Saturday, January 24, 2009

Duke 85, Maryland 44

It's very difficult to say this about a 41-point win, but the final score of this game was deceptively close. Maryland was down 66-23 when Duke's bench came on as a unit with 13 minutes to play. To that point, the Devils were 1.6 points per minute better than the Terps - on pace for a 64-point victory. If the starters had stayed on the court (note: not something I'm advocating), I have no doubt the final margin would have been somewhere in that neighborhood. The offensive and defensive efficiency from our top 8 during the first 27 minutes was similarly exceptional - 140.43 and an astoundingly ridiculous 48.94, for a margin of 91.49, meaning Duke gained a point on its lead almost every single possession. Actually (as shown in the HD Box below), when Henderson or Zoubek were in, Duke was more than a full point per possession better than the Terps. Whoo.

This was as thoroughly dominant a defensive performance as I've seen in a long time. Maryland never looked comfortable. They coughed it up a ton, they missed everything from the field, and they had absolutely no offensive rebounding presence. Again, the final numbers are a bit deceptive - before the bench unit came in, Duke had grabbed 22 of 26 Maryland misses, as well as an astounding 18 of 30 Duke misses. 27 minutes into the game, and Duke led the rebounding battle 40-16. Duke contests absolutely everything - simple handoffs or reset passes are not simple against the Devils, and Singler, Smith, and Scheyer in particular love gunning for takeaways on plays like that.

The game was largely out of reach at the half (Duke's 3rd sub-20 point defensive half and 4th ACC game where an opponent went 20 consecutive minutes without scoring 20 points), but those of us who have seen Duke slack off with big leads at time this year were wondering if the intensity would be sustained. The Devils emphatically answered yes, scoring on each of the half's first 11 possessions and racking up a 26-8 run that broke Maryland's spirit. The highlight for the run were the back-to-back breakaway scores - an alley-oop to Singler followed by a Henderson steal that led to 3 leaping fastbreak passes finished off by a Henderson layup and foul.

Brian Zoubek had a great impact game - 9 points, 7 offensive rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks, no turnovers. He's done an excellent job cutting down his turnovers this season - just 4 in ACC play from a guy who spent his first two seasons as a bit of a walking turnover. His impact on the Devils this year has been very noticeable - when he's on the court, Duke has an efficiency margin of 49.26 and a defensive rating of 72.26, both best on the squad. He's played about 37% of Duke's possessions, and the team is +236 - in the other 63% of Duke's possessions, Duke is "just" +160. Not surprisingly, Duke's rebounding numbers (both offense and defense) and shot blocking numbers are best when Brian is in.

Finally, extended minutes for Williams, Plumlee, Pocius, and Czyz showed why they don't get extended minutes in other games. They looked extremely disjointed on offense and (aside from shot-blocking) thoroughly average on defense. In the final 13 minutes of the game, the bench as a whole (not just those guys) was outscored by 2. There's clear talent in these guys, but the readiness isn't quite there. That said, it's nice to have 9th, 10th, and 11th options like Williams, Plumlee, and Pocius - makes me worry much less if one or more of the top 8 gets hurt or in foul trouble.

Around the ACC

Virginia and NC State are starting to separate themselves from the middle of the ACC and join Georgia Tech on the bottom. For the Cavs, the defense just isn't there, something that must drive Dave Leitao crazy. His first Virginia team stayed competitive despite talent deficits due to tenacious defense. This edition has similar talent deficits but isn't showing the same intensity on the defensive end. They've given up over a point per possession to every conference opponent and have a very poor 111 defensive rating. For FSU, Toney Douglas was again great and the team finally got some outside shots to fall.

The Pack got absolutely killed on the glass against BC - the Eagles got almost 60% of their own misses. NCSU has given up more than 1.2 points per possession in the last two games. Today, their offense topped a point per possession for the first time in ACC play, but it was far from enough to get it done. And aside from Ben McCauley and Tracy Smith (who excelled today), the team isn't getting efficient offense from anyone.


Anonymous said...

Those minutes for the first 27 minutes are terrifying. Some friends today compared this game to the kind of shows the '99 team would put on; that seems exaggerated (a bit) but it is a shame we don't have efficiency data like yours for that team...

Anonymous said...

I mean, those *numbers* for the first 27 minutes. Doh.