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Jumbo
03-11-2008, 04:26 PM
Welcome to the latest installment of this award-winning series. This episode will focus on Phase V -- the ACC Tournament. Questions remain. Devils are prepared to answer them. Let us raise them in a voice that is proud, inquisitive and possibly intoxicated.

Where oh Where has Kyle's jumper gone? Where, oh where can it be?
We know the deal by now: 5-25 from downtown in his last four games (and 6-18 in the there before that). Kyle is going to continue to get tons of open looks from out there, because opposing bigs just can't chase him out there and protect the basket against our slashing wings. He's got to hit a higher percentage -- it's as simple as that. He's open, he's a good shooter and he needs to knock them down.

As a corollary, I really want to see Kyle attack the basket more, both off the dribble and in the post. He can beat slower defenders off the dribble. And he has a good post-up game. In particular, when a guard is forced to switch off a screen, he needs to take that guy down to the block and punish him. I had been concerned about his diminishing number of FT attempts until the NC State game, where he got to the line nine times. But he has just six attempts in his last three games. That's not enough for a player as clever and versatile as Singler.

Yo, G: How's the wrist?
Gerald Henderson will not be 100% this season. Let's understand that. But it doesn't mean he can't be effective. We've seen as much against Virginia and Georgia Tech, for example. But can he be consistent? And can he hit the mid-range J that opens up so many other things for Duke's offense?
The one blessing of the injury is that it has forced Gerald to become more of an all-around player, and the change has been drastic. The improvement in his passing and defense is remarkable, and makes Duke a much better team. But we need G as close to full strength as possible to win three games in three days.

Is Brian Zoubek's improvement linear or a blip?
I posed the same question about Lance Thomas during Phase IV. Now it's time to ask it about Zoubs. He definitely has given Duke an inside presence in spurts lately. Can he give us a few more minutes at the same level of play? Can he avoid fouling every time he moves? And can Duke play effective pressure man-to-man with him in the game, and run four-out offense as well with Zoubek chained to the block? The ACC Tournament will be a great test.

What is the rotation going to look like?
Coach K has shown that he'll give all 10 guys a chance to show something in the first half. If you play well, you usually get a stint in the second half. If not, he's still using eight guys (at least briefly) in the second half -- the starters, Scheyer, Zoubek and Smith.
The question is whether he'll extend the King/McClure minutes in the first half and use them at all in the second half, due to the ACC Tourney schedule. I'm fine with a tighter second half rotation, and I'm fine with a short leash on McClure and King right now. But I wouldn't be opposed to giving them a little more burn early in the game IF K believes that the possibilty of three games and three days can wear down his team.

Speaking of the rotation, what's up with Nolan Smith?
The obvious: He's in a slump. His struggle to run the offense has resulted in his moving off the ball and Scheyer gaining ball-handling responsibilties. His minutes are going down. His plus/minus has been particularly bad of late.
The mystery: Why? Is it the knee? Word is he's not hurt that badly anymore. Is it the pressure of playing PG as a frosh on a team like Duke? Is it none of the above? He isn't attacking the basket anymore. Even his defense is a shadow of what it was earlier in the season. Like Zoubek, the nature of the ACC Tournament is a great opportunity for him to bust out. This team will need him at some point. Let's hope he and the coaches can figure out what's wrong and fix it.

Was Duke's defense against Carolina a mirage, or a harbinger of better days to come?
I've written at length about Duke's D here (http://www.dukebasketballreport.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7543). The performance against Carolina was encouraging. Will it last? Or was it just the function of a loosely called game?

Suppose Duke makes the ACC Final -- would three games in three days be good or bad?
When Duke went to Maui, I said three games in three days would be great. Basically, you just have to play basketball. No hard practices between games. Not many more distractions. Just play. It's as close to "fun" as you can have in what is very much a job for these kids.
I feel the same way now ... except the guys are banged up. We want to be fresh for the NCAA Tourney. Would a run to the finals take something out of them? Tough to say. I'd certainly sign for a berth in the finals and take the risk, of course, but it's worth asking.


As always, feel free to chime in with your own questions. But these are the issues I'll be watching closely over the weekend.

