Billy McCaffrey stood in the Duke locker room looking as satisfied as a shooter can look. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound sophomore guard had just scored 16 points in the NCAA championship game, helping Duke beat Kansas 72-65. He shot eight times and only missed twice. He was two-for-for from three-point range and two-for-two from the free throw line.
He did everything but keep track."The last thing I wanted to do was start counting them," he said. "I try never to do that."
Particularly when a national championship is at stake.
"The first one went in and felt good," he said, "and then the second one, a harder shot, went in and felt good too."
It was going to be a short night.
"There was a lot of penetration inside," he said. "I happened to be the benefactor of the kickouts."
It was McCaffrey's accuracy that kept blowing the game open,that never allowed Kansas - a team that played furious man-to-man pressure defense - back in the game; that gave Duke its first-ever NCAA title. McCaffrey made the all-tournament team as a result, and the respect of shooters across America.
"For some reason, I felt less nervous today than usual," he said, going on to add that that didn't make a lot of sense. In the only other NCAA final he'd been in - last year in Denver against UNLV - he was a shaky 1-of-3 from the field.
Before the game, he said he thought back to last year - "A disaster," as he put it.
"I thought, how many times do you get a second chance like this?" he said.
In this year's game against UNLV, in Saturday's semifinals, McCaffrey made two of the three shots he attempted - both of them at crucial stages of the bare 79-77 Duke win. He said that game did a lot for the team's confidence, and for his individual confidence.
"We knew Vegas was a great team," he said. "Beating them doesn't hurt your frame of mind."
McCaffrey gained a reputation as a shooter at Central Catholic High School in Allentown, Pa., where he scored 2,051 career points and had his jersey retired.
At college, McCaffrey has not only used his shooting to pay for his schooling, and to win an NCAA title - but for therapy. He has a key to the Duke gym, and has a habit of going to the gym at odd hours of the night - to be alone and just shoot. He said it helps him think, like jogging does for some people.
"It doesn't matter if the shots go in," he said, "I just shoot. It's therapeutic."
Monday night it was more than therapeutic. It was a fine time to get hot.
"I've got to admit, I've thought about playing for the championship, and making the game-winning shot," said McCaffrey. "Every year, they always show that clip of (Michael) Jordan making that last-second shot (in 1982), and you hope this year it's you."
This year it was him, except it wasn't a last-second shot, and there were a lot more of them than one.