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Monday, March 11, 2002
Boozer yet another weapon for dangerous Blue Devils

Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. -- Carlos Boozer is on the kind of roll that makes highlight films glow and gives opposing coaches sleepless nights. If he keeps it up for six more games, Duke just might have another national title.

Carlos Boozer
Duke's Carlos Boozer had 28 points against BC earlier this season.

The 6-foot-9, 280-pound center is 76-for-91 from the field in his last 10 games, including a 20-for-24 MVP performance in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament over the weekend.

The No. 1 Blue Devils (29-3) now have that reliable inside game to match the outside shooting of Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy and Chris Duhon, making Duke a favorite to repeat as national champion.

Boozer his shooting an ACC-best 67 percent, while hitting 77 percent of his free throws, heading into Duke's NCAA opener Thursday against 16th-seeded Winthrop (19-11) in the South Regional in Greenville, S.C.

Mike Krzyzewski had a simple explanation Monday for Boozer's improvement.

"There is a time that the habits you teach and your maturity as a player and as a human being mesh. They've meshed this year at a high level for him," Krzyzewski said.

Krzyzewski credits assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski with helping Boozer develop a better feel for his post play and for Duke's overall game.

"He has shown Carlos how to use passion and get excited and talk while he's in the post," Krzyzewski said. "Carlos has been one of our better talkers on the court communicating with his teammates."

Boozer, a junior, announced before the season that he would enter the NBA draft early with Williams. But while Williams and Dunleavy were named co-captains, Boozer was not.

Krzyzewski changed that Feb. 5, naming Boozer a tri-captain. Boozer said that was an important moment in his Duke career.

"It was a great honor," Boozer said. "Even though I thought I was doing a pretty good job of leading prior to that day, it just made me want to take on more responsibilities as far as the team is concerned."

"He says good things in the locker room, in huddles, on the court and the longer he was saying those things it was obvious that the other kids listened," Krzyzewski said. "He was just a voice that needed to be heard more and given more authority."

His teammates have noticed.

"Carlos has been a totally different person this year," Dunleavy said. "He's taken complete ownership of his role in this team."

Boozer's value to Duke was never more evident than in an 87-84 loss at Virginia Feb. 28.

The big man was 12-of-13 from the field and 9-for-10 from the foul line, but the Blue Devils failed to get Boozer the ball down the stretch -- and it cost them.

"Carlos was having such a great game and for some reason we felt like we had to revert back to our guard play, like our guard play was going to be that thing that was going to bust it wide open," Williams sad. "It wasn't, that was obvious. It's a game we learned from. We realized once Carlos is going we've got to keep going to him."

Boozer is eager to get the postseason started _ and not just because he's on a torrid shooting pace. He missed the first two games last season with a broken bone in his right foot before coming back for the regional semifinals and final on a limited basis.

"Sometimes you can set a tone in the tournament the first two games and I missed that last year," he said. "It was like I went from being a key component to being a cheerleader, which is cool, but at the same time it was burning at me inside because I wanted to be out there helping my teammates out."

He's 100 percent healthy this time.