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Duke 65 GaTech 61 : Hooray , We Didn't Lose !!!!!

As the penultimate seconds ticked away in the Greensboro Coliseum and Iman Shumpert’s  meaningless desperation heave went wide, I found myself screaming my tonsils out along with the extremely partisan Duke crowd , but simultaneously feeling the strangest almalgamation of emotions I have ever experienced. I have always thought that the english language falls woefully short in its ability to convey such complexities with concision. At times like these I look elsewhere in the linguistic pantheon , and no one does concise like the Germans. Schadenfreude ( a word gleefully applicable to all Duke fans this year) is a wonderful one word summation of the shameful pleasure one feels at the suffering or misfortune of others. (Note: while I personally feel no shame about my own Carolina related schadenfreude, perhaps there are those that do think it shameful of me. I happily accept this.) Today I was looking for something a little more complex, so I hit up a German speaking buddy of mine who gave me this to help convey exactly what today’s game stirred up inside of me : Fruedefrusterschöpfungserleichterung or (roughly translated) ” joyful relief from exhausting frustration”.  Feel free to use it, you know, whenever. Now, to the game.

Rather than give you a blow by blow in this article, I’ll paint with a broader brush, as the specifics (for whatever reason) seem not as pertinent as usual. The game overall was a grinding affair, which was utterly apropos as a conclusion to this year’s tournament. Duke held Tech to only 2 points in the first 6 plus minutes of the game as a really tired looking Jacket team turned it over 6 times in that span. It frankly looked like a blowout in the making with Nolan hitting shot after shot, but after a Maurice Miller 3 brought Tech within 5 at 10-5, the Jackets and Devils settled down to a maddeningly frustrating game of tug of war that essentially lasted the remainder of the contest. Duke would pull the lead to their side, going up by as much as 11 in the first half , due largely to the inspired play of Andre Dawkins who was in for the foul saddled Nolan Smith. Once again it felt like they were on the verge of running away and hiding, but for the next 10 minutes of the game Duke managed only 9 points as they missed multiple open looks and multiple open free throws. Tech was able to ponderously drag things back in their direction, pulling it down to 5 with 12 minutes left in the second half, led by the equally inspired Derrick Favors who, thankfully, we will never have to face again. Duke’s lead then rattled around between 5 and 9 points until Scheyer, who had had a miserable game up to that point, dropped in a 3 point shot that saw the Devil’s up 11 with 6 mintes to go. Yet again Duke failed to finish off the Yellow Jackets, going in to another offensive tailspin as they hit only 2 field goals in the final 6 minutes of play. Meanwhile, the Jackets reached deep and found the run that they had been looking for as they scored on 9 consecutive posessions to end the game. Duke was saved only by a 3 point shot from good old ” Better-late-than-never” Scheyer, after GT had cut the lead to 1 with 18 seconds on the clock. An Iman Shumpert layup and two Singler free throws later, and  I was pretty much ready to collapse.

The story of this game game can be told from several different points of emphasis: the ridiculously good  free throw shooting by Kyle ( his 14-16 effort set an tournament record for free throws made), the horrifying 27% Duke fg shooting in the second half, the turnover prone Jackets showing no quit in their fourth game in as many days, etc. For me it was largely about Duke’s inability to put Tech away by simply missing too many open shots. We’ve seen it several times this year and have remarked several times on the blog that our team’s sometimes startling inability to convert open looks will ultimately be the thing that does them in. We played well in virtually all aspects of the game today except the most important one : putting the ball in the basket. It is this combination of often doing everything well except the thing that ultimately counts the most that , even on happy, winning days like today, makes me pretty sure my head is going to explode and leaves me with strange feelings of fruedefrusterschöpfungserleichterung. ( God, it just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) 

I finally started to come around as the players made it up to the podium and reveled for a while in admiration of a group that has played with as much team-ness as any Duke squad I’ve seen in some time. Our 18th ACC championship now puts Duke one-up on the Heels all-time and you know there’s no mixed emotions about that.

GO DUKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!