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Jumbo
03-05-2008, 08:35 PM
In this (http://www.dukebasketballreport.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7440)thread, we started a discussion about Duke's late-season defensive woes. I figured some other people would want to discuss Duke's use of zone, and not just in a single-game, UVA-thread context. So I took the liberty of starting this thread for talk about Duke's D.

I had some theories after the NCSU game, but I wanted to watch us against UVA before commenting. Here's what I think is going on with Duke's man-to-man.

-We're struggling at the point of attack. That's hardly newsworthy -- we know Paulus is not a particularly good defender. The other problem is that Nolan Smith's defense is not what it was earlier in the season; you have to think his knee injury is part of the problem.

-This leads to dribble penetration for opposing point guards. Still, that's nothing new. Part of Duke's strategy of intense perimeter ball pressure has always allowed for point guards to penetrate. Jason Williams got beat off the dribble. Wojo got beat off the dribble. Even Tommy Amaker got beat off the dribble. The key was always turning that brief penetration into fool's gold. That's not happening now.

-Why isn't it happening? The first problem is the interior help defense. As Stacey Dales explained before the game, Duke wants its wing defenders to stay home on the perimeter shooters, leaving the interior guys to help stop the dribble. That's nothing new, either. That's what allows us to defend the three-ball so well. And it's why we've always given up our fair share of dump-offs to big guys for easy layups/dunks, as well as offensive rebounds (when the help defender leaves his man unchecked on the weak side). Still, in the past we'd more than made up for these trade-offs. We'd cut off the penetration with quick help; often that was enough to force a turnover or a rushed shot. Teams have always tried to spread the floor and attack off the dribble against Duke; our rotations were just always tight and we tricked players into settling for bad shots.

-Part of the difference this year is that Duke doesn't have a shot-blocker. Sometimes Duke has had great shot-blockers (Shelden, Battier, Brand). Sometimes Duke has had good shot-blockers (McRoberts, Parks, etc.) But these guys not only swatted their fair share, they altered enough shots to make guards think twice when entering the lane. This year, Duke doesn't have a pure shot-blocker. So it's not as intimidating to drive into the teeth of the D.

-Duke's other weapon of choice in terms of help D has been drawing the charge. And we've done that well this year. But the problem is, you're relying on bang-bang calls to make that work. And if you try to draw the charge and the play continues, you've basically taken yourself out of the play.

-So, early in games, teams have attacked the basket, and they've also taken advantage of the mid-range game Duke has always left open. The problem is that they are getting to the rim too easily, either straight off the drive or off one pass. Our bigs aren't helping and recovering quickly enough.

-This is starting to influence the wings. Duke's denial on the wing is incredible, and when we follow that gameplan, we're tough to beat. But when teams are getting to the rim, the tendency is to try to do something about it. So, for instance, against UVA you saw Duke's wings start to leave their guys to help the bigs after a pass or two, and that led to kick-outs for open threes. That's REALLY bad. That happened against NC State, too, and I have to think that's part of what Coach K was rerefencing when he talked about guys not doing what they were being told to do.

-Against UVA, that led to the zone. If we weren't going to follow our game plan, K seemed to say, "well, we might as well do something totally different." I can't stand zone defense, and UVA did a terrible job of attacking it (the short corner was open all night, for instance). In the long run, Duke's not going to succeed by playing a lot of zone.

-So, then, how do we fix our man-to-man? First, we must do a better job of getting back in transition. UVA and NCSU both got way too many early buckets on the break. Part of that is due to the nature of Duke's offense. Because we send players to both corners and spread the floor, guards are often caught too deep to get back in time.

-In our halfcourt D, we have three choices. 1) We can put less pressure on the point guard. We'd get beat off the dribble less, but it would also enable teams to run their offenses much more effectively. 2) We can deny the wings less. This would allow us to help off the dribble and in the post better, but we'd give up many more three pointers. 3) Or, we can just be really disciplined.

-In other words, we have to do what we do. That means keep up the pressure on the perimeter and keep bringing quick help with the bigs. If an opponent is getting a lot of easy baskets early, we have to stick to the game plan. The wings have to continue to stay at home. The emphasis goes to the big guys to show and recover correctly. Remember, the other team still has to operate really efficiently to just get the two points we're forcing them to take. They have to beat the point guard off the dribble, hit a pull-up or a drive and do it before help arrives. Or they have to draw the help D, throw a pass quick enough that the big man can't recover and accurate enough that it leads to a bucket. And the recipient still has to score.

-In short, if Duke plays its defense the right way, with the proper commitment, we should force enough turnovers and dumb shots to negate the easy buckets we give up. If Duke doesn't follow instructions, then K is going to be forced to do stuff like switch to a zone to make up for players' mistakes. In the long run, against top teams, that will not be a good thing. So, even though Duke might not have vintage interior defenders, the system works well enough that our outstanding -- and improving -- offense should overcome whatever points we give up by playing the right way.

