Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
11/28/2007 12:54:00 AM
The Early Word On ... Duke
Gerald Henderson and the Blue Devils aren't quite playing at a Phoenix Suns pace, but they're much faster than they were in '06-07.
Four things we learned about No. 7 Duke from its 82-58 rout of No. 20 Wisconsin in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge ...
1. These are truly accelerated Blue Devils.
Back in October, Duke assistant Chris Collinsdescribed the team's revamped offense to me like this: "We'll try to spread the floor, create space for guys to try to drive, get open shots. We don't want to get into a grind-it-out game where a team is going to try to match us physically."
Collins talked about how the Blue Devils' entire staff had spent the summer with Coach K and Team USA, which featured Phoenix Suns coach Mike D'Antoni as an assistant. They learned a few things from D'Antoni -- "There are philosophies of his that we're trying to implement with our own," said Collins -- and while the Steve Nash part is impossible to replicate, I wondered if the other influences would actually translate to a faster Duke product on the floor. Not Suns, :07 Seconds Or Less-faster, mind you, but would there be a noticeable difference between the Blue Devils of 2006-07, who were the ninth-slowest-paced team in the ACC and the 203rd-slowest team in the country, and the small-ball club that was taking the floor in '07-08?
The sample size is small -- seven games, slightly more than a fifth of the season -- but Duke is playing much faster than it did last season. Its raw tempo (from kenpom.com) for all of '06-07 was 66.1 possessions per 40 minutes. The Blue Devils' raw tempo thus far in '07-08 (from BasketballState.com) is 74.4 possessions per 40. The speed of one's opponents factors into the stat, but Duke has already sped up a traditionally molasses-based Princeton team that averaged 52.9 possessions/40 last season to 73.1 in the Maui Invitational. And in Tuesday's rout of the Badgers, who averaged 63.3 possessions/40 last season, the Blue Devils upped the pace to 74.9. They won't be able to maintain that high of a tempo through the ACC slate, but it's a sign that Duke is likely to finish third or fourth in the league in pace, right behind North Carolina and Maryland, rather than at the back of the pack.
2. Upping the shot volume isn't a problem for Duke's offense.
To put it nicely, the '06-07 Duke team, which bowed out in the first round the NCAA tournament, had limited options on offense. Three players were allowed to shoot 3s -- Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer and DeMarcus Nelson -- and of them, only Paulus (45.0 percent) was a truly good long-range marksman. The Blue Devils' lone force on the inside, Josh McRoberts, was a capable scorer but far too passive for the team to thrive. And if two of those four players were cold on a given night, there weren't any real offensive options to step up in their place. While Duke was still an elite defensive team last season, it couldn't score enough points to keep itself afloat.
The fact that the Blue Devils have upped their pace this season means that they're taking more shot attempts -- and more threes -- per game. But now they have enough weapons on the perimeter to insulate themselves from all but the worst of cold spells. Freshman Taylor King and Paulus combined for nine 3s against the Badgers, helping open a 20-point lead in the first half that remained in place for the rest of the night. King and Paulus are gunners Nos. 1 and 2 for Coach K, but Duke now has six realistic shooting options. Here are their 3-point stats through seven games:
Player M-A Pct. Singler 7-18 .389 Henderson 5-12 .417 King 19-37 .514 Scheyer 11-22 .500 Paulus 13-28 .464 Nelson 4-15 .250
3. The Blue Devils are capable of overcoming a size deficit.
Wisconsin isn't the best "big" team Duke is going to play this season -- that would be North Carolina, with Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson -- but the Badgers aren't terrible, either. And what they did was essentially start one 6-foot-1 point guard (Trevon Hughes), two 6-7 power forwards (Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry) and two 6-foot-11 centers (Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma) against a Duke lineup with two 6-foot-8 guys (Kyle Singler and Lance Thomas) in the low post.
UW was done in by its inability to hit anything from the perimeter (going 3-of-14 from long distance) but it also failed to exploit its size advantage to any real gain. The Badgers only outrebounded the Blue Devils 42-40, and only had a small, 32-26 lead in points in the paint. Rail-thin Duke guard Jon Scheyer actually finished with more boards (nine) than Butch and Stiemsma combined (seven).
