Duke Wins, The Sun Rises, Nothing Changes


The Duke Blue Devils improved to 2-0, doing what they’ve done for a decade now, winning at home against non-conference foes (that’s 79 an counting). LIke me around chocolate, Miami (the one in Ohio) could offer up no resistance in their first trip into Cameron Indoor Stadium. They couldn’t shoot, they couldn’t defend. They couldn’t rebound. Tough to win games that way.

…Andre Dawkins hit a three with about six minutes left in the first half. Why that particular moment? It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment when a game when you’re dealing with a blowout like this. The Redhawks led once, 1-0 and then Duke went on a 7-0 run. Technically you could argue that’s when this game was over. That would be boring and I would have nothing worthy to write about. So when Dawkins nailed that three at the six minute mark, it gave Duke it’s biggest lead (25-11). Miami would never get any closer from there.

Seth Curry was the man tonight. After a decent, but not great first game against Princeton, Curry admitted to being nervous. Hell, it’s been over a year since he’s played a competitive game, so no one blamed him for having some nerves. At first, it look like it would be an issue against Miami. For the second game on the row, Curry came off the bench and took a quick shot on his first offensive possession. To me, that’s just inpantience.

After that though, he looked as cool as a Jello Pudding Pop. He let the game come to him and he let his teammates set him up nicely. He finished the game scoring 17 in just 22 minutes. He hit his last three threes and was a perfect 6-6 from the line.

Note to Dell Curry (Seth’s dad)…trying smile for us once in a while. I know you’re use to watching your son dominate on the hardwood, but you look like a grumpy old man sitting their surrounded by cheering kids. Give someone high-five. I did it once, it felt liberation.

…Mason Plumlee. The big guy actually looked like a big man tonight. Sure the competition wasn’t great, but good players need to put up great numbers against bad teams. Mason owned the boards, grabbing 14 rebounds (three offensive). He produced his first career double-double with 10 points to go along with those two touchdowns worth of boards. Now if we can only improve that 2-6 free throw shooting, we’d be on to something.

There really wasn’t a lot to love Tuesday night from the Redhawks, but at least Nick Winbush wasn’t afraid to put the ball in the basket. He scored 14, grabbing six rebounds along the way. He shot 6-12 from the floor as the rest of his teammates shot just 12-42 (29%).

GOD I LOVE STATS: In two games this season, Duke’s opponents are just 12-41 from three. For those who aren’t that good in math, that’s just 29%.


Against Princeton, Duke’s offense ran through the seniors, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. They set the tone early with their offense. They finished the game with 38 combined points, hitting a solid 17-25 shots. They also combined for eight boards, eight assists and four steals. Tonight though, the seniors took a backseat to the rest of the team.

The pair only scored 18 tonight. While Singler struggled with his shot (3-11, 0-4 from three), Smith only took seven shots, playing a lot more point with Irving in early foul trouble. Last year, this would have been a big deal, but tonight everyone came out and did something. Curry and Dawkins were the sharp-shooters, combining for 26 tonight. Kelly hit a three-pointer, scoring seven, while Irving finished with 13 (more on that next).

What I remember about Jason Williams at Duke was his ability to just turn on a switch and take over a game. Tonight I saw that from Kyrie Irving. The freshman point guard got into some early foul trouble and sat for large stretches in the first half. In the second half, Duke had a 20-point lead, but let’s be honest, they looked a little stale. They were only winning 6-4 in the second half, with five minutes gone. For a moment, it looked like the Blue Devils might sleepwalk through this one. Then Irving decided to flip on the switch.

Over the next 3:06, Irving started doing what he did best…run, push, create. On his first trip down the floor, his pass helped Mason get to the free throw line. Next, he drove to the lane and scored a lay up, plus one. On the third trip, he drove again and was fouled. On the fourth he pulled up and hit a fade away jumper. After a turnover, he pushed the ball up quickly, helping Mason with an easy basket. Two possessions later Irving found Curry open for a three…nothing but net. Timeout Miami (Ohio).

I could be mistaken, but I believe that’s called “taking over a game.” In those eight possessions, Irving controlled the action. Scratch that, he FORCED the action and if he didn’t take the shot, he made one pass that either resulted in a shot or a trip to the line for a teammate.

In the end, Duke would go on a 11-0 run that demoralized the Redhawks. More importantly, it re-energized the Blue Devils. They would go on a 29-5 run before Coach K removed all his starters with just over five minutes to play. In that time frame, Irving would score 12 points, dish out two assists, not to mention the passes that may not have led to made baskets, but did get the player to the free throw line.

Because this is a blog, I always have to find something to knit-pick, so let’s talk Miles Plumlee. After a rough night against Princeton, Plumlee began the game on the bench. While you can’t question his energy and desire, he again seemed to be out of synch.

On the offensive end, he’s trying desperately to develop that back-to-the-basket game. While he did make one nice turnaround shot, overall he still seems to be thinking too much. He’s getting that ball and you can see it, his mind is going a mile per minute. The next thing you know, he’s shuffling his feet, not looking up at his teammates for an outlet pass and then he forces up a bad shot. It needs to feel natural. Right now it’s not.

While his brother still struggled a bit to finish some of his plays, Mason did a much better job of getting position and getting his defender on his hip. He just needs to stop trying to be Dwight Howard and dunk every shot.

Note to both Plumlee brothers: The two most dangerous and unstoppable shots for a big guy are the hook shot and the turnaround jumper (with a kiss off the glass).

Now it’s way, way, way too early to panic about Miles Plumlee. Remember early last year Brian Zoubek struggled and the entire Blue Devils’ nation was like, oh God not again. Yet, things finally started to click and the seven-footer looked like a stud in the paint come championship time.

Watching Josh Hairston out there, you can’t help but think of Lance Thomas. Maybe it was the fact I wasn’t watching the game on Hi-Def, but he looks just like Thomas. He was high energy and a little out of control in the paint. On his outside shot, he has a big high-arcing swing of a stroke, just like Thomas had. It’s scary.

While some folks might look at Duke’s 79 point total (it was this blog that predicted that Duke would score 106 points tonight, proving once again how clueless I am), you shouldn’t be disappointed.  Duke actually had a 44-point lead when they pulled all their starters. Miami actually ended the game on a 14-point run.

The reality is, Miami had a unusual game plan to stop Duke’s ability to run. They decided to ignore the boards and just get back on defense. In fact, head coach Charlie Coles admitted that he told his team to abandon offensive rebounds and just get back. For a long while, this strategy did stop Duke from running, forcing them into a half-court game. It also help Duke win the battle of the boards, 43-27. The strategy may have kept Duke from running, but it didn’t stop Duke from dominating.

The underlying theme  of this game was the ability of the “supporting cast” to step up when they needed to. As great as Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are, they can’t dominate every game. Tonight they didn’t dominate. That plus having Irving in foul trouble meant that others had to be great on the offensive end. Curry, Dawkins, Mason and even Kelly were able to hit open shots.

Of course that’s why you play these warm up games. Duke has one more such game when they take on a toothpaste (Colgate) on Friday…then the fun begins. Over the next two weeks the Blue Devils have a brutal four-game stretch that will feature a Big East team (Marquette) in Kansas City and could feature games against the No. 3 team (Kansas State) and No. 2 team (Michigan State) in the nation. If that wasn’t enough, then Duke heads to Jersey in a championship game re-match with Butler.

Fun. Fun.