TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIII, Episode 43
March 14, 2010
WHO WILL GOON THE GOONS? EDITION
Matt’s comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
(7) GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (22-11, 7-9) v. #4 (1) DUKE (28-5, 13-3)
Duke’s dismissal of the very gusty Hurryclowns had a few problems. The first was that preposterous 17-2 Miami run that turned a 12-point Duke advantage into a three-point halftime deficit. Word on the street is that the City of Greensboro has e-mailed an invoice running well into six figures for reversal of the locker room remodeling that Coach K implemented at halftime. Jacket-free, no less! The second was the Blue Devils’ total inability to guard Durand Scott - - again - - as well as the ridiculous officiating, the ten free throws of Reggie Johnson, and, oh yes, Stallball IV: The Phantom Menace. Wait, I guess that was more than just one second problem.
But even in the face of all that, Duke persevered and took home the win, exciting those of us who piled into a posh sports establishment somewhere in the reaches of the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area. And I’m sure that emotion was duplicated elsewhere. You know, I had a good feeling about this game right from the start, especially when we had The Plumlee Substitution early - - and M & M came in AND CONTRIBUTED IN POSITIVE FASHION. This was refreshing! And quite the opposite from the game against Virginia the previous day, when MasonMiles were beckoned in and immediately set about trying to appear in the box in as many negative ways as possible. This time, inserted at the 16:58 mark, the broteam wasted little time making a positive impact. Mason boarded an errant Malcolm Grant three about a minute later, then took a nice dish from Singler for the emphatic flush, giving Duke its first lead. 39 seconds later, Mason stole the ball away from the Gambler and swiftly located Miles for a sibling alley oop play, which we really need more of around these parts. Mason collected another board, both played good defense, and then their first stint was over. Given that there’s no real answer for these guys, bringing them off the bench ought to cause devastation and panic among Duke’s opponents. We caught a little glimpse of that here, and it was nice to see.
At this point, I think you pretty much have to conclude that Durand Scott is the next Jack McClinton. Once again, the Blue Devils had few answers for him, but they’re hardly the first Miami opponent to experience that issue this season. Scott, and the failure of Duke’s usually titanium-lined perimeter defense - - which allowed 8-15 shooting from arcland - - were serious hurdles for Duke in this one, but they were still cleared even though Miami only had eight turnovers in the game (five forced by Duke). The Blue Devils’ 38-24 rebounding edge didn’t hurt either, nor did the strong passing against the zone, resulting in 16 assists on 26 made field goals. Not bad at all. [sinister voice] Well played, Mauer. Given that Miami balled out of its mind, combined with the atrocious officiating - - how the hell were we unluck-ie enough to draw Luckie for the second straight day??? - - Duke did just fine. Better than fine, in fact.
And now . . . the BugThugs, for the third time. Duke controlled the first meeting in Atlanta for a significant portion of time, leading 35-29 at the half, and taking one-point leads during a hard-fought second stanza, 53-52 (on a three by Scheyer at 5:36) and 56-55 on a triple by Singler at 4:32. From there, things just went downhill for Duke and the Jerkets climbed back into the game to post a narrow win. Duke had two double-digit scorers - - Jon Scheyer and . . . Mason Plumlee. HMMMMM. Jon shot 3-13 from behind the circle and Singler was 2-13 overall, and yet the Blue Devils came very close to winning the game. In the rematch in Cameron, Duke just utterly dominated, holding every Ambercoat but Zach the Hatch and Rice in single digits, winning the battle of the boards 40-32, and benefiting from 15 GIT miscues. This was the game where Singler reawakened, and tallied 30 points, including hitting 8-10 three-pointers, Scheyer chipped in 21 points on 10 shots, and Nolan added 14. The Bees turned it over 15 times, six as the result of Duke steals, and couldn’t save themselves despite shooting 49% for the game.
