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DukieInBrasil
03-03-2008, 05:11 PM
Nice escape from our guys against State, but a trend of poor focus continues. We beat GT at home by 13, but we lacked offensive focus and relied on a strong defensive performance against a weak offensive team. We found our focus late against the Pack, but the question remains, what is up with this team?
This team is playing differently from the team in the first half of the ACC season. It seems that the defensive intensity is not there (until the GT game and then hardly at all against State). Since this team depends so much on the D to generate the O, it's not surprising that the O seems to have degenerated as well. The team dynamic seems to have changed along withe play of several players.
Gerald Henderson hurt his wrist and was in a serious funk for a bit but seems to have recovered pretty well in the last three games. His D and rebounding were satisfactory during the "funk" but his D against GT was superb. His lack of offense for about 3 games mos def seriously altered Duke's ability to slice 'n dice the D. Hopefully, his recent uptick on O will help bring the team more punch.
DeMarcus Nelson was on fire the first half of the ACC season, but his intensity seems to have waned just a nudge. He hasn't had any poor games lately but it's been several games since he really took it to the other team. DN continues his stat-stuffing ways, however, but the guys around him need to feel that fire emanating from him. His performance against NCSU was good, but only 1 reb and 0 assists was far short of his standard.
LT has been on the rise lately due to a combo of better rebounding and increased attention on O and Z's return has been marked by more minutes and better production than before he sat out for a stretch. Paradoxically, the increase in their play has been accompanied by a general downswing in the team's play.
No team dynamic remains the same throughout the year and opponents adapt their approach to us as well, but Duke has not had any positive revelatory statement games since the UNC game. The consecutive losses revealed a lot about this team and how weaknesses can be exploited as well as the fact that even the slightest lack of fire can do this team in, even if we recover that fire during the game (Miami). Fortunately, it seems to me that we lost those games b/c something we lacked rather than something the other team possessed. It would be most unfortunate if we find ourselves lacking that verve at any point from now on. We had that verve defensively against GT but only sporadically on O, and that will not be good enough further down the road, as it was nearly not enough in Raleigh. The end of the GT game saw us practice our "run out the clock" scheme, which we have mos def gotten better at since last year, but we still couldn't knock out a sub-.500 ACC opponent at home. It's understandable that State got up for an old rivalry game against a relatively flat Duke squad, but we shouldn't be giving up 85 to NCSU (or 96 to Miami).