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If we had told you before the game that Duke would put Jason Williams on
Roger Mason, Jr., and Mason would only score two points in the first half, but
that the score would be tied, you would have told us we were crazy.
But that's what happened, as Duke pulled away in the second half, winning 94-81,
behind Carlos Boozer, who had 25 points and 9 boards, and Jason Williams, who
In general, Virginia lacks a strong perimeter game, at least scoring-wise,
and so they compensate by pounding around the basket and in the lane.
They're an odd team in that the perimeter is really quick, though it doesn't
shoot all that well from outside (Mason does, but not from behind the
line). Keith Jenifer is much quicker than he looks on TV, and Chris
Williams is an excellent athlete. There those guys are pretty fleet and
then they are counterbalanced - or possibly tied down, depending on how you look
at it - by Watson, and freshmen Elton Brown, and Jason Clark, not one of whom
you could exactly call a great runner. Brown was content often to
pop from the perimeter - in fact, he was the most serious three point threat
most of the night. At least in this game, he seemed to be not particularly
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Despite the somewhat mish-mash nature of the team, compounded by injuries,
Pete Gillen had a workable game plan, focusing on penetration, offensive
rebounding, and defense. In the first half, it worked really well, as Duke
had trouble adjusting to Virginia's defense, and was pretty much killed on the
The second half was a reversal, as Duke's defense and rebounding, not to
mention offense, helped the Devils pull away from the Cavs/Wahoos (take your
pick). Jason Williams, who had been kind of off in the first half, kicked
it into gear and ran through UVa's defense several times for layups. Chris
Duhon got aggressive about taking the ball to the basket. Boozer broke loose for
several free layups. And Duke began to control the defensive boards. Duke
got a lead of as much as 18 points before winning by 13.
At one point in the second half, Virginia missed 10 of 11 shots and turned
the ball over twice, meaning that they blew 12 chances to score.
For Duke, there was plenty to criticize, particularly in the first half,
which the players said Coach K did at halftime with, uh, rhetorical flourishes:
poor defense, turnovers, lack of aggression and passion were likely on the
list. Duhon was strangely ineffective early, and Williams had 9 turnovers
in the game, which is ghastly for a player of his ability. Freshmen were
outperforming Duke's experienced players in the paint. The second half, as
we said, was much better, but there were still lapses.
There was a lot to praise, though, including Boozer's recent consistency
(he's getting to be very big time now), Dahntay Jones' merging into the
system, Mike Dunleavy's defense, rebounding, and all around passion and
awareness, Chris Duhon's finally deciding to drive, and Jason Williams' defense
One other word which we feel compelled to bring up. There has been a
lot of talk on this team about leadership, and most of it has fallen on
Williams, Dunleavy, and Duhon, all of whom, at times, have offered brilliant
leadership. But Boozer's consistent play is a different type of
leadership, and Dahntay Jones is taking every opportunity to lead as well. Keep
an eye on him during dead balls and time outs. He is always talking to a
teammate, encouraging him, forcing younger players to look him in the eye,
tapping them in the chest, telling them that yes they really are good. He
pretty clearly wants to win, and he wants to be a major force in winning.
Dahntay took a lot of criticism early this year, but he's really come on and his
contributions should be acknowledged.
In general, an ACC win is an ACC win, and it's always a positive. But
we'd have been happier if the performance had been more consistent, and we don't
just mean the players.
We make it a policy to not comment on officiating unless one of two things
happens: first, that a particular (bad) call decides a game, and second, game
management. The referees called this game so tightly that it never really
had a chance to unfold. Whenever the game got a good groove going,
out came the whistles. Every player on both teams who got at least double
digit minutes had at least three fouls. A lot of calls, both ways, were
hard to understand, and some were missed completely. In one case, Carlos Boozer
was thrown to the ground, slid in front of the official, and held his hands up
as if to say, 'well'?
That's not to say that a lot of them weren't deserved. Travis Watson,
who had three first half fouls, plays an extremely physical game, and the
downside of that is that eventually you get called, and he does bang
heavily. Virginia's other big men, less experienced, got hit a lot.
UVa's four freshmen drew 14 fouls, which shows how far a kid has to go to play
at an ACC level, but Virginia has no choice but to play them, due to
But while the officiating was that of a control freak, it wasn't the key to
the game. That came down, largely, to Duke's experience and versatility vs.
Virginia's having to rely heavily on freshmen who were in a very tough
environment, and who, in the second half, reacted to stress the way most
of us would. That manifested itself in fouls throughout the game. In the second
half, it also manifested itself in defensive breakdowns (Duke shot 68% in the
second half), and carelessness with the ball. Normal reactions for young
players, in other words.