Georgia Tech has four main deficiencies. First, they didn’t connect from range - - an area upon which Duke needs suddenly to refocus after allowing the Clowns to connect early (and middle and late) and often from distance - - against NCSU despite what appeared to be less-than-overwhelming wing defense by the Pack. GIT made two threes - - one by Bell and one by Miller - - against North Carolina State, after capping eight against UMCP (one by Shumpert, three each by Miller and Oliver, and one by Mrs. Peacock in the lounge with the lead pipe) and five, in nineteen tries, against the laughable Tools. Unsurprisingly, as a corollary to this, they haven’t been scoring all that much, either - - they’ve tallied an average of 62.7 points in their three ACC-T games. Second, turnovers continue to be a bugbear; the Thugs coughed it up 14 times against UNC-CH, an astonishing 25 times against UMCP, and 16 times against an NCSU defense that has rarely been accused of ball-hawking. The Jerkets continue to turn it over on 22.9% of their possessions, and Hewitt is at it again with his musical chairs at the point - - last time we had to contend with Moron Udoofia, but he seems to have been retired prematurely in favor of the renascent Imam of Shumpertsville, and there’s been a late-breaking reentry into the fray by 6-2 junior Moe Miller. Gee, all of this instability at the point couldn’t have anything to do with this host of muffs (ahem), could it? I’m sure Saint Paul - - who claimed in his postgame remarks Saturday that despite flak from unspecified “other quarters,” the GIT fans have been uniformly positive about his efforts this season - - would contend that he keeps changing playmakers because of the turnovers, and would probably get angry with me about it if I pressed the issue. Duke needs to exploit this weakness, which has an obvious presumed correlation with the fatigue that GIT might be feeling in its fourth game in as many days, as completely and totally as possible. LATE-BREAKING DEVELOPMENT ON EDIT: No less an authority than Eric Monstross, now entrenched as the UNC-CH/Pravda Radio Network's resident Frankenstein impersonator, mild exsanguinator (Traveler: not yet available, give it two more seasons) and color analyst (and actually a really nice guy and a good counterpoint to uberhomer "Limp" Woody Chapelhill), has indicated that this is a key to the game, and that if Duke presses, it could be a "feeding frenzy." Hmmm. Yeah, but I worry about a 2-2-1 trap leading to transition buckets for Party Favors and Goney if the Point Guard Du Jour can pass out of it. Still, some amount of pressing is clearly required. Good call, Monstross!
Third, the Ambercoats, or Amberlamps, have SERIOUSLY benefited from some recent opponent cooperation with which they had little to do. The moniker “UNC-CH” speaks for itself in this regard, and then Maryland just shot itself in both feet right out of the gate, although I will give tremendous credit to D’Andre Bell and Rice for helping to shackle the Venezuelan Vacuum. NCSU? Well, I managed to watch the whole game, and didn’t really see the Pack’s 30.6% shooting (6-26, 23.1%, on threeballs) as a product of scary containment efforts so much as, well, idiotic shot selection. And the Pack STILL had a chance to win at the end, all efforts of retch-inducing punk Javy Gonzalez (who shot 3-14 and should have been whistled for a technical on top of his late-game intentional foul on Favors) notwithstanding. Duke - - planning on cooperating with the nice little BugThugs here? [Pat pat pat condescending head pat on nearby BugThug.] If so, then get ready for a huge battle, but apply a little basketball IQ, and the Blue Devils really should be able to exploit some gaping holes in the GIT psyche.
Fourth, the free throw shooting. Georgia Tech is now shooting 63.9%, which is worse than all but 34 other teams in Division I, most of which - - Texas, UCLA, Cincinnati, St. Louis, DePaul - - are not playing for their conference title. Against NCSU, the Bees capped 19-32 (59.4%); against Maryland, it was 13-27 (48.1%); and against the Twinks, the Institutional Insects made 9-16 (56.2%). Now, you’ve likely been watching Duke basketball long enough to have seen charity stripe backboard assailants like Favors and Lawal suddenly turn into (e.g.) Jimmer Fredette against the Blue Devils, but (not to harp on this, of course) given the possible fatigue factor, one would really, really hope that this is unlikely, and that patrons unlucky enough to have secured an endzone seat will be screaming for cover under a rain of Georgia Tech bricks.
I don’t think Duke will have too much trouble shutting down outside looks - - the main issues are whether or not Scheyer has reacquainted himself with his shot (he seemed to have done so in the second half against the Hurricanes), and, of course, how to guard Lawal and Favors, the latter of whom is playing a whole lot better than he was the last time we saw these goons. I think Lance (who played very well against Miami, locking up DeQuan Jones and Adrian Thomas whenever he was on them, while capping two jumpers and snaring five boards) has to be used on Lawal, while the Tree Force guards Favors as best as its members can. This would be another game where a good performance from Plumlee Nation (loved the shot of Marshall with his parents in the stands on Saturday) would be quite helpful, to give Favors a change of pace with which to deal when he’s on both ends of the court. Hold those guys down to their averages, and make the rest of the BugThugs try to step up, and things are going Duke’s way.
