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pfrduke
02-16-2013, 09:58 AM
Due to the shifting of the first UNC game later in the year (as part of the extension to the 18-game schedule), phase IV is just the seven-game stretch run to end the regular season. What should we be watching for down the stretch?



Weathering the Road - 4 of the last 7 games for the Devils are away from Cameron, including road dates at 3 of the top 6 teams in the league - Maryland, Virginia, and the Dean Dome. Duke has looked good in precisely one road game (Florida State). Taking the show on the road and picking up wins on other teams' courts will be a big factor in determining whether Duke can stay in the #2 slot in the ACC (or, perhaps, get up to #1 if Miami slips).
Health for the Healthy - (i.e., this is not the Ryan Kelly item) Duke has 9 active scholarship players, many of whom are experiencing the bumps and bruises that come with a full season of play. Plus there's the continuing issue of Seth's leg, which may particularly rear its head in the Miami game, given the short turnaround following the trip to Charlottesville. We don't really have the luxury of losing more guys to injury, so health is a key factor.
Reintegration - (i.e., the Ryan Kelly item) Call me optimistic, but I believe we will see Ryan Kelly back in action during this phase, and sooner rather than later. How the team adjusts to his return - whether there are any speed bumps as he comes back to a team that's had to change its offense a bit in his absence, or whether the team simply picks up where it left off when he went out - and how long the team has to adjust could say a lot about what Duke's post-season prospects look like. Individually, Jefferson is the player who may have to adjust the most, as his minutes figure to be dramatically impacted by Ryan's return - keeping his confidence and continuing to make positive contributions in more limited playing time will be important.
Power Forward - The 4 spot will be Duke's weakest as long as Kelly is out, but Hairston and Jefferson have both made valuable contributions. They'll have some tough tests down the stretch, including a beefy Maryland frontline, another matchup with Ryan Anderson, a battle with Akil Mitchell, and, potentially, another run with Kenny Kadji.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Cook - Looking at Cook's ACC play as an 11-game average, everything looks great. 13 points, 6 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 1.5 steals, 35% from 3, 90% from the line. But there has been a lot of up and down in Quinn's game - he has 0-12, 1-11, and 3-12 shooting games, his last two games he has just 5 total assists (against 9 turnovers). Using advanced measures, he has 6 games where he, individually, has produced better than 1 point per possession used and 5 games where he has produced less than 1. Evening out the peaks and valleys (and, hopefully, evening them out more in the direction of peak, than valley) and getting some more consistency from Quinn's play will go a long way toward giving Duke a shot at a deeper run.
Mason Plumlee, POY - Mason has shouldered the load in a big way in conference play. He's the team's leading scorer, a double digit rebounder, and stays on the court 36 minutes per game (including 3 full game runs). Teams have been throwing all sorts of different looks at him - Wake played him straight up and took away the perimeter pass, BC through double and triple teams at him, Carolina worked very hard to deny him the ball, etc. - and by and large he has adjusted and excelled. But the makeup of this team is such that he doesn't really get the luxury of a night off. Mason needs to continue to perform at a player of the year level and carry the team down the stretch.
Read and React - As mentioned, teams have been throwing many different defensive looks at Duke and Duke has had some first half struggles adapting to the changes. Duke needs to continue improving its identification of the other teams' tactics and reacting to find the holes in the defense.
Hitting the Defensive Glass - In conference play, Duke does really only one thing poorly - defensive rebounding. Improving the work on the glass and ending possessions after one shot will help Duke improve a defense that's been merely good, and not great.


Obviously, there's plenty more to look out for (barely a mention of Rasheed, Seth, and Tyler above), but those are some of the key factors that I'm looking at as Duke closes out the regular season.

Bob Green
02-16-2013, 01:00 PM
Thanks for a great job with the Phase IV post!




Health for the Healthy - We don't really have the luxury of losing more guys to injury, so health is a key factor.

Which is why I moved this topic to the top in my response. There are several different factors which combine to dictate whether or not a team is hitting on all eight cylinders, but health is the factor which seems to be the most important. We cannot afford to lose any player if we are going to make a run, especially Seth Curry. The condition of Seth's leg is critical.




