Florida State played a superb game at Duke, rallying to cut Duke's lead to
51-49 with 1:03 left.. Duke had four clutch plays after that - Duhon's
huge three, two steals, and Redick hitting two free throws. Actually, the
free throws were probably superfluous, but the last minute was really tough,
great basketball. Too bad the other 39 minutes weren't entirely as good.
That's probably not fair - Duke was really good for some stretches in the
game. But Duke had no baskets for the last 6:03 of the first half, and
then kept Duke from hitting a basket from the 9:31 mark until Duhon's huge 3
with :38 seconds left.
After the game, Coach K said he was trying to figure out how they could go so
long without running a play successfully, and JJ Redick sounded somewhat put off
by Florida State's defense, saying there was a "lot of holding."
Don't get us wrong, he didn't say that as a stand-alone complaint; it was in the
context of a longer statement. But that was his opinion.
Despite the grim second half, there were some real positives in this game for
Duke. First and foremost, they took a stiff challenge and turned it
aside. And make no mistake, FSU could have won this game. Had Von
Wafer not made a freshman mistake on an inbounds play, which resulted in a Duke
steal, the 'Noles might have been down 1 with a shot at getting the ball
back. Had the defender not backed off of Duhon on that three point shot
(he was helping and turned away), it could have been quite different.
Shavlik Randolph also flashed some of his considerable potential, and at one
point was truly dominating the game. He was rebounding, blocking shots,
scoring, and muscling his opponents. You could argue that for parts of
this game, Shavlik Randolph played his best basketball in college.
And Sean Dockery played some clutch defense at the end, which should be his
calling card in college.
Duke also defended the 'Noles fairly well. Some of the late shots -what
can you do if someone jumps away from the basket on a 25 foot shot and it still
goes in? - there wasn't much to be done about. However, FSU missed a
ton of second shots, despite solid offensive rebounding, and a lot of that was
Duke's doing. There were times, mostly in the first half, where the
interior defense was truly stifling,and when someone went in the lane, who
knew? The shots went astray, which they tend to do when two or three guys
are up ready to smack them into next week.
After the game, Coach K was philosophical in a sense, suggesting that Duke's
team had maintained an amazing focus since Alaska, and that some relaxation of
that focus was inevitable, though certainly not desirable. And that does
make sense. As fans, you (we) tend to forget that while the games are a
blast, the kids are just as human as anyone else. Redick misses a free
throw and everyone freaks. Deng plays somewhat like a freshman, and it's a
People have their individual issues to deal with, whatever they may be (and
we mean everyone, so don't start speculating), and coaches have personalities to
integrate into a greater hole. It seems to us that Duke has done a
brilliant job of both aspects under Coach K, and we wouldn't see this game as
any sort of a detour or anything of the kind. Next play.
A few statistical notes: as well as FSU defended Duke, holding Duke to 39.2%,
Duke did better, holding the 'Noles to 29.5%. Duke also blocked 7 shots
and forced 16 turnovers, 10 in the first half. For Duke, Redick had 24, Duhon
had 11, and Randolph had 8, but after that scoring thinned out quckly.
We'll watch the tape again, but it was our impression that Luol Deng somewhat
disappeared for parts of the game. We're wondering if he has more
difficulty with physical players at this point in his career. A summer of
lifting will likely cure that.
After this tough game, things don't get any easier - Duke heads to Atlanta
this weekend, and then to UNC next week. Tough road, so let's hope Daniel
Ewing is ready (if you missed it, he injured his ankle).. He'll be needed.