Today's game in Winston was a major gut check for Duke. Perhaps tired after
an ACC epic on Wednesday, Duke played flat for a while, and the shots weren't
there. Wake's were, and they packed the defense in and challenged Duke to
shoot from outside. Wasn't happening.
Wake played with a lot of heart and passion, challenging Duke and denying
them their normal game. Uncharacteristically, early in the game, both
Battier and Carrawell seemed off their feed, dropping some balls and doing some
clumsy things. Wake took full advantage of that. Robert O' Kelley
was hot early, and they pushed Duke defensively. The surprise of the first half,
and part of the second, was Tate Decker, who got hot. Niki Arinze was also
sensational at times, and had one dunk that was positively Jordanesque.
At halftime we figured that since the offense was off, and Wake's defense was
so good, that Duke would have to win the game on defense. Fortunately, that's
what happened - that and getting to the line. You could argue that this game was
won on the line since Duke scored 21 points there. Wake only got to the
line 14 times and hit 10. Toss in some points off of D, and that's the
Battier, after a slow start, and with a poor shooting day, really turned his game up to an extraordinary
degree. He took over, blocking shots, chasing balls, and playing with
passion, and the other captains did also. But before Duke asserted itself,
there was some danger in the second half. Fortunately, Jason Williams stepped
up. He hit a few shots when Duke needed points (and shot 8-10), made some nice passes, and just generally played
great. He made a few small mistakes - forced a ball in the lane, threw an
ill-advised pass or two - but all in all it was a first-rate performance.
He was superb today.
Mike Dunleavy had another nice game, complete with big-time rejections, which
we enjoyed. The announcers said he had grown two inches since the start of
the season - Mike told the Charlotte Observer that "I'm happy with the fact I'm blessed to be this tall, but at a certain point you kind of want to stop growing and level off
everywhere.I lift weights, but it's hard to add any weight, and the growing pains can be rough. Your legs, knees get sore and stiff."
He's using his height well.
Boozer was a major target of the defense, but he still managed to get a lot
done, and his board work is improving. He was held to 10 points and 5 boards
To us in a lot of ways this was a key game. It would have been easy to figure
that with a 2 game lead, slacking off would be okay. And the excitement of
the State game could have been a distraction. And it is at this point a
thin team and they could have settled for being tired. But they didn't.
They dug down and beat back a determined Wake Forest when Wake was more
aggressive, and when the shots weren't falling, and that's the mark of a
team which could potentially win championships.
Notes - bare midriffs are not always a good thing...in the opening credit a
Wake cheerleader had some sorts of spots on her stomach...it looked
terrible...speaking of terrible, their shoes, in closeup, looked like a medieval
reproduction....ugh...not impressive...despite losing, Wake may have gained a
lot from this game...they played pretty well...before the season Odom said
Decker shot too much...he can get carried away...Niki Arinze's dunk is one of
Wake's great plays of the year...next up - Clemson at home, UNC in the
Dome...Clemson has had a tough time, as has UNC, but it's Duke and UNC, so don't
count on anything....the Devils only got 5 offensive boards on a poor shooting