TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIII, Episode 30
February 13, 2010
VALENTINES, PRESIDENTS, AND PERSPIRATION EDITION
Matt’s comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
MIAMI (FLORIDA) (17-7, 3-7) @ CLEMSON (17-7, 5-5)
A weak, disorganized storm blows into Pickens County, South Carolina, and finds the Tiggers breathing a little easier with a .500 conference record tucked handily away. Ready for something stupid? These two teams have not played since December 21, 2008.
Clemson 70, Miami (Florida) 65.
First of all, a big thanks to the Tiggers who, by taking care of business with some visiting team from Tallahassee the other day, allowed me to catch up with Matt in the season-long prediction stats (and if he thought for a minute I was not going to gloat about it, he was sooorrrrelllyyyy mistaken). On the other hand, neither of us was able to foresee the Medical Devices holding Georgia Tech to 62 points on 38.7 percent shooting during the mid-week action, and dropping the Bees to .500 in the league. Neither Mee-Mee nor Clem’s Son scores very much, but the Kitties play much better D.
Clemson 68, Miami (Florida) 63.
MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK (16-6, 6-2) @ #8 DUKE (20-4, 8-2)
Ah, needs must we be briefer than normal, Badfoulio. Now, I know that sometimes I say “hey, a full recap is on the way,” and it never happens, but this time I mean it. However, I have had my abilities to fold space and time temporarily suspended because the Dukies.com Board of Regents feared that I would use them to retaliate against duhomme for mentioning my crumbling Singler Theorem, below. Heh heh heh - - those fears were and are naturally groundless, but for the moment, I require sustenance and rest and catching up on some TV. So there will be a recap of the UNC-CH game once we get this whole internal situation ironed out. For the moment, two notes - - first, the coaching move of the game was Krzyzewski’s decision to call a timeout under 12 minutes, with the Tools having just staked themselves to a narrow lead, and get his team under control. Sure enough, Duke tied it almost immediately, went down again briefly, and then put the car in a gear that the Tools do not possess to close things out at the Tomb. In many seasons past, K would treat those timeouts like they were worth their weight in platinum - - and we’re talking a lot of platinum if a media timeout was imminent. Not this time, and that made all the difference. Second, Lance has gone from done for the season to deep bone bruise to doubtful for the Twerps to Nolan Smith saying he thinks LT will play. That’s cool - - I didn’t want the kid to end his career like that. I will note that he was not exactly on fire when he departed, and that when he and Drew LXIII banged patellae, it was as massive a collision of bricked field goal artists as you’re likely to see unless UCLA plays Southern Cal twice a season or something. Or they decide not to call off the Pacific-10 Tournament sponsored by Rim Repair. But as even any extraterrestrials who tuned in for this one already know, Lance isn’t out there for his offense, and while Duke’s basket attack may get a boost from the presumed use of Mason and Andre in his place, the defense will suffer. My personal guess is that Lance will suit up for this one but not play, then return against the Hurryclowns.
Nice win, Duke. The gaping, vacuous expression of Traveler as he watched the final seconds tick away was priceless. Thank you, ESPN, for that shot. By the way, Roid, maybe you should stop cavorting with former players at halftime and actually, you know, go talk to your team in the locker room or something. Wait, I’m serious - - this could work. In the meantime, sorry to contribute to Horseface’s personal Haiti (what kind of an insensitive douche says something like that????), but, yeah - - bye.
Now, before I say anything about this next group of reprobates, just imagine what Sweaty would do if Krzyzewski deployed a lineup - - for even just a couple of minutes - - of Scheyer, Singler, two men named Plumlee and Zoubek. What would the Damp Dictator do? I need to see this.
The University of Maryland, College Park has surprised a few people this season, mostly because those same people were too busy listening to the sound of Jay Bilas singing UNC’s praises to notice that the Droplets returned four starters and lost only the disgusting Dave Neal from their 21-14, 7-9, Round of 32 edition from a season ago. Actually, in an ACC season where I’ve had fewer bites than a Toyota salesperson, the emergence of UMCP - - which has, not coincidentally, played a very easy schedule - - has not been too much of a surprise.