Sorry for the length of the post, but I've been thinking a lot about this lately and wanted to give people the best answer I could after the discussion got started.

pamtar
03-05-2008, 08:46 PM
Damn Jumbo! I mean, what else is there to say. Couldn't agree more though. I think you pretty much summed it up. A very good job I might add.

I wasn't thinking zone tonight but as soon as K made the switch the only word that entered my mind was 'genius'.

doctorhook
03-05-2008, 08:46 PM
Jumbo,

That is a great assessment, and I agree with most of it except the last paragraph about commitment. GP can play as hard as he wants ( and does 95% of the time ), but he is just physically limited. When the defense breaks down at the point or GP has to switch, we are on our heels, particularly with no enforcer. If Mike does not see the value of zone, in certain situations against certain teams after this game, he never will. Maybe he has seen the light, but I have thought that before. I know, HOF coach, 800 wins, etc, but the game changes and even the greatest have to adapt and adjust based on your personnel. Doc

Jumbo
03-05-2008, 08:50 PM
Jumbo,

That is a great assessment, and I agree with most of it except the last paragraph about commitment. GP can play as hard as he wants ( and does 95% of the time ), but he is just physically limited. When the defense breaks down at the point or GP has to switch, we are on our heels, particularly with no enforcer. If Mike does not see the value of zone, in certain situations against certain teams after this game, he never will. Maybe he has seen the light, but I have thought that before. I know, HOF coach, 800 wins, etc, but the game changes and even the greatest have to adapt and adjust based on your personnel. Doc

Doc,
Thanks. When I'm talking about "commitment," I'm not really talking about Greg. It's about sticking to our help scheme, and understanding that we're going to give up some easy baskets as a result. That happens. As long as we force some turnovers and avoid giving up threes, we'll come out ahead in the long run.

I think I hate zone more than Coach K. It's not that I don't see some value in it. It's just that I think everything a zone does (which is essentially putting players in positions to help one another) can be accomplished through good, active, intelligent man-to-man. The best man-to-man D often looks like a zone because players are so in tune with one another and where the offense is operating. If we play our man D to the best of our ability (even with Greg gettng beat off the dribble a lot), it should be more successful than any zone.

Philadukie
03-05-2008, 08:56 PM
Great post, if I may say so as my first post.

Doctorhook, I think the point about commitment, (and I don't intend to speak for Jumbo) was that we know that Paulus is going to get beat sometimes (or maybe even frequently), but if the other players understand and maintain their commitments in a disciplined way, we'll be able to make up for those mistakes. It's not the breakdown from Paulus, but the breakdown after the breakdown, if I'm understanding correctly.

This is very nuanced understanding of our defensive issues. Good job.

doctorhook
03-05-2008, 08:57 PM
Jumbo,

I understood that you did not mean just Greg, I just used him as an example. As you pointed out, we often overplay the ball, particularly at the point, try to get the turnover, but even if the guard gets by, we should switch, defend, take the charge, block the shot. Unfortunately, Z and Lance can be decent defenders, but they are not enforcers, regardless of how disciplined, well coached or committed they are. I would hate to see us play zone this much on a regular basis, but some situations just dictate the zone. Doc

Jumbo
03-05-2008, 08:59 PM
Great post, if I may say so as my first post.

Doctorhook, I think the point about commitment, (and I don't intend to speak for Jumbo) was that we know that Paulus is going to get beat sometimes (or maybe even frequently), but if the other players understand and maintain their commitments in a disciplined way, we'll be able to make up for those mistakes. It's not the breakdown from Paulus, but the breakdown after the breakdown, if I'm understanding correctly.

This is very nuanced understanding of our defensive issues. Good job.

That's exactly what I meant, and I appreciate the kind words.

ArtVandelay
03-05-2008, 09:03 PM
So are you saying that Paulus sucks? I think someone should start a thread about it.

Just kidding. Right on, Jumbo. I was considering starting a thread earlier this season about our notable lack of a shot-blocking presence and the effect it's having on this team. I have thought for a while that it's one of the big problems with having Lance and, to a greater extent, Kyle guard the opposing team's 5. As much as people say good riddance to McBob, the dude was a very good shot blocker and defensive player (this is not to open the can of worms of whether we're better off without him). I think the lack of shot blocking is one of the reasons for our woeful 2 pt fg % defense according to KenPom, and there's not much we can do about it at this point. Even in the limited minutes Big Z plays, it doesn't appear that shot blocking is his forte.

