That was Ugly

(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!

Sadly, the Plumlee brothers did little to contribute to the win.  Miles Plumlee had an abysmal game: 0-1 FG, 1-2 FT, four rebounds, two turnovers and three personal fouls.  Miles looked completely lost out there.  In the first half Miles had a brilliant sequence consisting of a missed layup, an offensive rebound and another missed layup, in a three second time span. Luckily, Michigan State had their own version of Miles Plumlee in Derrick Nix.  His misses were even more egregious than Miles’.  I cringed every time Nix would bully Mason Plumlee around the post in the second half and then I’d giggle like a school girl when he missed numerous layups directly under the basket. Nix’s missed layups are karma for intentionally kneeing the shit out of Tyler Thornton and that play should be reviewed by the NCAA. That play exemplified the ugliness of the game. If there is one adjective that can describe Big Ten basketball: ugly.

Mason Plumlee contributed to the ugly affair with an idiotic technical foul. At the 14:30 mark in the first half Mason was fouled by Derrick Nix while receiving a pass into the post. The official blew the whistle as Mason turned towards the basket with the ball and Michigan State’s scrappy white guy, Austin Thornton, went up to block a shot that didn’t matter. Thornton jumped in the air and Mason decided to elbow him in the side as he went by. A horrible mental error by Mr. Plumlee. We can all understand why he did it. If you’ve played basketball against a scrappy white guy you automatically want to elbow him. I’d wager that many people who read this site, including myself are scrappy white guys. We know what it’s like being that guy and it’s not a good time. Once a day my elbows involuntarily start flailing as they try to attack my face with self-deprecating fury. It’s tough being a scrappy white guy.

Mason’s stat line was better than his brothers but still not very impressive: 1-3 FG, 5-10 FT, five rebounds, two assists, two turnovers and three blocks. There were some bright spots in the game for Mason.  He played decent defense in the post and altered numerous shots. Mason also had a brilliant behind the back pass to Ryan Kelly that led to an easy dunk. Mason and the White Raven work well together because they’re skilled passers and they look for each other on the court. However, those bright spots cannot discount the 5-second turnover while trying to inbound the ball late in the game. That turnover led to a three-point attempt by Draymond Green. Luckily he missed it and Seth Curry recovered the ball, but if Green had made the shot the score would’ve been 74-72 with ten seconds to go.

From a Plumlee perspective this game is worrisome. They both played poorly against a big and tough opponent. Their mental errors are what caused their downfall last night and I find myself wondering if they will ever be able to match their mental abilities to their physical abilities while the wear a Duke uniform. I’ve always viewed the Plumlee’s with an inflated sense of optimism because I want them to succeed, but after last night I feel deflated. There is a creeping sense of realism seeping through my brain as I realize the Plumlee’s won’t be the All-Americans I want them to be. But the season is long, Coach K will add to his victories and the Plumlee’s will continue to evolve for better or worse.

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13 Responses to That was Ugly

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  1. NastyEmu says:

    I wonder if anyone has sat Mason down and let him know that he doesn’t have to try and block every shot.

  2. Shane says:

    If they did, I hope they spoke slowly.

  3. William says:

    Last night, when K called time out with under a minute to go and Michigan State chipping away at the lead, my girlfriend turned to me and said, “What do you think he’s saying to those players?”

    My guess was, “DON’T YOU F***ING BLOW THIS FOR ME!”

  4. David says:

    Remember Zoubek didn’t start playing well in ’09-’10 until the Maryland game. Maybe one of the Plumlii will have a similar Eureka moment. MSU killed us on second chance points, I wish they could rebound and find the open shooter on the perimeter… it worked 2 years ago. Our shooters are just as good as then- The White Raven shoots 3s like Singler, Dawkins like Scheyer and Curry like Nolan.

    1. Shane says:

      I think a lot of Zoubek’s problem early on was injuries, though. I think he would have become the solid player he was at the end of that season much earlier without them. The Plumlees have no excuse. I’m just sick of waiting for their “moment” to arrive. I think the big problem is that they’re just not that bright. For all Zoubek’s faults, you could never deny that he was a smart guy.

    2. NastyEmu says:

      I think it was Krzyzerwski that had the ‘erueka’ moment in 2010 and changed their strategy, giving Zoubek more minutes.
      I can’t see Mason becoming a stay at home defender that dominates the glass. Miles has a better shot, but I don’t think either of them have the attitude or intelligence of Zoubek to stick with it. Plumlees were born to be superstars!

      1. Nate says:

        …how bad are the Plumlees that y’all are talking about Zoubek’s relative intelligence?

  5. Jake says:

    Check the typo (“Plumlee’s”) in the final line, but otherwise thanks for the comment.

    BTW, Shane, your post on Grantland was magnificent. I linked it in my recap of 903 coverage today:

  6. The Duke Alum says:

    Shane – If you’re going to let this guy continue to write for you, at least edit his work. This is awful and you know it.

  7. Denny says:

    First 10 minutes of the second half were brilliant. But then came “stall ball.” Which means consciously and deliberately stop playing winning basketball until 10 seconds on the shot clock, then make a low-percentage, well defended move under pressure. MSU’s response to the inevitable turnover was to charge aggressively, which led to points. Slowly Duke gave up 16 points of their 20 point lead. Coach K has 903, but he could have 953 right now because this misguided strategy has backfired often. Izzo has seen it before, and he knew what to do, and almost did it. We were lucky to get that win. This is Coach K’s Achilles heel. He won by 5, but he could have won by 35. And he almost lost. This play-it-safe strategy is amazingly risky and disappoints me every time I see it.

    1. Devil Steve says:

      Duke was still running and gunning past the ten-minute mark, so you cannot blame the lost lead on “stall ball.” The lead had ALREADY shrunk to 13 when Seth Curry bounced an attempted 70-foot alley-oop off the backboard with 30 seconds on the shot clock, which prompted Coach K to call a timeout and slow down the pace for the last seven or eight minutes. The lead was still at 11 with about 1:20 left and Mason on the line, so six and a half minutes of “stall ball” had resulted in a difference of only two points. Very poor execution (turnovers, blown defense), especially in the last minute and a half, hurt Duke the most, not “stall ball.”

  8. 45% says:

    youve gotta believe mason is gonna put it together soon… he has looked so much better this year.

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