Duke Rallies Past the Terps

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Maryland may not be a great team, but they’ve become the Blue Devils Achilles heal. Over the last fours years, the Devils have struggled to keep up with the athletic Terps, but this year was different.

Maryland, coming off their huge win against the Tar Heels, were obviously pumped. There wasn’t a shot they couldn’t make or a rebound they didn’t snag. The crowd was going nuts and it appeared the players just fed off it.
Maryland, coming off their huge win against the Tar Heels, were obviously pumped. There wasn’t a shot they couldn’t make or a rebound they didn’t snag. The crowd was going nuts and it appeared the players just fed off it. /

Maryland’s Osby was the man. Duke had no answer and the only thing that seemed to slow Osby down was Osby (who struggled to stay fresh). As a player, he was everything Deron Washington wasn’t. Where Washington just flopped around on defense, trying 360 lay ups into traffic (begging for a foul), Washington was a rock on D (along with Gist) and his low post game was solid.

However, as we all know by now, they couldn’t keep it up in the second half. Duke took over with stud pressure D, while Nelson and Henderson showed that they may not be the best duo in basketball, they’re arguable the most fun to watch.

The Blue Devils outscored the Terps by 18 in the second half, nailing down a solid (if not impressive) 93-84 win.

Three things stood out to me in this game. First, midway through the first half, when Maryland first started to pull away, Coach K threw the three freshman into the lineup all at once (Singler, King and Smith) and just like that, the momentum died (just for a bit). The three were not intimidated at all by their environment. They could care less what Maryland had done to Duke in the past. They don’t appear to be shackled by some of Duke’s recent failings or struggles. This will be needed in the post-season when Duke will try AGAIN to get deep into the tournament.

Secondly, Henderson and Nelson are becoming one of the best duos in the nation. It amazes me how easily they both are able to dribble penetrate into the lane. Although Nelson and his 27 points (career high) were the story, I have to say, I’m more excited about Henderson’s ability to pull up and knock down those mid-range jumpers (something that’s been missing in the college game for a long time). I hate to compare him to a Tar Heel, but he reminds me of a poor man’s Michael Jordan during his last three championship years when Michael had to rely less on getting to the basket. Two things will need to happen for these two to go from good to great.
– Both need to improve the free throw shooting (60% ain’t going to do it).
– Both need to shot a few more 3’s. Both are decent shooters from behind the arc, but as opposing teams continue creep back to prevent the drive, both Henderson and Nelson will need to keep them honest.

And finally, Nolan Smith. Quietly, this kid is becoming a star. When I first saw him I thought…Chris Duhon. However, over the last two weeks, while Paulus has struggled, Smith has been a spark every moment he’s in the lineup. He took it to the basket, he passed, he nailed down huge 3’s and most importantly he played solid D. I really have to ask, how long before Coach K gives this kid the ball at the end?

Player of the Game: D. Nelson…he took over in the 2nd, scoring at will.
Props go to: Bambale Osby…he could do no wrong. If only his teammates could remember who he was in the second half.