Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Villanova 77, Duke 54

There's not a whole lot to say when you shoot 27% for a game. You tip your hat to the other team for a good defensive performance (and it was a good defensive performance) and you wonder where the heck your shot went for 40 minutes. Duke shot 16-60. 16-60. 5-27 from downtown and 11-33 from 2. Villanova turned Duke into an exclusively jump-shooting team, and the jump shot just wasn't there. On the season, Duke got roughly 35% of their attempts as layups, dunks, or tip-ins. Against Villanova, that number was just 15/60, 25%. When you don't give yourselves good looks from inside, it's very difficult to score well. It also makes it more difficult to pick up easy second chance points. Shots from the paint put pressure on the defense, and often cause defenders to be out of place as they rotate, opening opportunities on the glass. While Duke was shooting jumpers from nowhere near the lane, Villanova was closing it off to offensive rebounding, gathering 36 of 44 Duke misses - better than 80%. Rebounding has hurt us in tournaments past, but usually on the defensive end. Thursday, Duke put up its single worst offensive rebounding performance on the year.

Villanova, by contrast, figured things out at the start of the second half and got the ball inside on Duke. Over the first 8 minutes, as they stretched the lead from 1 to 16, Villanova's attempts look like this: layup, jumper, layup, dunk, layup, layup, tip-in, layup, layup, three, layup, layup, jumper (paint). Of their first 13 second-half attempts from the field, 11 came in the paint. The Wildcats made 10 of those 13 shots, which is not terribly surprising when you get close looks at the hoop.

Watching the game (or at least the first ~30 minutes, until CBS put on the mercy rule in Washington State and switched to Missouri-Memphis), I actually thought Duke's offense played well for the first 15 minutes, despite not scoring. The offense was running smoothly (for the most part) and the Devils were getting exactly the looks they wanted to get - the shots just weren't falling. I sounded like a broken record, repeatedly saying after a miss "that's ok, that's a great look, it was exactly the kind of shot the play was designed to produce," and I wasn't just being delusional. The problem was, Villanova's defense got wise to what we were doing and began to shut it down, and Duke never adjusted. In the second half (again, what I saw of it) there was very little good running of the offense, and quite a lot of broken plays, late-shot-clock desperation shots, contested attempts, etc.

Here's the HD box. It is, quite simply, a blood bath. Henderson's offensive rating is sub-50 on a high usage night, and Scheyer's wasn't much better. There's not much spread in the plus/minus - we got whipped in the second half regardless of who was on the court.

And, as a bonus, here's the plus/minus from Villanova. Again, not much spread - Villanova outscored Duke regardless of who was on the court.




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Reynolds 24 21 3 44 27 17 68 48 20
Redding 22 18 4 43 27 16 65 45 20
Cunningham 24 21 3 37 22 15 61 43 18
Anderson 17 16 1 28 15 13 45 31 14
Stokes 13 10 3 26 18 8 39 28 11
Clark 17 13 4 23 17 6 40 30 10
Fisher 13 14 -1 27 18 9 40 32 8
Pena 0 2 -2 19 11 8 19 13 6
Colenda 0 0 0 4 0 4 4 0 4
Tchuisi 0 0 0 4 0 4 4 0 4

26 23 3 51 31 20 77 54 23

So that's it for the season; however, unlike in past years, I'm not going to go into complete hibernation over the off-season. I'll pop back in occasionally for some post-mortems on this season (I was intrigued by the suggestion to compare this season to last season, and may do so in some detail) and I'm also in the process of going back in time and compiling data from Duke seasons past to better be able to place future individual and team performances in their historical contexts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Villanova Preview

Duke and Villanova roll into Boston as two very evenly matched teams. The Wildcats feature a collection of talented guards who can slash and score, an undersized but talented and versatile big man, and the best pair of Coreys since Feldman/Haim. Villanova is a very strong offensive team, and has lost just one game all season (to UConn) where their offensive rating is +100. However, they've been a little lax on defense for much of the year, resulting in a healthy number of shootouts. 10 of their last 12 Big East opponents, including Rutgers and Depaul, scored over a point per possession against Villanova. Like Duke, actually, this is a team whose defense was dominant in the early part of the season but faded down the stretch. Like Duke, they feel like the regained some defensive swagger last weekend (holding UCLA, the Pac-10's most potent offense, to 69 points in 73 possessions).