4. For the time being, the Dukies aren't overrated at No. 7.
There are few teams shooting as well as the Blue Devils are from the perimeter, and their transition into the Runnin' Devils has looked surprisingly smooth -- especially on Tuesday, when they outscored UW 17-2 in fastbreak points. As much as N.C. State, which just won the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, is still a solid sleeper pick in the ACC, Duke appears to be the stronger challenger to UNC. I still have trouble envisioning the Devils overtaking the Heels, who can run and score inside, but Duke is a lot closer to Carolina than most believed in the preseason.
UNC has a great squad this year but they are still a bit overrated. I'm not saying that they should be ranked #20 or anything like that...maybe a #3 or #4, though. Insinuating that the Tarheels are a lock in the ACC puts you on a slippery slope. Although the gods would not favor such luck I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility to see the Devils take down the Heels twice this year.
All this early season rah rah means nothing until you get on tobacco road. ... the Badgers do not play in the ACC and would finish near the bottom if they did. We won't know what Duke really has until they see UNC, State, Florida State and Clemson. ... Talk to me in Februrary about Dook. ... If they try to run with the Heels, they will get burned.
there's no way Duke's overtaking UNC... Duke's non-conference schedule is weak. Duke's toughest non-conference games are Wisconsin and Pitt, while UNC's are Kentucky, Ohio State, and they already beat BYU who disposed of Louisville in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Dookies have played nobody so for. The badgers were overrated, just like last year everybody talks geat about them and then they lose a couple and there ok of a team. new year same ol story. And by the way I would worry about ohio st before I worried about Duke or Caolina
Duke is better than North Carolina right now. They played one of the top 15 teams in the nation in Marquette Golden Eagles, and beat a good Wisconsin team handling. Think about if McRoberts would have came back. Duke will be in the middle of everything all year long.
Clearly, 2:33 anonymous wasn't a real Heel fan. I am as hard-core a Heel fan as you can find. I hate Duke with a passion. Real Heel fans recognize greatness in even the evil empire over in Durham. Winn's post was spot on, based on what I have seen this season. Duke has found its scary-in-your-face defense that has been missing for a few years and appears to have found an offense that works for its personnel. Only the ignorant would deny it. We still SHOULD be better than they are, but there are no guarantees--its why we play all those games. 2:46 anonymous was quite obviously the typical crude Duke fan. I guess saying both typical and crude was repeating myself.
Anonymous said... there's no way Duke's overtaking UNC... Duke's non-conference schedule is weak. Duke's toughest non-conference games are Wisconsin and Pitt, while UNC's are Kentucky, Ohio State, and they already beat BYU who disposed of Louisville in the Las Vegas Invitational.
You need to check the rankings for these teams. Marquette was ranked #10, Wisconsin #20, and Pitt #11 right now. Tell me how those aren't tough non-conference games. Please show me where Kentucky and Ohio State are ranked. Oh yeah THEY AREN'T! Get your facts straight before you post.
They have a way to go. Before conference play last year Duke beat Georgetown, Indiana, and Gonzaga. Once conference play began things changed fast for Duke. You are an idiot if you think beating that weak WU team on their home floor makes them the team to beat in the ACC or a lock to go deep in any tournament.
ACC True Road Games Team Road Games Road Opponents Georgia Tech 5 UConn, Tenn. State, Indiana, Vandy, Georgia St. Carolina 4 Ohio State, UK, Penn, Rutgers NC State 3 Michigan St., ECU, Seton Hall Wake Forest 3 Iowa, Vandy, Georgia Virginia Tech 3 Penn St., ODU, Richmond Florida St. 3 Florida, Butler, Providence Clemson 3 ECU, Alabama, Miss. State Miami 2 Florida International, Miss. State Virginia 2 Arizona, Xavier Boston College 1 Michigan Duke 0 Maryland 0
Didn't Duke start off last season with "impressive" wins over Georgetown and Indiana...to only suck it up the rest of the season? Clearly this team is markedly better than last season's and should post much better stats and go farther in both the ACC and NCAA tourneys; however, we're 7 games into the season. To suggest that Duke is better than a clearly more talented, experienced North Carolina squad is ridiculous. Let's wait until Duke has played teams with interior presences not in the confines of CIS. Conference play defines a team, not what they did in November.
