We found out that some readers can't access directories with the word "game" in it, so we reprint the game stories on the main page for their benefit. This is just a reprint of the same file in the Games Past section.
Before the game, we said that NC A&T might offer more competition than
anyone really expected. For a half, that was on target, as the Aggies took
it right at Duke and weren't a bit intimidated, and were often more aggressive
than was Duke.
For several minutes, it seemed that whenever the ball went inside,
particularly to Boozer, A&T players were hovering about three feet higher,
and they rejected several early attempts.Â That, and the zone press they
threw up on the inbounds play (everyone seems to be running that now against
Duke, so it must be because they want to slow Williams down), and the 2-3 and
sometimes 2-2-1 zone they ran made it difficult to do a lot at first. Then,
Jason Williams went down while trying to guard an A&T player who
was penetrating. He got up, hobbling, but stayed in the game.Â The
frightening moment came a few minutes later.
We never saw who Jason ran into, but he seemed to run into someone, and then
someone else ran into him. We saw enough of it to see his head bounce
back, and the implications of that were terrifying. He collapsed in a heap and
lay motionless on the floor.Â The trainer came out and hovered over him for
a few minutes.Â Eventually we saw his arm move, and then a leg, and then he
rolled over.Â Eventually he sat up and left the court and, briefly, went to
the locker room.
After he left, A&T continued to play very well for a time, but after a
certain point, Duke's defense stiffened a bit, even if their offense was
careless, and they begin to build a lead they wouldn't give up - though A&T
did cut it to 4 briefly. The point where it stiffened up was when Casey Sanders
came in and shut down penetration.Â One player drove the lane on him, and
after that they generally stayed outside.
At halftime, Coach K was clearly not a happy camper (Carrawell said the
post-game comments were "like hell") , and when Duke came back out, it was a different team in many
respects, at least for a bit.Â Battier, who was shut out offensively in the
first half, came to life, hitting a three immediately, then doing that patented
block where he just puts his hands over the ball and covers it. It's like a
Python would block a shot, if a Python could do such things. And after the
halftime "encouragement," Duke played with much more heart and
passion, though they were at times fairly careless.Â Williams had come back
by then, of course, and was playing solid defense and shooting well, though he,
too, was careless with the ball (6 turnovers), only got 4 assists, and 2
rebounds.Â It's hard to see how getting knocked that silly wouldn't affect
the rest of his game, and apparently it did.
So despite the fact that it was a 41 point win, no one was particularly happy
with it.Â There were some really strong points to the game, though. Let's
look at the players now.
- Jason Williams:Â Though he got knocked out in a big way, and bruised
his leg, apparently, in a separate incident,Â he played some pretty
rugged defense and shot 8-12.
- Carlos Boozer: A&T keyed on Boozer, and tried to take him out of the
offense, and to a degree they succeeded.Â He didn't get many shots, but
he ended up with 10 points and 8 boards, and one spectacular tip pass when
he was falling down backwards.Â Their focus on him says a lot about how
much they feared him.
- Mike Dunleavy: a super game on Dunleavy's part, as he hit 19 points with 8
boards and 4 offensive rebounds. He made his usual smart plays, including
one coast to coast bucket after a steal.Â A very solid game.
- Casey Sanders: After sitting a lot earlier in the season, Casey got in the game in the
first half and had an immediate impact, shutting the lane down. He also
showed that he has improved a great deal.Â We base this only on the
improvement, but he has improved substantially and therefore must be very
coachable.Â It wasn't just his intimidation - he is showing subtle
signs of improvement, like being able to bang a bit inside, which he could
in no way, shape or form do in August, a willingness to take the ball up
under the basket (he still gets stuffed, but he's not scared to go up, as he
seemed to be earlier), a vastly improved ability to square and shoot, and a
spectacular ability to run the floor.Â At one point in the second half,
he got the ball under the basket, passed it, and took off the other way. As
it turned out, he outran the other 9 players and got an alleyoop in return -
and what was really cool was that he got there in time to sneak around a
bit.Â In other words, he got there fast, loitered enough to get lost,
then scored.Â Now that's damned fast.Â He got out on the
break and showed that he is going to be a very, very serious factor on
breaks.Â Not many 6-11 guys can run with him. He is still thin, and
that will hold him back,Â and he still has plenty to learn, but it's
hard to overstate how much he has improved. It's really remarkable.
- Nick Horvath: a down offensive night for Nick, but he still bagged 7
- Shane Battier: After a passive first half, Shane came on in the second and
showed he had a lot to give, and he gave it, especially on defense.Â He
took the ball away from them, in varioius ways, 8 separate times.Â
That's 8 potential baskets denied.
- Nate James: the turnover bug bit Nate, too.Â He tossed it away 4
times.Â He played hard, but it wasn't his best game.
- Chris Carrawell: After a flu-debilitated performance against Michigan,
C-well bounced back fairly well. hitting 15 points, running the joint while
Jason's head cleared, and bagging 8 boards. He's the only player in ACC
history who both guarded Tim Duncan and played point. It's a tired
observation, but no less valid for weariness.
Curtis Hunter deserves a hell of a lot of praise for what he has done with
this team.Â They came in to Duke believing they could win.Â For about
15 minutes, they could have.Â Turnovers killed them (30), but still, his
team played with confidence, with fire, and with an enormous amount of
heart.Â If you want to pick a reasonable upset candidate in your NCAA pool,
if A&T makes it, they will be very dangerous, particularly when paired with
a sluggish, overconfident team. If they end up playing Arizona or Syracuse, or
other weak opening teams, they have a chance.
Notes...that was the most frightening Duke injury in years....Hunter said he
enjoyed Cameron but wondered why the students weren't harder on him....speaking
of students, and cheers, why has no one ever counted the five seconds deal? Easy
money....Matt Christensen has slid to the end of the bench....Boozer's tip pass
was just gorgeous....Curtis Hunter, we predict, will move up rapidly, and is
likely to be considered at some point for the UNC job, except of course for
Chansky's deal where it's already given to Roy Williams...ush, sorry Curtis...tonight marked the
official debut of Casey Sanders running the break...we're telling you, he runs
better than any Duke big man we remember, and it's not even close...After this comes Davidson, and while they are not a great team, they are
surely not a bad team either... The last few years they have challenged Duke...
Hitman Checks In!
With most of the students having left for winter break, the atmosphere
surrounding yesterday's game was noticeably different. The stands were
not quite as packed as they normally are, and an assortment of community
musicians was trying their best to provide some pre-game entertainment
for the fans. (Thanks again to those who volunteered to help the band
out). The game started off sloppily; Duke did hold an early ten point
advantage, but the play was not crisp. The crowd was loud, but nothing
near the levels of a normal night in Cameron Indoor.
Two scary plays marked the first part of the half. The first
came when Jason Williams tangled with an opposing player in a chase for a
loose ball, and emerged limping. He did not leave the game though - I
am figuring that it was probably just a bruise. However, in another
scramble for a loose ball, Jason was the victim of a Clemson-esque elbow
to the jaw (except this time it was clearly unintentional). He dropped
to the floor very hard, and remained there for a good two or three
minutes. Everyone was holding their breath, hoping that he would be
okay. He finally stood up, and walked off the court of his own accord,
and would return later in the game, thank goodness.
One of the best plays of the game came soon later, when a loose
ball was tapped high in the air. Carlos Boozer skied to grab it along
with an A&T player, but when he realized he would not be able to corral
it, he had the presence of mind to instead tap the ball with one hand
towards an open Nate James, who finished the play with a strong dunk.
The game continued to be played at a sloppy level for most of the
first half. Duke had many turnovers, and as a result A&T closed to
within four points, at 28-24. At this point, the players looked tired;
you could see the effect of a week's worth of exams and papers.
However, following a Duke timeout, they really buckled down and played
strong defense, which lead to a 16-0 run, allowing us to end the first
half with a near twenty point lead.
Duke played a much better second half, which was also helped by
the fact that A&T ran out of motivation quickly. By far the best part of
the second half was seeing the play of Casey Sanders. On one memorable
sequence late in the half, Casey missed an alley-oop, connected on an
alley-oop, connected on another alley-oop, and then drew a charge on the
defensive end. The crowd was jumping at the end of that series, and
Nick Horvath was going nuts on the court, jumping around and hugging
Casey. It was also nice to see the way he has developed some of the
finer points of his game. Setting picks, stepping out to guard perimeter
players, switching cleanly on screens - he was playing much "smarter"
basketball. I have truly been amazed by his rapid progress.
The funniest part of the game came late, when an opposing player
fouled out. As has become the norm among smaller teams, he stood on the
sidelines instead of sitting in his chair, defying the cheers of the
Crazies. Opposing fans really get into this, clapping and gesturing for
their players to remain standing. So the Crazies continued for about
three or four minutes with arms extended and hands waving, until we
started a chant of, "He's got hemorrhoids . . . . . he's got
hemorrhoids". This was by far the loudest and most creative cheer of
the afternoon, and so embarrassed the A&T player that he had to sit down,
at which point the Crazies responded with the traditional, "See ya".
The only remaining drama was whether or not Duke would reach the
century mark, and they did, winning 101-60. All in all a strong effort
- scoring was well distributed, Casey showed some strong play, and we won
comfortably in a hard week for the players. My only worry is that we
hoisted up too many three pointers in the second half for my liking, but
there I am nitpicking. It was a good game for the Devils, and I hope
they can keep it up through the winter break. Go Duke!