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An Interesting Comparison

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You'll remember recently Davidson came to Durham, where they lost to the Blue
Devils by 44. You'll also recall that Duke had Stanford on the ropes in
New York before letting them off the hook.

Why do we mention it? Well because there is a
most interesting comparison to be made, since Davidson just played Stanford,
at Stanford, and at 87-61, the game wasn't nearly as close.

You might argue that since Stanford played in back to back games they had
more reason to be tired than Duke did vs. Davidson, but since the previous game
was a laugher against New Hampshire, that argument has to be discounted somehwat.

So what gives? Why did the Duke beat Davidson by almost triple the margin?

There are a few possible explanations. David Mosely suggests that Stanford
didn't take Davidson seriously. Had he read DBR beforehand he might have! We
take them very seriously. They are very well coached. (As a matter of fact,
we're surprised no one has come after their coach. Suppose an ACC team, with
high academic standards got rid of their coach after this season, say, oh we
don't know, maybe...Tech. He could slide in there and do a brilliant job).

Moseley's explanation makes a lot of sense, so maybe that's it. On the other hand,
maybe Duke has improved a great deal since New York. You can't tell anything
about either team by comparing losses to a mutual opponent, but it is fun.

When you look at the box, a few things jump out. First of all, Stanford
shot better, at .582 to Davidson's .421, but three pointers were almost even at
9-22 (S) to 8-24(D).

Then you notice the blocked shots - Stanford had 7 to Davidson's one. Then
you notice the fouls - Davidson got to the line 6 times, Stanford, 20, hitting
14-20.

6-8 Stephen Marshall picked up 4 fouls. 6-7 Landry Kosmalski picked up 3. 6-8
Jason Dickens picked up 3 also. 6-9 Chris Pearson played didn't foul but
only played 7 minutes. 7-2 Martin "Beware the" Ides played only
two. So their three primary inside guys picked up a fair number of fouls.
The two reserve big men, Pearson and Ides, only got 9 minues, combined.

Further evidence: Madsen hit 4-5. The Collins' twins, between them hit
5-7,

Despite their significant disadvantage, before and after foul trouble,
Davidson was only outrebounded 30-22.

Further proof of the thesis: big men generally score off of passes, and
particularly Stanford's big men, as Stanford typically runs set plays. Assist
total: 24 for the team.

Boozer's Stats Since USC
Opp. Min FG/FGA FT/FTA OR/TR A PF TP
USC 20 2-4 2-3 2-5 0 3 6
Illinois 9 0-4 0-0 2-2 1 2 0
DePaul 28 4-5 0-1 2-5 0 2 8
Michigan 39 8-13 9-11 3-10 2 4 25
A&T 19 2-4 6-7 5-8 3 0 10
Davidson 18 7-9 7-10 0-3 1 2 21

Now contrast some of that with the Duke-Stanford game. In that game, Jason
Williams was Duke's leading rebounder with 10. Carlos Boozer was still
hobbled by his foot but managed to get 4 boards anyway. Much like
Davidson, Battier and Carrawell shot a combined 14-39 against the Cardinal big
men - but from 3 point range they hit 50%

Duke's defense was probably better than Davidson's - they forced 24 turnovers
(Davidson forced 18) and had 13 steals (Davidson had 6).

What does this prove? Nothing really. It's just a chance to compare how these
two teams fared against the #1 team in the country.

Our suspicion - and that's all it is - is that Duke may have improved more
since New York than Stanford. And, more interesting, Boozer is rapidly becoming
a significant post presence, and that would be an important factor should a
rematch occur. You can see his stats in the table to the right, but the most
interesting one to us is the sudden increase in his trips to the foul line,
starting in the Michigan game.