Alright folks, it's another season that comes down to Duke v. The Evil Empire with all the chips on the line! Let's get started with our thoughts, rants, analysis, anxiety! After Saturday, every game is an elimination game. It's been an exciting year, and once again Coach K has Duke poised for success!
Thoughts to get things going:
- How goes Roy's general attitude towards regular season "championships" v. conference tournament championships impact his prep for this game?
- Talk preseason was about how it was UNC's season to pursue perfection and how they ought to be the de facto national favorites. How did Duke put themselves one win away from the top seed in the ACC tourney with the #1 seen for the NCAA's very much in play?
- What have been the improvements you've seen through the season, last few weeks in particular as Duke has regained some of their grit and aura?
- THANK YOU SENIORS! Er, Miles.
GTHC GTHC GTHC GTHC!!!
The other key, as it always is against UNC, is to keep them out of transition. This means the guards must limit open-court turnovers and the whole team needs to hustle back at the end of every offensive possession, even on made buckets. Barnes was having a poor game until he got it going in transition the last time these teams met. Duke needs to keep Barnes away from easy buckets and turn him into a volume jump shooter (and, as mentioned before, prevent his misses from ending up in the hands of Henson and Zeller).
The final key will be to exploit our advantage from three-land while simultaneously remaining aggressive on offense. UNC has less depth than Duke. Three point shooting doesn't usually lead to many free throw attempts. However, if we stay aggressive at attacking Marshall and Hairston off the dribble and draw a few fouls while also kicking out to open shooters, it will go a long way toward making our offense more efficient. I'd love to see Duke create three point shots the way we did down at FSU. Drive and kick, pick n' pop, or just have good ball movement. The higher the quality of our three point shots, the better chance we have of generating enough offense to beat the Heels.
b) Miles's resurgence has been big, but also Austin assuming the go-to playmaker helm as well as Seth playing consistently well.
If we play @ Cameron the way we did @ the Dump, we'll win, as i don't think UNC can play much better than they did in that game, and our peak defensive intensity seems to have improved, in that we have longer stretches of PDI. Even vs. Wake we had a good 30 minutes of PDI, and still were able to recover despite about 7 minutes of essentially not playing D at all.
UNC is perhaps the most talented team in the conference. On paper. But paper ain't where the game is played.
I think UNC having two conference losses is probably about expected. Duke only having two is not given what we lost last year. The fact that we are in this position is due to the fight these kids have and the coaches who lead them. Well done.
I would not be surprised to see UNC favored or this game to be a pick 'em.
Let's bring home a victory for Miles!!!
Eat Mor Jonny.
I hate the title of this thread.
What's at stake is the "regular season conference championship". The "conference championship" will be decided next week in Atlanta.
I agree, though. Duke has been able to reach new levels of defensive intensity. Interestingly, this has often come at the expense of some of our offense. I think Duke is a better team now than a few weeks ago, but I would love to see Duke maintain this new level PDI while also reaching it's ceiling on the offensive end, too.
I'm gonna go a little off-topic, but hey, the title says "Pre-Game" and In-Game thread.
I'm excited to see what College Game Day brings to Cameron. I hope the "hype" doesn't get us over-hyped and we come out struggling.
I have watched some of the previous Game Day shows where they play a version of the Newlywed Game with two teammates from the host school. Some of them ended up being pretty entertaining. I'd love to see some of our Duke guys do this, but I don't know if it would be a distraction.
I'm wondering if Coach K will allow them to do this on Saturday...
I know the crowd will be ready on Saturday. I'll have my Tums in hand...
If we can defend a bit better and shoot well, we'll win. And if we can get a solid showing from our bigs (Miles was a bit MIA against UNC and Kelly was pretty quiet for 35 minutes), that will help. Our defense has been better lately than it was coming into the first UNC game, so hopefully we'll be better prepared to guard them.
In the past, our big guys have been able to somewhat contain their big guys. That wasn't really the case in the first meeting this year when their bigs combined for 40 points and 23 rebounds. If we can keep their bigs to around 30 points and less than 20 boards, I like our chances.
I think payback, revenge and atonement for their earlier loss to us will be firmly entrenched in their collective psyche as they enter CIS, whether they admit it openly or not. If UMd can manage to snakebite them. I think UNC will come in a tad deflated. I hope that game goes to 35 overtimes.
I hope those thoughts make them tight, stiff, and they try to do too much individually and force themselves into bad plays and turnovers. I don't expect it, but one can hope. I also hope that they don't come out as they did in the previous meeting. It pains me to say it, but I cant imagine UNC looking/playing any better than that. They got the ball where they wanted it and did what they wanted.... mostly.
We cant let them do that again.
My thought would be that it starts with perimeter pressure. Deny, deny, deny and mix in some well timed pressing (or press seems to be an effective weapon) to make them work and run them into the ground so they are tripping over their tongues.
I say well timed, because with UNC this can be a double edged sword. You don't want to accidentally create transition opportunities for them, but rather keep them off pace and disrupt their continuity. We have more guards to rotate thru and can have fresher guys at the end.