Nova's game plan is pretty predictable. They like to spread the floor and let Fisher and Reynolds (and to a lesser extent, Redding) create off the bounce. They excel at getting to the line (where they shoot almost 75% as a team), and they share the ball well also. The team focuses more inside than outside, but Reynolds and Stokes (and to a lesser extent, Fisher) can light it up from downtown if left alone. Finally, their bigs are all well-trained to attack the glass. Cunningham, Anderson, Pena, and Clark are all in the top 500 nationally in offensive rebound percentage, and for a small team, the Wildcats rank a very respectable 53rd.

On defense, Villanova plays an aggressive man-to-man, creating a healthy number of steals (Reynolds, Fisher, and Anderson are in the top 500 in steal rate) although not a ton of turnovers aside from that. They've been somewhat generous from the three point stripe this season, and have a tendency to be foul prone - opponents post a 37.6 free throw rate, which is 202nd in the country. Finally, teams have a tendency to pass the ball well against them - over 61% of made baskets against Villanova come off of assists, ranking Villanova 328th in the country in denying assisted baskets.

To me, Duke needs to do two things to win this game - value the ball, and value possessions. Valuing the ball: The Devils have been very difficult to turn over since Scheyer took the point, and even their 17th ranking is misleadingly low. Seven of the past ten games they've turned it over fewer than once every six possessions. At the other end of the court, Duke's forced six of the past opponents to cough the ball up at least once every five possessions (four have been once every four). If that rate holds tonight, Duke will effectively give itself four-six extra opportunities to score.

Valuing possessions: Like valuing the ball, this has an offensive and defensive component. Offensively, Duke needs to avoid giving Villanova freebies - the possessions where Henderson takes an 18-footer 10 seconds into the shot clock before the offense gets set, where Thomas or Zoubek set moving screens, where Singler fumbles the ball out of bounds, etc. Instead, they need to play each possession on offense with purpose - get to the paint, draw the defense, create open looks off of screens, get layups, get open threes, and get fouled. Duke needs to be the aggressor when it has the ball, and not let Villanova's defense force them into jump shots. Complacency has been a problem for Duke on offense this year; if they get complacent tonight, their season will end. Defensively, Duke needs to end possessions. This team has had a habit of missing box out assignments and not gripping rebounds with strength. Defensive rebounding is the team's single biggest weakness, and 8 of the last 13 opponents have been able to get 40% or more of their misses back for second chances. Villanova will attack the offensive glass, and may do so with extra vigor against a Duke team that's weak in ending possessions. Tonight, Duke needs a strong defensive rebounding performance, and it needs to be done as a team. When the helpside defense rotates and the shot goes up, people just need to throw a body on any blue jersey they can to box out.

Distilled to a numbers point of view, if Duke is +4 or better in turnover margin and Villanova is getting 1/3 or less of their offensive rebounds, the Devils should be in a position to win.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

For ACC, Nothing Finer than Duke (well, and Carolina)

Seven became two pretty quickly for the ACC, which was a definite surprise, but what's not surprising is that the league's two heavyweights are playing into the second weekend. For Duke, welcome back! The Sweet 16 hasn't seemed the same without you these past couple years. Mentally, getting out of the first weekend was big for this team, which has a grand total of 37 second-weekend minutes on the roster (that would be Greg Paulus 36, Dave McClure 1). But the Sweet 16 has proven to be its own road block for Coach K and the Devils recently - he's lost 5 of his last 7.

