DURHAM, N.C. — DURHAM, N.C. - There is less of J.J. Redick, so Maryland fans have even more reason to revile the Duke junior guard.

A favorite target at Comcast Center, Redick will go to work on the Terps at Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight. Maryland will encounter a veteran who has slimmed down his build, beefed up his game and led the unbeaten Blue Devils to the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, a common occurrence for decades but a surprise this season, because Duke was picked fourth.


Redick leads the conference in four categories, free-throw percentage being the most familiar, minutes played the most satisfying. He wants that 35.9 per to hold up straight through April 4, when the NCAA title game will be played in St. Louis. Mike Krzyzewski said he has never coached a better shooter, but weary legs made Redick's form wobbly and contributed to Duke's demise the past two years.

"J.J. wasn't the Pillsbury Doughboy," Krzyzewski said, placing Redick's shape in perspective. "For a couple of months last season, he was one of the best players in the country, but he had never been on a full, year-round conditioning program. He used the summer to be in the best shape of his life."


The best free-throw shooter in NCAA history, Redick is just as dangerous on the move, running defenders around screens and into the ground. He has, however, tailed off at season's end. As a freshman, Redick made one of 11 three-point shots in a Sweet 16 loss to Kansas. At the 2004 ACC tournament, he was 3-for-17 from long distance. In last year's NCAA semifinal against Connecticut, Redick made one-third of his shots and lost the ball with 12 seconds left.

Spring epiphanies followed those meltdowns.

A week after the Kansas loss in 2003, Redick was in a dormitory room rousted by campus police investigating suspected marijuana use. Redick admitted to doing nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I can't be doing the same stuff everyone else is," Redick said. "I can't even be in the same room. Part of me wants to be a normal college kid, but none of us who play for big programs are."

Redick is playing at about 190 pounds. Last May, he checked in at 215.

"I knew I had to make a bigger commitment to improving my condition," Redick said. "I had to watch everything I eat and drink, get better sleeping habits, mostly just live a healthier lifestyle. ... This [2004] was a big summer for me, because I felt that between my freshman and sophomore year I didn't get a whole lot better. I needed to step it up."

Redick skipped lunch at Bojangles and the tryouts for the U.S. Under 20 team, remained on campus and attacked what might have been Krzyzewski's most demanding offseason conditioning program.

ACC Rookie of the Year Luol Deng and top recruit Shaun Livingston went to the NBA, the Duke roster shrank to eight scholarship players and the two-a-days, five days a week, became more urgent. In the process, Redick turned himself into a quicker athlete with a better handle on the ball and more dimension to his game.


Two weeks ago, N.C. State limited Redick to five shots. He has never taken fewer, but Redick matched his career high of seven rebounds. He's gone from averaging 1.6 assists per game last season to 2.7. With much of the ACC running three-guard sets and the 6-foot-4 Redick taller than Daniel Ewing and Sean Dockery, he's had to check some threes in addition to shooting them.

Of course, Redick remains a 30-point game waiting to happen.

There is the career free-throw percentage of .943, and the fact that Redick is scoring in double figures this season solely on the basis of three-point production. After he dropped 31 points and a career-high eight threes on Florida State last Saturday, Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said, "He's the most phenomenal shooter I've ever seen. It's almost automatic."

Remember, Hamilton spent a season coaching the Washington Wizards in the NBA.

Redick's most memorable road game remains last January's trip to Maryland, when he answered an obscene chant with smiles and five three-pointers.

A recent Sports Illustrated profile postured that Redick is the latest Blue Devils star to be singled out because of his race. Along those lines, Redick was asked two weeks ago if he knew of the attention opponents paid Tamir Goodman, a response to the publicity the Baltimorean received because of his faith.


"That's what I face on a nightly basis," said Redick, who said his notoriety is primarily a byproduct of his uniform, not the color of his skin. "A lot of that has to do with the fact that I play for Duke. I don't say I'm a marked man, but a lot of teams, when they get their schedule, they circle us. We've established a consistency for 25 years, since Coach [Krzyzewski] got here. We're a marked team. I don't know that it's just me."

Is that a point of pride?

"It has to be," Redick said. "That's what we've built our program on."

His improvement recalls the way Shane Battier emerged in his junior season here. On a team depleted by injury, Redick, Ewing and ACC Player of the Week Shelden Williams have responded with more than 33 minutes per game. They get no sympathy from the Devils on the bench, as assistant coach Johnny Dawkins averaged 35.7 minutes per game for his career.

Making a pitch for ACC Player of the Year, Redick is better prepared to combat the fatigue of Marches past, letdowns that were contrary to the work that got him here in the first place.

His routine began to develop in the late 1990s, in his hometown of Roanoke, Va. In addition to logging the requisite hours on AAU teams, Redick honed his stroke with solitary work, standing with his back to the basket from 20 feet, spinning the ball into the air, catching it off one bounce, wheeling and shooting.


Some know that as the Steve Alford Drill.

"I didn't know that was his," Redick joked. "I thought I invented that."

He's No. 1

Duke's J.J. Redick leads the ACC in four statistics this season.

Category Redick

Points per game 21.7


Free-throw pct. .956

3-pointers per game 3.53

Minutes per game 35.9