But I think, Jumbo, that you've done a great job articulating the problem much more systemically. Here's to hoping that we can accentuate the strengths enough to compensate for the weakness. At the end of the day, we should be able to do just that against practically every team in the country.

doctorhook
03-05-2008, 09:07 PM
Art,

No one said Paulus sucks, and he plays his ^$%^$%^$% off. He is just physically limited and is only able to defend at a certain level. Against many of the players he defends, he is just at a big physical disadvantage. Doc

loran16
03-05-2008, 09:11 PM
-Against UVA, that led to the zone. If we weren't going to follow our game plan, K seemed to say, "well, we might as well do something totally different." I can't stand zone defense, and UVA did a terrible job of attacking it (the short corner was open all night, for instance). In the long run, Duke's not going to succeed by playing a lot of zone.


I'm going to slightly disagree with you here. The Zone is an effective tool, that some schools have been able to use exclusively and successfully. I think you're a bit unfairly biased against the zone. Could duke succeed by playing a lot of zone? Sure, i think it could.

The reason why the zone is not a total solution for us is that it's not K's standard D, and therefore the team doesn't practice it as its main defensive weapon. So the zone has some weaknesses when we use it, there's no question about it. Which is why i think you dislike it a bit more than you should jumbo.

Still, whether he learned it from boeheim in Team USA or somewhere else, K's been more willing to switch up the D and use the Zone as another weapon in his arsenal, just like he's used the run and gun this year.

Should it be a primary defense? Nah. But when the opposing team is beating our Man, switching to the zone, especially after a Time Out, can be extremely effective. I'm not sure we should use it like we did today, where we kept using it because UVA never seemed to adapt to it. But bringing it out from time to time is extremely effective, and even if we use it for one possession to create a stop we can create a shift in momentum.

Troublemaker
03-05-2008, 09:17 PM
*Nods*. Agree 100% again. I mentioned this in a post about a week or two ago, but I think we as fans need to recognize that the offense is going to carry this team. We have more offensive talent than defensive talent, and specifically, we can't be a "great" defensive team because we lack a shotblocker and have some issues on the point. Especially in Duke's style of defense, those things hurt. I've mentioned that Duke's "recent" defensive slippage hasn't really been all that recent. We're really talking about since the midpoint of the season or the start of the ACC slate that Duke's defense hasn't been operating as efficiently as earlier in the year. This is due to Duke now playing ACC teams, which are better than non-conference foes, and also because as the season wears on, offenses tend to become more in-sync and can better take advantage of Duke's holes on defense. Duke was overachieving defensively early in the season, but the more games you play, the more the tendency is to return to your base talent level. Which for Duke is "good" not "great" (on defense).

I agree with your take of Duke just needing to be Duke -- staying home on shooters, relying on bigs to rotate -- and accepting that, because of the aforementioned missing pieces, we will give up some easy baskets, especially to good offensive teams. We can't be "great" defensively but that doesn't mean we should change our style because that would only lead to us slipping from "good" to "mediocre." Duke needs to be Duke defensively and let the offense carry the team.

Jumbo
03-05-2008, 09:34 PM
I'm going to slightly disagree with you here. The Zone is an effective tool, that some schools have been able to use exclusively and successfully. I think you're a bit unfairly biased against the zone. Could duke succeed by playing a lot of zone? Sure, i think it could.

The reason why the zone is not a total solution for us is that it's not K's standard D, and therefore the team doesn't practice it as its main defensive weapon. So the zone has some weaknesses when we use it, there's no question about it. Which is why i think you dislike it a bit more than you should jumbo.

Still, whether he learned it from boeheim in Team USA or somewhere else, K's been more willing to switch up the D and use the Zone as another weapon in his arsenal, just like he's used the run and gun this year.

Should it be a primary defense? Nah. But when the opposing team is beating our Man, switching to the zone, especially after a Time Out, can be extremely effective. I'm not sure we should use it like we did today, where we kept using it because UVA never seemed to adapt to it. But bringing it out from time to time is extremely effective, and even if we use it for one possession to create a stop we can create a shift in momentum.

My distaste for zone has little to do with Duke. It comes from my own preferences when playing/coaching. Zone is fine as an occasional change of pace. But I always realized how much more effective man-to-man could be when played at a high level. Top-notch man is better than any top-notch zone because, as I mentioned, it incorporates the principles of zones while maintaining significant advantages.

Jumbo
03-05-2008, 09:38 PM
We're really talking about since the midpoint of the season or the start of the ACC slate that Duke's defense hasn't been operating as efficiently as earlier in the year. This is due to Duke now playing ACC teams, which are better than non-conference foes, and also because as the season wears on, offenses tend to become more in-sync and can better take advantage of Duke's holes on defense. Duke was overachieving defensively early in the season, but the more games you play, the more the tendency is to return to your base talent level. Which for Duke is "good" not "great" (on defense).