Duke's game against Texas was an extremely solid win, featuring some clutch plays down the stretch from almost everyone on the team - Singler's tip, Scheyer's absolutely ridiculous backhanded save, Williams chasing the ball down and getting foul (as an aside, really, really stupid foul on Gary Johnson - he had position, and reaching out for a shove all alone in the middle of the floor pretty much never goes uncalled), Smith's offensive rebound, Henderson's clutch free throws, McClure's work to get a hand on the missed free throw and create a loose ball situation, etc. And finally this season some bounces went Duke's way - after almost constantly seeing the ball fall the right way for the opponents in every key scenario down the stretch, Duke got to watch Damion James' three go alllllllllmost all the way down, only to rim out.

Jon Scheyer played a superb defensive game on AJ Abrams. Yes, Abrams had 17 to lead Texas. But he shot under 40% and had to work extremely hard to even get the ball in his hands. By game's end, he was passing up reasonable looks for difficult passes - a sure sign of fatigue. I've said before that I think Scheyer is the best off-the-ball perimeter defender I can recall, and Saturday's game did nothing but validate that notion.

Of course, the consequence of siccing one guy on Abrams and telling him never to leave is that the rest of the Horns got to open up the floor and play four on four. Rotation and help defense becomes a lot harder when you take one of your defenders out of the picture, and Varez Ward (yes, Varez Ward) was able to take advantage for Texas.

On Duke's end of the court, this was another game where Gerald Henderson tried to do a little too much. He took nearly 50% of Duke's shots when he was in the game, and often times the ball went to him and never left. In some cases, this was a good thing - he had a stretch in the second half where he drove and attacked, and he got either layups or free throws (or both). But he also settled for long jumpers early in the shot clock and out of the flow of the offense. Most of those just aren't good shots, regardless of whether they go in. Singler had an all-around great game - he continued his hot shooting from three, finished shots inside, and grabbed four offensive boards (none bigger than the final tip). And Nolan Smith continued his reemergence, scoring 11 very efficient points and posting huge numbers in the +/- column.

All in all, this team is starting to look like it did back in November and December. It has four scorers who can get points in a variety of ways, it plays intense defense that forces turnovers, and it manages to come up with clutch plays when needed. Here's the HD Box from the Texas game:

And also, here's the Texas +/-. A comment on Dexter Pittman's numbers. As you can see, all his + came in the second half. He was on the court for three stretches - an early 12-8 Texas run, a brief 2-0 stint, and a similarly brief 6-1 push. His second half numbers, though, were not good - one layup, two missed free throws, four defensive rebounds, two fouls, and a turnover (also, although not reflected below, he played two more offensive possessions than defensive ones, which should tend to increase your +). I chalk this one up to happenstance more than a reflection of his impact, in part because of his first half numbers. When he played well (and played more minutes), he only helped Texas to a draw. When he played more poorly (and fewer minutes) the team managed to outscore Duke 20-9. The two wouldn't necessarily seem to correlate. Again, I think this is a lesson in the merits of these numbers for such small sample sizes (particularly with short substitution patterns - when you're only on court for 2 (the 2-0 run) or 3 (the 6-1 run) possessions at a time, there's a lot of noise and random chance involved).




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Pittman 25 25 0 20 9 11 45 34 11
Mason 18 20 -2 19 18 1 37 38 -1
Chapman 0 0 0 4 7 -3 4 7 -3
Balbay 19 26 -7 36 34 2 55 60 -5
Abrams 29 36 -7 40 38 2 69 74 -5
Ward 10 16 -6 25 24 1 35 40 -5
Johnson 13 17 -4 20 21 -1 33 38 -5
James 25 30 -5 36 37 -1 61 67 -6
Atchley 6 10 -4 0 2 -2 6 12 -6

