We get e-mail periodically from people who think we take a lot of teams too
seriously. It's probably a fair criticism at times, but as far as Seton
Hall goes, don't dare think they're not capable of beating Duke. They're
absolutely capable of winning, and would be even if Duke didn't have injury
problems. They're a very tough opponent, as Arizona learned Thursday, and
they're a tough draw for Duke, especially with Duhon banged up.
We're huge fans of Andre Barrett and have been since he was a high school
player. If you ever played pickup ball, or at a higher level, you probably
have seen guys like him: not the biggest guy on the court - Barrett is
only 5-8 - but a guy who invariably makes the right decision.
Barrett is a handful, to say the least.
He also has a very capable big man in Kelly Whitney, who is turning out to be
a pretty fair big man, though he's only 6-8. Big deal: the day of the
really big college center is pretty much over, since every talented big man
(meaning about 6-11 and over) gets drafted. We said yesterday he had a
career average of around 6 ppg, but we read the wrong column: he's averaging
13.6 ppg this season.
And Andre Sweet has become a significant factor for the Hall as well.
This weekend, there are a ton of stories about how he left Duke and now faces
them in the tournament. He has nothing but good things to say about Duke
and Chris Duhon in particular, and would love nothing better than to beat Duke.
Coach K has made mental toughness the theme of the game, because Seton Hall
brings it in spades. Sweet, as you'll remember, is an excellent
defender. Whitney is developing a reputation for overcoming bigger players
with bigger reputations. And don't overlook Marcus Tony-El.
Though he's not a huge player at 6-6, like Sweet, Barrett, and Whitney, he's
a superior defender. He could guard Redick, Ewing, Deng, or Duhon. He's
also an excellent rebounder, though he's not particularly good shooter.
John Allen is a solid offensive player who can shoot, drive, and has some
Seton Hall goes 6-8 (Whitney), 6-6 (Sweet and Tony-El), 6-5 (Allen), and
Barrett is (generously) listed at 5-10. He's closer to 5-8 or 5-9.
For Duke to win this game, they'll really have to bring a hard-hat
attitude. If you want to get a fix on Seton Hall's mentality, think about
the teams Michigan State took to the Final Four over the last few years -
defense and rebounding. Maybe some of Purdue's better teams are pretty
They'll also have to get a solid game out of Shelden Williams. Since Luol
Deng and Shavlik Randolph are not necessarily physically mature enough to pound
people, it's more important than usual that Williams stay out of foul
By the same token, this makes Nick Horvath a really important reserve.
He has the muscle to push back against anyone now, and that'll be critical.
And another guy who is likely to be really needed is Sean Dockery. We'd
be okay with a Duhon-Barrett matchup if Duhon was totally healthy. But
under the circumstances, Dockery will almost certainly be playing a lot of
defense, and have to make a lot of solid offensive judgements as well, since
Seton Hall can really patrol the passing lanes.
This is likely to be one of the most intense games Duke has played all year,
and unless they match Seton Hall's intensity - and, for our money, play
significantly superior defense to the Pirates - they'll walk the plank.