Duke is 20-1 and ranked #2 in the country. We are a gutsy three pointer away from being undefeated and possibly #1 in the country. We just beat our arch rival convincingly on their home floor. I doubt there are very many rational people who would have expected any of this to be true when the season started. How did we get here?
1. Coach K took what he learned from Mike D'Antoni and taught/implemented a significant new offensive scheme, and our team is perfectly suited to run this kind of offense. The team bought into the system and everything meshed as well as could be expected as discussed below. If Coach K isn't, at this point in the season, coach of the year ACC and nationally, I don't know how he can ever win those awards.
2. Our depth materialized. McClure came back healthy enough to make significant contributions, particularly on the defensive end and in the post. Nolan Smith proved to be more talented and ACC-level ready than some expected, as well as more capable of running the point. He has done so in a manner that provides an excellent complement to the skills of Greg Paulus. Taylor King, besides being the most unconscious (meaning he will jack it up any time and from any spot beyond the half court line) 3 point shooter I've ever seen, has played, intermittently, spectacularly and provided solid minutes off the bench, including proving capable of defending inside at times and rebouding. Jon Scheyer willingly accepted a 6th man role and thrived in that capacity.
Consequently, we are consistenly the fresher, more energetic team in the second half and our top players are playing less minutes than they have in previous seasons - likely to make us a tougher team in March and April.
3. Nelson has pulled a Carrawell. We all knew he had it in him but we didn't know whether it would come out during his senior season. He is doing it all, leading us on offense and defense and I stress LEADING. He has proven to be an outstanding captain, a warrior who locks down point guards and wings, creates offense off his defense, rebounds, at times looks unstoppable driving to the basket, gets to the free throw line and can hit the 3. Without Hansbwiklfwec, he is the leading contender for ACC player of the year.
4. Henderson and Scheyer took the necessary freshman to sophomore leap. Both elevated their games to the point where several times they have had stretches where they were the best player on the court. And they are steadily improving as the season goes on, albeit with some peaks and valleys for both.
5. Paulus has emerged. After a beginning of the season that included some ups and downs, Paulus has really come to life in the last 3 or 4 games, showing himself to be the player we knew he could be when we recruited him and from watching him the McDonald's All-America game: fiery, tough, confident and passionate like we expect from Duke point guards (extensions of Coach K on the court), a great outside and FT shooter, providing leadership and stability, controlling the tempo of the game - pushing when appropriate and pulling back when necessary, not forcing action and committing bad turnovers.
6. SINGLER. Period. Singler has been everything advertised and I'd argue more. He seems to hit big shots in every game and never seems to make a mistake. He plays outstanding defense even when guarding players much bigger, takes charges, rebounds, makes great passes, can score from anywhere on the court and has the best court awareness (spacing, movement without the ball, help defense, etc.) and basketball IQ of any freshman I've ever seen (including Battier).
7. Thomas has established himself as a solid post player. And he seems to only be getting better, which would make this team really scary. As he has recovered from his mid-season illness, he shows signs that he is making the freshman to sophomore leap as well. We need to give him some more time because he's missed some games, but I think his improvement will be "linear (plagiarizing Jumbo) as the season continues.
8. The team chemistry has been right. It's an impossible thing to create or predict, but it just appears that these guys love playing with one another. You can win without it (see the 1977 Yankees) but it really helps when you have it.
Feel free to add to this in the spirit of WHAT'S GONE RIGHT as I am sure there's more. I think we have a lot more to look forward to the second half of the season.
Singler is IRON
I STILL GOT IT! -- Ryan Kelly, March 2, 2013
10. K is as energetic and excited as he has been in years. As well he should be!
I would think that running this style of offense can only help Duke with recruiting, too. Who wouldn't want to play an up-tempo style with lots of scoring? Putting up big numbers will help a player's chances at getting drafted, which would be a huge selling point for coming to Duke (as if we needed any more).
Funny that ten months ago most people were proclaiming the demise of Coach K and Duke, and now things can't get much better than they are 8-).
Thank you for the reminder to accentuate the positive! Maybe we can apply this outlook to football.
The on-court communication, an integral part of the kind of defense we play this year, has been remarkable and I think continues to improve.
Related to 2. :
Like Jumbo pointed out in one of his recent posts, while McClure is playing well, he's lacking that sharpness he brought to the defense last year. Maybe he's not fully recovered, maybe he'll improve and maybe our defense will be even better. He's certainly progressing - I loved the way he sent Hanswekjfb (I let both my hands go berserk!) back-pedaling while out-fighting him for a rebound.