29 36 -7 40 38 2 69 74 -5

Next, for Carolina, Tywon Lawson (toe) is back and looks to be largely unaffected by the injury. Lawson (toe) (what? this is how his name appears every 30 seconds or so on the ESPN ticker) again played a key role for Carolina down the stretch as the Heels sprinted away from LSU. Lawson (toe) reentered a tie game with 8:11 remaining. Carolina went on a 19-4 run over the next six minutes during which he scored 9 points, dropped 2 assists, and picked up 2 key steals (and on one of the three scoring possessions where he didn't get a bucket or assist, he got an offensive rebound that kept a possession alive, ultimately ending in a Green 3). Lawson (toe) has a great knack for understanding when he needs to stop being a facilitator and start controlling a game - it's a quailty all great point guards have, and one that will serve him well in the NBA.

Here's the +/- from the Heels' game against the Tigers. Notice Ed Davis at the top (and, correspondingly, Deon Thompson at the bottom). Davis has out-plussed Thompson in many games recently and is starting to get a greater share of the second-half minutes. His offensive game still lacks polish, but he's going to be a very, very good big man for them next season.




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Davis 15 13 2 37 23 14 52 36 16
Ellington 36 26 10 46 41 5 82 67 15
Lawson 27 20 7 41 35 6 68 55 13
Green 36 29 7 33 28 5 69 57 12
Hansbrough 34 28 6 38 35 3 72 63 9
Zeller 11 4 7 0 0 0 11 4 7
Frasor 13 8 5 23 24 -1 36 32 4
Drew 2 4 -2 0 0 0 2 4 -2
Thompson 16 13 3 12 19 -7 28 32 -4

38 29 9 46 41 5 84 70 14

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Round Wrap-up

The last three days have not been good for the ACC. 6 of the 9 postseason teams lost, 4 by double digits (one on their home court). Wake Forest and Boston College got completely outclassed by two teams that wouldn't have been in the Big Dance but for winning their conference tournaments (although I still think that regardless of their respective records, USC is a better basketball team than BC on any given day - that win was not an upset). And Terrence Oglesby threw a stupid (and costly) elbow that helped cement Clemson's latest first round exit.

So now it's down to the old guard in the conference to do some work on behalf of the ACC. Let's start with UNC. The Heels had no trouble with Radford, which was not surprising, although that they won with defense more than offense may have been. The Heels didn't shoot particularly well, and didn't get to the line very much (relatively), but completely shut down Radford's shooting, allowing just 22 makes on 80 shots. About the only time Artsiom Parakhouski got going was against Zeller, as you can see from the +/- below (look allllll the way down at the bottom):




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Ellington 53 34 19 37 16 21 90 50 40
Green 49 32 17 30 14 16 79 46 33
Hansbrough 42 25 17 17 6 11 59 31 28
Davis 34 14 20 20 12 8 54 26 28
Thompson 24 17 7 34 14 20 58 31 27
Frasor 36 26 10 26 11 15 62 37 25
Drew 21 10 11 27 17 10 48 27 21
Copeland 0 0 0 11 6 5 11 6 5
Watts 0 0 0 11 8 3 11 8 3
Tanner 0 0 0 7 5 2 7 5 2
Moody 0 0 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
Wooten 0 0 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
Zeller 6 12 -6 16 11 5 22 23 -1

53 34 19 48 24 24 101 58 43

Now, they get a much more difficult opponent in LSU. Handling Marcus Thornton will be a challenge, and in Chris Johnson, the Tigers put out an athletic shot-blocking presence who could give Hansbrough trouble. LSU plays very good field goal defense, and rebounds well, both things that will be heavily tested by Carolina. Now that the 1/16 game is out of the way, UNC's in the territory where any team can beat them, and any absence by Lawson will actually hurt.

Maryland took Cal out of the game they wanted to play and controlled the second half. They avoided turnovers, shot well (for the Terps), and continued to attack the glass (they've gotten 46% of their own misses in the last 4 games). Vasquez turned in a very strong 27-point performance, and everyone but Mosley put in good efficient contributions on offense.




