Thursday, January 5, 2012

Duke loss follows familiar script

Every time Duke loses it feels like it's the same game. And it's been this way for years, possibly for the last decade. More often than not the team that defeats Duke has more athletic guards. The reason more athletic guards give Duke problems is because Duke plays man to man defense 99% of the time. It's a Coach K staple. He just loves to play aggressive, man to man defense in order to try and make the other team feel uncomfortable. But when the offensive player can dribble past the defender he negates this effect and creates an open shot for himself or another player. That's step one. The next step is to actually make those open shots. And like with Ohio State, Temple made a lot of those shots.

The other thing those more athletic guards do is make it really hard for Duke guards to get open shots. Coach K has no problem letting his shooters take 3 pointers. And like most other seasons, they have been very efficient shooting from 3 this season. This was the reason Rivers and Curry were leading the team in scoring. But against Temple they combined for 18 points on 5 for 16 shooting. They also played poorly against Ohio State, who like Temple could keep up with them off the ball and effectively contest their shots.

Offensively I'm not sure there is another Coach K can do. The best thing to do when you guards aren't scoring is to turn to your big men. And Duke did this fairly well against Temple. Both Plumlees played very well and kept the team in the game until the end. So despite a not so great offensive performance the team still scored 73 points. The real problem, and the main thing I criticize Coach K about, is defensively and the unwillingness to change philosophy. Zone is a four letter word to Coach K. Even when teams are consistently getting into the lane and scoring he doesn't try to counter it by going to a zone. Look at what teams are doing against the Miami Heat. They know that the only way to keep Lebron and Wade out of the lane is to play zone. Since they aren't great shooters they struggle to score. So if can work against two of the best basketball players on the planet it should work against college players. If Coach K isn't going to recruit great athletes I would love it if he could implement this scheme into his philosophy so that we can at least try to counter what happened against Temple and what seems to happen in a lot of our losses.

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