I'm going to do a Saturday post again this weekend, so don't consider this the definitive pre-game entry. In the meantime, a few more Duke articles have surfaced around the web.
*ESPN has a feel-good article about the connection between Doug Collins (Duke assistant coach) and Scheyer. They both went to the same high school in Chicago, both won Mr. Basketball in Illinois, and now both are in the Final 4.
"We have a nice, close relationship," Collins said. "I kind of view him as a little brother. I didn't have a brother growing up. Just watching his career and his journey and being a small part of it has been an amazing experience for me. We've been linked in so many ways. It's been incredibly special to win something together."
Scheyer has felt the same. "For me, I've had lonely moments throughout college and hard moments as many people do," Scheyer said. "Most people aren't lucky enough to have an older brother or coach who has gone through the same experiences, came from the same community, same high school. He's the first one to talk to me calmly or yell at me. He's just really been that person for me.
*Deadspin's Ben Cohen, a Duke senior, tries to defend Duke from the haters. Unfortunately, his only real points are that Duke has no villains, and that he's seen some of the players around campus. Not incredibly convincing, especially to the likes of...
*Andrew Sharp at SBNation. His "Anybody But Duke" article pulls no punches, and except for a brief section where I'm pretty sure he blames Coach K for the economic meltdown, it's a fun read with a lot of good points.
*I'll leave you with some words from Nick, our resident research expert. He's got some thoughts on the offense-defense matchups with WVU, with particular focus on WVU's 1-3-1 zone. I agree with most of it, though I have to say that if Huggins has paid attention at all, especially to the Baylor game, I wouldn't be surprised if the Mountaineers came out in man-to-man. It's worth a shot, right?
The zone leaves us with open looks from three, while man would force our ballhandlers to showcase their one-on-one dribble drive skills. I don't know that Singler and Scheyer possess those skills in sufficient quantity, especially against a team of superior athletes. We've seen Scheyer be forced backward by uber-quick guards, and Singler sometimes looks out of sorts against stronger defenders. That would leave Nolan as our main (lone?) option, and that burden might be too strong to shoulder.
Their 1-3-1 zone. Because I find it contemptible that I’m at work on such a beautiful day, I spent all day researching how they do it. First of all, I don’t like the fact that every person on their team is an interchangeable defender. Our offense usually prospers when we set enough screens to create the mismatch we want. We won’t be able to do that against this team. Secondly, their zone will force a lot of traps on the wings. I think we can agree that aside from Smith, Scheyer and Singler are really not the best ball handlers. I’m going to trust that they’ll be smart enough to avoid getting trapped on the wing, but it’s going to be difficult to break them down if they get caught deep.
On the positive side, the best way to break this zone is to keep the ball moving and make the man under the basket guard both baseline corners. I think we’re tall enough to get some long passes going to open things up, but it will be difficult. Another positive thing is that K is a master teacher and those Duke kids are hella smart – expect total focus in practice and at least a solid game plan. They wont be surprised (in this way, I’m glad that we play West Virginia before potentially playing Butler or Michigan St). Finally, we just played 40 minutes of zone against Baylor, so they’re used to pulling people out of position and finding the holes. Thomas and Zou also did a great job of accepting the ball at the high post and distributing.
West Virginia offense. According to Jay Bilas, the moonshine brewers run a "five-out, open post, motion offense. It is a ‘cut and fill’ offense that features diagonal cuts, back cuts, slips, shuffle cuts, curls, flex cuts, duck-ins and screen-for-the-screener action.” Obviously, I’m having nightmares about the Georgetown game. Our main defense relies on guarding the passing lanes and wings and helping down under. If they pull our guys out of position in the paint, it leads to a lot of easy buckets off cuts. Think of an even worse version of the oft-discussed 1-in 4-out that seems to kill us. In this regard, I can really see the Plumlees getting more time than the Zoukeeper. Additionally, Sir Lance will have to have the best defensive game of his career and keep them off the glass.
Thanks, Nick! Francona-being-a-dickhead audio goes up tonight!