Tag:Duke Blue Devils
Posted on: February 10, 2011 10:11 am

Seth Curry needed this

This moment could have only come on the big stage.

Posted by Eric Angevine

I really had no idea that Seth Curry would put on such a show in his first Duke/UNC game, but I had determined ahead of time that he was one of the players I would watch closely during the contest. In a way, I felt uniquely qualified for the task.

Two years ago, Seth Curry was a freshman at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Plenty of writers were watching to see what he would do, because he was Steph's little brother, but it was very much wait-and-see. Since I lived just an hour away from the LU campus, and was trying to build a basketball writing career by applying a little hustle, I decided to drive down there and do a feature on the kid before anyone else got motivated to do so. My video interview with him ended up being turned into a short feature that was run on ESPNU during that year's Bracket Busters matchup between Liberty and ODU.

But enough about me. Here's what I learned from that experience.

When I visited Liberty, I saw a kid who looked downright bored on the court. It was easily disguised as a sort of unflappable cool -- it runs in the Curry family, after all -- but the game in the Big South was just too easy for Seth. He wasn't being challenged by the competition, and was unlikely to reach his true potential in that situation. Odds are, the same held true in the classroom.

Fast forward to last night's game, and you'll see the same kid: still cool under fire, but bursting with confidence and joy that could not be contained as the night wore on. Today you'll see photos of him laughing with his arms outstretched, or letting loose a primal scream after the biggest win of his career (thus far). The level of play he's seeing in the ACC engages his competitive fire in a way that Liberty probably never could have.

Now, that's not Liberty's fault. The small, faith-based college wisely picked up a player that never should have been within their reach in the first place. Seth Curry, like Stephen before him, belonged in the ACC from day one. Roy Williams could have likely turned the tide of last night's game two years ago had he (or any other ACC coach) made a serious run at Dell's second son two years ago. Curry's ascension to the limelight may have come a little late, but at least it happened, and that course correction has been good for Seth and for anyone (outside of Chapel Hill) who watches him play the game.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 1:25 am

No quitters in Cameron Indoor Stadium

Coaching advice=keep doing what you're doing

Posted by Eric Angevine

Durham, North Carolina -- I made a rookie mistake in my first trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium. When I left press row during halftime – with North Carolina up 43-29 on enemy turf – I left my laptop open to the page where I had been keeping my game notes.

When I came back, the Cameron Crazies who had been measuring the thread count of my shirt all game long had a look I have seen on my eight-year-old son’s face many times. The “I didn’t do anything” look.

I squeezed back to my seat, secure in the knowledge that one of them had, indeed, done something. Right below my final note of the half, which read “Curry directing traffic , sent Singler left then drove in for pull up 2 ptr,” was a line I had not written. “Devils have amazing second half comeback!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1”

If this were Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I’d give that kid top marks in divination, because that’s exactly what happened. The game that started with Carolina running the floor and scoring in bunches ended up a 79-73 victory for the never-say-die home team.

The first half had been dominated by UNC’s big men. Tyler Zeller went into the locker room with 13 points and 9 boards and ended up with 24 and 13, but in-between, there were just too many big shots by Duke guards Nolan Smith (34 points on 13-23 shooting) and Seth Curry (22 points).

“Seth started the second half and he and Nolan were… both of them were sensational,” Coach K said after the game. “Our defense really picked up. They didn’t get the fast breaks in the second half that they did in the first, in part because our shots were better. Sometimes you get so ready to play you just get nuts. We had to calm them down.”

Roy Williams concurred. When the UNC coach was asked why Harrison Barnes finished the game with just 9 points after making just three of his eight shots from the floor, he chuckled quietly, looked down at the paper he was creasing and re-creasing and said “It’s called the Duke defense.”

The UNC defense made Kyle Singler’s life miserable for 40 minutes. The senior never left the floor, but he struggled to get position against a variety of defenders, and the team effort by the Tar Heels held him to 10 points on 3-17 shooting.

Coach K thanked the fans – the legendary Cameron Crazies – for refusing to give up on the Devils, and there’s a word document saved in my computer that will attest that hope springs eternal amongst the blue-painted hordes at all times. Coach K’s final comment paid due respect to an opponent who once again made this game a pleasure for college basketball fans across the nation.

“A win over an outstanding program is a treasured win, no matter what the score is.”

Posted on: February 9, 2011 8:08 pm

Video: North Carolina warms up in hostile arena

Posted by Eric Angevine

This is the noise level one hour before tip-off.