Weathering the Road - 4 of the last 7 games for the Devils are away from Cameron, including road dates at 3 of the top 6 teams in the league - Maryland, Virginia, and the Dean Dome.

Actually, I am looking forward to the team having the opportunity to prove they are solid Road Warriors during this stretch run. Taking our act on the road and winning is a great way to demonstrate toughness and resolve heading toward the post-season. The team needs to take advantage of this opportunity.




Reintegration - (i.e., the Ryan Kelly item) Call me optimistic, but I believe we will see Ryan Kelly back in action during this phase, and sooner rather than later.

I hope you are correct. The sooner Kelly returns the better. I'm less optimistic than you are that he will return "sooner rather than later" but I am optimistic he will fit right back in once he returns. Kelly has a high basketball IQ so he will be able to quickly adjust to any style of play or role the staff put him in.




Power Forward - The 4 spot will be Duke's weakest as long as Kelly is out, but Hairston and Jefferson have both made valuable contributions.

If Kelly does not return, Hairston needs to continue to do the dirty work against bigger stronger players, while Jefferson continues to develop his offense. Jefferson is proving to be solid at grabbing rebounds. I agree with you in "the 4 spot will be Duke's weakest" but I do not believe we are weak at the 4. There is a difference. Perhaps the difference is subtle but it is there.




Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Cook - Evening out the peaks and valleys (and, hopefully, evening them out more in the direction of peak, than valley) and getting some more consistency from Quinn's play will go a long way toward giving Duke a shot at a deeper run.

Point guard is the most important position on the court so the more consistency we see from Quinn the better. Not a whole lot more to say on this subject.




Mason Plumlee, POY - Mason needs to continue to perform at a player of the year level and carry the team down the stretch.

Mason has been phenomenal as a senior and every Duke fan needs to stop and smell the roses when it comes to his low post play this season. News flash folks, big men who average 18 and 11 do not grow on trees!




Read and React - As mentioned, teams have been throwing many different defensive looks at Duke and Duke has had some first half struggles adapting to the changes. Duke needs to continue improving its identification of the other teams' tactics and reacting to find the holes in the defense.

The slow starts are troubling. The team needs to jump on opponents at the initial tip, step on their throats hard and finish strong. Phase IV would be a great time to develop a "go for the jugular" attitude.




Hitting the Defensive Glass - In conference play, Duke does really only one thing poorly - defensive rebounding. Improving the work on the glass and ending possessions after one shot will help Duke improve a defense that's been merely good, and not great.

Second chance points are extremely frustrating. I guess a team can't do everything right, but it sure would be nice to improve our ability to keep opponents off the offensive glass.

timmy c
02-16-2013, 01:14 PM
Great phase 4 write up. Thanks pfr!

power forward I suspect that we'll see Tiny Thor (aka Tyler Thornton), although very selectively, particularly at the ends of games when score/ clock/ matchups dictate.

Saratoga2
02-16-2013, 02:14 PM
Due to the shifting of the first UNC game later in the year (as part of the extension to the 18-game schedule), phase IV is just the seven-game stretch run to end the regular season. What should we be watching for down the stretch?




[B]Power Forward - The 4 spot will be Duke's weakest as long as Kelly is out, but Hairston and Jefferson have both made valuable contributions. They'll have some tough tests down the stretch, including a beefy Maryland frontline, another matchup with Ryan Anderson, a battle with Akil Mitchell, and, potentially, another run with Kenny Kadji.

Mason Plumlee, POY - Mason has shouldered the load in a big way in conference play. He's the team's leading scorer, a double digit rebounder, and stays on the court 36 minutes per game (including 3 full game runs). Teams have been throwing all sorts of different looks at him - Wake played him straight up and took away the perimeter pass, BC through double and triple teams at him, Carolina worked very hard to deny him the ball, etc. - and by and large he has adjusted and excelled. But the makeup of this team is such that he doesn't really get the luxury of a night off. Mason needs to continue to perform at a player of the year level and carry the team down the stretch.

