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Jumbo
11-16-2008, 06:16 PM
I felt like this deserved its own thread. A lot of people have beat up on Lance for the last two years, but thorugh Duke's first three games, I'm really impressed. He's playing with confidence and poise, and other than his FT shooting, he has really improved in all aspects of the game.

We knew he was a versatile defender, and he has mantained that quality. (I'd like to see him grab a few more boards, but we'd have to get a few stops for that to happen.) But he looks like a totally different player on the offensive end. It's not that he's nailing jumpers or making moves for himself. Instead, he's finally grasping the nuances of the game and learning how to play off the ball. And that's putting him in much better positions to score or grab offensive rebounds.

His spacing is better on screens or playing off a teammate's drive. His instincts are better on when to move to a certain spot. His hands seem better -- he's not fumbling passes. And he's finishing very well, both off passes underneath or rebounds.

This is sort of what Greybeard talks about in a bit of circuitous way (sorry, big guy -- love ya!). There are two ways to get scoring from your bigs. Everyone assumes that "real" post scoring involves sticking a guy on the block, dumping the ball into him, and letting him make a move. But Duke doesn't have guys like that. Duke does have players who can draw defenders and who can pass off the dribble. So, the key is to get the ball to our bigs while they are on the move. In essence, their "post move" is made without the ball. Sometimes it's just sealing off a defender for a lob pass. Sometimes it's a baseline cut for a dish from a driving guard. It's still another way to get points. It still involves a big man scoring. Thomas has really improved in this area -- as well as many others.

Cavlaw
11-16-2008, 06:18 PM
I really enjoyed seeing Lance play today, I thought he did a terrific job. He was key in closing the gap with RI down the stretch, both in scoring and defense.

Indoor66
11-16-2008, 06:19 PM
I agree Jumbo. Lance was the moving man. He set him self up to receive the ball.

BlueintheFace
11-16-2008, 06:19 PM
I completely agree with this. In my opinion, his improvement has been the most obvious. Plus, his energy has been absolutely wonderful!

mgtr
11-16-2008, 06:32 PM
Yes! I have been a big critic of LT in the past, but he has made me a believer. Go Lance! I finally understand why he was recruited -- plus, he has worked hard to improve himself. I expect continued impact.

doctorhook
11-16-2008, 06:42 PM
And he has stopped the stupid fouls!

DukeCO2009
11-16-2008, 06:54 PM
Thought about starting a thread along the lines of this one after the GA State game, but decided to give things one more game with the fear that I might be speaking to soon. Lance is undoubtedly our X-factor. If he plays well, we're going to be really, really good come March. He's improved every facet of his game, and the extra muscle he's put on is probably the reason. Go Lance!

jimsumner
11-16-2008, 07:18 PM
If we could just get him to make those freebies.

DevilCastDownfromDurham
11-16-2008, 07:18 PM
I want to add my kudos to Lance, who has really begun to show why he was a 5 star prospect out of HS. No one has questioned his effort or desire (he's probably my favorite player to watch since Dockery) and seeing that pay off is really gratifying. I think he'll be at his best playing beside a real post player so he can use his speed to full effect, but so far he looks like our best option in the post. For a guy that many had written off as fated to be buried on the bench, I'm so excited and proud of what he's shown so far.

ricks68
11-16-2008, 07:21 PM
How about those two screens he set in the backcourt? Wow! Did you notice how it really paid off in the mismatch down court?

I also had been thinking the same way as Jumbo about what Greybeard has stated in the past. Lance appears to have learned much more about where to be and what to do without the ball. I have not been so much an LT fan in the past due to the tendency for him to appear to often "vanish" (is that like an oxymoron?) while on the court. But K has stuck with him for some reason, and maybe now we know why.

K has said in the past that LT is a very good defender. Now, it seems that he may have become better, and added some offensive punch to go along with it. Whatever got him to this stage, I just hope it has a lasting effect. Go Lance!


ricks

Acymetric
11-16-2008, 07:26 PM
I really criticized Lance before this year, but I've said since the first game I saw that he's clearly much improved, and I'm extremely excited about it. He always played hard, and now he's also playing smart! I think putting some weight on really helped him, and I think he's going to be key to our success this year.


