Filed under: Duke Recap, Final Four | Tags: Duke vs. West Virginia, Final Four
I haven’t said it all week long. I never brought up anything having to do with revenge or payback, but after West Virginia ran their f*cking mouths two years ago when they knocked off Duke in the second round, I’m saying it now….
DAMN THAT’S SOME SWEET REVENGE!
Cam Thoroughman, what do you think of our McDonald’s All-Americans now?
Okay, that’s it. No more talking trash from the comfort of my own couch. Let’s talk basketball.
The Duke Blue Devils are one game away from winning the championship. It feel a bit weird, dare I say shocking, to write that sentence, but the fact is, I probably shouldn’t be shocked…at least not anymore.
The Blue Devils dominated the West Virginia Mountaineers tonight in the Final Four. The game may have been close early, but it shouldn’t have. West Virginia may have been within striking distance early in the second half, but they shouldn’t have been. The fact is, Duke dominated the glass, took open shots all day and handled whatever defense (man or 1-3-1) that the Mountaineers threw at them.
Maybe I should just say it…the Duke Blue Devils played a near-flawless game to advance to the title game against Butler.
WHAT DID I SEE?
THE BIG THREE FINALLY ALL COME UP BIG
I’ve been saying it all season long, “just imagine how good Duke would be if all three of the ‘Big Three’ played well in one game.” Well, we just found out. On the scoring end, Singler, Scheyer and Smith came up huge, combining to score 63 points. They alone beat West Virginia, 63-57.
Can we go ahead and put to rest the “tired leg” syndrome? Seriously. All everyone kept saying was, “Scheyer looks tired, Coach K overworked him.” Blah, Blah, Blah. He doesn’t look tired to me. The senior had a flawless night, scoring 23, dishing out six assists and didn’t turn it over a single time.
Mr. Consistent. He poured in 19 and dished out six assists, but his greatest feat of the night…how about not picking up a fourth foul in the second half, after getting three in the first half? I’ll talk more about this in a bit.
Do you think Singler was auditioning for the NBA tonight? After having a couple of close ones swatted away early, Singler suddenly couldn’t miss, no matter how odd the shot was. That 0-10 performance against Baylor seems so long ago now. (more…)
Filed under: 2010 NCAA Tournament, Duke Recap | Tags: Duke vs Baylor, Elite Eight
Let’s pretend for a second that I told you before today’s game that Kyle Singler would go 0-10 from the floor tonight, yet Duke would still win. Be honest, you’d probably would have punched me in the face, right?
Yet, here we are. The Duke Blue Devils took over late against Baylor, putting the game away on a 15-3 run late, and just like that, Duke is headed back to the Final Four for the first time since J.J. Redick was a sophomore.
In the end, there were 4 reasons for Duke’s win tonight. Let’s get on them.
WHAT DID I SEE?
REASON #1 – RAINING THREE
Like we said this morning, if Duke was going to win, they would have to hit open threes. The simple fact was, Baylor’s 2-3 zone would give them open looks. Duke came through. They finished the game hitting 11-23 from three, but five of those misses belong to Singler. Scheyer and Smith combined to shoot 9-16, while Dawkins delivered two huge threes in the first half.
REASON #2 – NOLAN’S MID-RANGE
Again, I talked about the mid-range shot this morning. Baylor likes to block shots. The Blue Devils would need to pull up in the middle before reaching the trees and hit 8-10 foot jumpers. Tonight, Nolan Smith did just that. He hit five mid-range jumpers. More often than not, they were runners into the lane.
Now Baylor got their blocks, but they were all shots inside on Duke’s big men. They blocked none of Smith’s shots and none of Scheyer’s shots. They did swipe away one of Singler’s shots. (more…)
Filed under: 2010 NCAA Tournament, Duke Recap | Tags: Duke vs. Purdue, Sweet 16
Whatever Coach K said at halftime, I could use that kind of motivation at lunch at work everyday.
After a brutal first half, clearly the ugliest basketball I’ve seen all season, Duke came out rolling in the second half to put away the Boilermakers and advance to the Elite Eight. It will be Duke’s first trip to the regional finals since Luol Deng was a freshman many moons ago.
For me, my blood pressure went through the roof in that first 19:30 seconds of the game. I had past Duke tournament failures dancing in my head. Jon Scheyer’s shooting slump was bringing back bad memories of J.J. Redick’s epic Sweet 16 flops. I had little faith this was going to turn out good. Thank God what I think doesn’t really matter. Having said that…
WHAT DID I SEE?
