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Slow Watching The Second Half Of Duke-Gonzaga

Continental Tire Challenge - Gonzaga v Duke
 LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 26: Mark Williams #15 of the Duke Blue Devils is fouled by Chet Holmgren #34 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the Continental Tire Challenge at T-Mobile Arena on November 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Here’s what we noticed slow-watching the second half of Duke-Gonzaga. Lots of exciting things but lots to work on too. We hope to keep doing this but it takes a lot of time. We’ll do our best though.

  • 19:51: Holmgren gets the best of Banchero on this play but few notice Banchero nearly gets the ball back.
  • 19:38: Timme hooks Williams under the basket for an early third. But really he first fouled him at the top of the key.
  • 19:27: Holmgren thinks about it but no way in hell is he going to try to block this dunk by Williams. Nowhere near strong enough.
  • 19:18: Timme really wants to strike back here, so much so that he takes it right at Williams. Not a good idea.
  • 19:07: This is a really interesting play. Watch Moore try to rub past Banchero then to climb Mt. Holmgren. But there’s a landslide - Holmgren’s arm - so he passes out to Roach who whips it to Keels for a three point attempt. No basket, but beautiful ball movement.
  • 18:49: Holmgren tries to maneuver on Banchero but in the lane he sees both Banchero and Williams, so he balks and gets rid of the ball. Timme to Strawther for three! More pretty basketball.
  • 18:13: Moore is literally jumping up and down for an open three. When Roach finally gets him the ball, Moore puts Duke back on top.
  • 18:04: Williams and Duke generally have been really good at poking the ball loose from behind all season. This time the refs said no.
  • 18:03: Williams falls asleep and Timme burns him on the in-bounds. On the bright side, Williams stands down once he’s beat. No cheap fouls here. Could have been a game changer.
  • 17:46: He has average athleticism but Timme’s mind is part of his greatness. He could have picked up #4 here but didn’t. The answer to what Williams just did really.
  • 17:02: This is the Williams foul that we thought was a legit block. It’s his third. Refer back to 18:03. Also, minor but interesting point: when he complains to the official he doesn’t loom over him. He leans over to do it at the ref’s level. Now that’s smart. Really smart. He makes a pretty funny face actually. But he’s still complaining at the foul line and actually he may have pushed his luck a few times in this game with his body language. Needs to be careful.
  • 16:47: Well look. There’s no question there was a foul here. But some fouls are funnier than others. We have two dogs, one semi-big and the other tiny and quite tiny as a pup. The big dog picked up a toy rope and started to play with it. The pup thought it seemed like a fun idea and grabbed the other end. But when the big dog decided to give the rope a doggie death shake, the little dog was still holding on - and flew across the room. Was it scary? Yes. Was it also funny? Undeniably. Well that was Holmgren vs. John on this play. He didn’t mean to send him flying, we’re sure. He just couldn’t help it. And unlike the pup, we hope Holmgren isn’t too scared to ever do it again. And the kid did bounce right back up, so there’s that. He may be built like a stick man but he has some guts.
  • 16:49: sorry, rewind: John’s elbow keeps Holmgren from straightening up. They were a bit tangled up but still. It’s amazing how little effort it takes to push Holmgren around.
  • 16:21: One of the things we really admire about Holmgren is how aggressive he is when he goes after shots. Not here though, but in fairness, he just took a serious tumble. He might still be feeling it. Nice drive by Moore. And it’s pretty amazing too because he never threatened to shoot. Nemhard just let him by. No doubt they’ll point it out in film session.
  • 15:50: For all the talk about Timme’s great footwork, it doesn’t always apply on defense. And he doesn’t really seem to be trying that hard here either as John gets an easy jump hook. Holmgren wants to help but he knows he can’t leave Banchero alone.
  • 15:38: Holmgren has a nice idea for a high-low play with Timme but John sneaks in and taps it loose.
  • 15:16: John gets another jump hook, this time in the lane and left-handed and over Timme again. With three fouls, Timme is smart enough not to reach.
  • 14:45: With a hand on John’s chest and John stumbling, Timme was lucky not to get #4 right here.
  • 14:22: We’ve pointed out a bunch of places where Holmgren’s frailty costs him but…what is this about? Couldn’t he just go straight up? Principle of verticality and all that? He looks like a bunch of pipes that just fell off the back of a truck. He does get the follow up however. This is also where we first see Banchero cramp. Watch his toes, then watch him hobble to pass it inbounds. Moore checks out too, apparently also cramping somewhat.
