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TD: On the Border

Date: 3/24/2011

Two Dukies  
Posted By: Matt (zoning)

Volume XIV, Episode 29
March 24, 2011

Mattís comments in blue.
Fanning Chryeís comments in white. 

#17 ARIZONA (5W) (29-7, 14-4 Pacific-10) v. #3 DUKE (1W) (32-4, 13-3)

Some Historical Perspective and Mattís Usual Rant About These Oafs:
Oh, boy.  How much would I like to beat this scummy program?  Well, they complicated things almost two full seasons ago by hiring a coach that I really like, and they lack any odious players for about the first time in three decades, but nonetheless . . . see Figure 22.

Figure 22.  Teams Whose Fans Matt Detests Powerfully

Team           Most Odious Player Ever?                   Fan Detestability Index*

NCCH         Mouth-Breather; Wallace; King Rice**               9.7       

MDCP        Grievous Azzkiz; ďSecret ServiceĒ Baxter***     10.0

UIUC          Jamar Smith                                                      9.9

Arizona             Miles Simon; bonus points for Coot                    9.6999

*where 1 = harmless, classy opponent fan bases and 10 = Maryland, College Park rioters, which is all just part of the student experience, at least when they make the postseason or accomplish something

**also Ndiaye, Bucknall, Cota, McInnis, McCants and honestly just about everybody there for a while  

***and Steve Blake too.  We ran out of space.  Oh, and then there was Gilchrist . . . .

Yeah - - hard to believe that Garyland and Illannoy fans are worse than Chapel Hill die-easies, eh?  Sítroo.  But the supporters of THIS program rank just a smidge behind, and just because the Magic Lute finally cleared town (in as noisy a manner as possible, natch) and was replaced, then not replaced, by fully-equipped tool Kevin OíNeill, who took all of ten minutes to wear out his welcome, doesnít mean that all of these odious Arizona fans suddenly changed their stripes.  Just remember - - Shane Battier flopped on every play in 2001, unless he was charging or hacking or handchecking, and every single whistle was in Dukeís favor.  Just ask.  You know, I think itís time to thank Mike Dunleavy for all three of those threes (in 0:45 of clock) again.  Thanks, Mike!

If, at any time during this game, you find Derrick Williams and his supporting cast to be nice young men, or Sean Miller to be a solid guy and a good coach, thereís nothing wrong with that - - itís all true.  But just remember that it was Coot and his ready accomplice Sweaty (who has now partially rehabilitated himself by becoming a festive Dewey Beach holiday clown and is about two seasons away from getting fired anyway - - no, Iím not kidding) who turned large portions of the nationís sports fans against Duke by perpetuating the ďDuke gets all the callsĒ mantra following the 2001 Final Four, as if that had anything to do with Duke blowing the Twerps off the court once key Blue Devil coaches and team members arrived midway through second half action, or with Duke comfortably staving off everything that the future-Neeba-stars-and-scrubs Wildcat lineup could throw at them.  Waaaaah!  Good lord, what crybabies.  Naturally, Duke will never schedule this dirty program during the regular season, so this is the first meeting since the 2001 title game.  And assuming that weíre not going to show up and be stupid, Iím looking forward to it.    

Thanks for That Information.  So How Good or Bad Is Arizona This Season?
Enh.  They donít have many losses, but thatís because they play an 18-game regular season schedule and, as Coach K will tell you, that leaves insufficient time to play Elon and Colgate.  Wait - - that made no sense, but then, neither does Coach Kís position.  So, moving on.  The Mildcats scheduled few opponents of note in the regular season save Kansas, against whom they litigated in the title game of a tourney at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.  In fact, CHECK IT, Mike Patrick!  (Anyone else miss Mike by this point?  I do.)  Kansas was the only OOC opponent that Arizona scheduled of any note whatsoever, except for Brigham Young, which destroyed teh Kittehs, 87-65, at the Delta Center in SLC.  (Wow - - Sean Miller with the Coach K scheduling move there!  Couldnít make it to Provo?)  I mean, you donít consider NCSU to have been a quality opponent this season, do you?  Well . . . they were just about Arizonaís most impressive OOC win.  In the Pac-28, UA lost to Oregon State (which only won five games in conference) in Corvallis, were blown out of Hec Ed in Seattle by 17 at the hands of U-Dub, enjoyed a really, really bad visit to Los Angeles in late February (featuring an eight-point loss to Southern Cal at the Galen Center and a ridiculous 71-49 blowout at the hands of UCLA at Pauley), and then lost again to Washington in the semis of the conference tournament.  The Catsí two losses to the Huskies (and, for that matter, their win over them by one point at home) are instructive, because as we all saw before yet another chokejobgiveawayareyoukiddingme this past weekend, the Huskies are a pretty interesting fun and gun team.  Arizona does NOT possess the ability to dictate tempo and really struggles to prevent inside buckets, as weíll hopefully see in a moment.     

Their Last Game    
One of the truly great games of the NCAA-T so far, as Arizona took out Rick Barnes and Texas, with the winner getting to become the next coach of N.C. State, on a three-point play by UA star Derrick Williams with just under ten seconds remaining.  Amazingly, Jim Burr (still working!) officiated the game but was not involved in deciding the outcome.  However, Dick Cartmell stepped up instead and set the stage for Arizonaís game-winning possession after calling what appeared to be a slightly (but not egregiously) hasty five-second violation before Longhorn Cory Joseph could inbound the ball.  Texas shot pretty well and got to the foul line at will, particularly in the second half.       

