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Duke 97 Princeton 60 : This Just In, Our Backcourt Doesn't Stink

Let the games begin !

Cameron and the Crazies were super hyped-up and overstimulated as they cheered in anticipation of the tip-off of the 2010-2011 basketball season ( Coach K actually commented that it was the best opening game crowd in his tenure at Duke). The students were wearing viking helmets to honor line monitor and Senior Drew Everson, who died tragically several weeks ago and was known to wear a viking helmet to Duke games, Crazy Towel Guy was getting his towel waving arm loosened up, and the Everytime-We-Touch-dancing-to-guy was gearing up for his usual ( semi -embarrassing) shenanigans. Unfortunately, the Blue Devils took a little too much of that energy out on the court with them against the Princeton Tigers in the first half, paving the way for some truly unspectacular and sloppy play. Kyle and Nolan completely carried the team in the first half ( as one might expect they will do at times this year), scoring 27 of the team’s 42 points, as all the other Devils shot a dismal 4-18 from the floor. Most critically, Duke was outrebounded by 4 in the half ( and 2 for the game). Getting outrebounded by Princeton with 2 players with the size, strength, athleticism and experience of the Plumlees on the low blocks, is, frankly, inexcusable. Our frontcourt’s development was really the question mark about this team going into the season, and, if the first 3 games are any indicator, it’s starting to look like a glaring weakness. Miles looks like his body is moving too fast for his brain or his brain is moving too slow for his body, I can’t tell which. I know it’s early, but I can’t see any demonstrable improvement in his game from last year ( 2 points and 2 rebs? really?). Mason is still content with either the occasional stick back or the occasional 17-21 foot jumper, mostly relying on pure athletic ability for his contributions. Josh and Ryan both provided good bench minutes and energy, but anything above that would certainly be gravy.These 4 players combined to score 13 points and pull down 11 boards for the game. All of which makes me wonder whether we’ll see more of Kyle at the 4 than we originally thought, especially given how many good backcourt players we have.

So, let’s see,  that’s 13 points out of 97. According to my skillful numerical manipulations, that means our backcourt put up exactly… a lot of points. And they did most of it in the second half with some truly torrid 3 point shooting ( 8-11 for the half and14-26 for the game). Every one of these guys had their moments in the second half, as they worked the old Duke drive-and-kick to clinical perfection. Nolan picked up where he left off last year, weaving into the lane for his patented floaters, Kyle hit at least one shot from just about everywhere on the floor ( though not quite to this extent), Kyrie pushed the tempo and was deadly in the open floor, and Dre and Seth were just killing it from deep. Princeton, while a tall team in the aggregate, is not a fast team in the aggregate ( or individually), and , when the Devils finally started exploiting that advantage the game turned dramatically in their favor.

From what I have seen thus far this year, it is critical, given our speed and athleticism, that we push the tempo whenever possible. We did much more of this in the second half and it seemed to have a directly positive effect on our half-court game, perhaps loosening things up a bit.

Next up Miami of Ohio on Tuesday. For now, we say sayonara to the safety school that is Princeton University and a hearty “Up Yours!” to Bill Bradley.( who chose Princeton after committing to Duke. and look where that got him…)