Coach K designed the schedule so that his young Devils would have a break in
January, a chance to catch their breath, and a chance to work out some kinks.
Duke was absolutely dominant. They jumped on Clemson at the beginning and
never really let up.Â Â
The defense in particular was remarkable.Â Duke went after Clemson and
broke their spirit in the first half.Â In fact, it got so frustrating for
Clemson that they went toÂ
their only option, which was to impose a physicality
which might have either intimidated or hurt Duke players. It obviously didn't
intimidate anyone, and thankfully, no one was hurt. Someone could have
been.Â Nagys in particular, was borderline vicious when he put Jason in a
scissors hold. That kind of thing could hurt a knee.Â Â
That was the second stupid incident like that today, the first being Alvin
Jones putting Jason Capel in a headlock. Capel flailed at Jones, and walked off
holding his neck. The interpretation - logical at the time but wrong - was that
Capel swung a fist. He did, but come on, a 7 guy had him in a headlock, and it
obviously hurt. He wasn't swinging out of anger but out of fear and
Both of these incidents are cause for concern for the conference. That kind
of intentional fouling could be very serious. Even if it doesn't lead to an
injury, it's certain to lead to fights.
Back to the defense.Â It was impressive in general, of course, but Nate
James was the hero in many respects. His hustle was really inspiring. In a lot
of ways, the play of the game was his dive for the ball at the beginning of the
second half - when Duke already had a 42 point lead.Â If it wasn't clear by
then, that removed any doubt that Duke was not letting up.
In the first half, Carrawell pitched a shutout, keeping the ACC's leading
score, Will Solomon, from scoring at all.Â He's put on great performances
so many times that it's easy to take it for granted, but come on. The guy comes
in as a freshman, guards arguably the best center in the history of the ACC, Tim
Duncan, and ends up his career guarding shooting guards. That's amazing.Â
Despite the onslaught, for part of the first half, Clemson played effective
defense, and what they did in a lot of ways was a preview for what Duke can
expect in Chapel Hill - a tight zone, denying inside movement, and forcing a
certain amount of outside shooting.Â That Duke shot well and took the ball
way almost every two minutes made that strategy obsolete in this game, but it
will be back in the next
The half ended with a spectacular flourish as Dunleavy stepped over halfcourt
and just launched a shot which banked in.
At this point the game was for all intents and purposes over. Duke led by 42
points, and while a 42 point comeback is possible, though highly unlikely, it is
probably impossible for this Clemson team.Â They were beaten, they knew it,
and they played like it.
Larry Shyatt did a number on their heads at halftime worthy of Sigmund Freud,
because they came out and played very hard, actually outscoring Duke in the
second half.Â Solomon heated up and matched his average, at 19, though it
didn't matter. In his post-game comments, he said that he challenged them to
keep their heads up and to go after the ball, which they did with gusto getting,
he said, 7of the 11 loose balls available.Â It's a pride stat, but take
what you can when you get your butt so totally kicked.
It didn't help Clemson that Adam Allenspach left early with a hip pointer.
It's just one more injury in an injury-plagued year. Shyatt's dog probably
slipped on the ice and broke something. It just doesn't stop.
Offensively, Duke was pretty sharp. They shot 51.6 percent from the floor.
The big shooting concern?Â Second half free throws: 4-11. Ugh.
There were some sterling individual performances.Â Cwell was superb all
around, as he usually is. Battier was excellent, and Dunleavy was perfect from
the floor. Williams shot 8-12. Horvath only shot 2-7, but overall his game was
pretty solid.Â Christensen had one of his better games recently as
In fact, the bench got a lot of time and played well, as Coach K obviously
used the blowout as a chance to work on that particular weakness, depth.
One concern: Clemson, despite a lack of athleticism, injuries, and then
Allenspach going out, still outrebounded Duke 26-23.Â Â That was more
than negated by the turnovers, but still, it's pretty bad.
Coach K was pretty happy. After the game, he thanked the crowd, pointed out
what a great game James had (also had 9 boards), said that Horvath had improved
a lot. He was also happy with how the team got in the passing lanes, and how
He went on to point out that looming just past UNC on Thursday was UVa, in
just 36 hours, in fact, and while that simulates tourney conditions, which is
good, those are two games that could easily be lost and bring Duke back to the
pack somewhat.Â He was also happy with the solid fundamental play in
One other note - Jason tonight took some of his slickness out and dazzled the
crowd with some spectacular moves and some brilliant passes - and had only one
All in all, a game to remember regardless of the weather.
Notes - the biggest downer tonight was Boozer, who was mostly invisible for
whatever reason...the coolest thing, in one way, was watching Casey Sanders push
a Clemson player...not that that's good, but you must understand, in October, he
could never had done that...so progress...Nagys may have been frustrated, but
you could call him a dirty player and get no argument from us...if you didn't
see the game, catch sports center and cnn for the play of the day..it was pretty
amazing...you might see a couple of JW specials as well...this week is key for a
number of reasons - if Duke wins at UNC, it will be difficult for anyone to
catch up..if they can beat UNC, and, 36 hours later, outrun UVa, the biggest
concern for the tourney is set...