Sunday, December 21, 2008

Two Dominating Wins

The Devils had themselves a very nice post-finals week. First, they got back on the horse against UNC-Asheville, a team that is not at all good, but that Duke thoroughly dominated as they should have. The Devils were initially propelled by hot outside shooting, and then continued to pull away by forcing turnover after turnover after turnover and crashing the offensive glass for second chance opportunities. Duke used an extremely balanced offensive attack - 6 players in double figures, 3 more with at least 6, and everyone except Marty Pocius and Olek Czyz picked up at least a point for every possession they used. Duke put the game away for good with a 13-possession 22-8 run that occurred when the usual starting lineup was first on the floor together as a unit. For good reason, K left this lineup alone during this run - a 13-possession stretch without substitution may be the longest I've seen in the 2 1/2 seasons of tracking Duke's games - and for good reason, as they scored on 9 of 13 possessions and forced Asheville into many missed shots. Here's the HD Box:

Then, on Saturday, Duke simply stomped Xavier out of New Jersey. The Devils opened the game on an 18-1 run, and led by such comfortable margins as 39-16, 48-18, and (the halftime score) 55-24. Duke used stifling defense (10 turnovers in 39 possessions, 33% shooting, 81% defensive rebounding) and ridiculously efficient offense (scoring on 23 of 39 possessions and getting 55 points out of those 23 scoring possessions) to end this game at the 20-minute mark. The teams played essentially equal basketball in the second half - Duke led by a score of 73-43 and was up 26 with as little as a couple minutes left - before Xavier ended the game on a 10-2 run to make the margin look slightly more respectable than it actually was.

The whole team played well, but two especially stood out in my mind: Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek. Scheyer was obviously lights out on offense - 4-4 from 2, 5-7 from 3 - but it was the way he got his points that was almost as impressive. He seemed to have a great intuitive sense for knowing when to drive and when to spot up, and pretty much always had the defense unprepared for whichever option he took. Also, he had my single favorite play of the game, which was the no-look from the free throw line to McClure to end the first half. That play was a textbook example of jab-jab-jab-uppercut - Duke had, on several previous possessions, driven to the free throw line and then kicked out to the wing. When Scheyer drove to the free throw line, the Musketeer defense immediately overplayed the wing, leaving McClure open on the baseline cut for the easy deuce.

Zoubek (for the second game in a row) also looked solid. He has improved substantially on defense - he leaves his feet less often, he doesn't reach as much, and he uses his height to his advantage. He got 4 blocks yesterday simply by making himself an obstacle - guys drove toward him, tried hang in the air long enough to get around him, couldn't, and as soon as they were vulnerable to the block, Brian reached out and swatted the ball. Also, he had my second and third favorite plays of the game - the big follow dunk and the sweet low-to-the-ground bounce pass off the block to (again) a cutting McClure.

Here's the HD Box from the Xavier game:

Around the ACC

Good day in ACC hoops yesterday, with only Virginia losing (this may not be a 10-win team this year). BC's win over Providence was particularly nice - middle to bottom of the pack ACC teams beating middle to bottom of the pack Big East teams will always be met with approval here.

Today features FSU and Pitt in a game that could really make or break the Noles non-con season. Florida State gets to host, so hopefully the fans at the Leon Civic Center will be loud and raucous against the Panthers.

And then the marquee matchup of the day is the opener to ACC play (and the only conference game to be played before the new year) as the Clemson Tigers travel to Miami to take on the Hurricanes. Clemson has jumped out to an 11-0 start against very mediocre competition - only the win at Illinois is something to really crow about. Miami, on the other hand, dropped out of the top 25 after the home loss to Ohio State (thanks to Jack McClinton losing his temper) and is now looking to show folks that they are (as they were hyped in the preseason) the third-best team in the conference. Should be a great matchup tonight, and one I'm very much looking forward to watching.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great stuff, guys. Thanks again for doing it. Always a great time of year for my two loves - Duke hoops and stats!!!

BTW, do you know anything about Ken Pomeroy and BP? It looks like he may have disassociated from those guys, which is alright by me, but I can't find any recent articles anywhere by him. He is a phenom, and we are all better for his work and insights.

I would have written this by message, but couldn't find a contact link. :p