What do you say when you took a major whipping?Â Well, that should about cover it really.Â Duke took a big whipping from Villanova.
Villanova held Jon Scheyer to 3-18 and Gerald Henderson to 1-14, and as people have said all season, correctly, if you can pin down two of Duke's big three offensive stars, they're in trouble.Â And they were.
Collectively, Duke shot 26.7% and made just 16 shots the entire game.Â That's pretty great defense.
Only Kyle Singler hit more than three baskets, and he was 5-13.Â The three of them together were 9-45; the rest of the team only managed seven baskets.
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So hats off to Villanova for a brilliant performance.Â Stack that on top of what they did to UCLA.Â Actually, American has given them the best game so far in this tournament, largely because their guards gave Villanova fits.
Needless to say, this is also the last game for Marty Pocius, Dave McClure, and Greg Paulus.Â None of these guys are going to be legends or anything, but they'll be greatly missed, particularly McClure and Paulus.Â These two guys proved to be the ultimate teammates.Â McClure has always been a guy who can defer to others and who finds ways to help.Â And Paulus has given everything to Duke for the last four years. In many ways, his finest moments were this year, as he realized that Elliot Williams and Nolan Smith filled Duke's needs better than he did, and he stepped aside and cheered them on.Â He's a tremendous teammate.
For Duke, the questions will soon center around early entry for Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler and what will happen next year.Â Henderson is a prime draft target, and Singler is a guy who will be valued for his toughness, soundness, and versatility.Â Are they content to leave on this note?
And speaking of next year, Duke will be radically different.Â One reporter has said that Mason Plumlee will start in the post.Â Brother Miles will advance a lot over the summer, and Duke will also return Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas, and presumably Singler, and add Ryan Kelly as well.Â It's a big size boost.
But that's next year.Â The fact is that Duke is measured against Duke's previous success, and a lot of people will see this season as a failure because Villanova dominated the final game.Â That's ridiculous.Â It's not a perfect ending, needless to say, but Duke won 30 games.Â That's a huge season.
They also, we think it's safe to say, were greater than the sum of their parts.Â It wasn't a perfect team, but it was a really good one.Â We're glad we got to see this sort of a season, the ending aside, and we're proud of this team. We hope you are too, and that you put on your Duke stuff and wear it tomorrow.Â Everything about this program is right except for the final score in the final game.
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