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Neal 29 24 5 48 36 12 77 60 17
Vasquez 34 28 6 50 40 10 84 68 16
Hayes 20 21 -1 38 26 12 58 47 11
Bowie 25 25 0 50 40 10 75 65 10
Milbourne 21 20 1 29 23 6 50 43 7
Mosley 16 12 4 12 14 -2 28 26 2
Gregory 18 18 0 23 21 2 41 39 2
Tucker 7 7 0 0 0 0 7 7 0

34 31 3 50 40 10 84 71 13

Memphis, though, is a bad matchup for them. Maryland is going to have a very, very difficult time putting points on the board against the Tiger defense that has been completely shutting people down (Matadors excepted). Dozier and Taggart could have big days against a small Maryland front line, and Tyreke Evans is going to get into the land all day long.

Duke came out and looked like a 2-seed. They dominated the matchup with Binghamton, turning them over with frequency and dominating the smaller Bearcats on the glass (17 of 31 offensive, 21 of 27 defensive). - The Bearcats hit shots - nearly a .600 efg% - but did really nothing else. Duke spread the offense around quite well, with 6 guys in double figures, assists on 21 of 28 field goals, and only 1 guy (Henderson) playing more than 30 minutes. Jon Scheyer continued his run of ridiculously efficient performances (15 points on 9 shots, 4 assists, and 6-6 from the line), and Nolan looked sharp attacking the basket. Here's the HD Box from the Binghamton game - as you'll see, the final margin (24) made it look closer than it was, as the end of the bench got outscored by 6 in garbage time.

Now comes a matchup with Texas, the only 7-seed to advance out of the first round (and they did so comfortably). The 'Horns have a dangerous inside/outside combo in AJ Abrams (joining PJ Tucker, TJ Ford, and DJ Augustin in the Texas all-initial hall of fame) and Dexter Pittman. On the season, Texas was a terrible shooting team - 202nd in the country in efg% - but relentlessly attacked the offensive glass, gathering almost 40% of their misses. Duke will have to force misses and box out. Aside from Abrams, there's no one dangerous from 3, and they get a very small percentage of their points from beyond the arc. The 11 threes they hit on Thursday was very much an aberration. On defense, Texas hangs their hat on stopping shots - teams shoot just .458 efg% against them, and they block a lot of shots - but the rest of their defense is below average. Still, Texas has the talent to play like a top-10 team, and can be a very dangerous opponent (particularly with an arena full of Heels fans egging them on).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Binghamton Preview and ACC Thursday Games

Every Duke fan with a functioning long-term memory is having nervous Belmont flashbacks right about now. The facial similarities are there - small school, lots of little guards, name starts with B, etc. I'm here to assuage some of those fears. Here are some key difference. First, Belmont was a very dangerous offensive team. They shot and passed the ball extremely well, and had three players - Hare, Dansby, and Dotson - with top 300 offensive ratings. They ran a spread-and-back-cut system that has historically given Duke problems. Binghamton, on the other hand, is one of the 5 worst offensive teams in the tourney and doesn't really have a single efficient, medium- or high-usage player. They don't shoot the ball well, and really don't pass it well. Mayben and Rivera mostly try to create for themselves - this is a team that can get bogged down in the half court. Second, Belmont had some size to keep Duke honest. 6'8" Mathew Dotson started and played 22 minutes and 6'9" Keaton Belcher played another 11. That's 33 minutes of at least one guy with size. Binghamton, on the other hand, starts no one over 6'6" and their two tall players got about 30 minutes total in the three AEC tournament games. Belmont was a very adequate rebounding team - Binghamton is poor, particularly on the defensive end. Third, Belmont had experience against decent teams and in the NCAAs. They played 3 top-100 squads in 2007-08 - Cincinnati, Alabama, and Xavier - and won 2 of the 3 (Xavier, on the other hand, destroyed them). They also had made the tourney the two years before, losing to Georgetown by 25 and UCLA by 34, but getting the novelty nerves out of the way. Binghamton has never been here before, and played a ridiculously easy schedule. Their non-conference games were against Masnfield (non-DI), Quinnipiac, Central Connecticut, George Washington, Utah Valley (twice), Rutgers, Bucknell, Manhattan, Rider, Tulane, and Marist. Their toughest opponent all year was Vermont. Unlike Belmont, which was exposed to high-talent teams before and during that season, Binghamton hasn't seen anything close to what Duke will roll out.

