TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIII, Episode 26
February 4, 2010
ELIMINATING THESE PESTS EDITION
Mattís comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
Guest Dukie CDG's comments in violet.
#21 GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (16-5, 4-3) @ #10 DUKE (17-4, 5-2)
As I write this, Tony Bennettís BRAND-NEW, ACTUALLY CONTENDING VIRGINIA CLUB, LIKE THATíS JUST SO AMAZINGLY HARD TO DO, BUT ISNíT WHEN YOU HIRE A BONA FIDE COACH - - Ďscuse me there - - is polishing off a convincing pounding of North Carolina State in Charlottesville. In an ďunrelated story,Ē letís see whatís happening at that daunting venue that a lackadaisical, (Blue) [D]evil-may-(not)-care Duke squad sauntered into over the weekend. Why, thereís action occurring there right now as we speak, which neither involves pistol-packing magicians nor a sheet of ice. Well, I assume that if Georgetown is involved, the Hiyas are handily throttling whomever might have dared to darken their door. Letís see . . . oh, sure enough, and itís unranked South Florida visiting . . . wait, what the foxtrot?? South Florida 72, Georgetown 64??!?!? Springfield-bound Chris Wright limited to just eight points on 3-10 shooting? Future video game icons Thompson and Benimon with only two points between them? USF shooting 49%, and the Town capping only half its tries from the stripe? (Yeah, I know, the last one isnít on Duke - - just saying.) Why, that is simply shocking. You know, donít let this get around, but I think Georgetown has lost two out of three. Good thing they interrupted their murderous Big East run by scheduling some out-of-conference bunny team, eh? Itís a shame that Duke doesnít have players as highly regarded as Dominique Jones and the well-known Jarrid Famous.
So from these results, and last weekís performances, we know that NCSU can lose in Raleigh (even to a team as arrantly, offensively, hilariously awful as the Tools). They can lose in College Park. They can lose in Charlottesville. And Georgetown, stunningly, can lose in Washington.
Now, some of this is due, of course, to the Personal Super Bowl Against Duke (PS BAD) phenomenon. Iím sure we all fondly recall the Wake Forest team of 2007-2008, my favorite recent PS BAD example. Remember this one? Three rotations of the planet on its axis following Valentineís Day, Weak absolutely blows Duke out the side of Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 86-73, and you could be forgiven if you tuned in late and thought you were watching - - say - - the U.S. Olympic team clowning Vanuatu. Fans were screaming and orgasming in tie-dyed paroxysms of ecstasy. Goonio was promptly given the key to the city - - hell, probably the whole Triad. I swear there was Old Gold & black-colored confetti flowing from the rafters faster than a waterfall from Roy Williamsí self-exculpatory tear ducts. And then . . . yeah, that was pretty much it. The Deeks played just six more games - - winning only against (of course) NCSU at home - - Demon Dorked their way out of the ACC-T in the first round against Florida State, and then declined an NIT bid.
So we can assume that to some extent, North Carolina State and Georgetown were playing their PS BAD games. And since one unmistakable hallmark of a PS BAD game is an intractable hangover lasting way, way more than four hours, who knows where these two programs are headed now? South Florida, please state your full name for the record.
However, the PS BAD phenomenon didnít excuse the pitiful Duke loss at NCSU, which as far as Iím concerned was surpassed in the breadth of its embarrassing nature only by last seasonís tilt down at Clemson and, well, pretty much every conference loss authored by the Blue Devils, a/k/a TempleDuke, in 2006-2007. And PS BAD sure doesnít explain why a frigging nonconference team just picked us apart like a flimsy Steve Lavin talking point. What exactly was motivating Georgetown to beat Duke so badly?
Here are the four things that really, really bother me about the Georgetown debacle.
First, no one on Duke cared. The entire team and the staff looked like they were about to go see some fetid romcom, probably starring Jennifer Aniston, to appease their significant others. What was so annoying about this game, guys? I was kind of looking forward to the test, and havenít we all heard something, somewhere, from some person of importance, that these true road games (or even non-true road games) at Neeba arenas are priceless, Kobayashi Maru-level simulations of NCAA Tournament contests? So . . . why the long faces? Bizarre.
