Some things are just meant to be I guess. The Blue Devils shot under 40% twice in three games, including 35% against Georgia Tech, yet still manage to win this tournament for the ninth time in twelve seasons.
Of course it helps to not face a seed higher than seven.
I’m going to make this post-game a little quick. I want to turn my attention to the NCAA Tournament, where I’ll have posts almost every day this week.
SO WHAT DID I SEE TODAY?
WHO NEEDS BASKETS?
Six shots. That’s all Duke made in the second half (18 for the game). Yet they never surrendered the lead the Yellow Jackets. How is that possible? Free throws, baby. Duke dominated on the line. For the game they were 24-28 from the charity stripe. Most importantly, they made their final 21 free throws. Amazing. Just think, if they shot 75% in those final 21 attempts, Duke probably loses this game.
THE BIG TWO CAN’T SHOOT
While Nolan Smith continued to roll (when he wasn’t sitting on the pine again with two fouls). He finished with 16 on 7-13 shooting. Singler and Scheyer though, not good. The pair combined for 7-28 from the field, 2-11 from three.
For Scheyer, it’s been a brutal three-game stretch. He was 13-41 from the field (32%) and his three-point average has fallen below 40% for the season. This is not a good time to find yourself in a slump.
In the end though both Scheyer and Singler made up for the misses. Singler did his damage on the free throw line. He was 13-13 in the second half. Scheyer of course, with Ga Tech on a nine-point run, down one with 18 seconds left, nailed a huge 3 that sealed the game for the Devils.
WHERE’S THE INSIDE SCORING?
I know we’re the big three and all, but no shots inside the paint for Zoubek and Thomas? None. Not once did the twosome receive a pass inside and try to make a move and make a basket. Zoubek sort of took one shot with a minute to go when he found himself alone under the basket. Of course instead of just going up for a dunk, he goofed off and was fouled. Luckily, he made them both.
DAWKINS HAS A MOMENT
If any one player deserves a moment. it’s Andre. Heading into the conference final, Dawkins had failed to hit a shot, but in a two-minute span, he hit three baskets, two three’s and one amazing drive and dunk through the heart of the Jackets’ D. It was a great moment for a kid who’s had to work so hard this season.
That’s really all I got for now. I have a lot more to say, but I’m going to wait until I talk about the NCAA Tournament. Congratulations Blue Devils on another ACC Tournament. It certainly wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, every team gave Duke a contest to the very end, even though their seeding told us otherwise.
Six more wins!
Go ahead and raise those hands if you had North Carolina State, Miami and Georgia Tech in the semifinals. I got Ga Tech right and I did have both NC State and Miami in the quarterfinals, but this is getting silly.
Is this league really that bad? If so, is Duke not as good as I think they are?
No 1 DUKE OVER No 9 VIRGINIA, 57-46
Even though I watched the game and even posted on it yesterday, I still did a double-take when I looked at the score. 57 points in a win? Jesus.
I’ve said all I could say about the game last night, so I’m going to point you to someone else. Last night, I mentioned how Len Elmore jumped on to the ‘Jon Scheyer is tired’ script early and often. Over at the Truth Begins, they’ve gone out of their way to prove Len wrong and they even put it in graph form.
Check it out. All I want to add is, just look at Jon’s three-point shooting. If he was getting tired, should that be what’s in decline?
No 7 GEORGIA TECH OVER No 2 MARYLAND, 69-64
The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 19-pt lead (16 at halftime) and held on late for a predicable win over Maryland. The fact is, the Terps don’t do well when they’re the favorite, at least in this tournament.
Although I have to point out, Georgia Tech did everything in their power to let this game slip away (literally). The Jackets turned it over 25 freaking times. Maryland in fact took 25 more shots, but couldn’t find the bucket if you slapped them in the face with it. The Terps shot 37% from the floor.
In a tournament that has featured some bad shooting performances, Sean Mosley was 0-7 from the field. Of course ACC Player of the Year looked nothing like a POY. Vasquez struggled from the floor (6-21, 2-11 from three), turning the ball over five times.
