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UPDATED: No Ryan Kelly in Atlanta; ACC-T Advance Discussion

Date: 3/6/2012

Duke Basketball  
Posted By: Matt

For reference purposes and so you don't have to open another window, here's the Dukies.com-ized bracket:
Thursday, March 8
(9) Wake Forest v. (8) Maryland, College Park, 12p
(12) Boston College v. (5) North Carolina State, 2p
(10) Virginia Polytechnic v. (7) Clemson, 7p
(11) Georgia Institute of Technology v. (6) Miami (FL), 9p

Friday, March 9
(8)WFU/(9)MDCP v. (1) North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 12p
(12)BC/(5)NCSU v. (4) Virginia, 2p 
(10)VPI/(7)Clemson v. (2) Duke, 7p
(11)GIT/(6)MIFL v. (3) Florida State, 9p

Saturday, March 10 
First Semifinal, 1p
Second Semifinal, 3p

Sunday, March 11
Championship, 1p

My thoughts:

-With Kelly now out for the entire ACC-T, I'm actually not sure that making any real effort in the event is even worth it.  First, take a look at Kelly's stats and you see what a huge loss this is.  Since he effectively didn't play against NCCH, you get an idea of what we're like without him.  

Second, Kelly's VORP (Value Over Replacement Player, to borrow a baseball stathead term) is probably the greatest of any player on the team except Rivers.  Part of that is because of Kelly's stat profile as mentioned above, but the other part is because . . . how do you replace him, exactly?  K can be stubborn and play the Plumlees 38 minutes apiece, but that's not going to work, particularly since each one will only have five fouls.  Now, on paper, you can replace him with Hairston - - if Josh is even available.  The SIO goobs are doing the usual with Josh and saying nothing; he's listed as having played a minute on Saturday, but I actually think that's box score error as I have no memory of him.  Then again, Al White and I forwarded through about ten minutes of clock in the first half due to some reception issues on Satellite Al and maybe that's why I missed him.  Can anyone confirm whether Hairston really did play on Saturday?  Thanks.  

Anyway, if Hairston can play, he's about 40% of the player that Kelly is.  He's maybe marginally better on defense (and I'm not sure about that), but he's almost certainly an inferior rebounder on both ends, and of course he offers no three-point shooting.  

The other on-paper option is Gbinije, but here's where we see the true test.  If, as I suspect, Gbinije is actually done in a Duke uniform except for the Insult Minutes that K has deigned to dole out recently to the kid like he's some walk-on, then we won't see him play in any substantive manner either.  

My thought is to pull a Rrhoid and just toss the tourney.  Assuming that the SIOers are not Belichiking this and Kelly doesn't really have a broken foot (and don't discount that possibility given the nonsense and misleads that we've heard from Duke in the past several years with injuries), we need to reload for the real thing and maybe try to make the Elite Eight.  We've won this thing three straight times and I don't give a fig if we win it again if, as we would now have to do, we tire out the whole team and prevent any kind of NCAA run in the process. I'd love to get some other views on this. 
Hey, while we're at it and since it's so close to Christmas, is there any way the smart people at any nearby medical schools and/or hospitals of renown could examine the question of why we have so many foot injuries, year in and year out?  It's just too frequent of an occurrence to be happenstance.

[end updated, head-shaking Tuesday material with a heavy sigh]

-Duke dodged a huge bullet when the Woofies defeated VPI in Blacksburg to close the conference regular season.  Why?  Three reasons: first, NCSU has a history of knocking us out of the ACC-T at inopportune times.  Second, Duke really has nothing to play for in the ACC-T, and NCSU has everything to play for.  This is not the time you want to be facing an NCAA bubble team.  Third, well, I'm sure that NCSU has revenge on their minds after hilariously giving away the store to us in Durham.  Just not a team I wanted to see again this season, and unless it's in the title game, we won't.  

-Just to expand on the above, I think Duke is locked in as an NCAA #2 seed.  The Selectostiffs are rightly unimpressed with the ACC this season, but as always, will be biased in favor of the Tools, and that means that if NCCH wins it, they'll get a #1 seed, but if Duke wins it, I think we'll still get a #2.  I also don't think, short of getting blown off the court by 30 on Friday, that there's much Duke can do to ruin its RPI/SOS-demanding #2 seed.  So we're really not playing for anything, while NCSU is playing for the NCAA lives. 

-Because we're not playing for anything, and because I think several players' heads are already into their post-Duke plans (Gbinije is a lock to transfer out, of course, and Rivers and Middle Plumlee are weighing their Association futures), I expect a pretty quick Duke exit from this field.  The generally dead atmosphere that will probably be present in Atlanta will assist that. 

