TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIV, Episode 21
February 13, 2011
YES, FRANK; A DEAD BODY CAN HAVE THAT EFFECT ON YOU EDITION
Mattís comments in blue.
Jim Tamesí comments in white.
#5 DUKE (22-2, 9-1) @ MIAMI (FLORIDA) (15-9, 4-6)
Ah, Valentineís Day is tomorrow, Selection Sunday is near, and so, hopefully, is Kyle Singler Ex-Winter Hibernation Self-Activation Day. For the third time in the last four seasons, Duke makes the lengthy trek to Coral Gables for a quiet conversation in the Library - - but wait, whatís this? Ah, yes, the last two games in this intriguing venue werenít all Duke, to say the least.
Some Historical Perspective and Mattís Usual I Like Miami Rant:
The last five times that Duke and Miami have played, itís been a continuing series of wacky adventures. In February of 2008 at the Conversation Center, Miami won by a single point as the Blue Devils limped toward the end of the regular season. The next season, in Cameron, Duke trailed by 16 in the second half before Gerald Henderson scored 18 points in a short stretch, Dave McClure hauled in 13 bounds, and Greg Paulus, returning to starting point guard duties, helped to force overtime, in which the Blue Devils won narrowly. Then thereís last season - - Duke trailed by 12 at the half in Coral Gables and went on to win by seven after opening the second period with a 29-9 run. But wait - - there was also the meeting in Greensboro on Friday of the ACC-T. Hoo boy. Yeah, that one was close, and remember, Dwayne Collins didnít play, so that was really very close to the same team that we have here today, minus Mountain Dews, which is addition by subtraction. Miami also battled credibly against Duke in Cameron to open ACC action for both teams. As mentioned before, I like this team and I like what Shalala and AD Kirby Hocutt have done to improve the programís academic standing. This is one recent ACC addition that I actually enjoy having in the conference - - and if they can ever get fans to fill that little 7,200-seat gem of an arena on a consistent basis (it will probably happen today), this could be a strong program. Haith is a better coach than a lot of ACC hangers-on, including his one-step-removed predecessor Listless Len, and just needs some time.
So How Good or Bad Is Miami (Florida) This Season?
A couple of weeks ago, a couple of mouth-breathers and a good writer who ought to know better (Yahooís Jason King) claimed that Haith should be on the hot seat. I didnít get that, because itís not like the guy canít recruit, and he can coach a little bit, too. Yes, the Clowns were losing ACC games, but not by much. After dropping their first two to Duke and Clemson, both on the road, they beat Boston College by one at home, then dropped four straight (to FSU, NCSU, NCCH, and VPI) by a combined total of 11 points. Since then, they have beaten GIT and Virginia by two apiece in Coral Gables, and won by one point at Wake. They have not been blown out of an ACC game this season, and their largest margin of defeat came at Cameron, by nine. In their ten conference games, the average scoring margin has been 3.3 ppg. So change a few bounces of the basketball, and these guys are 7-3, not 4-6. That doesnít mean that the coach should be fired, particularly in a league that has recently tolerated and is currently tolerating some unbelievably incompetent, long-tenured signal-callers on the sidelines. I was really surprised that Jason King, whoís a very sharp basketball writer, expressed that view. I sort of doubt that he thought it through.
Moreover, for Dukeís immediate purposes, Haith has all but declared openly that this is a PSBAD game, and with FSUís season now even more officially over than it was already, thereís going to be a mad dash for the third (and maybe fourth, but donít count on the existence of this species) ACC bid to the Dance, and Iím sure the Caners would like to be a part of it.
Their Last Game?
Barely beating Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, 74-73, on two free throws by Reggie Johnson with four seconds remaining. This was Miamiís third straight ACC win and added to the growing chorus of voices calling for the end of Ron Wellmanís tenure as Wakeís AD.
Projected Starters and Pithy Comments
Reggie Johnson, 6-10 SO C - - Along with Jordan Williams and the Greedo/Stick Figure duo from Chapel Hill, this guy promises to provide a stern test for the Plumlees and Kelly. He knows how to draw the whistle and heís a precious commodity, like Zeller - - a big guy who can hit free throws
Julian Gamble, 6-9 JR PF - - is out there for his defense in the post and to give minutes to an injury-depleted frontcourt, but he can score on sanitation engineering and has to be blocked out
Garrius Adams, 6-6 SO SF/WG - - That Guy Lance Thomas Would Guard, who will draw Singler instead, but wonít have any trouble floating outside to cover Kyle. This is a game where Singler should consider moving without the ball and establishing himself in the paint
Durand Scott, 6-3 SO PG - - had the flu recently but played through it; heís not the most efficient shooter or creative playmaker, but heís hitting free throws at a ridiculously good clip and loves to drive
Malcolm Grant, 6-1 JR SG - - many of the same skills as Scott, but without the size, and his defense is suspect. Donít leave him alone for three, though - - heís far, far less of a threat to drive (61 made threes, 43 made twos)
Rion Brown, 6-5 FR SG - - guys with names like space aliens are always cool; heís become an up-and-down, but occasionally reliable (what?) scorer in the sixth man role
Adrian Thomas, 6-7 SR WF/SG - - okay, this guy really IS a sixth-year senior, having suffered early injuries in two of his first three seasons, and having been granted an appropriate hardship waiver. His only real job is to sit out on the wing and strafe the bucket
Erik Swoope, 6-4 FR SF - - an undersized post player who has a lot of athleticism; if I recall correctly (fact-checkers were snowed in), his name rhymes with ďdopeĒ; has battled injuries to his ankle, shoulder, elbows, and fought off a case of priapism
DeQuan Jones, 6-6 JR SF/PF - - amazingly athletic player has a broken right hand and is probably out for this one, but donít count on anything in a high-likelihood PSBAD game
Raphael Akpejiori, 6-9 FR PF - - Lagostiff is on the All-ACC Name Team; surname rhymes with Hack-peh-jour-ee
Most Likely to Bootsy:
Gamble (14 points required). Heís from Durham
Miami (Florida)ís Likely Gameplan:
Zone on defense; on offense, do everything necessary to keep the possessions under 70. However, they could try a matchup look and show Nolan some M2M. On offense, let Scott handle it, drive, and dish to Johnson or a flashing three-point specialist - - Grant and Thomas. Adams has also been appearing at the point in more and more sets recently, too, which allows Scott to do a lot more away from the ball and distracts the defense. This seems to be mostly a change-up strategy, not a primary gameplan, but it has been effective.
