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We'll admit we thought, like Carlos, that Detroit would play hard then
basically go home, but it didn't quite work out that way. And while we
usually have some inkling, it totally escaped us that they beat Michigan State
three times, UCLA, and UConn at UConn. Playing at Cameron did not
intimidate these guys at all. They played with passion, discipline, and
immense heart. They kicked Duke around for a while because Duke wasn't necessarily
playing at peak levels, but make no mistake: this is a very solid, well-coached
team, and they can play with just about anyone.
Still, it was startling to see
them go up 10-0 and 12-2, and just bit disconcerting to see Duke struggle
so mightily to score. At one point, it seemed that they could go into haftime
with less points than they scored against UNC in the airball game.
Fortunately, that didn't happen, but it was not looking good. Everyone
But a lot of that had to do with Detroit playing great perimeter
and interior defense. They stayed right on top of J.J. Redick, and
whenever the ball went in to Shelden Williams, they collapsed on him. Duke
got pretty much shut out of the transition game, which doesn't happen real
On the other end of the court, Duke was missing a lot of switches on
defense, and even though at times they played really sharp D, Detroit all too
often ended up with an intelligent shot from not that far away from the
basket. And Detroit held Duke to single digits for almost 10 minutes - in
Cameron. That hasn't happened in our memory.
At the end of the first
half, though, a nice offensive bundle caught Duke up considerably, and by then,
Detroit had stacked up enough fouls for it to be a concern.
And Duke set about
making it a concern. Duke ran Redick at the teeth of the defense, and he
ended up with 10 foul shots. Made 'em all, too.
At hafltime, our guess
was Duke was just going to keep running it right up Detroit's gut, and that's
exactly what happened, as foul trouble mounted, and Detroit started to
weaken. Despite another superb stretch of defense - Duke went over five
minutes (we can't remember exactly how long) without scoring a basket - Duke's
foul shooting kept them in the game. Shavlik Randolph had a key burst, and
then from there, Redick, Deng, and Duhon basically took Duke home.
versatility really came through, as the freshman rebounded, played solid D, and
hit key shots.
Duhon provided really solid leadership and some very
clutch shooting - he hit an absolutely essential 3, and then made a driving
layup at the end of the game. Both shots were backbreakers, because
Detroit is a never-say-die sort of a team, and he just pushed things a little
too far out of reach. Unfortunately, on his end-of-the-game drive, Duhon
apparently hurt his hip. He was down for some time, and ended up on the floor in
front of the bench after that. It looked pretty painful. No word yet on
And in the key stretch in the second half, Redick got the ball
a lot and took it to the basket to draw fouls. As you know, Redick
on the foul line is all but a given, so between the fouls he inflicted and the
points he scored, that was pretty much the end of the game. Duke actually,
briefly, pushed the lead out to 15, but Detroit - it seemed inevitable by this
point - pushed their way right back into the game.
This was one of the tougher
home openers we can remember, and Detroit deserves enormous credit. They
are a legitimate team, and we can see why they've given other big-time programs
As for Duke, Redick and Deng both mentioned nervousness as a factor
in the team's slow start. That's believable, but it's also believable that
Detroit pegged some weaknesses. The other teams in the Great Alaskan
Shootout field are going to watch this tape closely.
shooting, obviously, was miserable. Duke shot 29% in the first half and
43% for the second. Ugh. Duke did outrebound Detroit, and forced more
Notes - at hafltime, the football team brought in the
Victory Bell, which they brought back from Chapel Hill after the big football
win...the Crazies were in good form, even though Detroit derailed them to an
extent....not a bad debut for Deng, who had a considerable influence on the