TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIV, Episode 4
November 22, 2010
ON OUR MARQUE EDITION
Mattís comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
MARQUETTE (4-0, 0-0 Big East) @ #1 DUKE (3-0, 0-0)
Dukeís win against Sensodyne at Cameron was one of those fresh, cleansing, mouth-tingling wins thatís good for a teamís moral hygiene. Neither Kyle Singler (5-16) nor Nolan Smith (5-13) shot exceptionally well, but they still combined for 34 points (Singler 18, Smith 16) on 19 shots in 47 minutes. Imagine when these guys get in rhythm? Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving is continuing his quest to show that while naming a freshman to the preseason All-America team is ridiculous, mediots should at least get the right one. KI played 25 minutes, tallying 13 points on 5-9 shooting, including 3-5 from arcland, and managed nine assists without an error. (Nolan added nine assists of his own, as the Blue Devils racked up 24 assists as a team, supporting 34 field goals, and had just twelve malaprops.) I liked sudden starter Ryan Kellyís contributions a whole lot (howís that for trenchant?), Seth Curry was off with his shot (alert Elmore!), but still scored 11 points in 23 minutes by getting to the line nine times and converting all but once, and then there was Andre Dawkins. I hope you went and watched the clip of the steal and breakaway dunk at 15:04 of the first half, just over a minute after he entered the game. Uh, wow? And what about this catís defense?? (!!)
We interrupt this summary for a random shoutout to Len Elmless. Len: Seth Curry wonít be facing that allegedly steep transition after taking on Big South competition in 2008-2009, as the Big South that season was, it turns out, better than the 2010-2011 ACC minus Duke, against whom Seth will not be playing. This PSA brought to you by Yale, Kennesaw State, Rutgers, Stetson, Minnesota and Vanderbilt. Thanks.
Incidentally, I love Kís gambit, hopefully to be continued, of subbing in Dawkins for Kelly and exchanging Plumlees at the first deadball, then bringing in Curry a minute or so later. Force the other team to cope with the trees, get it in their heads that these guys are around, then suddenly bring in two wing guys with, shall we say, ďplusĒ athleticism and scoring potential, particularly from distance. I donít know that the psych-out is exactly what Krzyzewski is driving at here, but I choose to detect a pattern and I love it. 49 bounds and 13 thefts donít offend, nor do the seven blocks, even if Iím not expecting KI and Ty Thornton to notch one of those apiece per game going forward. Incidentally, K - - please please please keep giving Thornton and Hairston minutes. They are not Czyzes (hey, I liked the kid, but I came to see why he might not have earned more time), and they both play defense. Thornton acts like a junior. Anyway, Team Gleem didnít stand much of a chance, and Duke scored more in the second half than some ACC members have been scoring in entire games.
Of course, some of that high-flying offense figures to dial down a notch or several as the comp improves, which it does - - right now. Duke has made a bit of a habit of facing Marquette in preseason tourneys, losing to them in the final of this very affair in Kansas City (albeit at the older Municipal Auditorium; this time, weíll be at the gleaming new Sprint Center, named for the act of running upcourt on a fast break) on November 21, 2006, then rebounding and defeating the Golden Eagles on November 21, 2007 to win the Maui Invitational. Hmmm. Well, Iíll see your two November 21s and raise you one November 22, and letís do this CBE thing all over again, but with a different result, shall we? CBE, by the way, is not a shillname generated by some halfass financial institution defacing this event, but is just the acronym for the Kansas City-based College Basketball Experience, an interactive fan facility that I would very much like to see in person. I shouldn't fail to mention that in conjunction with this event, the College Basketball Hall of Fame inducted one Christian Laettner and one David Thompson over the weekend. Now, do they only hold such ceremonies every 17 or 18 years??? Even if so, that still doesn't explain the delay for Thompson. Who exactly is already in this shrine, if anyone?
