Feb 24, 2012, 12:56 AM EDT
All we’ve talked about all season long is No. 5 Duke’s flaws.
They don’t have a play-making point guard. They don’t have enough of an interior presence. They don’t defend. Austin Rivers will never fit into a team concept.
Its been incessant. And I’m not innocent.
And through all that negativity, the Blue Devils have just kept on winning basketball games. Barring a collapse down the stretch, Duke has an inside track at taking one of the two No. 1 seeds that won’t be going to Kentucky or Syracuse. It may not be that close, either. Seriously, take a look at who the Blue Devils have beaten this season outside of the ACC: No. 6 Michigan State, No. 4 Kansas, No. 11 Michigan, Washington, Colorado State, Davidson, Belmont, Penn, Tennessee. That’s an insanely good non-conference resume.
Their two non-conference losses? At No. 8 Ohio State in early November when the Buckeyes played one of their best games of the season and at Temple, who is as under the radar as any team in the country right now.
And thanks to an impressive, 74-66 win over No. 15 Florida State in Tallahassee — fitting revenge for the three that Michael Snaer hit to beat Duke at the buzzer in Cameron — Duke is tied with North Carolina for first place in the conference and hosts their battle on the final day of the regular season. There is a very real chance that a sweep of the Tar Heels can be added to that resume.
Even if the Tar Heels knock off Duke on March 3rd and even with the flaws that this group has, the Blue Devils have to be considered a threat to make the Final Four after tonight’s performance.
Playing without a point guard like a Phil Pressey, a jitterbug that can get into the paint at will and make any pass to any player at any given time, the Blue Devils still managed to manufacture open looks from three all night against one of the best defenses in the country. Duke went 13-28 from beyond the arc against Florida State, with Andre Dawkins (22 points and 6-9 from three) and Austin Rivers (20 points, 4-8 from three, four assists and four boards) leading the way.
I’ts also worth mentioning that the Blue Devils, who were overmatched inside before being forced to play small as the Plumlees dealt with foul trouble throughout the game, were able to hang with the Seminoles inside. Bernard James got his — 13 points, nine boards, and five blocks — and the Seminoles did grab 16 offensive rebounds, but those are the kind of numbers you expect from FSU.
The fact that Duke held their own with one of the biggest frontlines in the country despite getting just one point and five boards from Mason Plumlee in 17 minutes is a good sign.
We can break down all of the stats we can get our hands on and watch film of every single possession of Duke basketball this season, and while it all may tell us that Duke is an inherently flawed basketball team, there is something to be said for winning. I may be in the minority here, but I firmly believe in advanced statistics and new and improved metrics to evaluate basketball at the same time that I believe in players and teams being “winners” or “clutch”.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: winning is a skill. The confidence to execute in late-game situations and the mental capacity to perform under pressure is a trait that isn’t found in every player or team. Think about it like this: how many players that are good jump-shooters struggle from the free throw line? Its not always about technique. Confidence plays a role, too.
Its the same thing for executing under pressure.
They came back from 10 down in the final two minutes to beat North Carolina. They came back from 20 down in the final 11 minutes to beat NC State. They erased a 17 point deficit to force overtime in their loss to Miami. Most importantly, they are 24-4 on the season and 11-2 in ACC play.
While the reasons behind those big deficits are quite clear, you cannot talk about the Blue Devils without saying unequivocally that this group has put together as many impressive wins as anyone in the country.
And in a season where the field after the top two teams is about as easy to figure out as “Memento” on your first viewing after drinking a six-pack, we need to started talking about Duke as a legitimate Final Four contender.
