I'm not much of an analytical thinker when it comes to hoops so the stats don't tell me much. Call it flying by the seat of my pants but I'd rather just evaluate what I see than crunch the numbers. With that in mind I watched the FSU game again to try to get a handle on where the defense broke down and I have to say I'm baffled. It just wasn't really horrible defense. Our guys were definitely competing hard and, in many ways, I thought we defended much better than earlier in the season. We didn't give up a whole lot of uncontested layups or dunks. It seemed more like they were able to get the ball inside frequently either by penetrating or passing and our bigs were consistently a half step slow rotating to defend. Our guards definitely played a soft man to man D on the perimeter and either went under screens or fought through half heartedly. Definitely not trpical Duke D but it appeared to be by design perhaps to compensate for our lack or size and/or speed. So did the bigs rotate too slow or were the unfettered drives and passes the culprit? Beats me.
I don't think it was a bad loss though. In fact if the last second shot didn't fall and Duke pulled it out instead we wouldn't be doing all this hand-wringing anyway. Duke played well enough to win but they just made one more play than us at the end. In regard to the two controversies count me in the Austin was fouled and it should have been called camp. The contact was obvious and it was before the shot and Austin got to the spot first and didn't force the contact. To me that's a foul on the first or last possession of a game. As far Dre's D on the last play I don't think it was bad. If he had move out to cover Saer sooner, Louks would have dribbled past Ryan for a possible layup. Instead Dre hedged, Louks made the pass and Saer drained the shot.
I think Duke is improving gradually and I expect the Defense to continue to get better but unless we can get another year of eligibility for Grant Hill to shut down the perimeter or Sheldon to erase the mistakes I don't think we're going to be a great defensive team this year.
A quick brainstorm on the possible changes Coach K could implement to make our D better:
1. Pack it in more. Have the guards sag back to cut off driving lanes, forcing opponents to shoot more jump shots. Use our interior size to control the defensive boards.
2. Ratchet up the pressure D. Have the guards and wings overplay the passing lanes and bring pressure starting at the mid-court line.
3. Utilize depth more and play full-court defense.
4. Junk defenses. Throw zones, traps and full-court D at opponents a couple of possessions each half to break their rhythm.
5. Maximize effort on one or two strengths. I'm not sure what those might be but potentially defending the 3, defensive rebounding, taking out the opponents best player.
6. Keep the same scheme, hope everyone improves with more practice and games. Consistent intensity is important here (and in all of these, for that matter)
What am I missing? I'll be interested in seeing what wrinkles Coach K brings the next few weeks. We are getting close to the point this season where we are who we are and our guys just have to buckle down and start executing at a higher level.
Now, all of that being said, I too am concerned about the overall defensive efficiency stats compared to other seasons. Our offense is really, really good. We have an insane number of scoring options and can score both inside and out. We also seem to be improving our offensive efficiency as the season goes on. However, the defense is trending in the opposite direction. I am a little perplexed as to how to improve it, just as others are. I understand why some think that someone like Mike G might help out because he brings size and athleticism to the 3 spot that we are currently lacking. However, he has been, to my eyes and to tommy's excellent defensive breakdowns, one of the worst defenders when he's been on the floor. The athletic ability might be there, but he still needs to develop his skills.
One area where there might be concern for hope, however, is in the softer schedule in the ACC schedule when it comes to opposing offenses. While I know that KenPom adjusts for the strength of competition meaning that our defensive stats are not artificially made worse because of the strength of opposing offenses, I think something might be said for our defense improving as the quality of opposing offenses drops off a bit. As everyone knows, pretty much ever player on Duke this season was thrust into a new role. While the team has enjoyed a lot of success on offense, it has been thrown to the wolves on defense. It is possible that with everyone in new roles we were a step slow on defense from the get-go, forcing us to constantly scramble to make up for mistakes in rotations, switches on screens, and communication. Being over-matched at times on defense makes it harder to develop the on-court chemistry that some of our other teams have had. I know our defensive ratings continue to drop, but I feel like it's hard to deny that Duke hasn't played excellent defenses for long stretches of our ACC games, thus far, including our first half against FSU. Perhaps there isn't a magical solution and we can just hope that the team is able to lengthen those stretches of tough defense until they are playing consistently throughout the game. The size of opposing backcourts will be an issue all season, but if we can become consistent enough to prevent 2-3 more easy buckets per game, it will have a BIG impact on our overall efficiency. There were many good things to take away from the FSU game, despite the loss. Hopefully we can continue to build on those good things and start to put the defense together in the second half of this season.