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I forgot to mention that in my original post, but that was one of the theories I alluded to in my original thread. I think part of Duke's problems on D can be related to ACC teams getting a second look at Duke's D and understanding how to attack it better. But that doesn't explain the Wake game, for instance. So I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment about offenses being more in sync later in the season. Most teams know how to run their stuff better, players are more familiar with their teammates and they've faced a greater variety of defenses than early in the season. In short, they're prepared for just about anything and more comfortable executing.

bradjenk
03-05-2008, 10:16 PM
Excellent analysis Jumbo as usual. Another aspect I see is that in games where the Duke defense doesn't look so good we seem to have alot of bad switches that result in mismatches inside (usually with Paulus) that teams can exploit. I've always thought that our good perimeter switches bothered teams but if we are communicating well we should never get stuck switching big to small on the high screens. I even remember El-Amin hurting us badly in the '99 title game when Brand kept switching instead of hedging/recovering.
I would be interested in other opinions. Finally, this thread is so relevant because great team defense is our only sure path to championships.

Troublemaker
03-05-2008, 10:21 PM
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I forgot to mention that in my original post, but that was one of the theories I alluded to in my original thread. I think part of Duke's problems on D can be related to ACC teams getting a second look at Duke's D and understanding how to attack it better. But that doesn't explain the Wake game, for instance. So I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment about offenses being more in sync later in the season. Most teams know how to run their stuff better, players are more familiar with their teammates and they've faced a greater variety of defenses than early in the season. In short, they're prepared for just about anything and more comfortable executing.

I like using a football analogy for this stuff. Duke's aggressive overplaying man defense is like an aggressive blitzing man defense in football. Early in a football season, an aggressive blitzing defense can force a lot of turnovers and sacks if offenses aren't in sync yet. So, just by the very nature of playing that aggressive style, a defense can receive results above its talent level and be successful early in the season. But as the season progresses, the offense becomes more in sync, the pass protection schemes start to pick up the blitzes, the QB and receivers get their timing down on patterns and start to complete passes downfield, etc etc. Now, if the defense has shutdown corners, a great defensive line, and great all-around talent, then it'll continue to play great regardless of opposing offenses becoming more in-sync. But if there are some pieces missing, then playing defense becomes more of a tradeoff on a play-to-play basis; sometimes the blitzes will work, sometimes the defense gets burnt.

The same thing's happening basketball-wise. Early in the season, offenses weren't in sync enough to properly attack Duke; our aggressive defense was getting the turnovers without getting burnt. Now, later in the season, offenses have defined their roles, point guards are comfortable running the team and penetrating, players know how to move off the ball when the PG penetrates to get into position for a dumpoff or offensive rebound, the PG knows exactly which spot on the floor to get to for the dumpoff angle, etc etc. If Duke were to have Amaker on the ball and Shane rotating on the inside, then it wouldn't even matter that the offenses are more in sync. But we don't so we're experiencing a tradeoff.

tux
03-05-2008, 11:07 PM
I like using a football analogy for this stuff. Duke's aggressive overplaying man defense is like an aggressive blitzing man defense in football. Early in a football season, an aggressive blitzing defense can force a lot of turnovers and sacks if offenses aren't in sync yet. So, just by the very nature of playing that aggressive style, a defense can receive results above its talent level and be successful early in the season. But as the season progresses, the offense becomes more in sync, the pass protection schemes start to pick up the blitzes, the QB and receivers get their timing down on patterns and start to complete passes downfield, etc etc. Now, if the defense has shutdown corners, a great defensive line, and great all-around talent, then it'll continue to play great regardless of opposing offenses becoming more in-sync. But if there are some pieces missing, then playing defense becomes more of a tradeoff on a play-to-play basis; sometimes the blitzes will work, sometimes the defense gets burnt.

The same thing's happening basketball-wise. Early in the season, offenses weren't in sync enough to properly attack Duke; our aggressive defense was getting the turnovers without getting burnt. Now, later in the season, offenses have defined their roles, point guards are comfortable running the team and penetrating, players know how to move off the ball when the PG penetrates to get into position for a dumpoff or offensive rebound, the PG knows exactly which spot on the floor to get to for the dumpoff angle, etc etc. If Duke were to have Amaker on the ball and Shane rotating on the inside, then it wouldn't even matter that the offenses are more in sync. But we don't so we're experiencing a tradeoff.

I agree. Duke's defense is high risk / high reward. And I think it meshes with K's overarching philosophy: he wants his guys in attack mode, dictating instead of reacting to the offense. Earlier in the season, when Duke was on a roll headed into the UNC game, we played a series of teams with young backcourts. I think this skewed things a bit, as we were creating a ton of turnovers and getting a lot of easy buckets as a result. Then we got UNC w/o Lawson. The high risk part means that if the other team is patient and avoids a TO early in the shot clock, there's a good chance that they can catch a Duke defender out of position and therefore get a high percentage shot. Duke pushes teams out of there normal sets/cuts but if our opponents don't panic they'll get some easy 2pt shots for sure. The zone does provide a nice wrinkle; most coaches are probably intensely game planning on how to get inside Duke's man defense, and VA looked lost out there tonight. It's not like they've never seen a zone, but I think it just changed their whole rhythm. Personally, I think K needs to make some adjustments depending on the opposing team --- meaning for certain stretches of the game. Wake just seemed to be coming right down our throats the entire game and Duke just never could throw them off their rhythm.

dukemomLA
03-06-2008, 02:43 AM
Welcome Philadukie!! Glad to have you join us.