Projected Starters and Pithy Comments
Solomon Hill, 6-6 SO SF - - solid passer and competent defender who stays quiet more often than he takes charge.  Heís one of the ďsupporting castĒ who will need a big game on both ends to contend with Duke.  Will probably be guarded by Singler and may have the responsibility of guarding him as well; deals out a fair amount of fouls, at 2.3 pfpg in just 25.0 mpg

Derrick Williams, 6-8 SO PF - - the Wildcatsí uncontested star, Williams is a mobile big man who can play inside and out, and is putting up a ridiculous shooting line of .600/.744/.581 along with 8.2 rpg.  Interestingly, Williams deals out a vast array of fouls, 2.8 pfpg in just 30 mpg, and has often struggled in his two seasons in Tucson guarding bigger players - - of which there are precious few in the Pac-10 at the moment.  If Mason and Miles Plumlee show up for this game, and both of them attack Williams on offense and play him with a doubleteam approach on defense, Williams might struggle.  His game-winning basket against Texas made him 4-14 from the floor, and there have been other games this season where he was muscled around by big players (such as Stiffeson and Vucevich for Southern Cal) and struggled.  BIG responsibility for the Plumlees in this one, sports fans.

Jesse Perry, 6-7 JR SF/WF - - an NJCAA All-America last year, Perry pushed his way past senior Jamelle Horne into the starting lineup midseason.  Perry is a guy who, in my view, gets victimized a bit by Millerís almost Hewittlike substitution patterns; Miller uses so many guys that some of them canít get in too much of a rhythm.  Perry, for example, has not played 30 minutes in a single game this season.  Heís a good leaper, but doesnít pass or handle it well and is a so-so defender.  Should be guarded by the Plumlee not checking Williams, or Dawkins when Duke goes small.  Either way, Perry will be challenged defensively when the Blue Devils take possession

Lamont Jones, 6-0 SO PG - - Harlem kid who took over the lead guard duties from the graduated Nic Wise, and hasnít really racked up the assist totals, part of which is probably because Williams draws so many hard fouls and visits the line so often, nullifying at least some of what would otherwise be assists.  But thatís not the whole story.  ďMoMo,Ē as he is called, isnít a great distributor and can be contained (he was scoreless against Texas), and his defense is suspect, but he can knock down the open J from the wing 

Kyle Fogg, 6-3 JR SG - - yet another of several Southern Californians on the roster, Fogg is a play-within-his-limits shooting guard who is well over 40% in his career from three-point range.  Some analysts of this matchup have suggested that Duke allow Williams to ďget his pointsĒ rather than permitting Fogg, Jones, and some of the other wing players to take uncontested threes, but thereís probably a happy medium in there somewhere.  Fogg scored in double digits in just 12 of Arizonaís 36 games this season, part of the inconsistency that is one of the themes of this Wildcat edition.  Fogg is certain to face one of the best defenders heís seen in Nolan Smith, and as an average defender himself, isnít overly likely to shut Nolan down

Sure.  Miller plays ten guys, although I wonder, in looking over the box scores and having seen Arizona play in bits and pieces this season, if some of his players wouldnít respond to larger chunks of minutes.  The problem is that other than Williams, Jones, and occasionally Fogg, these guys donít really break free from the pack.   

Jordin Mayes, 6-2 FR PG - - Jonesí backup and a star for Los Angelesí Westchester High.  Mayes bailed Arizona out of the situation created by Jonesí ineffectiveness against Texas with a Bootsy of 16 points including 4-4 on threes; he isnít going to stop anyone on defense          

Jamelle Horne, 6-7 SR WF - - took a step back this season but was a very good rebounder as a junior; the sort of athletic wing player that is always supposed to give Duke fits

Kevin Parrom, 6-6 SO SF/SG - - outstanding perimeter defender and tough rebounder; decent handle and sometimes gets 30 minutes-plus because of his defense.  May be asked to contain Kyle Singler in this one, if Kyle Singler needs containing, which I sure hope he does

Kyryl Natyazhko, 6-11 SO C - - Ukrainostiff whose role as the off-books FSB assassin in ďThe Bourne SupremacyĒ won him rave reviews from critics; might have to come in and do more than just give a couple of fouls, if, as we are all hoping, COACH K DICTATES HOW THIS GAME IS PLAYED JUST A LITTLE BIT 

Brendon Lavender, 6-5 JR SG - - rangy wing guard averaging just under 11 minutes a game; was very efficient against Texas and its generally overrated defense.  Heís the only Arizona native on the roster who actually plays

Most Likely to Bootsy:
Natyazhko (10 points required)

ís Likely Gameplan:
Direct everything through Williams on offense and try to rely on collapsing defenses to create open shots from the perimeter for the guards and wing forwards.  Just about everyone who plays can hit three-pointers, but theyíre not born-lethal assassins from range; they just get a lot of open looks, like that trio of dorks that played on the perimeter for Wake when Duncan was there (Rutland, Braswell, and Goolsby).  As soon as Timmeh left for the Association, those guys and their three-point statistics plummeted into a nearby body of water.  Same deal here.  Duke has to guard Williams, but not allow kickouts for open shots.  Interestingly, Kyle went to E.J. for some intel on how to guard Williams and generally deal with Arizona.  I love it.    

