Friday, February 9, 2007

The Duke/Carolina Breakdown (Mostly Duke)


Patrick Kendall

So, I gave myself a full day to recover from what I thought was a well-played basketball game (for the most part), but I would be remiss if I didn’t do two things: 1) praise the good play and 2) bash the bad stuff. So off we go.

Good Stuff – Stand out performances from both sides

Duke defense – against any other team in the country (in my humble opinion), Duke’s smothering defense would have resulted in a win going away. The only way to fight against that kind of problem is by throwing bodies at it, which Carolina has and did, in abundance. Doesn’t hurt that all those Carolina guys are pretty good ballplayers to boot.

Good job, Duke.

Greg Paulus – did a solid job for the most part keeping himself between Ty Lawson and the basket, while putting up some offensive numbers himself. Nice work.

Brandon “Gets It Done” Wright – man, are his arms long. I tried to throw a piece of paper into a trashcan next to the TV during the game and I’ll be damned if Wright didn’t block my shot…plus he was like Kevin McHale in the paint – unstoppable. Great game.

Roy Williams – his strategy was perfect. Keep the game close until Duke tires from continuous full court pressure. Add in the fatigue from Duke’s own defensive effort and it amounts to 35 minutes of great basketball – problem for Duke was the game lasted 40 minutes. Great coaching.

Gerald Henderson – some absolutely beautiful plays on both ends of the court – even his goaltending calls were sweet. I have a good feeling about this kid.

Jon Scheyer – brilliant game. Fatigue obviously got him so hopefully he’ll learn from this and borrow from J.J.’s workout regimen to ensure he has enough gas for a 50 minute game. Still, outstanding play from a freshman guard against one of the top five teams in the country.

Wes Miller – hard to see his stats on the sheet but he played hard-nosed defense when he was in there and really hurt Duke with his follow-up three and a couple free throws late in the game.

In the Middle Stuff – didn’t help but didn’t really hurt either

DeMarcus Nelson – can’t tell if he just isn’t the player he was in terms of explosiveness or not, but it looks to me that he doesn’t get to the rim with the ease that he did when he was healthy in the early part of last year. With the void left by Redick and Williams’ departures, I thought for sure he and McRoberts would be in a constant battle for those extra points available and I just don’t see it.

Reyshawn Terry – I can’t seem to get an interview out of my head where I heard him say that this was his last chance to show the NBA that he can play and so now when I watch him I wonder about his commitment to his team. For a senior he made some seriously boneheaded plays that could have hurt them if they didn’t have the kind of depth they do.

Bad Stuff – the kind of things that can kill a team

Tyler Hansbrough – what happened to this kid? Pre-season All-American, pre-season ACC Player of the Year? This is the third time this season that I’ve watched him disappear from the stat line. Tyler, Tyler, Tyler…you’ve got to do better than that if you guys have any hope against Ohio State or Florida.

Josh McRoberts – the charm of a point guard wrapped in a big man’s body has worn off for me. To me he looked a man without a country out there. Couldn’t make up his mind whether to post or face the basket. And then he bricks (badly bricks) critical free throws as Carolina is taking control AND his third and fourth fouls were just stupid on his part. His absence for extended periods cost Duke this game.

In the end, the proof was in the pudding though. I said it earlier and I’ll restate it here: this rivalry is in as good a shape as it’s ever been. I also predicted that each school would win on their enemies court (at least I think I predicted that – if not I’m predicting it now) so I’m sure that March 4th in Chapel Hill will be another monster.

Hopefully Scheyer and Co. are out running wind sprints to get in the kind of shape it’s going to take to play 40 hard minutes with Lawson and Co. Either way, I’ll be glued to my set again (same as I have been for the last 72 meetings between these programs).

My last advice is for both schools: be sure to remind Hansbrough and McRoberts that they are the BMOCs for their teams and suggest they show up next time. Imagine how good the game could with those two playing in it.

No comments: