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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Dawkins finds his shooting touch for Duke

    After Andre Dawkins was held scoreless in Duke’s win over Georgia Tech on Feb. 20, the Blue Devils’ sophomore guard had a serious meeting with coach Mike Krzyzewski.

    Dawkins had averaged 10.2 points during the Blue Devils’ first 22 games. Then he slumped terribly, averaging just 2.3 points over the next nine.

    “”He (Krzyzewski) sat me down and talked to me and told me that I had to turn things around,”” Dawkins said. “”The team needed me, and I wasn’t really making the most of the time.””

    It appears as though Dawkins has taken Krzyzewski’s words to heart as No. 1 seed Duke (32-4) prepares to meet No. 5 seed Arizona (29-7) in the West Regional semifinals in Anaheim, Calif. (9:45 p.m. EDT on Thursday). Dawkins has recovered his shooting touch in the postseason to average 8.4 points over five games.

    His nine first-half points off the bench were a significant factor in Duke’s defeat of North Carolina in the ACC tournament final, and his 13-point outburst against Hampton in the Blue Devils’ NCAA tournament opener marked his highest total since Jan. 15.

    “”I always feel like my jump shot is there,”” Dawkins said, “”but they’ve been able to fall a little bit more lately, and I’ve been trying to be a little more aggressive.””

    When Dawkins’ jump shot is right, there are few better in college basketball. He has good lift and a textbook release. He demonstrated with a shot in Sunday’s win over Michigan that he can score from several feet beyond the 3-point arc.

    But Dawkins’ biggest problem has been that the rest of his game has suffered when his jump shot has been off. Now, Krzyzewski said, Dawkins’ defense in particular has improved.

    “”He’s had by far the best three weeks of his career, in practice and in games,”” Krzyzewski said. “”His defense has improved dramatically and his effort — he’s becoming more of a complete player, and he can become a really, really good player if he stays the course.””

    This is the second straight season in which Dawkins has struggled after a strong start. After he enrolled a year early as a freshman to bolster Duke’s thin backcourt, he became an immediate perimeter scoring threat off the bench last season.

    But after his 21-year-old sister Lacey Dawkins died in a car crash on slippery roads on the way to a Duke game in December 2009, Dawkins slipped into a slump that lasted the remainder of the season.

    “”The difference this year is I’ve been able to kind of come out of it the last few weeks,”” Dawkins said, “”whereas last year that pretty much was it for me for the rest of the season. I think if I just keep improving as we keep advancing, I think I’ll be fine.””

    Watch Dawkins when he plays with confidence, and it’s easy to see that he has a promising future. In addition to deep range on his jump shot, he has the ability to soar to the rim and finish plays on lob passes over less athletic defenders.

    Krzyzewski is glad to see that Dawkins’ effort is starting to match his ability.

    “”He has a chance to be an outstanding player if he stays committed to that type of work ethic and practice,”” Krzyzewski said. “”The practices that he’s had, he’s been very, very good. He moves his feet really well now and talks.””

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