Hitting the Defensive Glass - In conference play, Duke does really only one thing poorly - defensive rebounding. Improving the work on the glass and ending possessions after one shot will help Duke improve a defense that's been merely good, and not great.




Until Ryan returns, I think the team needs to find a different strategy that allows Mason to play aggressive defense, rebound and get more close in shots. Perhaps if they feed him the ball when he is closer to the basket it would help with his propensity to pick up offensive fouls. If most of his fouls can be used defensively the team would be better off. Currently we are giving up too many easy baskets inside.

I would also like to see our power forward (Amile) be given more of a role to cut to the basket and also to shoot from the top of the key. If Amile can emulate some of Ryan's techniques, and feel confident doing it, Mason would probably draw less double teams.

Kedsy
02-16-2013, 03:57 PM
You couldn't put health first? Seriously, thanks for a good writeup that hits almost all the high points.



[2]Health for the Healthy - (i.e., this is not the Ryan Kelly item) Duke has 9 active scholarship players, many of whom are experiencing the bumps and bruises that come with a full season of play. Plus there's the continuing issue of Seth's leg, which may particularly rear its head in the Miami game, given the short turnaround following the trip to Charlottesville. We don't really have the luxury of losing more guys to injury, so health is a key factor.

Seth's shooting and general craftiness on offense is critical to our well-being on that end of the floor. It would be really nice (although it appears increasingly unrealistic) for Seth to be healed before the ACC and NCAA tournament, where the games are so closely packed together.

Also, Mason had/has the hand issue (damaged ligament in wrist? thumb?) and reportedly is also nursing a sore ankle. Obviously we need these sorts of things to remain nagging little annoyances rather than big deals.

And, as you say, we can't afford an injury to anybody else, either.



[3]Reintegration - (i.e., the Ryan Kelly item) Call me optimistic, but I believe we will see Ryan Kelly back in action during this phase, and sooner rather than later. How the team adjusts to his return - whether there are any speed bumps as he comes back to a team that's had to change its offense a bit in his absence, or whether the team simply picks up where it left off when he went out - and how long the team has to adjust could say a lot about what Duke's post-season prospects look like. Individually, Jefferson is the player who may have to adjust the most, as his minutes figure to be dramatically impacted by Ryan's return - keeping his confidence and continuing to make positive contributions in more limited playing time will be important.

I hope you're right about Ryan's return. To me, at this point, the biggest place we need him is on defense. When Ryan went out, we were hovering around the top five in Pomeroy's defensive efficiency. Now we're all the way down to 20th. Unfortunately, this is probably also the most difficult area to re-integrate. Plus, until he's 100%, the place where an ankle injury is going to hinder most is quick, side-to-side movements that are critical to strong defensive play.



[5]Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Cook - Looking at Cook's ACC play as an 11-game average, everything looks great. 13 points, 6 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 1.5 steals, 35% from 3, 90% from the line. But there has been a lot of up and down in Quinn's game - he has 0-12, 1-11, and 3-12 shooting games, his last two games he has just 5 total assists (against 9 turnovers). Using advanced measures, he has 6 games where he, individually, has produced better than 1 point per possession used and 5 games where he has produced less than 1. Evening out the peaks and valleys (and, hopefully, evening them out more in the direction of peak, than valley) and getting some more consistency from Quinn's play will go a long way toward giving Duke a shot at a deeper run.

Quinn has said Coach K wants him to more aggressively look for his own shot. Personally, I think Quinn's taken that too far and has gotten away from being a floor leader/distributor, especially in the last two games. I think he'd be most effective if he went back to being a pass-first PG who hits open threes. But it sounds like Quinn and Coach K think otherwise.



[7]Read and React - As mentioned, teams have been throwing many different defensive looks at Duke and Duke has had some first half struggles adapting to the changes. Duke needs to continue improving its identification of the other teams' tactics and reacting to find the holes in the defense.

