Alaa Abdelnaby once said that you could always tell it was March because Coach K got an
extra spring in his step, and March definitely jukes the man up. In a game which
some predicted as an upset, Duke overcame a quality performance by Chris Kaman to go back,
yet again, to the Sweet 16, where first Kansas awaits, and then the winner of
Arizona-Notre Dame. Tough weekend - but only two wins to the Final Four. Step lively!
Both teams had major adjustments to make. For Duke, they had to find a way to limit
Kamen's considerable skill around the basket, which they ultimately did, trying double,
triple and even quadruple teaming him. For Central Michigan, the job was to stop Duke's
penetration, and then their outside shooting, and it wasn't something the Chippewas could
Dahntay Jones started off with another sensational first half, and it's fair to say
that not only is he playing as well as anyone at Duke is - and providing tremendous
leadership - but he's also playing just about as well as anyone in the tournament, period.
This is not the time to talk about the NBA, but he has to be making a huge
impression on scouts. He's just playing sensational basketball.
As for JJ Redick, can we have whatever he's supposedly sick with? He's sick alright -
anyone with that kind of range is definitely sick. He completely eliminates any
possibility of a zone defense, and on top of that, it's not like he's a savant. He drives
well and passes well and his defense, while not as suffocating as Jones', is not bad.
Chris Duhon also did a superb job of running the team, and was properly aggressive on
the offensive end, scoring 16.
Duke had a significant quickness advantage and wasted little time exploiting it with
Jones leading the charge. Duke also forced 20 turnovers and held CMU to .368% from
Good thing they had Kamen - he hit 10-20. One other player hit 5-10, but
otherwise, Duke just stifled this team's shooting - 1-3, 1-9, 2-6, 0-1, 0-1, 0-1, 2-3,
0-2, 1-2. To simplify that, the rest of the team hit 11 shots, total. Toss in the
turnovers and there's not a chance you can win.
For the game, Duke shot .615%, which ain't chicken feed.
Special props also to Michael Thompson, as the big rookie, who hasn't played a lot, was
solid off the bench against Kamen. He's not played a lot this year, but he's building the
case for his minutes.
Special props also to CMU for being pretty much the embodiment of good sportsmanship.
It was at times a very physical and rough game, but clean, and on a number of
occasions, the Chippewas went out of their way to be demonstratively good sports. We think
particularly of the tie-up and the guy who rubbed Chris Duhon on the head to show him it
was, after all, just a game. This is a great reflectio on the coach, the school, the
conference, and most of all, the players themselves. They got their butts whipped today,
but they played as hard as they knew how and never showed even the slightest sign of a
negative reaction. It was a great pleasure to watch them play, and we'll follow them
next year with a lot of admiration and respect.