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TD: A Spartan Existence (Plus Gameblog)

Date: 3/29/2013

Two Dukies  
Posted By: Matt (ascetic)

#9 Michigan State (27-8, 13-5 Big Ten) (3MW) v. #6 DUKE (29-5, 14-4) (2MW)
Indianapolis, Indiana (New Hoosier Dome) \
March 29, 2013

We'll begin with some . . .


NCSU loses Brown to the Neeba draft.  Howell and Wood are, of course, graduating, and Leslie is, in my opinion, a virtual lock to follow Brown for the dollars.  The best Yahoo comment on this was: "I wouldn't want to play for Mark Gottfried either, Lorenzo," attributed to one "Sir."  Yeah, pretty much no one does.  Purvis might even transfer, meaning that next year's team will be left with T.J. Warren, Tyler Lewis, and "So You Think You Can Dance" host and freshman-to-be Cat Barber, and a few other stiffs.  Nice team!  So at this point I'm setting the over-under on Mein Gott!! being back at ESPN at two more seasons.  There's a reason he was fired by Alabama, NCSU fans!  When will that school ever figure out to get an up-and-comer as its coach?

Speaking of up and comers . . . CONGRATULATIONS, CHRIS COLLINS!!!  Yay!!!  I would have led with this, but I had to get my digs in at that idiot Got Fried.  Now, this is a particularly brilliant move for Chris.  I strongly suspected that he turned down the Illinois job last season, but either way, this just works.  Get Northwestern into the NCAA Tournament, and he'll be a local hero.  The fans are nice, he's within 10-15 miles of where he went to high school, he has a great chance to make his mark there . . . it's just a near-perfect fit.  And most importantly, this sets him up well so that in a few years, some pipsqueak like Broad D***head or cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Kevin White won't be able to dismiss Chris and say, "We will NOT hire someone to replace Krzyzewski without head coaching experience."  (Visualize the voice cracking into Beyonce's upper register on the "NOT" as Richard or Dr. Kevin, in between patients, slams down a paper clip for emphasis.

There will still be guys who want Brad Stevens instead of Collins, but in about five years, which is what I think we're looking at, Stevens might well be toiling in mediocrity in the New Big Least, having Peter Principled himself into more rarefied air.  Plus, if Chris is going nuts at Northwestern, I'd rather have a Duke guy anyway.  Especially my favorite player (tied by Redick) ever.  Again, congrats, Chris.  And thanks for not pulling some weird move and leaving the team after taking the NW job. 

Shaka Smart used UCLA, which is a fancier version of Illinois, to get more money from VCU AGAIN, just like he did last year when Illanoy came sooeying.  Awesome.  Next up to turn down the Bruins?  Stevens.  Then they'll get real and go after Gregg Marshall or Buzz Williams, the latter of whom would be absolutely hilarious hanging around stuffy Pauley boosters.   

Speaking of Williams and Marquette, Miami lost, which is sad, because next season they won't have eight guys who are old enough to collect Social Security, six ninth-year seniors, or 99.2% of their scoring other than Larkin (and watch him jump or something), and fans will once again treat the Conversation Center as a quiet place to stretch out and study.  Did I ever announce in this space that The Short Fuse and I went there for the regular season finale two seasons ago, sat in the second row behind Miami's bench (for a song), and somehow managed to stumble into seeing both Sweaty AND Frank Haith's regular-season ACC enders?  Quite the privilege.  Anyway, beautiful building and we liked the antics of the anchored-right-near-us mascot, who needed more deodorant but was fun.  He's a cute duck or some waterfowl, not a destructive piece of weather.    


Let's revisit that defense against Creighton.  Naturally, Krzyzewski didn't want to give Amile too much credit, because doing so would make everyone wonder why Amile hasn't been playing, but he won the game on the defensive end, while Rasheed won it on the offensive end.  I rewatched Amile's defense on McDermott and it was a work of pure beauty.  McDermottt was visibly stunned; it was clear that this was the best individual defense he had faced all season.  Amile just knows exactly where to be, he uses verticality, he understands where to put his hands, and his footwork is blazing fast.  Amazing stuff.  I'd like to announce that I really hope that there is no truth to any crap about this kid transferring, because he can put on some weight and be our starting center next season. 