Everything about this matchup looks like a comfortable Duke win. Binghamton apparently runs a press, which has given Duke trouble this year. But if they can't turn the Devils over, they'll be in for a long night. Buckets will be difficult to come by, and they shouldn't get many second chances. Binghamton is going to be at a serious size disadvantage. Their starting lineup runs 5'11", 6'2", 6'3", 6'4", and 6'6" - every starter for Duke is 6'4" or better. Personally, even though Binghamton is a pressing team and filled with quick guards, I think Duke should try to aggressively press them early, force turnovers, and run them out of the building. I would also be surprised if Duke shoots a ton of threes - I think they'll exploit Singler's, Henderson's and Scheyer's size advantages and really attack the rim. Obviously every NCAA game creates the risk of a loss, but I can't help but think that this is a very good matchup for Duke.

I feel the same way about UNC's matchup with Radford, with or without Ty Lawson. The Highlanders have a very capable big man in Artsiom Parakhouski. He's been a superb rebounder - top 50 nationally both on offense and defense - he blocks shots, gets to the line, shoots well from the field, and is not turnover prone. He killed VMI in the Big South championship game. Of course, his ability to stay out of foul trouble against Hansbrough is uncertain - he's been relatively immune to fouls, but this assignment is very different. Aside from Parakhouski, though, this team is not good on offense. They trot out no less than five players who don't produce a point per possession on offense, including Amir Johnson, who leads the team in minutes. Like Binghamton, Radford just doesn't have the profile of a typical low-seed Cinderella. They'll try to control pace, and if they do, they might keep the final margin under 20. But there's just no realistic possibility of a win, or even a game that's interesting in the last 5-10 minutes.

Kansas City is ACC country tomorrow, as both Clemson and Maryland have their opening matchups there. Maryland plays first, drawing the Cal Bears. This is actually a reasonably favorable draw for the Terps. Cal's not a particularly big team - Jamal Boykin, of all people, gets the most minutes of anyone 6'8" or above (by the way, if he's 6'8", he's grown since his transfer). Cal's also not particularly adept at forcing turnovers, and they don't block shots. In general, the Bears don't play good defense. That said, their offense is very dangerous - 12th in the country in efficiency, and the best three-point shooting team in the nation (although they don't take full advantage of that skill, shooting just 26% of their attempts from downtown, 311th in the nation). Randle, Christopher, and Robertson are all deadly from outside. Vasquez will need to have a good game for Maryland to win, but Cal should give him every opportunity to do so. I can easily see him putting the Terps on his back and carrying them into the second round.

Clemson takes the court next, in what may be the biggest contrast in styles in the first round. Clemson presses the full court, seeks to push pace and force turnovers, while Michigan controls pace, falls back in the 1-3-1 zone and shoots a lot of threes. The Wolverines have been extremely good this season at avoiding turnovers - 16th best in the country and 9th best in the tournament. What they're not, however, is a particularly strong defensive team. The only thing they do well is avoid fouls - teams shoot well, rebound well, and don't commit turnovers against Michigan. Rivers and Oglesby are going to get to shoot a lot of threes tomorrow, and KC will be charged with locking up Manny Harris. Ultimately, I think this matchup falls in Clemson's favor - Booker and Rivers can neutralize Harris and Sims (Michigan's best players), and the Tigers can generate enough turnovers to get free points. In what's likely to be a low pace game, those free points will loom larger.