Of course it was fitting that Maryland lost in the end on the last of Vasquez’s five turnovers. Something tells me people are now fleeing that bandwagon. (more…)
Its becoming tradition, winning ugly that is. Duke’s done it so much this season, I’m not even phased by it anymore. Tonight, at least four a half, if not more, was an ugly win. Virginia had no business hanging with the No 4 team in the nation, yet there they were, with 6:24 to play, rolling on a 9-0 run, Duke up only by two. Ugly but a W.
Of course, Big Duke Balls likes to look at the big picture and when I say big picture, I’m talking about the basketball landscape. Duke wasn’t the only top team to struggle with their first game in conference. Kentucky fell behind Alabama, Ohio State needed a 37-foot miracle to end Michigan’s awful season and the top two teams in the Big East (Cuse/Nova) came crashing down yesterday. Hell, Maryland went down to Georgia Tech (which made me giddy).
The fact is, these games aren’t easy. Top teams really don’t have much to play for, except for pride and maybe a one spot bump in their NCAA seeding. The underdogs, they got everything to play for. One more defeat and the season is over.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
THE BIG THREE WORKED IN SHIFTS
This is the beauty of having a “Big Three,” if one player is off, you still got two other guys who can put up 20+. Tonight, while everyone on the court couldn’t buy a basket in the first half, Nolan Smith personally kept Duke in the game. He had 11 points thanks to the dribble drive. In fact, from 12:23 to 4:34 (that’s eight minutes, folks) he was the only Blue Devil to make a shot.
In the second half, Kyle Singler took over. He scored 12 of Duke’s first 15 points in the second half, doing it in a variety of ways; drives, threes and some offensive rebounding.
Then at the end, with Duke looking to put it away, Jon Scheyer finally hit some shots, after a rough game. He scored seven of Duke’s nine points late, turning a four-point lead into a 13-point cushion. Speaking of Scheyer… (more…)
Hey, look who picked three out of the four games tonight. Not bad, I usually bat about .500 at best in this predicting thing. Of course this isn’t about me, this is about the brave young men who play basketball in the ACC. So what happened?
Some upsets, that’s what happened. Three of the four lower seeds advanced to the quarterfinals. Of course, we warned you yesterday that something like this would happen. Not that I need to remind you, but since the league switched to 11 and 12 seeds, the bottom seeds have performed better than the higher seeds in the opening day.
With seeds #9-12 going 3-1 tonight, the lower seeds are now 13-10 against seeds #5-12.
No 9 VIRGINIA OVER No 8 BOSTON COLLEGE, 68-62
This is the one I missed and I still don’t understand it. Seriously, who saw the Cavaliers ending their nine-game slide tonight, without their best player, Sylven Landesberg?
The fact is, the Cavs returned to slow-mo ball, frustrating Boston College, while running a perfectly balanced offense. Sammy Zegliniski led the way with 21, but five Cavaliers scored in double figures.
For the Eagles, Joe Trapani picked a nice night to go cold. Did I say cold? I meant frozen. The “Ice Man” was 0-7 from the floor. Of course the turning point in the game was late in the first half. Up six, B.C. scored a total of four points in the finals 10 minutes of the half, allowing TIna Fey’s alma mater to turn a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead.
One thing I hate to do on this site is make predictions. Yet that has never stopped me from doing them. God bless America.So here I am again, ready to give you my thoughts on some upcoming game/tournament.
Of course I could sit here and tell you all about each team in detail, explain to you why so-and-so will suddenly get hot, why that guy will lose his jumper, how that coach will screw that up and guarantee you some mind blowing upset…but I’m not.
I’m an old-school gambler and one thing us old-timers love is history. So I’m going to look in the past to tell you the future. And yes, I’m going to deliver the same line I do every time I do this…these “predictions” should be completely ignored.
So What do we know about the ACC Tournament?
We know that Duke and North Carolina have won it a lot (17 times each), but that doesn’t really help us. They’re two original league members, of course they’re going to have a stack of conference titles.
Hell, if you just based it on team’s history, then you would have to argue that South Carolina, who won the ACC crown back in 1971, has a better shot than Florida State, Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech.Of course this would be difficult since the Cocks play in the SEC (traitors!).
