Friday, January 19, 2007

Duke is Back in the Picture


Patrick Kendall


This is much better. Comfortable wins, stifling defense, and a controlled game pace. Staples of Duke Basketball. A couple things happened last night that I think may have helped turn the tide of Duke’s fortune in the ACC, which SHOULD spell (nothing definite of course) frustrating trouble for some “other” schools in the conference.

First of all, Duke finally beat a team with a legitimate low post threat (Kyle Visser) and a speedy guard running the point (Ishmael Smith). Having said that, Wake Forest is not a threatening team this season – any other time, this would have been an expected win, but for those of hitched to Duke’s wagon, we know that expectations are fragile creatures that can be easily dashed and so nothing can be taken for granted.

Secondly, I was comfortable enough to switch away from the game to watch Smallville (I always hope for Lois in a bikini but it was another week of disappointment from that standpoint) without fearing that the lead would dwindle away when I turned back (I’d use the PIP feature, but I also fear that Lois will be directly behind the PIP box and I’ll miss said bikini shot).

I know UNC fans (yeah, the mouthy ones who respond to my editorials – you know who you are) will decry the victory as nothing more than a mediocre team beating a bad one, and that may prove to be the truth, but Duke is not yet a mediocre team by strict definition of it’s conference record so we’ll stay tuned.

By the way, I’ll be in Chapel Hill to watch UNC pummel Georgia Tech (fingers crossed – it’s a long drive for disappointment).

[This statement is a paid endorsement for the UNC program made possible by the pleadings of my friend/editor who is a UNC fan but can’t write for himself]

So if any of you are there as well, come and see me. I’ll be easy to find – I’ll have on a UNC shirt and baseball cap (but I’ll be wearing my Duke underwear – though not on the outside, sorry).

So, while it’s still too soon (maybe all season will be too soon) to say that Coach K has righted the ship, I will say that at least Paulus seems to gotten the message that he needs to perform on the court rather than just show up. Funny thing though, whenever I read McRoberts’ stat line, I think his numbers are more in line with a point guards and then I wonder, “Why not make him the point guard?”

That way Zoubek could get more PT in the post; Paulus could back McRoberts up; Nelson and Henderson could play the wings and McClure could round out a nice four-guard attack with Lance Thomas the first guy off the bench to help in the paint. And wouldn’t McRoberts be a match up headache as Duke’s PG?

With NC State, Clemson, BC, UVA, Florida State, North Carolina and Maryland coming up next, the only “sure thing” I can be sure of is that Duke will NOT go undefeated during that stretch – it’s even conceivable that they will actually go DEFEATED in that stretch.

That said, I’ll finish with a statement that sums up my feelings adequately and accurately about the current Duke program.

I believe they will win nearly every time they score more than their opponent.

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