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Michigan - Beaten Within An Inch Of Their Lives

Michigan Daily
Devil's Den
& Quotes

We've seen a lot of games and a lot of teams play, but we're not sure we've ever
seen a team held to 2 points at the 7:46 mark.  That's a level of
control that's unheard of. You'd think that the odds of 10 guys and a ball in
constant motion would dictate more than that for even an incompetent team. 
Didn't happen. We're inclined to think that to a large extent what happened to
Michigan in the first half was this: a young team, unfinished, came into a tough
arena, played a team which was seriously ready to pounce, and when they were
pounced upon,  they had no idea what hit them.

Before the game they were confident enough to be cocky and stomped on the
center circle.  But as the lead grew, and the turnovers snowballed, the
fear did too, and the game, for all intents and purposes, was over at the 14:46
mark when Duke was up 21-2.

What else can you say about a half like that?  Bob Knight says that your
true opponent is yourself, that the struggle is to reach your potential and to
not make mistakes.  From Duke's perspective, this may have been the most
mistake-free half in history. When we try and put it in perspective, the games
which come to mind are the 92 team vs. St. John's (with Malik Sealy) when they
were up by 30 in the first half, and the Duke-Villanova game in '78 when the
Villanova coach was stupid enough to call the Duke team slow as elephants. And
maybe the 99 team against UNC in Cameron.

But even in those games, the teams managed a few buckets in the first five
minutes.  We can't ever remember a shutout like this.  And the cool
thing was almost everyone was involved.

We had heard rumblings through the week that Krzyzewski was pushing buttons
and pulling levers in practice, telling players that it wasn't about Michigan,
it was about Duke, and it would be hard to say that it didn't work. 

It's hard to single out people when as a group they performed so incredibly
well, but some things jumped out at us:

  • Jason Williams is, we think, staking a claim to being the best guard in
    the country and possibly the best player as well. He shot 75% from the floor
    today and had 7 assists.
  • Dunleavy's stats weren't as gaudy, but he had a brilliant game.  What
    we love is his court awareness, and tonight he had one of his better floor
    games. Finishing with 12 points and 5 assists, he made some eye-popping
    passes and did a lot of little things that were just remarkable. Like Tamir
    Goodman, he knows the game and submits to it.
  • At this point in his career, there's not much else to say about Battier in
    many ways, but tonight he drove well, not his strong point, and  played
    suffocating defense. Michigan's big men only got 8 shots the entire
    game.  Credit goes also to Boozer and the perimeter defense, but
    Battier was great tonight, even by his standards.
  • Boozer and James had, in some respects, quiet games, though we wouldn't
    say subpar.  But a lot of the points tonight came on the break, and
    Duke didn't have to pound it inside that much at all.   With 28
    turnovers, they didn't really need to unless they wanted to work on it.
  • Duhon shot 4-5, had a few brilliant passes and piled up 5 more assists,
    which is spectacular for a backup point.  But he's been doing that a
    lot lately.
  • Casey Sanders, a crowd favorite this evening, we thought pretty clearly raised his game up a notch and
    will push his way into more minutes if he keeps it up.  We commented
    recently that he seems to be gaining a mean streak, and that continued
    tonight.  He's also starting to show hints of some power, which his
    frame would suggest is not possible. Best evidence tonight - 7 offensive
    boards, most for a Dukie in a while we'd think, and a willingness to muscle
    inside.  12 more months of weight lifting are going to make this kid
  • Matt Christensen. Christensen continues to struggle offensively, but had
    one sweet shot and was the first big man off the bench.
  • Andre Sweet is making a serious argument for playing time. He is one of
    those guys who just has a knack of showing up where the ball is.  Jim
    Spanarkel had it too. We thought he was super tonight and if he keeps
    improving he'll be playing a lot more.

Were there negatives? Of course. Just not as many as in a more typical game.

First, fouls. Boozer and Williams both picked up four. In the tournament,
that could have spelled doom. And after the incredible first half defense, Duke
let up in the second.  There were a number of mental errors. At one point,
Nate went out to the top of the key expecting a loose ball. Nope - and his man
cruised in for an easy basket. On one Michigan break, Boozer and Dunleavy
cruised upcourt as a Michigan player blew past them for the pass and layup
(they'll be hearing about that).  There was a badly missed defensive switch
at the 15:40 mark.  At another point, Boozer went in front of his man to
try for the steal, and the pass floated down into Asselin's hands for an
uncontested layup.  At another point, Battier turned his head and Blanchard
went to the basket and caught an airball for an easy basket.

The biggest negative was that Horvath was hurt. He should have been part of
this and would have really benefited.  It's turning into an up and down
year for him, but with a long break coming up maybe he can get back in the

It's hard to quantify this game, but we'll say this: after watching Michigan
State recently we have come to the conclusion that they are the best team in the
country.  It's not that they dominate, but that they are so damned
hard-nosed.  After Temple and Michigan, we're not as sure about that. 
Michigan is down, of course, but come on. Davidson doesn't have nearly the level
of talent.  Neither does Villanova.  Michigan is down, but to be fair,
Duke was very, very up.  And they should be up after this performance as

Notes - the woman singing the National Anthem this evening (not Frances Redding) forgot the lyrics in mid-stream (hey, try singing it when you're by yourself), which spurred the entire crowd into the loudest rendition of TSSB in Cameron's history.... a star was probably born tonight as Duhon's little brother, Tommy,
has become an adopted Crazy...he bodysurfed and everything....The Crazies, who were in awesome form, chanted "Little Duhon"...that led to "Little Boozer," then "Little Battier," and finally, aimed at the Wolverine's dimunitive point guard, "Little Point Guard"....Len Elmore called
Shane Battier glib...that's not the right word. Here's the definition of glib,
according to Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: glib
Pronunciation: 'glib
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): glib·ber; glib·best
Etymology: probably modification of Low German glibberig slippery
Date: 1593
1 a : marked by ease and informality : NONCHALANT
b : showing little forethought or preparation : OFFHAND
<glib answers> c : lacking depth and substance : SUPERFICIAL
<glib solutions to knotty problems>
2 archaic : SMOOTH,

3 : marked by ease and fluency in speaking or writing often to the
point of being insincere or deceitful glib politician>

That describes most TV announcers and college recruiters, come to think of it....another chant from the Crazies: At 21-2, "More than 10 times!"...when some Michigan fans chanted "Traitor" at Shane, the Crazies responed, "You Chose Wisely"....watching the game behind the Duke bench was recruiting target Shavlik Duke has a
long break for exams, and next home game is December 30 against A&T...we'll
be very curious to see how Curtis Hunter's team plays this year, because last
year, despite being outmanned, we thought they were sensational...