These Guys Donít Play a 1-3-1, Do They?:
No, they donít, although if Sean Miller doesnít break one out for at least a few possessions here and there, heís not as clever as I think he is.  After all, has any team looked worse against that kind of ďjunkĒ defense in a critical situation, when the looking-worse part was entirely of that teamís doing, than Duke?  The biological offspring of Stallball and the 1-3-1 makes that kid from the Omen movies look like Tinkerbell.  No, not that one - - you know, the charming winged blonde lass who can fly.  

Yeah, What Was That All About??? Department:
I have absolutely no clue.  I heard from people who decided to go pick up the drycleaning or take the kids to the park when Duke was up 12 with 6:25 to play, and were surprised to learn later that Kyrie Irving was enlisted to hit a beautiful, charge-avoiding off-glass floater to win the game, with mucho help from Nolanís free throw, Morrisí strange decision not to take a three that would absolutely have gone in for the win, and Andre Dawkins and Ryan Kellyís brilliant denial defense on that last play.

In this space earlier this season, weíve covered that Coach K, because he really cares, has muted many of my criticisms of his approach in recent seasons - - like, say, last year.  I mentioned much earlier this season that one thing that remains, and appears to be the proverbial immovable object, is the insanely studious avoidance of all true OOC games that are not required.  But thereís another, even more insidious Part of Coach Kís Mental Makeup That I Donít Get that I havenít mentioned in a while. 

Stallball.  Now, listen.  Stallball has virtues.  However, its execution by Duke teams on Kís command baffles me.  Since Iím trailing Coach K by about nine Benjamins in the win department, letís consult the following handy chart:

Coach K Stallball
                                         Mattís Suggested Stallball     

Deploy at any moment after 10:00 (2)           Use only in the last four minutes

Have one dude pound a dribble in a corner    Pass the f**king ball around

Do not move before ten on the shot clock     Move around the whole possession
Facing a 1-3-1?  No problem                        Problem!  One guy cannot 
                                                                  go through three defenders 
                                                                  to create a driving shot in eight                                                                   secs

Thereís nothing wrong with taking a little air out of the ball, particularly when you play as hard as Duke does.  It actually makes a lot of sense.  But the above four features of Coach K Stallball are incomprehensible to me.  Right after the Michigan game, I counted at least 30 non-drooling Duke message board posters who came up with the same suggestions, more or less, that I just offered above.  Why can these people all figure this out, and Coach K canít? 

The deployment of Stallball against the 1-3-1 was particularly ridiculous.  Iíll allow that when you have Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving on the court, dribble drives to the basket with ten left to shoot can lead to a lot of good things: layups, fouls, and kickouts to unmolested Dawkins/Curry characters on the wing for wide open threes.  BUT AGAINST A PACKED-IN ZONE, the slasher has to go through the entire opposing team to reach the bucket, which isnít possible in 8-10 seconds, which is why you saw that awesomely horrid shot clock violation, one of the worst ten plays I think Iíve ever seen Duke execute, or fail to execute, adjusting for situational criticality.  Talk about playing not to lose. 

That was the other thing.  Was there some Charlotte city ordinance in effect (wouldnít surprise me) that required us to cooperate with Beelineís game plan, instead of imposing our will on Michigan?  Sure, the Plumlees had some turnovers, including two bad ones early by Mason (thanks to Al White for pointing this out from memory), and seemed a little out of it in this one.  But against a team with no real big men, I think you use them a little more than 33 minutes - - combined.  Donít get me wrong - - I was glad to see a lot of Dawkins, who did a great job on defense for the relatively massive amount of minutes that he played, and as I bumblingly and accidentally predicted, Stu Douglass played 40 minutes of nearly stat-free basketball partly because Duke had a lot of guards out there.  But I still think that any team with three current or former starters that are 6-10 should use them all against a much smaller team.  Smallball by itself didnít really hurt us - - but Smallball combined with Stallball is scarier than the hypothetical spawn of Charlie Sheen and Amy Winehouse.   

Credit to Michigan?
Well, sure!  Nice gameplan.  No doubt.  But if you donít think that Beeline (who pretty much acted like a jerk during the whole game) was sitting there like a kid on Christmas morning as he watched Duke attempt to hand his team the game over the last six-plus - - er, can I ask you to think again?         

More Big Least Department:
Okay, St. Johnís had a key injury, and another handicap in that they are coached by a self-absorbed dolt.  Chris Wright had been hurt for Georgetown.  But seriously - - they get almost a sixth of the field, and manage to shoehorn only two teams into the Sweet Sixteen, which is pretty much the minimum number that they could have gotten in, and which two teams reached by beating other Big East schools to advance from the Round of 32?  What a joke.  I seriously think that the conferenceís entire reputation this season was based on Duke failing to show up against the Red Storm in the Garden.  And since Duke did the same thing, on the same day on the calendar, in 2010 against Georgetown, Iím starting to wonder if Coach K isnít secretly behind all this.  P.S. to JTIII - - stop gaming the RPI via oh-so-clever skedding to inflate the Hoyasí NCAA seeding.  Weíre wise to you.  And my apologies to Official Syracuse Guy and the Notre Dame fans in my close circle of friends; you know that I donít consider your teams part of the Big East anyway.  Louisville, though?  Awful.  Pitt?  Well, that certainly was a great game.  What was Villanova doing in the tournament?  Look, when itís easier and quicker to name the schools in a ďmegaconferenceĒ that didnít get into the NCAAs - - Rutgers, South Florida, DePaul, Seton Hall and Providence - - somethingís wrong.  Iíd also be remiss if I didnít note that Richmond, Virginia got as many teams into the Sweet Sixteen as the Big East did.  By the way, speaking of PC, anyone else think Keno Davis should have stayed at Drake?  Three seasons, and bye-bye.  Dumb move.    

