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Rinse, Lather, Repeat

Date: 1/23/2013

Duke Basketball  
Posted By: Matt

Every season now, it's the same. 

Duke looks like worldbeaters in November and December, relishing the neutral-court showdowns that Mike Krzyzewski so adores while studiously avoiding true road games unless forced to play them (as in last year's total beatdown in Columbus at the hands of Ohio State).  Then January hits.  And the team hits a wall.  Someone almost always gets hurt with the Duke Foot Injury during this time as well, compounding the problems.  And, of course, there's always an edition of the Bench-Riding Games afoot, another Krzyzewski specialty that involves playing his preferred starting lineup plus two other guys about 197/200 minutes throughout November and December, then looking surprised when the rest of the team isn't ready to contribute later in the season, which does not end on New Year's Eve. 

Welcome to 2012-2013.  We're firing on only a few cylinders as usual, and right on schedule. 

Tonight's beatdown at Miami (Florida) was one of the most embarrassing games I've ever witnessed in my 27 or so years as a Duke basketball fan.  Here's a program that apparently just dodged NCAA sanctions because the NCAA is a bunch of incompetent dolts (I know - - shocker).  Here's a program that can't pay fans to come to its tiny little arena (tonight's game was the 10th sellout in the facility's ten-year history).  Here's a team that plays little injury report games just like Krzyzewski does (is it time for official NCAA rules on reporting injuries yet?  I bet college basketball fans sure would appreciate it).  Here's a team that is undefeated in ACC play.  

And what do we do?  Well, we allow them to rip off a 25-1 run in the first half, which is generally not acclaimed as a winning strategy.  We author up a patented Duke Field Goal Drought over the same span, lasting an astonishing eight minutes.  Say, have you ever wondered why Duke Field Goal Droughts exist and persist in such widespread fashion that they require their own capital letters?  Having a coach so stubborn that he knows it all, has seen it all, and absolutely refuses to make adjustments has a lot to do with it.  And, as last season showed, hyperstubbornhood isn't always the way to reach out to today's youth.  Can't blame this loss on Austin Rivers, though.  Although I'd very much like to do so, because he can't get enough blame.  

Just digest this for a moment: our three guards, Curry, Cook, and Tyler Thornton (who is a nice kid but not even close to an ACC-caliber player) shot a combined 1-29 from the field this evening.  1-29.  That's egregious, it's outrageous, and it's humiliating.  

Meanwhile, our supposed NPOY candidate, after getting (successfully) pushed around by several two-star recruits in the GIT game, shot 5-15 from the floor.  But at least he was better at the line, going 5-10.  Whew!  

We shot 29.7% for the game.  They shot 56.9% for the game.  

There's an Internet rumor that some portion of the team was out clubbing in Miami last night.  If so, that's great.  Send this team on more trips to Florida!  We love them, if only for the nightlife.  (Hopefully, this was just garbage started by mental midgets on Duke message boards, a couple of which have been overrun in recent years by some of the worst posters on the entire Internet; I don't have the time or energy to wade through the sewage to find out, but liked the connection with St. Petersburg 1999, so I thought I'd mention it.)     

Any saving graces?  Yes!  Amile Jefferson, who showed why he was such an exciting recruit during the second half against GIT, and Alex Murphy, our supposed starting small forward at the beginning of the season before everyone remembered that federal law requiring Duke to play at least three guards at all times except when practically impossible to do so (which impossibility resulted in a national title in 2010, but what do I know?), looked good.  Actually, they looked really good, and their performances are all the more impressive considering that The Conversation Center was shaking for about the second time in its history with fans in full throat, not to mention the fact that the Duke "starters" had all completely quit sometime in the middle of the first half.  Against that backdrop, Jefferson went 6-11 with five boards, a steal and a block for 13 points, while Murphy scored 11 on 5-8 shooting, also collecting five bounds.  The two played 51 minutes combined: 28 for Jefferson and 23 for Murphy.  

Do you think that playing them earlier in the season might have been a good plan?  

So now we see what the aftermath is.  The ACC is so terrible that it's difficult to guess how we'll do going forward, but I think you can count on a close loss or a close win at home against tradition-steeped Big Ten combatant Maryland, College Park on Saturday.  I suspect that Kelly is out for the season, but that's ONLY a guess - no inside knowledge - based on my usual ability to dope out Krzyzewski's asinine mindgames.  

