In this Installment, Ro and Bermuda Bob look back at Army, then ahead to Wisconsin as they meet in the last game of the Acc/Big 10 Challenge
This game was a lot closer than expected, do you think Duke played very badly or was Army a better team than expected ???
I am happy to take Coach Krzyzewski at his word when he says, “I think Army could play anybody we’ve played and have a chance to beat them.I think they’re that good.”
Army was undefeated coming into the game, though they hadn’t beaten anyone of note, or with a winning record but they are expected to challenge for the top spot in the Patriot league this season. They played tough in Cameron and should be given some credit for it.
The overlooked thing here is that Coach K was able to preserve his record as the last coach to lead Army off to a 5-0 start by stopping the current team from bettering his record.
I thought it was yet another type of game for Duke. They shot only 21% oftheir Trifectas but made up for it by shooting 52% from the Field, and 73% from the Charity Stripe. Their inside game was facilitated by 17 Offensive Rebounds and 20 Assists, especially 12 by Tyus Jones !!! They outrebounded Army 43 to 25, and picked-their pockets 9 times.
Of the games Duke was supposed to win, Army was the best all-around team they played thus far, so they were not pushovers. The great part of the day was that all of the 10 scholarship players got double-digit minutes and looked great !!!
What is your biggest take away from this game ???
Justice Winslow has been playing great so far, but during this Game, we got a chance to see what Duke would be like without him. It was a struggle as Army was able to stay in the game a lot longer than expected, but the guys found their footing and then went on a 17-6 run, late in the first half. Great teams do no rely on any one player. My second point is Duke won by 20 points despite shooting 4-of-19 on Three Point Shots. This is noteworthy because once upon a time, not long ago, this would have been a loss.
You’ve touched on an excellent point. Duke is Guard heavy this year, sowhen Justise went to the bench, it was up to their only Reserve Forward, Semi Ojeleye, to make the most of his minutes, which he did byposting 4 Rebounds and an Assist, while scoring a deuce. Coach K shookup his line up and used Guards Matt Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon for more contributions in a 3 Guard line-up. Marshall Plumlee added 13 solid minutes and made another great contribution.
Who would you consider the Player of the Game ???
For me that was easy. Jahlil Okafor scored 21 points, shooting 8-of-14 and most importantly didn’t register a Foul.
I also felt that every time Duke needed a big play Amile Jefferson was at the end of it. The Junior Forward finished with 7 points and 12 Rebounds (5 Offensive), in 20 minutes of play.
Special mention to Tyus Jones for securing his first double-double, with 16 points and 10 assists and more importantly ZERO turnovers.
Marshall Plumlee is currently shooting 100% from the Free Throw Line, on the season. He finished with a career high 8 points, 5 rebounds and blocked 2 shots.
The FrontCourt of Amile-Okafor-Justice ought to come onto the Court with the old Three Stooges “Hello, Hello, Hello” theme song, not because they are jokers, but because they work so well together. Well, this week, Justise got called 3 times early for questionable calls, sending him to the bench. It took the combined efforts of Semi and Matt to take up the slack as Winslow was forced to pull splinters.
I could not agree more that Amile has become the most consistent contributor. He has certainly come into him own and benefitted from every double-team that Okafor draws. The fact that he is always the guy willing to get the dirty work done makes him a very valuable commodity, and proves his maturity.
Of course, this allows Oakfor to get the spotlight, but rest assured, he has earned it and understands his success is assisted by the efforts of Amile and Justise. Single-team defenses find him hard to handle, so if they double-team him, and he cannot handle it, there is always Amile or Winslow driving the lane.
As the season progresses, I expect teams to try a vast array of defensive combinations known to coaching. As Amile, Okafor, and Justise continue to prove their prowess, they will leave opponents with plenty of headaches.
The game everyone is looking forward to this week is the ACC vs Big 10 anchor game with Duke travelling to Wisconsin.
Do you think Duke has what it takes to beat Wisconsin ???
Firstly, this game will be about composure. Wisconsin is a talented team with experience, while Duke incorporates at least 3 Freshmen.
Secondly, this game may be decided in the Backcourt as the game may come down to possessions, so the Guards must take care of the ball. Whichever team’s Guards fail the most in this task may be on the losing team.
Duke cannot afford to start slow in this game though. They must come out hard and keep their feet firmly on the throttle if they want to beat this Wisconsin team, who have proven very resilient so far this season.
Bo Ryan might have his best team in a long, long time this year. His team is experienced, and 7 of their guys averaging 20 or more minutes a game, they boast 4 Seniors, a pair of Sophomores, and a Junior. They missed a berth in the Championship game last year by one (1) Point. Getting that close has left a long lasting smell in their nostrils, which, along with their desire to get Bo a National Championship, makes them well placed as the #2 team in the country.
Contrast this with Duke’s relative infancy of 4 guys who watched the Final Four last year still in High Schools, and the sting the upperclassmen experienced after an early exit, and you have a game of Shakespearean proportions.
Duke will surely endure their most strident test right from the opening Tip Off. The Badgers are the most competent team Duke might see all season on both ends of the Court. I doubt if you will see many double-teams either way, and both teams will mix up their coverages to guarantee against Foul Trouble.
Both Bo Ryan and Coach K understand that they have been preparing their teams thus far for this game, each with a bit of their peripheral vision dedicated to what the other was doing. Nothing will be left for lack of preparation, which means I’m sure we might even see Duke’s “Orange” zone defense if necessary.
Individual match-ups and performances will probably fall along their seasonal averages, as I don’t see any one player making the difference. I think Duke’s biggest challenge is to play as well as a unit as Wisconsin does. It is for this reason that Wisconsin is a 3.5 Point favourite, and not necessarily because Wisconsin is at home. Yeah, Yeah, I know … Bo has a 91% winning record at Home, so he naturally gets the nod by the OddsMakers. I’m telling you, it will be the most efficient team that prevails.
To prove my point … Thus far this season, with both teams coming into the game with identical 7-0 records. Duke has shot 52.7% from the Field and 38.7% from outside the Arc and pulled down 277 Rebounds. Wisconsin has shot 50.5% on 34% for the Tre with 256 Rebounds. The only way they’d be more similar would be if they were clones !!!
Both teams will need to play interiour and perimeter defense, as both squads are as capable as the other at doing what wins games. If you love great games, I’d grab a nap sometime before the 9:30PM (East) start because you won’t be going to bed anytime before the final horn !!!
My only worry is that Bo Ryan has a penchant for exposing Duke’s weaknesses in the past. So the only guy I know who willingly demonstrates the “Hand-Jive” whenever asked, is not going to let up now.
Coach K certainly has his work cut out, but then so does Bo !!!
Thanks for reading folks … Enjoy the game !!!
Please don’t forget that we’re looking for you to submit some questions for our next installment !!!