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TD: Please Come Home for Kansas (State)

Date: 11/23/2010

Two Dukies  
Posted By: Matt (introid, blather), duhomme (selection)

Volume XIV, Episode 5
November 23, 2010

Mattís comments in blue.
duhomme's selection in red.

#1 DUKE (4-0, 0-0) v. #4 KANSAS STATE (4-0, 0-0 Big 12)

All discussion of Dukeís contest with Marquette on Monday must begin and end with Mason Plumlee, who simply dominated what looked like an above-average frontline and Bootsied the Golden Namechangers for 25 points.  Plumlee added twelve boards, three assists, and five blocks, and generally altered about 80% of Marquetteís post shots during he 32 minutes that he was on the floor.  Apart from a Henson-like performance at the line (including a twine-tingling airball), Mason played nearly perfectly, missing only four of his 16 shots.  And who - - raise your hand, now - - expected him to lead the Blue Devils in field goal attempts?  Marquette simply had no answer for the sophomore, and credit Kyrie Irving for finding him repeatedly in excellent position to score.

As for the rest of Dukeís players and their effort, I wouldnít panic.  Most of Irving and Nolan Smithís 11 combined turnovers were unforced - - in fact, Iím very surprised, having rewatched the game just now, that Marquette was credited with 11 steals on Dukeís 19 miscues.  Nolan had one of those games that he occasionally authors where he just drives the bucket and doesnít really patrol the wing at all - - and indeed, he was 7-10 from inside the arc, coupled with one three and one foul shot (in two attempts apiece) for a nifty 18 points.  Irving, for his part, looked like he wanted to find that extra gear and run the entire game, but Marquetteís somewhat confused look on defense - - which did not seem to be part of any design - - didnít really afford him the opportunity, nor did it offer many looks from outside or the line.  Seth Curry also seemed like he was out of sorts, which, again, seemed to be more an accidental consequence of the bizarre lineups that Buzz Williams was fielding (usually consisting of two guards and three forwards, but without any amped-up post defense, or four guards and one forward) than anything to be concerned about.  The taller Andre Dawkins was more comfortable, playing error-free ball during a virtually flawless 21 minutes on both ends - - he was largely responsible for the first-half disappearance of opposing sharpshooter Darius Johnson-Odom. 

As for Kyle Singler, he had a very nice first half and then completely disappeared in the second (recording no field goals after intermission), the kind of showing that the senior posted on more than a few occasions last season, but this year, itís not as hard for Duke to work around.  Itís difficult to diagnose Singlerís malady in this game - - he just seemed out of sorts, as did many of the Duke players.  Fatigue didnít really seem to be an issue, and while I certainly do want to credit Marquette with a well-played game (as commenter SanFranSoxFan pointed out, if thatís the seventh-place team in the Big East, as Lindyís picked them, itís more of a credit to some good teams in that conference this season than anything else), I just thought that the Blue Devils committed a ton of unforced errors on offense and defense and didnít really play their trademark game.  The lack of production from the arc and the line (only twelve trips?) attests to that, as does the lack of fast break opportunities.  I do wish that Ryan Kelly and Miles Plumlee had played more, and anyone who wasnít betting on the disappearance of Ty Thornton and Josh Hairston and their money will be soon parted, but the lineup that Duke played offered more than enough to win, with Singler functioning mostly as a decoy.  For those of you who watched the game live - - did you ever get the impression that Duke was really in danger in this one?  And of course, the final margin of victory was highly misleading, as the Blue Devils had a ten-point lead with two minutes left and scored only once more while playing prevent defense.  My guess is that Nolan, Kyrie, and Curry will not serve up a sequence of three straight one-and-one front end misses again this season.         

