We believe that there are many folks who are doing a great job of reporting right after the games, so we thought it better to sleep on the games and give our insight after some further consideration.
Today, Bermuda Bob shares his thoughts after a week that saw Duke win against Michigan State, Temple, and Stanford.
I’ll admit it. Facing a Tom Izzo team always causes me to worry. He is one of the great coaches who always gets so much more from his kids. Couple that with Michigan State being Duke’s first REAL competition, I was more than a bit apprehensive. I was pleasantly impressed.
For the record, I’m still not comfortable with such high profile events as this “Champions Classic.” I’d really love to see it just before the conference part of the season, or even in the middle of it. Of course, no one listens to me !!!
I need to please ask you to indulge me to comment on something else that happened this week …
As the Announcer asked the crowd of mostly Kentucky and Kansas fans there for the second game, to stand for the National Anthem, he found it necessary to add a request to remove hats.
Remove your hat ???
I was appalled that this had to be mentioned. Now, I admit I still get misty eyed during the National Anthem, but a direct request to uncover hit a very sensitive nerve.
Thank you for allowing me that indulgence.
Izzo decided to try and neutralize the down-side of double teaming Jalhil Okafor – who I have decided to nickname as simply “Oaks” – and it backfired. Duke struck with a balanced scoring attack with 4 of the 5 Starters in double figures. This offset Duke being out-rebounded 35-25.
Duke played excellent defense, causing 13 TurnOvers and adding 6 Steals and 5 Blocks, all while staying out for serious Foul Trouble. The Bench contributed when called on sparingly, partly due to Rasheed being under the throes of the flu.
An impressive outing that demonstrated that this team really plays well together.
Next came Temple and Coach K’s old friend Fran Dunphy, who I was happy to see is growing back his trademark brush-style mustache. In recent years they have suffered from tough injuries to primary players. They always play tough nosed on both sides of the Court. Friday night was no difference !!!
Every Duke fan of any length has lived thru those nights when the basket could be the size of wading pool and they could not score. This was one of those nights, plus Dunphy’s kids played a much more physical style than Duke had seen this year. They shot an abysmal 39% with only 30% from outside the Arc.
Duke answered with a stellar defense both inside and on the perimeter. I was numb with pleasure !!! They caused 17 TurnOvers, adding 9 Steals and 5 Blocks but moreover, they hit the Offensive Boards like we haven’t seen in years !!!
Duke led by 10 at the half and added another 10 to the spread. “Oaks” worked hard to score 16 Points on 7 of 20 shooting. On the other hand, Captain Quinn Cook continued to lead 17 points, as did Captain Amile with a great job on both Boards.
Yup, this was a team that is playing complete basketball, and while it was a slog, they found the way to win even if it had to be a bit ugly.
Everyone knows that Coach K never purposely schedules games against past players who are now coaching, so I was a bit surprised when it seemed a foregone conclusion that Duke would play Stanford, a team getting better each year under Johnny Dawkins tutelage.
This game did not disappoint as Duke still only shot 39% and 36% from the Tre. Matt Jones added 10 points on deadly shooting, and Stanford allowed Quinn 21 shots alone. He hit practically every uncontested attempt.
“Oaks” had another very physically challenging night. His opponent eventually Fouled Out, but not after seeing “Oaks” shoot only 4 of 12. On the other hand, he compensated tremendously with 12 Rebounds, 6 each on each side of the Court !!!
I am ecstatic that Duke is hitting and winning the Offensive Boards like no team I can recall !!! As a team, thay logged 16 O/Boards and 25 D/Boards. You’ve got to love that !!!
Once again the Defense forced 24 Fouls and 12 TurnOvers, while adding 9 Steals and 3 Blocks. It was a thing to behold for those of us who have lamented former squads who just didn’t execute Coach K’s call for hardnosed defensive performances.
Duke led by 11 at the Half and ended up with that differential at the end of the game. It was obvious that Coach K was not interested in running up the score as Coach Dawkins was forced to go deep into his Bench due to Foul Trouble.
In the end, Quinny was named MVP (I’m old school !!!) of the event, but that was easy. He scored and commanded this team with a wonderful aplomb. His job is to continue these performances.
My take-away is that we are being taken for a magical ride as this team continues to mature with each game. Personally, I think it’s because this whole team seems to genuinely like each other. Now, don’t fall for all the blithering fawning people like those who commented on the games for TruTV. There will be tough days ahead, but this team seems to have a special way of making due with what is given to them by their opponents, even if it’s not particularly pretty.
One last thing … I am exceedingly impressed with Justise Winslow – who I have nicknamed simply “The Chief” – as he has a penchant for always being around the action that the Box Score simply does not capture. While others are producing exactly how we expected, “The Chief” adds a dimension that always seems to get the job done, and sometimes seemingly out of nowhere !!! He has quickly become my favourite …