Ten days have passed since Ohio St. destroyed Duke. I still have a hard time believing how thoroughly the Buckeyes thrashed the Blue Devils. Every Duke fan went through the same roller coaster of emotions throughout the game. Have a chart!
A chart on disbelief
This was a slaughter. There were two brights spots: Austin Rivers and Mason Plumlee. Austin Rivers made some Dwayne Wade-esque plays and also showed an improvement in ball distribution. Mason Plumlee got shit on by the referees but still played fantastically. The box score might not show it but he played great defense on Sullinger by forcing him into a number of ugly shots. Sullinger channeled his inner Tyler Hansbrough as all his shot-put attempts went in. But other than Rivers and Mason, Duke didn’t have too much to be happy about.
Where does Duke go from here? Duke fans will surely remember January 30, 2010 when Duke was demolished by Georgetown in front of *gasp* President Obama! As we all know, the Devils went on to capture the championship later that year. Does this current team have the ability to rebound from such a loss and make a run at the title? From an optimistic point of view, Duke does have a chance. There are a few things Duke needs to do to make this happen:
- Give Mason Plumlee the ball, a lot. He has proven he can be extremely effective in the paint. He no longer dribbles the ball off his knees. He has avoided shooting horrible mid-range airballs. More touches will make him more confident and more confidence will translate into better play.
- Throw Josh Hairston into the mix. Some people have compared Hairston to Lance Thomas but I don’t see it. Hairston doesn’t have athleticism of Lance Thomas. Now contemplate that sentence. You’re asking yourself why someone less athletic than Lance Thomas should play. It’s because Hairston is a scrappy motherfucker. He doesn’t back down from anyone. During the offseason Hairston and Kevin Durant teamed up to take on youth basketball leagues in the midwest. Durant was the scorer and Hairston was the enforcer. Black eyes among 12 year old basketball players rose 653% when Durant and Hairston played. Give Hairston 15 minutes a game and see how he can frustrate the opposing team.
- Try Austin Rivers at point guard. He displayed passing abilities in the OSU game that we haven’t seen before. Furthermore he has a fantastic handle and he’s lightning quick. The possible downside is his proclivity to make bad decisions after driving into the lane. However, as he gets more experience he will learn whether to take the shot or kick the ball out during his penetrations. Moving Seth Curry to the shooting guard position will help Duke spread the floor as defenders will have to stay close to both him and Andre Dawkins on the perimeter.
Duke finally gets to play some cupcakes (excluding Washington) throughout December and January so Coach K will be able to tinker around with various lineups. Even though the OSU game was a disaster Duke will rebound, make adjustments, and improve as the season continues.
If you were able to watch the marquee games in college basketball last week then you found yourself treated to a variety of fantastic performances. We saw the Blue Devils take the Maui Invitational with gritty wins against Tennessee, Michigan, and Kansas. The Kansas game resembled an NCAA tournament game as both teams displayed toughness and heart in a nail biter. Duke found an unlikely hero in Tyler Thornton as he drained two three pointers to stick a dagger in Kansas. Here are a few points I observed throughout the tournament for Duke:
The Duke-Michigan State game was a complete disaster for the brothers Plumlee. Their mental errors were egregious and they were physically dominated by a tough Michigan State interior. I lost all of my optimism for the Plumlees at the end of the Michigan State game. It took a long time for me to reach the realization that the Plumlees will never play up to their potential while they wear a Duke uniform. After the MSU game I decided to temper my expectations and appreciate the Plumlees for what they are: players with copious amounts of potential, who show flashes of brilliance, but can’t put it all together. I know what the Plumlees bring the table and decided to enjoy watching them play, rather than focusing on unrealistic expectations. But, like a crazy ex-girlfriend you can’t stay away from, the Plumlees have given me a reignited and unrealistic hope in them.
(Amigos- my take on Coach K’s 903rd win for Grantland can be found here. Below is Marc’s. Thanks for reading. -Shane)
Thanks Mike, Now I can be crotchety in peace.
With sixteen minutes and twenty-seconds remaining in the second half Andre Dawkins buried a three pointer over a Michigan State Defender. It was the beginning of a 17-1 Duke span where the Blue Devils started to run away with the game. I felt content as I knew that Coach K was about to waltz into the history books against a gritty opponent. I should have known better. Michigan State clawed back into the game with nine minutes remaining as the Duke offense went into “stall-ball,” and the shots stopped falling. In the end Duke’s lead was too large for Michigan State to overcome and the Blue Devils pulled out a toughly fought victory. Congratulations to Coach K for becoming the winningest Coach in college basketball!
"Get your licks in now. In thirty years I'll be the champ."