Posted on: February 9, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2011 7:11 pm

Eye on Krzyzewskiville

Posted by Eric Angevine

Two hours before UNC at Duke:

Tryouts for Blue Man Group have broken out. Pure Pandemonium.
Posted on: February 8, 2011 5:01 pm

Barnes gets mentally ready for Cameron Crazies

These guys think they can rattle the Black Falcon?

Posted by Eric Angevine

As we inch closer to the North Carolina-Duke game tomorrow night, I'm keeping an eye out for articles that tell us something about the mindset of Carolina players as they get ready to head into their own personal hell: Cameron Indoor Stadium.

I'm especially interested in the rather unflappable nature of Harrison Barnes, who blithely told the Charlotte Observer "I think they're going to be excited to see me," when asked about the Cameron Crazies (above).

Barnes was coveted by Duke as well, so one chant we shouldn't hear is "you suck!". It's patently untrue and beneath the reputation for cleverness the Crazies have cultivated.

We've documented how rough it was for Barnes to live up to his own pre-season hype, but he's handled the pressure with a cool head, and spent his time learning how to fit into the Carolina system. He told the Observer how his mindset has changed over the past three months:

"Just developing into the system, it was a little different than I was used to," Barnes said. "Because in high school, I could do whatever I wanted - I could create whatever shot I wanted. And I had the ball in my hands the majority of the time.

"At the college level, you have to play off the ball; you have to learn how to make a move in a small amount of space with only one or two dribbles, rather than unlimited dribbles and no shot clock. So those are the things that go into that, and the more games you play, the more you can rely on your instincts."

As a result of honing those instincts, the 6-feet-8 starter makes his first trip as a Tar Heel to Cameron Indoor Stadium playing the best college basketball of his young career.

Carolina is peaking just in time for the game, which may be the closest the regular season can come to a tournament atmosphere. The only thing worth regretting at this point is that another stud freshman, Duke's Kyrie Irving, won't be there to make the evening complete.

Regardless, we know the Crazies will try to shake Barnes' confidence through any means necessary. They won't be the first to try to crack the Black Falcon's veneer, but something tells me the kid's got his head straight.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: February 6, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2011 4:13 pm

Larry Drew who?

Dexter Strickland and Harrison Barnes have UNC humming

Posted by Eric Angevine

I hope Larry Drew isn't holding his breath, waiting for UNC to fall apart without him.

He'll turn blue waiting for anyone to regret these numbers: 89, 69, 16, 3, 3.

The first number is UNC's points scored, the second belongs to Florida State. The next three represent freshman point guard Kendall Marshall's assists, turnovers and steals.

Thanks to Marshall's largesse, the numbers were healthy all around. John Henson had 16 points and 11 boards. Harrison Barnes 17 and 9. Ty Zeller scored 16 and Dexter Strickland had 15.

Despite all the drama surrounding his lineup changes and the sudden departure of Drew, Roy Williams has his Tar Heels right where he wants them at this time of year - contending for the ACC lead.

Heading into Wednesday's trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium, UNC is right behind the Duke Blue Devils in ACC play at 7-1. Marshall, whose elevation to the starting lineup seems to have catalyzed Drew's decision to leave, had a school-record-setting passing performance against the same tough Florida State defense that humbled Duke on January 12.

His fellow freshman, Barnes, played with a hard-won sense of poise that allowed him to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous message-board fans long enough to become a valuable part of the Tar Heel offense. Where some other athletes might have crumbled under the pressure (perhaps Drew did?), Barnes displayed mental toughness in working toward being the player he wants to be, rather than the player the nation's fans and pundits want him to be.

Today's result -- indeed, the results of the past two weeks -- prove that Drew's departure was a matter of addition by way of subtraction. With Dexter Strickland, Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock running the floor with big men Barnes, Ty Zeller and John Henson, every Florida State miss became a race to the opposite end of the floor. Forced to react on the fly rather than establish a half-court bulwark, the Seminoles were caught flat-footed far too often. Even when FSU had defenders in place, Marshall's passing was crisp and heady enough to result in points anyway. This looked a lot more like the Carolina teams we've seen in the past.

The Heels can't expect the Devils to give them as many opportunities to start the break with defensive rebounds, but they've found their mojo just in time to make the upcoming Wednesday matchup the most intriguing game in the country again. That's good for both teams, good for the ACC, and good for college basketball.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 4:46 pm

Ten championship-caliber offenses

Posted by Eric Angevine

In Friday's Layup Line, Matt Norlander mentioned that he was looking forward to reading the book Scorecasting, by Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim. Well, it just so happens that I have an advance copy of the book in my possession. It's an intriguing look at some of the hidden factors that influence our favorite sports. As such, it's not all about basketball, but there are several chapters that look at hoops.