Second, Coach K discovered the key to coming back and making it a game early in the second half, when he went to a zone, and suddenly, the Princeton offense started sputtering, lacking the spread lanes that it requires to operate successfully. My word, I think the Hoyas actually missed a couple of shots in a row. Verne Lundquist immediately noted the change in the air and adjusted his displacement density to match. And then . . . well, Duke went back to man-to-man and resumed getting toasted. Now, I will sustain the objection from the peanut gallery that I claimed in the preview material that the overplay MTM would be effective in this one, for various fallacious reasons. But after that first half - - follow me here - - I doped out that I had erred. So, evidently, did Coach K (concerning his own similar miscalc - - I doubt he cared about my opinion overmuch). And then, despite the results that he was presumably looking for, he went in another direction - - the opposite one. Game over. And please remember that this was not really a twelve-point game, as the Hoyoids gifted us five points in the last minute and a few in the penultimate minute too. This was a 20-point blowout.
Third, Kyle Singler continues to set new marks for offensive inefficiency and boneheaded shot selection. But it wasnít just Singler - - Dukeís entire offense, for the game, consisted of breaching halfcourt, then having the Three Esses pass it around the arc until one of them decided that he had the best contested shot. Plumlee/Lance/Plumlee might as well not have even been out there. But I think it all starts with Singler and this bizarre, robotic ďI AM A GUARD MUST BE A GUARDĒ approach. Dude. Go inside!!! Nolan Smith goes inside! So can you. I simply do not understand how our coach can have Singler outside, bombing away at will and connecting with little more than air (3-10 from tripledom the previous game against FSU, 3-9 against Georgetown), making his height immaterial. Every small forward or third guard in the ACC ought to be terrified of their matchup with this guy, but instead, he can be adequately defended by people who are 6-2. If Clemson and Duke meet again, watch Purnell drive home the point by having KS be guarded by generously 5-9 Andre Young. And heíd be right. I simply do not get this.
Fourth, handy preview of the way Duke will exit the NCAA Tournament? Maybe! I mean, itís not as though the Blue Devils have been excused from postseason tangoing in the last two seasons by Big East teams playing physical ball and using power and speed to dictate the pace, right? Expect, with a measure of certainty, to see a Big East team - - probably Syracuse - - in Dukeís bracket. Right now, that would be a third-round game, #1 v. #4. And Duke wouldnít be wearing white.
One thing I will say that I did like about Coach Kís moves in this game. Zoubek entered early in the first half, and in two official minutes (which was really about 1:20 or 1:30 of clock), he collected two fouls, one of them offensive and thus a turnover. And then he was gone, never to be seen again. Iím not picking on Brian here - - Iím just pointing out that if you come into the game and totally alter its character in a negative way, and use up 40% of your foul allotment in two shakes of a Marty Pocius calf, youíre gone. And he was.
We now return you to BugThug TV. In his comments over the past couple of days, Spewitt has explicitly recognized that Duke is a different team at home. Well, Iím glad youíre here to tell us these things! I, at least, was eluded by that piece of information. In all candor, though, Duke really should have beaten Blech at RainExpander Memorial Coliseum, but Lance fouled out with double-dig minutes left in the second half, freeing Lawal/Favors to operate at will down low, and the other Duke frontcourt guys were either unable to blowtorch through their bench-shackling leg irons or just wore down. Duke only lost the game in the last two minutes - - this was back in the day, pre-NCSU Blowout and pre-Georgetown Blowout, when we could say that our two losses came in close fashion, on the road against pretty good competition. Other goofy things happened in the first clash, too, like Mfon Novowelsfia, he of the 30% shooting figure from distance, connecting on three triples in six tries. In case youíre wondering, Udoofia has now netted 23 threes for the season - - meaning that he landed 13% of them in the game against us. Nice. All in all, it just wasnít a game that Duke was supposed to win.