Back to Arizona, If We Might.  Whatís Their Defense All About?
Sean Miller employs the ďpack lineĒ defensive scheme, the invention of which most people credit to Dick Bennett.  Izzo uses it too.  Basically, this is a sagging M2M that attempts to pressure the ball out high, then ďpackĒ the middle (get it?) with defenders who can deny the entry pass into the post and close off the drive even if the initial defender is beaten.  Now, if that sounds a little like a zone, it has some of the same ideas, but itís more like a 2-3 than a 1-3-1, and itís also not particularly strong when the opposing team has more than one player who can drive the bucket.  Also not solved (and, in fact, exacerbated) by the pack line?  Good ball movement and cross-court passes or redirects to players lounging on the wing.  It also allows for few steals since thereís little pressure on anyone but the point guard, and honestly, Iím not sure this Arizona squad is precisely right for the scheme, at least not at all times.  Did you see JíCovan Brown of Texas in the process of inventing faster-than-light travel in the second half in Tulsa on Sunday?  Thatís what I mean.  Moreover, the Hornies missed a pickuptruckload of easy threes that would have come in handy to overcome that eventual one-point final scoring margin.  This defense doesnít worry me.  Oh, and it doesnít work against stallball very well (because there are too many open post men and wing shooters as the defense starts to collapse on the penetrating ballhandler, and because itís hard to come out of a pack line and go into a traditional M2M), which, hopefully, is going to be a nice problem to have.     

Two or Three (?) Sabermetric Stats about Arizona:
- Opposing teams made 50.6% of their two-point shots against the Wildcats this season; only 64 teams in Div I were worse, including no NCAA Tournament teams.  In addition, only four teams in the country recorded a higher percentage of total points scored by the opposition on two-point shots
- UAís foes got 59.5% of their points this way.  The four teams whose opponents recorded a higher percentage of their total points on twos were LIU-Brooklyn, Delaware State, DePaul, and . . . Duke.  Interesting!  However, the significant difference here is that Dukeís nemeses made just 42.9% of their two-point shots - - 15th in the country.  So both teams play defense that forces two-point shots rather than threes, but Duke does a far, far better job of defending those attempts.     
- Flipping things around now, only 34 teams in the country scored a lower percentage of their total points from two-point land than teh Kittehs - - because they made a lot of threes and Williams made so many free throws.  This is not a high-scoring, drive-the-bucket-and-post-you-up-in-transition team.     
- Theyíre #281 or worse (out of 345) in forcing or benefiting from opposing turnovers, blocks per possession, and steals per possession. 

Two (?) Weird or (Un)Cool Tidbits
- Arizonaís estimated RPI strength of schedule this season was 51.  Dukeís was 30, which wasnít real great, but Arizonaís was an order of magnitude or two worse.      
- Arizona went 2-5 against the Top 50 in the RPI, while Duke was 8-2.
- Kyle Singler is now one of only three Blue Devils ever to score 600 points in three consecutive seasons.  The others?  Art Heyman and Christian Laettner.  Can you imagine if this guy regains his confidence?  

Duke Appraisal:
The players did very well, and served notice that they were not going to be frazzled by a Michigan team that, admittedly, got better as the season went on (but was certainly no juggernaut).  Then the coaches and Stallball or SmallStallball or StallSmallball took over, and it was just torture to watch.  If anyone affiliated with Duke was anywhere near Tim Hardaway on any of those late, awful-for-us possessions when he just mounted his own personal game of horse, I missed them. 

I thought that Kyrie continued to integrate himself well into the offense, although Iím just about ready for him to take over at the point, because while Nolan knows how to play off the ball in Dukeís offense, Kyrie really doesnít.  Or alternate them according to some seemingly random, but actually preprogrammed scheme.  Curry and Dawkins should come in as a relief tandem or singly.  And speaking of Kyle Singler, time for him to stop taking threes.  Just go inside and bang a little bit.  Shoot midrange jumpers.  Get confidence by making a couple of easy ones early, then shoot one three and see how it goes.  Dawkins, by the way, needs to shoot later in the clock and with more time to release.  Ryan Kelly is back after a few games of subpar play, and boy did he come in handy against Michigan.  I expect to see him here, because he is showing all of us that he can defend the 6-7 wing player, and Arizona has several of that variety.  I have several hunches about this game, but one of them is that we could see a sterling defensive effort from the Blue Devils. 

