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TD: NCCH Game Post/Blog

Date: 2/8/2012

Two Dukies  
Posted By: Matt

Volume XV, Episode 9
February 8, 2012

#10 DUKE (19-4, 6-2) @ #5 NORTH CAROLINA-CHAPEL HILL (20-3, 7-1)

Matt's comments in
Leff Jebo's comments in white.

SIGH, BUT, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO DEPARTMENT:   Getting swept by the Florida schools at home is not good.  Losing to Miami at home is not good.  BUT when you look at that game . . . well, I donít want to make excuses, but if Duke had just come out with any fire at all in the first half, the result would have been different.  Duke lost the game because:

    (1)    no one except Rivers seemed to care in the first half; 

    (2)    Cameron's atmosphere, for whatever reason, simply blows this year and offers no real home court advantage; 

    (3)    The team was obviously looking past MIFL; 

    (4)    K and staff failed to make any first-half adjustments whatsoever; 

    (5)    The second-half rally stunned Miami but unluckily came up just short; 

    (6)    A tired team missed all six of its free throws in overtime and Quinn made one, maybe two really bad late-game decisions. 

It was a one-point loss at home (I have no idea what those last two free throws with 0.1 seconds left were about) to a team that's pretty good, featuring a player who routinely kills us and, naturally, garnered the Bootsy.  This is not a "next play" situation because things need to be done (seriously, is there anything that can fire up the frigging crowd??), but some of it was just bad luck.  Don't discount the presence of rampant Duke-hater and just general incompetent Karl Hess, either.  That was his sixth opportunity to screw us this season, and we were due to lose one of those at some point.

NEW YORK GIANTS DEPARTMENT:  Since this Duke team defies all prediction, and is making me look stupid every edition out, this is my chance to mention that I thought NYG would win the Super Bowl from the moment they beat the Cowboys in Week Seventeen.  Shortly, I expect to have some greenish pieces of watermarked paper in my possession to prove this.  I speak hypothetically, of course.  Interestingly, the Giants' vaunted (with good reason) pass rush was a factor exactly twice in the game - - getting the safety to open the scoring, and sacking Brady on the final drive.  However, the secondary held up and the Patriots' inability to run the ball really hurt them.  Now, the Giants got really, REALLY lucky - - any of the three ball-plants they committed would have effectively killed their chances, but they recovered the first two, and the third, recovered by the Patriots, was nullified by a twelve-men-on-field penalty.  Welker dropping that ball and Gronkowski running at about 25% didn't hurt the Giants, either.  

Eli Manning is the best quarterback in football.  He carried that team all season, masked all of its deficiencies, and made one of the most stunning throws I've ever seen, to Mario Manningham to begin the Giants' winning drive.  That was no Helmet Catch (no disrespect to David Tyree - - it was awesome) in front of an out-of-position, headhunting Rodney "Dirtbag" Harrison - - that was just a simply amazing throw (and catch).  If I'm down in the fourth quarter, I want Eli with the ball over Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady or anyone else.  Peyton who?  I feel bad for Peyton, but his time has come and gone.  It's the Eli Era now.      

DUKE CAN WIN THIS GAME DEPARTMENT:  As always, you have to separate the media's perception of NCCH from reality, and as Ronald Reagan and Bush the Way Lesser amply illustrated, that's easier said than done.  Here's the reality: 

    (1)    NCCH has played an almost comically easy schedule this season.  All of their statistics, but most notably their defense, have to be evaluated in that context.  If you want some detail, they played Michigan State early, but that team early is never the same as that team later (the same holds true in assessing our win over Michigan State); Wisconsin is overrated by everyone, including Pomeroy, and frankly could have won that game in Chapel Hill; I'm not sold on Kentucky either (destroying Florida at Racist Arena, despite everyone's raving and ranting today, is meaningless - - Florida is even worse defensively than Duke is) and NCCH did, after all, lose, and Texas is 15-9 and has lost five of its last eight.  Not a tough schedule at all; sorry, Tool Nation!   

    (2)    Zeller is methodical and good and Henson is an unpredictable sanitation clown, but neither one of them possesses the sheer bulk needed to push the Plumlees off the block.  Except for Zeller, no one weighs more than 218 on the Tool squad.  Phone Pole weighs 210 and can't shove anyone around, and Hairston and James Michael Robert Thomas Matthew Mark Luke & John McAdoofus aren't muscular or physical.  K NEEDS TO START BOTH PLUMLEES AND KELLY IN THIS GAME.  Hairston - - our Hairston - - is the first one off the bench along with Seth.  Rivers and Cook start at guard.  Period.  

    (3)    There's no rip-roaring outside shooter.  Bull-AHHHHHHHHK can make the distance shot and he's 6-7, so Duke won't be able to stop him convincingly from jacking up threes without real fire and effort, but he's only made 42 triples.  Hairbag and P.J. Fatboy have 30 apiece (Hairston = 30-97, 30.9%), and Marshall has 14 (in 45 attempts - - 31.1%).  That's it!  No one else on the team has made a three.  

