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Thoughts In Brief: Duke

So finding the flow for a 3U3D for this game just wasn’t happening for me, mostly because the Ups boiled down to “The first 38,5 minutes” and the Downs were basically “The last 90 seconds”. So let’s talk it over a bit differently.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
  • Bryant Crawford was the second best player on the floor other than Luke Kennard. He basically clowned Duke’s entire defense the whole night, and it took Kennard going NBA Jam to outscore him.
  • I’m not going to say Coach Manning doesn’t make questionable decisions, substitution patterns probably being the most notable problem. However, he is learning on the job and mostly holding his own against a who’s who of coaching. As a fifth year head coach (period), he is going toe to toe with guaranteed Hall of Famers like Roy Williams, Coach K, Jim Boeheim, and Rick Pitino, not to mention other really great coaches with tons of experience like Jim Larranaga, Buzz Williams, and Leonard Hamilton. Hiccups are going to happen.
  • Second half defense is unquestionably a problem, but I don’t think it’s as simple as Manning always getting outcoached or having no idea how to make adjustments. When you consider the caliber of athletes in the ACC and the depth of a lot of teams, our guys probably get worn down. Our roster is unquestionably getting better and deeper, but it’s not on the level of the Dukes of the world yet. It’s just not. That’s another variable.
  • I’m not going to comment on officiating too specifically, but what I will say is that getting so many of Duke’s guys in foul trouble PROBABLY made the officials tentative to blow that fifth whistle. This is not me saying they did a bad job or that they cost either team the game. What i am saying is I think it’s human nature for refs at any level to be hesitant to foul out a player, especially a star. You see it at every level. It’s the same thing as refs at every level very rarely blowing whistles on final possessions and the like. I’m not crying foul or calling bias, merely remarking on an aspect of human nature in sport that I think may have proved an issue for us this game and frankly, I’m sure, has benefited us in some others.
  • That said, we did not do NEARLY enough to drive inside in the last few minutes. We had been feasting in the paint all game, and we got away from that down the stretch, I think partly because we were trying too hard to be conservative and run clock. That was bad, bad, bad.
  • I think Brandon Childress might become a CP3-esque steals maestro before all is said and done. The kid has been picking pockets like crazy the past few games and it’s great.
  • This team is refreshingly awesome at the line.
  • Our defense on Kennard may have been bad for stretches, but the dude also just made some absurd shots, and to a degree I think because Kennard is so good, he made things look easy even when they weren’t.
  • I’m going to take something positive out of the technical foul situation. That only happens if we got in Duke’s heads. We had them shook, and while they ripped our hearts out eventually, a fight doesn’t almost break out if one team knows they’re better than the other seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Wake Forest brought that chippiness out of Duke. That means we’re not a non-factor any more, and that’s good.

Infuriating? Oh yes. Disappointing? Beyond words. Worth burning it all down over? Heck no.

Let’s beat the wheels off BC and get our second road conference win since I was barely out of school, shall we?

On to the next. Go Deacs.