Tag Archives: Lance Thomas

50 Minutes to Success

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The success of the 2008 – 2009 Duke basketball season will be dependent upon 50 minutes. That is 50 minutes per game as in 40 minutes per game at the Center position and 10 minutes per game at the Power Forward position. Duke is solid on the perimeter and perimeter players will pace the team with an emphasis on pressure defense, transition basketball, and 3-point shooting. If the front court can consistently contribute with points, solid interior defense, rebounding, and shot blocking, this Duke team has the potential to be special.

Kyle Singler will play 30 minutes per game at Power Forward, but the other 10 minutes per game will be up for grabs. All 40 minutes of playing time at Center are available. There are five players competing for those 50 minutes: Lance Thomas (6-8, 220), Brian Zoubek (7-1, 260), Dave McClure (6-6, 200), Olek Czyz (6-7 240), and Miles Plumlee (6-10, 230). The competition for playing time should be fierce.

Last season, front court players, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, Taylor King, and Dave McClure combined to contribute 14.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 47.6 minutes per game. Starting Power Forward Kyle Singler averaged 13.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and .7 blocks in 28.6 minutes per game.  All together, Duke’s front court contributed 27.9 points, 16.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 76.2 minutes per game.

In contrast, out in Lawrence, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, and Cole Aldrich combined for 33.9 points, 19.9 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks in 75 minutes per game for national champion Kansas.  Over in Chapel Hill, Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson, and Alex Stepheson combined for 35.3 points, 19.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 68.9 minutes per game.

This season’s team must achieve more production, from those approximately 50 minutes of playing time, to complement Kyle Singler’s efforts. The key to success is having consistent production across all five positions. For the last two years, Duke has at times played four on five on the offensive end of the court. For the first two years of their careers, Lance Thomas (63 games) has averaged 4.15 points and 2.9 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game, while Brian Zoubek (57 games) has averaged 3.45 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game. Rising Senior Dave McClure’s numbers are 2.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game over 88 games.

The efforts of the aforementioned three players have been hampered by injury and sickness. Brian Zoubek has had surgery on his foot twice, Dave McClure has undergone surgery on both knees, and Lance Thomas has suffered from severe ankle sprains and a respiratory infection. If they can achieve and maintain good health, these three veterans have the potential to be much improved this season.

Two new front court players will suit up for the Blue Devils this season. Miles Plumlee and Olek Czyz are arriving in Durham as the # 40 and # 92 ranked players, respectively, in the Class of 2008, according to Scout.com. Plumlee, at 6-10 230, is noted to be a skilled player on both ends of the court, while Olek Czyz, 6-7 240, is a raw talent with very good athleticism including a 40″ vertical. Adjusting to Duke’s defensive scheme will be the major obstacle to playing time for these two freshmen. If they can learn to play Duke Defense, they should challenge their upper class teammates for playing time.  Unquestionably, they will add depth to Duke’s front court.

With five players competing for those 50 minutes of available playing time, Duke is in good shape to see more points, rebounds, and blocked shots produced. With added production to a team that averaged 83.2 points per game and achieved a 28-6 record last season, the Duke Blue Devils will achieve much more success in the 2008 – 2009 season.[/private]

SJC Pro Am gearing up for the stretch run (corrected)

[private]Elliot Williams helped his E-Net team to it’s third victory scoring 19 points in the process.  Williams had a fabulous first half where he at times seemed to be posturing for a highlight reel.  There was one sequence where he showed of his athletic ability.  He slashed to the basket finishing with an authoritative dunk which brought ooh’s and ahh’s from the crowd.  He then created a break after a turnover as he slithered through the defense only to be found with the pass where he finished by using the basket to his advantage for a reverse lay in.  IOW, he played a huge role for his team tonight and shows he is not afraid to play against anybody at this level.

He didn’t do it all by himself though.  He was aided by Brandon Costner whose presence has helped E-Net win consecutive games.  Costner was strong in the paint, an area that had plagued his team in early losses.  E-Net was down by 10 points early, but stormed back to go up by 11 and hung on for a victory over.  Former Pack player Anthony Grundy led all scorers and has showed significant improvement since his days in Raleigh.

Three Dukies took to the court for the RDU Barnstormers in a game that would prove a defensive struggle.  The more talented Barnstomrers eventually won 48-47.  This team is guard heavy and guard dominated.  In fact, there is way too much dribbling and forced shots where they try to make the big play instead of finding the open man.  Sometimes the efficient plays bode better for the team than forcing the issue.