The whole team also did a remarkable defensive job, and mad props to Tyler Thornton as well - - this was probably his most effective game of the season, at both ends.  I bet Austin Chatman (2-11 FG) doesnít think Cook and Curry can be beaten off the dribble regularly, and Gibbs is still trying to erase nightmares of that test he failed on the Sulaimon Dynasty.  Anyone else notice that there was no attempt to overplay the ball?  This is interesting.  I wonder if that has anything to do with the victory?  Is this possible?  Should this be employed again in the event that our next opponent is a team of slashers who are not particularly fearsome three-point specialists, or will that just mean that the Overplay Is Back In Town?  Ugh.  Let's hope not, but probably. 

Meanwhile, with one or two exceptions this season, as Rasheed goes, so go the Blue Devils.  Ryan Kelly never made it past security, and Mason was too busy fighting Greg Echenique to a draw (sigh), so someone had to pick up the load.  By the way, that reminder (professionals who use the term "tickler" need to be stopped cold) that just popped up on your screen is a reminder that it's about time for Quinn Cook to go off in a game.  Curry, too.  But some help with more gameplanning from The Captain would be nice.  And doesn't Chris want to get a head start on beating these guys next season?  Assuming, of course, that every Big Ten team will play each other once apiece, which I don't think you can assume.                

So here we are, facing a team much like the Green and White of 2004-2005, with a Duke team that is not entirely dissimilar, although more talented across the board.  Maybe even much more.  So we'll have Cook guarding 6-1 junior Keith Appling at the point, and since Appling is "fighting injuries," that means he's completely healthy.  I don't think much of Appling's ballhandling or his defense, but he is the Spartans' leading scorer (13.3 ppg), and demands respect at the arc, even though he has been inconsistent from distance over his career.  He doesnít get overwhelming amounts of assists (3.4 apg against 2.3 tpg), which is why I think Krzyzewski will press and overplay the lanes, and indeed, turnovers are this team's biggest problem (along with a relatively uninspiring bench).  6-4 freshman Gary Harris doesn't worry me overmuch, even with that 41.9% 3PFG figure, because I think Rasheed will be playing with his helpful brand of confidence and can contain him, but 6-6 sophomore Branden Dawson, who has just a perfect entry from the Michigan State Name Generator, is a real problem.  Who's guarding this guy - - Lance Thomas's jewelry collection?  (Hey, remember when that enormous flap was going to bring down Duke's program?  Heh.  Bye, Tools!)  I guess Curry is going to take care of this, which seems strange.  Maybe he'll play a one-man zone (Dawson never shoots threes), or Sulaimon will switch off frequently, or something.  Interesting.  Dawson's by far their best wing (or even overall) defender, too, so having him and Curry squaring off makes sense for Sparty as well.  

Inside, we have mirror images in some respects, with 6-9, 267-pound senior Derrick Nix facing off against Mason, and 6-10, 240-pound junior and surplus vowel collector Adreian Payne facing Kelly, an actual appearance from whom would be really welcome.  Nix is a little like Echenique in terms of low footspeed, so maybe this time Mason P. can take advantage of this, instead of filming a "how to" video on illegal use of the hands fouls.  Payne's an intriguing character: he scores 10.4 a game, just ahead of Nix at 10.0 flat, he's the leading boardsman with 7.5 (Nix is at 6.5), he's the lone real shotblocking threat, and he even steps out about every other game and hits a three, but he really deals out the fouls, notching 2.5 pfpg over just 25.3 mpg.  In fact, the whole team other than Appling has low minutes: Harris is at 29.5, Nix 27.7 (but also sports a reasonably low foul rate of 1.8 pfpg, so it's just conditioning and Izzo keeping his guys fresh), and Dawson 27.0.  You'd think this would mean that there would be three big bench contributors, but there are only two . . . but back to Payne for a second.  If Ryan Kelly can ditch this shadow of himself that he's looked like since Senior Night (I donít know if he came back too early or what, but Miffle probably doesn't think so, and with Ryan, I think everything starts with whether his three-point shot is going in, which it sure hasn't been), then Payne is going to be stretched more than he's going to stretch Kelly.