I know there is work to do on the man-to-man, but having the 2-3 zone in our pocket (with great results most times) keeps the opponents off balance -- and gives our guys a chance to take a breath.

Switching things up just adds another dimension. Like it.

Play D. Play D. D=O.

4decadedukie
03-06-2008, 03:22 AM
Jumbo - A truly excellent evaluation; thank you.

Philaduke - Welcome.

dyedwab
03-06-2008, 07:10 AM
One of the reasons I read this board is for analysis like this.

One of the thing I get out of this, which is something I have kind of thought.

That is, even when our defense is working optimally, we will give up easy baskets, and it will look bad. It part of the design of the defense. I know it effect me as a fan, wondering how our defense gave up such an easy basket.

I guess the key points is that, certain easy baskets are a given in our defensive scheme, and some (wide open perimeter shot, e.g) portend larger defensive problems .

Jeffrey
03-06-2008, 09:18 AM
Hi,

Clearly, Duke will always be primarily an MtM team under Coach K. There are probably very few serious Duke fans who do not love MtM and appreciate the advantages.

Unlike many here, I do not have disdain for zone. As a business leader, I recognize the need to adapt, evolve, and be open to new ideas as my circumstances change (and they always do). I cannot fully express how impressed I have been with K's willingness to incorporate limited zone in this year's playbook due to our team's limitations.

IMO, we should be praising K's select zone utilization and expressing more positive views about zone. At least twice this season, it has completely changed the outcome of a game at a relatively early stage. Last night's MtM was resulting in a game that appeared headed for a tough battle that may have went to the last shot with our team leaving everything on the court. That's not the game we needed right before Saturday's battle!
K's willingness to adapt kept that from happening.

Best regards,
Jeffrey

greybeard
03-06-2008, 09:40 AM
Jumbo - A truly excellent evaluation; thank you.

Philaduke - Welcome.

Ditto.

I join in only partial dissent with Ioran16: I think that the Syracuse zone presents better than it looks, if that makes sense. However, bottom line, I agree with your analysis that, in the main, Duke has to rely on its man. Your presentation of the concerns that that reality presents is awesome.

This team needs to be able to score the ball to win. I am not sure that they will lose because of their defense, only because I do not think that this team actually relies on its total-game defense to win. This is an anomally for K and risky business. It must score the ball, and rely on the ability to turn on the defensive juice in key situations. They can and must turn other teams over more than the other teams expect, and in key situations be able to make more stops.

Oh, did anyone say, excellent post Jumbo?

MChambers
03-06-2008, 09:54 AM
Is it possible that another reason for having Scheyer play point with Nolan in the game is that it allows Nolan to focus more on his defensive responsibilities? Nolan obviously has the physical gifts to be a great defender.

gvtucker
03-06-2008, 10:00 AM
-This leads to dribble penetration for opposing point guards. Still, that's nothing new. Part of Duke's strategy of intense perimeter ball pressure has always allowed for point guards to penetrate. Jason Williams got beat off the dribble. Wojo got beat off the dribble. Even Tommy Amaker got beat off the dribble. The key was always turning that brief penetration into fool's gold. That's not happening now.

I wasn't able to see either the NC State or the UVA game, so I can't comment on the substantive portion of your post, Jumbo, but I've got to comment on this part. Tommy Amaker very rarely got beat off the dribble. His ability to stay in front of the ball was just ridiculous. Best I've ever seen at Duke.

Chard
03-06-2008, 10:06 AM
I cannot fully express how impressed I have been with K's willingness to incorporate limited zone in this year's playbook due to our team's limitations.

IMO, we should be praising K's select zone utilization and expressing more positive views about zone. At least twice this season, it has completely changed the outcome of a game at a relatively early stage. Last night's MtM was resulting in a game that appeared headed for a tough battle that may have went to the last shot with our team leaving everything on the court. That's not the game we needed right before Saturday's battle!
K's willingness to adapt kept that from happening.

Best regards,
Jeffrey

Great post, Jumbo.

Jeffrey, I agree with your post. Coach K is always willing to learn. Listening to his post game interview when he was discussing how he used to sit around a "shut up" in the presence of other coaches you could get a great sense of this. He is always learning and adapting.

