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Glue Devil

Sean Dockery captains seventh annual All-Glue team

Posted: Tuesday February 14, 2006 3:07PM; Updated: Wednesday February 15, 2006 7:04PM
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Sean Dockery has sacrificed his scoring to become an invaluable defender for Duke, which is why he heads up our annual All-Glue team.
Sean Dockery has sacrificed his scoring to become an invaluable defender for Duke, which is why he heads up our annual All-Glue team.
Damian Strohmeyer/SI
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When Sean Dockery came to Duke out of Julian High in Chicago four years ago, he had every reason to expect he would be a big-time college player. A three-time all-state selection and the 2002 Chicago player of the year, Dockery was a McDonald's All-American after averaging 28 points, seven assists and four rebounds as a senior. "I came in thinking I was going to be a scorer just like I was in high school," Dockery says. "I don't think anybody believes they're going to be a role player."

But something happened on the way: Dockery got to Duke and found himself lost among the stars. During his first two seasons in Durham he averaged 3.2 points in 13.1 minutes, and coach Mike Krzyzewski continued to recruit high school All-Americas behind him. At that point Dockery had several choices. He could transfer, as many players do. He could fight the tide and prove he was star-worthy, which would probably mean shooting his way into Coach K's doghouse. Or he could embrace the idea of being a role player and do whatever he could to hold his team together. In other words, he could become a Glue Guy.

That's precisely the choice Dockery made, and this season he is performing that role better than any player in the nation. That is why I have selected Dockery to be the captain of my seventh annual All-Glue team. Dockery and the five other honorees join a young but proud tradition that recognizes players whose under-the-radar, won't-find-'em-in-the-box-score contributions are critical to their teams' success. They're not college basketball's biggest names, but their coaches and teammates fully appreciate their value. So should you.

It's never easy to select one Glue Guy to be the captain, but Dockery gets the nod because of his versatility and maturity. He started the season as Duke's incumbent point guard, but when sophomore guard DeMarcus Nelson broke his ankle in the fourth game, Krzyzewski moved Dockery to the two spot so he could start freshman Greg Paulus at the point. For many seniors, the notion of surrendering your spot to a freshman is wholly unacceptable. Dockery, however, simply handed Paulus the ball and did as he was told.

Besides raising his shooting percentages this season (50.6 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from three-point range, up from 47.7 percent and 42.9 percent last season), Dockery is posting the best assist-to-turnover ratio of his career (1.84 to 1) while consistently guarding the opponent's best perimeter scorer. As good as J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams have been for Duke this season, there have been times when the Blue Devils needed somebody else to score. When those times arise, Dockery steps up. At all others, he simply passes the ball and fades into the background.

And of course, Dockery provided Duke with the season's most memorable moment when he drained a halfcourt shot at the buzzer to beat Virginia Tech at Cameron on Dec. 4.

Dockery's adjustments to college life have extended well beyond basketball. He was Duke's first recruit from the Chicago public school leagues, and he didn't achieve the required standardized test score until the end of his senior year. Yet Dockery has never fallen behind in the classroom and has continuously made progress on the court. He credits his father, Steve, who is the head coach at Corliss High in Chicago, for helping him accept the idea of being a Glue Guy.

"He told me how 98 percent of the players in the NBA are role players. Everybody can't be a star," Dockery says. "Around the beginning of my junior year, I learned I have to play off guys. You're not going to get credit for doing the little things, but as long as we're winning I'm happy."