Simply put, this is a very good team but not an outstanding contender without BZ's basketball maturation. He is the once-missing ingredient, now supplied. Wonderful to watch.
Quel est si drole de la paix, de l'amour, et de la comprehension?
Let me be among the first to congratulate Brian and thank him for his contributions. I have not always been the biggest BZ fan, but it only reinforced my lack of basketball knowledge. The team shifted into another gear when Big Z became a starter.
Brian has also taught everyone a wonderful lesson about hard work and perseverance. Thank you for your contributions! Thank you for the wonderful lesson you have taught my children!
Not sure if this team is "over achieving" or if individually each has finally found the inner confidence to relax and maximize his skills. Each starter really does bring something special to the mix and certainly the "experience" of playing together for 3 to 4 years and great coaching contribute to this team's success.
Z is a firestorm under the basket. Have to believe that his sheer physicality, punctuated by those wonderful grunts and flying elbows, ignite some extra special energy for his teammates. His rebounds, screens, and blocks have created so many scoring opportunities. His contribution to this "great" team (IMO) is immense.
A tough job would have been even tougher without the Z man. Believe it was Seth Greenberg (Virginia Tech coach) who called Z "a mountain masquerading as a man."
I honestly believe Z's transformation is the driving force behind Duke's run.
The crazy thing, like you cited, is the way Z transformed in the Maryland game. All of the sudden he was a completely different player.
I always say sports is 90% confidence. Z found his confidence vs. Maryland.
You know why Z is so great besides his size? His brain. The play vs. WVU where he got an offensive rebound off a Nolan Smith missed 3. He got the rebound right underneath the basket. Instead of potentially getting another shot blocked, he kicked it out to Nolan who was wide open and drained a 3.
It has truly been a pleasure to watch and something that nobody predicted would happen. Thanks Z!!
I do not recall ever being overly critical of Zoubs, but there is no doubt that he has now moved into another plane of existence. Lance, however, I criticized heavily -- wondering why we ever recruited him and why he got to play so much. Well, I gladly eat the humble pie -- his contributions are more visible now, but they were always there. Sorry, Mr. Thomas. And sorry, Coach K, for doubting you.
i said some terrible things about him....well, not about HIM, but....about his play.....last year and this year, i just wanted him out of the game....
brian, i humbly apologize for ever doubting your desired to win and your ability to uphold , nay, EXCELL in your part of this team's success...
thank you for coming to duke!!
When Brian arrived, he had the gift of a grifter, think the shell game with the pea here, when it came to setting his man up my nuanced moves that required the defender to guard Z's path to the basket, only to step free to the middle. Had this team's style been to look for that moment as it emerged and get it to him, he would have scored the ball big time. It wasn't, they didn't, they waited, insisting that he establish position, he'd catch and get pushed from below, and the results was disasterous. This continued into his second season.
His 3d, he began learning from McClure and how to play the incredible screen-and-screen-again-and-again-and-again game with his new found body that emerged BIG Time this season which was accompanied by an a ability to see paths to the offensive board. He learned to do this all with the passion, single-minded focus of his mentor, Mr. McClure. With his enormously strong body, which in itself is a credit to Brian, Duke presented with a force as a pivot player, a pivotal player on its offense, the likes of which no one has ever seen in the game. EVER. This was and remains true especially because of what has become Brian's and Lance's signature kill move. A KILL move unlike any Center (my presference is for pivot player but that rarely applies in this day and age), or power forward ever in college basketball and only presented in the game in the form of one person that I am aware of, and that would be Dennis Rodman. Brian and Lance work the offensive board like Rodman and like him, after their defenders are forced, because this is THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF BASKETBALL, to fight to be in position to defend the rim, each man finds the 3-shooter who has the best chance of catching and stepping into the shot.