The bench consists of effectively two guys, and we'll start with 6-0 sophomore Travis Trice (4.7 ppg), the soulless three-point gunner, complete with 39.1% 3PFG . . . and 30.4% overall FG.  He plays just south of 19 minutes on average, but gets to the line less than once a game, statistically speaking, of course, you hypergeometric martinet.  Then there's 6-5 freshman Denzel Valentine (the offspring of a weird night between one of America's most bankable movie stars and America's most showboating (but generally decent) zebras.  Hey, I sense Teddy doing this game, as Denzel is not his kid (Denzel's dad went to MSU and played ball for the Spartans in the 80s).  Nah, probably not, but I don't know how much longer we can hold Mike Kitts off.  Anyway, this Valentine scores five a game, is a slasher, the team's fourth-leading rebounder behind the three starting forwards, and he's the second-leading assist man too.  Not much outside game, but I see "6-5" and I think trouble.  He's skinny, though, so there's that.    

From the line, by the way, Dawson is brutal, Payne (!)'s the deadeye, Nix and Valentine are just sub-70 and Trice is just over, and Appling and Harris are roughly three-quarter men.       

I don't know.  There's toughness there, but I don't know if I sense the same sort of physicality that we saw back in 2005, and of course J.J. shot horribly and Shelden couldn't do it all himself.  We beat much the same group - - plus Draymond Green - - last season for Coach K's record-breaking win, so maybe Izzo is feeling cooperative again, like that time he agreeably played the Twinks on a sizeable floating weapons platform and ended up falling off the side.

Just a random crazy note . . . I wonder how many times Michigan State played in a dome this season?  Then again, with their game, maybe it doesn't matter, but I'm curious.  Lessee . . . airbase against dead-in-water-ineligible U-Con, in a game that had to be played in Germany to avoid the extradition of half the Huskie thugs back to the U.S.  . . . oh, yeah, they were there with us in the Georgia Dome, beating Kansas while we gave Kentucky fans a nice preview of their shitty season.  I assume that loss to Miami (FL) (hmm) came in Coral Gables (yeah, it did), and where did they play Texas?  At home.  Okay, so their dome experience is about what ours is.  That exercise didn't work as intended, but I just looked at all four of those boxscores, which were pretty much Michigan State's top-tier OOC competition on the season.  Shabaz and his Napier wit ate them for breakfast in the Ramstein game, Payne was invisible in both that and the Miami contest, and Nix overwhelmed Texas' pitifully tiny-playing team and went to the line at will.  The Kansas win can't be spun much against the Spartans.  Still, there are a few clues.  Taking Payne out of things seems to be a significant key.  Ryan?  You know,
here's a nice article from today that lifted my spirits a bit about Kelly and his preparation for this game.     

For all the hype about Michigan State's toughness and rebounding prowess, they score about ten points a game less than Duke does, they prefer to keep games in the high fifties (but Duke only gives up six more points a game on defense than they do, without playing any sort of slowdown game or counting possessions), they shoot about six percentage points worse than we do from three-point distance, and they even have excellent numbers from the floor and the line that are still bested by us.  So basically, we need to shoot well.  They might get some o-bounds, but we can and should equalize that with turnovers.  Blocking out, a concept used to great effect against Creighton, would be good.

As it so often does, this comes down to which Duke will show up.  That's three crap games in a row for the offense, so . . . is it time for that element to emerge again?  Defensive intensity is always a plus too, and if this team could just get it together.  Mason?  Seth?  Ryan?  Quinn?  Rasheed?   Amile (not pictured)?  Thornton, do you have another "game of your life" in you?  Elite Eight is all anyone can ask here.  Come on, now.

Duke 74, Michigan State 69.   



View more articles from this category


Posted by: London Dukie Date: 3/31/2013 9:21:06 AM  
I came into this season hoping for a Sweet 16 run that would wash away some of the stain of last year's embarrassment. Making the Eight is beyond expectations and if we lose this evening I will be momentarily disappointed but not gutted. That said, it would obviously hurt to come this close but fall short of the Final Four; thus, I am hoping the team raises their collective game a notch (Seth can stay right where he was on Friday, thank you very much). And I admit I would be happy if Ryan did not take a single 3 this game - stick to the mid-range jumpers. If Cook's offence shows up and we play D like we have the last two games, we could do this...

Go Duke!!

Posted by: Matt Mikhail Date: 3/30/2013 4:45:38 PM  
Just a couple comments...

I was at the game in Indy - really sweet win. Especially with K kicking Izzo's - Mr. March(?) -ass. 7 - 1 against him now

It was about 70% Louisville fans there. Will probably be about 90% for Sunday. Essentially a road game.

Cook / TT will be the key - can't turn it over vs. UofL. We protect the ball, like we have all year, I think we will win. Outside of Russdiculous, no one on that team is scary

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/30/2013 12:31:45 AM  
"when Nick Collison scored 72 points and grabbed 57 rebounds."

Casey Saunders really did awesome work limiting his productivity in that one, if I remember DBR correctly.

Posted by: Matt Date: 3/30/2013 12:24:08 AM  
WOW. I did not expect to get past our personal graveyard, the Sweet Sixteen. THIS IS NICE. THIS IS FUN.

Seth Curry first half MVP, Rasheed Sulaimon (!!!!!) second half MVP. Quinn Cook actually benched by Krzyzewski for execrable play, and Amile, of course, gets no burn. BUT . . . Michigan State looked as stunned as Doug McDermott, probably because, unlike in Big Ten games, there were three individuals in zebra suits using small musical instruments to signal illegalities.

And you know, despite being told all week by 8,000,000 pundits that Branden Dawson would have a transformative impact on American society, as well as this game, he really didn't do anything.

INCREDIBLE defensive performance. With Cook present somewhere in the Seventh Circuit and a big man not putting a personal clown show that would put most circuses out of business for fear of competition, we would have won by even more.

GREAT coaching by Krzyzewski. Appreciated the assists from Izzo at the end, too, burning about 1:05 of clock for us by not having his guys foul.

CONGRATULATIONS, DUKE!!! On to the Elite Eight!!

And last but not least, thanks to everyone for the incredible comments during the game. You guys are awesome. Thanks.

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/30/2013 12:24:03 AM  
It will be interesting to be the underdog (slight as it may be) against Louisville on Sunday - it's been a long time since Duke has been in that situation in the tournament. If memory serves, the last time Duke didn't wear white in the tournament was the '03 regional semis against Kansas, when Nick Collison scored 72 points and grabbed 57 rebounds. Wonder if we'll get the black jerseys or the blue jerseys against the Cards?

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/30/2013 12:20:30 AM  
Take that, Trazel Florunstein!

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/30/2013 12:17:37 AM  
Two best teams left in tourney (except maybe FLA) facing each other for final four berth. Bang up job, committee!

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/30/2013 12:14:55 AM  
Wasn't expecting to get past the Spartans, or, frankly to make the Elite 8 in general. Anything beyond today is gravy, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/30/2013 12:14:36 AM  
Yeah, yeah! Great game by Seth, excellent work by Suliamon, and Ty Thornton! picked a great night to step up and just be solid.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/30/2013 12:10:06 AM  
Good job Rasheed. Good job Duke.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/30/2013 12:04:04 AM  
The joys of stallball....

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/30/2013 12:04:00 AM  
OK, let's not do this.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 11:57:49 PM  
I will admit: TT has taken Cook's minutes from him.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 11:57:05 PM  
No doubt Dave we aren't the only ones amazed.

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/29/2013 11:56:14 PM  
Thanks for being unnecessarily fancy, Keith Appling!

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 11:56:01 PM  
I have no idea how Thornton avoided the almost inevitable Thorntonian flagrant on that strip.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 11:54:53 PM  

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 11:50:29 PM  
Great D on the lob, and the nice run-out by Suilamon

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 11:45:45 PM  
Never in my life have I witnessed more missed gimmes by such a tall person on a basketball court. Never.

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/29/2013 11:45:23 PM  
Or try a layup instead of a dunk and then foul. Arggggghhhhhhh.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 11:45:15 PM  
For the 2nd time: F#@#%#$n Plumlee!

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/29/2013 11:44:38 PM  
Finish them! Right now. Do NOT let them back in to this.

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/29/2013 11:39:48 PM  
Serious question (and one that betrays how few games I've been able to watch closely this year): Does anyone for Duke even slap the floor anymore? That always struck me as a Hurley/Collins/Wojo thing...not so much something players of recent vintage do.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 11:39:48 PM  
Now that was strong, Mason.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 11:30:54 PM  
Smartasses floor slapping again, huh?