ACC in the NIT

Virginia Tech and Duquesne played one heck of a game. Double overtime, with all 5 Hokie starters playing over 40 minutes. AD Vassallo, Jeff Allen, and JT Thompson led the way, although none had the game Aaron Jackson had. Setting a career high in the final game of your career is one heck of a way to go out. For the Hokies, it was a great time to have their best offensive game of the season, including 31-47 on two point shots, a .648 efg%, 1.40 PPWS, and turnovers on just 1 of every 8 possessions. The Hokies will host breakfast with the Bears next - 11am local Saturday morning against Baylor.

Miami made it a clean sweep for the two ACC teams in the NIT, winning rather comfortably at Providence. Jack McClinton had a fantastic game, knocking down 7-14 from downtown. Lance Hurdle and James Dews played some nice complimentary roles, but this was was really all about Jack. Like Mills on St. Mary's, he has the capability of carrying his team to the Garden without much help. The journey continues this weekend at Florida.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Catching Up with the ACC Champs

It came to my attention last week that I neglected to do any write-up, post any stats, etc. on the last Duke-UNC game. I'll start by remedying that. Jon Scheyer had the best game of any Duke player since JJ Redick. His efficiency was quite simply ridiculous - 24 points on 7 shots from the floor, plus 5 assists without a turnover. He became the latest in a long line of ACC point guards this season to absolutely torch the Heels (as an aside, I had to chuckle when Jimmy Dykes went on (and on, and on) during the UNC-VT game about how much Carolina missed Lawson defensively. Bobby Frasor is a far superior defender to Lawson, and he did a nice job holding Delaney in check. If forced to choose, I might even favor Larry Drew's defense over Ty's).

Once again, Duke was in this game until the bitter end. They had another killer play where Singler hit the end line on a rebound - Duke would have had the ball down four with a chance to make it a one possession game, and instead UNC converted three points and essentially made the final outcome academic. Carolina basically won the game in the first 7:16 of the second half. After Elliot Williams hit a jumper to extend the halftime lead to three, Carolina went on a 17-7 run to take a 55-48 lead. For the rest of the game, Duke never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead - they cut it to two twice, and Carolina immediately responded with scores. In the end, the analysis for this one was simple (Clark Kellogg, to his credit, nailed it) - Carolina had Ty Lawson, and we didn't. After Duke cut it to 65-63, Lawson scored or assisted on all of the next 13 Tar Heel points (basically everything they got for the rest of the game except Hansbrough's final FT).

Even though it was a loss, there was a lot for Duke to be optimistic about. They came in with a good game plan, and slowed Lawson down much better than in the first game. On offense, they largely got exactly what they wanted - Duke had some very, very good looks at the hoop that didn't go down; at the very least, they dictated what would happen on that end of the court much more than Carolina did.

Here's the HD box from that game. Again, this one illustrates the limited value +/- has when you're talking about players who don't sit much - Scheyer sat for 2 possessions that we won 2-0, which ended up giving him a team low -10. I think it goes without saying that he was not Duke's least valuable cog.

And, Carolina's plus/minus for the game.




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Ellington 31 26 5 37 29 8 68 55 13
Lawson 31 28 3 41 32 9 72 60 12
Thompson 25 25 0 35 24 11 60 49 11
Hansbrough 33 32 1 32 26 6 65 58 7
Green 29 33 -4 32 25 7 61 58 3
Davis 14 13 1 10 10 0 24 23 1
Frasor 18 21 -3 14 10 4 32 31 1
Zeller 2 4 -2 4 4 0 6 8 -2
Copeland 0 2 -2 0 0 0 0 2 -2
Drew 7 11 -4 0 0 0 7 11 -4

38 39 -1 41 32 9 79 71 8

On to the ACCT. The Maryland game has already gotten coverage, but the BC box wasn't up in time for me to run the numbers before Day 2 started. Biko Paris had the game of his life against the Devils, hitting all 5 of his shots from the field and ending up with 15 (at least a season high). His production was extremely valuable to the Eagles - they were +17! when he was in the game. Those numbers, of course, reflect the "runs" nature of the game. Duke started out 11-2 and 17-11. BC then finished the half on an 18-5 run. Duke responded to open the second half with a 32-17 push, and then BC closed out with a 19-12 finish. Paris was on the court for every part of BC's runs and very little of Duke's. That's how you end up +17.