Who Is Blathering Over The Sound of the Game?
CBS - - Lundquist and Raftery.  I canít stand Raftery but I know that Iím in the minority on this for some reason.  Hereís his typical formula for a game:

Bizarre mantoman screech + plenty of adoration for big men + weird, attempted-cutesy expressions + comment about who paid for dinner last night + slavering adulation for the coaches (this will be particularly nauseating during the early Anaheim game featuring two of Rafís good, ethical pals, Fisher and Calgoon) + dumb things screamed in a womanís voice + joking with Lundquist about Verneís sexual appetite and proclivities or something (I donít try to understand) + one or two game insights

Not my bag.  Lundquist, on the other hand, is an excellent game announcer, and Iím glad that CBS continues to use him.  I forgot to mention, to this point, how disappointed I am that Dick Stockton didnít draw any NCAA assignments under the new rubric, but I guess someone had to do the NBA games.  Well, wife Lesley Visser will be on hand, and sheís been doing a good job from what Iíve seen.     

Nolan and Kyrie Department:
I imagine that Kyrie is going to start in this one, which makes good sense after another three days of practice and two gamesí worth of conditioning.  Nolan was awesome in putting the team on his back during that personal 10-0 run after Coach Kís very well-placed timeout.  If we have a late lead, skip the stallball here and just let these guys play until the game is obviously in the can.

Bottom Line This For Me, Please:
The four guys that concern me are the four 6-6 and up wing players - - Perry, Parrom, Hill, and Horne.  Those four players are all very Baylor-like, meaning that they remind me of our regional final opponent last season, and we donít have Lance Thomas around to cut them off.  However, of the four of them, only Hill is a seriously consistent scoring threat, and he should be contained by Singlerís continued excellent defense. 

Then thereís the three-point shooting; the Wildcats are better at arcsmanship in terms of percentage than we are, at least slightly.  Williams makes about one triple a game, Natyazhko hardly ever shoots it but canít be left alone, Mayes is at 46.3% and Parrom and Horne are above 40%.  Perry, Jones, Fogg, Hill, and Lavender, in increasing order of percentage, all shoot 30% or better from distance, so basically, all ten guys can shoot it - - but with denial defense, which is critical here, they might not.  Only Fogg, who makes 1.3 triples a game, is over 1.1 (which is what Horne and Mayes are averaging); Williams and Parrom are exactly at one make an outing and everyone else is below that.  To put this in context, Irving, Smith, Singler, Dawkins, and Curry are all making between 1.6 and 1.8 threes a game.  Over a 36-game period (the same for each team), thatís a significant difference - - and Irving, Curry, and Dawkins have better percentages than everyone on Arizona other than Mayes and the big men.  Put another way, Fogg leads Arizona with 47 made threes this season.  For Duke, Nolan has made 57, Kyle (for all his struggles, especially lately, with his accuracy) 60, Andre 63 and Seth 64.  Plus, Iím not sure that Arizona saw much three-point defense like Dukeís in the Pac-10 this season.  The Cougars of Wazzu (heading to the Garden for the NIT semis) actually bested Duke by a hair in three-point percentage (31.6% for Duke, 36th in the nation, while Washington State was at 31.4% and 29th), but no other team in the Pac-10 other than WSU and Arizona itself was better than #81 in Division I at denying the three, and four teams (the Bay Area schools and the Oregon schools) were at #271 or worse.  UA went from December 23 to March 17 without playing outside that lousy-defending Pac-10, so this is probably somewhat relevant.  (Also, the Kittens shot 5-19 from three against Memphis, before hitting 8-14 against the Horndogs.)          

Look, Duke ought to clown these guys.  The Michigan game was weird because of the zones: the Wolverinesí, and the distant, echoing one that our teamís coaching staff was apparently in during the last six-and-a-half minutes.  If we can get back to playing our game, defend the perimeter, get Kyrie, Nolan, and Kyle into a rhythm, and garner some strong defensive contributions from the inside players, we ought to take this.  Letís go, Duke!!   

The Missing Link(s):
Arizonaís roster.
Arizonaís stats.
Arizonaís state-issued propaganda.   
And now, try this for something more refreshing, with the proper shade of blue, highly interesting and more pertinent for our purposes.

Score Prediction:
Duke 82, Arizona 72.

Other ACC Action
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 90, Marquette 72.
Florida State 68, Virginia Commonwealth 66.

Last Edition
Matt 1-3

This Season:
Matt 52-17
Guests 3-3



View more articles from this category


Posted by: London Dukie Date: 3/27/2011 7:23:25 PM  
Nicely done Matt - and thank you! Now I can't decide which would be better - Butler in a second straight final game or VCU there against all the odds. I guess Butler would probably have a better chance of taking UConn or Kentucky, but anyone betting against VCU after what they've done so far is a braver man than me...

Posted by: Matt Date: 3/27/2011 7:17:21 PM  
Payments for the antiwoofing can be sent to a Swiss bank account to be announced shortly.

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/27/2011 7:06:08 PM  
Team Of Destiny no more (thank god!)

Posted by: London Dukie Date: 3/26/2011 10:57:47 PM  
My last comment appears to have disappeared into the ether, but I raised the same points as Andrew and Fats. I am appalled that I find myself rooting for Kentucky tomorrow, and if that doesn't come through then I will be on side with (I can barely bring myself to type this)...UConn. Christ. After that pain rooting for Kansas (probably) is most bearable. Pulling for Butler, of course, is not uncomfortable at all, but I cannot see them topping Carolina.

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/26/2011 9:05:58 PM  
Oh, and the Raftery bit was on the money, though I still like him a lot. Not sure what he said about lunch this go round, as the game made me mostly deaf.

What is it with five seeds in the sweet sixteen?

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/26/2011 8:16:03 PM  
I just logged in to change my mind about Team of Destiny, but I see Andrew beat me to it. I, for one, bow down to our pre-cognitive Dukie overlord. I really cannot believe that the final eight has sorted out so that I'm rooting for Kentucky AND Arizona.

In related news, Arizona cannot hit mother-scratchin' *open* three pointers to save their lives tonight.

Posted by: Andrew Hicks Date: 3/26/2011 3:28:08 PM  
Meanwhile, the waters continue to part before the Team of Destiny. Matt, you called it:

ďFinally, if anyone reading this hasn't figured out yet that the North Carolina-Chapel Hill Tar Heels, via every lucky break imaginable for the past two months and continuing, a naturally and imminently favorable NCAA bracket (probably featuring at least two teams who have injuries to vital players), and the prospect of the first two NCAA games at a facility that offers a better homecourt to them than their actual base of operations, are going to win the 2011 national title, you'd better start preparing yourself. They are.Ē
(M. TwoDukies, 3/12/2011)

Posted by: London Dukie Date: 3/26/2011 7:12:37 AM  
Matt, thanks for another great season. And big thanks to Kyle and Nolan; like other posters said, they have been great, and Nolan this year has been one of my favourite Duke players.

On a less positive note, Matt's prediction re: UNC in the tournament is getting too close to reality for my liking. Their bracket has just opened up for them. When their opponents aren't handing them the game with mental collapses, they get every team's anti-PSBAD (why did Marquette even bother to suit up if they weren't going to try?). Let's hope Kansas can stop them in the final, because I don't see Kentucky doing it, nor 'zona or UConn. Oh man, UConn v UNC? That's a "bus crash" game if I've ever seen one...

Posted by: blueflame Date: 3/25/2011 3:07:02 PM  
Thanks to Kyle and Nolan for 4 incredible years. In retrospect, this was a bizarre year. We had three teams: pre-toe injury with Irving - without Irving - post-toe injury with Irving. They were all different teams. Sadly, it was the pre-toe injury team at the beginning that played at the highest level. The team without Kyrie was good, and Nolan blossomed. They were good, not great. The team with Kyrie in post season was inconsistent. Yes, it was just a few games, and I personally thought that the team chemistry would be would be challenging. It just seemed that the post-season team never regained what they had in those first ten games. Despite the 30+ victories, it was a strange year that ended with a head- scratching loss.

Posted by: Dan Smith Date: 3/25/2011 1:37:18 PM  
Thanks to all the players esp the seniors. Thanks to Matt for this great site. This was one of those games where we (Duke) could do no right (2nd Half) and the wildkittens could do no wrong. Would have like to seen us try to do something to stop the dribble drive and kick out (zone?) but they did hit almost all of their shots. Just like the AAC T championship game when we made a move they hit a 3! I hope ( know it won't happen) that all come back and make another run in the ncaas.

Posted by: Serious G Date: 3/25/2011 1:14:33 PM  
A rough night, and rough morning. However difficult the ending was, thanks to the team for the ACC title and a 30+ win year.

More importantly, thank you Kyle Singler (numbers aside, the toughest Blue Devil I have had the chance to watch) and Nolan Smith (amazing improvement over his 4 years and one of the most likeable athletes in memory). Best of luck in the pros to them both, they will be missed.

Posted by: Mark Buckner Date: 3/25/2011 8:58:16 AM  
I'll skip my thoughts on the game as the points of emphasis have been adequately mentioned. Instead, thank you Matt for another year. Your work is greatly appreciated, and let's not hear anymore 'retirement talk' out of you!

Posted by: Andrew Hicks Date: 3/25/2011 8:35:28 AM  
I had to listen to this one on radio, and was mostly getting the Butler game (congrats to them on their win) with occasional cutaways to Duke. So I entirely missed the collapse early in the second half; last the radio people had mentioned, Duke was ahead, and all of a sudden they are down by eleven?

I'm glad that Kyle had a solid game, especially in the first half. It was good to see (well, hear) Kyrie play well. He and Nolan kept on playing hard right to the end. It seemed to me that there was an element of PS BAD at work, and I expect Arizona to collapse next game against the despicable Connvicts (as Jake just said).

It makes me appreciate again how special LT and Zoubek were last year, and Scheyer. As good as this year's team was, last year's seniors added an intangible dimension that was missing this year.

Towards the end, the radio guys kept talking about how this is ďprobably Irving's last game in a Duke uniform,Ē with hardly a mention that it really was Singler and Smith's last game. It was pretty disgusting.

Matt, thank you for an outstanding season of TwoDukies. Nolan, Kyle, and Casey, thank you for all that you have done these four years. As others have said, Nolan is right at the top of my list of all-time favorite Duke players.

Posted by: Jake Date: 3/25/2011 7:52:12 AM  
A sad way to end a fine season, but we can try to be philosophical about it -- every team but one goes home sad. When it's survive-and-move-on time, if you lose it doesn't really matter how. I won't be surprised to see Arizona lose by 20 on Saturday, not that it matters.