This is very important. It seems that the current Duke team without Ryan Kelly is easily "knocked back" by surprises, either unexpected opposing tactics or other surprises (e.g., first game after Ryan's injury; Reggie Johnson's unexpected return) that take us away from the game plan we've practiced and prepared. We've seen it in the first NC State game, the Miami game, the 2nd Wake game, the BC game, and the Carolina game. When we've been able to use our pre-game preparation, we've done well (Georgia Tech, Maryland, Florida State, 2nd NC State). In fact, I'm not sure if it's this or being on the road that rattles us, although as you point out with four tough road games coming up, we may have a better sense of that after this Phase is over. Ryan's return should help here, too.


Until Ryan returns, I think the team needs to find a different strategy that allows Mason to play aggressive defense, rebound and get more close in shots. Perhaps if they feed him the ball when he is closer to the basket it would help with his propensity to pick up offensive fouls. If most of his fouls can be used defensively the team would be better off. Currently we are giving up too many easy baskets inside.

I agree Mason should set up closer to the basket, and I also agree it would be nice to find an alternative way to keep Mason in the game other than him playing matador. Not sure the first will solve the second, though.


I would also like to see our power forward (Amile) be given more of a role to cut to the basket and also to shoot from the top of the key. If Amile can emulate some of Ryan's techniques, and feel confident doing it, Mason would probably draw less double teams.

I just don't see this working the way we'd want. With the other weapons on the floor (Mason, Seth, Quinn, Rasheed), teams simply aren't going to cover Amile or Josh and they're going to continue to double-team Mason. Nothing Amile can do will change that -- other than take 3 or 4 threes a game and hit half of them, and we all know that isn't going to happen.

jipops
02-16-2013, 10:01 PM
How well we handle the Miami game could be telling for our post season chances. Not necessarily whether we win or lose it but how well we compete. We'll be coming off 1 day rest from Charlottesville. I expect we'll be spent.

K commented in the Maryland presser that the team is exhausted. This phase looks more grueling to me.

superdave
02-17-2013, 09:21 AM
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Cook - Looking at Cook's ACC play as an 11-game average, everything looks great. 13 points, 6 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 1.5 steals, 35% from 3, 90% from the line. But there has been a lot of up and down in Quinn's game - he has 0-12, 1-11, and 3-12 shooting games, his last two games he has just 5 total assists (against 9 turnovers). Using advanced measures, he has 6 games where he, individually, has produced better than 1 point per possession used and 5 games where he has produced less than 1. Evening out the peaks and valleys (and, hopefully, evening them out more in the direction of peak, than valley) and getting some more consistency from Quinn's play will go a long way toward giving Duke a shot at a deeper run.


Quinn was Dr Jekyll and Mr Cook all within the Maryland game. 18 points and 6 assists while dogging Allen. 5 turnovers and a silly foul at the end after he got beat off the dribble. His confidence is growing this season. He is starting to realize matchup strength and weaknesses more. I think the next step is for him to cut down on the unforced errors and figure out how to feed the post more consistently well. We could see Quinn carry this team for stretches between now and the end of the season. He is growing.

CDu
02-17-2013, 09:26 AM
Good post, pfrduke. The big question for me will be the defense. We just allowed a very bad Maryland offense (#91 in Pomeroy) to score 83 points despite them turning it over 26 times. And that's not an isolated occurrence. We've dropped from a top-5 defense to the #23 defense over the past two months. If the defense doesn't improve, we aren't going to do as well in the tournaments as we'd have liked/hoped.

Cook is a big part of things. Earlier in the season, he was playing like a maestro, orchestrating the offense beautifully, scoring when needed. Now, he's scoring more but getting sloppier with his PG play. We'll need him to return to form to go deep in the tourneys.

sagegrouse
02-17-2013, 10:39 AM
Excellent summary pfrduke.

You might want to consider "Intensity." Will the team follow the lead of Coach K, who is as intense this year as I have ever seen him? That was a hallmark of past Duke teams: Laettner-Hurley, Shane-JWill, for example.

