Thoughts From the Other Shade is a regular feature here on Blue vs. Blue where, when we get a chance, we analyze the performance of the Rivalry’s other team in a recent game and see what we can take away. This week, a Tar Heel supporter tackles Duke’s pantsing by the Hoyas.
This weekend had a lot of great games on the slate, and it was a pity that this one probably was the marquee matchup because it turned out to not be as much of a game. The first half was a choppy back-and-forth punctuated by a lot of fouls by Duke and some inability to take advantage by Georgetown. However, that didn’t last long as the Hoyas started feeding off the escalating energy of the crowd and ended up shooting a blistering 70+% in the game to run away with it in the second half. I haven’t had the chance to watch Duke many times this year, but here’s what I can take away from their public humiliation (besides a small sense of enjoyment, that is):
- This Duke team doesn’t appear, to me, to be any different from iterations of the past several years. Coach K’s recruiting woes have been well-documented over the past several years but it seems really apparent in these types of games that his team is lacking a big-time difference-maker on either end of the floor. The Devils’ “Big Three” of Scheyer, Singler and Smith seem to be able to score with regularity, but I’m not sure you can count on anyone on this team to create their own shot or get a big stop when necessary in a one-on-one scenario. It’s a team with a relatively small rotation, where every player can do just about everything well, but nobody does anything great. Believe me, as a Heels fan I’m not trying to gloat - as much as it pains me to say it I’d rather have Scheyer or Smith running the point for my team this year than anyone we can put out there - but I just can’t see this Duke team having realistic title aspirations as they’re currently constructed.
- We can no longer lean on jokes about Duke getting preferential treatment from the refs. I’m not sure if the fan base believes the Devils are getting a backlash from years of complaints about ref bribing and getting tons of calls or if they think the team is actually weaker defensively this year, but whenever I’ve seen Duke this year, they seem like they’re commiting tons of fouls. I’m surprised that K is still pursuing such an aggressive man-to-man style when, as Alex and Bart have both noted, their zone d has been pretty effective in spurts this year and they’re not a team that relies on turnovers and/or fast break points to get their offense going, a la UNC.
- I continue to be surprised by how badly this team looks on the road. One of the clear advantages I thought Duke would have over the Heels this year would be the experience factor, with guys that had played in tons of tough environments on the road and wouldn’t get rattled. That hasn’t turned out to be the case, and I honestly can’t figure out if it’s a mental block with the Devils or whether the road games they’ve lost have been particuarly tough matchups for them. Either way, that’s yet another thing that doesn’t bode well for an NCAA tournament run.
One other thing I feel like I have to mention is that it really seems like the President of the United States favors UNC over the Devils, which is particularly surprising to me seeing as one of the members of his staff is a former Duke basketball player.
They don’t show it on this clip, but he’s on a national broadcast with Duke as one of the parties involved, and can’t help but gush about his time with the Heels when asked about playing pickup with them on the campaign trail last year. Maybe it’s just me hearing things, but it seems like he’s got just a little more pep in his step when he talks about UNC as opposed to either team that was putting on a show in front of him.