  • 13:57: Another poor pass by Holmgren, who makes Bolton jump to catch it and he can’t.
  • 13:48: Normally what Griffin does here would be smart (helping on defense) but he left Watson alone and Watson got behind him for an easy basket. Or maybe Moore should have helped Griffin. Either way, no one was watching Watson.
  • 13:23: This drive was not a great decision by Keels. He’s been exceptionally mature all season but not as much so this game.
  • 13:14: Holmgren fakes Baker and then shoots over John, who puts pressure on the taller player. Duke is not really giving Holmgren much at all. John was pretty close to getting this one which would have been a great block.
  • 13:07: Moore too has shown immense intelligence all season. This was not a smart drive as he tried to split two defenders with a third closing.
  • 12:54: Joey Buckets banks in a long three! Somewhere, John Wooden nods in approval.
  • 12:39: This is probably getting old but Holmgren isn’t powerful enough to impose himself on John. Or anyone really.
  • 12:34: Is Keels trying too hard? He forces another drive and gets blocked. Meanwhile, Moore was running down the left side almost ignored. He calls for the ball but too late. Keels is committed. Then he compounds the error by not getting back fast enough. As a result, Nemhard gets John one-on-one. John has done great work in this game but he’s not going to defend guards well in the open court and Nemhard knows it. That’s not ALL on Keels but part of it is.
  • 12:06: Keels tries to drive again, stumbles, passes out to Griffin, who tries to solo Mt. Holmgren. He’s in Chet’s world now and pays the price. Strawther ends up with a nice little runner.
  • 11:31: Baker turns it over and Moore gets a foul. Dangerous point in the game for Duke.
  • 10:42: This turns out to be a key turning point: Nemhard drives but is fouled by Keels, negating the basket which would have put the Zags up 66-61. They then turn it over.
  • 10:18: Keels charges the lane again and has trouble again but it’s worse for Gonzaga: Timme gets his fourth on a stupid reach-in.
  • 10:15: Williams scores on the inbounds. Instead of being up five, the Zags are up one. Gamblers everywhere are sweating it.
  • 9:58: Duke won obviously but this is - no joke - just a brilliant pass by Hickman to Strawther. He missed the shot but look again. He started to cut before Hickman had even turned to where he could see him. All extraordinary except the shot. And, broken record, Holmgren cannot assert himself for the board.
  • 9:58: Duke’s passing on the subsequent play is not as slick but still gorgeous. And Duke is back in front, 66-64 on a Baker three. No bank this time though.
  • 9:38: You know, Nemhard really is a brilliant passer. Again, someone got loose and no one saw Watson cutting.
  • 9:18: Holmgren currently intuits that blocking a 7-2 shooting a fadeaway is tough but if he had missed, he ended up at the foul line. And it’s a way to neutralize his main disadvantage. Problem is, it added another.
  • 8:43: Gonzaga presses Duke into a desperation Keels shot with just :03 on the shotclock but Watson blocked it anyway. Hickman scores on a one-man break to put Zags up 70-66.
  • 8:23: Bilas makes a joke here about Keels charging up the middle like a running back but the kid has not really played under control on offense. And each drive now it seems like he’s just determined to get one to prove he can. Which is not smart basketball.
  • 8:18: Keels! Stand down! Cap is going to show you how it’s done.
  • 7:55: Why does Holmgren burn his dribble like that? Now he’s in trouble. He also walks but isn’t whistled for it.
  • 7:44: Why couldn’t he hold on to this ball - in the air? Look, we know why everyone is sold on this kid and he’s going to be good. But right now, he’s far too thin and he makes some foolish decisions. Foot speed is questionable too. We’re just saying he has a long way to go to reach his considerable potential.
  • 7:23: Nice idea by Moore but he got called for the charge.
  • 6:27: Where is Keels going? Gee, hard to guess at this point. A layup has become his Moby Dick.
  • 6:08: Banchero’s only second half point.
  • 5:55: You really can’t turn your head on Gonzaga for a minute. Basically as soon as Holmgren starts this cut he has Williams beat - and he’s several feet away and theoretically could have adjusted.
  • 5:42: Keels drives again. Maybe he was told to do it as much as possible. Either way, it’s clear he’s going to try every chance he gets. At least this time he picks up a foul. Predictability is almost always bad in basketball.