RepoMan
03-11-2008, 05:13 PM
Where oh Where has Kyle's jumper gone? Where, oh where can it be?
We know the deal by now: 5-25 from downtown in his last four games (and 6-18 in the there before that). Kyle is going to continue to get tons of open looks from out there, because opposing bigs just can't chase him out there and protect the basket against our slashing wings. He's got to hit a higher percentage -- it's as simple as that. He's open, he's a good shooter and he needs to knock them down.

This is a good thing. He is a good shooter, and he just got his bad stretch out of the way. Now he is bound to get on a hot streak -- just the right time!


As a corollary, I really want to see Kyle attack the basket more, both off the dribble and in the post. He can beat slower defenders off the dribble.

Very true. Especially with Henderson's mid-range game in question. We need some fall back offense when the 3s are not falling, and Kyle attacking the hoop seems like the best option. I know he's a freshman, but we need him to be assertive.


Yo, G: How's the wrist?
Gerald Henderson will not be 100% this season.

The good news is, after a 3-4 game slump, G seems to have turned the corner. While he may not be 100%, he is playing with accelerating confidence. If he could just crank it up another notch, we'd be in business. And, if he shows the relaible mid-range game from pre-Carolina I, that would be huge -- probably key if we want to mkae it to the FF


Speaking of the rotation, what's up with Nolan Smith?
The obvious: He's in a slump. . . . Let's hope he and the coaches can figure out what's wrong and fix it.

I really think we have to play Smith more, even if he continues to struggle. Paulus is much better this year. Part of that is because he is healthy. Part is because he has a year more of experience. And, part is because he is playing less. We need him on the court at the end of games. We need his three point shooting, which requires legs. We need his D to be ok, which again requires legs. If he is gassed, we are in trouble. Nolan has to play more.


Suppose Duke makes the ACC Final -- would three games in three days be good or bad?

While this is interesting in theory, winning breeds winning. I really believe that. If we could win an ACC title, I think it would be huge for confidence etc. We'd have a 1 or 2 seed, and we likely wouldn't have a tough weekday game -- plenty of time for rest.


Great stuff Jumbo. Thanks

dukelifer
03-11-2008, 08:39 PM
Singler is a better player when he attacks. Lately he has turned it over a lot when he drives. It seems as teams have figured out how to defend him better making his move to the hoop. I think this has affected his confidence and hence his outside shooting. He clearly can be great. If Duke is to make a deep run- he needs to be great. He needs to be stronger with the ball. If this happens, the shot will return.

Depth is going to be key in the ACC tourney. I would love nothing more than to see King have a breakout game in the tourney. By breakout- I mean hitting three or four threes in a game. I am not sure it will happen but it could really lift him and the team. The kid has game- but he has clearly not shown it in a long, long time. Smith is a mystery- a bit like Henderson at times last year. I expect Smith will play more this weekend. This could be a point of emphasis going into the ACC. K likes to throw in a wrinkle or two in the post season.

Duke needs Lance and Zoubek to play well and keep Duke close in the middle of games. Recently, Duke has let several teams get big leads in the middle of games. Duke needs to keep this from happening from here on out by playing better D and being more consistent on O inside the paint. If Lance and Zoubs can continue to get easy putbacks on misses and rebound- that helps Duke a lot.

Duke is as good as Henderson plays. When he plays at a high level and score 15-18 pts, Duke is hard to beat. He seems to be playing better lately. He needs to be fresh late in games for the spread to be effective- which means the bench needs to play better.

Let's face it- Duke is a very small team. Nelson and Paulus are about the same height- Scheyer and Henderson are about the same height (6' 4") and Singler is probably 6' 7". Nelson and Henderson play bigger but when there are bigger players on the the floor who can jump with them- the size differential is more apparent. Not much Duke can do here except limit mistakes and stay fundamentally sound rebounding the ball. Keeping teams off the offensive glass is a key for Duke to proceed in both tourneys.

Scheyer can be a great college player. He is an X factor for sure. It is not clear Duke should go back to the Redick offense of letting one guy take over- but at times someone needs to take charge. He did this in the last UNC game. I expect that he is still holding back what is fully capable of doing on the floor. But there will be moments when he needs to be the man.

