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Blue Devils & Blue Demons, Together Again!

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Pat!

 

So now we await Pat Kennedy's return to Cameron Indoor Stadium, a venue, we
believe, where he has never won.   He clearly has a talented team at
DePaul, and it could be a monster either later this year or next. Being at a
basketball school in Chicago has let Kennedy, a very fine recruiter, establish a
base and go after some serious talent which used to almost always end up at
Illinois.

One of the truly interesting aspects of this game will be to see how the
young Devils apply lessons learned on the road to the home court. 
Dunleavy's performance against SC, and to a lesser extent against Illinois, was
simply remarkable. Can he maintain that level? Can Jason Williams continue to
refine his point guard game? His two first half passes against the Illini were
brilliant. Having two freshmen who can pass that way is amazing. May it
continue!

The central question, though, is defending the paint - even more so than
developing a post game in our opinion.  People are displaying an impatience
with Boozer and Sanders, but that's not logical.  If you remember, Elton
returned from his similar injury and it took him weeks to even approximate his
previous level.  Boozer missed all the pre-season conditioning, all the
pickup, all the tips from the older players, and has still shown some flashes of
a wonderful game. We watched him unload on people in the McDonald's game, and if
you think he can't play, you're just really wrong. He had a very complete
game.  There's just a question of getting everything back physically, then
being confident enough to do what Duke needs. It'll come, trust us. The best
thing the Duke fans can do is to be as supportive as possible and cheer like mad
when he's in.

Sanders is a slightly different issue. People are saying with his talent he
has to play now, and it is true that he has amazing talent.  But to suggest
that Duke isn't doing the right thing with him is just ignorant.  You'll
remember Avery's freshman year when Duke played UK and everyone screamed for
Avery to defend Turner, and there's no question he was more talented than Wojo
However,  if you'll also remember, William was very inclined to shoot a 35
footer with no conscience at all his freshman year.  That lack of judgment
is why he stayed on the bench. 

It's not precisely the same with Sanders, but despite his huge talent, he is
still very very thin, and in basketball terms he is a neophyte.  His skills
aren't particularly developed and his understanding of what to do - and when to
do it - is somewhat lacking.

That said, Sanders is noticeably stronger than he was this summer, he is
paying close attention on defense, and he has picked up a few key things, like
not bringing the ball down, improving his free throw form dramatically, and has
a much better sense of timing around the basket.  To us that suggests he's
an eager kid who listens, so in conjunction with his talent, that means he'll be
a force.  There's a lot of basics he either doesn't understand yet or else
can't execute fluently, but he'll be there, and from what we've seen, he'll be
there sooner than was expected.

He can certainly contribute in the middle as a shotblocker, but against big
kids like Illinois had, or UNC, he's not nearly strong enough to bang yet. 
Boozer is, but until his game fully returns, he'll be erratic. But the good news
is both have shown huge flashes, both are evidently good kids, and so eventually
they should get there. But not necessarily by Saturday night.

In another note, Saturday is Toys For Tots Day, as is the UVa game on
December 5th. Bring some old toys or some canned food. You know you have that
stuff sitting around, so get off your rusty dusty and bring it on in.  Some
kids don't have parents who can afford Duke tickets, and if you think we're
trying to make you feel guilty, we only hope we succeeded. At the very least you
can get a can of peaches down for God's sake.