If the first half of this game was B.C., the second half was A.D. - all Duke.
After probably the poorest first half at least of this season, and possibly
the last couple, Duke turned it on and pulled away from Boston College, winning 96-75. But the
first half - that was ugly.
For whatever reason,Â Duke just really never got it going in the first
half.Â There were more errant passes and mental errors than anyone Duke fan
has seen in Cameron in a good long time.Â From passes thrown to where
people weren't, to not boxing out, to balls bouncing off of players and out of
bounds, you name it, Duke pretty much did it wrong in the first half.Â And
B.C., to their credit, played very well as a team. On the occasions when it
looked like Duke might run away from them, they fought back and kept the game
within reach. They are a small team, but they play with an awful lot of heart.
Considering what happened at B.C. before Coach Al Skinner took the job (you may
remember the program basically melted down after Jim O' Brien left, angry that
the admissions department refused several players).Â The program was in
disarray, and Skinner's future was in doubt.Â Â
The team we saw, though, has clearly moved on.Â A small team, running
basically four guards and a forward, B.C. played a disciplined, smart game, and
not only outplayed Duke in the first half, they outhustled them as well.
In particular, Nate James and Mike Dunleavy had really bad halves.Â
There was a sense in the crowd of disbelief, that it wasn't possible for this
Duke team to play this way.Â And apparently that carried over into the
locker room as well.
Duke was a different animal in the second half, and they came out and
attacked BC from the get-go.Â There was still some disjointedness, but
there was also an 11 point run, and soon Duke pushed the lead out to 15, and the
game, for all intents and purposes, was over.
Mike Dunleavy, who had a rough first half, really turned it up in the second
and made several smart cuts and passes and also rebounded well. Nate James had a
kind of rough game all around, possibly his worst of the year. He played better
in the second, but that's relative. All things considered, it was not a
particularly good game for Nate.
It was, however, in many respects, a dominant performance by Jason
Williams.Â Although he had three or four passes which either found
teammates out of position or somewhere else, he made a number of uncanny passes,
several to Boozer, which Carlos took to the bank. He cut through B.C.'s defense
in a number of ways, and though he had too many turnovers (6), he was
breathtaking at times.
Boozer excelled, as you would expect against a smaller team, but after the
weird first half by Duke, his second half in many respects was superb.Â
Obviously he shot well, and with B.C. so small he should have, but he also
played solid defense, dove on the floor, had four blocks and steal.Â One of
the nicer plays in the second half came when almost every Duke player dove on
the floor after a ball got loose, and Boozer did as well. He didn't do that last
year, and didn't always do it earlier this year.Â His toughness is
improving quickly.Â He also had one reverse drive which, while he missed,
and badly, we never expected to see him attempt.
For the most part Battier played very well, certainly on defense as
always.Â His offense was solid, but in the last few games he has fairly
obviously been concentrating on driving to the hoop, and it's still not a
natural thing to him. You can tell because the drives usually end in a pullup or
sometimes an off-balance jumper, and it doesn't look like he's at ease.Â
But if that's the flaw one has to find in his game, we can live with it.
Chris Duhon continues to pass well and shoot minimally, and poorly.Â Not
that it matters much at this point, because what he gives the team is reliable
defense, superb passing, and a good fit in the rotation.Â He had one pass
he caught more or less on the way out bounds which he then turned and got to a
teammate for a spectacular assist.
All things considered, it was an off-night for Duke though, despite a much
better second half and some periodically dazzling offense, most especially
Williams' open court forays and the passing, which was at points just
superb.Â But there were a lot of bobbled balls, missed passes, and errors
not of commission but omission.Â Halftime seemed to fix most of it -
someone said if we were all quiet we could probably hear the locker room - but
all things considered, it was not an inspiring performance, certainly not after
the Virginia rout.
Special props to B.C., a team which was outmanned, outclassed, and in a very
tough environment.Â They managed to keep their composure, they played with
a lot of heart and passion, and earned a great deal of respect, at least until
the last second of the game when Williams and Kenny Walls mixed it up a bit,
Walls trying to start a fight after Williams faked several passes in his direction.Â It
was unfortunate, but there seemed to be a fair amount of trashtalking tonight,
and that was probably just part of it, and a good reason why people should
consider the consequences of too much smack.
Coach K said after the game that rebounding continues to be a problem, but
Dunleavy is a smart enough player to pick up a few more a game, and Boozer is
smart enough and powerful enough to up his as well.Â If it's a group
effort, Duke could be a good rebounding team.
Notes - B.C.'s star player, Troy Bell, was 4-16....considering what that team
has been through, the resurrection is very impressive....the crowd reaction to
the officiating was the strongest we have seen in awhile...tonight marked
Jason's career high, with 34...perhaps because of the incident at the end of the
game, Duke left the floor on the opposite end...if any guard is playing better
than Williams currently, we haven't seen him...