Nelson and Paulus needs to be ultra solid for Duke . They are the leaders and so far they have done a great job in that role. Both give Duke its grit to fight. Both have their limitations so they need to just be mentally strong. The rest of the team will feed off of it.

roywhite
03-11-2008, 09:00 PM
"Let's face it- Duke is a very small team. Nelson and Paulus are about the same height- Scheyer and Henderson are about the same height (6' 4") and Singler is probably 6' 7"."

Not sure this is correct. I don't know the exact heights of each Duke player, but I doubt whether the listed heights are any more or less accurate than what other teams list. I've heard Coach K mention that he likes Kyle's skill set, plus "he's 6'9".

Is this team much smaller than our beloved 1986 team? Bilas and Alarie at 6'8", Henderson 6'5", Dawkins 6'2 or 6'3", Amaker 6'0" or 6'1". Granted Ferry played a lot and he was 6'10", now we have 7-ft+ Zoubek getting some time.

astoria26
03-11-2008, 09:03 PM
The 3 games in 3 days will be fantastic if Duke does well. It's a prep for the real thing, because just like the NCAAs, you'll be getting everybody's best shot, and it's one and done if you don't bring your "A" game. Hopefully the guys learned from the Maui tournament and know how to rest their bodies so they don't get run down by the final game.

Plus - the possibility of a rematch with Carolina?? That would get me up for anything! If that happens, the #1 seed will be on the line - and hopefully the guys can show what they learned from that game on Sat.

Looking back on that game now . . I really think that loss will pay off in the long run. To go up against a FF-caliber team, that challenged every drive, stayed home on every 3 point shooter, refused to get turned over, refused to let go of a rebound, required non-stop special attention and double teams on its POY candidate, and threatened to run away to a 10 or 15 point lead the instant you start panicking and not playing well . . I donít think Duke couldíve gotten a better test, and a better picture of where it stands in terms of strengths and weaknesses. This will motivate the team to keep working, and bring that spark of electricity that it'll need to go through the post-season.

Plus, who would've thought it would be Duke who finally gets the Heels to play defense? They should thank us! LOL, switching on ball screens. But that's just another example of a defense that can hurt us, and hopefully when we see that again, we'll be ready to take advantage of mismatches.

imagepro
03-11-2008, 09:05 PM
What is the rotation going to look like?
Coach K has shown that he'll give all 10 guys a chance to show something in the first half. If you play well, you usually get a stint in the second half.

OK maybe so sometimes, yet this clearly was not the case Saturday night. At least not as far as Brian is concerned. I doubt if many people would dare say Zou had a poor first half. Quite the contrary. Everyone I spoke with who was at the game said he was terrific. I had to watch the game via satellite in Nicaragua, but he looked pretty good from there as well! He appeared aggressive, confident and had the quickest feet I think I've ever seen from him. True, tv is not a good way to analyze, but that's how it appeared.

Even Vitale was screaming about his play, as was I! But, where was he over the last 15 minutes? Maybe you guys know something I don't, but I thought he had only 3 fouls. I know, some will say he would have slowed us down, or he was a defensive liability, but think how big one or two rebounds would have been in those final 5 minutes. Enough to sway the outcome? We'll never know.

dukelifer
03-11-2008, 09:33 PM
"Let's face it- Duke is a very small team. Nelson and Paulus are about the same height- Scheyer and Henderson are about the same height (6' 4") and Singler is probably 6' 7"."

Not sure this is correct. I don't know the exact heights of each Duke player, but I doubt whether the listed heights are any more or less accurate than what other teams list. I've heard Coach K mention that he likes Kyle's skill set, plus "he's 6'9".

Is this team much smaller than our beloved 1986 team? Bilas and Alarie at 6'8", Henderson 6'5", Dawkins 6'2 or 6'3", Amaker 6'0" or 6'1". Granted Ferry played a lot and he was 6'10", now we have 7-ft+ Zoubek getting some time.

As you note- you can be small like the '86 team but they were mostly seniors. Seniors usually make fewer mistakes which is what the current team needs to do. Not sure if Kyle is 6' 9"- but he is bigger than the others for sure.

