TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIV, Episode 23
February 23, 2011
WHAT A HOOT EDITION
Mattís comments in blue.
Macque Markinís comments in white.
#24 TEMPLE (21-5, 11-2) @ #1 DUKE (25-2, 12-1)
In response to some reporter who recently prodded Krzyzewski about the prospect, being raised via backchannels once again in the donut-stocked halls of the ACC, about going to an 18-game conference schedule, Coach K indicated his opposition, saying that ďweíre a one time-zone leagueĒ and stating that adding two more conference games would prevent Duke from playing games against teams like Temple and St. Johnís. Iíve mentioned before that after last seasonís national title, on the road to which K seemed to destroy, or at least gently set aside, many of the strange issues that had, uh, bedeviled Duke with regard to tournament success in the recent past, but this remains an area of disagreement. This season, heís probably right on those narrowly defined terms, at least to the extent that you think the St. Johnís game provided a wakeup call to the squad (I donít necessarily agree) and to the further extent that this particular game offers a good late-season test for the Blue Devils. However - -
Some Historical Perspective and Mattís Usual Rant About OOC Scheduling:
Why does it have to be the Temple game that gets eliminated if the ACC goes to an 18-game schedule? (Iíll leave aside St. Johnís right now because I just want that series gone and replaced with something else, although itís worth noting that now I hear that Georgetown canceled their series with us, which is maddening and intriguing at the same time.) How about eliminating the games against Elon and Colgate and playing a couple of December ACC games instead? Other conferences with lots of teams that play more conference games than we do, like the SoCon, start early, and granted, thatís easier for them to do since theyíre the ones traveling to play the ďpower conferenceĒ teams rather than vice versa. But the ACC could easily start its schedule in December and play 18 games without losing anything. Then, if Coach K wants to fit in two post-New Year OOC contests against St. Johnís (sigh) and Temple (okay), he can. Also, I donít understand the one time zone comment at all. Itís the right time zone for college basketball, isnít it? And how often do we go outside of it, except for things like the Maui and the CBE Classic, anyway? My only real hope here is that Swoffie will do the opposite of what Coach K wants. Unfortunately, I bet Horseface is probably aligned with K on this. Maybe not, though.
And just to be clear, Iím fine with the Temple series as long as we play the Owls every other season at their true homecourt, the Liacouras Center, rather than Spectrum II, the Sixers (and Flyersí) arena, the building that is now sporting its - - are you ready for this, if you didnít already know it? - - fourth different shillname since it opened in August of 1996. I donít need Ken Pomeroy to tell me thatís an average of 0.267 scps (shillname changes per season). Yeah, if an arena has a different name, on average, once every 3.75 seasons, then youíre probably looking at a stupid situation. That has nothing to do with Duke playing there, but itís still goofy. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, where we reveal that Templeís arena is not tiny - - it seats 10,206. So while itís true that weíre giving up about 10,000 seats by playing at Spectrum II rather than the Liacouras Center, I think that the Liacouras Center (which is quite spacious and airy - - itís a nice arena) would provide a much better simulation of an NCAA Tournament game, complete with fans hostile to Duke, then a game at the 20,328-seat Whatever Arena. And I donít care about gate receipts or what Temple supposedly wants or recruits or any of that. Duke makes plenty of money, Iím sure Temple would rather play us at Liacouras no matter what they may claim in public, and believe me, the Brian Zoubek/Lance Thomas Philadelphia-area recruits can probably find a way in to Liacouras. Just change this to a true OOC home-and-home and Iím all set.
So How Good or Bad Is Temple This Season?
REALLY longtime readers of this space will remember that a looooooooong time ago, I actually wrote something positing how the A-10 was better than the Big East in many respects, and also had more built-in advantages, such as equal or even better access to media markets, which seems strange when you hear it said, but when you really analyze it and break it down by conference, itís true (although the emergence of Pitt in recent seasons has diluted my hypothesis a bit - - it probably needs updating). However, thereís no overcoming the juggernaut that is ESPN, which will always be on hand to make certain that the Big East, with which it got its start hand in hand back in 1979, gets more attention. And please donít misunderstand - - the Big East has lots of great teams. Letís leave it here - - the Atlantic 14 could be every bit the equal of the Big East if a few dominoes fell in certain directions. I perpetually root for this to happen.
As for Temple this year, theyíre pretty good. As usual, theyíre a bit chameleon-like, which makes analysis a bit difficult, but letís give it a go. Theyíve lost to Berkeley, Texas A&M, Villanova, Duquesne and Xavier, but their last defeat was a whopping 32 days ago, and theyíve won eight straight. This is an excellent test for Duke.
Their Last Game?
They defeated St. Joeís, 66-52, at home. By the way, St. Joeís precipitous decline after Delonte West and Jameer Nelson left - - the Hawks are 7-19/2-10 this season and were 11-20/5-11 a year ago - - is one of the reasons that the A-10 has been dismissed as a ďmid-majorĒ conference in recent years, which is archly preposterous.