I really liked to see the change up last night. It broke open the game. Duke did toy with UVA and it allowed Singler to shoot through his mini-slump. I wonder if we'll see a zone much on Saturday. UNC is a much better team and can shoot against the zone. I guess we'll see.

Now, what about the defensive wrinkle were Duke employs a press and forces the bigger and slower players to take the ball up court like we saw against NCSU? Will we see that as an effective hedge against Lawson?

Dukerati
03-06-2008, 10:15 AM
I will join the chorus of agreement on a well thought-out post Jumbo. Duke's man to man defense will always be a staple and I think it is one of the reasons why we are less susceptible to upsets-- it lets us utilize our (usually) superior skill and talent more fully than a zone would.

I do, however, have some reservations about our defense this year. With our lack of ideal size in the front court and our perimeter defenders, we have been giving up more easy points than usual. At what point does the trade-off swing to the favor of the other team? Letting Collins from Miami shoot 11-12 (or whatever it was) should never happen even with our propensity to give up a few freebies. While we can primarily stay in our man-to-man, I believe we should be quicker to switch to zone. I'm even going to take this one step further.

Say we had an end-game scenario in the NCAA tournament against UCLA or Memphis. We are up by 1 with 10 seconds to go. Darren Collison or Derrick Rose is dribbling at the top of the circle. Would you rather go man-to-man or zone there? This year, I'd choose zone. I'll choose a somewhat contested three over a Collison or Rose drive. Especially since both teams have talented big men underneath the basket as well...

Jumbo
03-06-2008, 11:30 AM
Is it possible that another reason for having Scheyer play point with Nolan in the game is that it allows Nolan to focus more on his defensive responsibilities? Nolan obviously has the physical gifts to be a great defender.

I don't think so, because Nolan has been struggling defensively lately. His knee has to be bothering him.

Jumbo
03-06-2008, 11:31 AM
I wasn't able to see either the NC State or the UVA game, so I can't comment on the substantive portion of your post, Jumbo, but I've got to comment on this part. Tommy Amaker very rarely got beat off the dribble. His ability to stay in front of the ball was just ridiculous. Best I've ever seen at Duke.

I agree. That was sort of the point -- even the best of the best got beat now and then, because Duke's system often leaves the PG on an island.

Chitowndevil
03-06-2008, 11:57 AM
Fantastic thread. As I posted in the "How to beat Duke" thread, what stands out to me in the three losses and game at State is that opponents shot 50% from 3, and Duke averaged 26 fouls per game (our opponents' free throw rate over the 3 games was in the 50s, which if games were independent would be a 3 standard deviation event at least).

I think Jumbo's original post captures a lot of the reason why. We are getting beaten off the dribble and aren't really a threat to block shots (154th in the nation in percentage of FG attempted blocked; we were in the 50s in 2006-7 and in the top 20 in 2004-5). In fact the Wake, Miami, and @ State games are the only three conference games in which we've blocked fewer than 3 shots. Again there are MUCH better hoops minds on these boards than mine, but it seems to me this together with our lack of size forces us to commit to double teams earlier and takes away our ability to deny passes back out to the perimeter. It also means we are forced to reach in on balls in the post.

MChambers
03-06-2008, 01:16 PM
I don't think so, because Nolan has been struggling defensively lately. His knee has to be bothering him.

It reminds of our collapse down the stretch last year. I have to say, Jumbo, that although I thought your analysis was great, it makes me a little more pessimistic.

Pernell
03-06-2008, 01:35 PM
It was great to see Coach K go "orange" a little bit and implement the zone. Quite frankly, I believe if we went to zone last year against VCU we would have won that game.

I think Coach K has to continue to be open to using zone to slow down penetration, in the future, particularly during the NCAA's.

bluepenguin
03-06-2008, 01:48 PM
I'm not going to argue with Jumbo or anyone else's analysis about the defense. But, I gotta say I find it amusing. I probably would have considered adding my 2cents if this were LAST season. But, fer crying out loud, the team is 26-3. Who (beside Ozzie) realistically thought they would be in this position going into the last game of the season? I'm gonna go with Coach K on this one. I think he probably has a good handle on the defense, having gotten them this far.

gvtucker
03-06-2008, 02:10 PM
I agree. That was sort of the point -- even the best of the best got beat now and then, because Duke's system often leaves the PG on an island.

And going to another thread on this page, this makes Scheyer's ability to play the point a really big deal.

Last year, when Scheyer was forced to play the point, he seemed really uncomfortable with the job, and it affected the rest of his game. This year, in the few minutes he's had to manage it, Scheyer has played much more under control. It is particular important that he's attacked the basket when he's played the point.