I think it is interesting that normally it is defend well, so that when the shots aren't falling, you still have a chance to win. With this team it seems to be score consistently, so that when the defense isn't playing well, you still have a chance to win. The offensive has been pretty consistent this year, though it could have been a bit better at times, but the team hasn't been consistent yet defensively. I am hoping the first half against FSU is a sign that the defense can get there. I agree that the effort and toughness was there all game vs. FSU, which is why I can't be overly disappointed in the loss. I expected there would be some inconsistency this year with Nolan and Kyle gone, but so far the team has been better offensively? than last year, but much more inconsistent defensively. I think this team has a great chance to keep improving. At 16-3 (4-1 ACC), this team is probably doing a bit better than I would have predicted at the beginning of the year and has a very good chance to add some more hardware before the season is over.
“Those two kids, they’re champions,” Krzyzewski said of his senior leaders. “They’re trying to teach the other kids how to become that, and it’s a long road to become that.”
Duke probably has played better than most of us would have expected. But I think we all see room for growth and we know it can happen quickly. I'd even say we're excited about the possibility of a 2010-type repeat where Coach K finds just the right formula and maximizes this team's potential. It's unlikely, but that possibility is not far from reality. We've got the talent. Arm-chair quarterbacking is more fun than sweating the recruiting stuff, anyways!
Physically, this team has matchup problems. We're a little short in the backcourt, we can't defend
quick 3s, and a little slow in the frontcourt. Teams with some size and quickness at the two and
three spots know how to spread the floor against us, get our bigs away from the basket, and
attack the middle.
t think we need to mix in some 2-3 zone when the other team is penetrating well. Not a lot,
but enough to throw off their rhythm some and make them think. K doesn't like to do it,
but this team is designed for it.
This team is designed to outpoint and wear you down on the exterior (the central game is trading three chances for twos, and getting to the basket off the bounce to win the game at those positions. The team has only three interior defenders who are undersized. Their ability to hurt people and expend a lot of energy trying to stop them on the other end I think is crucial to success against teams that can really give Duke a game. I'm beginning to think that K thinks that too.
OK this has been an excellent discussion of our defense. Lots of different impressions of what’s going on. I thought it might be helpful to supplement everyone’s eyeball impressions and really break it down, play by play, and analyze it. Most agree that our first half D against FSU was fine, but not so much the second. So I broke down frame-by-frame every 2nd half possession by FSU that resulted in points for them, and analyzed each play.They are below, with the time of the possession or shot indicated first.
I have not attempted to compile the results and categorize them, such as “on x number of occasions the basket was caused by poor communication by our bigs while on x number it was a loss of focus by so-and-so.” Sometimes, as you’ll see, it’s hard to assess that sort of “blame.”Other times, it’s not hard at all. But maybe if someone else wants to take this data and take a shot at summarizing it, go ahead. I just don’t have the time to do it right now.
I will also be posting the charting data for this game, hopefully later today, and I’ll be breaking that down between the two halves too. In any event, here is the play-by-play of each FSU score in the second half. Look forward, as always, to your comments.