Projected Starters and Pithy Comments
Lavoy Allen, 6-9 SR PF - - became Templeís all-time leading rebounder in that last game, beating out Templeís radio analyst, John Baum. A bunch of former Temple players and luminaries (Eddie Jones, Rick Brunson, Aaron McKie) were on hand for induction into Templeís own HOF, and someone even spotted crazed chipmunk Jon Chaney in the stands, but hopefully no one annoyed him. He was right about Calipari, though, wasnít he? Anyway, Allen is a very good post player, probably ACC-caliber (especially this season)
Rahlir Jefferson, 6-6 SO SF - - small, not a great post presence, and could struggle with the Trees if Dukeís gameplan is focused well to stopping the Owls. Heís been in double figures just six times this season and can be limited on the o-boards
Ramone Moore, 6-4 JR WG - - local kid averaging 15.4 ppg on .438/.805/.395 shooting. Difficult check for Singler? Probably not, but he has to have a great game for Temple to win, and he has to guard Singler well too
Khalif Wyatt, 6-4 SO SG - - hereís where the matchups really start to favor Duke, as this guy is playing over his head and canít really play more than 25 minutes a game
Juan Fernandez, 6-4 JR PG - - by far the A-10ís leading three-point shooter a year ago, and the kind of guy that cannot be left alone; heís shooting much, much worse from threeland than he did last season (heís just south of 30% right now after scorching the nets at better than 45% last season), but donít count on that. He is an aggressive defender (lots of steals) but also fouls a lot, which is a problem for a team thatís not very deep, and he canít keep people in front of him. By the way, is there some reason for the important pipeline of Argentinian point guards to Temple? We all remember, as much as weíd like to forget him, the great Pee Pee Sanchez. Someone get Malcom Gladwell on this
Itís a pretty shallow team, which doesnít mean that Fran Dunphy, a very smart coach, canít mix it up and play some guys who donít usually get time, but here are the key elements:
Scootie Randall, 6-6 JR PF/SF - - a very good player and a strong scorer who missed the St. Joeís game with a foot problem. Iím certain heíll play, and maybe start, but Iíll keep him down here for now
Aaron Brown, 6-4 FR SG - - big dude, not really a problem unless Duke decides to give up lots of penetration
T.J. DiLeo, 6-2 SO PG - - from Cinnaminson, New Jersey, where that state often holds one administration of its bar exam. I wonder why
Most Likely to Bootsy:
Brown (14 points required)
Templeís Likely Gameplan:
Exactly what youíd expect - - limit possessions and turnovers. In other words, what other teams should always do to NCCH but donít - - hey, hats off to Steve Donahue at BC for figuring that out, though! Anyway, Duke really shouldn't cooperate in this effort, but the Owls are hard to turn over. How about some really nice, hot shooting from distance?
Weíre #1 Department:
Yeah, and this probably wasnít the week for it. Yikes. Hopefully, the guys are not reading their own press clippings. Iím pretty sure they arenít.
Iím hearing things. Theyíre out there. You know what Iím talking about. You're hearing it too. Sounds like it could happen.
Two or Three Sabermetric Stats about Temple:
- Only 100 teams in Division I (and sorry, but thatís over the threshold for listing them) are worse at keeping their opponents off the line
- Once Templeís opponents get there, they shoot a robust 71.8%, making the Hootersí three-point percentage defense worse than all but 44 other teams in the country. I know, I know, I know, but I think part of this is because Templeís opponents arenít usually very tired
- In the top 40 in the nation in both steals per possession and blocks per possession, but they donít shoot particularly well from the arc or the line and even with Allen, they arenít a great offensive rebounding team. They are, however, a really good defensive rebounding team, limiting opponents to an offensive board on 27.2% of possessions
Two Weird or (Un)Cool Tidbits:
- This is nice little series now entering its 27th installment. Coach K has never lost to Temple at Cameron and is 10-1 against Temple overall.
- 6-11 Lagostiff Micheal Eric would really help the Owls in this one, but he is almost certainly out, and I mean really out. No, seriously. He shouldnít play. When is someone, anyone going to standardize NCAA injury reporting?
Singler did indeed activate himself against Georgia Tech, and I loved that play where Kelly (who has REALLY come on) blocked a weak shot, Nolan got the board on the run, and authored a beautiful dish to Singler for the flush. More of this, please! By the way, how about Seth Curry, ace wing defender and point guard? Duke can really show some people something with a win here, because this is a great test against a strong program that is playing very well despite some injuries. Has anyone seen Andre Dawkins?
Who Is Blathering Over The Sound of the Game?
ESPN - - a real announcing team! A real announcing team! Wow!!! Rece Davis, Bobby Knight, and Jeannine Edwards. I always love it when Rece, a really nice guy (donít let me down, now) steps out of the studio, and this is Knightís first Duke game in ages. We can all learn something from the broadcast! Imagine!
Bottom Line This For Me, Please:
I think itís all in the gameplan. Itís going to be hard for Duke to limit Allen, and I doubt the Blue Devils will be able to amp it up too much, even at home, unless Singler really lights himself up. This is probably going to be a Duke win, but not by all that much, unless Duke shoots the lights out and limits penetration for easy baskets. Turnovers in transition? Yeah, theyíd be nice too.
The Missing Link(s):
Templeís Commonwealth-related-but-not-strictly-issued propaganda.
And now, try this for something more palatable and refreshing, and less garish.
Duke 62, Temple 57.
Other ACC Action:
Boston College 70, Miami (FL) 66.
Georgia Institute of Technology 5, Virginia 3 (10 innings).
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 110, North Carolina State 43.
Maryland, College Park 75, Florida State 70.