After writing several posts about the Duke-UNC game and the coming ACC Tournament I suddenly realized that while I complained about everyone saying J.J. Redick was emotionally fatigued, I have no idea what that phrase means. Really, what does it mean to be emotionally fatigued? I have heard of players being emotionally drained after they play a pressure packed game or one they requires a lot of emotional and physical energy. And I do understand how wild emotions can be for 18-22 year old college students. That being said the term emotional fatigue is being used as though it is a long term condition. Winning or losing a tough game usually results in a one game emotional downturn. In Redick's case emotional fatigue is made to sound like Redick is emotionally spent and it is a condition spanning a signigicant period of time. I am guessing it is the same as being emotionally drained but resulting from long term expectation or pressure and it has a longer shelf life. It also should be noted no treatment seems to be available at this time.
Now before I delve into this any further I will say up front that I think J.J. Redick is a great player, not the best we have ever seen, since his defense and ball handling are questionable, but he plays at a level we have rarely ever seen in the ACC. In terms of his bad shooting I think Redick is in a good old fashioned slump, he seems to be little tired physcially, and some teams are actually playing better defense on him. I also think that it is possible the nature of the FSU game only three days prior and the crush of emotion of Senior Night had a negative emotional impact on Redick against UNC. Of course he also started the game 4 for 5 so draw whatever conclusion you want from that. So having established those vital points it must be said that the emotional fatigue business does not make sense in terms of its meaning and these factors. It is my opinion that this term also indicates some serious failings on the part of college basketball analysts, especially those at ESPN, who spouted it ten times Saturday night.
The crux of the term, as Dick Vitale espoused it, was that Redick dealt with so much pressure while he was breaking the Duke and ACC scoring records it in turn depleted him on an emotional level and that is now effecting his play. Now at first that sounds almost believable as most things people say when they first say them on television. That is until you follow the implications through to their logical conclusions. Everyone on the planet or at least in those places that get ESPN, knew Redick was going to break the Duke and ACC scoring records. There was a point about mid-season where it went from if to when all he had to do was show up and do what he had been doing all season. Of course when Duke visited Georgia Tech, Redick started missing shots in a bad way. It continued at Temple, then Florida State, and finally culminated in a 1 for 14 effort during the final 33 minutes at home against UNC. Now, the Duke record was broken before they went to Georgia Tech and against Temple he salted the ACC mark away with two free throws. So, at what point did the emotional fatigue set it. Was after the Miami game when he passedohnny Dawkins or after the Temple game when he passed Dickie Hemric? Or did it start at the 13 minute mark of the first half of the UNC game? Just when did Redick's emotional tank go dry? I am sure Vitale could tell you. The other conclusion you must draw is that Redick is so emotionally fragile and is so devoid of emotional toughness that breaking two scoring records most everyone thought he would break created such an emotional crisis that he no longer is able to hit his jumpshots. With due respect to Vitale, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas, and anyone else on this wagon, but that is unadulterated horse manure. J.J. Redick is a Duke senior who has played in front of vitrolic crowds and has been a key player at arguably the best program in the nation for four years. Are we seriously going to believe that now he has some sort of emotional drainage which alters how well he can play the game?
I for one am not going to buy into that load of garbage, especially since it seems to contradict what these same people have been saying about Redick all year. Redick is tough, Redick is an iron man, Redick is unstoppable, Redick will kill you with big shots. All year long we have heard this because Vitale does all the Duke games. Every game we hear how great Redick is and as I said before, he is a great player. The problem is Vitale and the gang have built Redick up to a level which supersedes merely calling him a great player. There were times when you listened to Vitale and thought that when James Naismith invented basketball, he also created J.J. Redick. OK, maybe that is a little over the top but it is true that these experts wasted a lot of air time exalting Redick to a higher plane of basketball player. So what happens when the guy you have talked about all season long as an unstoppable shooter, who never rests, and can play at an incredible level 40 minutes every night suddenly looks like a tired 22 year old who is a little off with his jump shot against improving defensive schemes? You invent a condition tied to some recent event which no one can prove but sounds really smart when said on television. Since Redick was an "iron man" you cannot really call him tired, and since he was nearly impossible to stop, you could not say the defenses were stopping him, and everyone knows what a dead on shooter Redick is from 25 feet in so there is no way he can have a slump. So they decided that Redick is "emotionally fatigued" They decided that the toll of breaking a record which was his to break no matter what was too much for the emotionally fragile senior from Virginia. In fact when it was finally done it left him hopelessly drained of the necessary emotional strength to not only hit jump shots but apparently it sucked the air out of the rest of the Duke team to the tune of two straight losses.
This is what is commonly known as "poppycock." This is just another example of something we often see in today's society and that is incessant pyschological/emotional nonsense which is not only used to justify bad jump shots but people doing lots of things like stealing and murder. This is college basketball, not Dr. Phil, so I would be grateful if they would spare us the phychological analysis of J.J. Redick's emotional state. I would like for them to actually earn their pay and offer us some basketball reasons why Redick is shooting so badly. If you look at the four opponents in question they include great defensive teams in Temple and UNC, a Florida State team hell bent on vengance and while the Georgia Tech guards are quick enough to give Redick fits it did not stop him from hitting three big shots midway through the 2nd half. In other words it is a combination of things such a tired legs and increased defensive pressure which compounding a natural slump. Is it too much to ask ESPN to offer us reasons like this instead of the pyschobabble they chose to give us. And while I do not profess to know or understand the pressures and expectations Redick is dealing with, I would imagine at this point in his career he has learned to deal with it. I think these guys who are such huge Redick fans actually do him a disservice with reasoning of this nature. Saying Redick is emotionally fatigued is tatamount to saying he is not tough enough to handle playing top flight college basketball. And despite what I have thought of him in the past, I do think he deserves better than having a bad stretch of games excused away with a theory as dumb as this one.
Of course if they happen to be right about this sudden emotional failure on Redick's part I think he should perhaps avail himself of some of the fine pyschologists at Duke Medical Center lest his next empty emotional tank sends Duke home for good.
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