On the defensive side, this is notable because our best on ball defender is DeMarcus Nelson. He might be the best on ball defender in the ACC. With Paulus or Smith in the game, if Nelson guarded the point then we would have a serious size mismatch on the wing. If Nelson is on the court with Scheyer and Henderson, then we've got the opposing guards' nightmare. Yes, there might be a size disadvantage in the post, but this is countered by the size that we would have out front. It would be very difficult for another team's guards to feed the post with that kind of size and speed on Duke's D.

Chitowndevil
03-06-2008, 02:10 PM
I'm not going to argue with Jumbo or anyone else's analysis about the defense. But, I gotta say I find it amusing. I probably would have considered adding my 2cents if this were LAST season. But, fer crying out loud, the team is 26-3. Who (beside Ozzie) realistically thought they would be in this position going into the last game of the season? I'm gonna go with Coach K on this one. I think he probably has a good handle on the defense, having gotten them this far.

I don't think anyone here, least of all Jumbo, is saying that the sky is falling. What I (and I think others also) am saying is that based on viewing of the games and evidence in the data, Duke's defense has been subpar in its last five conference games and downright awful against Wake, Miami, and State. A discussion of WHY, along with some (hopefully) educated speculation about how the coaching staff hopes to correct the problem (and I believe they will), is the kind of stuff I come to these boards to read.

Jumbo
03-06-2008, 02:35 PM
It reminds of our collapse down the stretch last year. I have to say, Jumbo, that although I thought your analysis was great, it makes me a little more pessimistic.

Don't be. Here are three reasons:
1) Our offense is light years ahead of last year's offense. We're getting virtually any shot we want most trips down the floor.
2) We've played good man to man often enough in spurts to put the pieces back together again. As I said, it's about following instructions.
3) As we saw against UVA, K isn't going to let this team fall apart. If he has to throw a zone out there for a stretch, he will. One way or another, he's going to find a way to get enough stops.

Jumbo
03-06-2008, 02:36 PM
I'm not going to argue with Jumbo or anyone else's analysis about the defense. But, I gotta say I find it amusing. I probably would have considered adding my 2cents if this were LAST season. But, fer crying out loud, the team is 26-3. Who (beside Ozzie) realistically thought they would be in this position going into the last game of the season? I'm gonna go with Coach K on this one. I think he probably has a good handle on the defense, having gotten them this far.

Oh, no doubt. But the best time to analyze your weaknesses is during a period of success.

Jumbo
03-06-2008, 02:38 PM
And going to another thread on this page, this makes Scheyer's ability to play the point a really big deal.

Last year, when Scheyer was forced to play the point, he seemed really uncomfortable with the job, and it affected the rest of his game. This year, in the few minutes he's had to manage it, Scheyer has played much more under control. It is particular important that he's attacked the basket when he's played the point.

On the defensive side, this is notable because our best on ball defender is DeMarcus Nelson. He might be the best on ball defender in the ACC. With Paulus or Smith in the game, if Nelson guarded the point then we would have a serious size mismatch on the wing. If Nelson is on the court with Scheyer and Henderson, then we've got the opposing guards' nightmare. Yes, there might be a size disadvantage in the post, but this is countered by the size that we would have out front. It would be very difficult for another team's guards to feed the post with that kind of size and speed on Duke's D.

Bingo. I still don't think we'll see a lot of Scheyer-Nelson-Henderson without either Paulus or Smith on the floor. But it's nice to know that K now considers it an option and, just as he went zone last night, could break that out in a time of need.

BD80
03-06-2008, 02:43 PM
I loved switching to the zone. Calling it Orange is a nice tip of the hat to Boeheim.

I wish we had kept it under wraps for three more days, I don't think it will be as effective against Carowhina with a great penetrating guard in Lawson and good-shooting wings in Ellington and Green, particularly when they have two days to run through their offense against the zone.

I don't see us playing zone as much against UNC because Lawson can't score the way Singletary can.

Zone can be the best defense, particularly with long, fast athletes like Syracuse recruits. That is why the NBA outlawed zone D, it was too effective. The NBA athletes were too big and quick compared to the length and width of the court.

Man-to-man is the best for college kids because it makes them stay aggressive and it teaches them to focus on the basics of good individual defense skills. Good man-to-man and good zone are almost the same, but to be played well, they both require good individual defensive skills and good team defensive skills.

I don't think our defense has improved enough to keep pace with the ability of teams to scout us and plan to attack us. Lawson will be the key.

I think Zoubek will have a chance to step up big (excuse the pun) if he can provide a presence on the inside on D. Any O is a bonus. Hopefully he will get the benefit of some calls, unlike the bs blocking and offensive foul (setting a pick) calls back-to-back.

Jeffrey
03-06-2008, 03:13 PM
I wish we had kept it under wraps for three more days, I don't think it will be as effective against Carowhina with a great penetrating guard in Lawson and good-shooting wings in Ellington and Green, particularly when they have two days to run through their offense against the zone.

