Ok, it was a mixed bag today.
The first game against Antwerp(which I missed the first quarter of thanks to a train delay at Victoria Station) was a good, comfortable win for Duke.
They started out slow, tied through the first quarter (game was played in 10 minute quarters instead of 20 minute halves). But then Duke slowly pushed
out to comfortable margins, leading by 15 or so at halftime, and 20 at the end. The teamwork was a bit spotty, as could be expected after only a week or
so of practice and so many newcomers on the team. Rotations on D and motion inside on offense particularly showed some work needed.
|Above - Chris Duhon in a pileup. Below - Shavlik Randolph
takes it to the hoop. Photos linked from Sportserver.com
The second game was not so good. Again a slow first quarter where the offense struggled had the Towers start off and maintain a small lead. About
midway through the 2nd quarter Duke was able to put on a spurt thanks to some aggressive
D, turning steals into easy points and garnering a 5 pt or so lead of their own. Then the 2nd half rolled around. And Duke's legs apparently didn't make it out for the 2nd half as I believe they went something
like 0-9 from 3pt range in the 2nd half. With the outside threat not working, Duke looked to dribble drive and work the ball inside. Unfortunately, a
number of times Duke slashed in from the wing, getting by their initial defender and with a lane to the hoop, expected the defensive rotation that didn't
come(or didn't come as quickly/strongly as it tends to in NCAA play) and forced passes to players who were expected to be open, but weren't. Turning
point of the game in my mind was with about 8 minutes to go in the 4th quarter and the lead changing hands each way, Shavlik picked up his 5th foul.
Shav was easily our most effective inside player, and with him gone and no 3pters falling, the Towers went ahead to stay in the ensuing minutes.
Disappointing to lose the
game (and btw Coach K was into it, getting T'ed up in the 2nd half after some... interesting non calls by the referees
who let a lot of hard contact go and called some real cheapies, not favoring one direction necessarily, just, very odd calls), but I'm sure K will use it
motivationally to good effect, and have the kids studying tape to learn the needed lessons. Plus it may well have been simple fatigue, playing 2 games
in the same day after flying in the day before.
But enough on the general team, I'm sure folks want to start getting impressions of players,
so here goes:
Dahntay Jones: Dahntay was the man today, the leading scorer in both games picking up around 20 in both games. In the first game he mixed it up inside
and outside, hitting back to back 3s(a great sign for Duke fans) and then when defenders tried to get in his face just went around them at will. With
strength and quickness he got into the foul lane at will getting good looks or finding others open for good looks. He was as usual also his intensive
self on the defensive end, not making any spectacular plays but locking up his man and keeping him in check. Also to be noted, he was something like 13
of 14 from the FT line in the 2nd game(yes, he was driving enough to get put on the line 14 times).
Shavlik Randolph: Ladies and gentleman, I give you the budding star. Behind Jones, he was our 2nd leading scorer in both games. Showed a very polished
offensive game, using a variety of moves to create space and/or contact for himself inside. He uses his height to full effect, not bringing the ball
down low or stooping as he sets up a shot. Also showed nice hands on the receiving end of a few passes from driving guards and in grabbing his share of
rebounds. Defense was generally solid if unspectacular, as he kept and used good position inside to try to force tougher shots, not getting blocks or
anything. Did reach in for a number of steals, sometimes for good effect, but also causing him to pick up cheap fouls that led to his DQ in game 2.
Chris Duhon: Filled up the stat sheet without scoring today. In both games spent much of his time looking to set the offense up for others rather than
looking for his own shot. Picked up a couple of buckets in both games, but really didn't look for his shot til the 2nd half of the London game where,
unfortunately, his 3s weren't falling. Solid, but not spectacular games from Chris.
Daniel Ewing: Had a fairly quiet first game, where he often drove and dished off, or just floated around the perimeter. On the defensive end had some
nice plays stepping in helpside to steal it from driving players that triggered a few easy Blue Devil baskets. 2nd game he was more active driving and
dishing, setting up a number of easy baskets for Duke. On D he had his good moments again, but also a few struggles with the Towers guards who were in
constant motion and were quick to take advantage of any Duke lapse(and Ewing was by no means alone in this regard, as Redick, Duhon, and Dockery each had
their frustrating moments). I think a lot of Duke fans are hoping for games more like Dahntay had from Dan, but we'll just have to wait and see.
Nick Horvath: He hits 3s. He hits 3s. Yes, that's right, Nick hit 3 point shots in actual games, hitting 2 in each game. He's not Duke's go to guy or
anything, but provided a nice dish option to Duke's slashing wings (which also means that while he's in, he draws a big defender away from the lane,
opening it up even more).
Shelden Williams: The talent is there, it just needs a little more seasoning. Can be a force on both offensive and defensive glass already with size,
strength, and quickness. His offensive moves need some work. He was effective though, hitting a good percentage of his shots coming mostly off
offensive rebounds or dribble drive dishes. As he learns the system, will be a more effective defender, though today earned K's wrath a couple of times
for a couple of poor rotations and one attempt at a cheap steal/easy basket that left his teammates defending 5 on 4. Physically he's very well
developed and was the most willing to bang right back agains the more physically mature pro teams.
JJ Redick: Had a quiet first game as the Antwerp team knew enough to keep a man locked up on him at all times. Showed a few quick one step moves to
create a little room but only took a couple of shots that rattled out. Fairly late in the game finally got an open look from 3 and buried it. 2nd game
he had a very effective first half, hitting 3 of 4 or so from 3pt range and a couple of other baskets as well. Unfortunately, it just wasn't falling in
the 2nd half and he missed a couple of real good looks that would have made the game interesting down the stretch. He was one were I think his legs
weren't there as he was also beaten back door twice in the 4th quarter. A very impressive first half, and, well, lets forget about the 2nd half ;).
Sean Dockery: Sean had a couple of nice games. Plays good, intense D that got him a few steals in each game. Also has a nice handle, as both opponents
tried pressing him to little effect(though as a side note, several times on the inbound the opponent would face guard the PG making it difficult to get
the ball in, but Duke still insisted on trying to pass it to the guarded PG even when a secondary option came back to the ball and was wide pen, this
cost Duke a couple of cheap baskets). Unfortunately as a freshman PG, is still working on where everything should be going on offense, and things did
seem to stall a few times while he was in. Not due to any bad play particularly, but just a little quicker realizations of how things need to be set up
and moved around will help him.
Casey Sanders: Well, Casey is not going to be an offensive force, I think we all know that. But he played a much improved defensive game. In the first
game he swatted away 3 shots, including one spectacular effort hustling back to break up a fast break opportunity, and getting things going in the
opposite direction. He coupled the shot blocking with a better court sense of when to stay on the ground and in front of his man, resulting in fewer
fouls for him(he also had a block or two nullified because of fouls on other Duke defenders).
Melchionni and Thompson: Neither played a great deal nor did enough to give me any great impression of how they were shaping up.
Oh, and just for reference, the starting lineup was Duhon, Ewing, Jones, Randolph, and Horvath.