Coach K also admitted after the first meeting with the Ambercoats that they were ďfresherĒ than Duke was, and unless heís auditioning for Degree spokesperson duties, I assume he was talking about fatigue. (Remember that series of ads Degree did well over a decade ago with basketball coaches under pressure? I think it had Calipari before he was the Slime That Ate College Basketball, Bob Bender, and one other guy - - Kelvin Sampson? He should have been doing 1-800-COLLECT spots.) Yes, Coach K actually conceded that the Blue Devils were tired, although for some reason many very intelligent people always resist that line of argument. But then, Duke had a right to be a bit weary - - they were playing their third game in six days, since K, as is his wont, tossed in the Iowa State game at exactly the wrong time. This time out, fatigue probably wonít be a problem. So weíve got that going for us, which is nice.
The thing that worries me the most is that last time out, we knew that we had a big lineup that could match GITís size - - but ever since we used exactly those personnel and exactly that strategy to drub Wake Forest in Cameron, all of a sudden weíre playing Smallball. Smallball, with four guys 6-10 or taller and a pair of 6-8 forwards to go with them. Only Mike Krzyzewski knows how to pull this off, and only he knows what heís doing. But Smallball, for all its blindingly obvious virtues - - you see them, right??? - - will not work against a team that starts 6-10 freshman Derrick Favors, 6-9 junior Gani Lawal, 6-6 senior DíAndre Bell, 6-5 sophomore Iman Shumpert, and brings 6-8 senior Zach the Hatch Peacock off the bench, along with 6-6 freshman Brian Oliver and 6-5 freshman Glen Rice, Jr. At least Udofia, the fifth starter since neither Bell nor the Shumpster can really handle the ball, is only 6-2. But the rest of the lineup is huge. Lance simply HAS to remain on the floor in this one. I remember thinking it odd that he began the first meeting guarding Favors instead of Lawal, and although he did switch to the latter later in the game, I thought it was a good move by K, and it should be repeated. Let Lanceís quickness frustrate Favors while he tries to muscle the Tech kid as much as possible. Meanwhile, Lawal is generally forced outside by the forestry platoon.
In the backcourt, Smith can guard Udofia, who perhaps wonít look like Mark Price from distance this time, Scheyer can stay with the Imam and Singler can guard Bell (which is the requisite low-wattage defensive assignment for Singler that I like, conserving more of his energies for offense) and, when Peacock enters the conservatory with the candlestick, pick up that responsibility.
Drekís institutional (heh) weaknesses remain the same as in the first meeting - - they turn the ball over on 22.5% of their possessions, they steal the ball at a very low rate, and they only make two-thirds of their foul shots, which is #240 in Division I. Duke, by the way, is now first in Division I in free throw shooting out of 347 teams, hitting 77.4%, just a tenth of a percentage point ahead of Brigham Young. Great statistic - - and incidentally the only reason the Georgetown game wasnít a *30-point* loss. Add in the usual array of ACC home cooking by the officials - - which Duke gets less of than many other teams - - and a large number of whistles favors Duke, particularly given the added breaks that it will entail. (Hey, when youíre dealing with the Coach K Suicide Exercise Regimen, you have to take what you can get!)
Saint Paul has shortened his rotation since the last time the two teams met, and has really devoted resources to developing Oliver and Rice, ensuring a fast-moving, large, eight-man squadron that brings a lot of challenges. Dukeís best bet on offense is not to jack up contested threes, but to force the ball inside already. Draw some fouls. Test their depth. Get them out of their comfort zone. Establish the game in the pivot and THEN start showering in assays from the lost arc of the covenant. Oh, and drive (Nolan, youíre up - - you too, Jon) in order to win the free throw battle. Just change up the tired old strategy that gets even more tired when the team is tired. On defense, press after made baskets every so often. Mix in some zone. Recognize that Bell is out there for his defense and is not going to beat you singlehandedly, so sag off him to help trim some trees in the paint.
