TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIII, Episode 42
March 13, 2010
TAKE THE WIND OUT OF THEIR SAILS EDITION
Mattís comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
(12) MIAMI (FLORIDA) (20-12, 4-12) v. (1) #4 DUKE (27-5, 13-3)
Duke is running out of reasons to fail to win this tournament somewhat rapidly. The #2 seed is gone, the #3 seed is gone, the #4 seed is gone, the #5 seed is gone, and the #6 seed is gone. Half of the remaining field is composed of the bottom two seeds in the bracket, and #7 Georgia Tech (obviously playing at a level considerable higher than their seed) rounds things out. (Sidenote: I guess Spewitt probably saved his job and the BugThugs are in the NCAAs.) Six of the eight games played so far have been won by the higher (i.e., worse) seed, and one of those was GIT beating UNC-CH, which hardly counts - - I might add that itís not as though the Jerkets didnít have their moments in that one as well, trailing by 13 in the first half before the Roid Rangers predictably ran out of gasoline and all alternative fuels as their hapless leader sat by, in radio contact with the team motor coach operator to arrange his players' postgame debusestration. And then, of course, as you may have heard, Duke beat Virginia.
I was busy watching on-court action yesterday - - and it was quite fun! - - so I didnít do my usual intense message board surf to find out what Duke fans at the TDD forums were saying about the teamís performance; I had to limit my visit there to making sure no one needed to be banned, warned, et cetera (and no one did - - Tool fans were pretty quiet and, later in the day, Twerp fans quieted down too for some reason). However, I suspect that there was some wailing and gnashing of teeth, and in general, I donít want to hear it. Yes, Duke played quite poorly in the first half. But thatís the 2007 national COY on the other sideline - - he knows more than a few things about team management, and with both Landesberg (whom I suspect, without any hard evidence, of causing locker room divisions this season, and could be addition by subtraction at this point) and Calvin Baker (attending to a family illness - - best wishes to him) missing, managed to eke an incredibly strong performance out of his squad. Dukeís entire defensive focus in the game was concentrated on stopping Zeglinski, who indeed finished scoreless after recording a season-high 21 points in the opening round against - - and you are forgiven if youíve already forgotten them at this point - - Boston College. What Duke probably did NOT plan on was for the offense to stall utterly in the first half, but in the second half, everything returned to normal.
I wasnít perturbed by the final score because - - just as many people correctly mentioned after we played NIT-bound Consultant Herb and his contract assignment Sun Devils waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in November, if you defeat a Tony Bennett-coached squad by 11, youíve done fine. Possessions in this game were fairly limited, naturally, and the pace wasnít fast - - which bodes well for today. And because Singler got two personals in the first half, he only logged 32 minutes, while Nolan Smith had 37 and Scheyer 38. Hey, thatís practically a stroll on the beach for those guys. Duke also came up strong on offense in the second half when it mattered, and I believe that to be shaking the rust off from a six-day layoff and playing in an arena they did not visit this season. Finally, Dukeís defensive performance in the second half was sterling, holding Virginia to 19 points on 8-26 (30.8%) shooting, allowing only one three, by Minister Farrakhan, in seven attempts, and permitting the Cravs only two trips to the line. For the game, Virginia shot 32.1% and was 3-14 from behind the arc. And again, the team effort on Zeglinski (who had five boners and was 0-9 from the floor) was fabulous.
Offensively, in the second half the Blue Devils reactivated their motion look and stopped running high ball screens (which generally annoy me anyway because they seem to result in cheap fouls and the Forest Rangers getting out of position), instead deploying a variety of the weave between the Three Esses and getting Lance more involved - - he took a shot, which he missed (although not badly), and went to the line three times. Meanwhile, after Nolan carried the team in the first half with some absolutely amazing drives and midrange shots, Singler took over in the second, posting 14 of his 18 points on 6-10 post-intermission shooting. Scheyer, meanwhile, recovered from a poor first half (his airballed three was because of an uncalled illegal use of the hands foul that failed to register with the amazingly incompetent officiating crew of Hull, Jones, and irrepressible doofus Jamie Luckie - - the official boxscore appropriately notes their level of achievement by not listing their names), which included a couple of shots coming up short. That never happens to Jon, so perhaps he was thrown by the background or just not himself for whatever reason; however, he recovered nicely exactly when the Blue Devils needed him, with a short jumper at 3:32 over two Cavalier defenders, and a nice layin over Meyinsse, with associated penalty toss, at the 2:32 mark, closing the Duke scoring. And Singler was simply unstoppable, recording 18 points and 11 boards (five scoreside) on his 14 shots from the field (including two made threes in three attempts) in his 32 minutes. Kyleís threes came at the 14:27 mark of the second half, starting to build a Duke lead, which stood at five after the bucket; and at the 12:19 point, pushing the Blue Devil lead to eight, 43-35. Virginia closed again, but thatís when Scheyer came alive.
