The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, April 17, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Battier Utilizes Head, New Scoring Ability

North Carolina fans love to pick on the shape of the Duke forward's cranium. They say Battier looks like a California Raisin or an alien.

But those who know the game admire Battier's head because of the way he uses it. ESPN commentator Dick Vitale calls him college basketball's smartest player.

The senior thinks things through on the court and, as a result, always seems to be at the right place at the right time. Whether it's spotting up for one of his team-record nine 3-pointers against Princeton or drawing one of his school-record 93 charges, Battier is always there.

And he always gives maximum effort.

"Shane is the best player in college basketball because he plays every play, and he gets the unit to play every play, every huddle, every timeout, every pregame, every halftime to go along with the way he plays," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

But Battier, who leads the ACC in

3-pointers made with 69 and ranks second to teammate Jason Williams in

3-point percentage (.457), hasn't always been a dead-eye long-range bomber.

Battier made just four of his 24 attempts from beyond the arc during his freshman season in 1997-98.

He didn't need to score. Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, Roshown McLeod and William Avery took care of the scoring. Battier served as the defensive stopper.

Langdon and McLeod headed to the NBA after that season, and Brand and Avery did so the next, leaving Battier to assume the scoring duties.

"I knew for us to win ballgames my freshman and sophomore year, we didn't need me to shoot," Battier said. "I needed to rebound, play defense and be a sparkplug. As they needed my offense more, I've stepped it up."

Now the self-described reluctant shooter is a top marksman. His scoring average has increased every year, from 7.6 as a freshman, to 19.5 this year. Battier scored 20 straight points in the second half of a Jan. 20 win at Georgia Tech.

"His development as a player speaks volumes for how hard he's worked," Duke assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "He's completely a different player offensively. He may be the best open shooter in college basketball. He can put the ball on the floor and create for himself.

"He's more than just a defensive stopper and guy that takes charges. He's a complete player."

And he'll fire up a 3 at any opportunity. Battier makes 3.5 treys a game, the most in the ACC.

"On the secondary break, he'll come down and just stop at the hash mark and shoot it, and he'll hit it," UNC forward Kris Lang said.

Even with the gaudy numbers, defensive player of the year awards (he already has two) and player of the year considerations, Battier only cares about one thing.

"I just try to win ballgames," said Battier, whose Duke teams have compiled a 115-12 record. "That is what I've been about since Day One.

"And that is what I'll be about until my last day at Duke."

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Click Here to follow Clash At Cameron