-I think Philips is a lousy choice as the ACC-T venue; I realize that Swoffie was embarrassed when he couldn't fill the Georgia Dome (I mean, he personally performed his space-filling role admirably, but I'm talking about the fans) three years ago, but that's where the ACC-T should be if it's going to be in Atlanta.  Stepping down to a smaller arena is just embarrassing for the conference - - of course, the conference has largely been an embarrassment for years under this slob's reign, and he doesn't seem to care.  

-Despite the fact that Duke will probably have zero motivation, as in most games at Cameron this season, the Blue Devils drew a great bracket.  Not having NCSU on our side is great.  But there's more - - Clemson matches up very, very well for Duke, with a tiny point guard and no real wing slasher, and VPI is a terrible team that (despite much more size and speed in the backcourt than Clemson) doesn't match up particularly well with Duke, from VPI's perspective, either.  

-Moreover, Virginia is actually a better team statistically than Florida State.  If the Blue Devils can pull off a win on Friday, I'm very happy with Duke playing Florida State again in the semis while Virginia plays the Tools - - in two meetings this season, both Barnes and Marshall were awful against Virginia's defense.  If Mike Scott (who was also pretty bad in those games, arguably his worst two efforts of the season) comes to play and Greedo/Phone Pole don't score 45 or more points between them, NCCH could easily lose that game.  

-If Duke can't beat Clemson/VPI and FSU, we don't deserve to be playing for the ACC title.  Unlike the two Duke/NCCH games this season, which actually revealed little about the two teams' quality relative to one another (more on that in a moment), Duke was obviously the better team in TeeHee, and in Durham once we joined the action.  If Snaer had missed the hornbeater, I have a feeling we'd have won that one in OT - - and, by the way, won the ACC regular season title as a result.  

-I got a huge kick out of postgame analyses claiming that NCCH "forced" Duke into "a lot of bad shots" on Saturday.  I have a decent memory, and can think of about two, maybe three bad shots that the Tools forced in the entire game.  The Twinks blocked almost no shots (one all game), forced almost no turnovers (two steals all game), benefited from the usual Duke bricklaying at the line (12-21 this time out), and (most importantly) actually did almost nothing on defense to affect Duke's shooting.  The ridiculous argument to the contrary, fueled by Tool Nation's media organ and, predictably, Debbie Message Board's (and Krzyzewski's) Stockholm Syndrome Praise the Worthy Opponent garbage, really cracks me up.  When Ryan Kelly bricks three after three after three, and the Blue Devils miss at least (that I can think of without checking) ten point-blank shots under the bucket, yeah, that's not because of some sterling defensive effort.  We just couldn't shoot, expecially in the first half.  Meanwhile, we got demoralized, played terrible defense, and at 22-5, the game was over. 

-It's really too bad that Seth Curry didn't hit that shot to cut it to eight at 5:24 (2), not because I think we would have won, but because we probably would have lost by only four or five - - they were tired, ready to quit (but we beat them to it after Rivers choked at the line with a chance to cut it to nine if he made both), and hearing footsteps.  It wasn't enough to give us the win, I don't think, but it was probably enough to ensure a small-margin defeat.  So why is it a shame that Curry missed?  Just because it would have made the media slathering and Debbie Message Board Stockholming harder for those worthies to pull off.  But there was no justice, and we folded and lost by 18.       

-Isn't it funny how Grand Swoff Tarkin has to put the #1 seed at noon of the ACC-T to try to generate some gate?  Has it ever occurred to him that writing off the Friday morning session and creating a doubleheader with both the #1 and the #2 playing on Friday night could be better for revenue?  I realize that this destroys pure bracket symmetry, but other conferences do it, and since when is that oaf worried about purity or tradition anyway?  In any case, I hate that noon slot on Friday and am glad to be playing on Friday night.    

That's all I got for now.  Please add your comments below.  As I mentioned in the postgame thread, I'm a little exhausted by the team right now, and have a busy week to boot, so I probably will NOT have previews for each of the Blue Devils' games (again, I only expect Duke to play in two games anyway).  There will, however, be game blogs with comment threads for those following along.  I may also have a Thursday game thread for anyone watching who wants to comment.  As some of you have divined, I'm trying to build a message board-style atmosphere here, but for the slightly "different" sort of Duke fan to which this site caters.  So participate if you like that idea and want to advance it.  

Thanks!  Go Duke!     


