Monday, February 23, 2009

Duke 101, Wake Forest 91

Apologies that it's been a while (work, travel, etc.), but what a game to return to. Duke and Wake put on an offensive display in the second half unlike any seen in the conference thus far. It was a relatively slow half - 33 possessions for Duke and 34 possessions for Wake - that was very high scoring - 50 for Duke and 51 for Wake. That's 101 collective points in just 67 possessions, a combined 150.75 offensive rating for the half. Duke got just 10 stops all half, and Wake just 9. The Deacs scored on 19 of the first 22 second half possessions, almost always from penetration by Smith, Teague, or Johnson (with the occasional offensive rebound thrown in for kicks). Thankfully, Henderson and Scheyer were just as good (and better, really), and Duke didn't suffer any offensive let down, converting on 20 of the first 27 possessions and 24 of 33 overall in the second half (and two of the "failed" possessions were missed front ends). There may not have been a lot of defense, but my goodness it was fun to watch.

It's hard to imagine, watching him play now, that before 2009 started, Henderson was averaging just 12 points a game and had 4 games in single digits (including only 2! against Purdue). Only twice had he used over 24% of Duke's possessions, seemingly reluctant to play like a superstar. Since 2009, however, he's been a completely different player. He's been the focal point of the offense, never using fewer than 24% of possessions in 2009 and 5 times going over 30%. He's averaged 19.7 points a game in 2009 and over 20 in ACC play, posting a 116.23 offensive rating while using 28.73% of Duke's possessions. Last night was his signature game. He hit from everywhere on the floor, attacking the rim for ferocious dunks, backing down smaller players for turnarounds, hitting pull-ups from all spots, and capping it all off with an absolutely ridiculous (and backbreaking) 3.

As for the lineup change, Jon Scheyer has played 74 minutes at point guard with just one turnover. He played an extremely steady game at point, and showed how dangerous he can be when he has his shot. Another positive is how much he's started to attack - after just 27 free throw attempts in his previous 8 games, he's had 25 in his last 2, and scored 19 points at the line. And Elliot Williams has acquitted himself nicely. His game still lacks polish, and he still goes way too fast for his own good (witness his foot shuffling when he's standing with the ball on the perimeter), but he's been a very valuable asset on the perimeter, if only as a high energy shot in the arm. He's looked more confident and more aggressive. For those who say you need game minutes to develop, Elliot is a bit of a counterexample - he had played 63 minutes over the past 12 games, and didn't look particularly good in any of those minutes, and then has played 63 in the last two and looked like a legit ACC player.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the play of Lance Thomas. He's averaging 8.25 points and 3.5 offensive rebounds over the last four games, shooting 15 of 21 and committing just 4 turnovers. He gathered some key offensive boards, and frustrated penetration by Teague and Smith toward the end of the game. I still think that the defense is weaker with him on the court (the stats bear me out, as our defense gives up just about a point per possession with Thomas in, which is the worst of anyone on the team), but like Williams, he's provided energy and spark to a team that too often in February has looked flat.

Here's the HD Box from last night:

As a bonus, here's the +/- for Wake:




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Aminu 26 25 1 47 41 6 73 66 7
Hale 0 0 0 5 5 0 5 5 0
Weaver 21 22 -1 0 0 0 21 22 -1
Woods 0 4 -4 0 0 0 0 4 -4
Clark 2 8 -6 2 3 -1 4 11 -7
Williams 40 46 -6 46 47 -1 86 93 -7
McFarland 19 25 -6 8 9 -1 27 34 -7
Smith 31 38 -7 45 46 -1 76 84 -8
Teague 38 48 -10 51 49 2 89 97 -8
Johnson 23 39 -16 51 50 1 74 89 -15

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