Given the return of most last year’s team, the lineup is familiar: 6-6 senior Grievous Azzkiz (18.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.3 apg, 3.5 tpg, 1.5 spg, 2.0 pfpg, .428/.820/.389), the Venezuelan Vacuum, mans the point, while 6-4 sophomore Sugar Sean Mosley (11.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.9 tpg, 1.6 spg, .569/.753/.435, 1.58 PPS) and 6-4 senior Ferret Hayes (11.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, .488/.919/.461, 1.46 PPS) join him on the wing. 6-2 junior Adrian Bowie (4.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, .375/.586/.250) is the lone backcourt reserve, despite starting last season. Mosley is a better defender and the Ferret is a more reliable three-point shooter, and then there’s that fetid FT%, so Bowie gets sixteen and a half minutes off the bench. Azzkiz has toned down the jizzery this season, probably because someone tapped him on the shoulder and told him that even Neeba teams care about character issues. He’s basically having the same season he did a year ago, with his assists and turnovers up slightly, but he has made one big improvement, dialing up his distance conversion rate from a career-best 32.7% a year ago to nearly 40% this season. Take out the ridiculous 6-11 from range that he authored against the defense-free (that day) Tools, and he’s at 40% in ACC play, but he hit just four in the last three league games before destroying the Twinks. He has 44 makes on the year, compared to 67 for Scheyer, 47 for Singler, and 34 for Nolan Smith. Defensively, Azzkiz is a mixed bag - - he likes to go for the big play, but ends up fouling or matadoring quite a bit. He’s a tough matchup for Duke - - Scheyer’s ability to handle him one-on-one will be a huge key to the Blue Devils’ potential success.
Meanwhile, the Ferret is the real threat from the suburbs, but he’s much easier to guard, as he has never used his height effectively, and shoots free throws (37 attempts) about as rarely as he does two-point field goals (66 attempts within the arc, just 39.3% of his overall total). Here’s the tough matchup for Maryland, because while Smith - - and Dawkins, if we see the three-guard lineup with Singler at the four as we did in the second half in the Dump Dome - - can contain Hayes, he fights through screens poorly and can’t contain drives. Mosley is a slasher with a remarkably high, very impressive PPS for a guard. He’s also UMCP’s best defender, and we have a classic mismatch here. Singler may have to guard him when big lineups are on the floor, although a good argument can be made that Singler should check the Ferret instead, with Smith on Mosley. In any case, Sweaty will have Mosley guard Smith if he knows what he’s doing, so this is Yet Another Game that could come down to how well Singler is shooting the ball. Luckily, it’s in Cameron.
Up front, 6-7 senior Landon Milbourne (14.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.7 tpg, 1.2 spg, 1.2 bpg, 2.7 pfpg, .536/.743/.400, 1.3 PPS), and the only significant newcomer, 6-9 freshman Jordan Williams (8.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1/7.3 A/TO, 1.1 bpg, 2.6 pfpg, .507/.537/.000) are the starters. Milbourne is a very interesting hybrid player who can defend on the wing and in the post with equal skill. Assuming that Lance does not play, Milbourne will also have a mismatch of sorts on both ends of the court, finding himself covering and being covered by either Singler (when Duke goes small) or one of the PPZ team when Duke has Singler on the wing. Williams is a good rebounder but mostly a sanitation man at this point. He can’t convert at the line, doesn’t block an amazing amount of shots, but does commit an amazing amount of personals. I’m envisioning Mason Plumlee just dominating this guy. We’ll see. Frontcourt depth comes from 6-6 junior and inexplicable Duke-hater Cliff Tucker (5.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.4 spg, .533/.700/.355), 6-8 junior Dino Gregory (4.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.4 pfpg, .404/.889/.000), and 6-8 freshman James Padgett (3.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, .500/.429/.000). Tucker is one of these guys who explodes in about three or four games per season and is invisible the rest of the time, creating the statistical illusion of consistent contributions. He’s scored 11 points in his last four appearances. Gregory has been a disappointment even relative to his modest expectations coming out of the Baltimore prep circuit, but he provides fair-to-good defense and some extra fouls and energy when Milbourne and/or Williams need a rest. Padgett gets pushed around way too easily and, like Gregory, is fairly slow of foot, but they can grab defensive rebounds when needed. They are not going to provide much scoring punch, however.
