The Blue vs. Blue gang took a day to revel/recover before opening up the discussion on what exactly we saw on Saturday night. Weigh in on this and on Will's more "unique" take on the game below.
Will: It might be better for a Dukie to weigh in, or at least someone who can grovel and bask more appropriately.
Bart: Bask, yes. Grovel...?? I don't think that means what you think it means...or we could just not do anything. You know, like the Dean Dome crowd when Dexter Strickland came out of the game.
Will: Sure it does...basking in Duke victory always comes with an obligatory amount of groveling at the feet of your fearless leader.
McLeod: I have been throwing stones at Will all season that the Heels are the most Duke-like team as any team in the last several years. Big guys are soft, PGs are schmeh, and everybody better hit 3s or you're going to lose. Saturday night looked the same with the added dimension of Duke playing like some of the better UNC teams – able to get to the basket and finish, both with guards and bigs while hitting the outside shots as well, but not living by them – in essence, well rounded.
You can argue simply that making most of your shots and having the opponent miss most of theirs is a sure-fire winning combination. Outside of the first 14-0 run, though, the game was played to 55-53 – even. I was watching with a buddy of mine who’s not a big bball fan, and throughout the second half he was asking me at what point I would feel comfortable enough with the lead to presume it’s a win. I gave him some typical margin vs time remaining answers until somewhere between the under 12 and under 8 timeouts, when I saw that no UNC player had any fire in their eyes. You couldn’t look at any player on the floor or bench and point to him as the one who could bring the team back. They had been playing Duke even for the last 24 minutes or so and yet they had given up already.
Another point is that Mason is clearly more confident with Kelly in the game. I’ll throw out the Miami game where Kelly changed all offensive game-planning to ‘give it to Ryan’, but in all 4 halves of the VT and UNC games, Duke went straight to Plumlee on its first possession, and I think they all led to scores. It may be the lack of the impending doubleteam, it may be something else, but MP2 is most certainly a different player with Kelly on the court.
Now, can you argue for a POY who depends so much on another player’s presence to allow him to get his?? I won’t, but my opinion of MP2 is pretty well known…
Alex: I think you are not being fair to MP2 here - viewing this as your own kind of confirmation bias (much like I am guilty of when I heap on JMM regardless of production). In the 13 ACC games without Kelly, Mason averaged 16.8pts and 9.5 rebs - almost identical to his season averages. He only had two toilet bowl level games - 4 & 3 while fouling out in a loss at Maryland and 8 & 5 (mostly bc he wasn't needed in only 25 minutes played) in a blowout win at Florida State. I also don't think Mason is getting enough credit for minutes played - averaging over 36 per while Kelly was out and in four of those games he played 40 minutes. For a big guy to never come out of the game (even if that comes at the expense of not actually playing defense...) is impressive.
Ben: Is this the least memorable year of Duke/UNC basketball in recent history? I think the real story of the game was UNC being too soft to think about a hard foul on Plumlee on the last dunk. A missed chance to add some spice to this season's rivalry.
Scott: Agreed. Carolina is just so "meh." They aren't 2002, or even 2010 bad. But they aren't anything to write home about either. 2007 would have been a similar boring rivalry year if Gerald Henderson hadn't bloodied up Hansbrough, though. This Carolina team has reminded me of 2007 Duke all year, but has gotten the benefit of a weaker ACC to pump up that record.
McLeod: I don't know how you don't give Mason ACC player of the year, almost by default, unless you want to give it to Erick Green simply for winning the national scoring title. The more and more I think about Larkin, he had some pretty bad games that weren't much better than Mason's bad games. And as others have mentioned, his stats aren't materially better than Quinn Cook's. But Miami/Clemson, for instance, doesn't make the national news, really. Who's watching those games other than the final score? I still give it to Mason, but concede that no ACC player probably belongs on 1st or maybe even 2nd team All America ballots.
Will: Y'all are right. We definitely don't have a Gerald Henderson. I'm actually really pleased with how this season ended up for us. Third place is about where I optimistically thought we would be, and I've said from the beginning that I would be ecstatic if we could find a way to get one win over Duke and make the Sweet 16 (an expectation bordering on unrealistic) this year, which we still have a chance to do--possibly simultaneously in the NCAA tournament, depending on seeding.
McLeod: I believe you said "at least" one win over Duke…If you look back to the preseason, it looks like, for the most part, Miami and NCSU switched positions while everything else stayed about the same (at least in the top 6 or so).
Ben: I don't think UNC is even close to being "bad". I just can't remember two snoozers from this rivalry from recent history. The first game was absolutely boring.
Alex: I don't know if you could say that the game in Cameron was boring.... It was definitely role reversal of round 2 - UNC came out fired up and firing in shots while Duke looked unprepared and unable to do anything effectively. I will agree that neither game will be memorable though. Perhaps they will only be appropriate fodder for a semifinal matchup in the ACC tourney (the memorable matchups so often happen when we aren't expecting them after all) but I don't see that happening. If the Heels couldn't muster a better effort at home, I don't see it in Greensboro.
Scott: Carolina’s season will be defined by what they do in the tourney. Roy got them there, so there is that, but if they get dumped in the first round, that won’t do in Chappa Heeya. I am just hoping Carolina gets paired with a salty mid major in the 6/11 game. Perhaps a Wichita St. or a Belmont. All in all, that was about the most satisfying win in the Dean Dome I can recall. The 55-53 score after the 14-0 start is as reflective of Duke putting it in cruise control as it is any equivalency between the teams this year. It could have been worse. Happy to continue the discussion below……