Coach K not scheduling a single true road game is embarrassing considering what a "great" program Duke has.
He tries to boost the confidence of his tribe of softies at the ole high school gym in front of the "crazies". The "crazies" appropriately given considering none of them really even know what's going on...they only go to the games because there is nothing else to do on or around their campus ever. It is a rock concert for the dorks and lepers that go to Duke. I think they are renaming Cameron "Narnia" or "Hogwarts".
Yeah where do you get a weak non-conference schedule from. UNC played Davidson (4 point win in the final seconds), BYU (10 point win), and ODU (17 point win in the final 5 minutes). Meanwhile Duke has been playing ranked teams. Name one ranked team UNC will play before January. Wait....still waiting.....nothing but crickets....
duke is going to finish third or fourth in the ACC behind maryland?!? give me a break luke. it's either first or second for them. as for all my fellow anonymous writers who have said duke has played "nobody," i would love to smoke whatever you've got. they beat two top-25 power conference teams, wisconsin and marquette which is two more than carolina has beaten all year. that perennial north carolina powerhouse davidson has been the toughest game UNC has had all year. oh, and BYU, who ESPN still refers to as a "mid-major."
if carolina can't beat kentucky (which was beaten at home by north carolina's other powerhouse Gardner-Webb) or ohio state (who got creamed by A&M) they don't deserve to be ranked. that's not even as much of a challenge as duke has already overcome.
Duke's non-conference schedule is weak. Duke's toughest non-conference games are Wisconsin and Pitt, while UNC's are Kentucky, Ohio State, and they already beat BYU who disposed of Louisville in the Las Vegas Invitational.
I love this. What have Kentucky and Ohio State done to convince you that they're any good at all?
Guys, calm down. It says Duke "is likely to finish third or fourth in the league in PACE" behind UNC and Maryland, not in the STANDINGS. The Heels and Terps are traditionally the two fastest teams in the league, but being fast does not always equate to being good. Just ask VMI.
Dook or Memphis fans are content with an undefeated November...UNC fans want to win every game the last month of the season not the first. We will gladly lose to teams like Santa Clara or be played competitively a whole game by Davidson the first game of the year if a Nat. Championship is a real possibility.
Duke can have the "best team in November" title it is the best the can do this year or last. And since they can't recruit anyone over 6'5" they will be the same the in 2008-2009.
I have believed all summer that Duke will be much stronger than predicted. I stand by my prediction that they will spend time as the #1 ranked team before the year is over.. most likely after a convincing win over ... you guessed it.. UNC
Some of these comments are a joke. UNC plays a hard schedule? Yeah, that Penn game at Penn... YIKES! I can hear the Carolina fans now... "But... it is AT Penn!!"
Carolina fans have a tendency to say that Duke plays a weak schedule, despite the fact that Duke plays one of the toughest, according to Pom and the RPI, year in and year out. Kentucky? BYU? Davidson? Seriously? Duke will play Davidson (and did last year, when UNC fans said "What cupcakes!") and Pitt and Marquette and Wisconsin, all better than anything else Carolina has faced according to both the press AND the national coaches. And if some UNC fan REALLY wants to try to say they know more than the media and the coaches... well, you are delusional.
Then again, most heels fans are still saying that all Duke can do this year is shoot the 3, when clearly the most dangerous thing about this Duke team is REALLY their ability to drive. And some Carolina fans love to say that those Duke legs will give out, just like every other year... although they then miss that Duke goes 9 and 10 team regularly.
And I love that comment, about Duke fans being "content" with wins in November, but Carolina fans caring about the end of the year. Funny, in the last 10 years I see an equal number of titles, but Duke playing in more title games. How strange. Oh, and nine final fours in the last 20 years, which is two more than Carolina in that span (and three more if you want to go back 21 years...) How strange. Oh! And Duke has more titles in the last 20 years too! Hm, and it appears that Duke has been in more title games all-time than Carolina. This is really strange, for a program that cares more about wins in November compared to a team that doesn't care about losing to Santa Clara. And how about that... Duke has actually won 75 percent of their tournament games, compared to Carolina who has won only 71% of their games in the Dance.
Wierder and wierder. Personally I would be okay with saying that it is always a battle and both Duke and Carolina are serious powerhouses. I suppose some would disagree.
I think the average Dook fan thinks that UNC made their schedule at the start of the season. They honestly don't know much better. Teams like Kentucky are on the schedule because they are good 95% of the time. Kentucky has had more success than Duke for a long time and UNC playing at Kentucky is something the Dookies would never schedule. Duke doesn't play a single team on the road much less the team with the most wins in basketball history KU.
"logical consideration" is the only poster so far that has not been so riddled with bias one way or the other that he was able to actually make a worthwhile post. How 'bout bringing some decent facts to this discussion so it's actually worth the time to read through?! For example, while Duke technically might not have any "true" non-conference road games, playing Temple in Philly and Davidson in Charlotte can hardly be considered a neutral site. And playing Marquette in Maui and Pitt in NYC is much more of a realistic test of what late March will be like than it would be to play them at their gyms. Obviously UNC is better than Duke at this point, but anything can happen on the court...that's why they play the games. So how 'bout we just watch it play out instead of making more unfounded predictions and illogical put-downs.
Wisconsin: man-handled at 20th Marquette: we beat them at 13th Pitt: currently 11th Davidson: UNC barely beat them. Illinois and Michigan: both traditionally big names.
Carolina: Ohio State and Kentucky...No where near the Top 25. BYU ( should not have been a problem for "the #1 team in the nation". Valpo, Penn, UCSB, Kent State, UNC-A sounds like the first round of the NCAA tourney to me.
Duke beats Wisconsin by 24 points at home. UNC beats Ohio State by 11 on the road. Wisconsin is ranked 20, Ohio State is ranked 35 (count down from 25 through the list of "others receiving points"). And, if you watched either game, you saw the Dukes win was a blowout and UNC v OSU was competitive until the end. As a Duke fan, I like what I see but I also understand that early season games do two things: 1) build confidence and team work; and 2) mean almost nothing when it comes to conference competition in the ACC.
UNC looked a little out of sync last night against the Buckeyes. They shot .380 for the game and .278 from 3 point land. Hansbrough shot .315 and he's usually shooting from the top of the cylinder down. He forced some weird looking shots up (kinda looked like he was shooting to get the rebound and put it back in).
UNC will come around and has a tremendous size advantage over Duke. Their team speed is probably very close to the same, although I would say the smaller Duke forwards are a little quicker than the Tarheels' forwards.
I think Duke has to play a very good game to beat UNC at either place. I think they are very capable of playing a lot of very good games. The teams will probably split their season battles.
Duke's freshman players have boosted the team in two ways. First, they bring enthusiasm along with a bunch of talent. Then, their talent and esprit des corps frees up the upper classmen to play to their potential (something that didn't happen last year). I love that Paulus is allowed and has the opportunity to shoot more this year. And, I love watching Singler play in the middle, King heave 3's from anywhere in the stadium, Henderson fly around and Scheyer coming off the bench to outrebound each of the Wisconsin bigs.
Barring injury, etc, I see Duke and UNC at the top of the ACC and playing each other in the ACC tournament finals. The winner will be a number one seed and the second place team will be 2-3 seed somewhere.
To say that carolina is a lock to be acc champs is a little premature. Carolina is good because they have roy williams, ty lawson,tyler h.,and wayne ellington. If you're speaking of physical play in the acc, i see unc in trouble down the stretch. They're arent that deep, and they have been struggling early this season. Iam not tryin to just point out unc's flaws, but i cant really say to many good things about them. When mcclure is healthy..count'em 10, 10 legitimate players in rotation. when is the last time duke had a 10 man rotation. Try it like this...at the "1"(nolan smith), "2"(jon schyer), "3"(taylor king", "4"(dave mcclure), "5"(brian zoubek). Thats second string. First String: "1"(greg paulus), "2/3"(demarcus nelson), "2/3"(gerald henderson), "3/4"(kyle singler), "3/4"(lance thomas). I didnt even mention marty pocius!!
It is way too early to be predicting between UNC and Duke. I am the biggest Duke fan for life and love what I see from them now. I believe both teams are even and both games will be close. UNC determination and Duke's shot selection and quickness are their strengths. I don't care what is going on right now with their schedules. I believe Duke will do well on the road when it comes and UNC will stay in the top ten all season. All we can do is wait as the season goes on.
Splitting hairs is fun but UNC or Duke neither have played a great team yet. If anything UNC has a tougher schedule because they play some so-so teams on the road and a few other so-so teams at neutral sites. Duke 0 real road games.
That depth post above was hilarious! Duke has plenty of average talent but they aren't exactly NBA caliber players at this point or likely never. None of Duke's depth helps them in the paint....they are mostly all soft guards. UNC is as deep but with more talent. Anyone that knows anything about college basketball wouldn't argue with that. UNC only had two players in the OSU game with over 30 minutes of PT and that was without Lawson.
Any coach in America would take one Hansbrough over all three of Zoubek, Thomas, and McClure.
The statement in quotations below would only matter if Duke had more titles than UNC but they don't. UNC: 4 Duke: 3 UNC has been a success for 60 years Duke has been a success for less than 30. UNC wants titles...getting beat in the championship game isn't really all that impressive. Why would any UNC fan care about losing to Santa Clara at the beginning when the championship game was won the last game of the year in 2005? Duke fans need to put down the Harry Potter books for 5 seconds and learn something about basketball.
"And I love that comment, about Duke fans being "content" with wins in November, but Carolina fans caring about the end of the year. Funny, in the last 10 years I see an equal number of titles, but Duke playing in more title games. How strange. Oh, and nine final fours in the last 20 years, which is two more than Carolina in that span (and three more if you want to go back 21 years...) How strange. Oh! And Duke has more titles in the last 20 years too! Hm, and it appears that Duke has been in more title games all-time than Carolina. This is really strange, for a program that cares more about wins in November compared to a team that doesn't care about losing to Santa Clara. And how about that... Duke has actually won 75 percent of their tournament games, compared to Carolina who has won only 71% of their games in the Dance."
Logical Duke fan, thanks for the compliment. There sure didn't seem to be too many posters with the ability to bring SOME objectivity to the thread and how interesting can a post be if all you can do is rant about your own bias. Something I am surprised everyone has missed on the rants about who plays a tougher schedule: Davidson. Davidson has been picked by at least one of the CNNSI writers as a Sweet 16 team. They are a legit team loaded with seniors. Carolina barely won, not because they played badly, but because Davidson is that good. More importantly, later this month, they play BOTH NC State (in Raleigh on Dec. 21) and Duke (in Charlotte, this Saturday). Duke will win, but it will be tougher than the ranters think. And, State is going to lose to them, though no one will be there to see it since State fans don't show up in droves at the RBC Center unless Duke or Carolina is on the marquee).
But also an ACC fan as well. Yes, generally when you are a Duke fan you hate the tarbabies and when you are a Tarheel you hate the dookies. But lets all be honest with ourselves. Duke is definately back to form. And UNC are good yet again. Is UNC the #1 or #2 in the country? Not at this time. They could possibly be as the season moves on.
Most of these post are clearly each fan base haten on the other. Reality is, both Duke and UNC will be very good. Both have to potiential to go deep in the NCAA tourny. I think what alot of UNC fans are afraid to admit is, they will be happy if we just split this year. I'd love to see Duke sweep UNC. But, deep down I'll be happy with a split.
We can talk statistics and list what the "experts" say all day. But when the rubber meets the road and we meet on the hardwood, it is anybodies game. That is why the Duke vs. UNC game is arguable the BIGGEST rivalry in all of sports. I don't know about all you tarholes but, I'm proud to be a part of the biggest rivalry in all of sports.
And one more thing. The ACC is and has been for many years head and shoulders the best conference in college basketball.
despite being the world's biggest duke fan, born and raised with dark blue blood, i've always held UNC in the highest regard as any true Duke fan does. So i say this completely unbiasedly... Carolina may be the #1 team in the country this year, but so far they have failed to impress me. Close games with Davidson and BYU are not marks of a dominant power house team. Duke on the other hand has won big games against marquette and wisconsin (who yes, admittedly, may have been over rated). I will be interested to see how it all plays out on Feb. 6 and March 8.
UNC fans are so scared this year, it is so funny. They thought coming into this year they were gonna rout Duke, now you can tell on all the message boards abroad that they are scared. How dare you underestimate the Duke program and coach K. By the way, how does it feel to know your overrated and the rest of the country knows it too.
Yes, Duke is far better than they were last year. That much is obvious. As a Tarheel grad, I love Carolina. But we're not a lock to win the ACC. Let's see how the conference schedule shakes out. As a Durham resident, I'm continually shocked at the number of vehement Duke fans who didn't go to the school, don't know anyone who has ever attended, and couldn't afford a semester there. Why do you all love a school for wealthy Northern kids who will pack up and head back to New Jersey after graduation?
Mr. Jordan (and the others ranting about Carolina's supposedly weak schedule), this is a case of "me thinks the lady doth protest too much." Duke fans screaming about anyone's schedule is a joke. Duke doesn't play a bad schedule this year, but they never, ever, ever, never play a tough non-conference team in a true road game. Neutral sites sure, but K NEVER takes his teams to Kentucky, to UCLA or to any other perennial Top 20 non-conference school. Sure teams are up and down, so you can never guarantee how good a team will be when you are a few years out and scheduling them, but give me a break. Other schools at least try to schedule big time road games. For the record, Sagarin rates Carolina's schedule so far as 39th toughest in the country; Duke's is 142nd. That is based on actual games played, not who has a big name or doesn't. Lastly, Duke had pretty much exactly as much trouble with Davidson as Carolina did (we won by 4, Duke by a stopthepressesblowout-SIX!). Or, had you already conveniently forgotten your last game? And to that pea-brain who said that Carolina fans were confident of routing Duke coming into this year, please, stop posting when you are high. The vast majority of Carolina fans knew Duke would be much better than last year and were not baking on a rout. Routs in this rivalry are rare. Fear? Perhaps, but only in the sense that all well-informed Duke fans have a fear of UNC, just as we have of Duke. They hate to lose to us; we hate to lose to them. Only a fool wouldn't be afraid of the abilities of quality opposition.
First off, anyone who thinks Duke is just going away this year like they did last year is kidding themselves. Second, I don't think Duke has enough to beat Carolina twice this season, though a home-and-home split is likely. Third, to the idiot who compared Duke playing Wisconsin and Pitt to UNC playing Kentucky and Ohio State...in case you haven't been paying attention, neither Kentucky nor Ohio State is ranked (and Kentucky was only ranked preseason), and neither of them is anywhere near as good as they were in previous years. Also, Duke played Marquette, who, beyond being ranked higher than Duke when they played, was the same team that BEAT Duke in the early-season tournament a year ago with basically the same team. Also, if you look at the schedules side by side, Duke (after the Pitt game) will have played three ranked opponents out of their first 11 games, while UNC has played a grand total of (get this) ZERO. That's right--none, nada. In fact, the first time they will face a potentially ranked opponent will be at Clemson on January 6th, 15 games in. In fact, other than Duke and Clemson, they won't face a ranked opponent (at least, none who's currently ranked or even near being ranked) all year. Duke, on the other hand, will have three games against out-of-conference ranked teams (#13 Marquette, #20 Wisconsin, and current-#9 Pittsburgh), plus games with Carolina (#1) and Clemson (#17) in conference. Duke's offense is more balanced this year, they've had 5 different guys lead in scoring, and they've got (count 'em) SIX GUYS who can hit 3's. The only area they're hurting in is size in the interior, with the only true inside guy over 6'8" being an unproven Brian Zoubek. However, as you've seen so far (especially in games against Illinois and Wisconsin), lack of size hasn't slowed them down one bit. Nor has going up against teams that match them in speed (Marquette, for instance). Now, having said all this, do I think they're going to win the NCAA's? No. But I do think they can make the Sweet 16 or even beyond, and, as it looks so far, will be about the only team other than maybe Clemson to give Carolina any challenge in the ACC. They won't be 30-0 at the end of the regular season, but I don't think 25-5 or even 27-3 are beyond the realm of possibility either (I see potential losses in Pitt, at Carolina, and at Virginia, but at least two of those three are winnable, so who knows). UNC will likely win the ACC regular season and tournament this year, unless they have some kind of a late-season meltdown. However, don't count Duke out on either of those yet, and you can bet that the 22-11 Duke record of a year ago is a thing of the past.