So here goes:
1942: Miles gets caught by back screen by Seth’s man in mid-lane, Seth is underneath and surely saw James using screen and cutting low to receive the pass, but instead headed to FT line with his own man after he was done setting the screen. Maybe not the best decision by Seth, but can’t really fault him either, especially since at time he made the decision the passer on the wing still had the ball and Seth’s man was cutting to the FT line and could’ve just as easily received a pass for an open shot had Seth stayed low with James, who he would’ve been very unlikely to stop anyway. Miles did make an OK recovery on James at the baseline once he received the pass, but he was a little late and out of position, and couldn’t stop James from beating him to the other side of the hoop for the semi-awkward, semi-reverse jam. Who’s “at fault” for this? Sort of a little of each of them, but it was just a well-designed and well-executed play by FSU, truth be told.
1850: Post-offensive rebound by FSU, our defense is distorted, mismatches at several positions. Rivers made a probably unwise attempt at a steal on a semi-loose ball from a strange angle 30’ from the hoop, but his miss meant that Miles gets caught way outside on Miller (Austin’s man), who shot-fakes him, Miles goes for it, Miller goes around him and to the hoop. Mason puts his arms up and jumps on the help attempt, but Miller scores it. The “original sin” if you will, was Austin’s failed steal attempt, but if he succeeds, it’s a live-ball turnover and an easy hoop for us, so do we really want to fault him for that? Once Miles gets caught on Miller outside, he’s in trouble, and that’s not really his fault either. Mason made a decent block attempt with his help down low, but Miller made a tough shot over two bigs.
1815: Miles lets James catch 8’ from hoop on right side. James backs him into the lane, shoots 6 foot hook over him. Mason did not provide help, but if he had, his man would’ve been wide open had James opted to dump it to him for a layup/dunk. This was just a 1-on-1 post move and James made a nice shot over Miles’ OK defense – failure to deny the pass, but then he at least challenged the shot.
1754: Live-ball turnover by Andre/Mason in frontcourt leads to runout for FSU. Ends up a 2-on-1 with Dulkys getting the easy layup after the pass from Gibson. Fault: our turnover on offense. Not a defensive lapse here. Timeout Duke.
1645: Mason, guarding Gibson on the outside, turns his head, watching the ball only. Gibson goes backdoor and straight down the lane. Loucks hits him with a perfect lob for the dunk. Rivers was weakside and looks like he saw the play developing but failed to step in and prevent Gibson from getting down the lane. If he had, Gibson wouldn’t have had the opportunity to jump to catch the alley oop and if he had it would’ve been a charge. This was both a poor individual play on the perimeter by Mason and a failure of the “team” defense by Austin.
1532: Loucks gets a backscreen at the left elbow, cuts down and around to the right corner. Seth trails him to the corner. Loucks gets the pass, shot fakes, dribbles past Seth into the lane. Mason comes over and helps off of his man (Kreft), who Loucks drops it off to for a layup. Kelly was right there next to Kreft too and should’ve helped better on him and contested the shot better. “Fault” I suppose is to be shared by Seth, for getting faked out, and the bigs, for not helping better.
1403: After good moving-the-feet and staying in front by Rivers, then by Curry, the ball is swung to Miller, who catches 20’ away. Miller takes one dribble past Ty and banks in a 7 footer. Ryan really didn’t have much chance to help. Fault: Thornton’s inability to stop one-dribble penetration.
1315: High screen by White (guarded by Kelly) for Miller, guarded by Rivers. Ryan hedges just fine, but Austin kinda hangs around near Miller too, but not doing much to bother him, but in the meantime leaving White to head to the hoop unguarded. The easy pass to White is made. Mason comes over to help, contests, and fouls him hard. White hits both throws. Fault: Rivers’ poor handling of the high screen/roll. Not sure if he’s unclear on the concept (doubtful at this point) or whether he was unfocused, but he was nowhere near where he was supposed to be on this.
1201: Inbounds play, Seth gets screened. His man has the dribble, Miles helps and moves his feet nicely to cut off the dribbler, Peterson, at least for awhile. Peterson ultimately does make it into the lane but is deterred by Miles staying with him. Thornton, apparently thinking that the dribbler might keep going and turn the corner on Miles (which he never did), plays way off his man (Miller) and cheats almost into the lane, leaving Miller wide open at the 3 point line for the pass. Ty hustles back to get a hand up, but it’s nails. Fault: I think you’d have to say Thornton, for playing too far off his man at the 3 point line when, even had Peterson kept his drive alive, both Miles and Kelly were in the lane to contest him.
