“After Sleeping on It …” – Duke’s Tale of 2 Very Different Games in the ACC Tournament

SDBB - Duke ZZZ'sMuch to the chagrin of Duke fans everywhere, Duke exited the ACC Tournament much earlier than anyone was happy about.

Here’s how it happened and why …

THURSDAY night, Duke met North Carolina State, a team who had embarrassed them, 87-75, at home, early on in the conference season. This time, it was Duke who would be causing the embarrassment with a 77-53 trouncing of the WolfPack.

The Box Score shows 4 Starters and 2 Bench Players scoring in double-digits, and some seriously great rebounding, led by Justise and Amile. The most interesting aspect is that “Oaks” only played 19 minutes, while “Plums” logged in 21 minutes, scoring 12 Points, and blocking 3 Shots, having his best game at Duke.

Another interesting aspect was that Duke shot only 13 times from outside the Arc, compared to 53 from inside … very much inside when you consider “Plums” logged 6 out of 6 Dunks !!!

There’s why this run-away game was so unique compared to what we would see the next night. Duke moved the ball incredibly well, always finding the free man, even if the ball was passed 4-5-6-7 times. When Duke shares the ball, they play exceptionally well. This, opposed to dumping the ball into “Oaks” and standing around, waiting for him to either score or dish out. Under those circumstances, they don’t move the ball, and are often flatfooted and detached.

On this evening we would also see the future of Duke. Grayson Allen, who had an exemplary game, banging out 12 Points with 3 Rebounds, 3 Assists, and 2 Blocks. His energy and verve on both sides of the Court was great to see !!!

 

THEN there was Friday night, a night that would be the complete opposite of the previous night.

Duke came out sluggish, while Notre Dame came out with a firm, smart, and simple Game Plan. They would not double-team “Oaks” and pretty much allow him to score. Oh, they’d put up some resistance, and even foul-out their Center, but it was as if the were playing “sucker.” “Oaks” would drop in 28 Points on 8 Rebounds and a Block. Plus, his terrible performance from the Charity Stripe was exploited, as yet another team would “Poke the Oak”

The brilliance of the Game Plan was that everyone else was shut down with an excellent perimeter defense. A defense that kept Duke to 18% shooting from outside the Arc. Quinn Cook took just one shot for a Trifecta in the 1st Half, and would try only 7 more in the 2nd Half, scoring only once in total. He literally ran out of time to find his usual rhythm.

Mike Brey, a former Assistant Coach to Coach K from way back, would out-coach his mentor. His players executed the Game Plan to perfection, while Coach K could not get his players to execute anything as they did the previous night. It was a pathetic effort to say the least.

Early on, Coach K (lip read by Jay Bilas) lamented “No one wants to play tonight !!!”

After sleeping on it, it’s pretty obvious that just about every good coach in the country has realized where Duke’s Achilles Tendon is. Each of the losses so far this season were similar. There is no need to shut down “Oaks” because when you allow him to have his way, you lure the rest of the squad into a malaise that’s almost hypnotic.

Sleep-walking, or maybe sleep-standing, players do not achieve … they watch. Sure, “Oaks” is an exceptional player, but one player does not a successful team make. Duke does not have just one exceptional player, but if they are not involved, they fail. Friday night they failed.

During the game, we were lamenting the play, and especially the lack of Defense. Actually, there was no Defense. Ro made the most profound observation in our last article where he observed that: “… Duke’s idea of Defense is to outscore their opponents.”  Nary have truer words been spoken. Duke played little or no defense, and everyone else was shut out from scoring.

Warm up the Bus, it’s time to go home.

Moving forward, it appears as of this writing that Duke may have preserved it’s #1 Seed. If so, they’d most likely be playing in Charlotte. You can bet that many in the media, as well as the opposing #16 Seed coach will want to see history made by being the first to knock off a #1 Seed. Why not, Mercer and Lehigh figured it out, why not another Cinderella ???

