Blue Devils: Bigger. Stronger. Better


The Duke Blue Devils did what they had to do. They took care of business early, giving no chance to an overmatched 16-seed.

Of course, this was expected, but if you’re like me, you have memories of Belmont two seasons ago stuck in your head. I wanted a whipping and was happy to see one, although I was a bit surprise to see that Duke couldn’t top 80 tonight. Oh well.


Because of the size advantage, the Blue Devils made a concentrated effort to get the ball down low to both Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas. The pair took 10 shots, almost all coming from the category of “creating your own shot.”

Seriously though, is it me or is there something part amazing and part frustrating to see Zoubek posting the ball up, turning around and hitting beautiful jumpers? Where has this been? Maybe that career-long foot injury really was bad.

The same goes for Thomas. Was I the only one who nearly wet himself when Lance dunked a basketball?

Don’t look now Duke fans, but Kyle Singler is playing himself into a nice draft spot in next year’s NBA draft. Over the past six weeks, Singler has been one of the best players in the nation. Yes, I said “nation.” In his last 10 games, he’s scored 20+ seven times. He’s grabbed at least 10 rebounds four times, producing four double-doubles. In three of those double-doubles, he produced 20/10.

He’s finally, after struggling all season long, starting to figure out his role as a small forward. He’s hitting the long ball, but is also getting dirty down below (he averages nearly three offensive rebounds per game).

I’m not predicting that he’s headed to the NBA, but if he continues to play like this, it’s going to be hard for him not to.

Tonight, the big three decided to relax a little, taking only 29 of Duke’s 47 shots. Obviously against a 16-seed, it was a good time to get people involved. The other Blue Devils scored 28 of Duke’s 73 points. And no, it wasn’t all in junk time. The “other” five scored 13 of Duke’s first 21 points tonight.

Clearly the game plan early for Arkansas-Pine Bluff was to spread the offense waaayyy out, hoping their guards would be able to run past Duke’s guards. Let’s just say it was a bit strange seeing no Golden Lions inside the paint, at all. Of course this allowed Duke to open up a 20+ rebounding edge early.

You have to hand it to Mason Plumlee, he’s willing to try anything. Tonight, he had two head-scratching plays from strange spots on the floor. The first, he tried to “dunk” a offensive rebound off his own miss, standing five feet from the basket. He’s long, but he’s not that long. There he needs to get both hands on the ball and then put it back.

The second one was a drive to the basket. He pulled up for a layup with about 10-feet left between himself and the basket. He’s long, but he’s not that long. There was no chance it was going in.

I’ve said this so much this season it’s starting to hurt, but once he learns this game and learns to play within his ability and from the right spots on the floor, he’s going to be a damn good one.

It was kind of odd watching Andre pass up three attempts, instead opting to drive to the lane. Of course he had little success, turning it over three times (two offensive charges and having one stolen from him). I’m happy for the confidence he is showing though, but he probably helps this team more shooting open threes.

Jon Scheyer took only seven shots and two free throws. It was his lowest output of the season (he did once only take five shots against Coastal Carolina, but he did take seven free throws too).

STAT OF THE DAY: You have to hand it to Nolan…if things aren’t falling, he simply doesn’t panic and finds his stroke. Nolan Smith started 0-7 from the floor tonight, but finished 3-3.

STAT OF THE DAY, PT 2: No Pine Bluff player scored in double figures tonight.