Garyland takes good care of the ball, but is vulnerable on the boards - - opponents are cleaning up on the glass against them this season, getting a scoreside board on 36.1% of their tries (#299 in Div I for the Twerps). Also, despite all that remote activity by the Ferret, the Beads score the vast majority of their points on drives and midrange shots, along with occasional (but not frequent) stickbacks. They key is not to get duped by Hayes, who has a very low usage rate (percentage of possessions that he ends), and to focus the defense on Vasquez, who had to take 27 shots to score 30 points in the Turtles’ overtime loss to Wake, and notched just 10 points on 3-11 shooting in their other league setback at Clemson. The season high scores for the other Tortoises tell the tale - - Bowie 15, Hayes 20 (in the Terrapins’ loss to Villanova), Milbourne 24 (against New Hampshire in the third game of the season), Moseley 26 (also against Villanova, which played no defense in winning 95-86), and Williams 19 (against - - you guessed it!) Take the track meet against the Wildcats out, and the season highs for Hayes, Mosley, and Williams are 16, 21 (in a surge against the stiffs of Longwood) and 14. Is this potential scoring enough to beat Duke with a subpar effort from Azzkiz? No, but with a good or great effort, and if Duke wears down defensively or really misses Lance, then we could have a problem.
My guess is that Scaryland, which has been outboarded by an average of one carom per game in league play against a very easy eight-game schedule, will not be able to force a tempo to its liking here, and will not play the same kind of fierce defense it’s displayed in ACC games thus far. That league schedule, by the way, is a swept round-robin with Florida State, wins over NCSU, Miami (FL), the Nutcracker and pitiful UNC-CH, and the road losses to Wake and Clemson. I have a hard time not considering the ease of that slate in analyzing the stats. If Jon Scheyer plays well on both sides of the ball, and the overall defense is strong, I think Duke might win easily. I imagine the actual result will be a closer Duke victory.
Duke 79, Maryland, College Park 72.
Without going into details, I have reason to celebrate/take it easy this evening, so we (I) might go a bit light, especially since I already wrongly predicted the outcomes of 47 other league games that will take place this weekend (sometimes I do them first before getting to Duke. And I am sure that little nugget will greatly enhance your reading experience). Then there was yet more shoveling due to the Obama Administration using the government’s super secret weather-controlling satellites to dump another foot (at least) of snow on top of the 24 to 36 inches we already had in an effort to spur job creation for plow drivers.
Celebrate, you say? Well not for Duke’s nifty W over the Goofy Roy and His Merry Band of Stiffs, but that would be reason enough. Kind of nice to see Duke win even when they don’t shoot well. Or was it nicer to see the Hoots launch cruise missile after cruise missile from behind the border, but with only about one in four reaching their intended target? Then there is the Greatest Frontcourt Ever Assembled getting outrebounded by nine as Duke had 51 (!!!!!!), 23 of which were balls collected on the scoring end of the floor. On the downside, several peer-reviewed journals have now declined to publish Matt’s article on his hypothesis that the better Singler plays, the worse the results for Duke. Sorry about that, man. Kyle had 19 and nine, a pair of assists and a pair of steals and was willing (yaaayyyy!) to do more than bomb away from outside.
(Speaking of Singler, take a look at this photo and tell me if it looks like he just punked Coach K. Or pulled one of those “That’s what she said” jokes.)