A great career for Nolan and Kyle. Many thanks for the years we got to see them play for Duke.

Next year, who knows? But it'll be interesting as always. I don't expect we'll see the success of the last two years repeated right away, but we'll be eager to find out.

Most importantly, thanks to Matt for sticking with this site. It's made the whole year very much more fun for me. Great job.

Till next time.

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/25/2011 12:53:04 AM  
Frustrating. As someone else said, it was St. John's Part II. Feel bad for Nolan and Kyle...NdotSmitty may have moved to the top of my list of favorite Duke players ever. Certainly in the top 3 or 4. Wish it could have ended better for him.

Thanks to Matt as well. This was one of the most enjoyable years to read this site. The new format was outstanding and the commentary was awesome as usual. I'll miss it in the offseason.

So...anyone know who's scheduled for our 3rd game next season?

Posted by: SanFranSoxFan Date: 3/25/2011 12:34:51 AM  
No anger, no recriminations, no regrets. Beat by a better team on this night, as happens in more NCAA tourneys than not. My hope is that Kyle and Nolan have no regrets about coming back. Still two team from the ACC going, one of whom I hope goes deep.

Great season all. Hope we see you back next season, Matt!

Posted by: Karl Beem Date: 3/25/2011 12:28:31 AM  
Easily the most bizarre Duke game I've ever seen.

Posted by: Matt Date: 3/25/2011 12:26:47 AM  
First off, thanks to Kyle, Nolan, and Casey for fantastic careers. Three-time ACC champions and a national title. Awesome achievement.

Duke just didn't have it tonight, but it's hard to find too many obvious scapegoats. If an opposing team shoots about 90%, I'm not sure there's much you can do. A little more active coaching in the second half would have been nice, but what are you going to do? I'll just say this: maybe someday we'll figure out that we need more 6-6 and 6-7 wing players, need to play more than seven (max eight) guys, and could benefit from some tough road games outside the ACC. But those are just one person's ideas and nothing would have solved what happened tonight.

A real shame.

Thanks to everyone for reading and especially commenting. I enjoyed it. Take care, everybody!

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/25/2011 12:11:38 AM  
I hear you Fats and echo Tom and KD's thanks to Matt and to Kyle and Nolan. I am most hurt for them. Nolan had a really bad game and I know that is NOT how he wanted to end his career. Kyle hustled hard in this one.

We, as fans, are all disappointed but this is the end of their college careers, the real shame in all of this. I thank them both, and Casey, for their dedication, efforts and absolute class as young men. You are all shining examples of the "student athlete" and I wish you all the best in the future. You will all be missed.

Posted by: Dave Date: 3/25/2011 12:11:00 AM  
I'm just floored at how quickly we folded. Arizona hit some tough, tough shots to make their run, got some bounces their way, and we just...quit. WTF?

Posted by: Fats "Lazer" Durston Date: 3/25/2011 12:05:49 AM  

Posted by: KD Date: 3/25/2011  
Thanks, Nolan, and thanks Kyle. You are both class acts. Best of luck at the next level. Thanks, Matt for another great year.

Posted by: KD Date: 3/24/2011 11:51:44 PM  
Replay of St. John's? Really? Didn't think Nolan woudl let this happen. Kyle tried but just blown off the court. Wow. What an awful ending for two such great kids. Maybe we can channel Jason Williams for 10 3's in the last two minutes.

Posted by: tom Date: 3/24/2011 11:49:31 PM  
Thanks Matt for everything. Thank you seniors. Off season and next season should be interesting. Won't get into the other stuff no need to. Glad I'm off from work tomorrow and reason number 833 why I need to move to Colorado.

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/24/2011 11:41:27 PM  
OH MY GOD. Now it's Coot...

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/24/2011 11:40:50 PM  
I am just nauseous. They have given up. Dawkins when he was blown past? Dejected. Kyle on that last slam? Floored (granted, he can't give the foul). They have just given up. And I am sick. Yes, there have been a few very bad calls by the refs but this, right now, is our own doing....

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/24/2011 11:33:10 PM  

Posted by: Josh Date: 3/24/2011 11:21:54 PM  
Hey, I have an idea. Let's drive wildly and take an off-balance shot, leading to a run out for them.

&*@$($^&*#($^ am I pissed right now.

Posted by: Jake Date: 3/24/2011 10:48:50 PM  
Who the &^(*!!# is this guy Williams? Another stupid personal superbowl performance against Duke. Is he really going to score 50 points in this game? Geez Louise.

Well, if we keep playing as well as we have been in the first half -- we should be up by 15 points -- we can play it out.

At least they started calling some fouls against Arizona in the last couple minutes.


Posted by: KD Date: 3/24/2011 9:51:39 PM  
I have absolutely no feel for this game at all. It seems like we should be in good shape on paper, but sweet 16 games always seem scary given the brutal stretch in the middle of the last ten years. I really like our chances on Saturday, but I sense an ugly and tight game tonight. I hope I am wrong. Great call on importance of Plumlees - absolutely have to come up big tonight. Go Duke!

Posted by: ClemsonGuest Date: 3/24/2011 9:33:32 PM  
I was wondering what you'd say about the Smallball. I've only seen four Duke games in their entirety all season, but I was quite shocked at the length of time when RK and both Plumdogs were on the bench at once (i.e. at all).