Looks like it was a good year to dial back my investment.  Maybe I should run a website called "Duke in November and December" or "No True Road Games: How Duke Won Another Season Ending on New Year's Eve."  But don't mind me: the fact that we never play any actual OOC road games is an NCCH talking point that ignores reality.  After all, NCAA Tournament games aren't played on the road, are they????  WELL, ARE THEY????  A man can't work in the rain!  

Oh, I almost forgot my favorite stat from tonight, narrowly beating out MIFL's historical/hysterical attendance figures.  This was the third-worst defeat, in terms of margin of victory, by a #1 team in history.  Nice job!  I don't think we'll be in a position to threaten that stat anytime soon.  At least not until next November.   

Later.  Ugh.        


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Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/2/2013 1:20:51 PM  
Seth Davis, yeah I know..., reported Kelly will likely start today against Miami.

I realize Plumlee needs him back, but Seth Curry's life just improved greatly. In my opinion he has a difficult time getting his shot off in form since Ryan left.

Posted by: blueflame Date: 2/28/2013 10:59:23 PM  
I held out a lot of hope for this team even when kelly went down. But the perpetual inconsistency of this team has finally eroded any thought of a real post season success whenever Kelly does come back. Miami will win a close one at Cameron for 2 in a row. I don't look for this year's team to make it to the ACC finals. The conversations of Duke as a Final Four participant... somewhere between laughable to insanity.

Posted by: Dave Date: 2/28/2013 10:41:51 PM  
How is it that Mason still can't properly defend a pick and roll after four years?

Posted by: ClemsonGuest Date: 2/28/2013 7:35:17 PM  
Uh oh, we have the Goats without KJ McDaniels but with Karl Hess. I don't like our chances.

Some Wahoo will have a PBAD (I'll pick Jesperson) so Duke needs to be on alert.

Posted by: London Dukie Date: 2/28/2013 5:34:15 PM  
Yes, I read he was back at practice. Let's hope this story ends up more like the sequel to 'The Return of Carlos' as opposed to a follow-up to 'The Return of Kyrie'!

There is certainly no dominant team out there - a number of very good ones, but no juggernaut. If Ryan can be incorporated back in and we hit a bit of a hot streak from the outside, this team is definitely a championship contender.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 2/28/2013 11:48:51 AM  
Ryan K is supposedly expected to return. Good news.

Posted by: Stephen Frazier Date: 2/26/2013 7:54:12 PM  
Who else besides me is thinking this Duke team has a shot to do great things??

Posted by: London Dukie Date: 2/19/2013 5:51:57 PM  
RIP my classmate Phil Henderson. That dunk of his, the key moment in the defeat of Georgetown, would have remained my Duke basketball emotional highlight had a certain game not unfolded against Kentucky a few years later...

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 2/13/2013 7:14:45 PM  
Goddayummit, Matt! It's Duke hosting CRYolina!
Get on the keyboard, now. No vounteering outweighs this...

Posted by: ClemsonGuest Date: 2/10/2013 11:08:23 PM  
I can't remember a game with so many rimmed-out-180-degree shots from one team. Seth must have had four himself. Not many shots were short, a sure sign of fatigue (or jet lag?)

At least Duke didn't leave Scott Wood open up two in the final few seconds ...

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 2/10/2013 8:03:52 PM  
BC torture game compounded by the announcing of Steven Pardo, who is basically a poor-man's Brad Daugherty. Brad Daugherty, of course, is a poor-man's dirt clod.

Posted by: London Dukie Date: 2/2/2013 3:55:27 PM  
Well that was a nice, tidy win - pleased with that result. Shame VT couldn't do the job in Chapel Hill; definitely had a chance but a pretty poor offensive set at the end of regulation. Now let's hope the Wolfpack can pull it off against the U...

Posted by: London Dukie Date: 2/2/2013 3:10:57 PM  
Good first half - let's hope we can keep it going for the second 20 minutes. I do wish K would stop giving Murphy the 'make one mistake, back to the bench' treatment though. I think he has more upside than Hairston if gets a chance (is it my imagination, or has Hairston progressed almost exactly zero since he was a freshman?).

Posted by: Stephen Frazier Date: 1/31/2013 7:41:30 PM  
After the Wake game last night I have come to the realization that Mason does not know how to play defense. SMH....that was one of the worst defensive performances I've seen this year. PROTECT THE RIM, stay between your man and the basket.....it's fundamental.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/29/2013 9:21:45 PM  
Great. The Ghost of Sendak haunts NC State in the game against UVA, not Duke.

