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TD: Danegerous

Date: 12/17/2007

Two Dukies  
Posted By: Matt


TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XI, Episode 11 (this one goes to eleven!)
December 17, 2007

ALBANY (5-4, 0-0 America East) @ #6 DUKE (9-0, 0-0)

I’m sure everyone reading this site knows all about David Cutcliffe, but (of course) I don’t - - sorry, not my sport.  But perhaps Cutcliffe, who seems like a genuinely nice guy, can get me interested in Duke football for the first time since the Pleistocene Era.  His health is a concern, he apparently doesn’t set the recruiting trail ablaze, and he comes from the cesspool that is SEC football, but he did tutor Rep. Shuler and Peyton Manning (as well as Peyton’s unimportant, whiny little brother), and he figures to have some ideas for putting points on the board.  That would be nice!  Well, we’ll see how that shapes up.  At least Duke didn’t hire Karl Dorrell, whom I know to be quite the stiff from reading the Los Angeles Times sports page once every couple of months. 

Speaking of SEC football, the Bobby Petrino episode was just hilarious.  Watching last Monday night’s Falcons-Saints game, I thought to myself, “dead man walking” when they showed Petrino on the sidelines, figuring Home Depot would can him after season’s end.  Oho!!!  Not so fast, as Coach Nomad had other ideas.  Notes in the players’ lockers bidding them farewell?  Inking a deal with Arkansas the next day?  What a complete tool!!  Yeah, yeah, he didn’t have Ron Mexico, as he had expected.  So what?  Peripatetrino would simply have found out what a federal correctional institute gridiron squad near you already knows - - Vick never could air it out and probably should have been transitioned to wide receiver a long time ago.  What Boltin’ Bobby did learn was that it was fun to announce every week that Jerious Norwood would play a bigger role in the offense - - and then give Norwood the rock a max of like five times.  He also discovered that his players hated him.  That DeAngelo Hall is one of the most overrated punks in the league.  That the Falcons’ defense in general stank of elderberries.  That there was a reason why the playoff-bound Jaguars let Byron Leftwich go.  That you need to do things like communicate with your players and just generally not be a goon.  Ahhhh, Petrino and Arkansas - - a match made in heaven!  Enjoy, Hogs. 


As Duke welcomes Albany, note that Lance Thomas apparently isn’t going to play in this one, unless we get one of those “WOW, CAN YOU BELIEVE THE WONDERS OF THAT DUKE MEDICAL CENTER” vignettes where Lance comes back too early, is a shadow of himself, then rolls the dice on a 70/30 chance of aggravating the same injury.  You have not (unfortunately) heard it here first.  Also note that we are really ahead of the pace for the Duke Foot Injury this season - - we’re nine games in, and we’ve already lost Marty and now Lance is down, hopefully for just one game.  It’s probably about time to play “Guess Which Guy Will Get Mono,” unless the presumed ho who was spreading it finally graduated and/or left campus. 


Duke has never played Albany, which is unsurprising given that the Great Danes are a relative newcomer to Division I.  Head coach Will Brown is an emerging talent, who resisted the heavy overtures of St. Bonaventure to get him to slide west to Olean and take over the reins of that mess this past offseason.  As much as I want to see the Bonnies break out of their program-threatening slide, Brown probably feels he did the right thing.  (Bona signed Robert Morris head coach Mark Schmidt, a former Skip Prosser assistant at Xavier, instead.)  Actually, it’s always impressive when a coach sticks with a program he’s building instead of climbing up the ladder as quickly as his legs will allow (see Huggins, Bob; Self, Bill) - - and whatever kind of slump St. Bonaventure is in, the A-10 is definitely an upgrade over the A-East.  Brown lost two-time A-East POY Jamar Wilson (18.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) to graduation, but returns an impressive nucleus that should challenge for the conference title and a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament; you might remember the Danes as Virginia’s first-round dance victim a year ago.


Without Thomas, the automatic Coach K move is to start Scheyer, who’s generally logging the most minutes per game in recent action anyway.  However, this isn’t the same Coach K this season.  Volumes of mail suggesting strongly that Scheyer is better doing his Quincy Lewis impression off the bench may have had their intended effect - - so you might get a little Zoubek music in that starting lineup tonight.  Or, hell, Taylor King.  Who exactly can guard this man?  Oh, if Lance can just stay healthy, and K keeps the minutes distributed, can’t you just see King raining down three after three after three as an angry Paul Hewitt/Surly Seth/Craterface looks on in disgust from the opposing sideline?  Then there are those two matchups against Sweaty, which make me want the ability to fold time and experience today (both of them).  Why, we might even teach the nation’s - - nay, the galaxy’s - - leading three-point marksman, Duke Ellington (this would assuredly have been his nickname if he had come to Durham, right?), a thing or two about burying trifectas.  What’s that?  Smellington is shooting .452 (19-42)?  He’s not over .750 from arcland???  I demand that Scott Van Pelt explain this immediately. 


