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Duke lost 87-84, to a wonderfully coached Georgetown team, and for most of
the game it wasn't that close. Georgetown used superb spacing, passing,
cutting, and outside shooting to tame Duke's defense. Duke, despite being down
12-14 points for most of the second half, made a deadly serious comeback, which
took the game down to the final play before the Devils yielded to the
upset. A great college basketball game was played on Saturday, and while
Duke lost, we should be proud to have been a part of something so fundamentally
worthwhile, and to have played such an admirable opponent.
Georgetown's John Thompson III, unlike most coaches sons, who inherit their
father's reputations and, as will Patrick Knight, Tony Bennett, and Sean Sutton,
their father's jobs as well, Thompson, while having great admiration for his
father and his accomplishments, clearly doesn't feel that he has to do things
the way Dad did, and his young colleagues should take note, because they, like
him, will be judged by their father. Thompson has pretty much taken care
of that issue. His father's teams were ferocious defensively, but even his
smaller teams never spread the court so effectively, never had such success
hitting the backdoor, and certainly never used the three point shot so well.
Georgetown is doing is basically what West Virginia and N.C. State are doing,
and the openness of their offenses (meaning the open spaces it creates on the
court) and the necessarily unselfish play it requires, is not just fun to watch,
but highly effective.
Georgetown made their lives easier by making Shelden Williams a nonfactor.
He only managed four points in the game. And in fairness, part of that was
Duke's fault for not helping to spring him more often and for not getting him
the ball when he was open.
Fortunately for the Devils, four out of five times, when players struggle on
offense, J.J. Redick bails them out (it's not clear who exactly will bail J.J.
out if he gets shut down, but that's another story): Redick ended up with 41
points, including six three point shots.
Beyond Redick, though, Duke's offense came primarily from Sean Dockery and
Greg Paulus. Both shot 5-8 from the floor; Paulus ended up with 14 and
Dockery with 10.
There's really not a whole lot to say, and certainly no excuses.
Georgetown was unquestionably the better team, and while the comeback somewhat
lessened the defeat, it didn't change the fact that Georgetown imposed its will
on Duke until the final minutes.
And even in the comeback, Duke made a number of really dumb plays which short-circuited
any last chance to win.
After the game, Coach K said that "[w]hen
we don't match another team's intensity -- that doesn't happen very often --
then all of a sudden we do 'J.J.-watching,' where we're watching J.J.
play. We might as well get tickets and sit behind the bench. No one is
doing anything out there."
That about sums it up. Congratulations to
Georgetown for a tremendous victory.
Well, it almost sums it up. One of the
things Duke fans don't get to do anymore, and really haven't been able to do
since 1991, is to thoroughly enjoy the role of underdogs. Don't get us
wrong, it's better to win than for winning to be a surprise. But when you
see the joy at a Georgetown, or a Virginia Tech, or whoever it happens to be who
knocks Duke off, it's hard not to appreciate it and to be happy for that
team. And we are sincerely happy for Georgetown and especially for Coach
Thompson, a young coach who we have followed since he turned in a very
impressive stint at Princeton. It's his biggest win so far, but it's not
going to be his last one.