How about those two screens he set in the backcourt? Wow! Did you notice how it really paid off in the mismatch down court?
ricks

I only remember one screen, but he flattened that guy! It was awesome.

mo.st.dukie
11-16-2008, 07:26 PM
Lance has played very well so far this season, he's attacking the rim well, playing great defense and throwing down some nasty dunks. Probably one of the most improved players on the team. Prior to the season I was hoping Lance wouldn't play many minutes at center but I'm changing my mind now, I think he's our best option and could possibly play a role similar to Mbah a Moute did for UCLA. He needs to hit the boards a little better and make those free throws though.

wisteria
11-16-2008, 08:03 PM
I have particular feelings for Lance's class. The four of them came in and went through some really dark and difficult times. They struggled and they grew. Lance makes me feel proud to be a fan.

dukelifer
11-16-2008, 08:42 PM
The game appears to have slowed down for Lance. He was always out of synch with everything around hi- going too fast or disappearing at key moments. Now he is much more patient and seems to see the floor much better. He also is more confident with his body. He also looks to have improved his vertical leap- He seems much more explosive to the basket. Lance is a major surprise so far. He of course needs to work on his throws. He is one guy who doesn't change gears very easily. Unfortunately, G's play is also a surprise in the other direction- so there may be no net gain between the two. But I am very much hoping that G is a slow starter.

ncexnyc
11-17-2008, 12:58 AM
I'll man-up and say I was down on LT. He always seemed to be a great deal of wasted motion.

We've been spoiled by having players like Boozer and Williams around. Those so-called easy baskets that they always seemed to convert were taken for granted and then when you don't have a player capable of making that shot it becomes very noticable.

Lance is making his stickbacks and as he continues to gain confidence I have a feeling we will see a bit more in the way of offensive moves.

Again, a 3 headed 5 isn't a bad thing.

Carlos
11-17-2008, 08:39 AM
One of the unnoticed keys to the game yesterday - switching Lance onto Delroy James in the second half. James had been busting Kyle up on the defensive end at about the 16 minute mark when he had 17 points. He finished the game with exactly one more basket and two free throws.

On the other side of things, it's dangerous to have Lance in a really close game down the stretch if he doesn't improve from the FT line.

SupaDave
11-17-2008, 09:43 AM
On the other side of things, it's dangerous to have Lance in a really close game down the stretch if he doesn't improve from the FT line.

All depends on what you consider danger. If Lance is shooting free throws at the end of a game then there's a high probablity that he just made a VERY good play.

UrinalCake
11-17-2008, 10:45 AM
I too am thrilled with the progress he's made, but at the same time the quality of our opponents has been pretty low and I'm not quite ready to assume his level of play will continue once we get into the meat of the season. Plenty of times in the past we've had guys tear it up against the scrubs but then falter when going against guys of more comparable size and strength. Not trying to be a downer here, I really do hope he can continue his improvement, but I guess I'm in more of a wait-and-see mode with him.

Johnboy
11-17-2008, 11:02 AM
Yes! I have been a big critic of LT in the past, but he has made me a believer. Go Lance! I finally understand why he was recruited -- plus, he has worked hard to improve himself. I expect continued impact.

mgtr - as a former MG owner (it was a 1980 MGB), seeing the picture of your car, its name as your posting name and the word "starter" under it brings up old memories! Lucas!!! Fun cars, though.


Oh, and I've been thrilled by Lance and his improvement so far this season.

trinity92
11-17-2008, 12:27 PM
Lance gets into trouble when he starts shot-faking. He's started to be more assertive and go straight up, and it's been working for him. The only flash of "old" Lance was once last night when he was right under the basket and started the fakes. Lost the ball.

Hope he continues his rise!

Devilsfan
11-17-2008, 12:41 PM
Good thread! Lance played great yesterday. Dave McClure's defense is terrific also and the coaches never give him any credit. It's truely a shame he doesn't get more credit for all the intangibles he brings to the table. Second leading rebounder on Sunday and he only played 17 mins.

Kedsy
11-17-2008, 12:44 PM
Dave McClure's defense is terrific also and the coaches never give him any credit. It's truely a shame.

The fans may not give McClure enough credit, but I think the coaches give him plenty.

wisteria
11-17-2008, 12:47 PM
yeah, the coaches definitely give him a lot of credit.

On LT's freethrow shooting... I close my eyes whenever he goes to the line.:(

dukelifer
11-17-2008, 12:48 PM
Good thread! Lance played great yesterday. Dave McClure's defense is terrific also and the coaches never give him any credit. It's truely a shame.