Let’s put Duke’s three-point shooting in perspective.  Some of you out there may be a little uncomfortable with all the jacking it up, but I actually love it.  Why?  Well, first of all, because there are at least five and probably more like seven guys who can shoot it.  When your five leaders in made treys are shooting, in descending order, .469 (23-49), .462 (18-39), .500 (14-28), .385 (10-26), and .364 (8-22), with a sixth guy hitting .412 (7-17), and a seventh guy sort of serving notice against Michigan that there’s a reason Derek Smith was his dad, and that he might be an outside threat as well, you may have a good team that is a danger to score points.  Remember how Redick had no help from outside except for the occasional Melchionni or Dockery three?  Well, this is a little different.  ESPN “gurus” will tell you that “the shots may stop falling” or “live by the three, die by the three” until the cows and/or Rick Majerus come home, but it’s a lot harder to “die” in said context when there are seven guys who are shooting it.  Why, I think I even spotted THREE dudes in the summary above who are shooting a higher percentage than Wide Open Wayne - - what are the odds of that stunning development?  Second, it’s not like Duke doesn’t have the ability to score in other ways.  DeMarcus’ drives.  Nolan Smith’s drives, from which I’m still recovering.  Gerald’s midrange (!!!) game.  Singler and yes, Zoubek posting up.  I really want Lance back, because I thought that he started to hit his stride against the Wolveroids, and he can definitely help underneath against Pittsburgh on Thursday at the Garden. 


Albany has good balance too.  In the wake of Wilson’s departure, former defensive specialist and 6-5 senior swing Brian Lillis has elevated his game from 6.9 ppg a year ago to 13.4 ppg so far this season to lead the Danes.  Next up on the scoring chart is 6-8, 225-pound junior Brian Connelly (10.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg), followed by 9.7 ppg tallier and 6-8 senior Brent Wilson (everyone on this team in recent history is named Brian, Brent, Wilson, or both), who is the America East’s version of Taylor King - - a conscience-free arc gunner who also happens to have some size.  He’s canned 20-51 threes for a .392 mark on the season, but semi-point guard Jon Iati, a 5-9 senior, is the only other area code threat, with 13 made threes (and he shoots .255 from distance).  No other Albany player really shoots it from range, and the team as a whole makes just 29.9% of its dial-9 attempts.  Albany does rebound well (38.9 rpg, which is exactly the same as Duke - - 350 boards in nine contests), despite not using a traditional center very often (sounds familiar), and their defense, led by Lillis, is strong, but they depend on forcing the tempo (65.4 ppg), which they can’t count on in Cameron.  And, worst of all, they have no real primary ballhandler; Iati and 6-2 freshman and Philly product Josh Martin sort of split the playmaking duties, but Brown avoids running a bunch of set plays, and the result is a pretty dismal 1/1.3 A/TO ratio.  Steals are a fairly productive area thanks to Lillis (1.8 ppg), but there’s no real shotblocking. 


This will be one of those games that Duke looks back on in March as a tuneup of much better than average quality, since the Danes will probably contend with BU, Vermont and UMBC for A-East honors.  However, although nothing is rotten with the state of the Danes (sorry), even without Thomas, the Blue Devils promise to score early and often as they prepare for the showdown on Thursday night, and then a loooooooooong winter break. 


Duke wins easily.  And before I forget, a well-deserved hat tip to Greg, who is at 2.1 to 1 in A/TO now, playing better than solid defense, and obviously enjoying himself thoroughly with a great cast of players around him and no second-round Association picks screaming at him for no reason.  Thanks, buddy.  Get well soon, Lance.  


Duke 90, Albany 54.     

Duke 88, Albany 61.
    
        



Last Edition:

Matt 1-0
Rob 1-0

Season:

Matt 10-0
Rob 10-0
Guests 1-0

 

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Posted by: Boomer Date: 12/18/2007 1:58:02 PM  
I know it's Albany, but we looked friggin' nasty last night!! Again, i hesitate to get too excited because of the opponent, but that reminded me of some of our dominant final 4 teams because we never let up and buried them. You almost felt bad for Albany.

Nolan might be that quick and have the necessary hops, I could be totally selling him short. He is super quick on D though. In fact I recant my earlier statement and think he is plenty athletic. Perhaps after watching us shoot over 60% from behind the arc I should recant my statement that we don't shoot as well as that Illinois team as well...

More Kool-Aid please



Posted by: Matt Date: 12/18/2007 1:02:39 PM  
Boomer, good thoughts. I'm not qualified to comment on college football, but your comparison is interesting. Mike Patrick, who certainly knows a lot more about the subject than I do, seemed suitably impressed when he mentioned the hire last night, and then of course Elmore promptly had to get his dig in. What a laughable jerkoff he is.

