*4-20 from 3. You could basically boil the game down to that, if you wanted. Duke doesn't win when they miss threes; 11-35 against FSU, 5-26 against St. John's. If we lose in the tournament, that'll probably be the reason. Of course, it's more complicated than just going cold; being on the road doesn't help, and the style of the opposing defense forces those low percentages. At least to some extent. Virginia Tech matches up with us almost ideally; they had tall guards to close down the perimeter, and big, quick forwards to lock up Singler. They lacked a true center, but that's not a big deal against Duke.
*Kyle's brief, false spring is over. He shot us right out of the game, and his offensive play, in my view, was egregiously selfish. I never expected to say this, but I think it's time to concede that he's a great defender, useful on the boards, and capable of burying an open 3. But he's not someone we need to be running the offense through. We don't need to feed him in the post or run him off screens or clear out so he can drive on a quicker defender. It's just not helpful. Unless we face a team like Temple without anyone taller than 6'8" (hint: not going to happen), he needs to become a role player.
*As you can tell from this article, the Virginia Tech game probably meant a lot to Seth Curry. I'm not sure if he was nervous, over-amped, putting too much pressure on himself, or what, but the result was a disaster. I felt bad for him; it can't be easy to have your worst game in front of your dad like that. Seth will be back, and last night's disaster will be a bad memory, but I'm sure it stings.
*Virgina Tech out-fought us on the boards, which is really aggravating. Allen, Davila, and even Delaney made a killing on the glass, and a lot of their boards came at the expense of our bigs. We shouldn't be losing contested rebounds to smaller players, and we largely have not had that problem this season. I really, really hope Tech's 42-35 margin was an anomaly.
*Ryan Kelly needs to stop shooting. STOP, RYAN. Well, let me amend that: I have no problem with missing a wide open 3. But there's no reason he should be missing FOUR. That's not good for anybody. My favorite fan reaction came from an anonymous commenter on yesterday's post:
the plumlees are fucking worthless, they can't box out worth shit. Ryan kelly's great-grandparents should've succumbed to the famine, he hurts us more than helps us at this point. Seth's 0 not his fault. What a lack of professionalism down the stretch, up 6 with 5 to go and with 2 separate shots at winning the game getting jack shit.
That's some good Irish hating!
*Nolan had a heavy load to carry, and he did an okay job. It wasn't great, it wasn't awful. I heard a few people comment on his weak showing toward the end of the game, but I can't be mad at him. He kept attacking, and he shot 9-18. In a hostile environment, when none of his teammates are showing up, I think he did a pretty admirable job.
*My friend Brian made the good point that Duke might have been better off running. We knew Coach K would try to grind it out against a team without a ton of height, but that strategy presents two big problems. First, it guarantees that the other team will never be truly out of the game. The hope is that you establish a 6-10 point lead and slowly add on, but if the other team catches fire all the sudden you have no cushion. Second, it places a heavy burden on the halfcourt offense, which frankly looked awful last night. Why give the other team time to D up on your guards and Singler (especially when they're all bigger) when you can set a faster pace?
*The endgame stunk. With 5 minutes left, we had a 5-point lead. Then a very questionable charge call on Nolan happened, then Tech got hot, then Miles missed his dunk (you really just have to throw up your hands and resign yourself to fate with him), then Nolan missed the front end of the 1-and-1, then Singler missed 30 shots in a row (roughly), and Tech closed on a 14-5 run.
*Maybe someone can help me out in the comments: why does Tyler Thornton ever play? What does he bring to the table?
Alright, let's get to some positives:
*Mason Plumlee's effort at the end of the game was almost heroic. Between the steal and the offensive boards and actually making a foul shot, he kept us in the game. For all the shit I give him, I'm big enough to admit that he's really improved in the past month.
*Our defense is great. Even when we shoot poorly, we're never out of a game (with the exception of St. John's, which I see as very fluky).
*Bad luck played a part last night. Singler's tip could have gone in, Miles could have made his dunk, Nolan's foul shot could have bounced in, etc. Duke isn't going to give up many leads with 5 minutes left, even on the road. A lot of things had to go Tech's way for them to come out winners.
*We saw signs of life from Young Threezy. Coach K played him 18 minutes, and he buried a couple big threes. Let's hope this is a trend.
Now we can talk about what this means.
1) Virginia Tech just became the 4th ACC team to make the tournament. Maryland can take a step toward being the 5th with a win tonight.
2) Duke and UNC are now tied in the ACC. As of Sunday morning, next weekend's game looks like it'll be for the ACC championship. However- and this is a big however- the Heels have two tough games; tonight against Maryland and Wednesday at Florida State. I personally don't believe they'll come through with two wins. Duke will win Wednesday against Clemson, and hopefully it'll guarantee at least a tie.
Enough. Bring on the perfection proclamation, bring on Carolina. And let me know what I missed in my semi-stupor last night.