(Another really annoying thing: the Enterprise commercial about hiring college athletes. You--or your scholarship--spent over a hundred grand and you end up running a register renting cars?!)

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 1/27/2013 9:09:49 PM  
Oh, cruel universe! Jimmy Fallon has his own teevee show and appears constantly on sporting event commercials unfunny enough to make Papa John look like a comic genius, and we only get one dukie(s) post this season!

Missing the insight into important things like Devin Booker and Devin Bookert playing in the ACC together this year.

Posted by: Serious G Date: 1/27/2013 6:06:59 PM  
Watch the 'U' lay an egg against the Noles tonight.

Posted by: Serious G Date: 1/27/2013 6:06:03 PM  
Mason, Amile (and Marshall, if he sees the floor) must play aggressively around the rim on D. They all have shot-blocking ability, we have to maximize that.

Getting less optimistic about Ryan Kelly's return...Duke needs him in a bad way. There is an interesting Duke Chronicle article which shows the stats of certain players w/o RK in the lineup. AS you would suspect, there are some pretty big declines in shooting percentages.

Posted by: Stephen Frazier Date: 1/26/2013 6:53:26 PM  
I understand your pessimism. we have all read this book before. However, I have... sort of been encouraged by this season so far. K has made adjustments.

Offensively, we are throwing the ball down low this season. Something we haven't done consistently since the days of Sheldon Williams. IMO it's easier to make 8foot shots compared with 25foot shots. Also, we have been getting easy baskets in transition. Again, something we haven't done recently.

As far as personnel...in the past, K would have the one "Chosen Freshmen" to get playing time and all the other talented freshmen would get no burn. (Paulus, Irving, Rivers). This year, K actually sees that Hairston has no business getting more minutes than Jefferson...that's encouraging to me!

Defensively is where we haven't made adjustments. PROTECT THE RIM!!! Someone needs to be guarding the paint. If the man Mason is guarding wants to shoot a three....most of the time we should encourage that by not guarding him on the perimeter. Instead we guard our man to tight, get beat off the dribble, and it generally ends up with the other team dunking the bball.

Posted by: Stephen Frazier Date: 1/26/2013 6:36:28 PM  
Matt... good to have you back!

Posted by: Al White Date: 1/26/2013 5:53:41 PM  
Serious G -- thanks for the info on Murphy. I was seething that he wasn't playing. Hope Cook wasn't hurt on that daredevil move with 13 seconds left. None of the starters should have been on the floor then.

The Crazies brought it with their "Holy 'Sheed" chants and singing goodbye to the future doormats of the Big Fourteen-plus and Counting. No nostalgia felt here whatsoever for the departure of the Twerps.

It was a good all-around performance against an odd Terp bunch, but the weak defensive rebounding is a real concern (it was with Kelly, too). And Mason has returned to a complete, uh, mason at the line. It is only luck that any of them are going in. Even if Kelly comes back well, the post-season could easily end early due to Mason's FT clankers. The free toss is also the biggest weakness in Amile's game, too.

Posted by: Serious G Date: 1/26/2013 5:21:01 PM  
A nice bounceback. The only negative I see is the rebounding differential; however, UM is pretty physical and does have some decent post players.

I read the reason Murphy was limited today is because he banged up his knee in the pregame.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 1/26/2013 12:46:55 PM  
Welcome back, Matt! Thanks for bringing back a realist's view to the Duke fandom.

Posted by: Serious G Date: 1/24/2013 7:41:52 PM  
Matt, thanks for the post. I watched the entire mess unfold lastnight and I have NEVER seen Duke play so poorly. We have all seen them get their ass kicked occasionally, but not like this. UM is an OK team; they are not that great.

The team played like pussies last night. How in the hell does Mason get his shot blocked so frequently? And his slopply ballhandling has returned. Not to single out one guy, as the whole team sucked, but this is absurd.

I agree that Amile's recent play is encouraging and bodes well. However, I thought he also played lousy D like everyone else.

However, I am not terribly excited by Alex Murphy's showing...too eager to launch 3s when he can have success taking it to the rim.

1/29 is such a poor shooting performance that I'll have to optimistically say that it was a fluke that will not be repeated this year. The bad shooting is one thing, but when it affects how said shooters approach all other aspects of the game (defence, ballhandling, general concentration) it is reprehensible. This is a team with senior leadership and a great coaching staff - this nonsense must stop.

The offense is obviously struggling (and will struggle) w/o RK. This team is well capable of raising other aspects of their game. They have to show that they have the heart to do so.

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