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We've seen some e-mail and seen some posts on the boards about the Coaches
vs. Cancer games, and come on - the sky is not falling.

Here are some stats from the opening two games, some reassuring, some of
concern:

  • Jason Williams is averaging 8.5 boards a game thus far.
  • Christensen is averaging 5.5
  • Battier is averaging 7
  • Duke caused 39 turnovers in New York while giving it up 19 times.
  • Duke hung with the much bigger Stanford team on the boards, 51-50 and got
    26 offensive rebounds. They missed a lot of shots and should have
    gotten a lot of boards, but Stanford is huge. C-well got 3 ORs, Battier 4,
    Christensen 5, James 3, Williams 4, and Boozer 4.
  • Duke also rebounded well against UConn, getting 36 to 34 total and 18
    offensive to 13 for the Huskies.
  • Duke hit roughly 35% from 3 point range for the weekend, which is break
    even for 3's.
  • Against Stanford, Cwell, Battier, and Williams were 10-22. Nate, Nick and
    Dunleavy were 2-11
  • Battier, Williams, and Dunleavy hit 10-22 vs. UConn. C-well and
    James hit 0-7 vs. the Huskies.
  • In the first game Duke hit 79% from the line. That came down in the second
    game to 60%, however.
  • Stanford and UConn both got to the line more often than Duke did. Stanford
    took 26 to Duke's 24; UConn took 14 to Duke's 10.
  • Jason Williams stat line: 38 minutes, 5-17 FG, , 2-4 FT, 3-7 REB, 4
    AST,4 PF,16 PTS and 6 TOS
  • El-Amin's stat
    line 35 minutes,
    2-9 FG, 3-4 FT, 2-6 REB, 4 AST, 3 PF, 8 PTS, and 3 TOS

So a number of things seem obvious.

  1. The team is taking good care of the ball and putting pressure on the
    opponents. Jason did have 6 turnovers, but come on, it's the second game of
    his career, against the defending national champion
  2. This team is rebounding much better than a team "with no post
    game" is supposed to rebound.
  3. Some of Duke's three point shooting is dragging down the overall
    percentage.
  4. This team can probably play without a strictly post player (John Smith
    played center in '87 if you remember, at 6-7), at least for awhile - but
    only if it penetrates aggressively and gets to the line on a regular basis
    (and plays cuthroat defense). This serves three purposes: 1) it
    negates a lack of size inside and gives Duke uncontested shots from the
    line. 2) it penalizes the other team's inside play, and 3) it forces a
    balance with perimeter shooting. This is first and foremost a job for
    Williams, but C-well, Battier, Boozer as he continues his recovery, Dunleavy
    and James can really help out here. There is a real role on this team
    for a guy who isn't scared to pound it inside. Given his considerable
    muscle, it seems like a role Nate James could take on. But our bet is
    Coach K will jiggle things until he finds someone willing to do it, whether
    it's Nate or someone else.
  5. In his second collegiate game, Jason Williams statistically
    outplayed one of the two the best returning point guards in college
  6. Despite shooting 28% against Stanford, Duke was in a position to
    win. And despite shooting only 34% against UConn, Duke could still have won
    the game, though it got away from them in the last few minutes.

The thing is, this is a team of good shooters. So what happened in New
York? Well, here's our best guess: Battier and Carrawell had to shoulder a disproportionate
attempt of the offense as Nate didn't shoot well in the first game, and the
freshmen are to an extent still feeling their way around. The veterans
were put in positions outside their comfort zone to an extent. The
freshmen were all at times tentative

Nonetheless: Dunleavy showed us what he can do against UConn. Horvath showed
a lot of heart against Stanford. Williams was nervous and struggled in
some ways but at 6'2" is averaging 8.5 boards and played Khalid El-Amin toa
standstill. Boozer is still rounding back into form, but he runs well and
is 6-10 and 260. That'll help.

While it would have been nice to win these games, this is still a young team.
But don't think the sky is falling; it's not. These guys learned a lot,
Coach K learned a lot about them, and the lessons are even now being applied.