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Duke done

That's the problem with the Tournament. One bad game and you're gone. One great game from your opponent and you gone. Duke encountered both of those things last night against Arizona. Arizona shot 56% from the field, 60% from three and 76% at the line. No matter how poorly Duke played defensively, which was pretty poorly, the other team still has to make the shot. And Arizona did so with a high level of frequency.

Duke shot the ball fairly well. They were not good from three. But overall they were adequate offensively. Perhaps if Nolan Smith didn't have one of his worst games in the last two years the offense would have been able to keep pace with Arizona. But the guy who scored 20 points per game over the course of 30 games had one bad night and ended up with 8 points.

It happens. The best teams in the NBA and MLB don't sweep every game in the playoffs. Those teams have bad games. The best players shoot the ball poorly, can't get a hit, or can't get a batter out. Tom Brady throws INTs. His offense, which led the league in points per game last season, didn't play well enough to win.

Having said that, I think Arizona would give Duke a tough seven game series. They are the type of team that Duke has struggled with ever since coach K stopped recruiting elite athletes. Duke couldn't stay in front of Arizona. And coach K didn't switch to zone. Yes Arizona was already on fire from three. But if that is already the case going to a zone can't make it worse.

A big part of Duke's success has been coach K getting the types of players he likes and helping them grow into good players. But being smart or a good leader doesn't always make up for the fact that Williams of Arizona can play above the rim and then go outside and hit threes. I think coach K needs to do a better job of finding the right mix of players who are supremely athletic but still fit his mold. Because Jason Williams and Kyrie Irving don't come around every year. And when they do they don't stay for very long.


  1. Arizona is a better team than Duke and Duke was also fighting fate. Arizona has a habit of making deep tourney runs when no one expects them to. Then they usually don’t perform up to expectations in the seasons when they are expected to go deep in the tourney. This team’s run reminds me of the ’97 team that caught everyone by surprise. I feel bad for UConn; I think they have no answer for Arizona’s talent.

  2. They certainly match up well against Duke, just as St. John's and Florida State did.

    You mention the 01 team in your link. That Duke team was supremely talented, as was that Arizona team. Jason Williams was incredibly athletic. Battier, Dunleavy, Boozer, Duhon all still play in the NBA. And Nate James was a solid player.

    Kyrie Irving is as talented as Williams, but obviously not as good with the injury this season. Nolan Smith is as talented as Duhon but just had a bad night last night. The current team is deeper. But I'd take Boozer and Dunleavy easily over the current roster.

    Coach K stopped recruiting a lot of those talented players because they leave early. The Singlers and Plumlees of the world can't guard a Williams from Arizona or a Sullinger from OSU.


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