TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume IX, Number V - November 25, 2005
Welcome to this edition of the ninth (we truly wish as much as you do that we were making that up), yes, ninth, season of Two Dukies Pick the ACC. Rob and Matt invite you to sit back, realize that prep school freshmen are the new jucos, get into a fight with John Chaney, watch everyone else flee Conference UselessA, and enjoy the following warmed-over material with your warmed-over Friday leftovers. That's Green Friday leftovers, darn it.
The TWO DUKIES name and material are, for some ridiculous reason, affiliated with http://www.dukies.com, and for even more ludicrous motivations, copyright 2005 Rigel Enterprises, Ltd. All rights reserved, and even though you may have had reservations yourself, we'd like to seat you anyway.
Matt's comments in blue.
Rob Mac K's comments in green.
#11 MEMPHIS (3-0, 0-0 C-USA) v. #1 DUKE (4-0, 0-0)
So I have a brand-new adorable little niece, which is pretty cool, although, quite disturbingly, she hasn't sported a single piece of Duke-related attire since returning from the hospital, despite 79 complete costume changes during that roughly 30 hours. This will be her first Duke game on television (the nursery didn't carry the Drexel affair), and, like most of us, she will probably be wondering why Duke doesn't play a zone, who all those tall guys on the end of the bench are, et cetera. Actually, though, Duke did zone Drexel a bit down the decisive stretch on Wednesday night, and (as usual) the Dragons looked lost against the approach. Moreover, Demarcus Nelson's injury, which I'm currently diagnosing as a 4-6 week nondisplaced fracture, since the Duke sportsinfominions apparently want us to believe that there is no medicine in the hinterlands of New York City, and they can't get a read on the problem until the team gets back to Durham (huh? Incidentally, that announcement just comes off as ridiculously cold-sounding too, like the team is more important than Demarcus' health. Badly done, Duke) is a classic "blessing in disguise" for the Blue Devils, because (a) it will likely provide them with a much-needed kick in the ass, and (b) it FORCES K to play Pocius and probably Boateng, which he just wasn't going to do otherwise, apparently. Oddly enough, Duke almost always plays well when key players are hurt, something dating back to that stretch when Grant Hill quite effectively took over the point in 1991-1992 after Hurley tweaked his foot.
Demarcus was rebounding well and playing good defense, and since Duke was actually outboarded by Drexel, a preposterously embarrassing statistic, that will be key. He's also very athletic, and that's something that the Tiggers have in abundance, while Duke now has a ton of white guys. Redick's defense continues to be awesome, though.
It is with great regret that I also announce that the Lee Melchionni Experiment needs now to come to a peaceful conclusion. Sure, he carried us for a time last year, and he absolutely does need to provide that three-point lift from the bench, as well as the intangible spark that he supplies very ably, but he is a defensive liability and, when on the floor with Redick, Williams, Dockery, and Paulus, makes the Duke offense about as predictable as a right-wing attack ad. He should be getting about 10-15 mpg, max, with the rest going to Pocius, Boateng, and Paulus. I wouldn't be offended if Jamal Boykin had some confidence shown in him by an insertion in the lineup at a critical moment, either. And, yeah yeah, he's not the most athletic player, blabbity blab, but is Melchionni? No. I like Lee, but his overuse is perplexing and needs to stop.
I hate John Calipari, who symbolizes everything that's wrong with college basketball. The only good things that he's ever done are get into that hysterical scrum with the Broad Street Goonie, and blast the Big East (always fun) after everyone in C-USA, their brother, and South Florida, for crying out loud, left him and his scummy program behind. Otherwise, all this guy does is whine and play psychgames that dupe no one, including my niece. Playing a road game against Alabama? Whine, whine. Playing #1 Duke? Awwwww, shucks, we're just happy to be here, lame, lame, lame. Johnny - - give it a rest, huh? We get that you have a bunch of prep school mercenaries on your roster this season to go along with a genuinely nice kid in Darius Washington, Jr., and somehow, we bet that you will STILL not make the Final Four, or anything close to it, because of the troublesome fact that you can't coach. As Tim Duncan was to Lil' Davey, so Marcus Camby was to you. Odom just couldn't find an Association franchise dumb enough to give him a huge contract, and is more ethical to boot. Not that being more ethical than you is particularly difficult.
Unfortunately, Duke often performs poorly against teams with coaches I can't stand - - see, e.g., last year's absolutely mindblowing sweep at the hands of the NIT-bound Sultans of Sweat. What was THAT about?? There are other problems too, most of which revolve around the aforementioned rebounding and athleticism. The Tiggers are roughly a seven-man team, and since both Alabama and UCLA are desperately overrated, it's hard to get a read on how good they really are. It is clear that they are very quick, and rely on easy baskets and unguarded three-pointers from their two forwards to build big leads, but they aren't overwhelming on the glass, their ballhandling is suspect, and they *are*quite young, after all - - 6-7 senior Rodney Carney is the only upperclassman who contributes.
Carney and 6-9 freshman Shawne Williams were burying the threes against UCLA, which is probably due to the fact that Howland employed the weird tactic of leaving them open out there. Uh, no - - they can both knock those down when unguarded, and Josh and whichever guard (sigh) Duke puts on Carney will need to stay with them out high and deny them that look. On the perimeter, 6-2 sophomore Washington is a tough competitor who prefers to drive and occasionally dish instead of shooting from downtown, and I think he might have a little trouble with Dockery (as opposed to Farmar, who is a mediocre defender) in his face all evening. 6-5 freshman Antonio Anderson, who should be a breeze for Redick to guard (boy is that nice to say - - and J.J. is getting serious media recognition for his defense now, too) and 6-9 sophomore Joey Dorsey round out the starting lineup.
Here's the good news: this team can be defended very adequately; Dorsey is a terrible free throw shooter and not all that mobile, which means big things for Shelden in this game; Shawne Williams and top reserve Chris-Douglas-Roberts, another 6-5 freshman, are just average at the line; Washington turns the ball over a lot, and his A/TO is flat; and other than Dorsey, no one is a strong interior defender, shotblocker, or tenacious rebounder.
Memphis has given up a lot of points to three squads who, at least in my mind, don't figure to be making much noise in the postseason, and if Duke can figure out how to exploit the mismatches in this one rather than be exploited by them, this should go the Blue Devils' way. Inexperience will be the deciding factor in this contest - - it's just a question of whose. I figure Duke will start slow as usual and squeak out a win, but a loss would far from stun me. Get well soon, Demarcus.
Duke 82, Memphis 81.
Duke 83, Memphis 79.
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