Jumbo
03-11-2008, 09:40 PM
OK maybe so sometimes, yet this clearly was not the case Saturday night. At least not as far as Brian is concerned. I doubt if many people would dare say Zou had a poor first half. Quite the contrary. Everyone I spoke with who was at the game said he was terrific. I had to watch the game via satellite in Nicaragua, but he looked pretty good from there as well! He appeared aggressive, confident and had the quickest feet I think I've ever seen from him. True, tv is not a good way to analyze, but that's how it appeared.

Even Vitale was screaming about his play, as was I! But, where was he over the last 15 minutes? Maybe you guys know something I don't, but I thought he had only 3 fouls. I know, some will say he would have slowed us down, or he was a defensive liability, but think how big one or two rebounds would have been in those final 5 minutes. Enough to sway the outcome? We'll never know.

Zoubek played (http://www.goduke.com/pdf4/115762.pdf?ATCLID=1408306&SPSID=22726&SPID=1845&DB_OEM_ID=4200)five minutes in the first half and four minutes in the second half.

feldspar
03-11-2008, 11:12 PM
I see one of two things happening in the ACC Tournament, which will tell me a lot about our NCAA Tournament chances.

1) We come out on fire. Like a whole new team. Focused, committed to pressure defense, smart passing, balanced scoring, running K's offense and we just bowl over the competition. We're the hottest team going into the NCAA Tourney and on track to go past the Sweet 16 for the first time in 4 years.


or


2) We come out as the same old Duke from the last month. Poor starts to games, frequent lapses in defense, jumbled offense, playing catch-up in the second half. Sure, we win a couple games, maybe make it to the finals, maybe even win the whole thing if we get some breaks. But all of Jumbo's questions remain unanswered, we're a limp #2 seed and not sure how far we'll go but at least we'll advance past the first round this year.

It might not be that black and white, perhaps somewhere in the middle, but I would expect one of the two to happen. Obviously I'd be thrilled with #1, but if I were to be completely honest, I see #2 happening more likely than not.

Sorry to be a wet blanket. I hope to be proven wrong.

Jumbo
03-11-2008, 11:17 PM
I see one of two things happening in the ACC Tournament, which will tell me a lot about our NCAA Tournament chances.

1) We come out on fire. Like a whole new team.

I don't think it's fair to expect a group that has played 30 games and practiced for five months look like a "whole new team" after five days off. We don't have to resemble a "whole new team" to win, and win big. We just need to tweak some things and play more consistently.

feldspar
03-11-2008, 11:33 PM
I don't think it's fair to expect a group that has played 30 games and practiced for five months look like a "whole new team" after five days off. We don't have to resemble a "whole new team" to win, and win big. We just need to tweak some things and play more consistently.

You're right. My larger point was that we've all been waiting for this team to "turn the corner," as it were, for the last month. It hasn't happened yet, but to me, the ACC Tournament seems like the most opportune time to do so. If there's not a fairly apparent sense of turning that corner this weekend, I honestly don't expect it to happen at all.

Wander
03-12-2008, 08:29 AM
We don't even need a whole new team, just the team that started 8-0 in the ACC to show back up.

DukieInBrasil
03-12-2008, 11:16 AM
I really consider the 2nd half of the ACC season as a distinct "phase" and as such I would grade Duke as a C+ team in that stretch; 6-3 record with 2 road losses to not-terrible teams and a home loss to the #1 team in the country. None of the wins was particularly noteworthy, although many were still by double digits. I think the record, and the grade, are the result of 3 personnel issues.
1) Gerald hurts his wrist and for several games and was a different, and less effective player. However, during this stretch he got much better as a defender and was showing a deft passing touch. His FT and 3pt shooting mysteriously improved withe injury. However, during the games he was not shooting FG very well our O was very different b/c one of our most dangerous slashers was auto-neutralized. He seems to have recovered quite a bit of his touch, let's see if he can carry the defensive intensity forward.
2) Z returns to the team and has a couple of very quiet games withe whole team trying to re-integrate Z. Since those first couple of quiet games, Brian has played his most productive basketball as a Blue Devil and has increased our presence inside. Despite Z's personal improvement, the whole team is less effective since his return, though not entirely b/c of him.
3) Singler has hit the Fr. wall, much like Scheyer did last year at this time and the drop in his productivity is evident in the team's play. He has been shooting the ball more lately and has seen all of his shooting %s fall although, as Jumbo pointed out, he is not really getting to the line any more than before. He is still rebounding well and hustling hard but his shooting touch has gone south.

