Jan 5, 2012, 1:16 AM EST
I’ve never taken much stock in the top 25 polls.
There are too many people with votes that have no clue what they are talking about and far too many decisions are made strictly based the last time a team lost. Ohio State lost by four on the road against a top 15 team that had already beaten then-No. 1 Kentucky at home and they drop from No. 2 in the country to No. 7?
That just doesn’t make any sense. There is so much more that goes into the strength of a team beyond the simple wins and losses — Where was the game played? How good is that team on the road/at home? Was it a bad stylistic matchup? Did someone get in foul trouble? — that it takes more than just the skimming of box scores to understand how teams stack up. The outcome of one game shouldn’t necessarily change your opinion of a given team.
Now do you see why Gary Parrish has had such sustained success with the Poll Attacks?
It is that lose-and-you-drop, win-and-you-move-up attitude that has allowed teams like Louisville and Duke to climb into the top five this season when neither are top five teams. Cardinal fans had that realization last week, as they were beaten by Georgetown at home and the dropped by Kentucky at Rupp. Could No. 3 Duke’s 78-73 loss at Temple on Wednesday night be the result that bring the Blue Devils back down to earth?
I think so.
Duke is a flawed basketball team this season, but I think the reasons are different than what has been discussed on the blogs and message boards to date.
There have been two major criticisms of the Blue Devils through the first two months of the season. The biggest involves everyones favorite family of seven footers — the Plumlees. Coming into the season, Mason and Miles (Marshall is redshirting) were thought to be too soft in the middle for the Blue Devils to be able to compete with some of the other premiere programs across the country. Kentucky has Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones. Ohio State has Jared Sullinger. Baylor has a squadron of redwoods along their front line. UConn, Syracuse, North Carolina.
The one thing all those programs have is common is talented front lines with guys that will eventually be sitting in the Green Room at an NBA Draft. There aren’t many draft experts that would throw Duke in with those teams.
But so far this season, Mason Plumlee has been very good. He needs to get better from the foul line, but other than that, Mason has pretty much done what we all have asked of him: he’s rebounding the ball, he’s blocking shots and he’s made himself a presence in the paint on both ends of the floor.
Over the last six games, Miles has been almost as effective. During that stretch, he is averaging 9.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 2.8 bpg while shooting 74.2% from the floor in just 20.7 mpg. That’s pretty good for a back-up center. While the Plumlees are still a far cry from being elite big men, they are certainly better than they were given credit for early in the season.
The other major criticism involved Austin Rivers and his decision-making. Frankly, that was completely justified early in the season, but Rivers is starting to learn. His shot selection has gotten better and he’s making fewer dumb plays. You don’t want to take away all of his aggressiveness — that confidence that he can make any and every shot he takes is what makes him such a dangerous scorer — but teaching him to channel that aggressiveness and learn when to pick his spots is what will make Rivers reach his potential, and he’s starting to figure that out.
The way I see it, Duke’s biggest problem is that they lack playmakers and that they are a poor defensive team.
Think about it: who on the Blue Devils roster scares you in a 1-on-1 situation? Austin Rivers, yes. But Seth Curry is a jump shooter than can handle the ball. Andre Dawkins is a jump shooter that can’t handle the ball. Ty Thornton is a defender. Quinn Cook is a freshman. There simply isn’t enough raw talent and explosive scoring ability on the roster.
Defense is an even bigger problem. Curry, Dawkins and Rivers are all fairly poor defenders that lack the lateral quickness to stay in front of good players. Thornton can lock up at that end of the floor, but he’s a liability on the offensive end. The Owls exposed that perimeter defense, penetrating at will and creating open three after open three in the second half.
Duke has played two true road games this season. They were mollywhopped by 22 point when they went to Columbus to take on Ohio State and followed that up with a loss in Philly to a Temple team that has been thoroughly mediocre and is playing without their best big man in Michael Eric. They beat Michigan State in Madison Square Garden — which is always a pro-Duke environment unless they are playing a Big East team — before the Spartans hit their stride. They beat Washington in a game that was played in the Garden at 9am pacific time.
Hell, even their win over Kansas was aided by a Thornton travel that went uncalled.
Duke has had some impressive victories, yes, but when taken in context, their schedule is probably not quite what its made up to be.
My intent is not to say that the Blue Devils are a bad basketball team, because they aren’t. There is enough talent on this team — and the ACC is bad enough — that the Blue Devils are going to end up finishing second (at worst) in the conference. There are going to win 27 or 28 games. They are going to end up being, at worst, a three seed.
This is one of the top ten teams in the country.
But like Louisville, you cannot put Duke in the same sentence as the Kentucky’s, Syracuse’s and UNC’s of the world, at least not yet.
