"Pre-Season" Ends With Another Win


After a sluggish start, the Duke Blue Devils delivered a good-old fashion ass-whopping on Colgate, 110-58. Of course when I say “sluggish start” I’m certainly knit-picking. Duke was up 21-15 with eight minutes gone by. It’s not like they were losing. Of course after they put on a 66-point display in the second half, you couldn’t help but feel a bit cheated with Duke “only” scoring 44 in the first half. Oh to be a spoiled Duke fan.

…Kyle Singler nailed that three-point shot to open up the second half. Yes, Duke was already up 18 points and over the last 12 minutes of the first half, went on a 23-11 run, but 18 points against an 0-2 Colgate team just didn’t feel right. The fact was, Singler had been struggling on the offensive end. He was only 2-10 heading into half time. When he came out and nailed that three, you just knew it was going to be showtime from that moment on.

Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith. Duke’s starting backfield was on a race to 10 assists. Both game up short…one short. Both Irving and Smith produced nine assists each. It’s stats like this that should put to rest the “chemistry” concerns on this team. The fact is, both Irving and Smith are two guy who can own a game with their scoring abilities, but they choose to win with their teammates.

…Miles Plumlee. The oldest Plumlee started a second-straight game on the bench. In the first half, he continued to struggle. He did manage a couple of offensive rebounds, a block and a steal, but he failed to make a shot.

In the second half though, Miles seemed to relax a little (it helps to have a 30-point lead). He ended up having his best game of this young season. He hit four of his last five, scoring nine, grabbing eight rebounds (six offensive) and finishing with three steals.

This wasn’t easy. No player scored in double figures for Colgate, no one really grabbed a ton of rebounds and certainly no one played any defense. So I’m giving some love to Brandon James, the backup forward. The sophomore averages less than three per game in his career and he’s grabbed six or more boards in a game only twice, but in 12 minutes, James scored seven (3-4 shooting) and grabbed six boards. Not too terrible.

GOD I LOVE STATS I: In honor of North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Duke shutout two Colgate starters tonight. (G) Pat Moore and (C) Lazar Bogdanovic were a combine 0-12 from the floor tonight.


Now granted, Colgate may not have been the biggest or the most agile front court Duke will face this season, but Duke’s big guys really stepped it up tonight. The two Plumlees, Kelly and Hairston shot a solid 11-18 from the floor, finishing with 31 points. The foursome’s scoring has gone up in each of the three games (13, 22 and 31).

The fact is, it takes big men longer to get rolling when the season starts. First, their offensive game is less natural (like for a guard) and has more to do with execution through repetition. The more games they play, the better they will get. Also, don’t forget Duke is running  a new, uptempo offense. Just as the big men need to learn to score within the system, the guards need to learn how to get the ball to them in the right spots.

Now if only we can get them to rebound better. Duke out-rebounded Colgate, but not by much (43-38). In fact, the Raiders grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. I hate to say it, but that’s unacceptable.

Duke’s freshman point guard is certainly living up to the hype. He’s shooting a solid 52-precent from the floor, including 54-percent from three. He’s averaging four rebounds per game and most importantly, he has a stunning 20 assists to three turnovers (none against Colgate).

If Irving has something to work on, it might be his aggressiveness on the defensive end. He’s only stolen the ball twice all season (both against Princeton). He’s also only committed three fouls all year. That should tell you something.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s been playing solid D, but take some chances. The back field is deep. Irving should be looking to swipe some balls away, leading to fast breaks. Get into those passing lanes and jump a pass.

Because there is only so much I can talk about in a 50+ point win for Duke, let’s talk about North Carolina’s loss. It’s not like North Carolina losing is that shocking. Sure Minnesota’s not a Final Four team, but there is enough talent on Tubby’s team. While Harrison Barnes shooting 0-12 is a bit shocking, he’s a freshman and that’s what freshman do. What was most shocking was that their was a way for the Tar Heels to win, yet they seemed unable to figure it out.

The fact is, Carolina’s big men, Tyler Zeller and John Henson were playing great (if you include Justin Knox, the three big men combined to shoot 13-24 from the floor). Henson was a master at roaming around the basket, while Zeller looked like a season pro with his back to the basket, yet when crunch time rolled around, Carolina’s ball-handlers forgot about them. They continued to launch threes…and miss, and they continued to turn the ball over. This is not the No. 8 team in the country. They may be the second best team in the ACC, but that’s because the ACC is a joke so far this year.

Well, that was a fun pre-season. Duke rolled over smaller, slower, weaker opponents. Duke’s average margin of victory during these three games was nearly 38 points per game. Most importantly, Duke looked better after each game, on both sides of the floor.

However, all easy things must come to an end. Now the fun begins. Over the next two weeks, we’re really going to learn what kind of team we have in Durham this year.