Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fire on the Mountain, Run Boys Run

I'm pulling the trigger on the rare Sunday post because I know I won't feel like talking about this loss tomorrow. I was at a friend's birthday party last night, and though I watched the whole game on a decent-sized tv, there was the usual fraternizing and drinking to distract me. Which was probably good, because I felt angry and frustrated enough even with wavering focus. Though it certainly didn't help to have a bunch of UNC students giving me shit and rooting against Duke the whole way. Here are my thoughts, and feel free to contribute your own.

*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.


  1. Lack of offensive execution against the zone killed us down the stretch. The coaching staff knew we'd be seeing a zone but all we did is pass around the outside and jack up 3's. We didn't position a forward at the top of the key to face the basket make the zone collapse and then find open shooters.

  2. Kyle Singler needs to stop shooting. All he's doing is killing us. Ryan Kelly just needs to fall in a hole. The Plumlees were awful last night. I was surprised Mason didn't take a three..

  3. It's all good everyone. I wouldn't hate on singler to much, even though he made multiple bad decesions last night. I still have confidence in him to come up big on the biggest stage. I'm also confident, that seth had his worst game he will have at duke. everything is part of the process of being the most prepared come tournament time. its important to hit some obstacles along the way.

  4. Where was Dawkins in the big moments at the end? It seems he has been stroking...If you rewatch the game you can see that Ryan Kelly did not score and played horrible defense. Miles was a energy boost on defense. Lets stop being afraid and play two plumlees. we need their defense and rebounds. I am loving Mason Plumlee these days. He puts in tons of effort and is really improving defensively and offensively. Duke should have fed plumlee2 in the post more, just like analysts said at half time.

  5. Nothing has ever made me quite so sad as Koala's face last night toward the end. It had dashed dreams, overshadowed younger sibling and son written all over it and I honestly almost cried.

    One thing that came pretty close to making me that sad was how terribly mean the announcers were as one of the Plumlees (The Elder?) came up to the line at the end and they were basically like "welp, Duke would pretty much rather have anyone in the whole world up there instead." I mean, they weren't wrong, they just were soooo harsh. BUT THEN! He made it. Just the one, but better than being the complete waste of a free throw shooter that was being predicted.

  6. Its a ball game folks. You win some and you lose some. These are college kids that play their best and tring have some fun in the process. You have to be a fan when that make and when they miss. If you folks had your way Duke would only have 2 players. If you hate Duke so bad just stop watching.

  7. Ryan Kelly should shoot. Ryan Kelly misses because he hesitates even when wide open. He seems like hes deciding whether or not to pass or shoot it and delays the decision till the last possible second. He gets left wide open he should just shoot the damned ball and focus just on shooting the ball. It's a confidence issue for him right now. We need him to be able to light it up and to know it's OK to light it up. Gonna need him down the stretch.

    The Plumlee hating when they were solid this game is also hilarious. Duke played terrible all around and was still in it up until the very end. This at least makes the game in Chapel Hill potentially way more interesting.


  8. Singler I believe went a stretch of taking the exact same shot 5 times in a row from the same spot on 5 consecutive possesions, connecting on one.

    I actually was less than pleased that mason got that steal towards the end of the game, because now he'll feel like he can go for that steal every time when every other time in history all that happens is he leaves his man wide open. I don't know how many times he left his man for an unneccessary double-team in this game.

    The game also didn't make any sense as an upset. Duke didn't have a turnover until 10 minutes to go in the game and tech made like 1 of 34 free-throws. And their star had a terrible game. But some guy who had made 3 3-pointers all season made 2 against us and I think 2 players put up 15 and 11 on us.

  9. Good stuff from everyone. At times like these I wish I could respond beneath each comment. Blogger is the Miles Plumlee of hosting services.

    Most of all, I want to thank Nolan Smith for commenting.

    Hackey, good point, and that's exactly the kind of thing I missed last night. I knew it was stupid to go to the party. This would have been a great game to stew at home and alarm my neighbors with various screams and curses.

    Josh, I agreed with everything you said until the end...I know he made a couple nice jump hooks last night, but is there really much to be gained from feeding the post? Maybe using him as a conduit for the offense is a good idea, but I still don't love him as a low post scoring option (despite how well he played otherwise).

    GB, Chapel Hill is going to be an absolute war. I can't wait. And anon, Duke just couldn't score. The stats aren't up on statsheet yet, but our offensive efficiency had to be the worst of the year, or close to it.


  10. If Mason was a hero, Miles was a villain. He tries to dunkface every time he touches the ball, and it's not gonna work.

    Can't wait for Chapel Hell to burn.

  11. You know, I really think the ACC at this point in the season is vastly underrated on the national stage. OK, so we lost the Big 10/ACC challenge by 1 game. If they were to replay all those games again at this point in the season there's probably no way the Big 10 wins it.

    Talking heads are the only reason the ACC is perceived as so weak at this point.


  12. 100% with you, GB. And I can't wait for everyone to be STUNNED when some Big East schools lose in the first round, just like last year. The way everyone talks, you'd expect the elite 8 will be entirely big east. However, I will disagree with you on one thing; I think UNC and Duke are the only two ACC teams with a legitimate shot to make the Elite 8. Maybe even the Sweet 16. I think teams like Maryland or Clemson could do it, but I'm not sure V. Tech or FSU can, and it looks like they'll be in. We'll have to see if we get a 5th team.