Today’s Article is By Bermuda Bob
The stage was set. Madison Square Garden, aka “Cameron North” was packed. Thankfully, Duke wore their blue uniforms. Then, the Tip Off.
Duke worked it’s way to an 11 Point lead by the 12:29 minute mark, then the unthinkable. They were soundly outplayed. Overrun might be more exact. Duke fans were witnessing the unthinkable.
How could St. John’s ruin such a perfectly staged event ???
St. John’s did it by causing 16 Duke TurnOvers, logging 10 Steals, and blocking 4 Shots. They shot 43% and 27% from outside the Arc.
To add insult to injury, Duke was burdened by some of the worst Officiating of the year. The type that makes them look like “Homers” !!! If you are curious of my contention, just watch the replay of the last shot of the Half at the Buzzer by D’Angelo Harrison. Every SportsCaster in America watching the game saw what every Duke fan saw. The shot was soundly AFTER the Shot Clock. The Officials simply trotted into their Locker Room, relying on a technicality that they were not required to review the Shot.
The trend would continue. Soon Duke found themselves behind the “Eight Ball,” as if it were all a bad dream.
The bad dream would continue into the 2nd Half. Bad Fouls, bad calls, overall bad play.
Then, the unthinkable. Marshall Plumlee was inserted and the team took on a completely different look. St. John’s continued to double-team “Oaks” and ignore “Plums,” even after he made his presence he scored with an Assist by Tyus. This was the turning point !!!
“Plums” would go on to pull down 5 Rebounds, as the deficit began to dwindle with every St. John’s missed shot, and “Plums” pulling down the Rebound. Momentum changed and Duke used it to their advantage.
Soon, St. John’s would begin to take “Plums” seriously. That took the pressure off of “Oaks” and the rest of the squad. They began to score and St. John’s suddenly looked spent. The tide had turned and momentum was on Duke’s side.
At the same time, Matt Jones was on the floor for Rasheed. While the Box Score won’t show it, his pulling down 6 Rebounds, creating 2 Assists, and a Steal made a significant contribution.
Duke would get big scores from Tyus and Quinn, and the game would end in Duke’s favour, 77-68.
This was one of the first times that Duke kept their poise, maintained their focus, and looked like a maturing team. They are not close to being where they need to be in March, but they have the whole month of February to work on it. This week will feel like a gauntlet, but it’s also an opportunity get better.
– Justise needs to get healthy so he can keep the Defenses honest.
– “Oaks” needs to dribble less.
– Amile needs to try shooting from that Foul Line Post to keep defenses honest. Right now his not shooting allows defenses to back down closer to “Oaks.”
– Tyus needs to continue to do what he’s doing so well, but maybe be a little more selective with his shots for fear of getting hurt like Justise.
– Quinn needs to continue to lead.
– Rasheed needs to continue in his very important role coming off the bench.
– Coach K needs to get “Plums” and Grayson more floor time. I believe that both have plenty to contribute, but need the chance to do so like “Plums” did in this game.
Duke is at Notre Dame on Wednesday and Virginia on Saturday night. They will both present an even tougher challenge, but it’s time to “bring it” if they want to slay the demons of past performances.
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Rock On !!!