To begin, Sports Illustrated has a wonderful gallery of Mike Krzyzewski pictures located here. Anyone who has paid attention to the sports world this year has noticed an increased amount of attention placed on Coach K this year. Why? Coach K is about to be the winningest coach in college basketball history. His next victory, #903, will put him above his old coach Bob Knight. This record may never be defeated because 903 is a huge number and Coach K has numerous years of coaching ahead of him. He will continue to win 25-35 games a year and the number will only grow larger as time passes. His career has been nothing short of remarkable. Early struggles almost sent him into coaching obscurity, but Duke stuck with Coach K and has been wonderfully rewarded.
In two days both Duke and UNC will officially begin their college basketball seasons. UNC will play against Michigan St. on an aircraft carrier (this is an awesome but at the same time an idiotic idea) and Duke will play against Belmont in Cameron. Both Duke and UNC are expected to win, but anything can happen in college basketball.
I don’t know too much about Belmont besides the fact that Duke narrowly avoided being upset by them in the NCAA tourney a few years ago. Supposedly they are a decent team with a decent amount of experience. They have more size than the exhibition teams Duke has played, but they are in Tennessee so it’s remarkable they know actually know what a basketball is. When I think of Tennessee I just imagine banjos, biscuits and overrated football teams.
I think Duke may struggle in this game for the first half. The players will likely come out with a decent amount on anxiety, but they will eventually relax and overwhelm their opponents. I know the Plumlee’s will rain fire and destruction upon Belmont, but that’s to be expected. There really isn’t too much to say besides thank god college basketball is finally beginning and life is happy again.
In his post yesterday, Nate touched upon the fact that UNC looks at NC State like an older brother looking at a little brother. NC State is jealous of their older brother and wants to beat him in every competition possible. At the moment, NC State only beats UNC at graduating farmers and engineers, but not much else. Nate also wrote briefly of how the relationship between Duke and Maryland is similar to the relationship between UNC and NC State. I wouldn’t state that Maryland envies Duke in everything they do (even though they should), but Maryland really, really wants to beat Duke every time they play basketball. Maryland fans go absolutely insane every time they play Duke. While Duke fans assume an aloofness while dismissing the Terrapins by yelling things at them like “Not our Rivals.”
The past 11 years have provided for some amazing contests between the two schools and also some extremely low points from Maryland fans. We’ve been entertained by the likeness of Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Chris Wilcox, Greivis Vasquez and many others. Steve Blake haunts my dreams like no other player because he had the ability to eternally frustrate Jason Williams. Steve Blake to Jason Williams is like Tyronn Lue to Allen Iverson. A vastly inferior player getting under the skin of a supremely skilled player and just interrupting him constantly. Somehow, someway, the fellow who penned this amazing piece about a “restaurant that brings people happiness” was able to disrupt one of the best players I’ve ever seen. Continue reading
If goofiness equaled basketball skills then the Plumlees would be the best players since Rodman.
Through this entire preseason I’ve read numerous articles that claim that this is the year Duke will become a more balanced team because its big guys are better and stronger. We get quotes like these from Coach K from this article:
“Our strength right now is our big guys.” Junior forward Ryan Kelly was the leading scorer on the China trip, but Mason and Miles have made huge gains in the workouts and practices since then. Krzyzewski seems to think Miles, who had somewhat of a mediocre junior year, can be an impact player in the post. “The last couple of years, we’ve been a perimeter team, but this year, our big guys need to touch the ball,” he said. “They’re good enough to play with anyone in the country.”
As college basketball teams get ready to start the season they take the court in exhibition games against feebler opponents. These opponents are generally small schools who will get paid well for the game. Players on the teams are talented but not nearly as good as the big schools. They specifically lack height. On the basketball court you often see exhibition teams sending out teams of little people when compared to bigger schools. You feel bad for the exhibition teams who trot out their 6’8″ centers against the seven footers of bigger schools. I’d compare it to watching your buddy approach a super hot girl at a bar to try and get her number. You know it’s a mistake, you’ll know he’ll be met with catastrophic failure, but you root for him because he’s the eternal underdog. As he walks across the bar you see he’s nervous, he even knows he’s going to fail, but he’s accompanied by a desperate sort of confidence. He has nothing to lose. If he tries and fails then life continues as normal, but if he tries and succeeds then he has achieved greatness.
Two of the best coaches in the NCAA
You’re seventeen years old. You’re the best basketball player in the nation and you can go to any school you want. Both Duke and North Carolina have come calling and Coach K and Roy Williams are throwing their best recruiting techniques at you. You decide to go through a list of pros and cons comparing the two coaches to make your decision.