Point/CounterPoint #18 – After the 1st Big Dance Early Rounds & Going Into the Sweet 16

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In this installment, Rowan Shiell & Bermuda Bob comment on Duke’s first two outings in the Big Dance, look forward to the Sweet 16, and take a peek beyond.  Plus, they discuss the ACC’s wonderful showing, and opine on the CBS coverage …

Query #1

Duke broke into the Big Dance with a convincing win against Robert Morris.

Was there anything that stood out for you ???

Rowan:

Over the weekend I have come to understand that nothing a team accomplishes in the regular season helps them in the tournament. That is my overall takeaway. Everyone is starting from the bottom now. Marshall Plumlee had a great start with his first career Double-Double.

Jahlil Okafor seems to have given up on his Board work, but has shown incredible patience on offense.  He is quite an adept ball handler too !!!

Bermuda Bob:

First and foremost, Congratulations to Marshall “Plums” Plumlee !!! He had an excellent day, full of energy and presence. The Commentators noted that he has provided a great practice environment for “Oaks” so, to see him have the opportunity to blossom was great.

As for the team effort, it had to be a relief to everyone that Duke did not become the first #1 Seed to be beaten by a #16 Seed. Reliving the nightmares of the past.

Quinn Cook got his stroke back and everyone was able to get some floor time. Amile actually scored 10 Points, dealing out 3 Assists.

It was an outing that sent them forward with confidence that might have been bruised in the ACC Tournament.

Query #2

Duke then took on San Diego State, went out fast and maintained their lead for the whole game.

What impressed you, and what didn’t ???

Rowan:

I thought Duke could have utilised a Zone Defense against SDSU because they seemed reluctant to shoot, but the defense held up.  I had the NC State, Miami and Notre Dame losses at the back of my mind.  There, whereby, penetrating Guards hurt Duke.  Going back to my opening statement, everything has been reset. San Diego never really got a chance to hurt Duke.

Okafor was really impressive on both sides of the court. He scored at will and blocked shots.  Maybe he has been saving his best for last …

Bermuda Bob:

I think we saw a San Diego State team that was not at it’s best.  There were reports of a Flu spreading thru the team.  I hope they are better now, and I hope they did not “donate” it to the Duke kids.

Duke went out fast and scored big.  When they began to tire, the subs got the job done by maintaining what the Starters accomplished.  That is always important in the Big Dance.  Take your foot off the pedal, let in the opposition, and the tide can change quickly, shifting momentum.

Justise Winslow had a great game with 12 Rebounds – 11 of them on the Offensive Boards, along with 13 points.

Going forward, they will build on this performance as they will see different types of teams from what’s in the ACC this year.

Query #3

Duke draws a tough Utah team next.  They are a team most of us only saw this week.

What are the keys to seeing Duke prevail ???

Rowan:

Utah has been one of my favourite teams to watch outside of Duke. They play together and for each other. They have two seven footers (Jakob Poetl is a potential high NBA draft pick), they can throw at Duke plus some great versatile players in the form of Chris Reyes and Jordan Loveridge. At 6’7″ they can both play inside or out. These two have stepped up their game as Delon Wright, their best player, has seen his production tail off in recent games but he is still a threat.

One thing I noticed, against Georgetown, was that they had no answer for Josh Smith inside. That is when he decided to play on the block, which was not enough times. It was tough seeing him setting endless picks without rolling to the basket.  Okafor is a much more potent and mobile scorer than Smith.

Bermuda Bob:

Utah is another one of those teams that are not like anyone they play against in conference. They will be more physical and more roundly talented. Duke will need to play within whatever Coach K’s Game Plan turns out to be.

If the “bigs” of Utah prove to be formidable, I think a rotation of Amile, “Plums,” and Matt will be necessary. A lot of people like the idea of “Twin Towers” to draw some of the intensity that defenses play against him. Sure, it sounds good for a game in Texas, but another player who is not as much of a scoring threat will not draw defenses off “Oaks.”

If and when “Plums” gets floor time, it is imperative that he STOP those goofy looking picks, that take him way too far from the Paint.  He is rarely a threat to execute a Pick-and-Roll and opposing players know that, so, all it does is take him away from where he excels – under the basket – and allows opponents Box Out position on him !!!

I’m hoping for Duke to get out to the same type of lead they like to, then hold it so as to keep Utah on their heels. That along with stellar defense … BY EVERYONE … should get them advancing.

Query #4

Presuming Duke prevails, the consensus is that Gonzaga is their next opponent.  They are said to be Mark Few’s best team of all.

Can Duke beat them to make it to the Final Four ???

How do they do it ???

Rowan:

I want to see how Gonzaga plays UCLA before I can comment on this besides, I think Utah plays a similar game to Gonzaga, even if their “Bigs” aren’t as talented.

Bermuda Bob:

I think Gonzaga will prevail against UCLA, a team that I do not think belonged in the Field of 64.  They advanced by a Referee error to boot !!!

We are told that Mark Few has his best team this year. I believe that they will be a formidable foe. I have to trust Coach K will have some ideas on how to handle them.

I think that varying their looks, getting out to a strong start, and playing tough defense is presumed. The best way to handle teams that protect the paint well, is to constantly move the ball like Duke does so well when they go to the 4 Guard line-up.

Query #5

Duke is joined by four (4) other ACC teams still left in the Big Dance, leading all conferences.

Where do you expect everyone to be after the Regionals, going to the Final Four ???

Rowan:

Seems the ACC was much better than previously thought. I imagined when they recently added Notre Dame, Louisville and Syracuse this is what they had in mind. ACC won all their opening games. I didn’t think Virginia would be out this early though as NC State took out Villanova.

SEC had a down year and so did the Big 10 (compared to the last two season). Everyone thought the Big 12 was the best, but the carnage they suffered in the second round was telling. Wichita State taking down Kansas was not much of a surprise, but the way they did it most certainly was !!!

Bermuda Bob:

We knew NC State was tough from the loss to them early in the conference season, the same thing with Notre Dame and Carolina.  Louisville is a surprise and a testament to Rick Pitino for keeping that team together after all the drama. I wish Syracuse were in the Big Dance because they might have been in the Sweet 16 as well.

I can’t say I was surprised that the ACC did well, and I was curious as to why the Big 12 was expected to be “Best in Show.”  As always, you can’t count out the Big 10, especially “Mr. March” aka Tom Izzo.

NC State and Louisville will cause a net lost ACC team. Carolina will have their hands full with Wisconsin, but they are not strangers, so expect a tight game. Notre Dame will depend on their reaction to a Wichita State’s different looks, and some hot hands from their perimeter shooters.

Query #6

Duke was fortunately covered by CBS’ lead team of Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, & Jim Nantz.

What did you think of the coverage of the games ???

Rowan:

I am a hardened college basketball fan, so I don’t need Commentators to spoon feed me the game.  I rate Commentators for their ability to tell me something I did not know, and being able to blend into the background of the game.  I don’t need someone who is going to continue to show me complex plays that don’t make much sense under close scrutiny.  They are clearly being used to reinforce the Commentator’s agenda (here’s looking at you, Doug Gottlieb). Most of all, I despise constant negativity from talking heads.

These three have done a marvelous job of keeping on top of the action while being entertaining, then again when your team is winning everything smells of roses.

Bermuda Bob:

I was very pleased that CBS honoured one of the best people in college basketball by not only assigning him to the Big Dance, but also giving him a great upstart in Grant Hill.   Bill Raftery is not only accurate, concise, and brief, he is entertaining. Jim Nantz plays his omni-commentator role well. Their on-court Reporter is probably the best CBS has.

I have been very vocal in criticizing the way CBS brings in NBA people who don’t have a clue as to who’s who and what’s what. Very often I have found them misspeaking, and not even knowing who the coaches are, so I can imagine what their “cheat sheets” for the players must look like. Dressing old NBA guys who are “past it” in vested suits is like lipstick on a pig.

I have never understood why we listen to ESPN folks all season long, then when the National Championship is being determined, CBS brings in VERY substandard personnel.  After all, college basketball fans might very well be some of the most intelligent and well informed compared to some other sports.  If you think of it, we begin attempts to acquire tickets 10 months ahead of knowing who we’re going to see via the ticket lotteries.  If you’ve ever been to a Regional, you will enjoy other like-minded fans who are not necessarily there because their team is playing, but because it is simply the best college basketball can offer !!!  I’ve been there, done that, and loved every minute of it.

CBS, NBC, and ESPN all work together interchangeably for other sports like Golf and Tennis, so why not give the viewers the best ???

 

Thanks for reading.  

Please give us your comments either here or on our Twitter site @SimplyDukeBB

 

 

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