   (4)     Actually, Kelly can guard Barnes.  He's not the kind of player that Ryan has trouble with. 

   (5)     NCCH has no depth.  Forget that Watts cretin and Still Waters White - - I just mentioned everyone. 

   (6)     The Twinks have no burners.  Marshall is, of course, not that guy, and for all the ridiculous hype, neither is Barnes; if he were, he'd be in the Neeba right now.  Bull-AHHHHHHHHK and Hairston are plodding clods.  Honestly, Duke should be able to stay in front of these guys.  

   (7)     Statistically, this is difficult to quantify, but NCCH scores the vast majority of its points on fast breaks and plays where the defense breaks out of its sets because of secondary breaks, offensive rebounds, or other weird bounces of the ball.  The team is awful at the line (65.1%, 286th in Division I), and scores only 18.8% of its points from beyond the arc, good for #334 out of 345 in the country.  A similar team in that regard?  St. John's.  And Duke figured out how to handle that, at least in the first half.   

SO, DUKE CAN WIN THIS GAME?   Sure!  The right starting lineup would help, as would dictating the flow of the game instead of letting Rrhoid do it.  Pack the back line - - we might have even won a national championship last time we did this - - and make Bull-AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHK and the Skyper beat us.  If they hit 12 threes or something between them, oh well!  Not our day.  Or do something less drastic that still sags off the perimeter.  But if we start letting Zeller establish post position and allowing Henson to fly in over the back (no call, guaranteed) for slams on missed shots, it's over. 


Tyler Zeller, 7-0 SR - - the people who figure out that Zeller is NCCH's best player are the people who beat NCCH.  Sound simple?  It is.  And it is.  Push him away from the block and do not doubleteam him over-aggressively.  He can't pass the ball, so it's not needed.  Just let him shoot and block everyone else, especially Henson, out. 

John Henson, 6-10 JR - - Phone Pole is a nice defensive player because he blocks a lot of shots and he seizes a lot of d-boards, but he's strictly an average offensive player, and there's no one in the country I can think of who gets more frustrated if he isn't allowed to play his game.  I'd put Mason on him and have Miles guard Zeller.  Just keep Stick Figure away from the offensive glass and try to put him on the line (44.3%) if it looks like he's going to score. 

Harrison Barnes, 6-8 SO - - the most overrated player in the country.  Plays no defense, rarely passes the ball, and makes about 92.0% of his three-point baskets when there's no one guarding him (that's my statistic) because teams get stupid about watching Zeller and Henson on the inside, or because he's wide open, usually on a fast break, a secondary break, or some jailbreak play where the defense breaks down and he just lounges around near the stripe waiting for the outlet redirect.  He is soft and can be bodied fairly easily; he is almost never in the mix for a contested board.  I want Kelly, Kelly, and Kelly guarding him.  Hairston can take over for a few minutes at a time. 

Kendall Marshall, 6-3 SO - - slow, but one of the best passers in Division I.  Plays no defense and doesn't drive unless left wide open (which actually happens on occasion because, again, too much attention is paid to Greedo and Phone Pole).  Whatever Duke does, they should try to switch on screens so that Rivers can drive, again and again, on Marshall.  Just try it.

Reggie Bullock, 6-7 SO - - one of those "height immaterial" guys, but Rivers sort of has to guard him or he'll shoot over Cook and Curry.  Stop me if you've heard this before, but he's a weak defender and hardly ever drives the bucket.  He has ten FTAs all season. 

BENCH?  Sure.  This won't take long. 

P.J. Hairston, 6-6 FR - - a total stiff who does one thing well - - he shoots free throws very capably.  Not a great outside shooter as far as anyone's been able to detect so far, and like Bullock and Marshall, he is slow of foot and doesn't mix it up with any appreciable degree of physicality. 

James McAdoo, 6-9 FR - - this year's version of Justin Knox, a/k/a the designated guy who comes in to give Zeller/Henson a breather (not a blow; maybe they save that for off the court) and that's it.  He shoots 40.2% from the field and 60.7% from the line, boards only slightly better than Barnes, and like Hairston, reliably commits fouls.     

Justin Watts, 6-4 SR - - he's Justin Watts. 

BOTTOM LINE THIS FOR ME, PLEASE:  Predicting this Duke team is almost impossible.  They won at VPI when I thought they would lose, and then, instead of cruising at home with a viable game plan against Miami, they earned Reggie Johnson millions of dollars (and still almost won).  At least the weak Cameron crowd wonít be a factor here.  It's easy to see a Duke path to victory, and just as easy to see the team simply quit like they did late against Temple, but since NCCH scores tons of easy points against opponents who have given up or lack solid advance planning, that would result in a 10-12 point loss. 

Who knows?  If this team would just show some fire, and K and the staff would do some creative coaching, they could easily win this one.  

PREDICTION:   North Carolina-Chapel Hill 84, Duke 79.  You don't want me picking Duke. 

Please add your comments below.  Thanks as always for reading.   