May 17, 2013, 9:02 PM EDT
One month after making the decision to return to Washington for his senior season, second team All-Pac-12 selection C.J. Wilcox underwent surgery on his left foot to stabilize a stress fracture that according to the Associated Press lingered for much of the 2012-13 season. The purpose of the surgery was to stabilize the fifth metatarsal…
May 17, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT
Last May 6-7 forward Sheldon Jeter chose to attend Vanderbilt, picking the Commodores over Penn State and Wisconsin and South Carolina with Pittsburgh showing some interest late but never offering the Beaver Falls, Pa. native. Jeter played 17.5 minutes per game as a freshman, averaging 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. And after one…
May 17, 2013, 6:48 PM EDT
In the immediate aftermath of Steve Alford’s decision to leave New Mexico to take over as head coach at UCLA, many wondered how much would he have to pay UNM in order to get out of his contract. While Alford and his representation argued that the coach, who led the Lobos to four Mountain West…
May 17, 2013, 5:50 PM EDT
A good week on the recruiting front for the Xavier coaching staff got even better Friday afternoon. 6-4 guard Remy Abell, who spent his first two seasons at Indiana, announced his decision to transfer to Xavier as reported by multiple outlets. Abell won’t be eligible to play this season per NCAA transfer rules, but he will…
May 17, 2013, 5:23 PM EDT
With three guards, most notably leading scorer DeAndre Kane, deciding to transfer Marshall head coach Tom Herrion was in need of some extra depth for his backcourt in 2013-14. Thanks to a commitment from 2013 combo guard Jaylen Brantley, the Thundering Herd won’t go into next season shorthanded in that area. Brantley, who played at…
May 17, 2013, 4:36 PM EDT
Last month it was reported that Purdue forward Sandi Marcius was running into a major complication in regards to his decision to graduate and then transfer to another school where he would be able to play as a graduate student. That major complication was Purdue’s refusal to pay for the summer school courses Marcius needs…
May 17, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT
Florida Gulf Coast was one of the best stories of the 2013 NCAA tournament, becoming the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16 and earning the moniker “Dunk City” (thanks to Troy Machir) with their attractive style of play and penchant for above the rim finishes. And next season the Eagles, under new head coach…
May 17, 2013, 2:29 PM EDT
After two quiet seasons at the University of Texas, sophomore Jaylen Bond made the decision to transfer. Bond, a 6-7 forward from Philadelphia, averaged just 3.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in just under 14 minutes per game during his Longhorn career. Friday, Bond announced his decision to transfer to Temple via Twitter and it’s safe…
May 17, 2013, 1:43 PM EDT
In his six seasons as commissioner of the West Coast Conference, Jamie Zaninovich has helped the conference improve its brand in a variety of ways. Whether it’s been the addition of BYU (Pacific joins this summer) or the idea to move the conference basketball tournaments to Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, it’s safe to say…
May 17, 2013, 12:31 PM EDT
While in Chicago taking part in this week’s NBA Draft Combine, former Kansas shooting guard had to answer some questions regarding the allegations levied by his former AAU coach, Darius Cobb, a couple weeks ago. In a story done by USA Today in early May, Cobb stated that he accepted $10,000 from a runner in…
May 17, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT
With the decision to keep assistants David Cox and Van Macon on board due in large part to their ability to recruit the Washington, D.C. and New York areas respectively, new Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan has one assistant position left to fill. According to multiple reports Jordan has found his man, as former Los…
May 17, 2013, 9:56 AM EDT
A few days after landing a verbal commitment from 2014 point guard Edmond Sumner, the Xavier basketball program made an addition to its 2013 recruiting class on Thursday. 6-8 forward Aleksandar Vezenkov, a native of Bulgaria, will attend Xavier next season according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Vezenkov played in 20 games this past season for…
May 16, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT
Three days after it was reported that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel would announce plans for a new project that would include a new arena for the DePaul basketball program the mayor did just that, unveiling plans with the hope of beginning construction in 2014. The multipurpose facility (which authorities hope will be completed in time…
May 16, 2013, 7:49 PM EDT
The name Harold “Buddy” Hudson may not be one that immediately sparks vivid memories amongst older college basketball fans, but the name is a very important one in the history of Oklahoma Basketball. Tuesday morning Hudson suffered a heart attack and passed away in Kansas City at the age of 75. Hudson is survived by his wife,…
May 16, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT
After one season at Villanova assistant coach Raphael Chillious has returned to the Washington program, the Pac-12 school announced in a press release Thursday. As a member of Lorenzo Romar’s staff from 2010-12 Chillious helped the Huskies win three conference titles (one regular season and two tournament titles), and the combination of his return and the…
May 16, 2013, 5:41 PM EDT
Rutgers announced the official addition of two players to the men’s basketball program on Thursday, as both incoming freshman Junior Etou and former Iowa State win Nkereuwem “Kerwin” Okoro are now Scarlet Knights. Okoro, a 6-5 guard who played his high school basketball at St. Raymond’s High School in the Bronx, played in just nine…
May 16, 2013, 4:31 PM EDT
The 2012-13 season was a successful one for first-year Canisius head coach Jim Baron, who managed to win 20 games and lead the Golden Griffins to their first postseason appearance since then-head coach John Beilein led the program to the NCAA tournament in 1996. Coach Baron will welcome back son Billy for his senior campaign…
May 16, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
FRISCO, Tx. — After the St. Louis Eagles lost on Friday night to the Jackson Tigers in the opening night of the EYBL Dallas Session they didn’t slump off the court and hang their heads. Well, they did, but they didn’t have much time to stand and sulk as they were quickly summoned to the…
May 16, 2013, 2:10 PM EDT
The Big Ten’s tax returns are in, and it’s safe to say that, as we all suspected, the league is loaded: The Big Ten’s return showed the conference with more than $315 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. The Big Ten, which increased its annual revenue by more than $50…
May 16, 2013, 1:40 PM EDT
John Calipari missed out on the best prospect that has come through the high school ranks since he’s been at Kentucky, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Wildcats will enter this season as the No. 1 team in the country. And it doesn’t change the fact that they are the favorite to win…
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