Marquette has faced only de minimis competition thus far, comprising four home games, all against RPI-damaging opposition. A 97-58 blowout of Prairie View A&M was followed by a mere 11-point triumph over Bucknell, then there was a twenty-point victory over UWGB before Saturdayís 82-69 tripup of the fiercely independent Coyotes of South Dakota. Iím not convinced by that performance, nor any of the Marquessesí games thus far, but of course, they could be utterly meaningless. Playing on Saturday, though, was a little weird given this imminent two-fer, no? Now, please hold down the raucous objections - - I realize that flying from Milwaukee to Kansas City does not rank among the most painful of voyages, inasmuch as the two cities are only 440 air miles apart. But look, any plane trip involves packing, getting the team together, busing to and from the airport, sexual molestation by TSA agents, uncomfortable sitting, screaming infants, surly flight attendants, mind-numbing baggage claim (I guess the players donít really deal with that, but still - - itís THERE), et cetera - - so count me among those who would not slate a Saturday game prior to a road trip involving back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Marquette is led by 6-7 senior Jimmy Butler (15.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 tpg, 1.8 spg, .488/.778/.250), who played off the bench his first two seasons before muscling his way into the starting lineup last year and coming close to tripling his sophomore scoring average with 14.7 ppg. Butler has an uncanny knack for the offensive glass, and is almost certain to draw Kyle Singler on both ends, providing another test for those who still havenít bought into the fact that Singlerís defense has improved as steadily as his offense over his career - - just ask Gordon Hayward about that. Speaking of Butler, Jimmy may be uncomfortable being pushed outside, but he has to score for Marquette to win. Starting with Butler up front has been 6-11, 260-pound sophomore Chris Otule (5.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .714/.429/.000), who has been hampered by chronic foot injuries, but then, we Duke fans know better than to write off a post man because of that. Otule will push Mason Plumlee and/or Ryan Kelly, who (as I have neglected to mention, but SiteFriend Al White was all over it) has now started the last two games for Duke, and Mason will need to show a little bit more discipline on defense than he has so far; heís been dealing out the fouls faster than the formerly ageless Brett Favre has been transmitting interceptions and/or sextpics of his grizzled junk. Significant depth comes from 6-6 junior Jae Crowder (11.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, .607/.529/.667), last seasonís NJCAA POY at Howard (TX) College; Crowder has an outside game and is built like the graduated Lazar Hayward - - but letís not put him on the All-Big East team (second, that is) just yet. Crowder has been seeing more minutes than Otule in sort of an ďinstant offenseĒ role off of the bench, and will doubtless get plenty of run in this one against a high-octane attack such as that of the Blue Devils. 6-8 freshman Davante Gardner, weighing in at nearly three bills, has been chipping in 9.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg in less than ten minutes off the pine against the Golden Eaglesí thus far less-than-stellar opposition.
In the backcourt, the usual source of scoring on Tom Crean/Buzz Williams-style teams, 6-3 senior Dwight Buycks (12.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.8 apg, 2.2 tpg, 1.0 spg, .531/.800/.636) has been shooting out of his mind and doling out assists at a mad clip for someone who isnít even the teamís nominal point guard; that role has fallen by POE to 6-4 freshman Vander Blue (which is the name of the syndrome that many NCCH fans are battling today, as well as the title of a Nashville-based porno outlet that was one of Commodore Corneliusí lesser-publicized holdings) (9.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.0 tpg, 2.0 spg, .484/.385/.200). Blue started on the title-winning FIBA Americas U18 team over the summer along with such luminaries as Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers, so Coach K and staff shouldnít lack for a good scouting report on the defense-oriented Madison product, who will probably see plenty of erstwhile colleague Irving in this one on both ends. Then thereís 6-2 senior Darius Johnson-Odom (11.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.5 tpg, .353/.769/.167), the other returning starter from last season besides Butler. J-O, who tallied 47.4% from range last season, is unsurprisingly the Galactic Eastís leading returning three-point marksman, from a team that shot 41.3% in that department a season ago. However, much of the scoring punch that both complemented Johnson-Odom-Wilson-Stanford-Bush-Cheney-Recession from outside and allowed him to operate in open territory last season is gone, and as you can see, heís having trouble getting his shot off quite as easily this season despite the lack of high-caliber foes thus far. As this council is aware, Duke hardly ever gets burned by a renowned three-point shooter, and I expect Nolan Smith to be in Hyphen-Odomís jersey all night long. 6-0 freshman Reggie Smith (1.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg) and 6-1 sophomore point Junior Cadougan (1.2 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 tpg) provide the PT cushion among the guards, although Cadougan, coming off an Achilles injury, has shot horribly and Smith has struggled to score and defend.