I think it has to start with the seniors, Seth and Mason. And next game is a good time to start.

sagegrouse

Frobisher
02-17-2013, 05:29 PM
Quinn was Dr Jekyll and Mr Cook all within the Maryland game. 18 points and 6 assists while dogging Allen. 5 turnovers and a silly foul at the end after he got beat off the dribble. His confidence is growing this season. He is starting to realize matchup strength and weaknesses more. I think the next step is for him to cut down on the unforced errors and figure out how to feed the post more consistently well. We could see Quinn carry this team for stretches between now and the end of the season. He is growing.

It seems like some of Quinn's erratic play can be attributed to Kelly's absence. The Clemson game was when Kelly was hurt, and Quinn scored 27 points; he knew he needed to step up his offensive production. Quinn was also on a roll before that game. TO counts were: 1,1,1,2,1,1,1,2,1 in the nine games before Kelly left. He has 28 in the ten games since, which makes sense because a major shooter is gone. So it's a compounded effect - he doesn't have the extra scorer to pass to, so he needs to score more himself, but he is more closely guarded because Kelly isn't also on the perimeter to draw attention. He then forces both more offense and passes.

Thus, Quinn is best as a facilitator who can add spark and bonus offense. On the team as comprised, we can't afford a night where he doesn't score it well unless someone like Suli, Amile, Josh, or Murph steps up. Thus, even if his shot is off, he needs to keep shooting and/or forcing the action (leading to turnovers).

roywhite
02-22-2013, 07:28 AM
Tough stretch to end this phase, and end the regular season.

There are 2 games where Duke will be the heavy favorite:
BC in Cameron
Va Tech in Cameron

and 3 games that will be really challenging:
at UVa
Miami in Cameron
at UNC

4-1 would be a pretty good record

And, to accomplish that with a successful re-integration of Ryan into the lineup by the end of those 5 games....even better.

MCFinARL
02-22-2013, 07:55 AM
Tough stretch to end this phase, and end the regular season.

There are 2 games where Duke will be the heavy favorite:
BC in Cameron
Va Tech in Cameron

and 3 games that will be really challenging:
at UVa
Miami in Cameron
at UNC

4-1 would be a pretty good record

And, to accomplish that with a successful re-integration of Ryan into the lineup by the end of those 5 games....even better.

I'd take 4-1 in a heartbeat--and if the 1 was at UVA, giving Duke wins over Miami and at UNC, I'd be pretty darn near ecstatic.

pfrduke
02-22-2013, 08:22 AM
I'd take 4-1 in a heartbeat--and if the 1 was at UVA, giving Duke wins over Miami and at UNC, I'd be pretty darn near ecstatic.

Yeah, and with a 2-game lead over UVA, 4-1 guarantees us the #2 seed (if Miami goes 0-5, we could then get the 1 seed, but at 1-4 I'm pretty sure they would hold the tie breaker in all scenarios).

OldPhiKap
02-22-2013, 08:46 AM
Excellent breakdown, pfr.


It seems like some of Quinn's erratic play can be attributed to Kelly's absence. The Clemson game was when Kelly was hurt, and Quinn scored 27 points; he knew he needed to step up his offensive production. Quinn was also on a roll before that game. TO counts were: 1,1,1,2,1,1,1,2,1 in the nine games before Kelly left. He has 28 in the ten games since, which makes sense because a major shooter is gone. So it's a compounded effect - he doesn't have the extra scorer to pass to, so he needs to score more himself, but he is more closely guarded because Kelly isn't also on the perimeter to draw attention. He then forces both more offense and passes.

Thus, Quinn is best as a facilitator who can add spark and bonus offense. On the team as comprised, we can't afford a night where he doesn't score it well unless someone like Suli, Amile, Josh, or Murph steps up. Thus, even if his shot is off, he needs to keep shooting and/or forcing the action (leading to turnovers).

Very good point here. I would add that Ryan is one of our key threats in the transition game, which is Quinn's strength.


Tough stretch to end this phase, and end the regular season.