That boys and girls would have been enough, like my people say at this time of year, Dyanu. But for Brian and its coaches it was not enough, in the words of Bob Dylan, "He not busy born, is busy dying." So, in the midst of this explosion of potency by Brian, he began emerging as Zouperman the vocal team leader. No longer the guy whose spirits needed to be carried, he emerged as a leader who added a special quality. Sometimes it just looked like Brian was being extra vocal, but all of a sudden I began to see something else. Brian's call was a call to arms. He was reminding his teammates that they had a monster on their side, a physically imposing force, and that he expected them to play with a slightly different carriage--"you want to play rough, well met my little friend." Duke has emerged as a team that you do not want to f#$@ with. You start you are not coming out on top, just ask W Va, and I do not refer to Butler, to whom my heart goes out.
Now, that woud have been enough, Dyanu, even for me who always saw Brian as a potentially superior pivot player/scorer, I thought we were done. But, then, hey I'd see every so often a catch on the right low post, a fake to the middle and a poised bounce and step to the baseline with a soft sky hook.
During the tournament, I have seen in the last two games especially, two different shifts in the offense which brings me back to the very beginnings.
Agains Baylor, I saw K deploy K deploy Brian in the catch and distribute role, the mover to space in the high middle and the guy who would be the pivot for distributing in a manner that changed the point of attack. The pivot of the offense. How much growth can a team have, can a player have. Dyanu.
Nope. This last game we saw yet another huge step. Two pick and rolls with Brian making well coordinated over the shoulder catches after setting a screebm catcges that were made to look easy but are the stuff of wide receivers that lead to easy again well coordinated easy finishes at the rim that bespoke a man who for all the world made simple the athletic play most thought him incapable of. Dyanu, right?
Well, Brian had more for the team that had stomped on him and his boyz two years ago, the stuff that had me nearly in tears. Yeap, the dude almost made a big boy cry. There was a catch off a brilliant feed from Lance. What made the feed brilliant was that it presupposed that Brian is the athlete he is, that he could react to the ball that was amazingly well placed for a finish but only if the receiver saw it and rose and caught in a crowd the way Jerry Rice would and emerge after the catch and take it to pay dirt. Brian had that catch in him and finished in beautiful fashion. Brian mae a couple of other catches down low that lead to attacks at that rim that bespoke the skills that he displayed as a freshman. His teammates now were ready and willing; they were in sync with him, saw his lead and followed. Dyanu.
None of this happens without K. When K says that this is not about a run for a fourth, that it is not about him, that he and the coaches are being lead into the moment by this team, I for one believe him. That is not to say that he is not growing with them, helping them get to where the moment is leading them. He is. Which brings me to this team.
You will have to forgive this, it is not a Bluish thought or observation. There is a thing about Duke, the institution, that is ego centric. Ego centism is a good thing I suppose. It leads to great individual accomplishment. To fierce competitiors and fierce competition. Hey, it built America.
But, it is not always good for basketball teams. Ego centrism was too at the core of the past Duke teams that Brian played on. It is not on this one. This one has, in my mind, a number of NBAers. Many more than I thought going into this season. On one level, of course, they play like it or I wouldn't be saying it. On another level they don't. The other level is not just manifest in a generosity of spirit that allows fellow teammates to grow, it also allows for a curious mind that allows for the individual to learn to improve, to discover what parts of HOW one does all sorts of things that could be done more efficiently, more easily, more athletically or not at all.
We have all seen the power of it. If this things plays out the way it seems, Duke's march to the Championship this year was as dominent display as any we have seen. It has gotten stronger each game because in the midst of this march, "the kids," as K would reference them, have all improved individually and were ready for new wrinkles, new modes of playing at both ends, and presented as a wave.
There are some who will answer that Duke's path to the final four was the easiest of all the 1 seeds. Maybe it was. At this point, you want to tag on games against Kansas and Kentucky. I say bring em on. Zoubek will stand up Anderson and Cousins, stand them up, and he and his teammates will keep on grwoing and winning. Dyanu! That would have been enough.