Thereís no way to whitewash that Georgetown loss - - it was mortally embarrassing for the program to be humbled like that, all the more so now that we see that Stan Heathís South Florida Bulls can go into the selfsame building and - - win. Wow! At Cameron, with much more rest, this game really ought to be a statement win. But Duke could easily cooperate in the other direction - - and donít get me started on the 37 or 38-hour turnaround between this game and the next one, much of which time will be consumed with the conferenceís most abysmal road trip. Letís get this win here and hold serve at home.
Duke 79, Georgia Institute of Technology 75.
With all due apologies for those of you who wanted to kill a chunk of your workday (isnít the Internet great? You can be totally loafing and it looks like youíre work on the computer!), circumstances out of my control require that this be a bit shorter than usual. So, expect about as much effort as you got from Duke last Saturday.
What the hell was that? Iíve been thanking every deity I can think of that I didnít lay out several C-notes to sit the upper deck of the Telecom Center for that debacle. You know, Duke has, obviously, never gone undefeated. They lose games every year. But, there was a time when they were almost always in those games. Even if they spotted the opposition 15-20 points early, they would claw back, usually having a chance to win at the end before some bonehead turnover would deprive us of getting to see the last shot.
But not anymore. Look at this season and last (last year, Clemson, Villanova; this year, Georgetown, N.C. State). Duke has somehow become a team that can get blown out. Now, yes, it happened occasionally in previous years, but usually to the Dean Smith-led-overamped Hoots. The other disturbing trend is that when the Devils play badly, they do so in every single aspect of the game. Traditionally, when Duke wasnít shooting well, they would clamp down on defense and try to win ugly. Now? When the shots arenít falling, well, bless their hearts, they just keep bombing away from outside. Then make up for that by not getting offensive rebounds, not getting back on defense and admiring a nice display of layups and dunks by the other team. Not content with that gameplan, they commit a bunch of unnecessary turnovers. And, of course, the well-compensated collection of men wearing nice suits and sitting on the bench stare and occasionally mumble to each other.
Sorry to be negative. Look, I know this team will lose games. I just want them to try hard in the process. Which completely didnít happen against Georgetown.
Back to the matter at hand. Duke did put up some effort last time they met the Century 21 Blazers, leading much of the time until deciding the best strategy at the end, down by two and then four points, was to have Kyle Singler attempt to channel J.J. Redick. Unfortunately, Larry Drew Too hacked into the sťance, resulting in Kyleís insurance company raising the rates on his personal liability coverage after several injuries were sustained by slow-moving fans in the stands.
Sorry to switch subjects again, but is it really necessary for the announcers last weekend to say ďJohn Thompson the ThirdĒ every time they refer to the Hoya head coach? As far as I could tell, the head coach of the Duke team is not named John Thompson. None of the players, either on the floor or on the bench, were named John Thompson. So, if famed gasbag Verne Lundquist were to say ďJohn Thompson is calling a timeout,Ē no one in the basketball watching universe would have been confused. Although, the same canít be said for 99 percent of the drivel he delivered while supposedly watching a basketball game.
Anyway, for the second time this season, Duke is about to be done playing a conference foe before meeting several others for the first time. For some reason that only Paul Hewitt can attempt to explain, the Buggies played Kentucky State in their last game, meaning they essentially took the weekend off. The last time Duke faced off with the Jaundice Jackets, the main difference in the game was at the free-throw line, nine makes for the Devils, 22 for the Bees. Plus a shocking six of 28 demonstration from outside, with Scheyer taking 13 despite only three makes.
I promised to keep this short, so here we go. Duke has got to start getting the ball inside. Jump shots are harder to make, and easier to defend, thus relieving the opposition from putting as much effort into the game. Plus, the rebounds go all over the place, usually long, provide ample fast break opportunities for whoever Duke is trying to beat. Not to mention, when you pass the ball to post players, fouls tend to happen. And, since Duke now has Its Tallest Team in School History, why not take advantage of that?
Duke 72, Georgia Institute of Technology 65.