Other bright spots were Dawkins’ 10 minutes on his time card. Yeah, he didn’t produce much, but the sight of him getting serious time in a game like that are a good sign. Scheyer kind of took a lot of shots, but made five threes, which works for me. This game was also the latest example in a strange trend where Miles Plumlee starts the game but Mason ends up with more playing time. On the other side of the ledger, Treebeard only had 10 minutes, but if the opposing team has quick guys in his vicinity, he’s not going to do well. Speaking of not doing well, my threat to keep this short (hide your disappointment) is starting to look rather meaningless, so let’s bring on …
WIN OF THE GAME: I know it was only one play, but when Mason pulled down the rebound of a miss by Singler (I think) and went straight up for a reverse duke, he not only put Duke ahead, but you could almost hear everyone in the Nose Dome mimic Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” and say “Awwww, fudge.” Except, just like Ralphie, they didn’t say “fudge.” But that was a PG movie and this a PG website. At any rate, that was pretty much it for the Toots. And, while I’m at it, enjoy that much-deserved rest come March!
FAIL OF THE GAME: Well, there is Nolan’s shooting, and the team delivering a whopping 12 blocks to Cleatus’s Crew, but the loss of Lance Thomas for at least the next game has to claim this prize. Not a FAIL on his part, just the worst thing that happened. He’s not only the best interior defender, he’s probably the best defender on this team. Get well, dude. Don’t rush it, but we’ll miss your presence until you get back.
Alrighty, we have yet another game coming our way, courtesy of CBS, who trucked in Verne Lundquist and some Rice Krispy Treats, so expect to be told what is happening in the actual television broadcast maybe 15 percent of the time. This is also Coach K’s 1,000th game since arriving at Duke. I don’t know which is scarier. That he has done that, or that I have watched nearly every single one of them. At least he gets paid.
Joining Duke on this fine afternoon is the University of Maryland, College Park campus, a team that …
[We interrupt your regularly schedule material for a special weather update.]
T.V. WEATHER GUY WHO CLEARLY SPENDS MORE TIME GETTING HIS HAIR DONE THAN MOST BRIDES ON THEIR WEDDING DAY: “Good afternoon. Hugh Jassell here, reporting from Dukies.com Channel 21. We have reports of a major storm headed toward the Triangle Area. In a development that defies more than a century of forecasting, the system that recently buried several Mid-Atlantic states with snow they absolutely were not interested in getting has reversed course and is now projected to hit Durham, N.C., by one o’clock on Saturday.
“This storm is expected to produce high levels of precipitation from its head coach. While storms of this nature traditionally project moisture from his skin, he has been recently know to follow up that first wave with tear-duct accumulation, even after beating the worst UNC team in decades.
“Residents should be warned that this storm features two of the ugliest people on the planet. If you look here on the Doppler radar … yes … here and here are the most dangerous spots. You can see that second one looks very similar to Gollum from ‘The Lord of the Rings.’
“In addition, this storm will bring high gusts of incomprehensible gibberish from its point guard. However, it doesn’t rebound very well, something Duke should take advantage of. I’m sorry. I got off message there. Finally, while the highest point of the system should be directed toward the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium, it will periodically turn its attention the players on Maryland’s bench for a reason no one understands.”
Duke 71, Maryland, College Park 67.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE (14-11, 2-8) @ NORTH CAROLINA-CHAPEL HILL (13-11, 2-7)
The Tools’ season ended a little early, as they dropped to 2-7 in league action on Wednesday night after playing the defensive game of their lives (shocker!) against a black-clad force of invaders from parts (just) north (and a little east), and then it was revealed that Easy Ed will miss the rest of the season with a wrist injury. I’m sincerely sorry for the young man - - only Rrhoid and Ginyaaaaaaaaaaaard (official Woody Durham pronunciation) are truly despicable on this season’s soon-to-be-unlamented edition - - but I trust that he follows my sound advice and doesn’t waste another minute of his time at this level, where his goofy coach wasn’t getting him shots anyway. Oh, look - - it’s practically the only coach not named Tom Izzo and not a raving bald goon who can’t figure out how to beat this season’s Twink team.