Also we need the Ryan that showed up last night vs:WF.
Kelly is a player that's hard for me to watch and truly appreciate his game. When I think he has a good shot, he misses... When I think hes taking a bad shot he makes it... I like when he tries to go the basket off the dribble. He needs space to do that... Hopefully our shooters will draw attention and give him some space to create opportunities for Miles/Mason or draw a foul on Henson/Zeller/McAdoo taking it himself. RK needs to be effective.
Speaking of MP1 and MP2. They need to show up and play solid. Not spectacular. Just solid. Over the previous game, I'd like to see more rebounds and better interior D. If the guards can apply successful pressure and make UNC initiate its O a few feet further out from their normal comfort zone, it will help these guys a lot position-wise so they are in the right spots for rebounds and help recovery. And of course it would be a fantastic time for Mason to rediscover his touch and footwork.
I hope Josh can go. I'm not sure RK is the guy I want covering Barnes. Maybe in spots... he'll be hard to shoot over but easy to get around so the D needs to be alert to that.
I'm not sure we've seen the best out of Quinn yet this yr. There are times where he "looks" a shade tentative (thinking about his injury) and not reaction 100% to the game in the moment. Could be me hallucinating as well. Something in his movements strikes me that way. I cant exactly put my finger on it. Hope he picks THIS game to make me a believer.
For good or for Ill Austin is THE guy. Moments like this are why he came here. I'm OK with him being the guy. I love the way he throws his body around with reckless abandon when he goes to the hoop. He is fearless! While he used to get A LOT of charging calls (and rightly so) he has learned to not force the issue(as much) and take better advantage of the available spacing. I think his earlier proclivity to charge, hinders him in getting the benefit on a lot of "and one" opportunities. I think when he drives he is fouled more often than it is called. So he just needs to play his game and be smart. Not hide from the moment.
Seth has been on a tear as of late. We' need him to keep driving and relocate and leverage a mid-range game. He needs to play his game much like Austin.
TT - His role is a key. He needs to bother Marshall and make him really uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in a way he hasn't been all year. Needs to bother him on the shot and the drive, keep him from getting the ball back when he gives it up, take away passing angles. Between Quinn and TT we need to do work on Marshall and harass him.
Any O from Dre is gravy. When he is hot he is lava, when he is cold he is ice. I just hope for a consistent hard Defensive effort from him.
I hope CIS puts on a show and brings the energy for the players to feed on and for the recruits that will be in the house.
Hopefully all that will produce a W for the good guys.
Of course now that I have laid it bare something different and unexpected will happen.
(*And by this I don't mean to include plays in which a pick was set for him, as in his buzzer-beater. I mean specifically plays in which he throws it at the rim before our bigs can even get in position to box out. But hey, he is kinda pretty good at those, so what do I know?)
What I would like to see is Duke setting up the offense, working the ball into 2-point land (either through drives or entry passes), collapsing the UNC defense, and then -- when necessary -- working it back outside for the long bomb. Hopefully this gets us more open shots and satisfies a popular buzz-word here on the DBR: gettting off threes "in the flow" of the offense.
"With seven national titles and 20 Final Fours in the 64-team NCAA Tournament era, Duke and UNC have had more playoff success than any other CONFERENCE." - Al Featherston
I'm looking for 3 OTs on 3/3.
This will present a problem for Duke, given the Heels' depth - roster depth. I expect [using the word loosely] Heels will finish with White, PJ Hairston, Hubert, Simmons, and Barnes [who will have but a single foul]. Unless K adds another walk-on before Sat [which I am recommending], he'll be faced with a really tough decision: whom to put on the floor with Cook, Curry, Gbinije, and Zafirovski? [Andre fouls out with 1:30 left in 3d OT; gets T'd-up for hanging on rim after a breakaway.....] Josh? No, K decides he's not going to mess around with the concussion thing. Marshall or Alex? Wow, losing a whole year just for the last 1:30 of the regular season? No, screw that, too. [K's indelicate language, not mine; censor him, leave me alone.] K goes with the forever-named "Final Four" and goes zone, too. [Bob Knight refuses to speak to K for 3 years.]
Carolina up 99-98, Cook drives and dishes to Curry for an NBA 3-bomb. Curry hefts it up [replay shows 3.3 on clock as ball leaves hand], gets run over by Barnes. Ted K. Hess-Valentine swallows whistle.
Ball rims out.
Zafirovski, pushed in the back by both Hubert and Simmons, tips it in backwards over his head.
Tums-time all around.
- I believe we will always get Carolina's best shot, wherever and whenever we play them. With the exception of their shooting, they are consistently playing at a very high level right now (Zeller, Henson, and Marshall deserve the credit for the consistency). The big X factor is the shooting of Barnes -- if he is stroking it then they will be extremely difficult to beat.
- I am not at all surprised by where we stand right now. We have the most respected and most successful coach in the game right now and are one of the handful of elite teams without any excuse for not being in the hunt for a #1 seed every year. For the past 25 years we've had a depth of talent and big-game experience that few can match. To me, it is much more surprising that UConn is struggling than that Duke is being discussed as a serious National Championship contender. I expect UNC, Syracuse, MSU, Kansas, and Kentucky to contend every year with us, and am only surprised when one of the hyper-elite struggles.
