Tag Archives: Duke-Miami

Duke fights through the funk and gets a key win

This photo is courtesy of Duke Photography
This photo is courtesy of Duke Photography

Anybody who has watched a lot of basketball will tell you teams play in cycles.  Sometimes a made shot, key steal or more importantly a win will get you back on track.

Well, Duke hopes today’s hard fought victory over a game Miami team will pull them out of a funk.  It certainly looked as if the Blue Devils were on their way to a second straight loss after one of the worst half’s of offensive basketball I have seen them play.

Coming off the Clemson debacle, fans hoped to see a well oiled machine, but it became evident that Duke was in a mental funk and by intermission even the most positive fans were wondering if Duke could find any way to score.

While the first half was seriously ugly, the end result was beautiful for Duke.  Wise men will tell you that win you win a game like this, you let the first half go.  In fact, Duke should let the Clemson game as well.

Ironically, it was the much maligned Greg Paulus who was a key catalyst.  He made some mistakes but he played through them and continued to hustle forcing many miscues you don’t get credit for in the stat sheet.

Paulus three pointers and 18 points were especially vital considering sophomore Nolan Smith has all of a sudden got the look of a deer in headlights about him when on the court.

Singler struggled mightily from the outside and took a few rushed shots, but his toughness on the boards was vital as well.  The super soph hit just 5 of his 23 shots, but he had the presence of mind to keep shooting and that is what was needed.

Like Paulus, senior Dave McClure reached deep down to help his fellow Devils.  McCluers defense was stellar and his game high 14 rebounds were incredible for many of them were created by pure desire.  One needs to not that half of them were on the offensive boards.

And then there is Gerald Henderson.  After a single point before the half, he asserted himself to score 19 points and many of those were in one key stretch run.

The bottom line is if you look at individual stats and the Duke shooting percentage, you would think they lost.  But they didn’t and much of that can be attributed to half time adjustments where Coach K tinkered with his defense.

During the second half, Krzyzewski made another good move, calling a timeout after his team hit a stretch where they missed five shot in a row, all beyond the stripe.  He obviously told them to attack more and when they did it payed off.

You can certainly point to a lot of areas Duke needs work on, be it attacking a zone defense or getting players other than the big three to step up.  Actually, two did step up today and they were both seniors.  Duke could not have won this game without their spirited play.

In the end, there was one key thing which happened today and that was Duke got the win.  The way they had to fight back to take that win is something which cannot be measured with concerns to confidence.

Duke is now realizing how hard teams will come at them and they are seeing defenses designed to give them trouble.  Despite how bad some feel Duke is playing, they are tied atop the conference at 7-2 and won their 20th game of the season against three losses.

You see, it’s better to struggle or see those defenses now for those are the kind of lessons that prepare you for March.  Duke will now prepare for rival North Carolina.  The two teams will battle for sole possession of first place in the ACC and you can be sure that the lessons learned by Duke will benefit them in this game.

GAME LINKS -

Miami Journal 

Winston Salem Journal

Star Journal

Charlotte Observer

A.P.

850 the Buzz

Huge second half carries Miami to win over Duke

[private]The Duke-Miami game was a tale of two halves and the second and decisive half belonged to the Hurricanes.  Duke took a 17-14 lead into the locker room,  but Miami erupted for 35 points, after the break, which included 5 touchdown passes.  Four of those were thrown by a true freshman who had a breakout game.

The Canes came into the game winless in the ACC and for awhile it looked as if Duke would send them to their third loss.  Miami took advantage of their opportunities and executed when they had to.  After all, they are tops in the ACC when they enter the red zone and it’s as if their players all want to step up and score when these situations are afforded.

Duke held a 24-21 lead later in the third, but a 83 yard net punt shifted the field and momentum for good.  That momentum was helped by the Blue Devils top playmaker, Eron Riley.  The normally sure handed wide out dropped numerous passes within his grasp, but the real killer was a blocking below the waste penalty.  That call pretty much sealed the deal for the Canes in that Duke lost a nice running play.  The Canes then came back with a sack of Lewis deep into Duke territory forcing a punt.

