By THE NAKED VINE
Somewhere in North Carolina
Here are my somewhat cynical thoughts about the most worrisome
38-point blowout I've seen in a long time:
* Unless Coach K is playing 12-dimensional chess and sandbagging what
the team will really look like without Nolan in there, the first half
gave lots of cause for concern. Scheyer was average, at best, but is
pretty clearly not the answer at PG. K inserted Davidson to try to
give the offense some flow. It didn't work. It looked like we're
still trying to play drive-and-kick on offense when we don't have any
players that can do that. The bigs can pass...
* Duke got driven on a lot in the man-to-man. The only reason that
Findlay didn't score more was that the bigs made pretty decent
adjustments rotating over. Miles had some thunderous blocks, but if
any of the Findlay players could hit a pull up jumper, we'd have been
in trouble. We were much better defensively in a zone. Our wings
simply weren't able to keep people in front of them. Now, I've been
told that this was "the way the defense is planned" -- to funnel the
ballhandlers towards the shotblockers, like Duke did when the
Landlord was in residence. Only problem with that comparison -- those
teams did indeed force players to drive towards Shelden -- but the
keyword is "forced." Even Lee Melchionni was quick enough to at least
stumble into position to make that work. Against Findlay, it was
weakside help -- with the keyword being "help." Maybe we can get away
with it. I wouldn't count on it. And anyone with a pull-up J will do
well against us. Our most effective defense was the 3-2 zone, with
Lance at the top, where he can actually do some good work.
* The offense resembled a game of keep-away at times. The team was SO
much bigger than Findlay that it almost couldn't help but be. But we
showed very little of that pretty high-low passing that worked so
well against Pfeiffer. Instead, the bigs tried to feed the post from
the wing, which worked only because we were bigger and stronger.
Against a team with any athleticism, those passes were turnovers.
* Dawkins and MP2 didn't add anything. They didn't do anything
particularly horrible. Yes, MP2 had a few blocks, but they were
mostly "big guy swat on a weakside rotation that only worked because
the guy was 5'11" deals. Kelly was adequate (and has a great FT touch).
* When Smith re-entered the game in the 2nd half, the team took on a
whole new character. They ran well, the offense flowed much more
effectively, and they looked reasonably good.
* Singler is a beast. He's playing more and more like Mark Alarie every day.
* Apparently, after the game, K was allegedly extremely pleased with
the team on both ends of the floor. This team has a lot of potential,
and we have some aspects that few teams can match -- but we really
need to execute an offense smoothly to have a chance to do much of
anything -- and get really good at playing matchup zone. Early
returns: this is a transition year, and we probably won't do anything
to shake the "Duke can't get past the Sweet 16" meme again this year.
But I'm willing to be proven wrong.