Yeah. I had to get that one in. Especially after the Crazies opened that pun-filled Pandora's Box with their chants of "Holy Sheed" (which I imagine will stick with Rasheed until he departs Durham). Here are some thoughts...
Freshman Leadership ? - Rasheed and fellow frosh Amile Jefferson displayed the type of fierce determination necessary to help their team bounce back in a big way from Wednesday's curled-up-into-a-fetal-position woodshedding against Miami. Amile was his usual high-motor,aggressive, long-armed self, working hard off the ball, and finished the half with 9 and 6. Meanwhile, Rasheed was going absolutely apecrap. From the 13 minute mark to the 6 minute mark he scored 16 of Duke's 18 points on 5 consecutive made 3's plus an 'and-1'. It was one of the more impressive personal scoring runs I've ever seen in Cameron ; positively J.J. Redick-esque. It was a good thing these two came out like they did, because our two seniors were astonishingly slow out of the gate. Seth was 1-5 from the floor over the first 15 minutes (before hitting a very big 3 to put Duke back up 7) and Mason had 1 field goal and 1 rebound over the first 11 minutes. A flipping of the proverbial script that I don't imagine any of us were expecting.
Quinn - When he plays his game, which is driving to score at the rim or driving to draw and dish, he is really, really good (He's the best passer in the ACC and I don't think it's close) That's the Quinn I love to see and that's the Quinn we got for much of this game ( 9 assists and 2 turnovers). The learning curve still remains fairly steep for him, however, when it comes to shot selection, and he was good for at least 3 terrible choices on that front again today on his way to a 5-13 day from the floor.
Seniors Step Up - The second half belonged to Mason and Seth. Mason chipped in 13 and 5, played really good defense on Alex Len, made good reads and strong offensive moves, and had one of the more spectacular dunks you will ever see. K's reaction probably won't get a lot of pub since everyone was too busy picking up the fragments of their minds and watching Mason pick up a T for woofing, but Coach looked exactly like Tomas Hill after Laettner's Kentucky shot sans the sobbing ( hands clasped on top of head saying " Holy Smokes!") Seth scored 10 and generally played well.
Stop Me If You've Heard This One - Duke got completely crushed on the offensive boards ( especially in the first half). At one point they trailed Maryland 20-9 in second chance points and lost the overall rebounding battle 43-34. The Devils largely corrected the disparity in the second half and stopped having to play defense 2 times on every Terp posession ; one of the main reasons they were able to pull away.
We're Talking About Practice ?!? - Seth Curry is about as up and down as you can get. His FG numbers in his last 5 games are ( 3-10, 8-16, 7-14,0-10, 5-14) If there's one thing we know that practice helps with, it's consistency. One can only imagine his scoring output if he were able to do that.
Good Things and Bad Things - Duke's defense was really strong throughout, with the exception of a rough start by Mason on the interior. He gets a lot of leeway from me on this front though, since early foul trouble for him would be absolutely disastrous for Duke ( something I live in fear of, frankly, especially since Ryan went down)... Duke had 18 assists on 33 FGs and at one point in the first half had 11 assists on 13 FGs... Duke's FT shooting was abysmal ( 7-17) I'm officially going to go on record and declare Mason's FT % surge early in the year a "Flowers for Algernon" period. Whatever the alchemical elixir was has officially worn off. He's a 50% FT shooter again...Duke had 4 turnovers for the game. That would go in the 'Good Thing' column.
Bye-Bye Maryland - Well, that's the last we'll see of the Terps in Cameron. I would say more about this if I had any more to say. I keep trying to find ways to care and coming up short. It does feel good to beat them, but only because I know they care so much. Check you later non-rivals, I'll shed no tears for thee !
The key to defending the Devils without Kelly is essentially this ; double Mason every time he touches the ball and put your best perimeter defender on Seth. In other words, make someone else beat you. On Saturday, Duke proved that they have other players who are capable of doing just that. Rasheed and Amile were both the beneficiaries of the attention that the Duke seniors were receiving. They cashed in in a big way and that is something that will need to continue to happen until Ryan returns if Duke hopes to be better than .500 in his absence.
This was a really good win for Duke, Miami notwithstanding, but was especially important mental and emotional "mouthwash" after Wednesday. Walking off the court today you could clearly see that it was behind them. Let's hope it stays there.