First, I need to thank Matt and duhomme for allowing me to Guest this week. Thanks guys! (By the way, the check is in the mail but I canít promise it wonít bounce being in Canadian dollars and all).
So how are we doing Duke fans? Everyone over last weekendís game?
Didnít think so.
I didnít slip the guys the requisite $20 to get a peek at their material before posting but I am willing to bet that our fearless prognosticators will have a few things to say about the game against the Doggies. I am sure that their observations will be both more insightful and wittier than my own but since it is one of the few regular season games I actually get to see due to my geographic location (see Bitter, CGD, Canada, Crappy Cable Regulations - TwoDukies.com: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), I figured Iíd give my (very cheap) two cents.
Where to begin...
I have to say that Saturday was likely the most embarrassing game I have ever seen Duke play. I always knew that this was one that we could lose but I really didnít see that coming. I know that a lot is going to be said about fatigue, and I admit that this was a factor, but there was so much more that was wrong with this loss.
First of all, our front line should have dominated them. The Hoyas are small and should have been having fits against Plumlee I & II. Even Zoobeard should have been able to get a bit of an advantage before benching himself. Plus, the Capital Clampetts arenít exactly defensive powerhouses; that was plainly evident on Monday when they got absolutely smoked by Syracuse. Not to mention, the Ho-has typically foul way more than Duke so even if the baskets werenít falling, we could have forced them to foul and taken them down at the line!
Wait! What is that you say? Dukeís offense primarily consisted of few passes and instead run-and-gun threes??? Riiiiight... Explains it all.
Can someone please tell me how you plan to win if you spend the entire second half shooting bricks from long distance? I know the game was in the Phone Booth but you can make locals calls from one, canít you?
And where was our defense? For a team that is (was?) absolutely dominant on that end of the court, it was just non-existent.
Credit should be paid however. Monroe had a monster of a game (mainly because we allowed him to). But real credit should be paid to Roman Numerals who totally out-coached K. And that is something I am loathe to admit. As I said in the comments after the game, I have probably been slower than most to come around to questioning his effectiveness but this game sealed it; what is he doing to this team????
Alright, enough bellyaching. On to the next game... against the BugThugs.
Speaking of thugs, I donít follow the Neeba too much but do, on occasion, catch a Raptors game. When I lived in Toronto I actually used to go to a few games a year (only because a friend would invite me for free, mind you). It was wasnít bad actually; I saw a couple of good games, including a game where Dunleavy lit them up for 40+ which I thoroughly enjoyed (but the fans around me didnít). Plus, itís a great mental exercise for me since I spend most of the game watching Chris Bosh and trying to figure out if I even remember his presence at Tech (which I still donít).
Now, one of the new editions to the Raptorís team I do remember quite well from his Black and Gold days - Mr. Jarrett Jerk, the original Jerket. And let me tell you, he is still a punk. I was actually invited to see a Raptorís open practice during training camp in October and Mr. Manners spent the entire game throwing Jose Calderon to the floor without ether of the zebras ever blowing a whistle (granted, these guys usually ref Ottawa high school basketball and were busy picking their lower mandibles off the floor, but still). Boy did it bring back memories of a moderately talented, but thoroughly vile, edition of the Institutional Insects.
So, what about this edition of the Thugs you ask? Well, I canít say much which is essentially par for the course with these guys. And the game isnít in the Leakdome which means I canít even make some jokes about that. So, I am going to totally cop out here since: (1) I usually rely on a Magic 8 Ball to make my picks; and (2) I canít possibly do a better job than Matt at breaking down the other team.
I will say this though: the game is at Cameron, which this team desperately needs coming off Saturday. I would add that the Beesí sad excuse for a coach canít possibly pull off two games against Duke where he *actually* coaches his team to a win. Finally, if we are to believe Mr. Cereal himself, Clark Kellogg, a team needs 5 days to recuperate between games (?!) so we can put a neat little check beside that gem.
