View Full Version : Thoughts on K's approach to the game, and how retain your mental health as a fan

01-30-2011, 07:04 PM
(***Sorry for contributing to the glut of new threads today, but I've been thinking about this for a while...***)

It seems that as K's strategy evolves over the years, so must our game-by-game expectations. From where I'm sitting, K has generally refined his strategic approach to focus on the following:

1. Incredibly effective spacing on offense, based largely around the high ball screen and shooters on the wings and deep corners.
2. High pressure team defense that disrupts perimeter passing lanes and utilizes extensive communication to "fill the floor with defense" and minimize damage from breakdowns.
3. Guards and wings that are very skilled ballhandlers and shooters, which is necessary to make the spacing in (1) so effective.
4. Physical bigs with high motors that are effective in holding together the back line in (2), screenings and finishing in (1), and rebounding their space.

When it goes well, it's a beauty to watch - it's just good, efficient basketball. It also gives us a great chance to win most games, probably more reliably so than most all other teams.

However, it has weaknesses. It's an outside-in offense, which can mean we don't attack the rim much if we don't have post scorers and are facing an athletic defense that cuts off our drives. It relies on the three-point shot as a main way of punishing the defense, and uncharacteristically bad shooting nights can throw the whole system off. And lastly, it means we usually have players who are extremely good at basketball, but sometimes at a slight athletic disadvantage to pure run-and-jump athletes like St. John's has.

What this means is that our players really have to execute every in every facet of the game, or things start to fall apart. If we stop attacking the rim, we become a jump shooting team. If we can't make a three to save our life, the spacing on offense becomes ineffective. If our defensive rotations aren't aggressive and crisp, we get isolated and beat for numerous layups. Basically, we start looking like we did today, like we did against Georgetown, NC State, and Villanova - lost, undermanned, and weak.


So... my point here is that I think we read way too much into single games sometimes. In the latter half of the 00's, we had a few of these breakdowns in March, and people took it as an indictment of K and his whole system. Last year, we had a group of guys who happened to peak perfectly and execute without fail through the whole tournament, and suddenly he's back to being untouchable. What happens if a couple of bounces don't go our way against Baylor? The media would still be on a ravenous tear, and K would be viewed as washed up and Duke as a harmless relic by the masses. But what those couple of bounces actually have changed a thing regarding how effective K's system is? How about if Livingston had actually come to Duke, if McBob and Shav had stayed a couple more years and we'd made a couple more FF's this decade?

It would be nice if we had a dominant scorer down low and a couple more elite level athletes on the perimeter, because that kind of thing gives you a LOT more security when things aren't running smoothly. However, given who we have, I try to take these games in stride as much as I can and remember that, on most any given day, we have the opportunity to play some of the best basketball in the country. And despite all of my occasional frustrations and doubts, that's a pretty great thing.