Last Edition
Matt 0-1

This Season

Matt 5-3 

Last Edition's Score Prediction Margin Variance
15 (thank goodness for self-employment) 

Last Season:
Matt 52-18
Guests 3-3



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Posted by: ClemsonGuest Date: 2/8/2012 9:39:57 PM  
Re: McAdoo. Thanks for calling it a breather, or break or whatever. I HATE it when announcers or any other people call it a blow. I've hated that expression since one gym teacher back in seventh grade used it constantly.

I'm in ACC territory tonight. Raycom has Brando and Bonner on commentary. Even trade; I don't mind Vitale.

Awfully quick with some of those THREE! attempts, huh? The Mason block has been the highlight thus far.

Posted by: Dave Date: 2/8/2012 9:38:50 PM  
Cook needs to avoid that mid-range jumper.

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:36:02 PM  
Well, Duke is certainly competitive so far.

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:30:54 PM  
Not to give myself too much credit, but I can't help but notice that Zeller and Henson have no idea what to do with the ball, for the most part, when singleteamed and not guarded like they're worth 150% of Larry Bird. And so far Duke has completely figured that out.

Posted by: Dave Date: 2/8/2012 9:29:17 PM  
If someone in October had told me that Mason Plumless lefty hook would be one of our most reliable offensive weapons, I'd never have believed them.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 2/8/2012 9:24:25 PM  
The last 3 plays illustrate why Miles isn't playing.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 2/8/2012 9:21:19 PM  
Most of Bilas' comments are from the perspective of what UNC must do to win. Not the actual game, but what UNC needs to do to win.

No wonder most tarHOLEs like Jay as a broadcaster.

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:21:15 PM  
Cue Tool Nation crying about how they could have a "Duke grad" doing the game.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 2/8/2012 9:18:44 PM  
Re: Bias. Can't believe they got a Tarhole to announce.

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:18:41 PM  
NCCH looks like crap, or, actually, somewhat like NCCH, for anyone who's actually seen them play. Duek looks like they have fire - - we'll see how long that lasts.

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:15:45 PM  
Oh, and Bias is there too!!! Hahahaha are you kidding me?

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:15:12 PM  
Bullethead and Vitale, of course. Maybe they'll let Erin do some play-by-play?

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 2/8/2012 9:13:36 PM  
Please, please, and puhleeeeeeze show post game interviews!

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:12:52 PM  
Duke up 5-0 early.

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:11:04 PM  
Actually, that was one of the most fun games I've ever seen. I didn't want it to end. As a bonus, the right team (Syracuse) won. And there was no Duke game stacked two hours behind it.

Posted by: CDG Date: 2/8/2012 9:08:48 PM  
Ugh... Everytime I see the Big Least go into OT, I think back to that marathon game a few years back. And that makes me want to cry...

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 2/8/2012 9:07:25 PM  
Bloody 'ell. Snaer shoots 1-8 threes against BC. BEE. CEE.

Posted by: Matt Date: 2/8/2012 9:06:26 PM  
LOL at Espen. Reliable as always.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 2/8/2012 9:05:25 PM  
This happened long ago during Laettner's time. I remember this because on of these very teams hit a last second shot at the end of regulation.

My father exploded with, "I'm a sonuvab*tch if he didn't hit that!"

It was nerve racking waiting on those games during Laettner's time.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 2/8/2012 9:02:08 PM  
Luke Loucks likes looks.
Luke Loucks lofts lobs.
Luke Loucks lands little.

Posted by: CDG Date: 2/8/2012 9:00:47 PM  
Bloody overtime... Gah!

Posted by: CDG Date: 2/8/2012 8:50:59 PM  
Great preview Matt, as usual. I have no/low expectations for this one but I'm still doing my regular pre-Holes rituals. One of which requires me to very loudly proclaim...

GTHC, GTH!!!!!

Fingers crossed it's the "other" Duke team that shows up - you know, the one that WANTS to win.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 2/8/2012 8:42:41 PM  
Truth be told, like most of you I have no idea which Duke team shows tonight.

Therefore, I won't bore anyone with my guesses.

Well done Matt, and I'll see everyone in under thirty minutes.


Posted by: Al White Date: 2/8/2012 7:48:09 PM  
LOL, Fats. Droopy Dawg don't give a (expletive deleted) about Carolina and its fans.

Hard to see us winning without having a great shooting night and being able to keep two of the Plumkells on the floor for most of the game.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 2/8/2012 6:21:02 PM  
-Stillman hits a three just prior to a shot clock violation.
-Two fouls on Mason in the first six minutes.
-Curry and Dawk give up 5 layups to Marshall.
-Mike Patrick mixes up Hairstons.
-Droopy Dog cocks his leg and pees on the sideline reporter who accosts him at the half.

Posted by: T. Randall Taylor Date: 2/8/2012 4:56:46 PM  
drjman -- You missed it.

Matt -- Agreed on the starting lineup. Absolutely.

Posted by: drjman Date: 2/8/2012 2:50:47 PM  

Posted by: drjman Date: 2/8/2012 2:49:39 PM  
Dude. 'less I missed it, you completely dissed Stilman White by the obvious omission. Look for a big game from him...?

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