There are 2 games where Duke will be the heavy favorite:
BC in Cameron
Va Tech in Cameron

and 3 games that will be really challenging:
at UVa
Miami in Cameron
at UNC

4-1 would be a pretty good record

And, to accomplish that with a successful re-integration of Ryan into the lineup by the end of those 5 games....even better.

I would be thrilled with 4-1, I would be even happier with 3-2 but not worn down. Every year is tough, but this one seems exceptionally so. We need to catch fire at the right time, and we need energy and health to do it. I am more worried about health than the record at this point.

Saratoga2
03-03-2013, 08:35 AM
Good time to revisit the Phase report, since the team is significantly changed with Ryan back. These are the realities as I see them!

1. Ryan adds a significant scoring presence that other teams will have to address. It should free Mason from the double teams he has been seeing and Ryan's communications and passing skills should allow other players to get good shots. In addition his defense and rebounding are superior to any alternative, including Josh, Amile, Alex or Marshall. Big plus for the team putting us back in the hunt.

2. Seth has become our second most important scorer. His leg has held up so far but he may be sore and tired after playing two days in short order. Seth has to use guile to score since he is not super quick nor can he elevate a lot in his current health. What he can do is run off screens, use the head fake and make the floater. He is a terrific shooter if he does get open. His main problem is that he will have trouble getting open against bigger and quicker guards, as was the case against Miami. His defense isn't that strong because of his physical limitations.

3. Quinn is giving us a very strong PG presence as he has gained a lot of experience this year. He is small and does have difficulties seeing around bigger and quicker defenders. Against Miami, he was playing against perhaps the best PG in the conference and one of the best in the country and still produced 15 points while the team only had 10 TO's, certainly not all his. He can hit shots when open and does put pressure on the ball, so we have a strong presence at PG.

4. Rasheed is our bigger and quicker guard. While he is just a freshman, he now has nearly a year of experience. He is perhaps the only guard we have that create his own shot. His shooting is still inconsistent, but he can go off for big games at time. His defensive intensity is great and his length and quickness create difficulties for opponents. This kid will continue to improve and can help us a lot in the tournament.

5. Mason, despite some legitimate criticisms, is still one of the better centers in the league. In fact, he is built more like a PF than a center. He can get his points when not doubled and can rebound as he has in past games. His problems include the inability to shoot anything mid ranged. (see how effective Ryan was with his mid ranged shots). His footwork is still not polished resulting in too many turnovers. To me his defensive and rebounding games have regressed, especially with Ryan out. The idea that he had to avoid fouls left him unwilling to challenge and not in doing as much of the dirty work. When the majority of his fouls turn out to be offensive ones, you know something is wrong. With Ryan back, perhaps coach K will ask Mason to become more aggressive defensively.

6. Tyler is really our sixth man and first off the bench now. He does fulfill a need in that he can relieve any of our guards for periods of the game. His scoring seems to have dwindled again with good games less frequent and his tendency to pick up fouls is a negative for the team. He fouled out of the last two games (17 minutes last night).

7. Josh is playing journeyman minutes and has been ineffective scoring and also lacks quickness and his rebounding is not strong. Height, lift and lateral quickness limit his play yet he has the bulk to play in games when we face big and strong front courts.

8. Amile seems to be a better choice than Josh to replace the PF. He is quicker, has more lift and length and manages to rebound and score. His problem is bulk and he has trouble against strong front courts. I think he should be used as a first front court sub, but that is one man's opinion.

9. Alex is also a possible choice as a front court sub. He is good sized at 6'8" and is gifted athletically. He has a good sense of scoring but in my opinion, his defense needs improvement. Specifically he tends to run at the offensive player and finds himself unable to adjust when people blow by him.


So we have a very strong starting 5 but they may need some help and it is hard to see where that will come from. If Tyler can be coached to avoid such a high fouling rate, that would be a help. If Amile can get into the game and play good defense, grab a few rebounds and get an occasional basket, that would also be a help. It looks like the tournament can go to any of maybe a dozen teams. We are one of those so it ought to be a great ride.