I started writing this with a bad feeling, but now I’ve detected a growing internal sentiment (relax, it’s been way less than four hours, OR HOLY S@*^ DID I FORGET TO TAKE THE TIME CHANGE INTO ACCOUNT IN MY CALCULATIONS???) that Duke will emerge victorious. How about Coach K doing a Phil Collins (No Jacket Required) on the sidelines there and earning his first technical foul since - - hey, this is surprising! - - he faced off against the Yellow Jerks in 2004? Mickie and Debbie looked like they wanted a piece of Jamie Luckie (again, doing his second Duke game in as many days - - um, bush league conference administration much?), too. I sort of doubt that Mike wants to lose to Saint Paul twice in any season, especially one in which the second such defeat would come in the ACC title game. There’s a very good reason why the Buzzers lost so many games in the league - - they’re by and large quite stupid, except for Bell. Not 2009-2010 pending-12-seed Wake Forest stupid, but . . . well, yeah. Duke needs to force Bell into guarding Singler at a height disadvantage, freeing Scheyer to operate against Point Guard of the Day and Nolan to leave Other Point Guard of the Day/Rice/Oliver checking for his license plate. Zoubek - - time to show us something against this one-and-done mercenary, baby. I like Duke to play under control, make sensible choices, eat a healthy diet, and certainly look both ways (for goon-up “defenders”) before crossing the court. Come on, Devils.
Duke 78, Georgia Institute of Technology 72.
Hey, where did everyone go? Just a couple of days ago this website was packed with members of the ACC teams playing basketball, possibly meeting each other for the first time in some cases, while Swofford handed out gravy-covered buttermilk biscuits to the staff at the Dukies.com Washington, D.C. Bureau (and immediately asked, “Are you going to finish that?”). In the meantime, most of the high seeds couldn’t be bothered to take care of business, allowing for the very real possibility that the championship game would have been between the two teams that finished at the bottom of the regular season league standings. Frankly, if Duke didn’t have an interest in keeping that from happening, I would have thought that result was pretty cool.
But no, the Blue Devils denied the Tropical Storms the chance to get an automatic bid to the NCAA-T, although this performance probably saved Faithfull’s job for another year. Which is a shame. I can’t be the only one who is getting sick of these coaches who drag the conference down with them during the regular season, only to decide to show up for work in the Greensboro Conference Room and catch other teams off-guard with some kind of rope-a-dope routine. Back to Heath Bar, if you got the Raycom feed, you were treated to approximately 37 excited exclamations from Tim Brandt that Miami is bringing in a “great” class of recruits next season. Um, given the abilities of the man in charge, unless he’s figured out a way to regain LeBron James’ eligibility, got Walter Bishop to create an 18-year-old Michael Jordan and … make up your own Incredible Hulk reference … then it’s not going to matter. Actually, if those things happened, it still wouldn’t matter.
Not that Duke didn’t do their collective best to make Feeth look like a Hall-of-Famer. I understand the first-half comeback was due to foul problems in the backcourt, but if Smith and Scheyer are both saddled with two citations apiece, how about shuttling them in one at a time, instead of putting them out there together to jointly play pylon defense? And, while I understand how the defense was required to soften up, that doesn’t explain the anemic offense to end the half. Duke was up 30-18 with 5:33 left in the first chapter. Then scored only two more points before intermission.
In case you were wondering, no, I don’t think I’ll get into the officiating, other than to say it was uber-befuddling. Okay, here’s one. Could’ve been I had the wrong view, but in one instance, Treebeard got a defensive rebound and Reggie Johnson, standing behind the Ent, grabbed him with both hands around the waist. How is that not an intentional foul? Aww, I went and opened the door, so here’s another. Speaking of johnsons, how did Singler foul a Miami player with his? And, did Lance Thomas reeeeeeaaalllly commit three fouls on a single Moo-moo possession?