- I think that individuals have improved as expected over the course of the year, but the biggest positives have been the improvement in team defense and in players feeling comfortable with their roles on the team. A Coach K quote from back in the 90s has always helped me interpret his Duke teams. He said that he looks to identify the team's three key guys at the beginning of the year and then builds the team around their strengths. I think this was in response to a question about how the 92, 93, and 94 teams were all successful, but very different from each other, and was contrasted with Dean Smith's "system" approach. More than any Duke team that I can remember, I think Coach K (and the players) probably had difficulty identifying exactly who those three would be this year. Who would be the key players on the court and what would their roles be? What is the best way to utilize the other players (roles and playing time) in support of the key 3? It took a while, but I think it became clear that Curry, Rivers and MP2 would be the three. The best roles for the others have also taken a while to crystallize (in my eyes), but I think they are now pretty set and I think that the players are now pretty comfortable with their expectations. All of this took a while (and continues to be a work in progress) because of the depth of our talent, and the massive change in roles from last year (a brand new key 3).
- I expect Miles to have a very big game on Saturday. A few sloppy plays due to the emotions, but otherwise BIG.
I would love to see the sibling love featured on college Game Day. It would be a special memory for the family.
Now, back on topic. GTHC GTH!
In the first game I thought we got that first half lead by hitting tough shots. If those don't fall then we're in an even bigger hole. They got pretty easy shots throughout the game, and continued to rebound when they missed. So a victory in this next one will again depend on hitting shots and rebounding.
One question for me will be whether we even TRY to go inside to the Plumlees. It seems that when they're ineffective early we just give up the inside game altogether. They need to play with confidence, and they showed in last year's ACC tournament final that they can hang with UNC's inside guys if they stay aggressive.
Marshall will be a big factor for them. We typically help off of him, so if he's hitting his shot then they become really, really tough to beat. He hasn't shot that well overall, but showed against NC State that he's capable of knocking them down in a given game.
The final X factor is our play at home, which has been mysteriously worse than on the road. There will be no shortage of motivation given the context of the game, so we'll just have to see what happens.
Just like last time, the extent to which you can neutralize our inside advantage and we can offset your perimeter scoring should determine the outcome.
I'm very curious to see how Rivers plays. Going into the last one I was worried about his ability to penetrate and dish- turned out he just scored a bunch. We really don't match up well against him and I'm afraid his confidence will be sky high. How do we keep him from breaking us down and creating foul trouble? My hope is that Barnes is in better shape and we can use a combination of Barnes, Bullock, and maybe Watts to make him work for his points. But Rivers blew right past HB last time, so I don't have much hope there.
Our best hope is that Rivers is just not as on as he was last time. Of course, I did not watch the game again so my memory might be foggy here, but I recall some of his shots were good only because they went in. Quick shots from behind the arc might help us if he's over-amped. I don't really like the fact that my best hope is that the opposing player becomes his own worst enemy.
Beginning with the 1980-81 season (if I'm counting right) ...
Duke: 12 ACC regular season crowns, 13 ACC Championships, 11 Final Fours, 4 National Championships
UNC: 14 ACC regular season crowns, 9 ACC Championships, 11 Final Fours, 4 National Championships
Duke with a combined 25 ACC regular season crowns and championships to UNC's 23.
Really, really looking forward to this one.
The rest of the ACC watches while Duke and NC@ch "duke" it out for the regular season championship. All is right in the world. (BTW, if NC@ch loses, and fails to win the regular season in the ACC, does that mean that ole Huck suddenly finds religion and decides that the ACCT actually is important? Can't wait to see...)
As with history, I don't expect the rivalry rematch to mimic the first game. This one will play out differently. No doubt they come in PO'd about the prior result. Both teams will be focused, if even a little over-excited. I think Duke plays a little more to their inside game than last time (not saying much is that?!)
But we'll still make a lot of threes, given their lousy perimeter D.
I think NC surges initially, based on our final-home-game nerves, but the crowd helps Duke to fight back. Let's hope the refs actually call some of the over-the-back plays NC so thoroughly got away with the first time. I hope the Crazies have some fun with Prince Harry too, who's been a little off lately (I thought he was bad, inconsistent in their UVA game). Miles' newfound assertiveness plays a role in this one, and let's pray MP2 finds his goove again too. Zeller will be particularly egging for some payback, and I expect they'll feed him some extra to that end.
Duke in a close one, but not another last-second shot.
(I don't think that my heart could take that again!)
I have no useful thoughts to add. It's Carolina. Assuming they beat Maryland, it's for the regular season crown. It's Miles's senior day. It's Carolina.
In the words of Conan: "Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women."
In the words of Lt. Aldo Raine: "I want my scalps."
Brian Zoubek on what was going through his mind walking to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds remaining in the 2010 National Championship game and Duke up by 1: "Fifty percent [of me is] thinking, This is what I've been dreaming of doing my entire life. Fifty percent I'm crapping my pants."