Duke downed a very game Wake Forest squad today in the ACC Semifinals,
82-73.Â Wake played a very tough, physical and aggressive game and was in
position to win until Duke's offense kicked in gear in the second half.
In the first half, a good bit of the Duke team played like they were
recovering from mono, Dunleavy being the main exception.Â Wake Forest went
through, over and around the Duke defense, leading for most of the half and
having, for a good bit of time, a 7 point lead.Â Duke shot poorly -
Carrawell for instance only hit 2-7. Battier hit 4-9. Duke was outrebounded
They went in to halftime with a 1 point lead.Â
In the second half, it looked as if Wake were the team playing championship
basketball, not Duke.Â But if you watch Duke basketball closely, over the K
years, you may have noticed a pattern we have noticed: quite often, in the
second half, there is an extended period where neither team scores.Â
Typically Duke breaks out of this with a run. It used to bother us, but then we
realized what was happening: Duke is putting on a serious defensive stretch.
It happened in this game, and at that point we stopped thinking that Wake
would win.Â When Duke's offense kicked into high gear, Wake kept up for a
bit, but mostly they were matching 2's for 3's.Â This was the point in the
game where Nate James stepped up.Â Â
Shut out in the first half, Nate James finished with 13 points, with 4 3s, 8
rebounds, and a back breaking steal which led to a very hard Wake Forest foul,
which was immediately called intentional.Â When Nate was getting up, he had
a pretty serious look on his face and was obviously upset.Â Fortunately
Battier ran over and picked him up, preventing any kind of confrontation. After
Nate's Dad waded fearlessly into the Maryland crowd last year, and looking at
the size of Nate, it's good for Wake someone restrained him. He's a load. The
ref called an inentional foul, James hit both, and any chance Wake had was long
Another guy who really stepped up today was Dunleavy.Â As far as we're
concerned, the play of the day was his slick little pass to Carrawell on the
break. We missed that. He's a really interesting part of this team as he
provides a kind of glue that no one else really can provide.
When it got down to winning time, Duke just basically took their game up to a
level where Wake couldn't go.Â Though Wake came in with great hopes of
stopping the 3 point barrage, they had minimal luck, as Duke hit 13, obviously equaling
39, and Wake hit 3, for 9.Â That's a big hill to climb, and a lot of it
came in the second half.
Wake has now at least an argument with the committee, though it won't go very
far and would have gone farther had they beaten Duke: Temple is a likely #1
seed, and if they had taken 2 of the 4, it would be a solid track record.Â
Unfortunately for Wake, it wasn't meant to be.
On a side note, Nate James made it clear a long time ago that he felt that
leaving was equivalent to quitting.Â He was determined to stick it out, and
for him, it has to be a sweet redemption.
On another side note, if Dunleavy has another game like the first two, and
Duke wins, he might well win the Case Award.
Notes - Boozer was more or less AWOL, hitting only 2-7 and fouling
out....much like Forte, it's good to remember he's a freshman...Duke is now 36-1
over the last two seasons vs. ACC competition...the only team to ever finish
first two years in a row AND to win the ACC two years in a row was David
Thompson's State team in 73-74....Cwell only hit 3-13....Battier 7-17....Boozer
2-7....Williams 6-9...not a good shooting day....Williams on the other hand got
11 assists....Howard by contrast was 7-10....Wake shot .509, Duke .382...Wake
also had 18 turnovers...