Thursday, March 15, 2007

VCU 79, Duke 77

The last game of Duke's season was essentially a 40 minute show of "Duke, This is Your Season." Fast start, hot shooting early, early energy, then the turnover bug kicked in, opportunities at the line were missed, the defense failed to come up big, and the team just couldn't quite pull out another close game. Duke looked very good for some 5 minute stretches, and then just looked dog tired for the rest. The team played much of the last ten minutes as if it was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and sure enough, it did. Here's the HD Box for Duke's side for the game:

Player Poss +/- Pts 2PM-A 3PM-A FTM-A FGA Ast TO STL BLK ORB DRB
McRoberts 70/71 -2 22/77 7-14 0-0 8-11 14/58 4/20 1/70 0/69 5/60 6/33 6/37
McClure 16/71 -3 0/15 0-1 0-0 0-0 1/12 0/5 1/16 0/17 0/10 0/7 0/6
Nelson 43/71 +9 8/44 3-5 0-2 2-3 7/32 1/12 5/43 0/38 1/39 0/21 5/29
Scheyer 61/71 -8 7/66 2-4 0-3 3-4 7/49 1/21 2/61 1/61 0/55 3/30 4/34
Paulus 68/71 -1 25/72 5-12 3-6 6-11 18/57 4/18 6/68 3/65 0/60 3/35 2/37
Pocius 15/71 -3 3/18 1-1 0-0 1-1 1/11 0/4 0/15 1/18 0/11 0/6 1/6
Thomas 31/71 +0 4/32 2-3 0-0 0-0 3/21 0/11 1/31 0/30 0/24 2/10 2/15
Henderson 49/71 -3 8/56 4-7 0-0 0-2 7/49 1/16 1/49 1/48 0/45 4/31 2/25
Davidson 1/71 +0 0/0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/1 0/0 0/0 0/0
Duke 71.00 -2 77 24-47 3-11 20-32 58 11/27 16/71 6/70 6/61 18/53 24/38

0.511 0.273 0.625
40.74 22.54 8.57 9.84 51.43 63.16

As you can see, Paulus and McRoberts had really nice games. Josh was an island inside, and he did an admirable job, both on the offensive and defensive end. He got on the glass, blocked shots, and scored 22 big points. And Greg played one tough game. He had Eric Maynor in his jock all night long, and managed to find the energy to go for 25 points, including several big 3s. Again, he seemed to be one of the only guys willing to take a tough shot when necessary - I like the attitude we saw out of Paulus at the end of the season, and I'm optimistic for next year with him back at the point.

Duke was let down by some bad turnovers, and some rough defense. VCU shot 9-16 from 3, and it seemed like none of those 3s were contested. VCU's press clearly frustrated Duke, but it never manifested itself until the ball got into the half court. Duke committed no turnovers on VCU's end, but had several that came after moving just a bit too fast to try to beat the press. Kind of like UNC has a secondary fast break, VCU's secondary press was what got us. And what can you say about Eric Maynor - kid had 22 points, including 3 straight killer shots at the end, plus 8 assists and 3 steals. He lived in the lane all night long, and was the reason that VCU won the game.

I will say, there are two burning questions left over from that game. 1) Why leave Greg on an island to bring the ball up? When VCU was just running full-court man-to-man, rarely did anyone come back to try to set a screen for Paulus to give him a little breathing room. I'm not sure if they were afraid of a trap or what, but he got stranded back there a lot, and had to expend a ton of energy just to get the ball across the line. Related to this, I'm surprised Duke didn't use McRoberts a little more to break the press. I'm not saying it would have worked every time, but more than once or twice would have been nice, and might have saved some of Greg's energy. 2) Why wasn't Nelson on Maynor at the end? DeMarcus is the best on-the-ball defender we have, quicker and longer than either Scheyer or Paulus. It was obvious to everyone in the building that VCU was going to go with Maynor, Maynor, and more Maynor down the stretch, so why not check him with our best. Jon couldn't stay with him, and essentially gave him a wide-open look at the game winner. Why weren't we countering their best offensive threat with our best defensive one?

This Duke team will have a lot to work on in the offseason, and I'm sure they are disappointed with the way this one came to an end. I'm disappointed to, but certainly not in the team - I'm just disappointed I won't be able to see the guys trot out with D-U-K-E on their jerseys until November. I love the roller coaster ride of the college basketball season, and there's always a period of loss when it ends. At least there are a lot of ACC teams left to root for in the tourney (plus a #1 women's team).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's too bad you missed the late-1980's Duke. Those teams were scrappy overachievers, up through 1991. By 1992, the Duke program had gotten so good, that with the exception of the 2 lost years in the middle of the 1990's, Duke always had just about the best talent in the country and were almost always number one seeds, but rarely showed the drive and determination of the 1988-1991 Blue Devils who went to 4 Final Fours in a row, although never a number one seed.