Duke Beats Louisville … “Irrational Exuberance” Prevails !!!



Today’s Article is by Bermuda Bob

In the course of one week … 7 days … Duke fans went from the horror of losing to a team they should have beaten, to being soundly beaten at their beloved Cameron Indoor Stadium, (which caused some to Google noose-tying) to the ecstasy of a win against Louisville, at Louisville.

Then it began.  All the trappings of a programme that had turned itself around all to the delight of the faithful !!!

Unfortunately, those faithful fans rarely look at the big picture, stat sheets, nor the road ahead.  That is college basketball’s version of “irrational exuberance” … a term I borrowed from Alan Greenspan, who created it to describe the “dot.com” trading bubble as Federal Reserve Chairman in 1996.

It has never been more applicable, but this time to Duke fans and many of the knee-jerk sports media.

So, since we describe ourselves as purveyours of “Honest and Unabashed Opinions …” I feel a sincere responsibility to point out as few things that conveniently escaped so many folks …

  1. Duke shot 49% to 25.5% from the Field … and … 27% to 16% from outside the Arc in route to a 63-52 win. Duke also were credited with 13 Assists to 7 by Louisville.
  1. Louisville outrebounded Duke 38-32, with 18 Cardinal Rebounds being Offensive “boards.” Louisville blocked 4 Shots to one by Duke.
  1. Both teams committed 10 TurnOvers, and essentially committed the same amount of Personal Fouls.

Those are the statistics that, I maintain, do not bode well for the Blue Devils, regardless of their win.   The score is assumed to tell the story, and while Duke certainly quieted most the 22,791 Cardinal fans at the Yum Centre in their Duke Blue “away” uniforms, it does not explain the whole story.

  1. Even by the pained admission of a gaunt and pekid Coach Rick Pitino, Louisville is a terribly poor shooting team.  All the Defense in the world will not prevail unless you can put the ball in your own bucket !!!
  1. Coach K proved why he is the greatest active coach by putting aside his complete and utter distain for the Zone Defense, and used it almost exclusively.  A practice he has only used less than 5% of his career.
  1. Duke’s formerly well distributed scoring was replaced by a team high  performance by Amile with 19 points, and the usual 18 points by “Oaks” !!!  Rasheed played 16 minutes off the Bench and did not score.  Quinn was cold as ice, and Justise continued his scoring blight.

So, what does this all mean to me, as opposed to those who are still jumping for joy ???  It means that Duke is still in the same type of trouble that just about everyone thought they were on Friday !!!

Duke is on a quick turn-around and will play PITT at home on Monday night.  The questions about this team ought to continue for a few reasons.

*     Duke’s shooting woes were not ameliorated on Saturday.  They just looked like they were when compared to Louisville, who has consistently shot poorly, especially in big games.  Just ask Kentucky !!!

*     Duke’s defensive woes will not be fixed unless Coach K is willing to admit that the “Man-to-Man” Defense by Freshmen is a non-starter.  I have no doubt that a man of his character and creativity is capable of converting, but let’s just say I have my doubts.  My proof is based in his stoic steadfastness to a short player rotation.  If you doubt me, ask Mike Gbinije, Alex Murphy, Semi Ojeleye, and even Grayson Allen !!!

*     Regardless of which defensive profile Duke shows next, they will continue to have problems in the ForeCourt.  I say that for the same reason as I pointed out Louisville’s 18-5 Offensive Rebound excellence.  When you compare those to the score, versus their terrible shooting, you suddenly realize that most of those “O-Bounds” were put-back scores. That means that Duke continues to give away the BaseLine and allow Back-Door scores at an alarming rate.

*     Anyone that has watched Duke from the beginning of this season knows that every opponent has used up countless bottles of Visiene watching film of Jahlil Okafor.  Each will discount what has not worked, try to learn from what has, and apply it to their squad’s abilities, or inabilities.  One ploy that has worked somewhat is a double team on “Oaks” by “bigs” and a sweep by a Guard when he puts it on the floor.  He is most effective the less he dribbles, so the team needs to take the pressure off of him to score.  They do this by NOT passing in to him and standing around waiting for the dish out to them.  Amile proved this conclusively on Saturday.  Instead of waiting for the double-team on “Oaks,” he made his own scoring opportunities by moving.  The balance of  the team must follow their Captain’s lead !!!

Anyone that knows me, or has ever read any of my stuff knows I believe that the “one-and-done” recruit is an anathema to everything that is good, true, and beautiful about college basketball.   As easy as it would be to look the other way this year, I simply can’t, nor won’t. Coach K has dipped his toe into the “one-and-done” waters thrice before with single players with disastrous results.  This year he has 3 of his 4 Frosh recruits starting.  Regardless of how talented they are … and there is no doubt that they ARE talented … they are still missing important experience.  Even Coach K realizes this when he laments that he is trying to stuff 3-4 years of EXPERIENCE into a single year, thus acknowledging that some may succumb to what I call “deception for dollars.”

If there is anyone who can prove me wrong, it is Coach K.  For now, at the beginning of a grueling ACC season, it will only be done by concentrating on what they learn from the experience of each game …

… and leaving the “irrational exuberance” to the fans and the members of  the media who don’t know any better !!!

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