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Next Up - Maryland For The ACC Title

So now on to Clash Of The Titans III.  Duke and Maryland, each having
lost on their home floor this season, have a rematch tomorrow afternoon with the
ACC Championship on the line.

The earlier splits were very even, with Duke winning by 10 there and Maryland
by 9 here.  Things have changed a lot since the first game and even since
the second game. For one, Maryland has become the hottest team in the league,
and almost certainly Gary Williams' best team, much better than last year's,
which had, underneath the glitz, the heart of a scared punk. Not so this
team.  Steve Blake has proved to be a much more courageous guard than the
gifted but brittle Steve Francis, and this year's Lonny Baxter is at times a
monster.  Add in the gutty Juan Dixon and you have a team which is tough,
resourceful and, forgive us for saying this, but oh so rare for a Maryland team,
extremely smart.

Then the forwards, Terrence Morris and Danny Miller, are almost perfect for
this team, though Morris at times could be more assertive.

In Durham, they proved to Duke that they could play smart, half court ball,
and that Baxter and Dixon were matchup problems, and in some wyas Dixon in
particular. A blindingly quick guard who can shoot or drive, and who is
relatively fearless, Dixon caused serious problems.
He hit 14-19 in Durham
, which is pretty amazing, really.  Baxter hit

Duke also had 20 turnovers in that game, 7 by Jason Williams alone.

After that game, Baxter left the court with his finger on his lips, telling
the crowd to shhhhh, and Maryland fans spent about a long time high-fiving each
other on the floor of Cameron.

In College Park, Maryland students poured out of the dorms and, in a bizarre
cross-sports ritual, tore down the goalposts.  Who knew a regular season
game could mean so much?

Tomorrow, Duke has to figure out ways to prevent the problem
mismatches.  We're not coaches - heck, we're not even sportswriters - but
here are some things we might try just to see if they'd work.

First, the obvious things:

  • Clamp down on Blake. If he has trouble moving the ball, he isn't as
    effective. We might try Cwell on him for a bit.
  • Keep the ball out of Baxter's hands and gamble that Morris will be
  • Put a blanket over Miller. If he hadn't scored in Durham, Duke might have

All easier said than done. Here are some other ideas.

  • Really direct the offense at Juan Dixon. Take him down low and make him as
    tired as possible.
  • Give Casey a couple of pops at Baxter. While he can't bang with him, he's
    a hard guy to shoot over.  If he has success, let him stay for a
    while.  What Baxter does is to use his size to create room to get a
    shot off. If he gets enough distance, he can make the trajectory. Casey is
    the only guy on the team who can conceivably negate that distance (by
    himself that is).
  • Force Morris inside.

That's it. Like we said, we're not coaches, and we're pretty sure Coach K
will have a good plan for the Terps.