I haven't said it all week long. I never brought up anything having to do with reven..."/> I haven't said it all week long. I never brought up anything having to do with reven..."/> I haven't said it all week long. I never brought up anything having to do with reven..."/>

Sweet Revenge!

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I haven’t said it all week long. I never brought up anything having to do with revenge or payback, but after West Virginia ran their f*cking mouths two years ago when they knocked off Duke in the second round, I’m saying it now….

DAMN THAT’S SOME SWEET REVENGE!

Cam Thoroughman, what do you think of our McDonald’s All-Americans now?

Okay, that’s it. No more talking trash from the comfort of my own couch. Let’s talk basketball.

The Duke Blue Devils are one game away from winning the championship. It feel a bit weird, dare I say shocking, to write that sentence, but the fact is, I probably shouldn’t be shocked…at least not anymore.

The Blue Devils dominated the West Virginia Mountaineers tonight in the Final Four. The game may have been close early, but it shouldn’t have. West Virginia may have been within striking distance early in the second half, but they shouldn’t have been. The fact is, Duke dominated the glass, took open shots all day and handled whatever defense (man or 1-3-1) that the Mountaineers threw at them.

Maybe I should just say it…the Duke Blue Devils played a near-flawless game to advance to the title game against Butler.

WHAT DID I SEE?

THE BIG THREE FINALLY ALL COME UP BIG
I’ve been saying it all season long, “just imagine how good Duke would be if all three of the ‘Big Three’ played well in one game.” Well, we just found out. On the scoring end, Singler, Scheyer and Smith came up huge, combining to score 63 points. They alone beat West Virginia, 63-57.

JON SCHEYER
Can we go ahead and put to rest the “tired leg” syndrome? Seriously. All everyone kept saying was, “Scheyer looks tired, Coach K overworked him.” Blah, Blah, Blah. He doesn’t look tired to me. The senior had a flawless night, scoring 23, dishing out six assists and didn’t turn it over a single time.

NOLAN SMITH
Mr. Consistent. He poured in 19 and dished out six assists, but his greatest feat of the night…how about not picking up a fourth foul in the second half, after getting three in the first half? I’ll talk more about this in a bit.

KYLE SINGLER
Do you think Singler was auditioning for the NBA tonight? After having a couple of close ones swatted away early, Singler suddenly couldn’t miss, no matter how odd the shot was. That 0-10 performance against Baylor seems so long ago now.

Of course we’re just talking about the offensive production from the big three. Yet, the one thing that constantly gets overlooked is the defense these guys play. Smith, despite the foul trouble, bothered Mazzolla all night. He consistently forced him to give up the ball way earlier than he would have liked.

Scheyer may not get a ton of props for his defense, but he did a fine job guarding a taller, much more athletic Devin Ebanks.

However, the most impressive defensive job of the night had to be from Kyle Singler. He just frustrated Da’Sean Butler tonight, staying on his hip, giving him no looks from three. For the night, Butler was just 2-8 from the floor.

THE TREES ARE MEAN
All because I’m giving a ton of props to the ‘Big Three’, don’t think for a moment I’m going to forget the big guys in the middle.

Brian Zoubek again was a man under the rim tonight. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. When faced with a smaller front line (even an athletic one), Zoubek can just dominate. He finished with 10 boards, five offensive boards.

It is amazing what a little experience and a lot of health can do to a man. Did you see his last basket, where he took a pass six-feet from the basket, took two quick steps and laid it in? When has he ever done that before in a Duke uniform?

I’m not the only one impressed. Gary Parrish at CBS is willing to be you a hundred bucks that Zoubek makes an NBA roster next season.

MAKING EVERY POSSESSION COUNT
Remember when I mentioned Zoubek’s five offensive rebounds? You don’t? It was one freaking paragraph ago. Pay attention people. Anyhow, he had five offensive rebounds. Duke would score points after four of them (10 total second chance points). That’s how you win games, folks. Screw shooting percentage (although Duke’s was 52%), it’s all about scoring per possession.

Duke had 58 offensive possessions tonight. They scored points on 34 of them. That’s 59%. Even a Maryland Grad would know that’s good.

TURNING POINTS?
Technically the turning point was Duke’s 14-2 run in the first half. The one that turned a tight game into a 13-point lead. In that stretch, Duke would hit four straight three-point shots.

Of course the second “turning point” was when Da’Sean Butler went down. Yes Duke had a 15-pt lead with only nine to play at that point. West Virginia probably wasn’t coming back. Yet, when Butler went down, the air went out of the building and the Mountaineers’ fans were headed to the doors.

It truly was a rough moment. Butler is a great player and a class act. Right now I’m just thankful this wasn’t another Willis McGahee moment. It appears the injury is just a sprained knee. Get well, brother. I’ll root for you in the NBA.

CAN A BROTHER GET SOME STATS?
– West Virginia made six baskets in the entire second half.
– Duke had 20 assists and only five turnovers.
– WVU blocked two shots in the opening two minutes and two more in the final 38 minutes.
– Duke’s lowest FT attempts in a game (ever) was eight. Duke only had nine attempts tonight.
– Times I jumped off the couch to scream at the TV? Just once, to the surprise of many.

BOB HUGGINS, GOOD GUY, BAD COACH?

GOOD COACH – You have to really appreciate the moment after Da’Sean Butler got hurt. I have no idea what he said to the kid. In fact, I hope I never know. That was their moment. The man cares for his players, even if he doesn’t really care if they graduate.

BAD COACH – With Nolan Smith stuck with three fouls, I expected West Virginia’s game plan to be, “Mazzolla drive all over Nolan Smith!” How could it not be? When Smith went out with three plus minutes to go in the first half, Duke’s offense went cold. The Mountaineers should have done everything and anything to get that fourth foul early and get Nolan Smith back on the bench.

Yet, I can’t remember a single time Mazzolla attacked Smith in the final 20 minutes. None. Huggins allowed Nolan to play the entire second half (except for garbage time) with three fouls.

SPEAKING OF HUGGINS…
I’ll be honest, I was pissed off when I heard Huggins bitching at the refs after Butler got hurt. I’ll admit, I probably overreacted. I do that from time to time. In case you don’t recall, when Butler got hurt, it was a charge foul called on him. All Huggins kept saying to the refs was, “They (Duke) don’t foul, Jim. They don’t foul.”

Oh man, I was livid. Sorry, Bob…but that play, it was a charge. Zoubek clearly had the spot. Secondly, at that moment, here were the foul totals: Duke 8, West Virginia 7. The Devils didn’t take their first free throw attempts until the 12:32 mark in the second half.

In the end, I realized he was just a frustrated coach in the heat of the moment. If Coach K did it, I wouldn’t give him a hard time, so I should give Huggins shit for it?

UP NEXT…
Okay, folks. One more game. One more game against Butler. Coach K has already said it, they’re not a Cinderella story. The Bulldogs may be a small school and maybe technically a “mid-major,” but they are no Cinderella. They were in the top-20 all season long. They were ranked 11th at the beginning of the season. Duke was only ninth.

Yes, if you’re looking at the full basketball history of these two programs, it’s David vs. Goliath. If you’re judging these two teams, these group of players and what they have accomplished, then it’s not.

Baylor has defeated Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan State, all in their last three games. That’s a run, folks. This is a team that has beaten in the regular season, Minnesota, Xavier and Ohio State. They played both Clemson and Georgetown to the wire and lost.

My point…Duke can’t underestimate these guys.

Anyhow, I’m taking a day off tomorrow from writing. I got Easter eggs to hunt. However, I’ll have a Duke/Butler preview up by Monday.