Dick sends his impressions of the San Diego State game. Thanks Dick!
This was my first game in Cameron in nearly 16 years, the last being the one
where we retired Johnny Dawkins's jersey. It was great to sit in the
student section and yell rude comments at Steve Fisher ("not exactly the Fab
Five, is it Steve"), though I wish the band and a few more students hadn't
been away for the break. That's what I get for having lived out of the area
for so long (first in New Jersey and now in Southern California).
The game: Duke looked really rusty early on, and Fisher's combination of
mostly seniors and juniors didn't look intimidated one bit. Duke didn't
really begin to click until well past the midway point in the first half;
after Carlos picked up his third foul with just under eight minutes left in
the half, Matt Christensen especially and Reggie Love seemed to give the
Devils a jump-start. In fact, Christensen's play proved a highlight of the
game for Duke and may bode well for future games. He rebounded like a
demon, energized his teammates and the crowd and gave Duke some needed size
with Carlos on the bench in foul trouble and Casey Sanders nowhere in sight
with a stomach virus.
Even playing without Boozer for much of the second half after he picked up
his fourth foul early, Duke played like Duke and built a 25-point lead as
Mike Dunleavy played solid throughout and Jason and Chris got going with
their offense. But then the team let down its guard and the Aztecs cut the
lead to 10. To their credit, Holcomb and Bland had outstanding overall
games, and Faux and Smith played hard. Even Walton the younger hit a couple
of little half-hooks. Duke had no answer for Holcomb inside, in particular,
and he's more a Mike Dunleavyish 6-9 rather than a big inside player, yet he
had 22 points and 15 rebounds. Duke has to do a better job of keeping
people out of the paint and off the offensive glass. Bland has excellent
elevation on his shot and Duke let him get too close to the basket on
Still, Coach K can use this game as a teaching tool to let the players know
that other teams will give Duke their best shot every night. This Duke team
has to play hard to win. I kept thinking in the first half, I'm sure glad
this isn't the Maryland game. But, now that the break is over, I'm sure
we'll see better performances as the competition improves. This team has
quite a bit of maturing to do, and experience tells us Coach K will have
them ready once the big ACC games come.
Over and out.