morrison and Texas forward P.J. Tucker. Members of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association will select the winner, who will receive his award during the Final Four weekend in Indianapolis.

BY THE NUMBERS

3: Teams that are undefeated in regular-season conference play (George Washington, Bucknell and Gonzaga; only GW has a regular-season league game left, today against Charlotte).

4: Consecutive one-point games involving Oklahoma (Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma State), a Big 12 record. The Sooners won all four. They play Sunday at Texas.

22: Consecutive seasons that Arizona has won at least 10 Pac-10 games.

191: ACC wins by legendary North Carolina State coach Everett Case, one more than current Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek. State is at Wake Forest today.

IS IT THE A-10 OR A-1?

George Washington (25-1, 15-0) has soared to No. 7 in the AP poll, is riding a 17-game winning streak (with star forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu missing the last two with a left knee injury) and is running away with the Atlantic 10 regular-season title.

The latter isn't helping its conference brethren.

"It looks like the A-10 is George Washington and everybody else," conceded Saint Louis coach Brad Soderberg.

He and other league coaches insist parity shouldn't be confused with mediocrity. Saint Louis has beaten Southern Illinois and has narrow losses against Gonzaga and Iowa. Temple has wins against Alabama and Maryland and played Duke tough last week. Xavier has beaten Cincinnati and has near misses at Illinois and at Creighton on its resume. That ain't bad.

"I think we have a few teams that are right there on the edge of doing something special," GW coach Karl Hobbs said.

But that probably will end up being in the NIT. The league is rated No. 11, a position that rarely produces multiple bids. The A-10 has sent just its automatic qualifier twice in the last 15 years, but both were recent (2002, 2005).

TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM. OR TWO. OR THREE OR . . .

In three of its previous four games, Tennessee has played Alabama, Arkansas and Kentucky, three teams that needed an eye-catching win to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble and solidly into the at-large field.

"Being the team player that we are in the SEC, we've managed to lose all three and with our strong RPI," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl deadpanned, "hopefully we've been able to get some more (league) teams in the "Big Dance.' "

He was speaking facetiously, of course, but in all likelihood, correctly.