When my cable TV service failed 9 days ago, Time Warner’s first available service appointment was 8 days after I lost service. This is because Time Warner’s service representatives were fully booked. Time Warner Cable’s cable television unit generated approximately $5,700,000,000 of operating income on $16,000,000,000 of revenue in 2007. In spite of these robust profits Time Warner refuses to hire a sufficient number of service technicians, such that paying customers are denied service for unacceptable periods of time. If anyone wonders why there have been no Iceman recaps, it’s because I had no way to watch the games, since my evenings have been occupied with other matters.
Enough bitching. How about them Devils!?!? Duke was totally on track to lose this game to the rather unctuous Sortanoles. This game has all the markings of the classic Duke loss: Duke builds a double digit first-half lead? Check. Duke shoots and misses way too many threes? Check. Duke has too many turnovers? Check. Other team seems to be shooting uncontested layups on every possession in the second half? Check. Point guard is out of gas and unable to contribute for the final four minutes of the game? Che…. wait…
Last year’s team loses this game. Duke won this game because Paulus (who had been playing extremely sh*ttily) rode the pine in favor of Nolan smith (who was also playing sh*ttily) from the 10 minute mark to the 4 minute mark of the second half. When Paulus returned with 4 minutes to play, he had the energy to make several game changing plays that resulted in Duke winning the game. Last year, Paulus would have been too worn down to pull that game out. This year, he was able to make good plays when Duke most needed them resulting in a nice road win for the Dukies.
To be fair, Duke played pretty poorly in Leon County, save for a five minute stretch in the first half that was fueled by Jon Scheyer’s outstanding play. During that stretch, Duke was able to get the transition game rolling off of Florida State’s missed shots and turnovers such that it was able to quickly build a 15 point lead. Outside of that stretch, Duke’s offense seemed pretty content to either jack up an out-of-rhythm three (Duke shot 7-27 from threeland) or turn the ball over (Duke had 20).
Duke’s defense was solid in the first half but awful for much of the second half. The difference in good defense and bad defense was subtle, but had dramatic effects on FSU’s offensive productivity. In the first half, Duke’s overplay and ball pressure were smarter than in the second half. In both halves, Duke hustled on the defensive end, but the second half was full of poorly timed steal attempts, when the smarter play would have been simply to man up and force the opponent to take a contested shot. Instead, Duke’s defenders gambled and lost time and time again, allowing the opponent to take uncontested layups. Duke’s defnsive rotation also sucked for most of the second half, which aided Florida State’s assault on Duke’s lead.
Duke does not have an interior enforcer to protect the basket in the event that the defense breaks down, so it must make sure that it takes calculated risks when going for steals or diving on the floor for loose balls, because if the aggressive play fails, the opponent will almost always have an uncontested layup. In the final five minutes of the game, Duke played much smarter defense and forced FSU to take contested shots which proved to be difficult to make for a tired team.
To Duke’s credit, it rebounded EXTREMELY WELL this game. Duke would have lost this game had it not rebounded as well as it did. The early box scores show Duke with a 40-27 rebounding margin on the glass, which is outstanding.
With the exception of Scheyer, Duke’s individual performances were certainly subpar, though I will give Kyle Singler credit for knocking down a huge three point shot after FSU had gained the lead that really knocked the Seminoles back. That was a huge shot, especially for a freshman in his first ACC road game. Singler found himself on the receiving end of some unfortunate foul calls, but he did not allow that to take him out of his game.
The Nelson/Henderson combo did not have a great floor game, but Henderson gets a hat tip for pulling down eight rebounds and Demarcus gets a chest bump for getting to the line and making 3 out of 4 free throws when Duke desperately needed points (even if one of those makes was a gift from the basketball gods).
Do we need to start worrying about Lance Thomas? Sometimes I think he is just being too aggressive, other times I think he is a complete spazz. I’m still not sure what level of contribution to expect from him. It seems that he is not going to develop into an offensive threat this year, but it would be awfully nice if he could provide a consistent threat on the glass. I think he is well-suited to mold his game after Dennis Rodman’s.