Wait - - Nolan is possibly the quickest guy on the team. He appears to me to be Avery-fast, and that's fast. Also, you don't think he has an above-average leap? Really? Maybe he doesn't, but he can certainly drive to the tin. However, you're right that Paulus and Scheyer will not drive unless the floor is spread - - which is exactly what this PHX offense seems to be achieving. Whew. I got chills watching some of the execution last night. Bring on Pitt.



Posted by: Boomer Date: 12/18/2007 12:56:29 PM  
Cutcliffe is a good hire x's and o's wise. I hope he can recruit well enough since he is a bit on the older side. I see him like a Ralph Friedgen type at Maryland--great offensive mind that got overlooked too long for a head coaching job and does a good job without the budget and backing of a football powerhouse.

Matt, I'm not trying to down our guys, I'm a HUGE fan of both Scheyer and Nolan Smith. But those 2 and Singler and Paulus aren't going to drive on someone unless it's there. What I mean is that they'll drive because the defender is overplaying them to shoot the jumper because they are all good shooters, but they are not particularly quick nor do they have above average verticals. Nelson and Henderson on the other hand can force the issue and get to the rack even when their defender is trying to take that away. All 3 of those Illinois guards could do that.

Our backup plan is pretty much the same plan: we'll continue to drive only the defense won't sag as much and stick with the shooters forcing us to try and finish at the hoop or get fouled. Plus I think we'll try to shoot our way out of cold streaks. I do agree with you that the fact that we have so many shooters that we shouldn't be prone to long shooting slumps.



Posted by: Dave Clark Date: 12/18/2007 1:04:51 AM  
Er, still breaking into the new site. Heh.

Anyway, Cutcliffe was even able to take the Lesser Manning within 7 points of an SEC West crown, so there's that.



Posted by: Dave Clark Date: 12/18/2007 12:59:36 AM  
Concerning Cutcliffe...

Some of you who have followed college football might know of the University of Georgia Bulldogs. They're the ones who haven't lost since mid-October, who roundly dismissed Florida and its Heisman-winning QB, who were actually in line for an appearance in the BCS Championship Game before the ESPN shouting heads decided that this wasn't acceptable, who have that Knowshon Moreno guy who'll be the SEC's best running back next year.

Anyway.

That very same Georgia team got its collective behinds handed to them by David Cutcliffe's schemes this season. So suffice it to say, this is a ridiculously good hire for Duke...WAY better than this athletic program deserves, considering all the time (0), effort (0), and money (up until now, 0) it's put into the football team. Heck, even Dorrell would have been an OK hire.

Know how awful and funny Notre Dame was this year? That's basically Duke...EVERY year, for the past decade. If Cutcliffe can snare a decent enough QB, 4-win seasons might be possible. Heck, 5, even! Maybe even...6? And a bowl berth?



Posted by: Matt Date: 12/17/2007 5:12:15 PM  
Well, I called for a margin of about ten points over and above 25, so I certainly agree . . . they don't match up well with Duke at all.

Good comments on the three-pointers, Boomer; I agree completely with our approach. Two things about that Illannoy team: first, when the threes weren't dropping, they needed a backup plan against the Tools. However, as you point out, they had three NBA-caliber players hanging around to drive to the dish, but failed to move in that direction, frustrating Horseface foes everywhere. Second, although comparisons between us and that team are difficult and wildly premature, I think we have more guys than DeMarcus and Gerald that can drive - - Nolan showed that he can as well, and so can Singler as needed. Paulus even wades in on occasion, as does Scheyer (King doesn't). As long as we have a backup plan for poor shooting days/nights, I'm completely comfortable with the strategy.



Posted by: Boomer Date: 12/17/2007 4:20:26 PM  
Duke is coming off of finals, Lance is out, the Danes made the tourney last year blah blah blah we should destroy this team. I fully expect a 25 point victory.

Matt, I like the 3 point shooting and see no reason to stop shooting them. Honestly I think it's a function of our personnel--we're not going to pound it down low because we don't have players to pound it down low too. This is a drive and kick team, with a bunch of spot up shooters. That worked pretty well for Illinois a few years back almost knocking off a far more talented Carolina team in the finals. Incidentally, that Illinios squad was the best 3 point shooting team I've ever seen even though they had an off night against the Tarholes. Plus, with Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head they had 3 guys that could get to the rack who all happened to be fantastic college players. Duke on the other hand really only has 2 that can drive at will in Demarcus and Gerald. It's a stretch to compare that Illinois team to this Duke team because those 3 guards were so good, but we play a similar type of game and they proved you didn't need big guys at the 4 and 5 position to make a deep run.





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