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/29/2013 11:26:07 PM  

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 11:19:59 PM  
Onnnnleeeeee pluuumleeeeee.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 11:19:43 PM  
F^#$$%&%$^, Mason!

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 11:17:27 PM  
I'm watching and I see no excuse for Duke losing. Duke is the better team.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 11:13:38 PM  
The plan is, in fact, to have Seth score 63.

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/29/2013 11:12:29 PM  
Unless the plan is to have Seth score 63 points tonight, it might be nice to have someone in Adraeioun Paiynae's general vicinity.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 11:09:48 PM  
Only Mason could hurt himself fouling someone.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/29/2013 10:55:28 PM  
So ... second half: total collapse or maintain middling lead that evaporates near end?

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/29/2013 10:47:30 PM  
Good thing that end of the building doesn't yield half court shots at the buzzer. A decent half overall, minus those last few minutes...

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 10:46:31 PM  
The myriad pleasures of the Duke Field Goal Drought.

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/29/2013 10:42:15 PM  
Ohhh, I love you R Kelly, but PLEASE stop hoisting threes. That mid-range is working just fine.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 10:39:57 PM  
Dogfish here. And depending on how the second half goes, rum is on hand.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 10:36:11 PM  
I went with Stella tonight.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/29/2013 10:34:15 PM  
Hope the rest of you are using alcohol (offensive)/Cheez-It (defensive) magic charms, too.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 10:31:06 PM  
There she is!

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 10:29:03 PM  
Good steal TT!

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 10:27:24 PM  
Kellog just can't help trying to rewrite not just history but physics in trying to justify the goaltend.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/29/2013 10:24:27 PM  
Offense looks too one-dimensional...

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 10:24:25 PM  
The goaltend set a new low in collegiate officiating.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 10:23:32 PM  
On the reply, that was just an appallingly bad call on the no goaltend. Just horrible. And now Suilamon gets bumped on the drive, no call.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 10:22:09 PM  

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 10:19:43 PM  
Hope that floater gets Kelly started.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 10:16:03 PM  
Worst performer of the night so far is the cameraman. Where is Mrs Curry?

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/29/2013 10:14:24 PM  
Nice call, Dave. Kellogg on the other hand sounds like Izxo's assistant!

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 10:11:42 PM  
Valentine getting a jump on his Bootsy.

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/29/2013 10:10:46 PM  
Unreal. Tyler...

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/29/2013 10:08:56 PM  
Ah, Tyler.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 10:05:20 PM  
That's Tyler Thorton for ya....

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 9:54:57 PM  
I finished my wind sprints in the back yard.

I'm ready.

Posted by: Karl Beem Date: 3/29/2013 7:59:28 PM  
Amile did do well...in his 11 minutes.

Posted by: Al White Date: 3/29/2013 7:11:12 PM  
Matt, thanks for the great mix of funny smackdowns and shrewd insight.

I am really concerned about keeping Nix and Payne off the offensive glass. Payne was possessed with more than extra vowels against Memphis and will be even more amped tonight. If Kelly doesn't check Aaaydreeann, his stickbacks could be the margin of defeat for Duke.

The butt-dozing back-ins by Nix are also a concern. Mason is going to have to defend that very carefully and hope Nix gets called for the steamrolling. It would be nice for one of our guards to strip the aptly-named Derrick when he is doing his slow-mo backins.

If Mason and Ryan don't increase their basketball IQ's about 110 points from Sunday, they are going to be in big time foul trouble.

Would love to have a great 3-2 zone to throw at these guys. Maybe K can hang with Boeheim on some sort of international team some day and learn it from the Syracuse doof. Tom Cree-ann is probably quite a fan of that zone today.

We should beat these guys. The 2-point spread for us seems about right, taking into account our inconsistency and their crowd advantage.

But to answer Mark's question, let's put the team that beat Lewaville and Ohio State on the floor.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/29/2013 6:40:46 PM  
Which team will Duke put on the floor...?

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/29/2013 6:35:05 PM  
You didn't account for the bench minutes from Shawnathon Bortrob, Tylor Curco, and Jordlan Jimmon.

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