Dec 6, 2013, 1:23 AM EST
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Providence 50, Rhode Island 49 I bet you didn’t realize the Ocean State had a hoops rivalry like this, did you? The Rams and the Friars did battle on Thursday night in a game that turned into a dogfight pretty quickly. How emotional was it? At one point, Ed Cooley and…
Dec 5, 2013, 11:15 PM EST
Seton Hall established a season high for points in a game on Thursday night in their 92-81 win over LIU Brooklyn, with Brian Oliver knocking down eight three-pointers and scoring a game-high 26 points to lead the way offensively. In total four Pirates scored in double figures, but the win may have come at a…
Dec 5, 2013, 10:30 PM EST
In a thrilling game down in Richmond, Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams outlasted a tough Eastern Kentucky team in overtime, beating the Colonels 71-68. Treveon Graham led four players in double-figures with 15 points and Rob Brandenburg knocked down four threes, including a huge three to kick off the overtime period. That would be the only…
Dec 5, 2013, 10:01 PM EST
With Phil Pressey leaving school after his junior season for the NBA, Missouri had an important question to answer entering the 2013-14 season: who will grab the reins and lead the team from the point guard position? And with the team boasting an 8-0 record after beating West Virginia 80-71 on Thursday night, it’s become…
Dec 5, 2013, 7:51 PM EST
Throughout the history of collegiate athletics there have been instances of schools moving from one conference to another, only to return to their original conference shortly thereafter. This had not happened in the recent wave of conference realignment, but that changed on Thursday as Oral Roberts announced that it will return to the Summit League…
Dec 5, 2013, 7:11 PM EST
With the graduation of key contributors Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith from last season’s CAA regular season champion squad, Northeastern junior guard Quincy Ford was expected to be a major contributor for the Huskies. But after playing in the team’s first two games of the season a back injury has sidelined Ford, and on Thursday…
Dec 5, 2013, 5:55 PM EST
Normally when the discussion of someone being “posterized” takes place, there’s usually no doubt that a player was dunked on. But this video is a bit different, as it’s a compilation of three impressive dunks by Ohio State wing Sam Thompson in the Buckeyes’ 76-60 win over Maryland on Wednesday night. All three were alley-oops,…
Dec 5, 2013, 4:55 PM EST
After playing just over six minutes per game as a redshirt freshman, Duke forward Alex Murphy saw the task of earning more minutes become even tougher in 2013-14. With Rodney Hood eligible after having to sit out a season per NCAA transfer rules and freshman Jabari Parker arriving on campus, there weren’t going to be…
Dec 5, 2013, 2:53 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: West Virginia at Missouri, 7:00 p.m. ET The Big 12/SEC Challenge kicks off tonight, headlined by the Mountaineers treking down to Columbia to take on former Big 12 member Missouri. While there isn’t exactly a Final Four contender taking the court, this will be an intriguing game to watch simply because…
Dec 5, 2013, 2:17 PM EST
On Thursday morning, Anali Okoloji was suspended by George Mason for conduct unbecoming of a George Mason student-athlete. It stems from an incident in Wednesday’s game against South Florida. Okoloji felt he was fouled at one end of the floor and then, after a foul was called against him, he half-stepped, half-kicked South Florida point…
Dec 5, 2013, 1:02 PM EST
The North Carolina basketball team was just a bit fired up after last night’s win over No. 1 Michigan at the Breslin Center? How fired up? Just look at Joel James: Now take a peak at this pictures from J.D. Lyon, the team’s photographer, who posted these pictures on twitter:
Dec 5, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
Today marks the 35th anniversary of Dick Vitale’s first broadcast as a color-commentator for ESPN, and in a video that the network released today, we get a chance to see Vitale’s first pregame intro. A couple things stand out: – In his first broadcast, Vitale still managed to drop some nicknames. “The Kiddie Corps, T’n’T,…
Dec 5, 2013, 11:25 AM EST
Arizona State had a rough weekend out in Southern California for the Wooden Legacy tournament. They went 1-2 in their three games, which included a 28-point loss to Creighton and a 60-57 loss to ACC cellar-dweller Miami. Making matters worse is that Jahii Carson managed to hurt his ankle in the process. He played through…
Dec 5, 2013, 10:39 AM EST
BYU’s basketball team has found a unique way to promote games this season: by choosing terrifically awful love songs and convincing some of the team’s most recognizable faces to lip-sync them in ridiculous ways. Here, you’ll see Tyler Haws and Erik Mika joined by Skyler Halford and Luke Worthington singing “Because of You” by 98…
Dec 5, 2013, 9:11 AM EST
Vin Parise from CollegeBasketballTalk caught up with Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley and Providence head coach Ed Cooley. The Friars and Rams square off tonight in the Battle of the Ocean State. *Ed Cooley – Providence CBT: Let’s first talk about your Sunday night loss to Kentucky. Cooley: I though we played well in…
Dec 5, 2013, 1:30 AM EST
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Drexel 85, Cleveland State 82 (3OT) Frantz Massenat led the Dragons with 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds, and as a team Drexel converted 14 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points. Cleveland State’s Jon Harris scored 27 points to lead the way for the Vikings, with 24 of those points…
Dec 5, 2013, 12:21 AM EST
No. 1 Michigan State’s inconsistency final came back to bite them. The Spartans shot 35.9% from the field and 7-for-24 from three as they got dropped by North Carolina, 79-65, at the Breslin Center on Wednesday night. Michigan State had erased an 18-4 deficit, tying things up at the half, but the Tar Heels used…
Dec 5, 2013, 12:19 AM EST
During the preseason there were more than a few people who believed that Steve Donahue’s Boston College Eagles had the pieces needed to be one of the more improved teams in college basketball. With al five starters back from last season’s 16-17 squad, led by guard Olivier Hanlan and forward Ryan Anderson, there was both…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:39 PM EST
At this point in the season it seems safe to say that North Carolina has just one consistent perimeter shooter in sophomore point guard Marcus Paige. Entering Wednesday’s game at No. 1 Michigan State, Paige was responsible for 18 of the Tar Heels’ 21 made three-pointers. And with Paige also being their best overall perimeter…
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