On to Kansas State, who easily destroyed overrated Gonzaga on the other side of the CBE bracket on Monday.  You know, I quite like Gonzagaís program and genuinely admire Mark Few, but short of UNC-CH, does any program in menís basketball get more undeserved media attention?  Possibly Connecticut, a function of ESPNís location and historical ties with the Big East.  But the Zags - - honestly.  I mean, of course Duke haters like dental plan lifetime benefits capper Len Elmore and pitiful worm Joe Lunardi werenít going to pick the Blue Devils to win it all this season - - but anointing Gonzaga as the title fave???  What treasure trove of wisdom was behind those picks?  The Zags demonstrated clearly against K-State that they are out of their depth against physical, fast teams that can also shoot, and that has been the case for a number of years now.  Iím sure that Few can steer his club back to national recognition with a couple of big-name recruits and his trademark aggressive scheduling, but just being Gonzaga doesnít mean youíre automatically the Cinderella NCAA sleeper every season.  Let alone the national title pick for anyone other than the basest of idiots. 

Kansas State is, of course, a thoroughly unclean program under reprobate Frank Martin, who assumed his position in the wake of Thuggyís climb back to West Virginia only so the administration in Manhattan could guarantee one season of the questionably recruited Michael Beasley.  However, I have to say that Martin manages to be a rogue without being totally obvious about it (Calipari), raising ďpersonally distastefulĒ to almost comic levels (Calhoun) or enlisting the services of goon players (Calipari, Calhoun, Greenberg).  Sure, heís a nutjob on the sidelines with those bulging eyes and the vocalizing, but for whatever reason, he doesnít bother me, and his players are mostly soft-spoken and self-effacing.  The star is 6-0 senior Jacob Pullen (16.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.5 tpg, 2.2 spg, .463/.679/.409), the Big 12ís second-leading returning scorer behind LaceDarius Dunn of Baylor.  Pullen lit himself on fire down the stretch last season and powered the Wildcatsí Elite Eight run, but he has a new role this season - - point guard.  In the wake of the departure of former ACC refugee Denis the Penis Clemente, Martin scrambled to find a playmaker to avoid a transformation in Pullenís game, not to mention the occasional bouts of out-of-control play that he demonstrates, but early returns indicate that on most possessions, Pullen will be expected to run the show.  Pullen suited up 37 times last season, and recorded double-digits in scoring every time, so Duke shouldnít expect to shut him down - - but he can be coaxed into bad shots (41.9% FG last season) and isnít used to being the primary load-carrier just yet.  He is a superb on-ball defender, and I expect him to match up with Nolan Smith when the Wildcats are on defense.  If he brings the ball up, heíll be checked by Kyrie Irving, while Smith and Dawkins will shadow him away from the rock.  Pullen has a height disadvantage against all of Dukeís guards, even Curry, which could be significant.  Dukeís whole mission in this game is to force Pullen to take bad shots, limit his opportunities in the halfcourt, and require other K-State ballers to step up, because the dropoff is steep. 

Kansas Stateís other standout is 6-8 senior Curtis Kelly (11.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 2.6 tpg, 2.0 bpg, .565/.667/.000 in 2009-2010), who joined Pullen in near-unstoppable territory during last seasonís NCAA Tournament.  Martin rivals Bill Hoodichick in the level of disclosures that he makes to the media concerning the status of his players, and for some reason, Kelly was held out of K-Stateís first three games before finally logging 15 minutes against Gonzaga, scoring three points, grabbing four boards and sending back a shot.  At this program, Kellyís absence from the court could mean almost anything - - itís really best not to speculate.  I donít know how much Duke has to fear from Kelly (who will almost certainly make a ďsurpriseĒ return to the starting lineup) - - he is amazingly foul-prone (a stunning 2.6 pfpg last season), coughs up the ball a ton for a big man, and counts histrionic whining at the zebras among his favorite pastimes.  Usually, thatís not the guy who burns Duke, and if Mason Plumlee has any designs on reprising his Monday performance, Kelly might find himself on the bench with foul difficulty in a hurry.  K-State went so far in the NCAAs last season because Kellyís interior efforts made it very difficult for opposing teams to faceguard Clemente and Pullen on the wing and ignore the post; this season, though, Kelly needs to contribute regularly, not just sporadically, for the Wildcats to maintain the same level of overall play. 

