View Full Version : Offense/Defense

03-09-2007, 03:09 PM
At the risk of tremendous over-simplification, my sense as to the flow of the season relates to Duke's seeming emphases on developing defensive followed by offensive prowess.

If I correctly recollect, Coach K mentioned in the first portion of the season that he had specifically chosen to focus on defense first with this team, and he was pleasantly surprised how well they were coming together in that regard. At that time, while Duke was winning all but one of its pre-ACC games (against a fairly difficult schedule):

a) some were touting this year's team as one of Duke's finest of all-time defensively and most all were pleased with our defensive execution;
b) many lamented (and some lambasted) this team as Duke's most anemic, offensively, of the Coach K era.

I think that (perhaps eventually the staff/team itself included) many were overvaluing this team's defensive prowess, which even at the time seemed somewhat inexplicable given the team's relative youth/inexperience and lack of overwhelming size/athleticism. During that period, I feel that our defense (especially while the team was relishing its identity as a defensive/tempo-controlling squad) was ahead of many team's developing offenses and while low scoring (and not overly efficient) ourselves, we had enough talent to put up 60+ and beat teams we held to less than 60.

As the season has worn on:

a) we have understandably focused on trying to create an offensive identity for the team as well and increasingly the team seems willing to run in transition and seems capable of generating some half-court offense (fewer droughts);
but meanwhile...
b) other teams have fine-tuned their offenses, especially being well aware that we (with few past exceptions) will not play zone defense even if they are efficiently carving up our version of man-to-man due to poor communication and/or execution. [And I'm not trying to open this can of worms for discussion-To K, I believe, man-to-man defense with help principles is not just a strategy to win but more importantly part of a larger philosophy and value system and from that perspective I respect it entirely!]

Basically it seems to me that while our offense has become somewhat more capable of overcoming our opponent's defense, opponent's offenses (perhaps particularly offenses built to attack man-to-man defense-i.e. Flex or Princeton based[glad to be schooled if i'm wrong here]) have become greatly more efficient at breaking down our defense (especially when we are failing to communicate).

Just a couple of more thoughts (sorry)...

It may seem as if a team capable of good half-court defense can only benefit from getting a few quick transition baskets and pushing the tempo offensively (since 70 pts. should be enough to win). But it is difficult to maintain the same defensive and rebounding mindset when you are simultaneously interested in running in transition.

I believe that this particular Duke team is still capable of beating any team in the country, so long as it controls tempo and re-emphasizes defense as its primary identity. Of course this (perhaps) isn't as fun or pretty and we can still lose this way too. Nevertheless, this season, we have won a total of 2 games in which we've given up 70 pts. and none in which we've given up over 72 (btw, last year we won 9 such games).

I'm looking forward to seeing what the team'll put together with Gerald back and an entire week to rest and prepare. So long as they play hungry, this team is capable of winning some tournament games and may even be a bit overlooked.

Keep your heads up, get refocused, play with passion, and see what comes!

Go Devils!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!