Hi,

I'm not sure there was anything to keep "under wraps". This was probably the most zone Duke has played in any one game this year but we've been practicing and selectively playing zone all season. Nobody should be caught off guard by this point in the season. Fortunately, most UVA players were and K kept that game from wearing us out before the big game on Saturday.

Best regards,
Jeffrey

bill brill
03-06-2008, 03:19 PM
from my perspective, sitting in the end zone press area at JPJ (by far best arena in the acc not named cameron), the first half won the zone. from down 29-28 and singletary getting inside at will, duke went on 15-0 run. SS didn't get inside once and I think took just one shot, maybe two. 12-point lead at half. in first 90 seconds of last half, singler made 4 in a row, but uva made its first two plus both ends of a two-shot foul. although his team actually had expanded the lead by two, K called a quick timeout, went back to man, and soon led by 19. K would say to the media, "I shouldn't have gone to the zone to start the second half. that's not who we are. so I called a timeout'' and changed and, other than a brief 10-0 rally, duke never threatened again. I can only assume that uva made some changes at halftime. duke had played zone for 8 minutes, surely a K record. u could see the problem UVa was having offensively initially against the zone. although they got some decent open looks fnom 3 throughout the game, they made just 6 of 18. one thing that has impressed me is how well duke has run the spread all year. last nite it started with 12 or so minutes to play. they milk the clock, almost never turn it over, and wind up getting open shots almost all the time. in recent years, there was a collective groan from dbr when duke played 2-3 motion, and often with good reason. but this is an offensive strategy that is working and the team clearly believes in it. consider that the players on the floor then are nelson, henderson, paulus, scheyer and singler. all can and do shoot the 3.

Jumbo
03-06-2008, 03:29 PM
Zone can be the best defense, particularly with long, fast athletes like Syracuse recruits. That is why the NBA outlawed zone D, it was too effective. The NBA athletes were too big and quick compared to the length and width of the court.

That's not why the NBA outlawed zone D. It had a lot more to do with wanting individual superstars to be able to show their stuff. And note that the NBA changed the illegal defense rule a few years ago, which basically allows zone again ... and every team in the league still plays man-to-man almost exclusively.

weezie
03-06-2008, 04:14 PM
Hi,

I'm not sure there was anything to keep "under wraps". This was probably the most zone Duke has played in any one game this year but we've been practicing and selectively playing zone all season. Nobody should be caught off guard by this point in the season. Fortunately, most UVA players were and K kept that game from wearing us out before the big game on Saturday.

Best regards,
Jeffrey

After the game on the uva station K sounded pretty excited by the good zone. Kind of like he discovered a toy tucked under the Christmas tree way, way in the back,
And JPJ IS nice and all but they have to nip that loud, canned music
in the bud...starting to sound like another tiresome NBA arena.

Lotus000
03-06-2008, 04:21 PM
After the game on the uva station K sounded pretty excited by the good zone. Kind of like he discovered a toy tucked under the Christmas tree way, way in the back,
And JPJ IS nice and all but they have to nip that loud, canned music
in the bud...starting to sound like another tiresome NBA arena.

That's a great analogy regarding the toy in the back....

Ralphie: "ooooooohhh!! It's a Zeppelin!!! Yaayyy!!!"

I'm loving the random 2-3 zone. Watch him rip out the 1-3-1 during the ACC tourney to really screw with somebody's head.

dukie8
03-06-2008, 10:37 PM
i really liked this analysis of duke's d. my only quibble is that if the other team has a particularly quick pg (eg, lawson), then nelson tends to cover the pg and paulus moves over and covers someone else (usually the 2). when nelson moves out to cover the pg, the dribble penetration threat is weakened, but we lose a lot by having nelson, who often is our best rebounder, so far away from the basket.

Jumbo
03-09-2008, 06:02 PM
Well, the interesting thing was that defense turned out to be the least of Duke's problems against UNC. The team made some excellent adjustments and I was pleased with what I saw.

Saratoga2
03-09-2008, 08:40 PM
Your thoughts about our offensive transistion to defense when we have a man in each corner and say Paulus or another guard shoot from behind the arc are spot on. On a long rebound, it is either two or three on one, with the one being one of our smaller players.

You didn't mention is player fatigue or players in foul trouble impacting the defense.

When McClure came in near the end of the UNC game, he was fresh, intense and quick and made a couple of good defensive plays in a row. We had Thomas, Smith and Zoubek who are usually fresh and might have added defensive intensity at times during the game. Foul shooting ability has to be considered by coach K in end of game situations.

When we pick up early fouls on key players, they either have to sit or play loose defense to avoid picking up additional fouls. Singler is our key inside guy but he usually has two fouls well before the 1st half is drawing to a close. I think coach K does a good job of substituting for him, however, each sub has strengths and weaknesses. Zoubek played well in his 9 minutes last night but his lack of agility may make man to man difficult for him.