DUKE’S BIG THREE WON, 58-57
That’s right folks…in the only battle of 3 on 3 in the Sweet 16, Duke’s big three (Singler, Scheyer and Smith) beat Purdue tonight, outscoring the Boilermakers, 58-57. And like so many games this season, the big three each had their own moments that were key to victory.
KYLE SINGLER: The man was the only person in a white uniform who could hit a shot in the first half. While the rest of the team was just 3-19, Kyle was able to knock down 4-10, including three 3-pt shots. He personally kept Duke in this game (although Purdue missing a ton of open shots helped as well). While in the second half, he won’t get the headlines, let’s not forget, he continued to roll early in the second period. In fact, he scored 18 of Duke’s first 42 points tonight.
NOLAN SMITH: Halfway through the second half, the Devils were starting to hit some shots, but they were unable to pull away. Then Nolan Smith took over. He scored three straight baskets that included two drives and one three-point shot. It gave Duke a nine-point cushion, its largest of the game. This was the first time the Duke faithful realized they were going to take this one. Actually, I shouldn’t speak for everyone. It was the first time I realized Duke could/would win this one.
JON SCHEYER: The man was cold. I mean, ice-cold. After a 1-11 performance against California, he started off tonight’s game 0-7. The last time he hit a shot, President Obama was still a state senator. Yet, the shooter kept shooting and one went in at the 18:17 mark. But that was nothing. With Duke up 11 with five to play, Scheyer took back-to-back possessions to the rim, rolling in crazy “Scheyer” shots to seal the deal.
When it was all said and done, after a 1-18 slump, Jon finished this game hitting 4-8 from the floor. I’m not willing to declare the slump officially over, but at least he can head into the Sunday game with some confidence. (more…)
Filed under: 2010 NCAA Tournament, Duke Recap | Tags: Duke vs. California, Round Two
Wow, what a freaking four days of basketball. I’m exhausted. with Kansas going down and with so many lower seeds advancing to the Sweet 16, it certainly has been the best four days of basketball that I’ve seen in a long, long time. I was planning on doing a whole write up about the first two rounds, but I need a break. I’ll jump on it by Wednesday.
Did I forget to mention Duke? I did, didn’t I? What can I say, the Blue Devils continue to fly under the radar after an impressive win against the PAC-10 regular season champ, California.
With so many upsets, with so many big performances by players from small schools, with so many last seconds shots going in or just missing, with Kentucky and Syracuse blowing away the competition, the Devils just did their job this week and it barely registered.
They were never threatened, there was never any doubt, yet I’ll be willing to bet you’ll barely hear a word about your Devils.
And I think that’s exactly how we all want it.
SO WHAT DID I SEE TONIGHT?
Two days after Nolan Smith struggled against Arkansas-Pine Buff, Duke’s junior guard dominated. He dominated on offense. he dominated on defense. Let’s start with the latter.
The Bears were known for their run-and-gun offense. A roster loaded with guys who were willing and able to shoot from almost anywhere past the mid-court line. For Duke, the man who needed to be stopped was diminutive point guard, Jerome Randle.
After hitting three of his first four shots tonight, Nolan Smith locked down on Randle, holding him to 2-8 the rest of the way. He was 2-6 from three and never sniffed the free throw line.
Of course none of this should be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Smith’s D has been a pleasant surprise all season and will be key to any deep run by Duke.
On the offensive end, the thing about Nolan is, you’ll know right away if he’s going to have a stud game or not. He just has a tendency to start burning hot or ice-cold and he doesn’t change throughout the game. Tonight, he scored 20, on 9-18 shooting. (more…)
Filed under: 2010 NCAA Tournament, Duke Recap | Tags: Duke vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
The Duke Blue Devils did what they had to do. They took care of business early, giving no chance to an overmatched 16-seed.
Of course, this was expected, but if you’re like me, you have memories of Belmont two seasons ago stuck in your head. I wanted a whipping and was happy to see one, although I was a bit surprise to see that Duke couldn’t top 80 tonight. Oh well.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
DUKE GOES INSIDE
Because of the size advantage, the Blue Devils made a concentrated effort to get the ball down low to both Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas. The pair took 10 shots, almost all coming from the category of “creating your own shot.”
Seriously though, is it me or is there something part amazing and part frustrating to see Zoubek posting the ball up, turning around and hitting beautiful jumpers? Where has this been? Maybe that career-long foot injury really was bad.
The same goes for Thomas. Was I the only one who nearly wet himself when Lance dunked a basketball?