One section that intrigues me is titled "Offense wins championships, too." It's tempting to call this chapter a debunking of the hoary old phrase "Defense wins championships", but it's not really a takedown, but a course correction of sorts. Take the following quote from the book, for instance:

In the NBA, defense is no more a prerequisite for success than offense is. Of the 64 NBA championships from 1947 to 2010, the league's best defensive teams during the regular season have won nine titles and the best offensive teams have won seven. That's pretty even. In the playoffs, the better defensive teams win 54.4 percent of the time and the better offensive teams win 54.8 percent of the time-almost dead even. Among 50,000 or so regular season games, the better defensive teams win no more often than the better offensive teams.
The chapter goes on to suggest that coaches stress defense in order to kick in a player's instinct for "loss aversion", which is the human tendency to hate losing even more than he loves gaining. Even so, a great offense is at least as valuable as a great defense, the authors argue.

Obviously, the NBA's 82-game format and best-of-seven series lend a different weight to the numbers, but the concept likely holds fairly true over the course of the six-game winning streak required to win an NCAA championship, though it takes just one stellar performance by an opponent to end the run of a superior team.

Pitt's No. 1 offense could portend a long postseason runIn the interests of exploring the theory, however, I'll show you the ten most efficient offenses in the nation, per kenpom.com.

1. Pitt
2. Ohio State
3. Wisconsin
4. Brigham Young
5. Washington
6. Boston College
7. Georgetown
8. Duke
9. Marquette
10. Kansas
(Kentucky is currently No. 12, and San Diego State is No. 20 in offensive efficiency)

Now, right away, there are some problems with that picture. Boston College has a defense that is No. 246 in the nation in efficiency. Marquette, while not quite as bad, has a highly suspect defense as well. You might not need elite defense to win a championship, but you at least have to be decent, right? So, for curiosity's sake, I decided to look at the top ten defenses and see which teams overlapped. I bolded the double-threats.

1. Texas
2. Maryland
3. Florida State
4. Kansas
5. Ohio State
6. Alabama
7. North Carolina
8. Nebraska
9. Duke
10. Kentucky

Given that Kentucky is so close to the top ten in offensive efficiency as well, we get a very chalky Final Four out of this listing. The single-elimination aspect of the tournament tends to weed out some of these elite teams, but there's little doubt that the top ten offenses list looks more like a list of championship contenders than the straight D list does right now. So, for now, I'd have to say I'm buying the idea that offense wins championships, too.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: January 30, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 3:44 pm

Hardy helps Johnnies wreck Duke in the Garden

Dwight Hardy signals one of several made three-pointersPosted by Eric Angevine

Duke lost a game. That's not big news.

But what's this? They lost to an unranked opponent?

They lost to an unranked opponent by DOUBLE DIGITS?

Now that's a story.

St. John's senior guard Dwight Hardy had a big game on one of basketball's biggest stages. The kid from the Bronx poured in 26 points on 9 of 13 shooting, and the Red Storm as a team made their living inside the arc, taking just five three-pointers and shooting 59.3 percent from the floor overall. The home team defeated Duke for the first time in eight long years, winning in convincing fashion, 93-78.

You may surmise that Duke did not shoot as well, but your jaw may drop when you see just how badly things went. With five minutes left in the game, the Devils were shooting just over 4 percent from deep. 1-21 to be exact. That kind of shooting had them down as much as 21 points on the Garden floor, though the shots started falling in rapid succession in the final two minutes, eventually raising that number to 5-26.

The poor shooting was reminiscent of Duke's only other loss -- at league foe Florida State -- though it was much worse than the 30 percent they managed on January 12th. Despite Duke's legion of hot-shooting guards, a blueprint is emerging for beating the champs - get physical inside and force them to take jumpshots. It won't work every night, but we've seen it work twice now, so let's call it a trend.

St. John's sits at 4-5 in the Big East, but this single win puts Steve Lavin's team in the at-large conversation, though there must be an above-.500 finish in the league and most likely at least two wins in the conference tournament to offset early bad losses to St. Bonaventure and Fordham. The Johnnies have a chance to build on the current momentum when they host Rutgers this week, and then travel for an out-of-conference date with the UCLA Bruins, where Lavin coached from 1996 to 2003.

Photo: US Presswire
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