I Canít Believe That Song Came Out In 1979 Department:
Yeah, that was stunning to me too. I mean, it makes sense when you think about it, but, right. Wow. Duke had no titles and effectively no one outside of Wilmington (N.C.) and Chapel Hill knew who Michael Jordan was. Magic was at, or had actually just left now that I check dates, Michigan State.
Two or Three Sabermetric Stats about Miami (Florida):
- Ken Pomeroyís possessions-estimating formula (FGA-Offensive Rebounds+Turnovers+(0.475xFTA)) says that the Unhurriedclowns havenít been over 70 possessions in a game since playing Central Florida nearly two months ago, on December 18.
- They are #295/345 in Div I in opponentsí turnover percentage, meaning that the Duke guards should have plenty of room in which to operate. Naturally, this is because the Canes donít employ a lot of ball pressure and play loads of zone. Thereís more than one way to bust a zone, though, Frank, and it doesnít have to involve 40 three-pointers. Some offensive spacing and dribble drives can do the trick too.
- In the 240s nationally in both blocks per possession and steals per possession. Again, aggressive defense just isnít part of their lexicon. The trick is forcing it to be such a part.
Two Weird or (Un)Cool Tidbits:
- Are they still mad about J.J. Redick becoming Dukeís all-time leading scorer against them? Theyíve given Duke pretty serious tests since.
- Nolan hit four threes, his season high so far, against the Candy Canes in Durham, and hit his career high of five triples against them at the Conversation Center last season. I guess he likes shooting over a zone? More of this, please!
Nice Dukesy (the good version of a Bootsy - - thanks to Al White for this idea), Nolan!!!!! Who doesnít love that kid? Even Tool fans canít find anything bad to say about him. And weíll give Seth a Dukesy too, even if he did best that total for the Falwells; this was his highest-scoring performance in a Duke uniform. (His career high in college is 35, and he hit 30 on the dot three other times as a freshman, so he has something that we can all look forward to him ďshooting for.Ē)
I thought Duke showed in the second half, quite convincingly, who was the better team, and it wasnít really even a question, although naturally, mediot spin is that THIS was the true NCCH weíve all been waiting for. Nah, I kind of doubt it, and Iím sure those who watched Clemson cough up yet another giveaway to them on Saturday might agree. More on that Tool game to come; donít worry.
So after three straight opponents who canít shoot the three for love or yuan, hereís an opponent that absolutely can, almost well as Duke. And after an opponent that likes to run it up, hereís one that likes to slow it down. Iíd suggest ball pressure, traps, tight man to man on Grant and Thomas (Scott can be sagged off of because he shoots well from distance, but prefers not to - - heís not a prolific arcsman). Play solid D outside and just try to have the Plumlees take it to the hole to collect fouls on Johnson, making him more tentative going the other way. Duke needs to watch for fouls on the interior when Johnson operates, and since Reggie is one of the best rebounders, on both sides of the ball, in the country, the Trees really need to step it up, or just let him go in favor of locking everything else up (the Beating Wake Forest and Tim Duncan in Winston in 1997 Strategy).
Who Is Blathering Over The Sound of the Game?
FSN - - Brandroid, Gminski, and Jenn Hildreth. Say what you want about Brandblow (and I will), but after this seasonís sickening performances by ESPN on our games, Timmy and the G-Man are not just a welcome relief, theyíre honored guests. Tim may love himself, but the idea of him laughing it up over two-year-old footage of a kid receiving a bruise to the brain is hard to imagine.
Bottom Line This For Me, Please:
Haith says this is a PSBAD game, but that donít make it so. Based on Dukeís 2011 ACC road performances, thereís three ways this one can go: (a) totally play into the Hurricanesí eye by authoring up a narrow loss - - I donít see a blowout given Miamiís ball-deflating tendencies; (b) do the same, but manage a narrow win, like in 2010; or (c) surprise me a little bit, as the Blue Devils did against homestanders NCSU and MDCP, by coming in with a fantastic gameplan and making it work, and escaping Miami-Dade with a nifty, convincing road win. And anyone who writes afterwards that Haith should be fired is a goof.
The Missing Link(s):
Miamiís Health and Human Services-influenced propaganda, and if you surf around their crib, note how their website is actually readable despite the inclusion of green and orange. Paging College Park web designers!
But sooth, perhaps these colors are more to your liking.
Duke 72, Miami (Florida) 68.
Other ACC Action: