Nice to be home in Cameron!Â The guys seemed to be happy to be home,
too, and certainly the shooting reflected comfort - 72.4% in the first
half.Â And for the first part of the game, Duke did nothing but pound the
ball down low to Boozer - and everyone worked hard at penetrating. Certainly
C-well and Battier had some nice moves inside, but James was aggressive under
the board, and Boozer, clearly, is being used now as an inside player - and he's
responding to that. He won't be an inside player forever - he has some very
solid skills all around the court - but for now that's what this team needs.
Incidentally, everything said should be read with this in mind - it was
against Army.Â Army is a program with much to admire, but sports there,
unlike most places, are expressly intended to compliment the curriculum.Â
Earlier in the century guys like Eisenhower (and all cadets)Â were required
to play a sport.Â We're not sure that's the case now, but it was then. As
two points of trivia, Jim Thorpe of CarlisleÂ tackled Ike with a pair of
steel shoulderpads and injured the future general so severely his leg was very
nearly amputated.Â As another point of trivia, George Patton won, if we
remember correctly, a gold medal in the Olympics for - was it the
pentathlon?Â Was it 1912? Anyway he was an Olympian. But back to the eve of
the 21st century.Â As we were saying, it's Army. They're young, they're
less talented, and they're short.Â So bear that in mind.
Pretty clearly some intense coaching has been going on. It was evident in how
the team attacked the basket, how Boozer played power ballÂ (ooh, at one
point he and an Army player fought for the ball, and Carlos took it away in a
major he-man move. The audience practically swooned), how everyone
participated.Â It was also evident in the significant strides Casey Sanders
has made in a very short period of time.Â Here were some things we noticed:
1) when he catches the ball high he doesn't bring it down anymore; 2) his free
throw technique has been re-engineered, and 3) his understanding of the game is
drastically improved.Â Earlier this fall we were less concerned with his
weight, frankly, than his instincts.Â The son of a musician and a sculptor,
if memory serves, Sanders comes to basketball with a world of talent but little
knowledge. He seems to be soaking things up right about now and has moved ahead
of Christensen in the rotation. He had five blocks, seven boards, and eight
points. Not bad for seventeen minutes work!
Among other adjustments, Jason Williams seems to haveÂ throttled his
daring back a bit.Â Understandable, commendable in some ways, but we miss
it. However, he made some wondrous passes tonight en route to 6 assists vs 2
turnovers - one beautiful one to Boozer in the lane, one where he darted in the
lane, turned, and pitched to a wide-open Dunleavy,Â one where he hit
Dunleavy and then Dunleavy made a touch-pass to C-well who unfortunately dropped
it. It was a gorgeous sequence.
As we've said before, one of our favorite things about this team is the
passing. Again tonight there were some sweet passes, and seven guys recorded
assists. Last season it wasn't uncommon to see a game with only 5 assists,
almost all by Avery.Â Horvath had a beautiful shovel pass under the
basket,Â Boozer had a nice one,Â and so on.Â
And here's an interesting oddity: as you may remember, we count turnovers as
essentially rebounds, but even better because they mean that the offense was so
disrupted that a shot couldn't happen. Despite playing with intense pressure,
and despite a horrible 23%, Army only turned the ball over 14 times.Â
That's impressive. Stanford had roughly twice as many.
And speaking of rebounding, Duke pummeled Army on the board 56-30, but that's
to be expected.
On the radio, after the game, Johnny Dawkins said that the goal was to
improve steadily. That makes sense with a young team.Â Â We were
pleased to see heavy fan support, and a lively student section, particularly
since ESPN Magazine dissed you guys pretty severely. Check out what they said
about Florida - comparing it to Cameron.
- "The scariest place to play this season? If you said Cameron or The Pit, take a seat. Floridas's O'Connell Center gets our
vote. Billy Donovan and his run-and-gun Gators have turned the O-Dome into the Stickiest lair this side of The Swamp."
- "Florida's Rowdy Reptiles could give Duke's Cameron Crazies a run for their money."
- "'We've never played in a tougher arena,' said stunned UK coach Tubby Smith." (after last February's wild upset of Kentucky on
What do you guys think? Is Florida passing you by? Are you willing to let
that statement go unchallenged?
All in all, we were pretty happy with tonight's game. Despite the huge
victory margin,Â it wasn't that Duke played an overwhelming game. They
played a calculating game. They worked on some very specific weaknesses and used
parts of the game as extended practice - putting Cwell in at point with less
than a minute in the first half, for instance, focusing on inside play and
penetration.Â And also working on specific defensive issues, like ball
pressure, and using Casey as a shotblocker, which is where you want ball
pressure to send the ball - to a great shotblocker.Â It was an interesting
game,Â but mostly for the way Krzyzewski used the lead as a chance to
tinker and experiment.Â
Notes...we were really pleased to see Casey's progress..a lot of little
things, but unless we miss our guess, he's proving very coachable...Nate played
a power game periodically....at one point Army had to try four times to get the
ball in and across half court...there was a pileup in the 2nd half and it looked
like Matt got a little hot...Boozer came away with 8 rebounds, which was
heartening...did we mention Casey's perfection from the foul line? Talent aside,
just on attitude we prefer him to Chris Burgess...Jason's teammates are
beginning to understand what to do with his passes...