Don’t look now Duke fans, but Kyle Singler is playing himself into a nice draft spot in next year’s NBA draft. Over the past six weeks, Singler has been one of the best players in the nation. Yes, I said “nation.” In his last 10 games, he’s scored 20+ seven times. He’s grabbed at least 10 rebounds four times, producing four double-doubles. In three of those double-doubles, he produced 20/10.
He’s finally, after struggling all season long, starting to figure out his role as a small forward. He’s hitting the long ball, but is also getting dirty down below (he averages nearly three offensive rebounds per game).
I’m not predicting that he’s headed to the NBA, but if he continues to play like this, it’s going to be hard for him not to. (more…)
What happens when you a cross a seven-game winning streak with a six-game losing streak? If you saw the Duke/Virginia game, you know the answer.
Duke rolled out early to a 20-4 lead and never looked back, crushing the struggling Cavaliers by 18. Fact is, it should/could/would have been much worse, but Coach K sat his starters with about five minutes left to play. Virginia was able to go on a 13-5 run against Duke’s bench, to make the score look a bit less lopsided.
In reality, Virginia had no shot with star guard, Sylven Landesberg, sitting on the bench with a deep-thigh bruise. The Cavs weren’t going to win with his 17.4ppg (5th in the ACC) stuck on the pine.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
THREE MINUS ONE = VICTORY
Tonight the Big Three (Singler, Schyer and Smith) were reduced to the Big Two, as Nolan Smith had his worst game of the year (and course he did it three days after I wrote that he was the most consistent player on the team). Tonight he finished 1-8 from the floor, scoring a season low five points.
Of course it was bound to happen. Everyone has a off night, even Nolan Smith. At the very least, if you’re going to have a bad game, do it against a team riding a six-game slide.
The good news is, it didn’t matter at all. That’s the beauty of having a “Big Three.” One can have an off shooting night, but the others can pick up the slack. Singler and Scheyer both had solid nights. They combined to score 41 on only 24 shots (Vasquez scored 41 against Tech Saturday night, but he needed 33 shots to get it done).
SCHEYER PLAYS LIKE A SENIOR
Thursday night, I wrote about Jon Scheyer’s recent slump. While we expected most “experts” to declare it tired legs, I knew that wasn’t the case. The simple fact was, Scheyer was taking bad shots. The stats don’t lie, folks. If he had tired legs, he wouldn’t be shooting an impressive 44% from downtown (better knows as three-point land). The fact was, he was shooting an awful 19% from two-point range because he was taking a ton of bad shots like.
He needed to stop getting trapped among the trees and hit some open mid-range jumpers or a runner or two. Obviously he reads this blog (he doesn’t) because he listened. (more…)
Coach K wanted a “tournament” type game and he certainly got one from Tulsa Thursday night…at least for 31 minutes he did. The Duke Blue Devils put away the pesky Golden Hurricanes with a 18-3 run at the 19 minute mark in the second half.
The game felt like a second-round game, which is where a team like Tulsa would meet a team like Duke. A tight game, with the underdog riding the emotion, getting psyched by some shoots falling and loos balls going their way. But then in the second half, the better team takes over, gets all the breaks and wins the game easily.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
THE DEVILS HAVE A CENTER
Who is this legitimate center that’s taken over the body of Brian Zoubek? Seriously, when was the last time you’ve seen someone just click this deep into the season? Zoubek continued his surprising play, with another-double (10 points, 11 boards).This one though, may have been his most impressive.
You see, this is the first time (since he’s been hot) that he’d be up against a better center. A faster, more athletic seven-footer, Jerome Jordan. Don’t get me wrong, Jordan’s no Greg Monroe, but he’s one of Tulsa’s “big three” and the all-time block leader in Conference USA.
To put it mildly, Zoubek owned him. Not only did he out rebound him (11-8, including 4-1 on the offensive glass), but Zoubek did something he’s never done…he created his own shot. The Duke faithful have been waiting five freaking years for this to happen.
Tulsa decided not to double down on Zoubek and he made him pay, four times (4-5 from the floor). He took passes down low with his back to the basket, made a move, pumped faked and drained his shots. Duke’s final four hopes get a big boost if this is the new norm from Brian Zoubek. (more…)
The wins keep getting uglier, but no matter ugly they may get, it’s a win.
In a game that often resembled a street brawl, the Blue Devils refused to be suckered punch (I’m looking at you Dorenzo Hudson) by the Hokies and rolled to their six-straight win. All thanks to 14-4 run to end the game.
