Wendell Moore and Shane Battier
Calm down, Wendell. It’s really not that shocking. Both of you are known first and foremost for your hardnosed diligence to working on the defensive end. While Shane Battier may have been the best team defender in the history of Duke basketball — sorry, Shelden Williams — Wendell Moore may be a better man-on-man individual stopper and certainly is quicker and more athletic — sorry, Shane.
The offensive side of the ball was a work in progress for both their freshman years. They each averaged about 7.5 points per game, Moore a tenth less and Battier a tenth more, although Battier shot more efficiently at 54 percent to Moore’s 42 percent. The difference is most likely seen in how they played their games, especially as first-year players.
Battier did most of his work on the inside and had averages of 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.5 blocks, which showed how effective he was at doing the dirty work at such a young age. Battier was one of the smartest players Coach K has ever had in his Duke basketball program. His ability to do the little things and affect the game in limited minutes showed his IQ, unselfishness, and team-first mentality.
Battier stuffed the stat sheets on his way to All-ACC Freshman Team honors, and we all know how prestigious his Duke basketball career turned out to be. I could list the close calls, but as this college hoops lockout has shown us with all the old Devil games re-airing, almost every player in Duke basketball’s long and storied history under Coach K has had at least one of them if not more. The what-could-have-been’s are probably better than the histories of 90 percent of teams out there. And that may be conservative.
Although Moore didn’t join his Duke basketball mates, Vernon Carey Jr. and Cassius Stanley, on the All-ACC Freshmen Team, he won and starred in what is now Duke’s biggest win of the season. His soul-crushing putback as time expired on the hopes and dreams of Tar Heel fans everywhere will live in Duke basketball lore forever and be one of the sweetest victories in the bitter rivalry. The UNC game also showed everyone the promise that Moore possesses.
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He attacked relentlessly and under control in getting to the line or finishes at the rim without settling for contested jumpers. Like Shane, Wendell shot poorly from long range, 21 percent to Battier’s 17 percent, although at this point in their careers, neither relied too heavily on the 3-ball, averaging less than one attempt per game.
With his build and fiery attitude, Moore is best suited to get to the basket and also did this with 10 rebounds against the Heels, notching his only double-double on the year. Moore played more on the perimeter than Battier, and Shane was never slotted to bring the ball up the court in a point forward role. Moore averaged an assist better during his freshman campaign, and though they played a little differently, they have similar traits.
One thing Wendell could learn from the Duke basketball legend is the calm and control with which he graced Cameron. Wendell seemed to be good for a charge or two and some unforced turnovers. Like the Devil great, however, this was a product of giving it his all when he was on the court and letting everyone know it with his play. Moore has indicated he is receptive to donning Duke blue next season, and it would be a relief to us all if he did.
Let’s take the shock value up a little with the next Duke basketball player to hopefully elate us with his presence on next year’s squad and see which luminary he could be. He won’t be because he’ll never stay past next year, but I and Duke basketball fans everywhere would be happy with just the one extra year…