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Duke Rains Devastation On Virginia


Duke came at Virginia hard today. Very hard. By halftime, Virginia had been
run out of the gym, out of the Top 10, and, at least for a  couple of
weeks, out of contention in the ACC.

It's hard to overstate how absolutely Duke dominated Virginia.  The 23-0
run hints at it. The 18% first half field goal percentage hints at it too. 
And the fact that Duke kept UVa in single digits for almost 15 minutes, that
explains it at leas partially as well.  But this is not a Michigan, not a
team down on its luck.  This is a Top 10 team, for another day or so
anyway, a team which took apart a highly talented Tennessee team and defeated

In short, how did this happen?

Coach K was gracious in his post-game comments, saying that while his guys
played well, and he was proud of them, Virginia missed a number of open shots
and just had one of those off nights, while Duke was anything but.  He said
the Charlottesville game would probably be an overtime game.

Gillen came out for his comments and said that his guys got "shook"
and "flustered" and used the term "tidal wave". Interchange
those and repeat them about 12 times, add mild criticism of how Hand was
guarded, praise for Duke, and those were his comments.

Tidal wave is a pretty good term, actually, and certainly Virginia was
"shook" and flustered, and Duke took it straight at them from the
opening tap. Humiliation is an unkind word to use, but it's accurate: Duke took
Virginia's aspirations and ground them into dust.

In the first half, as we mentioned, UVa only shot 18. Duke pressured
them,  took the ball away from them, shut down the middle, and forced
turnovers at what felt like a remarkable rate. And, as Pete Gillen said,
Virginia got intimidated and basically gave up. It was an onslaught, and they
could not find a way to resist.

On Duke's side, there were two  key adjustment made defensively, as Duke
abandoned the full-court pressure it has used so successfully for much of the
season,  and kept Boozer in the paint more than usual in order to frustrate
Donald Hand's penetration. UVa was forced to take mostly perimeter shots, and
once or twice used Travis Watson to shoot from out there in an attempt to open
the lane, but he didn't hit, so it didn't help anything other than possibly
their offensive rebounding totals (with 71 shots and only 19 made, they had a
lot of opportunities for put-backs).

After a while, Virginia did begin to appear flustered and shaken,  and
Duke moved in for the kill, and it snowballed from there, with the
afore-mentioned 23-0 run pretty much sealing the deal.

Everyone on Duke's side played well. Shane summed up the defense best after
the game, saying that when 5 guys play at a high level, it's really one unit
against another, not individual players.

Offensively, though Duke started a bit slow, the defense gave them a number
of easy baskets, and wore Virginia down, and once, as Gillen said, the tidal
wave started, there was no going back.

Nate James had two occasions where he stepped a bit out of his role
offensively and got careless with the ball, and was taken out quickly (and put
back in quickly as well).  Boozer played one of his best all-round games,
we thought, shooting 7-8, which he does periodically, but also rebounding well
and playing defense with great passion.  Battier had a remarkable night
defensively, even by his standards, and was so in command of the court that at
one point he even paused to wipe up the sweat. Dunleavy played his typical
all-round smart game, adding in more of a midrange tonight.  And Williams
and Duhon put an amazing amount of pressure on UVa's guards (so did James).

Duke got solid minutes out of Matt Christensen, who just needs to cut down on
his fouls to really develop into a model backup center. Casey Sanders got 10
minutes and had some positives, but among other things, he has to master the
pick.  We watched him twice try to pick off a UVa player, and he seemed
reluctant to put his body into it. The opponent just walked right through it
both times.  He also got dunked on in a big way and didn't get up in time
to stop it.

On the other hand, there was a fast break where got out and Jason hit him
with a perfect pass, and you can see how he could be a devastating force on the
break. Not many 7 foot guys can run like that.

All things considered, this game is best considered in two ways - on the one
hand an anomaly, a combination of Duke being great and Virginia falling apart,
and on the other, Duke serving notice to the rest of the ACC - and anyone else
who wants to listen - that they have been top dogs in the ACC, and that anyone
else who wants it is going to have to take it. When you have a blowout like this
and you see guys like Williams and Battier and Boozer throwing themselves after
the ball with a 30+ lead, you have to be impressed.  These three are all
potential lottery picks, and they played with enormous passion tonight.

Notes - K addressed depth after the game, saying that he didn't see it as a
problem, that what is is and he was only concerned with what is...he did say
with Horvath it would be 8 deep and with Sweet 9....but what can you do...the
Blue Devil plucked Duhon's little brother from the bosom of the Crazies, who
have adopted him, and made a big fuss over him, but the crowd didn't seem to
recognize him....they did recognize Shavlik Randolph, however, who sat a few
rows behind the bench and who finally acknowledged the Crazies with a shy