4. 2001 National Semifinal vs. Maryland
“Sweat, Gary, Sweat.” You can’t say the Cameron Crazies aren’t wordsmiths. Sweat, Maryland coach Gary Williams did, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, we perspired a bit as well.
The Final Four in 2001 opened with an ultra-tough Maryland team facing off against our equally tough Blue Devils. You readers should know, if you’re not already aware, the Maryland teams of the early 2000s were the last you ever wanted to face. Juan Dixon and Steve Blake were “about that action” as the kids would say, and the 2001 squad ran about 12 deep.
The Terrapins came out absolutely on fire, and I don’t use that term lightly. They couldn’t miss if they wanted to, and their defense from the one-spot through the five was alarming. Maryland opened up a 39-17 lead, but Duke, led by my personal favorite Blue Devil, Shane Battier, hung tough and closed the gap to 49-38 by halftime.
Battier continued leading the furious comeback effort, and with some defense (seriously watch Shane Battier play defense) and some All-World bench contribution by Nate James, the Blue Devils started pulling away.
Jason Williams knocked down a three with 6:48 to play, giving the Blue Devils the lead, and the surgical removal of Maryland’s heart began. Chris Duhon had a scary collision with Steve Blake that stunned everyone late, but that stun paled in comparison to the overall shock and awe felt by Maryland nation (I think Gary Williams sweat through 4 shirts that game).