Mason, Kelly, Dawkins, and Curry will all be Seniors next season. This is gut check time. I hope they take some time to reflect on this game and the season, and use it to fuel them during the summer to improved their individual games to help lead the team for next season, their final season at Duke.
I've seen several people either say or elude that they believe this is the most embarrassing lose in the K era of Duke basketball. Let me remind you...
2007 Round 2 - Lost to 11 seed VCU (Before Smart came along and anyone had heard of them.)
1990 Championship game - Lost to UNLV by 30 (still not over this one, even after the next 2 titles.)
1995 Regular Season - Lost to UCLA by 23 (The O'Bannon brothers rolled, we were favored to win big)
1993 Round 2 - Upset lose to Cal (were favored to 3-peat as champions)
Plus countless UNC matchups and others that were heart breakers for us. This one hurts but is far from our worst. Like coach said we've had some high highs and low lows, here are some of the highs...
1991 Final Four -Beat UNLV (avenged that UNLV blowout by handing them their first lose of the year, won title No. 1.)
1992 Elite Eight - The Shot...that is all.
1992 Championship - Beat the Fab Five by 20 (even better now after Jalen Rose's comments about us.)
2001 Regular Season - Beat a stacked Maryland squad (the miracle minute, Duke down by 10 with 54 sec left, came back to tie, send to OT and win)
2001 Championship - Beat Arizona for No.3 (Great season, legendary players.)
1981 Senior Night - Beat UNC (Gene Banks buzzer beater, gave K his first victory over UNC.)
2010 Championship - Beat Butler for No. 4 (overachieving Duke squad wins title No. 4.)
2012 Regular Season - The other shot (rough ending to the season for the Devil's, but this will be a piece of UNC/Duke rivalry history for years and years to come and something to hang our hats on this season)
This is the most embarrassing loss in K's career, imo. Only 5 other #15 seeds over #2 seeds in history. This was a historic loss in the tourney, not a regular season game or an ACC tourney game... No need to sugar coat this one. Let's accept it, give Lehigh credit, give kudos to Miles, and move on to next year's considerable potential. Next play
I watched Seth during the game and noticed he looked tired from the get go with a yawn and bags under his eyes. I wonder if he was feeling sick or just was worn out by lack of sleep. It appeared that he tried hard but his effectiveness was limited. I wonder about the health of all the team prior to the game. I doubt that anyone would admit to being sick, since it sounds like making excuses.
Lehigh is ranked similarly to teams like Clemson, Colorado (who's an 11 seed, btw) and Illinois. While people will call it a huge upset because of relative names, players, expectations and seeds- it's nowhere near the upset many are making it sound and it's not close to Duke's most embarrassing loss. I'm more embarrassed by the loss to OSU earlier this year, honestly. There's just more emotion tied to this one because it's at the end of the year and was on a bigger stage.
So I really thought Duke would go on a run in the tourney; that with another week to tweak the offense, post-kelly injury, it would be better. I said as much in the thread on fixing the offense. Unfortunately, I was mystified by the offense last night...I know McCullum played a decent game. I say decent because he shot 40% from the field and less than 70% from the line. Those aren't exceptional numbers. He did exactly what Coach K expected and should have been a secondary highlight to a Duke drubbing of Lehigh. That's not bad-mouthing Lehigh; that's just recognition of the tradition, talent, and size Duke had in their corner.
Oh I know there are those on their high horses, talking about what fans shouldn't expect...dealing with the loss the way they do, making themselves feel better by judging other fans, rather than evaluating a Duke loss and the reasons/performances that fell short. I'll just have to admit to being one of those not-so-worthy humans who sees the shortcomings in a performance while trying not to denegrate the young men who played. Pls climb upon the high horse and explain to the players and coaches next time you see them that they shouldn't expect to win. Expecting to win and putting in the work to do so, I think, comes with confidence.
You could certainly see on Miles face last night in the post-game presser that he EXPECTED to win. I, along with him and not just a couple of his teammates, are likely confounded by the offensive performance of the team. M&M worked their butts off...yeah they got in a bit of foul trouble, but they were dominant for the most part when they had the ball. I do think Mason can use some work in getting to a missed shot. On at least a couple of occasions the ball was halfway to the floor from a miss before he began to react, and smaller perimeter players scooped it up before he could get there...I'm not sure if that is reaction time or moments of lost focus...at least once it was clear that if he had gone up for the rebound rather than staying flat-footed, he could have had the ball. Still you can't fault his overall performance.
AR was the focus of the perimeter D; I thought he did a great job on both ends of the floor.
What I can't quite figure out is what is going on with Andre and Seth. I recall a play where Andre missed a shot in the 1st half and the camera followed him for a couple of seconds down the court -- I knew he was done...perhaps not off the court, but you could see on his face a "woe is me" look; he was done. A moment later he was trying to chase a ball handler who had dribbled around him into the paint to score. If a decent guard can work to get Andre switched onto him, he can penetrate into the heart of the defense without being forced into an interior defender. I am not sure what is going on there, but am concerned that he may not have the ability to shake off momentary adversity on the court enough to play defense and keep himself in the game mentally. Shooters are going to have ups and downs, but passing, positioning and defending have to continue.
Seth, I thought would be a great passer, but for the life of me I can't understand why he doesn't look to pass the ball inside. I know we, most of us, don't have access to practices, but I refuse to believe that passing into the post hasn't been a point of emphasis for this team, especially in the past two weeks. Time after time Mason and Miles rolled to the post, hands up, eyes on the dribbler...not even a glance made at them. I understand the difficulty passing into the interior when the other team is significantly taller, but he seems to always take that dribble which destroys the potential to pass inside.
I think Duke teams in the past have proven, that you can win with three good scorers, as long as the other two players on the court at least require some significant effort to guard and prevent effective passing. There simply were not 5 guys involved in the offense in a serious way last night...and I really don't consider dribbling the ball in a near stationary position for 10 seconds then heaving it to the rim a threat the defense has to worry about.
Yes, I did expect Duke to win against a 15 seed. Even if Lehigh "should have been" ranked a 7 seed, I expected Duke to win; and I would bet Coach K expected it to. Should he feel bad for the expectation as well? If he said "we should expect to win that game" would someone claim he was dissing Lehigh? ...so the unexpected happened. My issue is, I'm not sure the offensive problems can be fixed by an off-season. The weaknesses with the offense were mental for the most part. The players at the heart of the perimeter problems, offensively and defensively, would normally expect to be starters next year.
I look forward to watching Duke again next year, but wonder if there won't need to be significant changes in the pecking order for minutes if Duke expects to get past the first weekend next year.
Getting so much out of this team over the course of the season in many ways left us open to 2 vs. 15 type upset. We've seen many teams with similar struggles end up in the tournament as something like a 6 seed, if at all (see 2010).
I partially agree that a 15 over a 2 is not what it used to be because I think lower seeded teams are better now than they used to be, however it had been 11 years since it happened twice yesterday. So, not sure how to interpret that...
I really don't care whether this is the most embarrassing or the 5th or 10th embarrassing. I'm more interested in where we go from here.