On the whole, Marquette is a team searching for its identity after having lost not just Hayward (the programís all-time second-leading scorer behind only his contemporary Jerel McNeal), but two other starters from last seasonís 22-12/11-7 NCAA Tournament entrant. The last time Duke and Marquette faced off, Hayward, Wesley Matthews, Dominic James and McNeal were all still around, and although this yearís crop doesnít measure up to that level of talent, Williams is a polished operational coach who seems to be able to relate well to his players and motivate them to higher heights than paper analysis suggests possible. However, this is a squad with serious shortcomings on defense, in the post, and in the areas of free throw shooting, arcsmanship, and ballhandling. They struggled in the second half against South Dakota and really havenít been pushed yet (admittedly, much like Duke, albeit without the struggling-against-South Dakota part). Williams has a nice rotation of skilled players, but how will they respond to, say, a full-court press and a sixth-gear offense with capable, athletic big men? My guess is not that well, although theyíll hang around in the first half and into the second, and make it a game if they can limit Dukeís opportunities off of miscues and on the break and keep it in the halfcourt. However, a competently-performing Duke squad should eventually roll.
Duke 85, Marquette 70.
Yeah, boy howdy, these games just keep coming, donít they? Ready for a double-scoop of Duke basketball? We sure are, and are ready to fill this space with exciting insight and analysis. Possibly about basketball, rather than Asian cooking lessons.
Speaking of Duke playing the game of basketball, they just did that the other night, facing off against a team that nine out of ten dentists recommend you schedule at home early in the season on a Friday for no particular reason other than to provide a distraction for date-less wonders across the country. We should talk about that game, huh?
But first, trivia question: how many of you know what Dino Gaudio is doing with his unexpected excess of free time these days? No fair, some of you cheated, and watched Duke get their six-month teeth cleaning on ESPN360 Friday and were treated to the dulcet tones of Goofio doing color analysis. Which was, frankly, not bad. It makes one wonder if he had tried to explain the ins and outs of the game to his players with that level of detail, whether he might have actually accomplished something at his former place of employment. As mentioned in previous seasons, no one can compare to the lectures from Professor Bob Knight, who treats the in-game experience like heís breaking down tape. But moonface was pretty darn good. Of course, it could be that after two evenings of Hatemore, the act of listening to someone who didnít go out of his way to invent ways to complain about all things Duke was a relief.
What else about that game was enjoyable? How about Duke deciding that an 18 point half-time lead was just a bit too close for comfort and outscoring the Floss 66 to 32 in the final 20 minutes of play? Irving had nine assists and never, ever, let the ball end up out of bounds or in the hands of someone who doesnít play on the same team as he does. Unfortunately, he and Smith had to play more than anyone else Ö Gotcha! They did, but it was only for 25 minutes. Letís see, 13 steals for 23 fast-break points. That works. And allowing the Impacted Molars (starting to run low on these) only 10 assists to 26 (!!!!!!!) turnovers. There was a root canal joke around here somewhere, but I canít seem to find it right now. Oh well. Probably for the best, as a my chief-of-staff just informed me (we did that thing members of Congress do when they cover their microphone while an advisor whispers, using his hand to shield his mouth from lip-readers, because it looks really cool) that it is now time for the Ö
WIN OF THE GAME: Yeah, it is kind of silly to elevate any one thing in a 110-58 victory that was never really that close, but that fast-break throw-down by Dawkins had me out of my chair. Which leads into a to-this-point-not-mentioned awe at the way this guy has transformed his game. Defense, moving on offense, you name it. He doesnít look like the same player. And if he ever, while wearing a Duke uniform, jumped as high as he did on that dunk Friday night, no one told me.