In the ACC tournament, I would not be surprised to see K go with an attacking team more like we saw in the 1st half of ACC play. This probably means less Z, or more hopefully, an innovative way to incorporate him for brief stretches at a time. Since The Gerald has started playing better ball lately, I would also expect K to go with the prior offensive style more often. These several days of rest have got to be a blessing for Singler, but the (hopefully) 3 games in 3 days could drain him back down quite quickly. I'm looking for K to give Singler less responsibility for carrying the O and let him attack the glass and be opportunistic.

TwoDukeTattoos
03-12-2008, 02:45 PM
Suppose Duke makes the ACC Final -- would three games in three days be good or bad?
When Duke went to Maui, I said three games in three days would be great. Basically, you just have to play basketball. No hard practices between games. Not many more distractions. Just play. It's as close to "fun" as you can have in what is very much a job for these kids.
I feel the same way now ... except the guys are banged up. We want to be fresh for the NCAA Tourney. Would a run to the finals take something out of them? Tough to say. I'd certainly sign for a berth in the finals and take the risk, of course, but it's worth asking.

It seems that since our 01 Title, our guys look fatigued in the post-season. A lot of that had to do with a shallow bench forcing guys like JJ and Shelden to play 38 minutes a game. I was so frustrated with our team's evident post season fatigue, that last year when we were ousted from the ACC tourney early, I looked to the bright side and became excited about the fact that at least we'd be fresh for the Big Dance. But still, I don't think that proved to be the case (among other problems).

So, it's true, three games in three days can certainly fatigue a team. However, if the players are properly conditioned, practice sessions are not incredibly intense, and the bench is reasonably deep I feel that a deep run in the ACC tourney should not terribly adversely affect a team.

loran16
03-12-2008, 05:45 PM
Not sure this belongs here, but it doesn't deserve a new thread.

From Jay Bilas in ESPN's chat:

Jarrett (South Carolina): Do you think Duke will make it to the final four even though they dont have a good bench?

SportsNation Jay Bilas: (6:35 PM ET ) Duke has a great bench. I used to sit on it when Coach K was hacked off at me.

I laughed a lot.

roywhite
03-12-2008, 05:52 PM
"So, it's true, three games in three days can certainly fatigue a team. However, if the players are properly conditioned, practice sessions are not incredibly intense, and the bench is reasonably deep I feel that a deep run in the ACC tourney should not terribly adversely affect a team."


I generally agree. Ideally, if a team plays the third game on Sunday afternoon, it's preferrable to have a 1st round NCAA game on a Friday, and not too far away. But NC State last year played 4 games in 4 days, made a decent run in the title game, and then turned around and went to play Drexel on Tuesday in the NIT, and won the game.

Jumbo
03-13-2008, 08:57 AM
Not sure this belongs here, but it doesn't deserve a new thread.

From Jay Bilas in ESPN's chat:

Jarrett (South Carolina): Do you think Duke will make it to the final four even though they dont have a good bench?

SportsNation Jay Bilas: (6:35 PM ET ) Duke has a great bench. I used to sit on it when Coach K was hacked off at me.

I laughed a lot.

Yeah, I'm not sure what that has to do with this thread, but it is funny.

mus074
03-13-2008, 10:14 AM
We don't even need a whole new team, just the team that started 8-0 in the ACC to show back up.

Is there a concern that in the second half of the conference season, other teams figured out our somewhat new perimeter-based scheme? UNC did a much better job on switches and contesting shots from beyond the arc. I remember one play we did repeatedly in UNC I which resulted in a pick-n-roll halfway between the top of the arc and corner, drive and kick to the corner, and I didn't see it once in UNC II.

Our offense has looked broken for a month now and I am starting to think our new offense has lost its flow as opponents have learned to guard it. Hopefully, in the dance, the second-game matchups (hopefully two such games), will allow us more freedom to run our game against less prepared teams.

imagepro
03-14-2008, 08:52 AM
Zoubek played (http://www.goduke.com/pdf4/115762.pdf?ATCLID=1408306&SPSID=22726&SPID=1845&DB_OEM_ID=4200)five minutes in the first half and four minutes in the second half.

