Monday, January 08, 2007

Tech Game Wrap-Up

It's safe to say you don't win a whole lot of games in which you turn the ball over 22 times in a 70 possession game. It's a shame, too, because Duke did a lot of other things well during this game. They were dominant on the glass - over 80% of all possible defensive rebounds were gathered up by the Devils, and in the second half, VT recorded a grant total of one offensive rebound (which I think was dubious - their sole credited offensive board was Deron Washington off of Zabian Dowdell's miss at the buzzer, and he didn't do much more than tap at it). Duke also shot the ball pretty well, with a team EFG% around .550, and a 1.40 PPNTOP. And the defense played alright, particularly toward the end of the second half - not as good as it has been this year, but Dowdell and Gordon have been mathchup problems for Duke as long as the Hokies have been in the ACC. Still, when it came down to it, there were four critical problems, all of which combined in a loss:

1) As mentioned, turnovers. I mean, yikes - I knew they would turn the ball over a lot against Tech, but I thought it would be more in the 23-26% range, not over 30%. A lot of blame has been placed on Paulus (6 in 18 minutes) and McRoberts (6 in 44 minutes), but this was a total team effort. Bad passes, bad ballhandling, bad decision making, it was all there.

2) Free throws. Duke his 14 of their first 16. From then on, they went 4 of 12 from the line, all in key situations. Overall, it wasn't too far below the season average (which would have been 20 made in 28 attempts), but in close games like that, it was costly.

3) Offensive rebounding. As good as Duke was on the defensive glass, they were unable to get second chance opportunities on the offensive end. Duke could get only 26% of the offensive rebounds, well below the season average.

4) No one wanted to take over. This happened at the end of the Marquette game too - during overtime, nobody looked like they wanted to be the guy with the ball in their hand taking the last shot. Even Nelson, who looked ready to take the game over late in the second half, was barely heard from - he had just one shot in the extra frame. Particularly emblematic was Jon Scheyer - off of a McClure offensive rebound after a missed free throw, Scheyer got the ball at the 3-point line, wide-open and perfectly squared up to shoot but he couldn't pull the trigger. That was one of the best looks Duke had all game, and not only did it result in zero points, it didn't even result in a shot.

Still, even with all those 4 things being as bad as they were, Duke was essentially one Jamon Gordon falling-down 2 point prayer away from a win. The sky is definitely not falling on this team, and we'll look a lot better than that in plenty of conference games this year.

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