FAIL OF THE GAME: This was a tough one. How do you nearly double-up a team in the scoring column, but only out-rebound them by six? But that got beat out by not one, but BOTH, Plumlees taking an early break from game-playing responsibilities after being on the wrong end of, combined, 10 whistles. If the Duke-provided box score is correct, Mason managed to pull this off in only 13 minutes on the floor. Umm, guys, please cut it out. Next time youíre sitting on the bench, look around. Youíre needed somewhere else.
On to tonightís action. Duke will be ďhostingĒ Marquette in The Other Phonebooth, located in Kansas City, Moe. Now, I have some really sad news. Are you ready? Sitting down? Have some tissues ready. Len Elmore Ö sigh Ö [dramatic pause while gathering myself and biting my lip, staring at the floor in discomfort] Ö will Ö not be part of the broadcast crew for this game. I know, I know. Go ahead and take a few minutes to gather yourself.
There is no official word on how this national crisis occurred. Perhaps he is suffering from depression after watching Seth Curry perform at this level. Maybe the mental condition that causes him to imagine fouls that never occurred has worsened to the point where he is standing on a street corner accusing complete strangers of sins against God. Could be that there was an earmark on the transportation appropriations bill providing funding to place a road sign on one of his teeth saying ďLast Tooth for 100 MilesĒ and work began on that today. Donít know, but weíll have to get through this game without a constant stream of deadpan bile. Instead, we get Dick! Vitale, that is.
Now that we are done with the disappointing part (dial it down, smartass), letís turn our attention to the Golden Feebles of Marquette. When was the last time these two teams played? Might have been during the 2006-2007 season in the championship game of This Very Same CBE Classic. [Nay; as indicated above, the two teams reprised their tilt exactly one year later, with Duke winning 77-73 in the Maui championship. That was Singler and Smithís freshman season. ĖEditorial Staff] That one didnít end too well, with Duke losing 73-62. Of course, the entire season ended badly (and was rather unpleasant throughout) with Duke dropping the opening game of the ACC-T to North Carolina State and then, upon deciding they werenít done underwhelming, pulled off the same feat in against VCU in the first game of the NCAA tourney. This is probably a topic to go into another time, but, after weighing talent vs. results, I would call that the most disappointing season under Coach K.
Not that thereís any reason to repeat that journey, okay? Marquette may hail from a conference that weíve actually heard of, but no one expects them to do much there, other than be one of 43 members of the Big Yeast to be featured in a bracket on Selection Sunday. A quick look at their schedule so far shows that Ö they have played some games. My first reaction on seeing that Marquit opened the season with league foe St. Johnís was, wow, did the Fig Leaf outsource their conference slate to Swoffieís schedule ruining staff? Oh, no, how silly of me. That was an exhibition game against St. Johnís of Minnesota. Since then, the Tin Beagles have rudely sent away Prairie View and Bucknell, then heroically took on the city of Green Bay and the state of South Dakota.
One thing jumps out when looking at some box scores, and weíll use the last two games as examples. Marquee does not take many three-pointers, totaling 17 in the last two outings (in contrast, Duke attempted 17 in the FIRST HALF against ColeFieldHouseGate). But they donít mind to opposition doing the opposite, as both Green Bay and S.D. put up a combined 41. Do they win by pounding it down low (todayís obligatory porn reference)? Not really. Looks like guards driving to basket and getting fouled on every other possession.
Is this yearís Duke team good at keeping players from doing that? Yep. Does this team like defenses that allow them to chuck away at will from toll-calling land? Maybe even more. Does this team have front court players who can rotate over to defend a slashing player without fouling? Time will tell.
Duke 84, Marquette 61.
2009-2010 Duke National Championship!! Season:
Matt 96-47 (.671)
duhomme 94-49 (.657)
Guests 16-4 (.800)