With Duke’s top play maker having an off day and nagging injuries to the remaining wide outs, Miami showed why Coach Cutcliffe often talks about speed.  The Canes simply ran past Devil defenders on runs and patterns and their depth was evident.

While the final score of 49-31 looks bad on paper, the game was close for a long time.  There were a couple of positives for Duke.  The first was that they turned the ball over just one time and the second is that they got their running game untracked.

Duke must now rebound in order to play a tough Vanderbilt team on the road next Saturday.  If Duke is to win that game, some players will have to step up and make the plays it takes to turn the corner to victory.[/private]

Cutcliffe talks of the upcoming Miami game

[private]Duke Coach David Cutcliffe spoke to the media during his weekly teleconference Sunday evening.  The Blue Devil Nation was on hand to bring you his thoughts on the upcoming game with Miami.

Opening statement -

Coming off an open date I’m still not sure what our health is going to be like just yet.  It’s unfortunate with just five games to this point.  Our first business is Miami and the second is getting our guys ready to play seven games in a row.  Miami is playing a lot of young and very talented players.  IMO, they are the most athletic team we’ll see.  It’s a huge challenge for us.  It seems like forever since we played and we are looking forward to the ballgame.

On the Miami defense holding Central Florida to 4 yards rushing and 74 total yards

I have looked at that game and all the others.  It’s not a fluke – they’re that good.  They play a lot of people, they are extremely good up front, the linebackers and the secondary.  They actually took Central Florida and made their offense look inept. 

On practices in the off week -

Our practices have been good.  We’re coming off a bitter defeat.  Our attitude has been good.  We’re hungry and we had some enthusiasm and got better.  Again, we have some people that were out.  I won’t get into the specifics of that until Thursday and we will then evaluate where we are with our team.  We wanted to see why we weren’t a very productive offense.  We made some tweaks in the running game.  Of course, I’m not sure if anybody can run the ball against Miami. I think we are better than we are.  We practiced running the football and becoming more physical.  I think you have to be a physical football team at this stage in the game and we worked hard at that.  We had a lot of live work which is high risk for us with no more depth than we’ve got, but we hopefully got better.

On Duke playing three consecutive games on ESPNU -

I think it’s been good for us.  There has been a lot of people talking about Duke Football.  We have brought attention to game day.  I’ve had a number of letters and e-mails from people around the country who are seeing Duke Football for the first time – lot of comments from Coaches around the country have been saying we saw you do this and we saw you do that.  So, it’s been good for our program.

On the support for Duke Football -

I think people will be here.  I think there will be a good crowd here and I think there are a lot of people excited about football here at Duke again.  We will have a good football program.

A little bit and that’s one thing I’m conscious of.  I will have a light workout on Monday and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we’ll get into game speed.  We should be ready, rested and focused coming off the off week.[/private]

Duke Football is still on track

[private]

Duke AD Kevin White and Coach Cutcliffe (BDNP)

Duke lost that second half magic on the road against Georgia Tech this weekend and in the process dropped to 1-1 in the ACC and 3-2 overall.  The defense made enough plays to be in the game, but the offensive execution was the worst it had been all season in a 0-27 loss.

Quite simply, Tech’s defensive front manhandled the Blue Devils and a lack of execution in all facets on offense spelled eventual doom.  “You’re not going to win if you don’t score,” said a frustrated David Cutcliffe shortly after the loss.

Cutcliffe said in a Sunday teleconference, that his team had been practicing well, so until he saw them in a game situation on Saturday, he had no idea his team wasn’t as prepared as they seemed to be during the week.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for the Blue Devils, but before some of you fair weather fans abandon ship, take a few things into consideration.

1) No realistic fan expected Duke to go bowling this season.  Tempered expectations are a must for a team that was quite literally the ACC doormat.  Sure, we are to expect wins, but there will be learning curve and bumps in the road.

2) While the schedule is tough from here on out, you still play those last seven games on the field.  True, Duke might not be favored in more than one game at this time, but they have proved competitive in all but one half this season.

3) These kids are learning a new system and I for one think they have a pretty good grasp of it in a short time, although it can certainly get better.