By the way - loved the Carawell reference! I have been so excited by the play of Nelson this year, and several times I have felt that he is having a "Carrawell-type season."
Visiting team motto at Cameron: Venimus, temptavimus, defectimus (We came, we tried, we failed)
In addition to what's been mentioned:
This is the best I have ever seen the Devils run the delay game. It seems like we pull it and slow it down .... and our lead increases rather than evaporates.
The parts are more nearly interchangeable than I have ever seen at Duke. This is enabled by the fact that Singler is an outside threat and can lead the break (like Danny F.) and that two of the guards -- Markie and Jon -- are threats inside as scorers and rebounders.
I would add emphasis to prior posts on two points:
(a) Jon Scheyer is a very special player.
(b) Whoever thought that the three freshmen would be ready to contribute so much this season?
As an only occasional viewer, can I ask how this offense differs from Duke offenses of old? It seems like a return the Battier offenses of relatively old to me. Maybe instead of four out one in, it's 4.5 out and .5 in?
Singler is IRON
I STILL GOT IT! -- Ryan Kelly, March 2, 2013
I was going to post something like this..
- Duke is averaging 85.9 PPG and only allowing 66.5 PPG
- 5 players averaging 10+ PPG
- 20-1, First in the ACC by 2 games, and beat UNC!
- Bench Scoring Tops in the ACC at 28.6 PPG
- The Defense is way better then last year
- Rebounding isn't much of an issue
- Team Chemistry seems to be a million times better
- The Freshman are amazing. Smith and King are better then expected
The list could keep going..
To be honest, I would of thought at this point Duke would be (Roughly) 18-3 or 19-2 with a loss at UNC and 2nd place in the ACC. Would of guessed the Duke O would be scoring abound mid-high 70's a game(Believe that would be fair after last year season).
How sweet it is to be wrong.
I have notice that this year we just keep pushing and pushing ,when you think they are about to slow down another gear kicks in and off to the races they go .this team is so mcuh deeper than i thought it would be and with lance improving and z coming back soon, we are looking very very good.for the first time in a few years ,I feel we really have a chance to cut down the nets this year.this is a really great team to watch and i hope they can win it all and show the rest of the country what we already know,THAT DUKE IS NUMBER #1,GO DUKE
Whoever thought that two freshmen would be ready to contribute so much this season?
This board seems to have a love obsession with King, and its not hard to see why....3 point shots are sexy, and King has absurd range.
But the freshman has not had the impact or the results to be included with the other 2 as great successes and having great impacts.
Yes he was a key factor vs Wisconsin, but from the Pitt game on, where has he been?
15/44 for 34% shooting, for slightly more than 4 points per game over the last 11 games, with his only good performance coming at Temple.
His slowness on Defense led to him having barely any playing time vs Clemson and Maryland. And this has been a trend.
He came in to the UNC game in the 2nd half only because demarc got a 4th foul early. So what happens? King throws a rediculous 3 up, misses, gets back the shot from paulus and launches another miss. Obviously at that point King is removed from the game.
The other 2 freshmen have been having major impacts...singler for obvious reasons, and Smith for his production as well as the fact that his presence allows for a more rested-healthier paulus (which we have seen the impact of recently).
But King doesnt provide intangibles like Smith, nor dominate like Singler. He's at this point a 1 dimensional player, who seems on many occasions to not have the best judgment in managing that talent (see the UNC game, where both of those 3s were from far greater distance than was needed and was a stupid shot for ANYBODY, even JJ). I grimace every time he's in the game.
So in conclusion, I would say that King has not been one of the main reasons of why we are here. I think he has the potential to be one of those impact players in the future. But his current talent and skills have not made a major impact on this team, and thus his reduced playing time, and thus it bugs me whenever people mention him alongside the other 2 freshmen as readily contributing this year.
I don't think we have had collectively a team that was in better shape. That's what I noticed about the Carolina game. We ran past them. I don't remember
one player that in that game bent over in fatigue during the 2n half.
Did Carolina have any breakaways?
Great post and couldn't agree more, especially on #8. Team chemistry is obviously very strong. Just watch the guys on the bench at any point during the game. Whether up or down, body language and support is enthusiastic and real. These guys are together......This team is special.
I was just pointing out that while King has shown flashes, the love sometimes shown to him on this board is a bit overstated.