Another thing that was much discussed by the Raycom crew is that when Coach K took his blazer off in the first half, Frank Fake was transformed into a high school freshman and mockingly took his off as well. Somehow, the Duke coaching staff did not run out of the Coliseum in terror.
Wow. This has come off as some really negative material. Sorry. But when Duke repeatedly puts together double-digit leads and then pees them away, I get annoyed. There were bright spots. Not only did the Plumlee bookends get lots of time, they did things with it. I really enjoy watch Mason bring up the floor against the press, and would like to enjoy watching it more. Then there was 2.0 on the fast break tossing up an alley-oop to 1.0, which I totally swear I called the Plumlee Driveway Play seconds before Mike Gminski said it on air.
But I have no proof. However, I can probably beat the G-Man to …
WIN OF THE GAME: This one is easy: Kyle Singer, who single-handedly kept Duke in the game at key points of both halves. Twenty-seven points, eight rebounds and six assists. Only one turnover. If Duke collects the trophy today, Kyle, even with a mediocre game, should easily be tournament MVP.
FAIL OF THE GAME: I’ll hand off to The Simpsons character Comic Book Guy. “Worse. End. Game. Execution. EVER.” I’m not a big fan of stall-ball, especially when it involves everyone standing around, and also when it is activated too early. Against Mee-mee, it started around the right time, but three shot clock violations? Then fouling the Medical Devices on the other end of the floor? How about that one play where Larry Drew snuck onto the floor wearing a Jon Scheyer mask and passed the ball to an invisible Kyle Singler twin who was standing 20 feet away from the one we all could see?
Hey, Duke won anyway. I got two quick fouls in the first half of this material, but my coach kept me out on the website, depriving me of some much-needed rest. If I start missing easy lay-up-references and committing unnecessary typos, that’s the reason. We’re on to Sunday afternoon, where the Blue Devils will face off against a swarm of baseball bat and chain-wielding Roaches from Atlanta, armed even more than usual since Virginia Tech left their collection of street weapons behind. I would have preferred to see N.C. State in the final, since that crew doesn’t have nearly the front-court weapons the Buggies do and have an even worse coach. Yes, the Duke loss in Raleigh was pretty bad, but that was during that weird January stretch when Oliver Purnell was named interim head coach for the Blue Devils, and the team looked nothing like it had before that point.
Now, time for a little factoid that will leave you giving your best Al Skinner impression, assuming you have had all the cartilage from your jaw joints removed: Duke and Georgia Tech played twice this year in the regular season. Jfdaiopsjf ieokapppppppppppsdjfdsaiopfdjsapoisdjfdosapjhfreiakopw j ifsdojpdsapfjdspa e8jfeiopwadjscnfamiodpsjfndiosapheqop 4j3oqpjieropajfdsioapfdj 8idsakp fjui8dsapdifjoaspdsifajdsaoipdsjfiodsa
Uh …. Um … gee, sorry. I passed out from surprise and my head landed on the keyboard. How long have I been out? Long enough to remember I need to give a shout-out to ClemsonGuest for the Tyler Zeller is Greedo incarnate comment. Speaking only for myself, he will be Greedo as long as he pollutes this webpage, with ClemsonGuest getting due credit each time. Awesome catch.
As often happens when the ACC overlard allows league foes to play a home-and-away series, the hosts were victorious each time. There were two different Singlers in these meetings. The Atlanta one was 2-13 for nine points. The one in Durham was 9-17 for 30. The loss in Atlanta also occurred during the time where Duke was way too enamored with three-point shots and took 28 (only six met the net). The one thing both games had in common was lots and lots of free-throws, not a shock since Poo-itt has always instructed his button men to go after Duke with every dirty move possible, up to and including …
TIM BRANDT: “duhomme pulls up for a three-point joke. OFF the front of the iron!”
MIKE GMINSKI: “He’s looking tired and should probably be taken out of the webpage for a few minutes. Or maybe even until next Thursday.”
TIM BRANDT: “The officials have called a foul. If it’s on duhomme, that’s his fifth. It IS. He’s OUT of the material!’
MIKE GMINSKI: “That’s not as big a blow as some would think, but it does mean Dukies.com will have to rely on Matt to carry them the rest of the way.”
Duke 71, Georgia Institute of Technology 68.