Thus far, Martin has been starting 6-4 sophomores Rodney McGruder (11.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.0 tpg, 1.2 spg, .425/.375/.308) and Nick Russell (7.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.5 tpg, 2.0 pfpg, .400/.778/.308) in the backcourt along with Pullen.  McGruder is a perplexing player who canít hit free throws or play much defense, but he does shoot well from distance and collects a load of boards for a guard.  He is not a threat to take over games like Pullen.  Russell is a former prep point who hasnít made the transition to the next level yet and was average at best defensively a year ago, while also shooting poorly (.286/.778/.211).  Heís the most likely candidate to see reduced PT in the wake of what I expect to be a miraculous recovery by Kelly from whatever syndrome has been ailing him.  Depth is provided by 6-1 sophomore Martavious Irving (8.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.8 tpg, .480/.167/.538), a Florida prep star who Martin would like to develop as at least the sometime point guard, and annoying gymrat-type-guy and 6-3 freshman Will Spradling (7.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.5 tpg, .529/.857/.500, which is 6-12). 

Up front, the major threats besides Kelly are 6-7 junior Jamar Samuels (8.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.8 tpg, .343/.600/.000), a questionable shooter who scores in bunches if left alone on the perimeter, and 6-9 sophomore Wally Judge (5.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 2.2 tpg, 3.0 pfpg, .500/.167/.000).  Judge, a McDonaldís All-America, has ridiculous levels of talent and athleticism, but is a complete headcase who canít play defense and (somewhat like Kelly) deals out fouls and giveaways at a near-breathless pace.  Heís one of those ďif he ever puts it all together, watch outĒ guys, and reminds me a bit of a taller version of Miamiís DeQuan Jones.  Samuels is an excellent candidate to be guarded by Singler in this game, but not an excellent candidate to guard him, at least not effectively.  Judge is usually mixing it up down low, but may spend a lot of this one on the bench or standing around looking for a matchup.  The post, to the extent that K-State uses it outside of Kelly, will be manned by 6-10 junior Colombostiff Freddy Asprilla (3.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg. 3.2 pfpg, .500/.250/.000) and 7-0, 245-pound sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (4.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 2.2 pfpg, .667/.222/.000).  I donít see either of these guys handling more athletic players like the Plumlees on defense, and Martin isnít about to direct his offense through them. 

On the whole, K-Stateís roster is pretty interesting.  I gave Martin a lot of credit last season for getting good production out of a rotation that didnít really make much sense to me, but this yearís group, with the departure of Penis Clemente, is even more baffling.  Defense (other than Pullen) is not at a premium, which explains why Presbyterian was able to shoot 50% from the floor against the Wildcats last Thursday in Manhattan - - indeed, the Blue Hose (I can never get enough of that moniker) trailed by only four points with 2:30 left, largely because of KSUís stubborn refusal to interfere with the Presbysí repeated attempts to convert everything they could throw at the rim.  Other than blowing out the overrated VPI squad and yesterdayís mauling of Gonzaga, K-State has also authored a weird 75-61 win over James Madison in their opener, also at home in Bramlage Coliseum - - the Dukes shot 48.8% from the floor and excelled in free throw line defense, as the Wildcats masoned a rim-rattling 17-32 (53.1%) at the chalk.  So the Wildcats are (to put it mildly) not expert defenders, and they are awful at the free-throw line, capping just 51.5% of their freebies this season.  They turn it over about 14 times a game and havenít rebounded or handled the ball very well this year, even against relatively mild competition (which, incidentally, has produced only two double-digit scorers - - Duke has six). 

However, I donít have a good feeling about this one.  Dukeís schedule to start the season has, as Iíve noted, been really strange, and the team just seems out of sorts.  Although Marquette looked very good, Duke did not seem all that into the game on Monday night.  Add in the crowd noise, and I expect the Blue Devils to struggle in this one, even though on paper, they really shouldnít.  Iíll pick a narrow win, although I am fully prepared for a loss.

Duke 84, Kansas State 82.   

Duke 82, Kansas State 75.