I am not saying all our ills are cured here but I smell a win. I think Scheyer and Smith are not happy with Saturday and will likely show up looking to make a point. Smith was also kind of non-existent last time around so if he shows up, that will be a big bonus. Mason proved he could expose the GITs last time out and Miles wasnít too shabby either. Singler remains a mystery to me but if he appears, and actually drives, that would be outstanding. Basically, if we can avoid shooting bricks from three-land and rediscover our defense we should win this one.
My Magic 8 Ball agrees: ďOutcome looks good.Ē
Duke 73, Georgia Institute of Technology 68.
MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK (14-6, 4-2) @ FLORIDA STATE (16-5, 4-3)
I realized while coaching Clemson - - my second-favorite ACC team as long as Wake continues to employ that hood as its head coach - - from my living room on Sunday that Sweaty is starting to sweat again. Remember what originally earned him the nickname, now - - the dude used to look like he had just had a vat of water dumped on him by the under-16 deadball of the first half, but then he clearly had some sort of surgical procedure or chemical treatment that made him seem like a normal humanoid. Now itís wearing off; but thereís never really been any cure for what ails Len Hamilton.
Florida State 71, Maryland, College Park 70.
In the 23rd exhibit entered into evidence in the case Basketball Fans Who Miss the Old Schedule v. Some Fat Guy Intent on Ruining the ACC, the Twerps and the Seminoles meet tonight despite the fact that they played each other yesterday (okay, you got me, it was way back on Jan. 10). Last time out, Ham Lameltonís crew picked up that rare road win against Doesnít-Even-Deserve-A-Three-Sentence-Pick Boston College. Sweaty, more to form, got shoved around SmallJohn and lost even though Clemson shot 31.9 from the floor and a hair under 60 from the line.
Florida State 74, Maryland, College Park 70.
I couldnít be happier with the new ďthree sentence ruleĒ that the brain trust at Two Dukies came up with for these picks. Wait, was that one sentence already? Damn - that was two! Errrrr...........
Florida State 70, Maryland, College Park 66.
NORTH CAROLINA-CHAPEL HILL (13-8, 2-4) @ VIRGINIA TECH (16-4, 3-3)
Olí Roy (as he, Bobdole-like, referred to himself in the third person in one his increasingly deranged interviews this past week) was spotted piloting a wheelbarrowful of cash, and maybe even a menís suit or two, into the welcoming embrace of several young men vying to be Sylven Landesbergís agent. Well done - - that had to be the worst defense Sylven has seen since fourth grade or so, and by the way, let's fess up to our mistakes, because I really thought that Virginia would struggle in the lights and fake noise of the DumpDome. Oh, wait a second - - that was REAL noise for a change, and the tomb sounded like an actual arena, because they allowed the students to come down from the oxygen-deprived areas of the crypt and fill the seats of the snow-daunted coots who couldnít be bothered to show up. The Bald Bastard of Blacksburg forces me into a fourth sentence just to mention him, and to wonder whether or not he, Delaney, Hudson, and Jeff Allen - - who evidently likes getting home from games nice and early - - can actually send the Tools to 2-5, and make them rescuing a .500 league finish a step more improbable.
Virginia Tech 77, North Carolina-Chapel Hill 76.
Roy ďImpending MeltdownĒ Williams has two conference wins under his belt and (donít be shocked), one is over perennial-pants-wetter-whenever-in-Chapel-Hill Sludge Greenberg, who just last weekend contributed 50 percent of Miamiís league victories. Then again, that Hokie road win AT You-Vee-Hey does warrant some attention. Is there any way to get Jeff Allen to jump to the paying league at the end of the season and have his bald enabler accompany him as his Special Assistant for Thug Relations?
Virginia Tech 71, North Carolina-Chapel Hill 68.
Okay, I have the rules down this time. The Holes are a desperate bunch this year so it would be easy to pick against them, especially on the road . . . but the Jokies arenít much better either. Unfortunately this one is in the Bald Bastardís backyard, where all sorts of craziness happens, so I think Olí Roy is going to add another one to the L column.
Virginia Tech 71, North Carolina-Chapel Hill 68.
Matt 2-0 (??)
duhomme 2-0 (!!)