Sunday, November 09, 2008

Monday 11/10 - Season Tip-Off

The 2008-2009 college basketball season starts on Monday, and both opening games are played in Cameron Indoor. The season officially begins with a game between Georgia Southern and Houston, but that's merely a preview to the main event (well, to the extent a game between one of the top-10 teams in the country and one of the (likely) bottom-10 teams in the country can be called a main event).

Presbyterian, if it's anything like last year's team, is perimeter-oriented to the extreme. The team is super small - second-shortest in the country last season by Pomeroy's effective height measure, averaging just 6'2.8" across all five positions. As is expected with such a small team, they struggled in every area where height is helpful - no offensive rebounding, terrible both at blocking shots and getting shots blocked, woefully bad field goal defense, etc. To compensate for their lack of height, the players just bomb away from the outside - 7 different players last season took at least 2 3-point attempts per game, and the team on the whole took more than half its shots from beyond the arc.

Despite all their issues, last year's squad often hung tough in games. They played Clemson, Wake, NCSU, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Auburn, and Mississippi, and only lost those games by an average of 12 points per game, so they rarely got resoundingly whipped by much better teams. Still, it's a squad that went 2-25 against D-I opponents, so this should not be a heavy test for Duke.

Actually, no one should be surprised if this looks a lot like the Lenoir-Rhyne game. Duke will likely have a lot of success on layups, dunks, and points in the paint, as the Devils' size at all positions will exceed Presbyterian's by several inches. Zoubek especially is likely to have 5-6 inches on the guy guarding him. The team ought to dominate the glass on both ends, and should win comfortably even if the three point shot isn't falling. Presbyterian also had a bad propensity to turn the ball over last season, which ought to feed into Duke's pressure defense and great easy scores for the Devils in transition.

Because it's the first game of the season, people will naturally look to tomorrow as a measuring stick for Duke in some way. If it's a tight game at halftime, or a final margin of victory under 20, people may wonder if this team may be over-hyped. If we win by 50, people may start thinking about tickets to, um, wherever the Final Four is this year (why do I not know this off the top of my head?). It's important to remember that this is just one game. For those lucky enough to watch it (my Comcast does not carry ESPNU, and surprisingly enough, berating the nice phone representatives is not the best way to get them to add it on short notice), pay more attention to how Duke plays rather than the final score. Is the defensive intensity there? Is the offensive movement active? Are passes crisp? Are guys communicating with each other on and off the ball? Are people getting good looks at the hoop, regardless of whether the shot ultimately goes in?

Tomorrow is simply the beginning of another season with the Devils. It's a chance for us as fans to get to know new players, get to see growth in the ones we have become familiar with, get to be frustrated by some bone-headed plays, get to be wowed by some jaw-dropping ones, etc. We've got 5 (hopefully 6) months ahead with this squad, and we're lucky enough to have this team around from as early in the season as possible.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Final Four's in Detroit