Please please PLEASE Duke, win this game. In the name of all that's sane in the world, we can't leave the vital responsibility of eviscerating the DisgHuskies to a bunch of desert dimwits. (Thanks for nothing, Aztecs.)

Posted by: dan Date: 3/24/2011 8:40:26 PM  
Matt I knew there was something to your score prediction. Took way to long to realize that was 2001 championship game score.

Hope that SDSU can finish off Uconn.

Posted by: Al White Date: 3/24/2011 8:16:08 PM  
Incredible preview!! The Wildcats are a typical Pac-10 team in that they are athletic and quick but small. Where they got the edge in their conference was that they shoot better than their rivals and they have big DW. If we play 40 minutes of defense, we'll win by between 10 and 20, depending on how well we shoot.

Wonder if we'll get to see bitter old Loot the Coot on hand tonight. Maybe he and Bruce Pearly can go into some sleazy business together.

Posted by: Jake Date: 3/24/2011 7:11:49 PM  

You are still large and in charge. Nice work!

As for the game: it's like Tiger Woods used to be: when he played his game the way he was capable of playing, no one -- NO ONE -- could beat him.

If our guys play the game the way they are capable of playing, Arizona goes down big. Early keys will be as expected -- are we shooting too many quick 3s and not making them? Are our bigs getting into foul trouble? Are we allowing too much easy penetration? Are we getting turnovers and transition points? By minute 5 we'll know if it's going to be a cake walk. By minute 10 we'll know if it's going to be struggle. By half time we'll know if we're going to be clawing out of a hole.

I have great vibes about this game. I think we'll come to play. I think Matt's score prediction is about right.

Go Duke!

Posted by: London Dukie Date: 3/24/2011 7:04:44 PM  
Let me start out by echoing Matt's distaste for Raftery. I f*cking hate that guy. He is a complete imbecile and compounds his ignorance by his annoying delivery. I don't see much ball over here, but I cannot think of another announcer I like less. I would take 10 games of Elmore over 1 of Raftery, and that's saying something.

Also, I share CDG's joy at having missed the second half of the Michigan game. I was periodically checking for updates on my phone and found the lead was shrinking much faster than the time left was. I didn't know it was our good buddy "Stallball" back in town and up to his old tricks, but I had a suspicion. In fact, when Kyle missed his third straight FT in the first half I said I had a bad feeling about the game, and I was delighted to be proven wrong (which is not my usual reaction)1

Tip for this one is around 130 local time and as it's a school night, I'm going to miss it. Let's hope I wake up tomorrow to an Elite Eight berth!

Let's go Duke!!

Posted by: tom Date: 3/24/2011 3:16:44 PM  
Got my note on my chair stating "I may not be here today (Friday, March 24th). If I'm not, we all know why." I hope I'll be at work tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

Posted by: The Short Fuse Date: 3/24/2011 2:35:33 PM  
Great preview Matt! :) Go Duke!!!!

Posted by: CDG Date: 3/24/2011 2:01:30 PM  
Oh! I totally forgot to relay a very funny incident from my vacation. I was lounging by the pool in a Duke hat (one of many that I have) and this guy comes over to me and asks if I am an alum. I say, no, just a fan and ask if he is. Turns out, he's a NC State alum. He was really funny though because he said he preferred seeing my hat to the jerk in the lobby wearing UNC colors!!! Then we had a long talk about how much we hate the Tools. That's what travel is all about: pissing on your rivals in another country. :)

Posted by: dan Date: 3/24/2011 1:34:16 PM  
Awesome preview Matt.

Thinking about Miles and Mason guarding Williams on the perimeter is somewhat troubling. They've committed unnecessary fouls while guarding the ball after switching on the screens and haven't been that consistent in keeping the ball in front of them. Down low they have the advantage as the size of Texas bothered Williams.

Williams does turn the ball over with 90+ turnovers to 40 assists, so a strong double team may lead to turnovers and easy baskets for Duke.

Lets see the Duke team from the ACC tournament.


Posted by: CDG Date: 3/24/2011 1:18:08 PM  

So I spend the first and second rounds (or is that first, second and third rounds??? Did I mention I HATE this change???) in sunny Mexico where ESPN Dos was only broadcasting a few games in Espanol, at night because "futball" was on during the day, and none from the West Coast bracket, so I was in the dark on Dukes first two games. Opening my cell phone once I returned North of two borders, I learned via text that Kyrie was playing (!!!) and that we almost lost to MI (wha?????).

I have now gotten up to date via Matt's amazing pre-cap/re-caps here and am feeling a bit lucky since I didn't have to witness first-hand the last 10 minutes of Sunday's outing. I am sure I would have been on the verge of a coronary.

I did see the FSU game though - wow! Although my Spanish-speaking skills have gone way downhill since I lived in Costa Rica 9 years ago, the voice-overs seemed to be just as shocked as I was at the total domination over ND. Wow. ACC down year and all...

Anyway, I am really looking forward to watching this one. From viewing the Top 5 plays on DBP, it looks like Nolan continues to dish out some amazing assists and generally make a case for NPOY, that the Plumtrees are seriously holding their own, and that Kyrie is looking awesome after riding the pine most of the season. I couldn't be happier to be a fan!


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