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 4, North Carolina State 0.
Oh no, our lovable neighbors and unstoppable force destined to ride Marcus Ginyard’s deadeye shooting and the immovable inside presence of Dean “Next Coming of Shaq” Thumbson to a repeat title – have to play another basketball game! Someone, please, contact the, the U.N., the Red Cross, Hollywood celebs, Bill Clinton, the National Guard, really, any organization that can intervene in disaster situations and deliver humanitarian aid in the form of airlifting basketball talent and game-management coaching ability into Chapel Hill. Oh the humanity! Meanwhile, I’ve broken the three sentence rule for the first time in awhile to simply note that Lid Slow, Chairman of the ACC Subcommittee on Mediocrity, is personally responsible for 50 percent of Coach Yokel’s league wins and he managed to pull that off in his own building.
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 73, North Carolina State 72.5.
#20 GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (17-7, 5-5) @ WAKE FOREST (17-5, 7-3)
Yeah, that was a little trap game for GIT in the Conversation Center, and Spewitt’s annoyances resoundingly failed and received a snootful of bug spray from the Hurryclowns. They’ll be okay, unless they have to turn right around and play a hunting group partner of theirs that happens to provide one of the worst matchups for them in the conference, and also do it on the road. Whoops!
Wake Forest 78, Georgia Institute of Technology 71.
As mentioned before, the Pests took a trip to Miami the other day, advised Charlie Crist on ways to further erode his poll numbers in his campaign for the U.S. Senate, then unloaded several tons of concrete on innocent, unsuspecting rims and backboards at the ATM Center. Given that this is probably the best balance of talent and experience Pall Screwit has had, several more losses may result in missing out on the Big Show in March, and his receiving his much-deserved and overdue exit interview. But, don’t look now - - Dino, who had the bad luck as a young man to be in the control arm of a Proactiv clinical trial, is sitting quite comfortably in the number three slot in the ACC and still has games against clueless N.C. State and the basketball team formally known as the Tar Heels.
Wake Forest 82, Georgia Institute of Technology 75.
VIRGINIA (14-7, 5-3) @ VIRGINIA TECH (19-4, 6-3)
You know that John Swofford thinks you’re stupid when he (through minions) schedules round-robin games 16 days apart. It’s like he’s not even trying anymore. Virginia tries to go for the road-road split here, but Malcolm Delaney is really coming on, and the Cavs have no answer for a big man like Jeff Allen - - unless he gets himself ejected, which has only a 74% chance of happening.
Virginia Tech 68, Virginia 65.
Aha, the Turkeys put quite the beat-down on a lame group of wolves the other day, winning by 20 in Raleigh. Don’t be shocked, but these two members of the ACC that hail from the Commonwealth played about a week ago, with the Tech version coming out on top in OT. Now, of course, You Vee Hey got a surprise bye week as absurd weather in the Washington, D.C. area required their visit to College Park to be postponed, so they will be rested. If I can get unanimous consent to break the three-sentence rule again, I’d like to express my disappointment that Who Head Coach Tony Bennett has done absolutely nothing so far I can make fun of, other than having the same name as a famous baritone.
Virginia Tech 73, Virginia 69.
BOSTON COLLEGE (12-12, 3-7) @ FLORIDA STATE (17-7, 5-5)
This game is for completists and masochists only. Beyond that - - what duhomme says. RIP.
Florida State 68, Boston College 66.
I’m watching the beginning of the Olympics as I write this (Friday night) and thought I should say my thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, teammates and countrymen of Georgian Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died today after an accident while training on the track. It’s just sad to see someone reach the pinnacle of their sport and not be able to finish out his dream, not to mention the tragedy of the death of a young man who had many other accomplishments ahead of him he will never realize. In his honor, his team will compete, and the flags around all the Olympic venues will fly at half-mast. Nodar, RIP. I have a new favorite team.
Florida State 67, Boston College 65.