The crispness of the passes... the ball movement and unselfishness, even with Thomas Robinson trying to do it all on his own at times... and just the sheer will.
If Duke could have had perimeter ball movement like that this year... and fed the post like KU did.... it would have been a much better year.
As the writer of this post http://bloguin.com/runthefloor/2012-...5-duke-70.html notes, in addition to cold shooting, there are a few other key reasons why we lost what otherwise should have been a winnable game (even without Ryan Kelly):
It's not a perfect analogy (because Marshall is a better player than Kelly) but both players have more value than I think most people realize because they are the only person on their team with their skill set. Marshall's value to UNC is vastly increased by the fact that they really don't have a backup point guard. In the same way Duke does not have another big man who can stretch the floor.
If Carolina has to play without Marshall it means less easy baskets for Henson and Zeller and less fast break opportunities for everybody. Duke playing without Ryan Kelly meant less open 3's and less room for Austin and Seth to drive. I would not be surprised at all if UNC loses without Marshall and I wouldn't say it's because the rest of the guys failed to step up.
"An angry man catches no fish"-Zen proverb.
I thought McCollum did as well as anyone at keeping Austin out of the lane. This was one of the few games that I didn't think Rivers got by his man one-on-one whenever he wanted. I thought Lehigh also followed the plan that VT and FSU used, which was to double team the ball-handler off the high pick and roll from the wing. Without Ryan to make defenses pay for that gamble, and without looking to get the ball to the cutting big to the hoop, or moving the ball to the open person, Duke struggled against that defensive adjustment.
“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.”
I've started to recover from this loss, finally, but it's going to take some time. I'm not venting, but this was a very hard one to live through. That's two crushing losses in early rounds in a row and other than the blip in '10 (not that I'd discount a championship - that team more than earned and deserved it), we're in a bad rut in the big tournament these days. That's one time past the Sweet 16 in the last 8 years, and only twice since Shane Battier graduated 11 years ago. I'm not one to poo-poo making the Sweet 16 a dozen times in 15 years, but it's difficult to adjust to not being a consistent factor when it matters right now. All good things come to an end, there's no reasonable expectation that our outrageous level of success from '88 through '01 could continue forever, and we're still one of the best programs out there coached by the best coach in the game. It's a lot to be proud of, but it's still hard to come down from the mountaintop. And to top it all off, we now have our own Weber St. One of the worst things about this loss is that we can no longer enjoy Harold Arceneaux taunts.
Anyway, as others have mentioned, the China trip may have turned out to be a bit of a curse from a fan expectation perspective this year. We were more cohesive in November than our opponents, and it was easy to overlook the headstart we had as the primary reason. And, as a result, we won games we probably shouldn't have, which again made it easy to overlook the obvious flaws. In retrospect, as much as I enjoyed the Kansas game, we were pretty lucky to win it. Obviously, we had no business winning in Chapel Hill, as the Heels made perfectly clear to us a month later. The entire season was a little bit analogous to the Tebow phenomenon in the NFL last season - despite the glaring flaws, he was getting some lucky breaks, and making huge plays at critical moments, and winning games. Eventually people started to re-evaluate their positions on the actual talent, believing their lying eyes, until the Patriots came along and blew up the facade. In our case, unfortunately, it was the Patriot League, not the Patriots. And while Peyton Manning was on campus last week, he's not going to be joining the Blue Devils next season.
Places we could improve:
- perimeter offensive players knowing, settling into and accepting roles and a rotation. IMHO, we'd benefit from a true point who could get the offense in a position to allow Rivers to do his thing from the wing instead of from up top, and not have to concentrate on setting up the offense
- finding someone who can (and looks to) drive to create easy buckets for the bigs - see previous item
- getting/developing someone who can stop opposing point guards
- team defense and rotation
- free throw shooting
- guards who look to find the angles for entry passes while dribbling, instead of looking for ways to get to the basket
I guess my hope is that Austin stays and Quinn develops into the sort of PG who can make a few shots but distribute better, leaving Seth and Andre to split time. Instead of what this season's version of a 3-guard lineup became - extremely reliant on 3-point shooting, but not extraordinarily good at it. We shot an awful lot of treys this year for a team with one guy (a 7-footer, at that) above a 40% hit rate.
Things to be proud of from the season:
- lost Kyrie Irving but almost won ACC Regular Season
- Maui champs
- monumental, epic, add another great chapter to the rivalry, win in Chapel Hill
- K reaching all-time wins leader status
- graduating Miles - congrats to him on a good four years, and best of luck
- being Duke, being classy, working hard
But when I look around the neighborhood, it looks to me like we still have the biggest house on the block. There just aren't any teams out there I'd want to switch places with. In regards to tournament success, or otherwise. So I guess I just have a hard time seeing what all the whining is about. There are so many people that seem to think there is something "wrong" with the program, and I just don't understand where it comes from.
Or, to be more accurate, if it comes from where I think it comes from, then I think it's kinda dumb. But that's best saved for a mid-summer discussion, when we're really starving for talking points.
"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