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FSU Brilliant In Upset Over Duke

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It's impossible not to admire what Florida State accomplished Sunday night in
Tallahassee. Duke has beaten them like a drum for years, and no one outside of
the FSU locker room expected tonight to be any different. But FSU played with
more passion, more guts, more heart, and more courage than Duke - and they
played better as a team than Duke did. There's not much question about what
happened in this game: the better team won. We have immense admiration for what
the Seminoles did, and they deserve every minute of glory they'll get. But what
does Duke take from this game? That's the key question.

Under Coach K, while obviously there is a tremendous emphasis on winning,
losing games is not always the worst thing in the world.  For one, it's a
great chance to look at and correct flaws, and there's plenty to look at in this
game.  Here's a few:

  • intensity
  • aggression
  • concentration
  • free throw shooting
  • ball control
  • responsibility

Florida State is a much better team than we had thought, and we
probably gave them more credit than most.
  But what was most impressive
about them was that they were more intense, more focused, and more determined
than Duke.  That doesn't happen too often, in Krzyzewski-land, and you can
expect the loss has focused people's attention rather sharply - or at least it
will be focused in practice very soon.

The joy of basketball, more really than any other sport, is that it requires
intimate cooperation.  There are only five guys on the floor at any
particular time, 10 counting both teams, and so the  unit is small and the
strategies are endless. You can win like Princeton or like Florida or like Bob
Knight or like Bob Huggins.  And one of the great joys of basketball is
seeing a lightly regarded group gathering confidence and pulling off a shocking
upset. It's not so much fun when it happens to your team, but it's still
an inspiring thing to see happen.

In Florida State's case, everyone on the floor was focused and contributed to
their victory, and the teamwork displayed was brilliant.  In Duke's case,
the Devils too often found themselves tossing the ball to Jason and hoping he'd
pull a miracle. He pulled several, just not enough.  Dunleavy had a few as
well.  But this sport requires more than that.  Wilt Chamberlain
couldn't do it by himself, and he's the most powerful force in the history of
the game. Michael Jordan won nothing until Pippen and the rest showed
up.  

Jason Williams is no different.

It's easy to say well, he missed the late free throws and that was the story
of the game.  But that's bogus. If the team as a whole had been
sufficiently aggressive throughout the game,  he wouldn't have had to try
to do everything himself at the end.  Jason can be pretty much a superman
at times, but he's still human.  He needs help, and he didn't get enough
tonight.

One of the great basketball lessons was taught to Lew Alcindor in high
school, when his team lost to DeMatha, and he took the blame. His coach said
that if he accepted the blame for the loss then he had to take credit for every
win as well. Alcindor realized this was crazy and took the lesson to heart.

That's true in this case as well, and responsibility is collective. 
Nonetheless, the most disappointing performance of the night was probably by
Dahntay Jones, who played 18 minutes, scored 3 points, and nearly fouled
out.  He's every bit the player Monte Cummings is, but Cummings came more
prepared to play, in our opinion.

We were also surprised at Duhon's inability to control Arrington.  He is
a better defender than that.

Boozer was erratic, but he had 8 offensive boards, and that's a very good
thing, considering how Duke got clobbered on the boards in the first half.

We've followed Duke since before K showed up, and we understand the basic
ideas and philosophies pretty well.  This loss will be broken down into
elements, players will watch film, and corrections will be put into place. 

One other note: a  lot of fans seem to be taking this overly
personally.  Teams lose games.  There is no team that wins every game.
The closest was the Soviet Hockey team, and you know what happened there. 
If you're a Duke fan, don't get too worried about this loss.  In the long
run, it will probably be a very useful loss, and our guess is that in the very
near future, leaders will be flushed out, a hardening attitude will creep into
Duke's play, and things will improve sharply and quite quickly.  We're very
fortunate to have a great teacher on our side, and there is a great deal to be
learned from this game.