While I can certainly judge teams by their recent performances, the fact is, I believe in seeding and the history seeding results can tell us. And when I say history, I mean recent history. Sorry, I don’t care about who won want in 1962. They didn’t even let blacks in the league then. Nothing counts.
I am going to look back at the tournament dating back to 1985. This was the year the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams, thus losing in the tournament no longer meant the end of the season (excluding the N.I.T.). (more…)
UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! WE HAVE A WINNER! NO NEED TO ANSWER ANY MORE.
That’s right, folks. I got ‘em, you want ‘em. Actually what I have is a pair of tickets for the ACC Championship game, this Sunday. The seats are located in the 200 section. The deal is, I wanted to go, I was planning to go, but a family event has come up and I won’t be able to leave town to attend. This has left me with a pair of Finals tickets.
And I’m going to give them away, today, to you, the loyal reader. Actually, I don’t care if you’re that loyal. Here is how it works…
I’m going to ask three question about myself/this blog. All three answers can be found on this site…somewhere. If you’re a long-time reader (all six of you) or you just know how to use the “Search” tool, you should be able to answer all the questions easily.
The FIRST person to answer the three questions in the comment section correctly, wins the tickets. I will mail them out ASAP. Be sure to post your email in the comments, so I can contact you if you win.
Please, please, please…if you don’t/can’t go, please don’t answer the questions…only serious people who can get to the arena should try.
Alright, good luck. The questions are…
1) Last year I attended a game courtside. During that game I shot from my seat and later posted fantastic video of Gerald Henderson dunking the basketball. Who was Duke playing in that game? Hint: MSG, but not SJU.
2) Wich team did I have ranked No 1 in my week one Ballsy ACC Rankings?
3) Last off-season I was concerned about Duke going after John Wall. At the time I thought he would clearly end up with Calipari (who was still at Memphis). At the time, I suggested Duke should try to get another incoming guard, a young kid out of Alabama. Who was this kid?
Filed under: ACC Tournament | Tags: ACC Tournament Champs, Duke vs Florida State
Listen, I’m not going to bore you with a ton of details about Duke’s victory over Florida State like I normally would. I’ll give you a few thoughts, but let’s go ahead and just relax and enjoy Duke’s ninth ACC Tournament Title in the last 12 years.
There should be no more doubt whether this team is good enough or mature enough to go deep in this season’s NCAA Tournament. This year’s team relies on the experience of upperclassmen (four juniors, two seniors play in the regular rotation) to get them over the humps and bumps that occur during the games. Things can go wrong, but this team won’t fold. They can let a team shoot 18-26 from the floor in the second half, but still win quite easily because they only turn it over a total of four times. Players like Zoubek can come in and defend a big man, or do an excellent job defending the high screens. When the three stops working, a player like Nolan can come in and take it to the hole. Most importantly, this team has stars, three in fact, and two always seem to step it up in any game. Today against FSU, it was Hendeson and Scheyer producing 56 points. In fact, lets go ahead and rant a little about this game.
- The big men came up big. Zoubek, Thomas and McClure all play solid minutes today against the much taller Seminoles and all three played a part in this victory. the three combined for 19 huge rebounds, 10 of which were offensive. Lance Thomas grabbed eight total boards, six offensive, all coming in the first half. Zoubek also came in and shut Alabi down.
- How frustrating did the Seminoles look every time Henderson hit one of his long 18-foot two’s? Think about it. You get him to take the exact shot you want him to take, the longest two possible, yet he kept nailing them.
- Singler played a total of 120 minutes in the ACC tournament. I’m not sure why Coach didn’t find him some time to rest, especially today when Duke was rolling. I know he says he’s fresh and ready, but in the second half, he sure didn’t look it. He missed (I think) eight straight at one point
- Elliot my man, you’ve been great for Duke this year, but you can’t get gun shy. Today he went 0-2, again passing up open shots early. If this continues in the tournament, he’s going to keep losing minutes, especially if Nolan keeps playing well.