1123: While FSU is setting a high screen for Snaer, with Ryan hedging, Dulkys is setting a backscreen at the low right block for James (I think it is). Dawkins, covering Dulkeys, and Miles, covering James communicate poorly. Dawkins stays low with James and Miles doesn’t jump out on Dulkys, who pops out after setting the downscreen. Instead, Miles follows James too. Both our guys are on James and neither is on Dulkys, who catches the pass and buries the nobody-in-his-area-code 3. Ryan tried to contest it with a hand up, but he was way too far away. Not his fault – Dulkys should’ve never been left that alone to begin with. Poor communication, poor team defense here.
930: Ryan allows Gibson to catch about 9’ from hoop on the left. Gibson takes a dribble, spins baseline and Ryan fouls him on the shot. Nice move by Gibson. No real opportunity for Miles to help, which is why it was smart of Gibson to spin to the base, away from the help. Hits both free throws.
854: Rivers gets shot faked at the 3 point line, his man dribbles past him towards the baseline. Kelly helps off of Gibson onto the driver, and Gibson floats out to the 3 point line. The pass is made back to Gibson. Thornton, covering Dulkys at the top of the key, comes over to the area, apparently intending to contest what appears will be a Gibson shot. So Gibson smartly fakes a pass to Dulkys, who is spotting up for a 3. Thornton goes for the fake, runs back towards Dulkys, leaving Gibson to take the 3 which Ryan belatedly and weakly comes out to contest. “Fault” has to be shared on all 3 guys on this one. Rivers got shot faked to begin the distortion of our defense. Thornton, I think, needed to stay on Gibson once the pass went to him, trusting someone else to rotate onto Dulkys. (the staff may have told him to stick with Dulkys no matter what given how hot he’s been lately though, and let Gibson shoot). Ryan needed to recover more quickly and contest Gibson’s shot regardless of what the much smaller Thornton was doing. Gibson buried the 3. Not good team defense here, unless, again, the staff told them to take their chances with a guy like Gibson from long range, which would have been quite a reasonable gamble.
652: High screen results in Miles and Andre switching. Miles now has to guard Snaer on the outside. Snaer, predictably, takes him to the hoop. He turns the corner, gets into the lane, and goes all the way to the basket. Austin Rivers has his head turned as Snaer is barreling down the lane so has no concept of trying to take a charge or contesting Snaer’s shot in any way. Miles tried to swat at it from behind, but no way. Mason was on the other side of the lane and not close enough to help/contest. While yes, Miles was beaten off the dribble, I don’t think it’s fair to expect him really to stay with a guy like Snaer on the outside. Rivers has to be paying attention and be moving into position to take a charge in this situation, IMO. Failure of help D.
541: Seth’s man sets a backscreen on Mason on the left side of the paint. He doesn’t realize it until it’s too late. But Seth, seeing that Mason was being screened, needed to pick up Mason’s man (James) but he didn’t. He just stayed with his own man. Mason had to fight through all that traffic in the lane to try to get to James, which he did, but by that time James had the ball and had the advantage and he was able to get it over Mason pretty easily. I think the primary cause of this hoop was Seth missing his assignment.
523: Live-ball turnover by us (poor pass on the perimeter by Austin, intercepted by James) leads to breakaway dunk attempt that Mason has to foul him from behind to stop. Mason’s 4th foul. James hits 1 of 2. Fault was the turnover by us on the offensive end.
450: On the second of two consecutive high screen/hedge plays, Ryan makes an aggressive hedge on Loucks, but is called for the block. Loucks nails both throws.
402: Loucks drives on Curry from the outside, Seth called for a foul on the drive. Len Elmore opined “that’s a hold right there” despite it being Seth who ended up on his butt on the play. I didn’t see a reach or a hold, or a pushoff on Loucks either for that matter. After the under-4 timeout Loucks hits one and misses one. I don’t know what you attribute these points to.