If Coach K does not get his team to play as a total team, and that means all 8 guys, they will be warming up the bus a lot sooner again this year. This is not the way you want to go into the Big Dance, but he has 5-6 days to change how he has played these talented kids this season. It would surely be a shame if he were not able to do so.

 

Thanks for reading !!!  

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“After Sleeping on It …” Thoughts After the NC State Game

SDBB - Duke ZZZ's

Tonight’s Comments by Bermuda Bob

Duke walked into a historically ugly venue, looking ugly in their black uniforms, and played downright ugly before 19,500 NC State fans who watched their team play anything but ugly.

In short, State outplayed Duke in every aspect of the game …

–         State shot 55% to Duke’s 37% from the Field …

–         State shot 62% to Duke’s 26% outside the Arc …

–         State blocked 10 Shots to only 4 by Duke …

–         State scored 87 points to only 75 by Duke …

Now the rest of the statistics for the game make it look closer than it truly was. State outplayed them in every sense that counted.  To me, there were 4 reasons why Duke lost:

THE PERIMETER defense was non-existent, and made State’s look effective.  In essence, Duke had plenty of great looks but simply couldn’t find the bucket if it were twice it’s size !!! It is an all too familiar nightmare for Duke fans.  Nothing can compensate when your shots are clanging and careening and finding no Net !!!

THE FORECOURT defense continues to allow way too many Back-Door scores, and other scores “down-low” simply does not deny the Baseline. State’s “Bigs” got it done on their side, but Duke did not.

Both Ro and I continue to wonder why Amile is getting abbreviated minutes, even not starting in this game.  The leadership of an upperclassman and Captain doesn’t help the team on the bench.

THE BENCH play of State was stunning. Duke’s was paltry. State’s Bench scored 23 Points in 59 minutes while Duke scored 14 Points in 44 minutes.  State out-rebounded Duke 13 to 9 … logged 8 Assists to Duke’s 3 … and … blocked 6 shots compared to NONE by Duke !!!

“PlumTree” #3 sat all but 5 minutes.  I kept wondering when he was going to (maybe) be tried to augment “Oaks” who was getting consistently double-teamed by a very physical 4-man rotation of Post players.  I understand that Marshall does not pose the offensive threat that “Oaks” does, but he HAS to be used more effectively.   Sitting on the bench while “Oaks” is having his game altered so effectively makes no sense to me, especially with Justise being moved to a perimeter-oriented Power Forward position.

THOSE BLACK UNIFORMS are both hideous and inappropriate for a team that calls itself The Blue Devils.  The official school colours are “Prussian Blue” and White. This is well defined in the university libraries.  We all know that Nike pumps tonnes of money into schools who wear their gear.  That does not give them the right to alter official school colours.  Why Duke allows this is beyond me !!!

In 1975, the iconic book “Dress for Success” was published and is considered the basis for the concept of “Power Dressing,” which is defined as dress intended to make the wearer authoritative and competent.   Showing up at an “away” game in something other than Duke Blue, and especially in a colour that embodies the absence of light, colour and verve, increases the opponent’s advantage on their “home” Court.

Furthermore, contrary to a prevailing thought that black makes one look “tough” is a misnomer. It simply sez that you’re trying to look “tough” like so many other teams who forsake, to Nike and other uniform manufacturers, their school colours as well. Duke is nothing of the sort.

I recently saw a reference that actually claimed that Duke’s official “away” uniform is black and the blue uniform is an alternate.  Really ???

Much lesser schools and even some Duke rivals would never allow such a thing to happen.  It has actually gotten to the point where they believe the black uniforms are cursed because they just don’t represent who Duke is.  I don’t know about being cursed, but I curse plenty at the beginning of every game they are worn.  Just ask my wife !!!

I’m hoping that Duke will get back to doing what they have been doing in the non-conference season when they come home to Cameron and meet Miami on Wednesday night.  They will need to demonstrate that they have straightened out those wrinkles in preparation for Louisville on Saturday.

Thanks for reading …

Please don’t be a stranger and tell us what you think !!!  

In he meantime …

Rock On !!!