- Four turnovers. Four freaking turnovers. I didn’t actually see the last one, but the first three were all of offensive foul calls. That means the league’s #1 defense, didn’t get one steal or force a simple fumbling of the ball. Nothing. Pretty damn good for a team without a true point guard on the floor.
- Tony Douglas scored 28, on 10-19 shooting, but don’t be fooled by the stat line. A lot came late in the game, when Duke was just trying to make free throws and not foul to wrap up the contest. When it mattered, Duke held Douglas to 5-13 shooting. In the final three minutes, he made five of his last six shots.
- One concern heading into the tournament is free throw shooting. As the year has gone on, Duke’s free throw average has slowly crept down. At best, they’re an average team. Henderson seems to be struggling the most (or at least, he’s the most important player who shouldn’t be struggling). He twice missed the front ends of a one-and-one. As team, Duke has been missing too many late in games. It was the one reason Florida State made it interesting at the end. In fact, during the 4-minute t0 the 1:25 mark, Duke made only 6-11 free throws. Luckily, they recovered and hit their last seven.
Anyhow, that’s it for today. Lets just celebrate now. Time for me to start our 2009 Tournament Predictions (that should be completely ignored). Hoping to have our first and second-round predictions Monday night.
Filed under: ACC Tournament, Duke Recap | Tags: ACC Tournament, Duke, Maryland
Duke has no inside game. Duke relies on the three too much. Duke can’t guard the perimeter. Duke can’t rebound with the best. Duke will run out of gas in the tournament. I can go on and on. There are plenty of reasons to not like this year’s Blue Devils squad. However, there’s one thing you can like. There’s one reason Duke keeps pulling out these games. There’s one thing that can propel Duke to the next level…maturity.
Over the last eight games (except for the UNC game), Duke’s experience has handed them big wins. In each game, the Devils played neck-and-neck for thirty minutes, only to pull away in the final ten.
- How about this stat…Duke shot 40% (9-22) from behind the three, and only 33% (11-33) from inside the arc.
- Is the Elliot Williams experience over? Yes, I’m being a litte quick to the trigger. However, with Maryland’s D collapsing into the paint, Duke benched the gun-shy Elliot, inserting Nolan Smith, who played 30 minutes to Elliot’s 15. While neither got hot (Smith 3-8, Williams 1-4), Maryland respected Smith’s shot more and were forced to actually guard him. Look for Elliot to keep starting for the remainder of the season, but if he can’t step up, Nolan will get the majority of the minutes.
- While Henderson struggled again from the floor (3-14 today, 5-12 yesterday), Scheyer stepped up again big time, leading all scorers with 22. Think about how good he was. Singler and Henderson went a combined 6-26 today, yet Duke still beat Maryland.
- Is Duke the Vasquez killer? Three times Duke has shut down the solid Terps guard. For the season, Vasquez is 13-38 from the floor (1-7 from three), only 11 assists to 10 turnovers.
- Not sure about the refs in this game. For whatever reason, they decided to swallow their whistles, letting a lot of things slide (on both sides). With under three to play, neither team was in the bonus yet. In fact, prior to when Maryland just started to foul on purpose at the 1:30 mark, the two teams had taken a combined 19 free throws (Duke 10, Maryland 9).
- Could the game be any more even? The two teams each pulled down 28 rebounds, 11 asssists, and four blocks. However, for the second straight game, Duke fumbled defensive rebounds out of bounds. This explains why Maryland got eight more shots than Duke.
- David McClure had a scoring outbreak. He tripled his scoring output against Maryland. Of course he averages less than two a game, but today he produced six points, including four in a row midway through the second half.
- STAT OF THE DAY: Kyle Singler grabbed 11 boards, including an incredible eight offensive rebounds.
NEXT UP: The ACC Finals against Florida State. Duke will try to go 3-0 against a second straight team, but the Seminoles won’t be easy. They match up better against Duke than Maryland does. Duke may have two wins against FSU, but both games were tight.
Game One: It was a defensive fight (to say the least). Duke lead 19-14 at the half, before a second half spurt that gave Duke a 25-point lead with under 13 to play. The Seminoles chipped away, but in reality the game never got close (within six with seconds to go).