Last Edition:
Matt 1-0
duhomme 1-0

This Season:
Matt 4-0
duhomme 4-0

2009-2010 Duke National Championship!! Season:
Matt 96-47 (.671)
duhomme 94-49 (.657)
Guests 16-4 (.800)


View more articles from this category


Posted by: Hill Bullock Date: 11/26/2010 3:01:32 PM  
And let me clarify my use of "worried." This team is fantastic, is fun to watch and will do great things, I have no doubt. But like it or not, the threshhold of success is championship at this point. Anything else will be considered a failure by the vast majority of people (whether right or wrong). We are too loaded to shoot for less. It isn't fair, especially to the players, but that is the burden those poor kids get to carry this year.

Posted by: Hill Bullock Date: 11/26/2010 2:55:33 PM  
Did you guys watch UConn v UK? Wow. Another reason I worry? The ACC is bad this year. We will get little in the way of quality games to make us better by year's end while the Big East (and Big 10?) will be creating true, battle hardened veterans. I love this year's team for all the reasons you guys mentioned, but I see us underachieving at the end. If we DO cut down the nets in April, I think it will be due to Irving being a true mega star after a year of college play.

Posted by: CDG Date: 11/25/2010 12:09:49 PM  
KD - I totally forgot to mention Dre when I was commenting on how awesome they looked in my first post. You are so right - he has totally matured and his 3's look deadly when he take them.

I have now lost count at the "undefeated" comments by mediots. Ridiculous indeed.

Posted by: KD Date: 11/25/2010 6:23:00 AM  
I am solidly in the SoxFan camp on this team. Simply fantastic. We just have too many weapons - watching the maturation of Andre has been awesome and Mason's jump has been surprisingly nice as well. You know this team is really good when a player like Kyle Singler is having difficulty finding his place on the floor and we still make a game against a top 10 team a snoozer at the end. Speculation on an undefeated season is ridiculous, and this team will need a couple of learning losses. However, this team is going to make a deep run - they are just too good. Kyrie Irving - insane. I wish we could have 4 games a week - can't get enough of watching them. Go Duke!

Posted by: SanFranSoxFan Date: 11/24/2010 4:55:05 PM  
Agreed on mixed feelings CDG... "joy" and "happiness"

After two seasons of worriedly charting Trip S (and Henderson) minutes and wondering when the legs were going to give out, I am scoffing the bubbly today. Not in anticipation of a Championship, or the craziness of an undefeated season, but in a satisfaction I haven't felt in forever for a team of good and great players with incredible chemistry having a ball playing the game better than anyone else right now.

I will hope for this season nothing more than zero injuries. K and the players are more than capable of taking care of the rest.

Posted by: CDG Date: 11/24/2010 3:14:27 PM  
I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about last night. There were some really great things on offer and a few bad things, many of which Hill points out (although the rebounding was more inconsistent than it was "bad" since there were several instances where our husstle got us second and third looks - we just couldn't get the damn ball in the net).

While I agree there was some lack of effort issues in the second that I was not keen to see, and a strange version of stall-ball that was annoying to watch at 12:30 in the morning, I think what is really keeping me in the positive is the fact that for the first time in years we finally have a team with sufficient depth to deal with cold streaks, including from our seniors (which was, I agree bizarre to say the least).

There is still a lot of season to go, and I by no means think this will be an unbeaten Duke team, but I am not so quick to go to the "worried" column just yet. No, we should not be popping bubbly (good point Hill) but we are not anywheer near "worried" mode.

As an aside, did anyone else find it hilarious to hear the mediots before the game roll back from their annointing of Barnes as favourite to win POY? So NOW you think it's inappropriate to do that to a freshman who has never played a game? And - wait - you blame Ol' Roy for saying he was just like Hansblow for misleading you???? Silly. Just silly.

Posted by: Hill Bullock Date: 11/24/2010 9:50:14 AM  
So you guys check me here, but amidst all the back-patting, I saw reasons to worry. Maybe we caused it, but K State seemed to self destruct as much as we beat them. Lots of unforced turnovers, absurdly bad free throw shooting, and Pullen acting very immature and getting down and totally disappearing. That team was not in a good place mentally. We suck at rebounding. SUCK. Too little boxing out, getting to the open spots when shots went up, etc. A fair number of ill advised, ugly finishes in heavy traffic in the paint (by our seniors, no less). Mason showed he can be cowed in the paint by physicality. And stale, uninspired offensive movement in the second half. Lots of good things happened, and Irving did look great, but I think an aggressive, talented team could beat us, and beat us decisively. Marquette almost gave us all we wanted Monday. It is WAY too early to be popping the bubbly like the mediots.

