Thursday, March 06, 2008

Duke 86, Virginia 70

Some nights, you're simply the better team. Virginia had a good offensive gameplan, with Singletary attacking the middle and dishing off for secondary drives, and Baker and Diane were told to use the mid-range jumper and floaters and not go all the way to the hoop. It was looking sharp, and Virginia was hitting its shots, and had a 26-22 lead. Shortly thereafter, Duke went into the zone, and the game was effectively over. The Cavaliers simply had no idea what to do against a team with Duke on its jerseys playing defense like Syracuse. The ball stopped going inside, the shots stopped falling, and the Devils pulled away. Once Duke reached a double digit lead, it never got closer than 9 for the rest of the game.

On offense, Gerald Henderson had his best game in a long while. It wasn't as much the 19 points, or the alley oops (although those were fun), as it was Henderson's decision-making on the drive. He has a tendency to be a little bit of a black hole on offense - the ball goes to him and it doesn't come back out. Last night, however, he repeatedly drove from the wing into the middle of the lane, drew defense, and dished it off to an open shooter. The stat line lists him with 4 assists, and he would have had more but for some off shooting from Singler. On the whole, it was a solid offensive performance from Duke - the Devils shot well and spread the scoring around, with 5 guys in double figures. Only Singler struggled, but he never lost confidence in his shot (if anything, he seemed a little more determined to shoot himself out of the slump). Zoubek continues to impress on his return, picking up a nice dish to Henderson and grabbing several rebounds in traffic. His size (and his 5 fouls) should come in handy against Hansbrough on Saturday.

Speaking of Saturday, both Duke and UNC handled their "warm-ups" rather comfortably, and meet Saturday for a chance to win the regular season outright. For the Devils, it will be senior night for DeMarcus Nelson. He wore number 21 as well for Duke as his predecessor in that jersey, Chris Duhon, and his career has followed the same path - from role-player on top flight teams his freshman and sophomore years to a lone senior leader of a young, talented (and potential final four) team. Memo to Elliott Williams - when you show up on campus next fall, ask for #21 - it's been very, very good to Duke.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I was really impressed how well we rebounded out of the zone. In the past I feel that was lacking and the primarily cause of switching back to man-to-man. I also am impressed how effectively we are running stall ball at the end of the game and I think the key to that is Singler. Being an outside presence, he clears the lane and make the whole thing a lot easier. The last few times we've started it I haven't become nervous =)