Game Two: The Seminoles jumped early and led the way against Duke on Senior Night, taking an 8-point late in the first half. Duke would rally in half number two, pulling out a late three-point win to complete the sweep of the Seminoles.
Filed under: ACC Tournament | Tags: ACC Tournament, Forida State, North Carolina
Talk about a wild week. Six of the top eight teams failed to make it to their conference finals. North Carolina was the latest victim, falling to Florida State in the first semi-finals games, 73-70. You have to hand it to the Seminoles, they are so long, so tall and so good on defense. The Tar Heels, who usually hit about 48% of their shots, hit just 37% today. The only reason UNC kept it close was free throw attempts. They shot 14 more free throws than the Seminoles. Hansbrough alone had 14 to State’s 15 total free throw attempts.
We’ll give the Seminoles their due, but let’s be honest, if Ty Lawson is playing, it’s not a contest. Remember what we said early in our All-ACC Everything post…Carolina is a championship with Lawson, but only a good team without him. He’s the difference maker. However, Tony Douglas is making us look like jackasses for sticking him on the second-team, not the first team in our All-ACC teams.
Filed under: ACC Tournament, Duke Recap | Tags: ACC Tournament, Boston College, Duke
Go ahead and admit it, you were a little worried. I was, at least until Duke took what appeared to be a solid 54-46 lead with 7:28 left in the game. Then the Eagles ran off seven straight and suddenly I was worried again and remained worried until the buzzer. Don’t feel guilty Duke faithful, tonight’s Duke team gave you plenty of reasons to worry.
You have to hand it to Boston College, they struggled at times, but they never gave up. Despite the early shooting woes (two points in the first nine minutes of the game), they rallied to take a five-point lead at the half. When Duke got hot in the second half and took a eight-point lead, they rallied again with a 7-0 run. However, in the end, I believe it was over-coaching that did them in. Think about it, they grabbed the Scheyer miss free throw with fourteen clicks on the clock and what do they do? They call a timeout. Why though? You have one of the best (and fastest) guards in the nation, let him hurry the ball up while a frustrated Duke team is running back and let Rice do his thing. I don’t have a stat to prove it, but I could swear more game winners come not after a timeout, but a play that happens in the natural flow of the game.
Then coming out of the timeout, they get the ball pass half court and call yet another timeout. So obviously they have a plan, right? If they did, it didn’t involve getting the ball into the hands of their best player. On that last play, Rice came off ONE screen that took him completely to the other side of the court, away from the inbound pass. I’m sorry, but when Duke had J.J., there was no way any other player was going to take the last second shot. Coach K would have had him run through multiple screens. Anyhow, let’s move on.
- Why did this game come down to the wire? Two reasons; first – Missed free throws. Duke missed nine free throws, six in the second half. Gerald Henderson missed five for the game and four in the second half. In fact, he missed three in one trip down the floor. Worse yet, John Scheyer missing the front end of the one-and-one with under a minute to go…wow.
- Free throw shooting was bad, but it was second chance points that nearly did in the Devils. Duke gave up 15 offensive rebounds. I know what you’re saying; Duke had 13 offensive rebounds. That’s true, but you have to look deeper. At least a half-dozen times, Duke had a defensive rebound in their hands, but let the ball bounce out of bounds, giving BC another shot. That’s how Boston College manage to take 13 more shots than Duke for the game, despite the fact the teams were even in free throws (20) and turnovers (8).
- Despite all that went wrong, was there any question who was going to take Duke’s last shot, down one with under a minute to go? And was there any doubt he was going to make it? Coach K called a beautiful play coming out of the timout, swinging Gerald into a post position. I still can’t believe BC didn’t double down. His wrap around the defender was too easy.
- Singler did his best ‘Hansbrough against Va Tech’ performance, literally putting the team on his shoulders as Gerald sat in the first half in foul trouble. He finished with 26 points, 9 boards and shockingly 6 blocks. He came into the game with only 26 blocks. The advantage that Duke has is that they have two solid NBA ready players. If one is off his game, the other has stepped up. In fact, over the last month, one has produced in one half, while the other produced in the second half.