If you’ve been paying attention, you knew this was going to be tough. Both teams love to play defense, both teams can turn cold at times, but both teams live at the free throw line. The two teams combined to shoot 31% from the floor, but combined to hit 36 of 42 for the night. The difference…three-point shooting.
Tech came into the game last in the ACC in three-point attempts, so it was no surprise they weren’t lighting it up, but Duke hit 10-30 to Tech’s 2-15. That, my son…was the difference.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
BIGGER IS BETTER
Is Brian Zoubek the best center in the ACC? No, but he sure has looked like one in the past three games. He may not be the best player for Duke down the stretch, but he’s certainly becoming the most valuable. It just makes you ask, where has this been?
Tonight, Zoubek was the difference. I’ve written that sentence so much the past 10 days I should just start cutting and pasting it in. He owned the boards. Seriously, it looked like he was taking on a high school JV team. He finished with 16 boards, eight on the offensive end.
Because of foot problems in his career, he’s struggled keeping up with the more agile big men in this conference. This season though, he’s healthy and is having no problem going up top to defend or help with a screen and getting back under the boards for a rebound.
Of course for him, the big difference has been, he’s simply not fouling as much. That’s always been his problem. He’s played back-to-back 29 minute games. (more…)
Can I just say it…that easily was the laziest and lamest headline I’ve ever written. I won’t let it happen again. I just returned from vacation in Miami (sadly, I was not able to attend the game. I actually flew back to NYC in the morning for work). Damn you, job. I was really hoping to see the Canes’ digs. The last time I saw them play was in the Heat’s arena.
While it’s probably not worth bragging about, beating Miami in Miami is nothing to sneeze at. This is the same team that had won 12 of 13 at home and beat both Wake Forest and Georgia Tech in South Beach. Yet, I have to say, I was never really worried. Even when Duke fell down by 12 at halftime, I never thought they’d lose.
In fact, during halftime, I leaned over to a friend of mine (he’s a Maryland fan, Miami graduate) that Duke would rally in the first five minutes of the second half. Man it feels good to be right sometimes.
How right was I? With 4:46 gone in the second half, Duke led 42-41. Damn it feels good to be right.
SO WHAT DID I SEE?
Duke takes a half to warm up. At this point, are we ever shocked to see Duke shooting in the low 30′s? It’s happened enough times this season, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Big 3 (still no good nickname for them yet) were truly awful in the first half.
Jon Scheyer (who we learned has a sore back) missed his first nine shots, while Nolan (who’s back we assume is fine) missed his first six. Singler (also, no knowledge on his back) wasn’t too bad, he was 2-5 at halftime, although he was shooting just jumpers (more on that later). Still the trio only scored nine points in the first half.
In the second though, the threesome scored 49 of Duke’s 56 points. That’s a pretty stunning number. It’s like Miami knew was going to happen and still couldn’t stop it.
Luckily there was Brian Zoubek. Seriously, did you ever think you’d see that sentence before? After having a career game against Maryland over the weekend, Zoubek put together another solid outing, although the numbers won’t jump out at you. He scored 10, grabbing five boards. (more…)
“Not Our Rivals!“
That was the chant the Cameron Crazies taunted the Maryland Terps with Saturday afternoon, after another home whipping. In reality though, I would have to disagree. Outside of North Carolina, there is no other team I enjoy watching go down to defeat to the Blue Devils.
In fact, Duke’s two biggest wins this decade have both come against Maryland, both in 2001. Of course I’m speaking about the 10-point in one minute comeback in Maryland and then the Final Four win that year.
SO WHAT DID I SEE SATURDAY
(This will have to be quick. I’m on vacation).
ZOOOOUUUUUBBBBEEEEKKKK. I guess the senior likes to start. Brian Zoubek, owned the paint, scoring 16 and grabbing a career best 17 rebounds. Most of his points came off his eight offensive rebounds.
The fact is, Zoubek was the most important player on the court. When Maryland went on their one 10-0 run in the second half, they did it with Zoubek on the bench.
Mason’s confidence grows. The stats won’t knock you over (seven points, three boards), but in his 17 minutes of action, he’s clearly starting to get a better understanding of the offense. He’s holding the ball less and both of his missed shots were decent shots, they just didn’t go in.
Jon Scheyer > Greivis Vasquez. At least for one night, Scheyer was the better player. He scored 22 on 6-12 shooting, including 3-4 from three and 7-8 from the line. He turned it over only once all game. Vasquez scored 17 points, 15 in the second half. He had four assists to three turnovers. In reality he could have had 8-9 assists, but is teammates missed so many open shots. (more…)