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Posted by: London Dukie Date: 3/9/2012 5:50:29 AM  
The usual sterling performance Matt - thanks. You are far more consistent than the team this year!

I genuinely think that if Seth hits that three, we win. The crowd was amped, the shots were finally falling, and the UNC players were having full-colour, surround-sound, hi-def flashbacks to their collapse in the Dean Dome. They do not have an on-court leader who could have righted the ship and steadied the players, and I honestly, honestly do not think they could have held on.

Of course, as we all know, the shot missed, Rivers choked, and the final score was ugly...

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/8/2012 10:22:01 PM  
Lord, I just watched the first half of the 40-pt-pace U v. GT game. Somebody please come to my house and assassinate me.

Posted by: KD Date: 3/8/2012 10:19:48 PM  
A shame about Ryan - really like that kid and he can make a difference. However , I don't think there is any way to predict what his team is going to do this weekend. We aren't good this year, but we really have had a few nice moments. Although I am not that optimistic, there is no reason why this event can't continue to be the Duke invitational. Matt - I have to take issue with the idea that the Ga. Dome is the preferred venue for the tourney. As an Atlanta guy, I have been to several attempts to host significant events at the Dome. Without a doubt, the Ga. Dome absolutely sucks for basketball games. It is an old blg., it is like a cavern for hoops and the amenities and concessions are awful. It is not a surprise that Arthur Blank is trying to get a new stadium built. Most around here view the move to Philips as a step up. Admittedly, there isn't a huge buzz about the tourney this year, but a bit understandable given that Ga. Tech is way down and ACC hoops is not exactly compelling this year. I think the tourney belongs in Greensboro, but I would hate to see it moved back to the dome. Headed down tomorrow night for my second in- person viewing of Baldy and his bastards this season. Let's see if somebody steps up and maybe K surprises us with some clever coaching moves.
Go Duke!

Posted by: ClemsonGuest Date: 3/8/2012 10:17:57 PM  
Blowing off a little steam after the 7/10 game ... Matt, if your new poll had taken place last year, it'd be Barnes in a landslide (although it kinda looks like that now). But I think the hype on the Messiah wasn't as huge now as it was during his freshman year.

I watched last Saturday's game with one Duke fan and one Goat fan. That was interesting, but they were so focused on the game and each other that I got the last slice of pizza. It looks like tomorrow I'll be around a different Goat fan ... and my dad, who would root for the al Qaeda All-Stars over UNC.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/8/2012 9:25:04 PM  
Sorry had to share my night terrors: fearing Duke loss as 5th 2 seed ever to lose in first round.

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/8/2012 9:16:49 PM  
Love, Love, LOVE the idea behind the Poll, Matt. This is a perfect demonstration why this site is unparalleled on the web!

Looking forward to tomorrow night to see how we adjust to Kelly's absence.

Posted by: tom Date: 3/8/2012 12:16:54 PM  
I have a small 4 inch TV I purchased last year set in my cube so I can watch the game on the local CBS station. Works good. Glad Duke is playing tomorrow at 7. Nobody wants to hear excessive cursing at the workplace.

Posted by: Matt Date: 3/8/2012 9:01:09 AM  

Posted by: Matt Date: 3/8/2012 9:00:58 AM  
Jake, I can't decide how the Selectostiffs would view an early exit. Would they excuse it due to Kelly's absence and pencil us in as a weak two seed, or would they assume that he'll be out longer, point to our loss without him as evidence that we shouldn't be overseeded, and kick us to the three line?

Could go either way with those morons. I get the feeling this committee has another bad seeding job in its pocket, too. Just a crazy hunch.

Posted by: Jake Date: 3/7/2012 7:53:19 PM  
Matt, you covered a lot of ground, and in your usual excellent fashion.

I really like that you raised the question of the importance of the ACC tournament. I used to play it down myself ("Let's get to the Big Dance and mix it up!"), but in recent years I've come to appreciate how well Duke has risen to the occasion and won the tournament on a regular basis -- not a small accomplishment at all. And I've noted that in the years that Duke has NOT won the ACC tournament, that fact has usually been a factor in its seeding in the NCAA. If we go out early this week, we could end up a Number 3 seed, I fear. So I'm eager to see the tourney and hoping we pull off another victory. But truthfully I think you're correct that no matter what we do this week, we'll be a number 2 seed in the big dance. That's fine. That's maybe more than we deserve. So let's get on with the show.

