Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Duke BC Preview

First, I am now officially (for the first time probably ever) a guest commentator. Hit the link for my responses to three question about tonight's game posed by an Eagle fan.

That done, let's take a look at tonight's game. Both teams execute very well offensively - Duke is 2nd in the conference, BC 4th. Contributing to the execution of both teams on the offensive end is very good team passing - BC is second in the conference, and Duke 3rd, in assisted basket ratio. BC also takes care of the ball very well, which makes their offensive efficiency numbers higher than any of their shooting numbers. Of course, what BC does well on offense is what Duke does exceptionally well on defense. Duke is well ahead of the rest of the league in opponent's assisted basket ratio because they get out and pressure the passing lanes so well (this also contributes to their conference lead in steal percentage). If Duke can deny the Eagles the ability to get assisted baskets (which more often than not are better or easier looks than non-assisted baskets), they'll likely do well, because as a shooting team, BC is quite average - 4th in 2pt% and just 10th in 3pt%. Of course, BC will hit the glass hard - they snag 40% of their own missed shots this year, and as we all know, Duke isn't exactly stellar at controlling the defensive glass.

But the real key tonight (as I mentioned on the Eagle blog) is whether BC decides it wants to make a commitment to defense. This team last year defined itself by hard-nosed defensive play, and this year the effort just isn't there. Witness rebounding - there's no way a team that is as good on the offensive glass as BC should be last in the conference in defensive rebounding percentage, but they are. And their shooting defense is just bad - last in eFG%, last in PPWS, 9th in 2pt%, and last in 3pt%. If this doesn't change, they won't win tonight, and they'll be no better than a .500 team in conference and a first round exit in March. There are several reasons to think that, tonight at least, their defense could be better. First, their problems rebounding could be negated, because Duke has been a pretty poor offensive rebounding team. Second, they are good at forcing turnovers, and hanging on to the ball has been somewhat of an issue for Duke (15 or more turnovers in 5 of 7 conference games). And finally, some defensive problems can be fixed by simply upping the intensity level, and BC's should be about at its peak tonight - it's their first chance to host the undisputed best team in the conference on their home court, and a chance to show that they're better than they've played so far this year. If they come out and make a commitment to playing defense, this game should go right down to the wire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good call on the game coming down to the wire! Shelden was lucky not to get called on that last drive by Rice, but would have liked to have seen at least an attempt on the 3. Great game anyway.