Wednesday, February 11

Previewing Duke

Even up in Wisconsin, I'm having a hard time containing my excitement for tonight's game. As usual, this should be a great game as Duke hosts the Heels. There's disagreement between the AP Polls and Ken Pomeroy's ranking system, hardly surprising, but popular opinion favors the Heels.

The latest spread has the Heels at -1.5, up from -2 at opening. The O/U is 156, suggesting the winning team will need at least 79 points to win. Ken Pom favors Duke at 81-76 and gives us just under a 1/3 chance of winning. Duke is coming off a big overtime win over Miami, 78-75 and the Heels recently cruised over UVA 76-61. Although many in the media have brought up the bad Duke loss at Clemson, they ignore the importance of the comeback against the U, where Duke was down 15 before tying the game with 10 minutes to play and winning in OT.

Greg Paulus has also been named the starting point guard, likely because of Nolan Smith's recent slump in production. Historically, Paulus has done well against the Heels, especially as a 3 point threat. This leaves Duke with four legit 3 pt shooters: Singler, Henderson, Scheyer and Paulus. Given the Heels' difficulties with high screens and pick & rolls, I hope everybody knows how they're supposed to play different screens. Given Duke's irritating ability to get opponents to pick up cheap fouls, Deon, Tyler and Ed better be careful when they switch on high screens. I predict we'll see a lot of pick and rolls that result in kickouts to the corner.

The Blue Devils also rebound well for a team known for perimeter and slashing play. If anybody recalls the BC game, they'll remember it's entirely possible for the Heels to have a difficult time on the boards. By sending everyone for rebounds, BC got a lot of boards and thereby gave us few transition opportunities. I wonder if Coach K will send lots of bodies to the boards to get more offensive rebounds or have people get back to stop the break. Methinks it will be a combination of the two to keep us on our toes.

Anybody else, feel free to post your thoughts/comments about tonight's game.


Ryan said...

Agreed on the corner 3's Cason. UNC's defense is typically a "4 v. 3" model. The defense works to move the ball to one side of the court or the other (safer positioning than in the middle), and then help off the weak (opposite) side to result in 4 defenders and 3 offensive players. The Devils are obviously a special case, in that no matter which side of the court play progresses to, they have someone semi-capable of nailing a 3 on the other side. I'd also like to see the Heels switch screens as they've done the last few times playing Duke. Tyler Hansbrough is very much in his element guarding a smaller player on the perimeter (just ask Toney Douglas), and if Ed Davis can use his length properly, he shouldn't have trouble either. The biggest concerns would be about Deon Thompson and Michael Copeland (assuming he sees playing time).

Cason said...

Ironically Duke didn't attempt a single corner 3 as the shot tracker indicates here:

They did run a lot of curls for open jumpers. They had a great deal of success in the first half with plays like these. Hansbrough being in foul trouble also meant any driving Blue Devil wouldn't have any resistance from Psycho T.

My favorite play of the game is here:

It's the first in the series of highlights as we see Tyler sets a pick for Ty and then rolls to the basket. Neither Duke player picked up Hansbrough. With 2 Duke players on Lawson (I think it was Singler and Smith but I can't really be sure), he could have passed for an easy dunk/layup for Tyler. However, Lawson crossed over his man and went by both guys, straight to the basket. He weaved around one more Duke big man for a tough layup that seemed to illustrate nothing more than the fact that he could go wherever he wanted with the ball.