“If they say nothing else, they attempt to say now, as they always did, the fixed unalterable injunction of narrative, to me and all readers — The world exists. It is not yourself. Plunge in it for healing, blessed exhaustion, and the risk of warmth.”—Reynolds Price
Have to start with Miles Plumlee, who went from having a quiet eight-point night midway through the second half to having a really loud 11-point night when Mike Patrick and Jay Bilas noticed it. The three post guys—Plumlee, Plumlee, and Kelly—went above and beyond what Duke needs from them this season last night, with Miles providing some scoring, Mason cleaning the glass and causing defensive havoc, and Kelly playing stronger defense than I ever thought he could prior to the season and hitting a big three. If the Blue Devils can get that kind of performance from just one of those guys most nights—and two in the big ones—they’ll be in pretty good shape.
I watched Duke’s 2006 ACC title win over BC earlier this week on the ACC Vault, and Mason’s defensive strategy last night was basically Shelden Williams’ for four years. Jump straight up and plead the principle of verticality.
It was nice of the offense to toss it into Mason early in the game. While he himself didn’t score off that look, the guards cut well around him (Dawkins, in particular, for that baseline dunk) for buckets. I don’t think that’s something the Blue Devils can go to that often—teams will learn not to help because they don’t have to—but it’s nice to do on occasion to take some of the load off Singler and Smith. With the full knowledge that this contradicts what I said post-FSU, they should have tried this against FSU.
Dawkins displayed some versatile moves on offense, with all four of his field goals coming inside the arc (to be fair, one was just inside the arc). That floater will serve someone with his size (and at this point, inability to finish strong in traffic) very well.
Duke had back-to-back possessions in the opening minutes where it scored without Singler or Smith initiating the offense. I can’t remember the last time that happened.
C.J. Leslie said NC State will “win the ACC and be top five before it’s all over.” What’s “it” in that sentence? This season? His career? Human existence?
Kelly and Mason looked just a shade like Zoubek and Thomas fighting on the glass in the second half, right? Just a shade?
I’m worried that Jeannine Edwards spilled the beans in how to beat Duke this season, when she explained that all you had to do was drive the ball and play aggressive defense. Oh, that’s how you win basketball games!
I’m mixed on Edwards. She seems more involved in the broadcast—do they throw it to the sideline reporter that frequently when it’s someone else—but I can’t say she always merits the extra opportunities.
The only weakness I see in Nolan Smith’s game right now is his decision-making. He can score inside and out; he just has to know when to do each.
Really enjoyed Bilas trying to restrain himself from pointing out all of Patrick’s peccadilloes, like in that “Was Duke unbeatable with Irving?” discussion.
Patrick mixed up the Plumlees from time to time, but he never called one of them “Elliott Plumlee.” Sigh.
Liked when Bilas said Duke’s potential will be determined by its sophomores. Mason, Kelly, Dawkins, and Curry—how they evolve over the next two months will define how deep Duke can go.
How did Tyler Thornton foul out of that game?
The one real bad sign: How often is this team going to come out terribly in the second half? Runs against Duke in the opening five minutes of the second half in the last four games: NC State 14-4, UVa 11-6, FSU 12-3, Maryland 7-0. K had to call timeouts early in the second half in three of those. That shouldn’t happen to good teams.
“There are other examples from other continents and centuries, just as albinos, assassins, saints, big people, and little people show up from time to time in large populations. Out of a human population on earth of four and a half billion, perhaps twenty people can write a serious book in a year. Some people lift cars, too. Some people enter week-long sled-dog races, go over Niagara Falls in barrels, fly planes through the Arc de Triomphe. Some people feel no pain in childbirth. Some people eat cars. There is no call to take human extremes as norms.”—Annie Dillard
Quickies tonight after parents played DVR mind games on me tonight with a “You’ll enjoy this game; it was good.”
The season just got a lot less interesting, and my faith in its length is a lot lower tonight than it was a few hours ago.
I understand it’s an unranked FSU team that lost to Auburn, who even Dick Vitale called a “not very good at all basketball team” (or something like that). But that’s not a huge upset. Anyone who’s seen these teams play knew going in that the Seminoles posed a legitimate threat, and the difference was they canned their open looks while Duke did not.
35 3-pointers and, you know what, I don’t have a big problem with it. You find me five clean looks the Blue Devils had inside the arc and maybe you can persuade me otherwise. But good luck finding those five.
Against a team that plays defense as well as FSU, you get an open look—regardless of whether it’s early in the shot clock—you take it. The Norman Dale rules go out the window when no one on your team can beat a guy off the dribble and finish in the paint.
You know why Duke didn’t throw it into the post? Because it has no post players.
Mason wouldn’t have a prayer going back to the basket against Bernard James and the like. It’s no coincidence the only game he was a scoring threat on the block came against the smallest team Duke will face all season.
He played better, though. I feared Duke would get killed on the boards, and it didn’t because of Mason.
How is Derwin Kitchen only scoring 9 a game for this team? He should be averaging at least 13 as a solid second option to Singleton. He does everything well enough.
Curry and Dawkins really struggled with FSU’s length and ability to recover on the perimeter. The simple shot fake, one-dribble midrange jumper wasn’t there, because the Noles’ defenders didn’t have to leave their feet to challenge the initial look. Those two have to adjust—Seth did late in the game—and drive following the shot fake when the defender’s position is compromised. At the same time, neither Seth nor Andre is a great finisher (an issue exacerbated by FSU’s height in the lane), so you want them driving, drawing, and dishing for an open look for someone else.
