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Blue-White Revelations

Box | GoDuke
| Totalcast |
N&O |
Charlotte 
|
Devils
Den
| Rob
Clough

The Blue-White game has come and gone, with the Blue Team winning 77-57, and
chances are it will leave people buzzing for awhile, not so much that this is a
talented team - there's not much doubt about that - but rather over who played
well, and the perceptions that those performances will leave.

To us, the best performance seemed like Dunleavy's, and that stats bear that
out -  Dunleavy shot 8-13, had 10 boards, and 7 assists.  He would
have had 9 but Casey Sanders dropped two bullet passes in a row for easy points
on the break.  Too bad, because that would have put Dunleavy on the verge
of a 30 minute triple double.  On top of that, he showed more of the
polished game he gave hints of last year - taking a rebound down, leading the
break, making the smart pass, and the weight he's gained truly helps.  It
was a powerful performance, and if it's a hint of things to come, he could play
his way into contention for All-American or, conceivably, Player Of The Year
consideration.  We can't remember many players who understood the game so
thoroughly at such a young age.

In stark opposition to Dunleavy's thorough understanding of basketball, as a
19 year old lifer, is Casey Sanders, who is still fairly new to the sport, but
who has advanced a great deal over last season.  Throw out the most glaring
stat, the 7 fouls, since it's only an exhibition.  Look at, instead, the
tremendous improvement in the space of a year.  Last year he had some
moments early, but was not really ready.  We said all spring that he seemed
to be learning quickly, and that it was starting to show in his short stints
late in the season.  Tonight that progress became very obvious, as he hit
for 17 on 8-11 shooting, and was quite aggressive, blocking 4 shots, and
operating inside in a way he simply didn't know how to do last season. Last
season, we said he was naive in a basketball sense. This season, at his opening
press conference, K said that he was "not worldly." Probably a kinder
term, but same idea. Well he's been getting out more, and it really does
show.  We think he's going to push for serious minutes at some point in the
season. 

Last season we said that the logical comparison to us was with Kevin Garnett,
and we still see that.  But this year, if we worked with Casey, we'd
introduce him to Bill Russell's career.  Like Sanders a late bloomer, and
an unusually athletic big man, Russell came on during his college career and
became a remarkable runner and shotblocker.  We can see Sanders developing
one of the rarer gifts in basketball - being a guy who can both start and finish
a fast break, and that's counting an outlet pass in the deal.  The
improvement in his game is tremendously exciting for Duke fans. There's some
indication as well that Sanders and Dunleavy have developed really good personal
chemistry: Sanders knows that Dunleavy will get him the ball, and Dunleavy knows
Sanders can get open.

The rest of the White team played fairly well also. Battier shot 9-15 and 5-8
from 3 point range for 23.  He had a tougher time when Dahntay Jones was
guarding him and tried to take him to the basket, but Jones defended him very
well on penetration.

Matt Christensen came in and banged, and also had some nice board work with 4
in 15 minutes, including one really nice followup.

Chris Duhon seemed at times to be nervous  at least about shooting, but
there was nothing nervous at all about his defense,which was excellent.  He
challenged Jason Williams pretty thoroughly: Jason only had 2 assists and 4
turnovers, compared to Duhon's 8 assists to 5 turnovers.

Andre Buckner played and backed up Coach K's contention that he could help
out some this year.  He is smallish, of course, but played pesky defense,
and moved the ball well.  He was the beneficiary of one of Dunleavy's
passes, getting a layup inside that a 5-9 guy shouldn't really get.

The White team wasn't as impressive and certainly didn't shoot as well: the
Blue team shot 32-54 and 7-16 from 3 point range; the White shot 19-46 and
4-14.  The only guy to hit over .50% was Carlos Boozer who hit 7-9, and it
was an odd 7-9 because he seemed not fully there for part of the game. He came
on late and made more of an impact then.  Horvath didn't play as well as he
has practiced recently.  Nate James played fairly well, but quietly,
scoring 9.  Jason Williams hit 5-12 and 2-4 from 3 point range, but his
passing was held in check, whether by himself or by Chris Duhon.  Not that
it mattered - his sweetest pass was when he gave his moms birthday flowers
before the game.  That was a nice moment for DevilMomma, as she's known on
our bulletin board, and for Jason too, we're sure.

Dahntay Jones played, we thought, somewhat tentatively, but showed the
athleticism that has had people buzzing on a dunk where he faked on the break,
took one step around the defender, and soared for the jam. He also played some
pretty tough defense on Battier, as we mentioned earlier.  

Andre Sweet played, but was mostly quiet, having only one assist in the
boxscore despite playing 16 minutes.  However, freshmen are often nervous;
that's not a big deal. 

What is a big deal is that there is now some question, at least to us, as to
who should start. Obviously Battier will start, and we expect Dunleavy and James
will start as well.  We're certain that Boozer and Williams will probably
start, but they both are being pushed by Sanders and Duhon, and both guys are
liable to start at least some this season.  All things considered, it's a
nice dilemma to have, and watching how Dunleavy and Sanders advance this season
is likely to be one of the key points of the season.