Posted by: SanFranSoxFan Date: 11/24/2010 3:02:15 AM  
Congrats CDG - Duke on TV! How cool is that?

tom - discussed same thing tonight re comp graphics. Did you see the wrinkles in those stickers during the closeups? I swear for at least one travel, Kyrie's feet didn't move but a part of the sticker did. Kudos to Dickie-V for calling out the NCAA on it. The stickers HAVE to go.

Finally - I never gushed at Bobby. Never gushed at Jayson. Blown away, yes. But gush? Like a schoolgirl? This Kyrie kid is doing things that are otherworldly. Did anyone notice that to spread the floor, he pulls his defender to the half court corner and allows himself to be "trapped," while he stunts and fakes, enjoying the snap-crack of his victim's ankles, waiting for the defense and his guys to align before a last fake around his guy and off through the moving herd on his way to a dish, an 'oop, or some kind of impossible to follow with naked eye sequence of dribbles and spins resulting in some kind of reverse with one hand or maybe the other, while intentionally getting fouled, whether the stunned Ref called it or not? Well of course you noticed. How could you not? Tonight's question is - is he creating on the fly, or did he map the whole thing out right before he broke his guy's ankles? Cause I'd believe either.

Posted by: Boomer Date: 11/24/2010 2:43:50 AM  
What up y'all.

Duke looks straight nasty. Nolan and Singler don't even have to do all that much. Dre (my favorite player) only got 19 minutes and the kid doesn't miss! Plus with Curry and Dre in there do we not have the cutest backcourt? Ladies, back me up here.

Honestly, if Mason plays like he's playing now, we're even scarier than people thought.

Big game against Sparty, they of the ugly jutting chin and beer muscled fan base. See ya in Cameron fellas.

Posted by: tom Date: 11/24/2010 12:48:21 AM  
My sister brought up a good point that if you can computerize advertisements in baseball games and the first down marker in football games then surely thay can do that on a basketball court. Glad no one blew out there knees on those decals. Congrats on 800 Coach K. Great collective effort by everyone.

Posted by: CDG Date: 11/23/2010 10:52:49 PM  
Gentlemen (and any ladies out there): I have finally solved my geographic impediment for accessing ESPN by selling my first-born to my cable provider. That's right, I am actually watching this game, live, and on my TV!

Actually, that deserves a few more: !!!!!!!

Forgive me here but it's like I have just had my sight restored and can see colors.

How awesome was Curry's 3? And seeing as I am no longer staring at a grainy computer screen with a halting image or just listening over the net, I can finally see how quick Irving is with the footwork. Sure, he didn't finish, but that cross-over was slick.

And Kelly's D? Or Mason's first few plays?

Okay, okay... I'll stop now because this has to be annoying. I am one happy girl is all.

Still a lot of game left, but I am enjoying this one.

Let's go Duke!

Posted by: Matt Date: 11/23/2010 10:13:45 PM  
Fully aware of that - - just not sure why Knight didn't get a Duke game out of the deal.

Posted by: Steve!! Date: 11/23/2010 10:07:22 PM  
ESPN's pattern the past few years is to bring Knight along to tournamentsw as Dick Vitale is no longer up to calling back-to-back games. Although I did not watch the Marquette/Gonzaga game, I'd bet Bobby Knight did that one.

Posted by: Matt Date: 11/23/2010 8:40:11 PM  
Thanks, tom. Glad you enjoyed.

The Duke game notes say Vitale. Not sure why they brought Knight there if he wasn't going to do a Duke game - - a little weird.

I forgot to mention in the material that this is a "never faced" game - - Duke and Kansas State have never played before, which is always neat.

Posted by: tom Date: 11/23/2010 8:29:54 PM  
Good stuff. How many times did they say, "if this is the 7th place team.." last night? Sometimes, the announcers just go on a repatitive tangent. "the plain of verticality." Do we have Bobby Knight or Dickie V?

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