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Duke Crushes California All-Stars

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Let's get to the three burning questions first: 1) why didn't Battier play?
2) why didn't Cota play? 3) is Duhon ok?

1) we heard Battier twisted an ankle or something. He dressed and warmed up, so it was
likely precautionary.

2) the rumor in the gym was that Cota just refused to play and stayed in his
hotel room. We haven't confirmed that yet.

3) the Duhon spill was pretty scary.  He stayed down for a bit but got
up under his own power.  His legs seemed to be ok - he sprung off the bench
a couple of times - but that was a pretty nasty fall and he's probably going to
be sore tomorrow at the least. No formal word on his condition yet.

 

Now, on to the game.  It was certainly a surprise when Duhon was
announced as a starter, and a bigger one when Battier sat the game out. 
The good news on Battier was that he dressed and warmed up.  The good news
on Duhon is that, without question, the kid belongs.

It took him a while to get his shot on track, but the rest of his game is
superb.  He played excellent defense, and passed beatifully, and once his
shot started falling, he was tremendous.  The play where he went flying off
the court into the front row of chairs was scary, but the amazing thing was the
burst of speed he put on.  It was truly impressive and left people
courtside looking for someone to compare it to. Dawkins? Maybe.  It was an
amazing acceleration.

In the first half, however, the team lacked intensity and with the exceptions
of James, Horvath, and Duhon, defense wasn't what it should be.  The
California All-Stars got in the lane far too much.  Duke still dominated
the first half, but Coach K made it clear on a couple of occasions that he
wasn't thrilled with the defense.  Special praise though for Nick Horvath,
who blocked three shots, including two on one sequence and had one block on the
perimeter on Drew Barry, who of course played at Tech.

The offense, for the most part, was pretty good.  Duhon is a sterling
passer, as is Dunleavy, and the team as a whole passed very well. Jason Williams
from time to time forced passes, as he did last year, and that was too bad
because he has such remarkable talent.  Boozer put on a very impressive
offensive performance, hitting 11-13, for 22 points, along with 10 boards. 
Carlos has also unveiled some new elements to his game, among them a perimeter
shot, which will open the court up, and had one outstanding outlet pass, which
is largely a lost art. 

Mike Dunleavy also rebounded well, with 10,  and shot 7-14 for 19
points.  He has really perfected grabbing defensive rebounds and starting
the break.

Jason Williams hit 5-11, had 9 assists to 5 turnovers,and grabbed 3
boards.  He fell into a bit of a trap by trying to force the action, as he
did from time to time last year, or making the pass more complicated than it
needed to be.

Nate James played fairly well with 9 points, 7 boards, and solid
defense.  He tried a couple of times to lead the break, but it's just not
his strong point, and it led to problems. There are plenty of guys to do that,
but almost no one can offer what he brings - rugged wing defense and all around
play.  He is in many ways the key player for this team because his
defensive flexibility can't be replaced.

Casey Sanders played 15 minutes, and hit for 8 points, but much more
interesting to us is this: Casey got 10 free throws to Carlos' 0.  As a
matter of fact, no one else was even close to getting to the line that
much.  That's striking, because last year Casey shied away from
contact.  It's also striking that Boozer didn't get there at all.

Still, despite the impressive offense, Coach K didn't seem overly pleased in
the first half. The team came out for the second half with a great deal more
intensity and jumped on the All-Stars and never let up.  The defense was
really tremendous. Andre Sweet came in and made some real heads up plays
defensively, getting a couple of breakaway layups.  He can carve out a role
on this team if he plays defense that well consistently.

Exhibition games give you a limited amount of perspective, not least of all
because these teams usually play every night, but there were some pretty obvious
things to even a casual observer:

  • Duhon is a tremendous talent.  And he's very mature as a ball
    player.  He is a huge asset to this team and may force his way into the
    starting lineup.
  • Horvath has improved a lot over last year and is able to affect the game
    in a number of ways - shooting obviously, but he made smart passes and
    rebounded very well and of course blocked 3 shots.
  • A healthy Boozer is a different player than last season's version
  • This team has several gifted passers. Williams and Dunleavy, of course,
    but Duhon, Horvath, and Boozer can all move the ball.
  • The intensity level needs to come up, particularly on defense
  • Duke outrebounded the All-Stars by 22, and by 10 on the offensive end
  • Duke forced 22 turnovers
  • Of Duke's 12 turnovers, 4 were by Boozer and 5 by Williams.  Duhon
    had 6 assists to no turnovers.