Yes Jumbo, He did play only five minutes in the first, and he did get 3 fouls. Your statistical knowledge is superb, though I knew that from the stat sheet. Zou however was effective by nearly everyones account, although you may differ. I did not question how many minutes he played in the first or second half. I only QUESTIONED if he COULD HAVE made a difference in the last 10 minutes with a rebound or 2, especially considering he still had 2 fouls to give. Do you disagree that a rebound or 2 could not have made a difference in the contest? With due respect sir,that was my question, not how many minutes he played.

Saratoga2
03-14-2008, 09:28 AM
There wasn't a lot of mention of Nelson in this thread but his play needs to be at a higher level than against UNC. He always seems to play well on defense. What we need him to do is avoid the turnovers caused by forcing the play and be smarter with the ball. He was doing much better before the UNC game but seemed to lose his bearing, perhaps due to trying so hard. His shot was way off against UNC, which might have been the result of chasing on defense.

I prefer it when Scheyer handles the ball with help from Singler, Paulus and/or Smith. Henderson, Nelson, Zoubek and Thomas do better when the playmakers get them the ball in advantageous positions. Scheyer has become the key for the team since he is a steadying influence who does everything well. He needs to touch the ball on most plays.

Highlander
03-14-2008, 09:38 AM
Not sure if this deserves its own thread, but since we're talking about Duke's style of play, thought this was as good a place as any.

I was thinking about Duke this season, and the more I watch them, the more their style of offense reminds me of watching international ball. The more I think about it, the more the analogy seems to fit. Plus it is totally fitting with Coach K to be ahead of the curve on something like this. Case in point:

We don't really have a true center, but have 5 guys all capable of hitting the three.
When we drive, it usually sets up the three.
Our spacing is very good.
Our PG isn't a great penetrator, but is a great shooter.
No one in America respects our style of basketball because we don't have a 6'10" bruiser in the center or a score first point guard, and so can't possibly be a serious national contender.


When Duke does beat a team with that mix of players, everyone thinks they did it with smoke and mirrors and can't understand how a bigger team could lose to a smaller one (see 2004 olympics, 2006 world championships, etc). When they lose, it only reinforces their stereotypes.

Anyone else agree/disagree with this analogy?

MChambers
03-14-2008, 10:01 AM
The European style fits our personnel quite well.

Jumbo
03-17-2008, 07:00 PM
Time for a quick review before we enter Phase VI -- the first weekend of the NCAA Tourney.

Where oh Where has Kyle's jumper gone? Where, oh where can it be?
Well, it's still missing. We've discussed this to death. But as I said in the original post, he MUST attack the basket more off the dribble and post up. Remember that nice 10-footer he hit against Clemson? He has to mix it up. He has to post up smaller guys off switches and beat bigger guys off the dribble. I can understand tired legs, but I can't understand not playing to your strengths. Kyle, yours is versatility. Use it.

Yo, G: How's the wrist?
Uh, yeah, looks like I jinxed that one too, since he reinjured it. But it doesn't sound like whatever he did to it against Clemson will be lasting, which means he still has to play through the original injury.

Is Brian Zoubek's improvement linear or a blip?
It sure looks linear. His performance against Clemson might be a tad overrated, and he had some rough spots against Georgia Tech. But he's giving Duke a different dimension and certainly looks much better than just a few games ago.

What is the rotation going to look like?
Deeper! I thought McClure might disappear. Instead, he played his two best games of the year back to back. King got a little more PT than he'd been receiving, and played slightly better. Nolan Smith got way more time against Clemson. K is showing no signs of shortening his bench.

Speaking of the rotation, what's up with Nolan Smith?
Well, he wasn't wonderful against Georgia Tech, but the Clemson performance was Smith's best in a while. Was it a turning point? Let's hope. We need his defense first. If he can give us ball pressure, then he can focus on attacking the basket.

Was Duke's defense against Carolina a mirage, or a harbinger of better days to come?
The defense against Georgia Tech and Clemson was significantly better than many of the games leading up to Carolina. I'm happy with some of Duke's defensive adjustments. We're not going to be a shut-down D for the reasons I've mentioned before, but we're playing well enough to win.

Suppose Duke makes the ACC Final -- would three games in three days be good or bad?
We never got to find out. Oh well.