Coach K knows what he does - from last night

On players who picked up their level of play:

“We’re lucky to have Dave [McClure] and Lance [Thomas]. They just played so hard. Greg was in a tough position today because two days ago he really hurt his arm. He took a charge, and his arm swelled so much he couldn’t move his hand. This was Friday, and he kept ice on it all night and some of the swelling came down and yesterday he was able to somewhat close his hand and then he spent all night and today icing to where in our shoot-around he shot it a little bit. That kid played with a lot of guts today.”

miramar
11-17-2008, 01:59 PM
I have only seen Duke play once this season (on Parents' weekend) but I thought that Lance was the biggest surprise of the game. He was moving well, looked very comfortable out there, and was letting the game come to him. He was also playing outside on offense, so that may be more natural for him. As far as the previous criticism goes, we have to remember that size-wise he is a #3 (and a thin one at that) so you have to give him credit for surviving at the #4 and #5 positions. There aren't too many guys like Robert Brickey, who is 6-5 but had the athleticism and the leaping ability to play way out of position.

Jumbo
11-17-2008, 02:33 PM
Lance gets into trouble when he starts shot-faking. He's started to be more assertive and go straight up, and it's been working for him. The only flash of "old" Lance was once last night when he was right under the basket and started the fakes. Lost the ball.

Hope he continues his rise!

Great point -- I meant to mention it in my original post. We haven't seen any of the repeated pump fakes underneath the hoop. He also doesn't need to take as long to collect himself. He's just catching and exploding right away. It's refreshing to see.

SilkyJ
11-17-2008, 02:35 PM
Lance gets into trouble when he starts shot-faking. He's started to be more assertive and go straight up, and it's been working for him. The only flash of "old" Lance was once last night when he was right under the basket and started the fakes. Lost the ball.


Totally agreed and I think the same is true for Zoubek (meaning its one of his flaws). To me, its the same idea as putting the ball on the floor, and its also related to what Jumbo (and greybeard) talk about with getting the ball in good position, though not necessarily "on the block" but rather with their man pinned or while moving to the basket. If they take the time to dribble or fake, they lose that split second advantage in position they once had.

My guess is that neither player is a tremendous leaper and they both know that, which is probably why they are both a little hesitant. Nevertheless, if they just go up strong they're good enough leapers (or in zoub's case just tall enough) that they will either get a clean look or get fouled (or at least get a foul called, even if the contact is minor: when you have position and someone blocks you with any sort of contact, I think the refs tend to favor the player with position)


As far as the previous criticism goes, we have to remember that size-wise he is a #3 (and a thin one at that) so you have to give him credit for surviving at the #4 and #5 positions. There aren't too many guys like Robert Brickey, who is 6-5 but had the athleticism and the leaping ability to play way out of position.

Lance is now 6'8" 235. Thats a pretty standard size for a college 4. He used to be thin, but at 235 I think he's just fine. Now he is/will be undersized if/when he has to defend the 5 later in the year, but hopefully by then Miles and Zoubs will have come further along...

jv001
11-17-2008, 02:42 PM
Great point -- I meant to mention it in my original post. We haven't seen any of the repeated pump fakes underneath the hoop. He also doesn't need to take as long to collect himself. He's just catching and exploding right away. It's refreshing to see.

Totally agree. LT has really improved and I contribute that to less hesitation with those pump fakes. Now if we can just get Zoubek to keep the ball over his head. Don't bring it down big guy! I saw the coaches reacting to Zoubs bringing it down in our 2nd game. Go Duke!

Wander
11-17-2008, 03:07 PM
At one point during the Pres or Georgia Southern game, can't remember which, Lance grabbed a rebound right under the basket and pump faked despite absolutely no one - teammate or opponent - being anywhere near him. I only bring this up because it was really funny. Thankfully as you guys have pointed out, it doesn't seem like a pattern this year.

dukemomLA
11-17-2008, 03:21 PM
I agree that Lance and Dave McC can add mucho value to this year's Duke team!! Okay, Lance.... get with the FT program.....practice,practice..far into the night.

Dave -- good job!! Keep working on the OF, and trust your DF is pretty darn good.

If this team plays as a TEAM (as Coach K has always made a FIST). Well it could be another special year.

I know we haven't won a NC since 2001, but PLEASE PLEASE let us not forget all the months of joy eachand every year. How lucky are we.

Carlos
11-17-2008, 03:32 PM
All depends on what you consider danger. If Lance is shooting free throws at the end of a game then there's a high probablity that he just made a VERY good play.

Unless he was intentionally fouled.

SupaDave
11-17-2008, 03:38 PM
Unless he was intentionally fouled.

