Monday, February 18, 2008

Duke and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Game

When I was a little kid, I used to read a book called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I thought of that book yesterday at the end of the Wake game, when I'm sure more than a few Blue Devils contemplated their own moves to Australia (ok, enough children's book references for today). Duke had its 2nd worst shooting game of the season, its 2nd worst game turning the ball over, its 3rd worst game getting shots blocked, its 2nd worst game sending opponents to the free throw line, and to cap it all off, the worst performance from the free throw line all season. All of these things contributed to the Devils dropping their first conference game and their second game overall.

From the start, the Devils looked flat. They turned it over in 5 of the first 9 possessions, and consistently looked a half-step slower than Wake on both offense and defense. They let Wake push the tempo up the court, often letting Teague or Smith all the way into the lane before turning them around, at which point open shooters scattered around the perimeter. And there were several mental lapses - stupid passes, stupid fouls, defensive breakdowns, etc. Nonetheless, Duke was in a position to win the game. They led with 8:21 to play, and were within 6 as late as 2:02 left. But both the offense and the defense let down - from the time that Duke led 60-55, they finished 4-22 from the field with 7 turnovers in 11 minutes. That's not going to win any ballgames, let alone against a team that played as well as Wake Forest.

For the Deacs, Jeff Teague and James Johnson served serious notice on the league that Wake has turned the corner. The last two seasons (post-Chris Paul) have been ugly, but Wake seems to have the pieces in place to get back into contention. Not to mention they have some serious recruits coming to town in Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker, and Tony Woods. But leave next year for next year - Wake now has a great chance to get back in the NCAAs this season. If they just hold home court, they'll be 18-11, 8-8 with wins over Duke and Maryland. If they can steal one on the road against either of the Techs, they're probably golden. Also, I know the committee says it doesn't look at conferences, only teams, but the ACC is the top conference in the RPI, and it would be odd if the ACC still got fewer teams than the Pac-10, Big East, Big XII, and as many as the SEC and Big 10. Wake is an appealing 5th team, not the least because the post-Prosser success is a compelling story.

For Duke, the task is to bounce back at Miami this week. They need to regain their confidence on offense and tighten up the defense to get the win.

Oh, and as an aside, if you have any no-hitters, winning streaks, or just anything else you'd like jinxing, I'm available. I bill my time in 6 minute increments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love it.
When the season started, we all hoped that things were going to be better than last year.
As the season progressed, we all hoped that we could keep improving and compete for an acc title.
After beating carolina, there was a shift and everyone started to expect duke to run the table in the acc, sweep carolina, get a number one seed in the east and walk into the final four.
We all learned a lesson about staying hungry and now we're back to hoping that this very talented and very young team will get back on track and finish strong.
Knowing that K will use this loss in the best way possible, I expect that they will.

Hey, if you've got 6 minutes to spare, throw up a quick column on how unc will blow out DUKE in durham and win the rest of their games!