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The State
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| AP
Saturday's game with Clemson was, when you get right down to it, a reasonable
way to start the conference season for both teams. For Clemson, they get
credit for sticking with their coach's new system and not giving up. That
sounds almost insulting, but when you look at the Duke-Clemson games over the
past few years, it's hard to say that the Tigers didn't give up a few times.

For Duke, it was more or less a workmanlike effort with some inspired plays
throughout. Just off the top of our head, we can think of that tremendous
steal by Sean Dockery, a Redick glide to the goal, some excellent ball movement,
and some rough, tough non-creampuff post play (R.Crumb fans, stand up!)
Duke definitely didn't regress in this game, but they didn't necessarily advance
tremendously either.

The best news is perhaps the continuing recovery of Daniel Ewing, who has
shed his orthotics and is back in regular Nikes just like everyone else.
As he continues to solidify his game, his outside and midrange shooting and his
defense will pick up and give the team a big boost. Ewing is a guy who
just wins and he understands winning really clearly. His recovery will
help immensely.

With Chris Duhon continuing his solid play - and by the way, he should get an
award for the guy who goes into the stands after loose balls more than anyone
else - and Redick and Dockery proving to be explosive players offensively and
defensively respectively, Duke's perimeter game is just going to get better and

Up front, Shelden Williams had solid stats, shooting 5-6, including one Kevin
McHale like shot, with seven boards, and three blocks. Unfortunately he
also drew a technical, which helped him towards four fouls, which limited his
playing time somewhat. As Carlos suggested in his preview of the game,
Clemson has a beefy front line, and perhaps that size explains why Luol Deng
struggled somewhat, shooting only 4-12 and grabbing only 4 boards. That
may have affected Shavlik Randolph as well, who was invisible for a fair amount
of this game.

Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of this game is the wild disparity in free
throws, which saw Duke shooting six (making four), and Clemson shooting 22 (and
making 13). Someone please alert Gary Williams!

For Duke, Williams and Ewing ended up with four fouls; Randolph, Redick and
Duhon ended up with three. For Clemson, only Hobbs and Ford had at least
three fouls.

Though Clemson held Duke to 47.7% from the floor, they had some serious
issues to overcome. Turnovers could have been a lot worse, but they had 16
total. They out rebounded Duke 34-31 (15-12 offensive), got 16 more free
throw attempts, and for the most part, stood up to Duke fairly well. That
sounds like faint praise, but again, consider the last few years. Heck, go back
to Clif Ellis at times. Duke has frequently broken Clemson's back in the
first ten minutes of the game. They played well enough to do it again at
times, but Clemson playe dwiht a lot of heart and kept pressing to get back into
the game. At this point, it was beyond their ability, but you can see the
outlines of a pretty fair team emerging in the next 24 months.

Clemson fans should be excited. This is a time of rebirth and renewal,
and while they will take some whippings this year, the team is showing heart and
passion, and we have a lot of respect for how they are progressing.