LOL! Good thought. But if he's intentionally fouled I believe that would put us in an even BETTER situation. We get two free throws AND the ball back. That's an implosion by the other team.

SO he still probably made a good play by getting all up in someone's grill on defense and they reacted in a not so favorable manner.

hq2
11-17-2008, 04:00 PM
Good to see Lance show up. Duke clearly had a problem with their streetball on the frontline last year; needed help on both ends, and Lance wasn't quite giving it to us; now he is. With that improvement (and hopefully Zoubeck finally doing something) our low post play will be much better. He should be just the complement to Kyle and the rest of the guys, and give us some good D too.

MChambers
11-17-2008, 04:13 PM
LOL! Good thought. But if he's intentionally fouled I believe that would put us in an even BETTER situation. We get two free throws AND the ball back. That's an implosion by the other team.

SO he still probably made a good play by getting all up in someone's grill on defense and they reacted in a not so favorable manner.

Actually, only the refs call an intentional foul, which they very rarely do. Way too rare a call, in my opinion.

pfrduke
11-17-2008, 04:36 PM
Actually, only the refs call an intentional foul, which they very rarely do. Way too rare a call, in my opinion.

Well, the key is to not really give LT the ball in end of game fouling situations. College refs are pretty good about calling the intentional off-the-ball fouls, so a team shouldn't be able to Hack-a-Shaq him with impunity (as you can in the NBA prior to the last 2 minutes). He has the ball so little in the regular scope of the offense that this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

dukelifer
11-17-2008, 04:45 PM
Totally agree. LT has really improved and I contribute that to less hesitation with those pump fakes. Now if we can just get Zoubek to keep the ball over his head. Don't bring it down big guy! I saw the coaches reacting to Zoubs bringing it down in our 2nd game. Go Duke!

It seems that with pump fakes- you either get fouled and make the shot- miss the shot and no foul is called or missed the shot an a foul is called. For Lance only one of those is a good thing. He is better off exploding without hesitation unless he becomes a 75-80 percent free throw shooter like many of the Duke bigs of the past. If Lance can learn to calm himself at the line- he will be a big asset going forward. He has to work hard to improve- because he will get fouled and leaving points on the line will really hurt this team.

ACCBBallFan
11-17-2008, 06:15 PM
Totally agreed and I think the same is true for Zoubek (meaning its one of his flaws). To me, its the same idea as putting the ball on the floor, and its also related to what Jumbo (and greybeard) talk about with getting the ball in good position, though not necessarily "on the block" but rather with their man pinned or while moving to the basket. If they take the time to dribble or fake, they lose that split second advantage in position they once had.

My guess is that neither player is a tremendous leaper and they both know that, which is probably why they are both a little hesitant. Nevertheless, if they just go up strong they're good enough leapers (or in zoub's case just tall enough) that they will either get a clean look or get fouled (or at least get a foul called, even if the contact is minor: when you have position and someone blocks you with any sort of contact, I think the refs tend to favor the player with position)



Lance is now 6'8" 235. Thats a pretty standard size for a college 4. He used to be thin, but at 235 I think he's just fine. Now he is/will be undersized if/when he has to defend the 5 later in the year, but hopefully by then Miles and Zoubs will have come further along...

Silky made the point I was poised to. It's great to have options like Lance and Dave against small teams but when it comes to the larger sized centers, gotta have Zoubek and Plumlee ready, or suffer the same NCAA fate as past couple of years.

Hopefully they all play some vs SIU and if Duke advances, Plumlee and Zoubek have to be ready to face the larger Aboya, Morgan, Gordon while Kyle/Lance pair off with Keefe.

Jon and Kyle are playing great, Nolan has the speed to contest Collison, just need Gerald Henderson to step it up vs. Shipp/Dragovic.

Looks like SIU starts a couple guys Singlers' and Lance's size and has a bigger center they sub in. All three Duke guards should have a size advantage on their counterparts.

Rating NAME
130 Bryan Mullins g 6'1" 185
114 Carlton Fay f 6'8"235
102 Kevin Dillard g 5'11" 160
80.8 SIU Team Totals
77 Wesley Clemmons g 6'3" 195
70 Tony Boyle f 6'8" 230

62 Nick Evans c 6'11" 250
43 Anthony Booker f 6'8" 220
38 Justin Bocot g 6'3" 175
37 Ryan Hare g 6'4" 200
25 Torres Roundtree g 6'4" 185
23 Christian Cornelius g 6'7" 215