All in all, I canít say Iím too disappointed.
Duke will face another team with nothing to lose today in the Miami (Florida) Hurricanes, who followed their hopeful Thursday transmission of Goonio to the NIT by cleansing Greensboro of the Bald Bastard of Blacksburg, and raising at least the possibility - - however slim - - that the Selectostiffs will decide to punish the grumpy hood for that ridiculous OOC ďscheduleĒ and get him out of the NCAAs, too. Meanwhile, Miami should certainly go to the NIT, and I bet Haith saved his job.
CARUSO: Well played, Frank. Looks like a storm . . . [dons sunglasses] is blowing in.
David Caruso as ďLieutenantĒ Horatio Caine, the undead, 4,000 year-old plenipotentiary overlord of Dade County
Frank Haith in a nonspeaking role
Jonathan Togo as DeQuan Jones, that Guy with Ridiculous Athleticism Who Is A Mindblowing Head Case But Sure Looked Like a Globetrotter Against VPI
Adam Rodriguez as Denis the Penis Clemente, now watching his old team from Manhattan (no, the other one)
Emily Procter as James Dews
Omar Benson Miller as Reggie Johnson (talk about typecasting!)
In todayís episode, the CSIs will attempt to win their third game in three days from their now-pretty-much-irrelevant cellar position in the ACC-T field. Now, which Duke will show up, one wonders? The one that trailed Miami by a (-12) margin at halftime in the Conversation Center lo, those many, many (okay, actually only 24) days ago, or the Blue Devil squad that absolutely destroyed the Clowns in the second half of the same game by a mark of 56-37, posting an 81-74 win after taking the lead for good at the 13:59 mark of the second half? Those of you hawkeyes who were watching closely during the Miami-VPI game noticed Wojo AND Collins out there scouting this time - - as opposed to Wojoís apparent solo effort during Virginiaís opening game - - and thatís not a bad idea, because if thereís one thing that could end this Blue Devil season, itís a zone defense. It looked to me like the CandyCanes were using a 2-1-2 set rather than other zone looks against both Wake and the Hokums, suggesting that sending the Three Ess Squad to the elbow and/or the foul line area for jumpers might not be a bad idea. To the extent that the Clowns deploy a matchup look, Duke needs to communicate well and send cutters from one side of the court to the other, forcing the ďpass offĒ switch in defensive assignments. Singlerís face-up game will be REALLY key here as well.
One comfort for Duke is that 100%, Grade-A Certified DukeSlayer Dwayne Collins wonít be on the court - - unless Donna Shalala hired NCCH Minister of Athletic Propaganda and Abject Falsehoods Steve Kirschner (whoís not busy) last night as a consultant. Without Collins, Zoubek and the Plumlees (who actually made me hoarse screaming at them in the first half yesterday - - yeah, Iím incredibly immature and a baby, but what IS WRONG WITH THOSE KIDS???) will be facing the three-headed team of 6-9 freshman Johnson (and watch out for those Reggies with J-son last names, Duke!!), 6-9 senior Cyrus McGowan, and 6-9 sophomore Julian Gamble in the paint. McGowan can move, but Gamble is just foul-dealing filler and Johnson (who admittedly has an amusing, likable ďgame faceĒ quality to him) is still pretty bulky even after losing all that poundage. Distressingly, while the Plumlees were screwing around in the first half on Friday, Zoubek was anchored to the bench with two silly fouls, and also had a couple of plays where he brought the ball down to wormís-eye level after retrieving a carom. Bad Brian!!! Come ON, DUDE!! I thought we were past all that. If Zoubek would reboot the 2.0 software that he discovered about six weeks ago and the Plumlees would just gather a couple of clues on their Easter egg hunt, McGambleson wonít be able to stop them without getting in serious foul trouble - - and not having a reliable backline presence will hurt the implementation of the zone looks by opening up the middle, and the wing if Duke is patient and runs its sets.
Obviously, the primary key to dismantling the anticipated zone is making threes. Wonder if that will happen today? Come on come on come on.
On defense, Duke needs to contain Durand Scott, who scored 19 on 9-13 shooting in the first matchup, avoiding Dukeís bonusphere containment and driving inside. He only drew two fouls, indicating that (as I also independently recall) he was sailing into the paint relatively untouched. Nolan will need to amp up the defensive pressure here and shut this guy down. As for the rest of Miamiís players, Duke doesnít usually have trouble with wing anchors like Adrian Thomas, Haith rarely seems to play Scott and Grant together, but Grant hasnít played all that well lately, and took a terrible late shot yesterday that gave VPI a chance (they failed), and well . . . Jones is just one of those guys who canít really be defended all that well, because his frankly amazing athleticism, when he bothers to employ it, means that he flies in from unexpected floor locales and does something interesting with the rock. Heís not as much of a concern off of set plays as he is on the secondary break and off of boards. Singler should be looking after him, or maybe Singler will watch Thomas and Lance can stay with Jones - - that makes more sense, come to think of it. Finally, Dews hasnít been a huge force for a while, and I imagine that Scheyer can stay with him. This all starts with forcing Scott into halfcourt sets and staying in front of him.
