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Duke Wrecks Tech

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As Carlos suggested in his preview, the thing to watch in this game was how
Duke responded after the FSU upset. It's safe to say some lessons were learned
in Tallahassee, and applied promptly to Georgia Tech.

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Duke jumped all over Tech from the opening tap, forcing turnovers and poor
shots. Tech had a lot of trouble just getting the ball over halfcourt at
times in the first half. Duke forced 29 turnovers - a season high - and
just generally took Tech apart. Was it a perfect game? No, there were
flaws, as there are in any game. First half free throw shooting was over
80%; for the game, it fell to 68%. Despite significant size advantages, Duke
only outrebounded Tech by one. And Tech scored the last 16 points of
the game, after being down by 41. Not an ideal ending.

But as we say, the perfect game would be a shutout, and basketball doesn't
really allow for that. And there were a lot more positives, the most important
being intensity, which was lacking against FSU.

Duhon had an excellent game, and mixed his repertoire up a bit as well,
shooting and penetrating more than he has lately. He had several brilliant
passes, and really was an enormous factor in the game.

Boozer dominated the middle, as he should against a small team. But it wasn't
just that he was the biggest guy on the court; Carlos was as active as we can
remember seeing him. He really moved around the court, and he pushed Tech
's defense a lot. Carlos showed a lot more game today, in some ways, than
he has lately. He could have gotten more than 5 boards, though, but so
what. He made some big advancements in this game.

Dunleavy was solid all around, rebounding, shooting, passing,
defending. There's not much to criticize in his game at all.

Dahntay Jones had what we think was, in some ways, his best game as a
Devil. He played great defense, made some extremely smart decisions
offensively, and fit into the team very well.

Jason had, for him, a quiet game, but he didn't need to take this one over,
either. Interestingly, he spent a good bit of the game guarding Tony
Akins. Lately Duhon has taken the primary ballhandler, and Williams has had more
opportunities to concentrate on his other talents.

Daniel Ewing was, in spots, brilliant. That kid is a winner, pure and
simple. Sanders and Christensen played very little, possibly because of
mismatches against a smaller team. Love got some minutes early, and
Horvath played in the second half, and had a gorgeous assist.

Actually, there were a number of beautiful passes - Horvath, Duhon, Dunleavy,
Jones and Ewing all had assists that registered quite high on the oooooh scale.

So all in all a lot to be proud of, but there was something about this game
that started to nag at us in the first half, and became a serious concern by the
end of the game. There were two factors involved: Tech's style of play and
game management by the officials. The convergence of these two could have
led to a serious injury.

To make our annual clarification: we made a commitment not to talk about the
officiating when we started this site unless a call directly affected the
outcome of the game. Later, we realized that it was legitimate to discuss
how officials managed the game. We don't really think there's much point
in saying, gee, the refs screwed us, because we honestly don't think they set
out to do that to anyone. These guys want to get ahead, and favoritism (or
persecution) won't help them work the Final Four. Say what you want about
any refs, but wouldn't you love to be on the floor in the championship game?
That's the goal for all of them, and their reputation is critical.

Now having said that, this game was not well managed at all. In fact, that's
an understatement - it was a serious problem. The calls weren't
consistent, and some situations made absolutely no sense. On on occasion, a Duke
player tried to draw a charge. The Tech player ran into him and both fell
down. There seemed to be contact. It has to be either a block or a
charge. No call. On another occasion, Daniel Ewing was in a defensive
crouch when a Tech player elbowed him in the head. Both players were
standing still, and it was seen by half the gym. Seconds later, Dahntay
Jones was called on a rebound for....elbowing. Then, of course, there were the two intentional fouls - one on Duke and one on Tech - that were, at best, debatable on the videotape. The one on Carlos subsequently led to Coach K's first technical of the season, which in turn led to his explosion off the bench and exhortation to the crowd.

Ideally, the refs shouldn't be a noticeable factor in the game. By that
we mean they should manage seamlessly and not be an issue. That's not always
possible, but that should be the goal.

That goal is compounded by the way Tech plays. Saying it is physical is a
great understatement. Last year we thought that Michael Isenhower was an anomaly,
a limited player who was a hack on the court (incidentally, we hope his battle
against leukemia is going well). But there were enough hard fouls and
situations that could have resulted in injury for us to now wonder if Paul
Hewitt and his staff are teaching these things: in other words, is Tech going to
become the successor to Rick Barnes' Clemson as the ACC's roughest - okay,
dirtiest - team? We hope not. Hewitt is a bright man with
significant talent. We'd hate to think this will become an enduring theme
of Tech basketball.

Incidentally, when Hewitt folds his arms, he has an uncanny resemblance to
Jack Benny.

At any rate, we hope someone from the ACC is looking at the tape of this
game, because there's a lot to address.