First things first: we can see why Jared Jeffries considered USC. It's a lot
of fun to watch those guys.Â A few more players and they might be really
powerful.Â Fortunately for Duke, that wasn't tonight.
We're glad that people got to see what we have seen in Mike Dunleavy. There
was some minor grousing about Duke's recruiting Dunleavy over Casey Jacobsen,
but we think people understand now. And if you remember, Stanford also wanted
Dunleavy. Bill Walton said he was one of the most special freshman he's seen in
years, and with a performance like that, who could argue?Â He had a huge
impact on this game.Â It was a remarkable performance by the kid, and his
dad was pretty ecstatic after the game. He knows how great that was.
But there were other guys who played very well, too.Â Carrawell hit
10-16, and he really played hard and smart.Â Nate James had a very solid
game, and we were happy to see him moving more towards the basket.Â He's an
excellent player but more useful to this team closer to the basket. However, his
7 assists (according to the Totalcast) might render that argument moot.
Jason Williams had 13 and showed some huge flashes on the break - at one
point when Williams, C-well and James were on the break, it was really
impressive. It had the feel of certainty, like they were not going to be
stopped. Too quick, too strong, too already there.
Battier's scoring was off tonight but his defense was, as usual, sensational.
Actually, once you get past the shivers that Dunleavy left, the defense was
really the key part of the game.Â There were a few breakdowns, like letting
Clancy get loose under the basket too much, but generally speaking, Duke put a
great deal of pressure on USC defensively - and followed it with a lot of
offensive pressure as well.Â Scalabrine went off in the first half but was
less effective in the second.Â Jeff Trepagnier had one of the plays of the
year in that outrageous alley-oop. That was just stunning, and play of the day
material. Somewhere Vince Carter will be watching and high-fiving Tracy McGrady.
Not that it was perfect game, of course. For one thing, Duke was far too
careless with the ball.Â C-well, who had a sterling game in many respects,
threw it away five times.Â And there was a point in the game - a couple
actually - where Duke could have strangled USC and put the game well out of
reach. They didn't do it.Â That's youth, though, and they'll get over that.
Tonight was a big step in their maturation, and the performance by Dunleavy, in
case you didn't see it, evoked wonder from Walton, and almost certainly brought
smiles to John Wooden's face.Â Â They were thowing out some big names
in comparison, but Dunleavy had a big-time game.
Notes - If we weren't Duke fans, announcer Bill Walton would have annoyed us
immensely tonight....it was very flattering but a little overboard at
times...players Dunleavy was compared to - Bird, Hill...both Walton and K
compared this team to Dawkins' first year....as athletic as USC is, Duke still
blew past them a couple of times, but that could also be that they were tired
(look at their free throw percentage for more evidence)....we had no idea Nate
had 7 assists until the game was over...that's a brilliant performance....Boozer
is also starting to recover some of his moves...periodically he feels confident
enough to really take someone, and as his strength and timing return, he's going
to just get better and better...his skills are what set him apart, and those
will atrophy along with an injury....they're starting to revive in a big way,
but he's got a ways to go still...comparing Wooden to Buddha? (they actually
did)... maybe...but he's still a coach, not a god-figure....