We said before the trip to Clemson that the Tigers weren't
the same team we had seen in Cameron, and they weren't.Â Of course that was
blown to hell in Charlotte, as they stunk the joint up.
However, it is very true for Wake.Â Duke drilled them twice this season,
but they have righted the ship of late. Ervin Murray is doing a nice job at
point, Songaila has improved dramatically down low, and Robert O' Kelley has all
of a sudden found his game. Or at least he did yesterday.Â Â
Wake is looking more like the team which beat Temple senseless earlier this
year (no Sanchez though).Â Dave Odom is promising to try to deny Duke the
three point shot. That, in conjunction with Wake's traditional slower pace,
suggests a defensive struggle, and that's a game which may favor Wake.Â On
the other hand, if Wake is aggressively defending the perimeter,Â there may
be new opportunities down low with Boozer, Battier, James, and Carrawell.
Another significant factor is how well Dunleavy can do.Â Even if he has
a lousy game (by his standards), he'll help.
Duke's best bet to counter this, aside from being impudent and chunking up
threes like the three little pigs building that brick house (hmm...poor analogy
there...) before the Wolf comes alongÂ - and presumably hitting a
reasonable number of them - is to move the ball downcourt so quickly that Wake
can't set up the elaborate defenses they are planning.Â In the words of
John Thompson, you can't hit what you can't catch.
Don't count on a half where Duke hits 83% from three point range.Â That
kind of shooting is a freak performance, and freak, as we all know, means
something so bizarrel folks will gawk out of astonishment, much like Tar Heel
Talk. 83% three point shooting is gawk material.
So in our pretty little vision of this game, Jason and Dunleavy control the
middle, passing the ball off to Cwell, Boozer, Battier, and James for dunks and
The reality, of course, is that Wake is going to try to make the defensive
end of the court a tangle of arms and a thicket of hands, and will try to use
Songaila, Vidauretta, and Shoemaker as battering rams against the smaller Duke
defenders. And after denying Duke's 3's, they'll try and unleash their own mad
bombers, Dawson and O' Kelley.Â If they start hitting, the inside is open
for Wake's Lithuanian Sensation, Darius Songaila, and for slashes by the likes
of Josh Howard.
Incidentally, speaking of Wake, Niki Arinze's uncle is, if we remember
correctly, a Cardinal in the Catholic church who has been prominently mentioned
as the possible next Pope. We only mention that because we wanted to work in a
joke about Wake's having to pray, but really, they don't have to anymore.Â
They've solved most of their problems and are a formidable challenge now.Â
It should be a tremendous game.