Friday, January 26, 2007

Duke 68, Clemson 66

Simply a thrilling game last night, between two extremely evenly matched teams. The best part about that game was that Duke looked mature throughout. During the entire second half, Clemson was making mini-runs, and constantly threatening to take control of the game. But the Devils never looked nervous, on rarely looked like they were rushing, and looked calm, cool, and confident on the offensive end. This was a marked contrast to the Marquette game (and even the end of the Virginia Tech game) where there were a lot of deer-in-the-headlight looks. For example, right at the start of the second half, Clemson scored 5 quick points and forced a Scheyer turnover. Duke took a timeout, regrouped, and then forced a turnover of their own and converted on the other end of the court. About 6 minutes later, Clemson again picked up 5 quick ones (2 Perry free throws, Nelson turnover, KC Rivers 3 pointer). Duke came right back down the court and got a wide open 3 from McRoberts, then played shut down defense until a Paulus 3 put them up by nine. With just under 7 to play, a Hamilton layup cut the lead to three again, Duke took a timeout, and then got a big 3 from Scheyer to keep up the cushion. Finally, after Clemson's 8-0 run tied the game at 60, Scheyer got to the line on the next possession and put Duke right back out in front. The defense allowed only 1 point in the next 5 possessions, putting the game seemingly out of reach. Many of these crucial scores for Duke came right out of timeouts, which suggests that the entire coaching staff did an excellent job last night. Coach K is sometimes criticized for not being a great in-game coach, but last night he seemed to be pushing the right buttons at the right time to keep Duke ever-so-slightly in control of the game.

Of course, we all know what happened next. The McRoberts-to-Hamilton pass is just an utter freak play. So many things had to happen just so - Hamilton was standing perfectly squared to the hoop at the 3pt line. Paulus cut left at precisely the moment the ball left Josh's hands. And Hamilton didn't have to move - he just happened to be set up in the perfect place. He barely even had to shift his feet once he picked the ball up. Really, it was a perfect storm kind of situation, and one we're not likely to see again for a long time. And then Scheyer-to-McClure was just beautiful. Clock controversy be damned, it was just pretty basketball - almost a no look pass across his body over two defenders going sideways hitting McClure perfectly in stride for a shot leaving his hand with no more (and no less) that 0.1 on the clock.

Duke won last night because they kept Clemson's press from spurring big runs (with the exception of the 8-0 run to tie the game, topped off by a Mays steal and hoop combo) by taking just good enough care of the ball, and because they were absolutely dominant on the glass. Clemson had 65 possessions, 53 of which resulted in shots at the hoop, and they came away with offensive rebounds on just 4 of those possessions, getting only six on the offensive glass overall. Duke, by contrast, attacked the offensive glass to the tune of 17 boards (out of 40 chances - 42.5% if you're scoring at home (or even if you're all by yourself)). Those 17 boards produced 19 second chance points and kept Duke's offense plugging along on a night when the shots weren't falling quite as often as they have been. Here's the chart for the game:

O Poss. Points OPPP D Poss. Points DPPP
McRoberts ON 58 62 1.069 58 64 1.103

OFF 8 6 0.750 7 2 0.286
Scheyer ON 56 58 1.036 54 56 1.037

OFF 10 10 1.000 11 10 0.909
Nelson ON 58 60 1.034 57 59 1.035

OFF 8 8 1.000 8 7 0.875
Paulus ON 63 66 1.048 63 66 1.048

OFF 3 2 0.667 2 0 0.000
Henderson ON 23 23 1.000 24 22 0.917

OFF 43 45 1.047 41 44 1.073
McClure ON 59 59 1.000 57 54 0.947

OFF 7 9 1.286 8 12 1.500
Thomas ON 5 6 1.200 5 7 1.400

OFF 61 62 1.016 60 59 0.983
Zoubek ON 8 6 0.750 7 2 0.286

OFF 58 62 1.069 58 64 1.103

Duke Overall
66 68 1.030 65 66 1.015

I think the most significant thing from this chart is how even it is - both teams played evenly matched basketball regardless of who was on the court. No one had better than a +5 scoring margin (game-winner David McClure), and no one worse than a -2 (believe it or not, McRoberts). That's a good sign for Duke - consistent play with no drop-off when the bench comes in is the ideal. The only other item of note (warning, extremely small sample size!) was the defensive difference with McClure out - 12 points in the 8 possessions he sat. Just reflective of the kind of contribution he made last night on the defensive end of the court.


Quiet Saturday in the ACC - Wake travels to Florida State for what should be an easy Seminole victory. Marquee national game of the weekend is the non-conference matchup between UNC and Arizona in the McKale Center, pitting the country's best offense against the second best defense (both ranks based on strength of schedule adjustments). Also marks a little bit of a conference showdown between the ACC and Pac-10, the two best conferences in the country this year. The Pac-10 has been clamoring for respect (which they deserve), and a Wildcat win over the Heels (best team in the best conference) would continue to establish the Pac's strength and can only help Pac-10 bubble teams come Selection Sunday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out McRoberts' end of game production. When he subbed back in at around 11:00, he practically disappeared compared to the rest of the game. Our inside-out movement went to nothing and we just chucked threes. The announcers mentioned sickness was visiting the Duke bench; maybe McRoberts had a touch of it and petered out at the end. It just seemed he disappeared.