I was trying to remember what the heck happened in that early season showdown between the Devils and everybody's Sweet 16 darling FGCU Eagles and I thought " Hey, wait a minute, I have a blog about this stuff!" So here is my "What We Learned" from that contest early in the year...
- There is a school in Florida called Florida Gulf Coast. Their nickname is the Eagles. One of their school colors is the most hideous color green imaginable. Worse than Oregon Green, worse than Seahawks Green, it is the kind of green you are likely to see on the back of some retired insurance salesman on a golf course in North Myrtle Beach. It was the color of really cheap astroturf. Bad.
- If FGC isn't one of the two best teams in their conference, then I will be forced to reevaluate my opinion of the old Atlantic Sun. Everybody knows they upset Miami last week, but these guys really pass the eyeball test for quality too. They don't have a lot of heft, but they have athletes and shooters at virtually all positions, they are deep, and they are well coached.
- FCG travels really well (what?!). That was one of the larger opposing fan contingents I have seen in Cameron. It was also arguably the most vocal. The Eagles' student section was clearly hell-bent on trying to give the Crazies a taste of their own medicine, feebly chanting "You are nerds! ( clap-clap-clapclapclap)" and actually having the collective balls to give the "Scoreboard!" chant at one point early when the Eagles were up 5. Needless to say we didn't hear that one again. Points for trying, kids (not enough to do you any good, but...) !!
- A 30-0 run is really impressive no matter who it's against. Even more impressive is that it happened over the span of only 7 minutes of game time. The Devils caused 8 Eagles' turnovers in this span (and 25 for the game) and demonstrated yet again that their defense is vastly improved from last year's D.
- Mason and Ryan have switched Free Throw brains. Mason was 10-11 from the line and is now 17-22 on the year. Ryan was 3-5 and is now 7-13 on the year. Huh? It's been a real struggle for Ryan offensively so far this year, but he seemed to find something while helping to key Duke's run. Ryan scored 12 of his game total 14 points during the run and had several offensive rebounds. His stat line was great: 14 points, 9 boards (5 offensive), 3 assists, and 2 steals.
- Quin had arguably his best game as a Blue Devil, scoring 8 ( including 2 straight 3's to kick start Duke's run) dishing out 9 assists and grabbing 4 boards. Yes, he had 5 turnovers, but that was a problem for all the Devils (18). Most importantly, his defense was very, very solid.
- It was a streak show from 3. Duke started 3-12, then went 4-7, then went 2-12. Tyler Thornton and Kelly were (and have been so far this year) particularly abysmal. In general, I've been pretty disappointed with Tyler's play thus far. He's still the same smart and tough defender, but his shooting doesn't appear to have improved at all and his passing and decision making appears to have taken a step back.
- Mason scored a career high 28 points, exclusively through dunks, layups and free throws. The latter element is the most exciting part for me. They had absolutely no one to match up with him inside. Mason has always been good at dominating these kind of matchups through sheer size and strength. We'll see what happens as competition improves...
- Duke is still a bad rebounding team, Rasheed Sulaimon is still (and will remain) a beast, and Alex Murphy will continue to see no significant court time until he learns how to not get the ball knocked out of his hands every time he tries to do something (a notably useful skill for a basketball player).