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NCAA MEN'S TOURNAMENT

Duke makes a point

Blue Devils switched to Jon Scheyer to run their offense and the move has paid off handsomely.

April 01, 2010|Chris Hine

HOUSTON — It was the middle of Jon Scheyer's junior season and Duke was reeling. The Blue Devils uncharacteristically had dropped four of six games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, sending the fan base into a tizzy.

That's when the Duke coaching staff decided before a nonconference road game to make some changes; chief among them was handing the bulk of the point-guard duties to Scheyer.

It was a move that helped salvage Duke's season -- the Blue Devils won the ACC tournament -- and paved the road for this season's trip to the Final Four, Duke's first since 2004.

"Even though he might not be this prototypical point guard, you feel good with him making decisions with your team," Chris Collins, associate head coach at Duke, said Sunday. "He plays at his pace. He keeps your team on an even keel."

Scheyer's wiry 6-foot-5 frame isn't the look you would associate with an average point guard, and the switch required some adjustment from Scheyer. He said the change hasn't been too dramatic for him, except in one area.

"Different players are guarding me, so going into games, you don't know if they're going to have their point guard on me, or a bigger guard," Scheyer said.

To help in the transition, Scheyer attended the Deron Williams Skills Academy last summer, a camp for the top high school and college point-guard prospects that is named for the former Illinois and current Utah Jazz guard. Joining him at the camp were Kalin Lucas of Michigan State and Sherron Collins of Kansas, among others.

"I think what he learned most of all is how to play against certain quickness," Chris Collins said.

At times, Collins said, Scheyer's duties at point guard can take away from his shooting.

For the season, Scheyer is just below 40%, as he was his junior season. His sophomore season, he shot just above 44%. But Scheyer is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game this season.

"Where you see him not shooting the ball as well, it's because he has so much on his plate to run our team, to play defense, to get us in sets," Collins said. "Guys are pressuring him and, all of a sudden, sometimes your shot becomes an afterthought."

Scheyer has improved his efficiency at point guard. Last season, he averaged 1.8 assists for every turnover. Now that number is 2.9.

Scheyer's biggest improvement was on display Sunday when Duke defeated Baylor to get to the Final Four.

"At the end of the game, especially [Sunday], he just had this look on his face like we weren't losing this game," center Brian Zoubek said.

"It's great to be able to look to somebody who has been through it -- because he has been through it more than anybody."

chine@tribune.com

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