  • 5:30: Keels makes an absolutely sensational steal here. Moore misses on the break but Williams is there to clean up. And as much as we enjoy a good dunk, a tip-in was the right play here. Gonzaga’s lead is down to one.
  • 5:10: Williams gets his fourth. Roach is a fairly quiet player but watch him check on his big man here, making sure he’s focused. Pretty cool. By the way, despite everything we’ve said about Holmgren compensating for his physical weakness, he hasn’t fouled in the second half. Still just two overall.
  • 4:52: Keels drives again but under control and finds Banchero for an open attempt. He misses but still, Keels mixed it up, which is good. Moore might have been a better option though. Small but telling detail: watch Holmgren. He keeps a hand up but switches them at precisely the right moment. Instinct is strong with this one. On the rebound - we’ve seen this before and will again - Williams can’t control it so he tips it out, in this case to Roach, who ties the game.
  • 4:40: Holmgren commits a double fault, if you will: he fails to see Moore stalking the inbounds, then fouls him when he picks the pass off and drives. Moore hits both to give Duke the lead back.
  • 4:19: Nemhard, usually content to pass, drives here and attempts to shoot over the long arm the law, aka Williams, which goes about as you might expect. And who’s there for the big board? Moore.
  • 4:12: We appreciate the alpha instinct here but Roach would have done better to wait. K stands when he shoots, then sits. Watch that.
  • 3:55: Some nice passing between Timme and Sallis here. There is no question that Gonzaga passes brilliantly. Timme had an open shot but whiffs.
  • 3:48: Keels is in the backcourt and it’s already clear he’s heading for the basket. He does draw a foul however but misses. This has turned into a learning game for Keels.
  • 3:38: Keels fouls Nemhard and puts him on the line. He’s going to be watching a lot of video the next few days.
  • 3:21: Three point shooting is a great strength for Keels but he hasn’t taken too many. He does here and misses. Still the right play.
  • 2:58: Nemhard shoots again, probably too soon and too far out and with a great shotblocker, Williams, ready. Nemhard has to step back to do this which puts him at the Arena part of the side logo. Holmgren gets the board with normal jostling and falls down. It’s a travel. His fatal flaw, strength, costs Gonzaga at a key moment. Bilas says it’s a foul and maybe so. But would John or Banchero have fallen down? Don’t think so.
  • 2:33: Roach dribbles into the lane with few options but finds Moore open by the bench. Not a great shot.
  • 2:18: Nemhard’s last shot was foolish. So was this turnover. For a smart point guard he’s doing some dumb things.
  • 1:53: Keels has made some poor decisions about drives in this game. This was not one of them. Timme is starting to look worried. By the way, Keels finished 1-5 on threes and 1-4 from the line. Banchero has to leave, possibly cramping again.
  • 1:40: Timme knows Williams has four and that he probably won’t risk a foul here so he takes it in for a basket. 76-75 Duke. Actually he wasn’t too far from drawing a foul on the spin. Williams stayed back though. He can do that and still apply pressure because of of his athleticism and long arms.
  • 1:13: Moore drives and draws a foul on Bolton. Cap hits both and puts Duke up three…
  • 1:05:…but it doesn’t last long. Moore is in an impossible situation, alone between Timme and Holmgren. Down to a one-point lead again.
  • 47:0: Roach suckers Bolton to his right with a fake then drives hard. We’ve talked before about how many of Duke’s guys drive left and shoot right. Well, not here. Timme thinks about it for a second but doesn’t go for the block, blocking out Williams instead. This is a shining moment for Roach. Zags call time out.
  • 35.3: Timme drives on Williams but unlike last time, he knows he can’t get this shot off the way he wants to. Looks like he’s trying to draw a foul. Didn’t work and Williams gets the ball back for Duke, snatching it away from Holmgren, who…flinches. It’s really odd. He reflexively moves away from Williams. The kid really needs the confidence added weight will give him.
  • 26:2: Fouling is not a bad idea, but Moore isn’t the guy we’d go after.
  • 21.2: Banchero lets Bolton score. Wise.
  • 16:0: Moore fouled, but misses the first. He hits the second, making it a four-point lead with :17 left.
  • 16:0: As Bilas points out, Duke presses to slow progress. Strawther challenges Banchero who shuts him down with 8.1 left. Timme hits Bolton with a quick pass for a three. Holmgren follows up but there’s just 1.5 left.
  • 1.0: Gonzaga puts Roach on the line. He splits to put Duke back up three and that’s all she wrote.