257: Out of bounds play for FSU. Miles and Mason have their two bigs underneath. As Loucks is dribbling around the free throw line, Miles kinda gets lost between their two bigs, loses sight of his own man, James. Loucks drills a pass to James, forcing Mason to step over to him (this is all in close quarters in there.) James drops a nice little pass to Gibson (Mason’s man) for the dunk. Not sure what Miles was thinking here or why, if he thought he and Mason were going to switch, why that was necessary at that point. Loss of focus/poor communication.
240: Rivers goes 1-on-2, gets blocked, and FSU gets a runout. Seth does a nice job forcing a tough runner going away from the basket by Dulkys, but James grabs the errant shot as Miles mis-times his jump and Mason doesn’t jump for it at all. James lays it in.
158: Miles got screened on the left (well, it was more of a bodyblock, actually), freeing James to get to the right block. Miles tried to recover, and actually did so fairly well, but James took a step into the lane and hit a tough little hook over him. Nice shot. But no help effort by Mason here.
100: Snaer catches on the right wing, Dawkins on him. Snaer drives left, into the lane, lot of chest-to-chest contact with Andre, good no call, but Snaer, upon bouncing off Dawkins, puts up a quick little jumper in the lane and it’s good. Again, weak help effort by Mason, as he allowed Snaer to slip between himself and Andre instead of cutting the drive off completely.
036: Desperation time after Seth’s missed 3. Andre fouls Loucks in the backcourt intentionally (not that kind of intentional). He hits 1 of 2.
018: Another intentional foul, this time Seth on Gibson. Again, hits 1 of 2.
000: Obviously the winning 3 pointer. I know there has been a lot of discussion on the boards of Andre’s positioning on this play, but I am looking at this again and again, frame by frame, and at the time Loucks makes the pass, he is on the move, about 8 or 10 feet above the arc, dead center of the floor. Kelly is standing at the top of the arc. Dawkins has not one, but both feet in the lane, and he’s a good 12 feet from Snaer. Also, directly to Loucks’s right as he makes the pass is Mason Plumlee. This seems important, because if Andre was concerned about Loucks driving, and that’s why he was in the lane and not closer to Snaer, he shouldn’t have been so concerned. If Loucks was inclined to drive instead of pass, it stands to reason that he would’ve driven left, not right, because Mason was on his right. He could’ve driven left and assuming he got by Ryan, the only guy left on that side would’ve been Austin Rivers, without a rangy 7-footer like Mason Plumlee being involved on his side or from behind. I strongly believe Andre misplayed this, either out of inattention to Snaer or the misguided belief that he needed to help Ryan (or, really, help both Ryan and Mason) on Loucks.
OK that's all I got for now.
Last edited by -jk; 01-23-2012 at 04:22 PM. Reason: odd wanker problem
I thought our first half defense against FSU was excellent, so maybe we're taking baby steps toward righting the defensive ship.
You may be right about the potential being there, but I'm not sure we can really compensate for our lack of good intermediate size defenders (in some programs, they are called forwards).
Shane Battier ain't walking through the door, but, heck, I'd be delighted to see Lance Thomas.
Not leaving until the game is over.
But in the second half of the FSU game, our perimeter D was not "getting shredded consistently." Check the play-by-play in post #49 of this thread. By my count, there were only 3 occasions, those occuring at 15:32, 14:03, and 8:54, where the FSU score was fairly attributable to one of our perimeter guys getting beaten on the outside, causing a big to have to help and be out of position. A lot more hoops were caused by the failure to help, the failure to communicate, loss of focus and inattention, and those sorts of things. Not just flat out getting beaten from the outside. Check it out.
This has been a good thread, and it made me hop over to kenpom.com to see where our D was currently ranked.....90th!!!!! That is really remarkable.
Still and all, we fans have often complained that our teams peak too early. This represents an area where we can and should get better - I hope....it's nearly February.