For the Devils, Kyle Singler carried the day - 26 points on 15 shots plus 9 rebounds (4 offensive). Henderson struggled with silly fouls early, but came in to hit the go ahead shot (and ultimately the game winner) down the stretch (side note - we should really post him up more, particularly when he has a size advantage). It was a real survive-and-advance game for Duke. I don't know what it is about BC this year - both on paper and to the eye during the game, they don't look that good. But they beat UNC, beat Duke, and took the Devils right down to the wire the second time around. Here's the HD Box:

And, BC's plus/minus:




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Paris 27 14 13 22 18 4 49 32 17
Roche 14 5 9 22 19 3 36 24 12
Rice 29 19 10 36 44 -8 65 63 2
Dunn 5 4 1 0 0 0 5 4 1
Sanders 13 5 8 36 44 -8 49 49 0
Southern 24 18 6 14 25 -11 38 43 -5
Trapani 18 18 0 36 44 -8 54 62 -8
Jackson 0 10 -10 0 0 0 0 10 -10
Raji 15 17 -2 14 26 -12 29 43 -14

29 22 7 36 44 -8 65 66 -1

Finally, the ACC title game was Duke at almost its very best. They played excellent defense in the first half (and most of the second half too, really), holding FSU to just 2 field goals in the half's last 24 possessions. On offense, for the first time in a long time, Henderson, Singler, and Scheyer all had good games together (and Nolan Smith added valuable penetration ability). When those three are on like they were Sunday, Duke is very tough to stop. Duke won the game on the 3-point line (first time in a long while where that was really the case), but that doesn't mean they won by playing on the perimeter. They were at their best when they spread the court and played drive/draw/dish - guys got bettter looks, shot the ball in rhythm, and converted. When they shot 1-on-1 threes, or just passed the ball around the perimeter for jumpers, the offense was far less effective.

Most encouraging was the way Duke responded to an early second half push from FSU. The Noles cut a 14-point halftime lead to 6 in one heck of a hurry. Duke then scored 23 points over the next 8 possessions, scoring on each trip and getting the lead to the game-high 22. While FSU made it interesting down the stretch thanks to hot shooting, stupid Duke fouls, and poor free throw shooting on our part, the game was essentially over after those 8 possessions.

Jon Scheyer was awarded tournament MVP, and it was richly deserved (I would have had no quarrel with Toney Douglas being selected, as he was sensational). Scheyer posted offensive ratings of 134.6, 154.9, and 164.6 in the three games, hitting 4-6 from 2, 12-25 from 3, and 21-25 from the line. He was the Devils' steadying force throughout the weekend, and largely responsible for the miniscule number of turnovers (4) committed against FSU. Kudos to Jon for an MVP-caliber performance.

HD Box

And FSU's plus/minus




off def +/- off def +/- off def +/-
Hoff 0 0 0 13 9 4 13 9 4
Gibson 3 2 1 0 0 0 3 2 1
Kitchen 13 17 -4 18 15 3 31 32 -1
Dulkys 0 8 -8 37 30 7 37 38 -1
Alabi 12 26 -14 23 11 12 35 37 -2
Singleton 19 22 -3 38 39 -1 57 61 -4
Reid 6 15 -9 19 16 3 25 31 -6
Douglas 21 35 -14 43 36 7 64 71 -7
DeMercy 10 15 -5 22 25 -3 32 40 -8
Loucks 8 18 -10 24 25 -1 32 43 -11
Echefu 13 17 -4 3 14 -11 16 31 -15

21 35 -14 48 44 4 69 79 -10