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And now it's time for an overdue shout-out. My pal Jill has taken it on herself to write a blog. Those who remember her stylings from Pick Six probably just felt a shudder of excitement run through their souls; the lady's funny. Her blog is called Chicks Dig the Fastball. Today's post is particularly awesome; it's about how Duke invented the "airrr-balll" chant, and it includes a story of Gminski and Dean Smith going toe to toe. Give it a look, and remember: she's smart, witty, and female, so if you read the blog and impress her with your astute comments, she might date you.
Aight, it's Duke-Miami time, and I have some great news. I discovered this site called statsheet.com yesterday, and it is a number junkie's paradise. I'm sure this is old hat to a lot of you, so bear with me while I play the enthusiastic latecomer. Here's the link to the Duke-Miami game; it includes all the main stats kept on Ken Pomeroy's page, and it's so comprehensive that you'll want to cry with joy. I literally killed an hour on that one page yesterday.
Anyway, a great quick way to get a sense of the game is the "Four Factors" chart:
Here's the gist of the four factors:
1) Effective FG% - This is like normal field goal percentage, except three-pointers are weighted correctly at 1.5 times a two-pointer.
2) Turnover % - What percentage of possessions resulted in an offensive turnover.
3) Offensive Rebounding % - Same deal, what percent of missed shots produced an offensive board. Offensive Rebounds / (Offensive Rebounds + Opponent Defensive Rebounds).
4) FT Rate - How often did you get to the line, as a percent of shots taken. FT Rate = Free Throws Attempted / Field Goals Attempted.
According to StatsSheet, the four factors are weighted in terms of importance as follows: Shooting (40%), Taking Care of the Ball (25%), Offensive Rebounding (20%), and Getting to the Line (15%).
So. Last night, Duke's effective field goal percentage was 57.1%, a bit higher than their 54.7% average, which is already 14th-best in the country. They typically allow opponents a 45.0% rate, but Miami did well to shoot 51.6%. Turnovers and rebounding were almost identical, but Duke got to the line a lot more than the Canes. The first and last of the four factors made the difference, and it jives with the scouting report before the game- Miami isn't great on D.
But the Four Factors is really just scratching the surface of the site. I particularly love the player charts and the game flow tab, and I'll definitely be visiting the Pre-Game tab ahead of future Duke games.
If I had to pick a POTG, it would be Seth Curry. Along with his 16 points on 5-10 shooting (including 13 in a critical first half when Nolan was out with his eye injury and Miami got hot from 3), he had 4 board and 5 steals. I know he's not the quickest dude in Division 1, but man, his hands are like lightning. He leads Duke with 3.4 steals per game (147th in D-1, incidentally), which is remarkable considering he rarely guards the point. I think that's part of the magic of the Currys, and why I was so excited originally when the transfer announcement came out; they see things faster than normal basketball players, and can make plays that seem beyond their strength and athleticism.
After shouldering a heavy load in the first half, Curry was relieved by Nolan's return from the eye injury. Was anybody else thrown into a mini-panic when he went out? All I could think about was Jon Scheyer, and the freak injury that, to date, has derailed any chance at a pro career. Meanwhile, Tim Brando was pretty sure it was a concussion, even though the replay definitively showed Reggie Johnson poking him in the eye. It took Mike Gminski making fun of him for like 5 minutes before he conceded that no, there was zero chance Nolan Smith had a concussion.
Anyway, Nolan lit it up for 16 in the second half, and 18 overall. It was a good, workmanlike road win against a team that's much better than their 4-7 conference record. Coach K deserves credit for having them rested and ready to win away from home after the energy-sapping epic on Wednesday.
I do have a few worries, though.
1) Singler. He's just out of the offensive flow. He still gets his 12-18 shots per game, but a lot of them feel kind of forced. While Seth and Nolan seem to be interacting with each other and the offense-at-large in a more free-flowing way, Singler is like a roving free agent, a mercenary outsider who shows up for a few shots before disappearing back into the mist. And look, I know he's working his ass off, and he does a lot of good for us on the boards and on defense. And I kinda think the root of my complaint is that he's just not very quick, and thus can't create his own shot without picks, and thus can be contained by a good athlete. But I still wish there was a way out.
2) Dawkins. Totally lost, no confidence, no nothing. I still think he can help this team a lot if his shot comes back, but this offseason will be very, very important to his development. He needs to be able to score off the dribble. Without that, he'll always be one-dimensional. And the trend for his season is always downward; the more he depends on the three alone, the more pressure mounts. Coach K isn't about to run him off too many picks like he's JJ Redick, and Dawk seems to be the kind of player who gets down on himself. Combine that with the natural fatigue that saps a guy as the year goes on, and the diminishing returns seem all too predictable. He's got to work on his ballhandling, no two ways about it. Some added strength wouldn't hurt, either.
3) Mason Plumlee's defense. Last night on twitter, I asked my followers which of his three standard moves they liked best. A couple followers added more, and here's the list:
A - Stand still, hands in the air, while the player goes around for an easy lay-up.
B - "Go for the impossible steal and give up the lane."
C - "Wildly flail at a block attempt that he has no chance of getting."
D - Leave his man for an incredibly ill-advised double team.
E - Foul somebody else's man.
Notice a common thread? They're ALL mental errors! Every single fucking one of them. And it seems like they happen on at least one of every three possessions. This is the real frustration- if he could just his head right, he'd be fine. Isn't anybody drilling this stuff into his head at practice? Is he too dumb to absorb it? I mean, GOD. With a little consistency, he'd be senior-year Zoubek with more length (and maybe a little less muscle). It's maddening.
It's even more maddening because he's showing definite improvement in the past couple weeks. Which, to say the least, I didn't see coming. Last night he was very smart on offense, capitalizing on his chances to shoot 5-7 and score 12 points. When he wasn't having brain lapses on defense, he did a serviceable job on Reggie Johnson. And he even held his own on the boards, grabbing 5 to Johnson's 6.
All that being said, it was a good win. I'm unhappy to report that we're now in the doldrums of February. Virginia and Georgia Tech are on the docket this week, and nothing really excites me on the schedule until a road game at Virginia Tech two Saturdays from now. Still, we're ahead of Carolina by a game, and as long as we keep winning the worst we can do is a tie for first in the ACC. One slip-up by the Heels, and the conference is ours.
Have a great day.