By the way, I smell Karl Hess for this one. Duke has managed to avoid him fairly thoroughly this season - - but I just have a feeling. I hope Iím very wrong. Mike Eades, too - - stay away, you hack.
Miami has a few players at its disposal, but surely fatigue is going to set in at some point; moreover, if Duke comes out of the locker room strong, I imagine that a large part of the Clownsí momentum will be lost, and not easily regained. This a great opportunity for JUDICIOUS three-point shooting, and forced drivebys when Miami comes out to defend the wing shot. Duke needs to communicate, pass on the interior and off the dribble, and limit Scott while playing its customary strong perimeter defense. Letís go, Devils.
Duke 80, Miami (Florida) 72.
First: a schedule note. I arrived home from the office with just enough time to run out to the grocery store before the evening ACC-T action started. I have the Duke game on the DVR, and the idea of watching the 7 oíclock game, then the 9:30 game, THEN watching the Blue Devil AND THEN doing this material, just didnít sound like a terrifically good idea. So, the plan is to write up this game while watching Maryland and some Pesky Bugs, blow off the N.C. State/Florida State game in favor of the Duke recording, and return to the keyboard for the second game.
Yes, that was far more than you need/wanted/thought it was possible to know, but the point is I am recapping the Duke game based entirely on the box score and news coverage.
When I heard the score on my drive home, I assumed that Nolan and Jon had visited a quarry on their way to Greensboro, got a good deal by getting one ton of product at full price and then a second at 50 percent off, and deposited their new purchases all over the gym. (I already knew Singler had played well.) But the box score indicates otherwise. Scheyer wasnít exactly scaring anyone with his just-under 30 percent night, but thatís the way heís been lately. His backcourt buddies, though, each hit half their shots. The problem seems to be the rest of the team was not all that interested in scoring, as the five other players who got meaningful numbers contributed a measly nine points. For those of you lacking my Rainman-esque ability to perform complicated calculations in my head on momentís notice, that means the Band of Sís were responsible for 84.2 percent of Dukeís points. I havenít been a part of the chorus singing the ďK is Relying Too Much on Three PlayersĒ anthem, but nearly 85 percent is pretty extreme.
I must say that the defense was stellar. Duke held the Who Are Yous to 3-14 from outside, and wisely kept the ACCís best free-throw shooting away from their accountants Ė only 11 filings as a non-profit for Bennettís team.
Alrighty, without having seen any of the game, hereís what I think happened. Back when the ACC expanded to nine teams, there was a play-in game Thursday night between the eight and nine seeds (to paraphrase Obi-Wan in Epsiode IV, ďA tournament for more Ö civilized times.Ē). The winner of that game, which had to turn around and play at noon the following day, almost never failed to keep it close for at least a half, maybe a bit longer, before fading down the stretch. This was probably because they were looser, had played an actual game in the building and just generally stayed in competition mode. However, since they were playing their second game in two days, fatigue would set in, and the top seed would pull away. Weíve seen that already today, with Miami upending Greengoon and Georgie Tech leading Merrieland by nearly 20 points in the first half. And, to apply this to the game being recapped, You VeeAyyy went three minutes smack-dab in the middle of the second half with their score stuck on 35 and not budging whatsoever.
On edit: if Singler and Treebeard werenít quarantined from the playing surface for the last part of the first half, Duke probably would have had close to a 10-point lead at the half.
Of course, this is my ninth writing game in three days, and fatigue might be a factor here as well. But not before we open the envelope to find out Ö
WIN OF THE GAME: Nolanís first-half game of H-O-R-S-E against the Pronouns. Heís usually good for one shot like that each game, but had at least three in the opening 20 minutes.
FAIL OF THE GAME: Iíd like to say the total scoring from players without an ďSĒ as the first letter in their last name wasnít for a lack a trying, but of the 55 shots taken by Duke, 12 attempts came from the aforementioned two starters and three bench players. And they combined for 90 minutes of play. Thatís one shot every 7:30 of game time. Letís hope this was just a weird game.
Now Duke gets to play Miami in a game where I hope I finally get the winning team predicted correctly. In an almost unbelievable, but knee-slappingly funny manner, Coach Gotta Have Haith has upped his conference winning total by 50 percent, all in the last two days. Sounds like he used a product pitched by Billy Mays.