Congratulations to Brian. As a fan of his for four years, I cannot you enough. This is when you guys say, "You think!"
Let me first say i was rough on z throughout his playing for duke. I am glad i am eating my words now! big z is a monster inside and right now is a huge factor in our teams success. one more game big Z one more game! LETS GO DUKE!!!!!!!
Zoubs has been magnificent, but so has his frontline partner, Lance. Between the two of these guys, we have seen better bigs play than in a long, long time.
Lance's put back and one against Baylor was HUGE. He and Zoubs remind me of Battier without the offensive power. Shane did whatever needed to be done; Lance and Zoubs are doing the same.
And boy am I going to be watching when they cut down the nets!
Go BIG GUYS! GO BLUE DEVILS!!!!
By the way, this in no way diminishes the play of the Plumlees! They have been great too.
I've admired Z's game for a while. I always understood that it would take a while to develop, hey, he's 7'1. It was disheartening to see his progress hampered by so many injuries, but he's having a great time now. That's what makes me happy for Z, that he is enjoying this so much, for himself, for his team, for what he means for his team's success.
I have no doubt that Brian will get a few calls to show up at NBA camps. He may spend a year or so in the NBDL to catch up on some of the time that he lost due to his foot injuries. He may be a longshot to be drafted in the 2nd round, but his dominance on the glass lately has to be opening some eyes. He's also showing good hands and good passing skills. I think Z will find himself in the NBA for more than just a cup of coffee at some point.
How about the great Nolan Smith bounce pass right under the basket that allowed Zoubs to snatch it and go up for a lay-in all in one motion.
Zoubs and Lance have fed each other's games so much this year.
So both are playing up to their potential. It helps when S-cubed are fearless in their shooting.
I'm one of the few people who have love BZ for all 4 years. In his 1st few games he showed me a nice soft "baby hook", a basically good foul shot, and some good rebounding. He had the walking problem, which I thouight was mainly anxiety and could be cured with good coaching and more playing time for confidence.
I can remember being brutalized here whenever I said such a thing - the opinion was that Brian was a big slow oaf who never would amount to anything.
Anyway, I'm sorry that Brian had such a hard 3 years as it didn't have to be that way; but I am so glad that he's had his day in the sun. He deserves it.
Zoubek's his play has finally earned him a spot on Chad Ford's Top 100...at 91. Will he actually get drafted?
Yes he will get drafted. How many points a game did ZaZa score starting for Atlanta all those years? Z can outrebound and outdefend ZaZa on Z's bad days.
But once the Plumlees got it well enough to leverage their sibling athleticism on court together, it really helped Lance and Zoubs to be paired together, kind of like two veterans in tennis who are not dominant in singles but a heck of a doubles partnership.
Sure the offensive boards are huge, but Zoubs has improved substantially on the defensive end to rarely be in the constant foul trouble as used to be the case when paired with an inexperienced forward. He probably draws more fouls now on moving screens than he does on defense but has controlled that aspect to point he can play more minutes. His per minute stats have always been outstanding.
The fact that he can't jump well may actually be a plus in that he just keeps his hands straight up and still alters shots.
So much for the Duke/Wojo can't develop big men hypothesis, as no one will claim that he is the same player in year four that he was the first three years.
He has developed to point that was reasonable to play like a Luke Schensher. Conventional wisdom was that it takes a couple years with big men and in Zoubs' case, the nagging injuries porolonged that.
With Butler playeing 6'9", 6'8", 6'3", 6'3" and 6'0", Duke has a height/weight advantage all over the floor.
Duke Chronicle already has an article on line about the WV game.
Zoubek quote: “It's a completely different team [now] with a different mentality,” said senior Brian Zoubek, who finished with six points and 10 rebounds. “We have confidence in what we're doing [and] we believe in it. We believe we're good enough to deserve to win.”
We believe, too - go get 'em Zou, one more!