Now, let’s recap the season to date –

James Madison – Duke thwarted a Division II power in the Duke’s.  JMU hasn’t lost a game since then and currently stand 5-1 with a win over defending champion Appalachian State and chalking up sixty plus to nothing on Hofstra this past weekend.  This was a solid start for the Blue Devils, something fans aren’t too accustomed to.

Northwestern – Duke won the game everywhere but the scoreboard.  This was a bitter defeat for victory was in their grasp.  Still, Northwestern entered the coaches top 25 this week at 5-0 and Duke had the better team everywhere but where it counts – the scoreboard.

Navy – Duke rounded the learning curve in this game, never saying die and proving off season conditioning helped immensely.  It was important for Duke to come back with a win after a close loss and they did.  The offense racked up some serious points in the process.  Navy went on to defeat Wake Forest and Air Force on the road and like Northwestern, they almost certainly will go to a bowl.

Virginia  – This 31-3 win snapped the dreaded ACC losing streak.  That would have been a great season by itself in the past several years.  When one takes a closer look at the stats, you can see a trend where the offense started to get out of rhythm, but the defense proved itself a worthy adversary after letting up 31 to Navy.  Virginia then went on to wallop Maryland, showing they aren’t so bad after all.

Georgia Tech – Duke was very much in this game in the first half and the defense played well with the exception of a few cover situations.  Duke held down one of the nations top rushing attacks, but couldn’t find any points or put together drives to keep the defense rested.  The end result was an ugly goose egg, but this was a game that could have gone down to the wire with a little production.  Georgia Tech, amazingly, is still not ranked after a 4-1 start.

Dukes first five opponents are 20-7 overall to date which isn’t bad!

The reason I am going into a lot of this is that I find it interesting that a trip around the message boards have some calling Miami a must win or a disgusted few saying it is doom and gloom and or the same old, same old.  Trust me, it is a good sign that some of you are aching, for it shows a couple of things.  It means that you care enough to where the losses are painful and proves that the sweetness of success is a good taste that makes the losses tougher.

I could say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but let’s just state the facts.  Duke is playing a lot of young players at skilled positions, yet most teams are able to red shirt these kids.  What this means is that the talent level has a ways to go before we can let the newcomers season and mature like Wake Forest and Vanderbilt and the traditional powers are doing.

Make no mistake though, Duke is moving in that direction, but it is not an overnight patch job.  One of the things which has stuck in my mind was hearing new AD Kevin White say he worried about fan expectations in which he may have had the foresight to see what might develop.   When thirsty fans tasted a couple of wins, they naturally want more.

Just this past week, the New York Times was checking in on Duke Football.  Many media outlets were talking up the Devils as well.  This too, was both good and bad.  It was good in that Coach Cutcliffe has improved a team which many felt was an impossible task.   And he is winning in just one season.  Duke is no longer a team everybody wants for homecoming.

The bad is that Duke is in the process of learning how to win and become a football team and they are not ready for prime time just yet.  They will have to continue to work hard in practice.  But it is more than just on the field improvements which need work, but a plan is in place.

That plan but it will take some time and work.  There will be some occasions, we’ll get a butt whooping which generally makes players coaches and administrators want to work harder.  As fans, we must work as well and that job entails being there supporting and growing with this team.

With the administration showing a willingness to improve facilities and change the culture., the team needs continued support.  The staff is already making significant in roads with recruiting as well.  In short there is a foundation which a loss to Georgia Tech or any upcoming opponent cannot derail.

This is a pretty good football team with seniors which will pick them back up and I guarantee you no coaching staff is working harder on or off the field than Cutcliffe and company.

So, temper your expectations a bit, but expect some measure of success for this team can win some football games.  There is no reason for fans not to turn out in force for an attractive remaining home schedule with just three games left.  I know, I will be there when Duke takes on Miami in two weeks and it’ll be interesting to see if the team rebounds.

One thing I can tell you  for certain is this team will not quit.

Late note – Another sign of progress is that the Miami at Duke game has been picked up by ESPNU for a 3:30 time slot.  This will be the third nationally televised game in a row.[/private]