SIDEBAR: Did you know his commercials are still running? This is, in P.R. and advertising lingo, known as a colossal blunder. First of all, the man died at a fairly early age. When we see him on television, we get sad, rather than being excited about the product he is yelling about. Second, cocaine (which is a Schedule III controlled substance as far as I know) was cited as a contributing factor in his death. With all due sympathy for the loved ones he left behind, the man was a felon. Why would you want him as the face on your product? END SIDEBAR.
Is MyAmiís recent run enough evidence to support my above-stated hypothesis regarding second-day performance by play-in teams? Well, no. Under that premise, the Banes were supposed to just hang around for awhile, then get blown out, not put a serious question mark next to Va-Techís chances of playing in a neutral arena next week (Iím serious). But if you are going to put the offensive load almost entirely on Malcolm Delaney, heís going to have to score more than seven points on 3-15 shooting, with no collect calls accepted by the rim during the game. If Jeff Allen is going to be your teamís leading scorer for the game, he needs not to be saddled with foul trouble. If you are going to start Victor Davila, donít blindfold him like heís being taken to a surprise party and instruct him to take more than one shot. Or at least make the only one he attempts. Also, if you are going to force 18 turnovers, well, do something with them. And donít get out- rebounded by 13.
Of course, the only reason Miami was even wearing uniforms on Friday was because they got the gift of facing off against Cluelesso and some religious figures who have gone over to the dark side and absolutely pounded them into submission. What a debacle. I used to develop webinars and have come up with one I think would sell really well in the ACC. The presenters would be from the UVA Athletic Department and would be called ďHow to Learn from Past Mistakes and Hire a Good Coach.Ē
Believe it or not, these two teams have actually played each other this year, as the Scheduling Sloth currently running the conference managed to make that happen, an 81-74 Duke victory in the Coral Gables Retirement Community Nap Room. Now, I know for a fact that I watched this game, but completely forgot Duke was down 12 at the half before beginning the second 20 minutes with a 29-9 run and then maintaining a single-digit lead for the rest of the event. Duke simply just does not play well in that building.
Can the Mee-mees pull off yet another upset? Possibly, although three games in three days is a tall order when your opponent is only on contest number two. Plus, Duke was not playing at its best in the Feb. 17 meeting. Not to mention the Walkers have to be somewhat bewildered to still be in Greensboro. Did they even pack enough undies? Then there is the small, but not to be overlooked, fact that for the first time since the tournament started, Can I be Frank With You? is facing a team with a head coach, not a suit mannequin that has been worked over with a belt sander or the leader of a street gang.
Duke 71, Miami ([Note to self: Donít forget to insert inside joke here] Florida) 67.
(11) NORTH CAROLINA STATE (19-14, 5-11) v. (7) GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (21-11, 7-9)
Turns out that you can have the conferenceís coach of the year, the conferenceís player of the year, and a few other weapons too (well, letís not stretch things), but you can still upset your riotous fanbase if said coach is roundly schooled by - - wait, Paul Hewitt??? - - and said player shoots 6-21 from the field. Hilariously, the BugThugs STILL almost blew the game - - Maryland could have tied its own record for largest-deficit ACC-T comeback, and nearly did, as the Ambercoats did everything they could to cough up a 19-point lead. But in the end, Jordoís four fouls - - this will also be MDCPís undoing in the NCAAs - - and the resulting total inability to prevent Favors and Lawal from operating down low did the Twerps in. I just canít feel that bad about it! Meanwhile, Scott Wood - - who wants to play his entire career against the Noids if possible - - and Redjac captained a low-wattage dismissal of Len Hamilton, who seemed to be completely helpless in the face of NCSUís, uh, onslaught? Sixth sentence to note that these two squads naturally met just once this season, but the Packers came within a bucket of dealing a serious blow to the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. Of course, the current edition of GIT, like a true team with no internal leadership and no real coaching influence, is playing out of its mind, so this seventh sentence will sadly profess that theyíre headed to the ACC final.
Georgia Institute of Technology 74, North Carolina State 72.
Semi-final Saturday kicks off with the #1 seed, #7, #11 and #12 participating. Has that ever happened before? Did I just waste a valuable sentence asking that question? Was the Beesí win over some Turtles probably somewhat predictable, given the Moist Mentorís penchant for taking it easy in this post-season event when he knows he already has an engraved invite to the national party televised by CBS? Yeah. Did someone around these parts who writes in blue text TOTALLY pull one out of his nether regions by picking the Wookies over the Seminoles, thus creating an insurmountable four game lead in the season stats? Yeah to that, too. Have these two teams played each other yet, and did I have to get the answer navigating the impossible-to-find-anything Georgia Tech AD website? Yeah, and yeah. Oh, and the Buggies won at home by two.
Goodness me, I almost forgot. This is for you, Maryland.
Georgia Institute of Technology 72, North Carolina State 71.