For the first time, SIngler was able to get a breather, alternating with Czyz.  I am not too sure how effective this was for the four guard lineup hurt in my humble opinion.  Singler struggled a bit on offense, possibly because last seasons ACC Rookie of the Year got five whole shots, making a deuce and a three.  He got to the line often, going 6 of 10 for a total of 12 points.  What many missed is that he is willing to do the dirty work and little things which equate to 5 blocked shots and 8 rebounds.

Low and behold, Olek Czyz didn’t get a dunk tonight.  That’s because he was used as a hacking dummy in an effort to keep the crowd favorite grounded.  Olek was 10 for 16 from the free throw stripe and that was all of his points.  He added 3 boards to go with 2 steals.

Nolan Smith is saddled on a team with many guards and it keeps the ball out of the hands of the talented player.  Nolan tossed in 15 points going 4 of 6 from the field and 3 of 3 from the line.  You would think with that kind of efficiency his teammates might get the rock in his hands more often.  He was smooth in his movement and his first half performance kept his team in the game.  Smith had 3 steals and a couple of assists as his team went to 6-3 which is still good enough for second place.

Lance Thomas was the man tonight and had to be for there was no Jerry Stackhouse, Green nor Davis for the Regulators.  After two consecutive dunks, LT helped his team to an early 29-12 lead.  During one sequence, LT dunked, rushed back to play the passing lanes, made the steal, dished to a teammate to start the break and finished it off with a reverse dunk.  Lance is a hustle guy who goes 100%  while he  in the game.  The wheels came off for the Regulators in the second half as they went down to a one point defeat, 57-56 blowing a 20 point lead.  Thomas had 17 points and a bevy of boards in the Regulators only loss thus far.  My report from the scorers table says LT was hacked hard as time ran out, but no whistle was heard.  Hopefully, a bit more consistency will ensue with the playoffs looming.

I didn’t catch the nightcap, but got a call from the statistician who told me Gerald Henderson has 12 points with his team winning a 54-51 game over   There was no doubt that the overall play was hurt by physical foul-fests and forced shots on this evening.  Still, that’s to be expected in basketball where o n a given night many things can happen.

The tournament will continue on Tuesday night with the final regular games and they will be hard fought in that they are jockeying for play off position.  They will then start the playoffs where the team are one and done.  So, get out there and support your favorite players!  The crowds have been consistent and again, there is an accommodating atmosphere at McDougald Gymnasium.

Standings going into the last regular game – Regulators (Lance Thomas) 8-1, RDU Barnstormers (Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Olek Czyz)  6-3, Team Williams 5-4, Team KG (Gerald Henderson) 5-4, Team Noel 4-5, Black Magic 3-6, E-Net (Elliot Williams, Steve Johnson) 3-6,  Team Felton 2-7 (Duke players in parentheses)

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Pictures – (1) Elliot taking a three, (2) Elliot and Steve Johnson with Ridge and Corey (two of the kids our members sent to Carrawell James Basketball Camp), (3) LT readies to dunk[/private]

Bringing intangibles onto the court

Someone who desires to comprehend Lance Thomas’ impact on the basketball court should not look in the box score. Thomas brings intangibles onto the court that are not reflected in the after action statistics. Statistics tracking can be misleading and this observation is coming from a box score junkie. Throughout the course of a game, there is much action taking place on the court that is not reflected in the box score.

First, Thomas is a tenacious defender when Duke presses full court. His energy and aggressiveness disrupts the opponent’s offensive flow even if it doesn’t result in a turnover. An effective full court press will create turnovers and easy baskets, but not on every possession. The press is effective when backcourt pressure results in the opponent faltering in their half court offense. An effective full court press can drive an opponent’s offense into disarray and Lance Thomas is one of the Blue Devils dishing out that back court harassment.

Second, Thomas brings emotion onto the court. I’ve rechecked the box score categories and sure enough “emotion” isn’t tracked. However, Thomas’ enthusiasm for the game uplifts his teammates and motivates everyone on the court to excel and produce in the categories that are tracked in the box score. This emotion and enthusiasm is palpable to anyone sitting in front of a television watching a Duke Basketball game.

Lance Thomas has played in 63 games over the course of his first two years as a Blue Devil, starting 46 of those games. There is room for improvement in his game. For starters, he needs to shoot free throws better as he has made only 55.1 percent of his attempts. Grabbing rebounds on the defensive end of the court is another example. Thomas has secured only 87 defensive rebounds over 63 games. That averages out to less than 1.4 per contest. Thomas needs to be more active in limiting opponent’s second chance points, but I digress into statistics…

I’m not sure how to measure the intangibles that Lance Thomas brings onto the court but I am sure of two things. His teammates need his passion on the court and his effectiveness cannot be measured via the box score. Lance Thomas is another Blue Devil who is ready to breakout.