Singler had a great second half, but if I’m an NBA scout, I pop in the tapes of this game and the one against Baylor and tell my GM he can’t create his own shot against NBA-level defenders.
Kyrie can, and if he played, Duke wins that game fairly easily.
I thought Hairston early was a precursor to something. I guess not. Did Miles play in the second half?
I didn’t like K throwing the zone at Florida State in the first half—why get cute defensively when you’re doing fine man-to-man?—but I wanted to see it when the Noles went on that run early in the second half, like out of that first timeout two minutes in. That’s when you mix up defenses.
FSU’s a good team that’s prone to bad losses (over the last few years; not just this one) because of the inconsistency of its offense. If the Noles come out and shoot 30% like they did against VT, that’s an easy Duke win. If they shoot up around 50%, they’re going to beat just about any team in the country. That’s an 8-9 seed I don’t want to see in the second round if I’m a No. 1 (Duke can’t, of course).
That said, Michael Snaer is a terrible McDonald’s All-American.
I understand it was UNC-Greensboro, but it was a true road game. This was the second true road game, depending on your definition of true.
Duke often loses one of its first two true road games (Wisconsin last year, Michigan in ‘08-‘09, GT in ‘06-‘07).
What scares me long-term: Against good defensive teams, can we count on anyone besides Nolan and Kyle to score? Or do we need BOTH of them to bring their A games to win? I don’t know right now if Duke, sans Irving, has the offensive punch to win a national championship. In fact, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.
Finally sat down and paid attention to a full 40 minutes.
At no point did I think this would be titled “Duke Thoughts, 14-1.”
But after a game like this, I’m about 98% certain one of these Duke Thoughts titles will end in a non-zero numeral. (Is that redundant? Is zero considered a numeral?)
There’s really a fine line between a great player overcoming a bad game and a great player not adapting to the fact that he’s having a bad game. Most of the night, Nolan was in the latter camp; I suppose that baseline drive on Jordan Williams put him in the former. But still, he forced it a bit too much in that second half when the floaters were not falling.
Maryland would not have pressed the Blue Devils for a single possession if Kyrie were healthy. I still don’t like Nolan against a press, and it took Duke too long to start its press-breaker with the guards at halfcourt instead of at the foul line. It amazes me how often teams position their guards at the foul line against a press (where the guards then run to the corners and do half the defense’s work).
Duke wasn’t comfortable playing at that fast pace, which was strange to see given the pace it played with Irving. Lot of quick looks and bad turnovers in the open floor.
Tyler Thornton, everybody!
It is remarkable how much energy a player like Thornton can provide just by doing small things like applying extra pressure on the ball and being a defensive pest. The floater, of course, was a bonus.
Looking forward to how much PT TT gets this week at FSU. In fact, looking forward to a LOT of things in that game at FSU.
Biggest basket of the game: Seth Curry’s shot-fake, step-in, midrange jumper. It’s great to see that in both his and Andre Dawkins’ arsenal. It’s that move that transformed J.J. Redick from a really good scorer into the University’s all-time leading scorer.
Another key: After Maryland’s 7-0 spurt in the first minute of the second half, the Duke defense held them scoreless for the next 5:30 or so. That was especially crucial in the first 2:30 of that stretch, when the Blue Devils also didn’t score. Otherwise, it’s a bigger deficit than 38-32 by the time Curry hits that jumper.
Where to begin with Miles Plumlee’s defensive errors? He was constantly helping off Jordan Williams when help wasn’t required, he never worked before a shot went up for rebound position…. What Reggie Johnson and now Williams have done to the Devils in the post is concerning.
One of the main defensive issues was that, while the primary help was pretty good (if overzealous in Miles’ case), the secondary help (helping the helper) was non-existent. A guard would drive, a big would come over, and no one would rotate down to even challenge the layup on the block or make them earn it at the line.
I don’t know where to begin on Mason. Remember that game against Marquette? I don’t think I do.
Is Ryan Kelly Duke’s best frontcourt player?
Bad game for Dawkins, who was too loose with the ball when he got in the lane. He shouldn’t lose confidence there, though. Good ideas, just poor execution. He just needs to be firmer with the ball.
The atmosphere at Cameron was better than I expected given the timing of the game. Seems like a fair amount of students went back early for it.
Is it bad if I kinda like Greivis Vasquez?
Really liked the script Maryland on those black uniforms. I’m upset they don’t use that on the reds or use the script Terps (from the football helmets) on their home whites. Would have been a distinct look.
What I want to see in Tallahassee:
One of the Plumlees is going to have to play competent interior defense, or Duke will lose.
How does Singler do when guarded by Chris Singleton? My guess: Not well.
If Singler does play well with Singleton on him, it’ll be the game a lot of Draft scouts place under the “Pro” column on the ledger.
How do Curry and Dawkins do against taller defenders?
Can the Blue Devils pressure FSU’s suspect guards into turnovers on the perimeter? I suspect they’ll make it very tough for the Seminoles to get into whatever it is they consider their offense these days.
I think Duke wins, largely because I don’t trust Florida State’s ability to score. But I expect it will be ugly and low-scoring, like that first half in Tallahassee in ‘09—but for 40 minutes. Don’t be surprised if the final score is something like 61-56.