I hate to see Kelly sidelined, but I think we probably can (doesn't mean we will, of course) overcome that. We'll see. And as for the Plumlees, gosh I'd LOVE to see the two of them play like Banshees and Ninjas and just blow the roof off the two tournaments. If not now, when? I've waited so long for the two of them to really shine. They have teased us with their athleticism and their potential for far too long. Bring it. Bring it now! Please!

Let the fun begin! Go Duke!

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/7/2012 2:29:25 PM  
Bah! I can see I missed your 6:53 comment, Matt. Scratch that last question.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/7/2012 2:28:14 PM  
Like a dog returning to its own sick! (The sick being the team.*)

*Actually unwarranted, though the team performance is pretty much a dog's breakfast every time out, if I may be permitted to continue the metaphor. Must say I was pleasantly surprised with the regular season, as I saw a team that looked a lot like '95. (Countless 6'-6'4" guards and three 6'10" guys. The only in-betweeners being Carmen Wallace/Gbinije and Tony Moore/Murphy and those guys don't count for obvious reasons.)

I was heartened by the Plumlee offense in the UNC game, at least.

Is the Gbinije transfer story just a suspicion, or confirmed by your inside sources?

Posted by: Matt Date: 3/6/2012 10:21:25 PM  
Dave, the rant is quite welcome - - and quite deserved by Krzyzewski. Coach of the Year when, for reasons that we only know had nothing to do with grades, he completely refused to play a guy who happened to fit the team's crying need?? No. Also, I love that he finally discovers the strategic redshirt, and it backfires spectacularly, so now he'll never do it again.

Now I'm hearing that Kelly's injury may be more serious than is being claimed. Two different sources, but I'm not convinced of the news and neither are they. (Even though it fits Duke's pattern and makes perfect sense.)

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/6/2012 10:03:51 PM  
And the Kelly and Gbinjie things just make me crazy. Kelly, because it's been clear since November that he is, alongside Rivers, basically, the key to Duke's season. Kelly could have been developed and used to create all sorts of matchup problems--a post guy against smaller players, a spot up guy vs tall 4's, as a 5 against certain match-ups...and instead, we've made him basically simply a jump shooter.

Gbinjie, of course, is just a waste, and another step down the road to self-fulfilling prophecy land. Think that maybe a tall quick guy, taught to defend, could have helped against Temple? Against FSU? No? Well, I'm sure watching how we buried him on the bench despite his, in theory, filling a crying need, will help us in recruiting his successor.

Not on topic, precisely, but it sure felt good to rant.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/6/2012 9:49:01 PM  
Frankly, inasmuch as I think even an Elite 8 run is thinking big, I'd just as soon they try and win the ACC; at least it's something. And they damn sure could use the practice prior to the NCAAT.

Posted by: tom Date: 3/6/2012 8:49:42 PM  
Man, I'm mixed about how I want Duke to do in the ACC tourney. And I felt the same way before Ryan's injury. According to where Duke's at in the bracketology, I'd like them to stay as the 2 seed in the East. I think they need to win at least one tourney game (maybe two?) to get that. I certainly hope Ryan's injury isn't too serious. When it comes to the tourney, stranger things have happened.

Posted by: Matt Date: 3/6/2012 6:53:05 PM  
TRT, nonono, no insider stuff about Gbinije at all. The K Curtain is down on any info about him - - but that in itself is answer enough, as is the fact that Gbinije received only Insult Minutes when Hairston was (presumably) concussed. I'm rock solid certain he's gone and will be stunned if he stays. But that's me thinking.

Posted by: Matt Date: 3/6/2012 6:41:52 PM  

You know, someday maybe some smart people can sit down and figure out why virtually every season, we must suffer The Duke Foot Injury. JESUS!!!! Now this really pisses my s**t off.

Not much point discussing the ACC-T now; we most likely can't win a single game without Kelly. And if the pattern of misinformation with Duke injuries continues, he's probably in reality done for the season.

So, at a minimum, we're done for the ACC-T. And barreling toward the end of our season. Sigh.

Posted by: T. Randall Taylor Date: 3/6/2012 5:51:44 PM  
Here's some ACC-T stuff! Ryan Kelly is out for the tourney with a sprained foot. Sheeit!


Posted by: T. Randall Taylor Date: 3/6/2012 9:55:12 AM  
Matt, your analysis is spot on as usual. I agree that a #2 seed is almost a certainty, win or lose. The only question is where.

One question : Is the transfer an educated guess, or is there some insider stuff going on? I'd hate to see him go. I was looking forward to seeing him play. Seemed like our kind of player.

I don't get the Murphy and Plumlee redshirts as well. If they are any good they will be gone after three years anyway, or so it seems.

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