Wow, what a frustrating game to witness. Duke won by three, but man it was not fun. After Duke ran off 11-straight to end the first half (getting within one), I was ready to relax, but the Rams wouldn’t quit. They came in, not with a swagger, but with a confidence I rarely see from a non-conference foe. To make it worse, they were wearing those God-awful baby blues that some other team also wears.
Everytime it looked like Duke was ready to make a run in the secondh half, Jimmy Baron (right) personally stuck a three-point dagger through my heart. I finally started to feel the pain all those Reddick haters felt. I was forced to stand and pace as the Rams shot 80% from the floor in the first 12 minutes of the second half. I was already prepared to title my post “66-1″ after Duke’s defeat, referring to their first non-conference loss in Cameron in 67 games. In the end, Singler and Scheyer took over, Baron finally fell apart at the end (travel, missed two, missed half court shot), and Duke earned a tough three-point win.
HOW ABOUT SOME QUICK RANTS?
- Jimmy Reddick Baron. I don’t usually start off talking about the opponents with a Duke win, but I have no choice. Jimmy Baron, the coach’s kid, had a game that would have made J.J. Reddick blush. He hit 8-9 three pointers (I’m not including his half-court heave at the end as one of his misses). While I would love to blame it all on bad D, it wasn’t. Only one of his 3s was an open three at the line, the rest were either deeeeeep threes or he had a hand in his face. It didn’t matter who guarded him. He shot over McClure, he shot over Singler, he shot over Scheyer. Stunning game and major props to the kid.
- Also deserving of props is Delroy James. He looked so smooth playing tonight, hitting 9 of 12. However, he disappeared in the last five minutes of the game.
- Question, did I miss something or has Singler always jawed so much? He was in rare form tonight, sharing his thoughts with James and Baron on multiple occassions. I believe I saw a ref even talk to him briefly about it.
- Speaking of Singler, let’s go ahead and say it, he’s the star. I thought it would be Henderson, but clearly Singler is above and beyond the best player in a Devil uniform. When Duke was down, he launched the threes. When they needed a basket, he made the shot.
- Obviously we can’t forget Scheyer. He has certainly become more of a driver this year and had a sweet under-the-basket layup. Scheyer actually led the team in scoing (23), going a perfect 13-13 from the stripe.
- MISSING: Gerald Henderson’s role. What is the G-Man’s role on this team? This was suppose to be a three-headed monster of Scheyer, Singler and Henderson. I’ve watch two of the three games and in the two I witnessed, Henderson has looked lost. Tonight, he ran into early foul trouble, but what concerned me the most was, at the end of the game (the final three minutes), Gerald was sitting on the bench. I thought I missed a fifth foul or something (he did come back in the final 30 seconds). At moments he showed his brilliant athletism with a couple late rebounds and a couple NBA-style drives, but he only took six shots tonight and took ZERO free throw attempts. Hopefully he’ll find his groove in New York this week.
- The shooting was awful tonight. Duke made only two buckets in the first 12+ minutes in the game. They survived on free throws early on. In fact, as a team, they went 28-32 from the line. Anyone who has watch this team the last five years knows, that is outstanding.
- Nolan Smith, if he’s going to really be the starting point guard this season, he’s going to need to learn the Double D’s. No, I’m not referring to my wife’s breasts. I’m talking about the drive and dish. The man needs to learn this. He’s not a serious threat from the outside, but he’s an amazing penatrater (that’s what she said!). Sorry. However, when he goes in, he goes in to shot. What happened to the days of the PG driving and dishing to the shooters hovering on the line?
- The Bigs; tonight Zoubek started, Thomas finished and McClure got some solid time (Plumlee got two minutes on the floor). As a unit, they scored 16 points (6-8 shooting), pulled down seven boards and only five fouls. Not bad. The issue we will run into again is no post play. All of their points came off of passes coming off drives or pick-n-rolls. In fact, I don’t think one person made an entry pass to a post player in the first half. It became obvious that Coach K talk about it, because Duke went inside on their first two possessions of the second half.
- The rookies, non-existent. Plumlee and Williams played a total of seven minutes. Plumlee took one ugly shot. So far, no role yet for these guys.
- If Rhode Island is really only the 9th best team in the Atlantic Ten (they have 14 teams), then either Duke is not really a top-five team (probably), the Atlantic 10 is going to dominate (doubtful) or Rhode Island is a better team than the experts are predicting (most likely).
- That’s 67 in a row. Duke has won 67 non-conference games in a row in Cameron.
- The bench was weak tonight. Eleven players played tonight, but only three played solid minutes and only two scored (Paulus 3 and Thomas 10). Again, we have to say we’re excited about Thomas’ play. He lacks the skills to ever be a great player, but he has a lot of energy and we’ve always said, if he can learn to play this game, then he could be a solid contributer. Tonight he did a good job of getting himself into the right posiiton for either a pass or a good rebound. In fact, I feel like there were a few times other player’s missed him.
- Best Chant (I could hear on TV): To Rhode Island’s Jason Francis, the heafty foward (6-9. 280) shooting a free throw. “Please Don’t Eat Me!”
- Cameo of the night: Bobby Knight showed up. It seemed like an odd game to be at. Anyhow, even Cameron is too hot for Bobby. He had to ditch the sweater before halftime.
Overall, I have my concerns with this team. The word I keep using is ‘role’. It just seems like players on this team have not figured out their roles. It happens, I understand. We have three new starters, one that is a point guard. We have no seniors starting. We’re playing 10-11 players, I get it. However, sometimes people just look confused, unsure of what they should be doing. Again, this is an outsiders prospective watching the game on ESPNU, what the hell do I know? However, I will be getting up close and personal this week. I got floor seats for the Coaches vs. Cancer games in MSG.