Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Duke's defense gets exposed by Buckeyes

Duke’s Austin Rivers, a shoot-first guard, doesn’t play like his father, now-Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

But here’s a trait they share: Both have a blunt, analytical way of dissecting a loss.

Freshman Austin used the word “embarrassing’’ frequently in describing an 85-63 loss to Ohio State Tuesday night. To Rivers, the Blue Devils didn’t just lose their first game, they lost their identity.

“Duke is all about defense, but we played individual. We didn’t play as a team’’ Rivers said. “The offense was fine. But we were awful defensively.’’

The 7-0 start was good for Duke’s confidence, but it might have created a false sense that a young team had already arrived.. As Mason Plumlee put it, “It kind of opened our eyes to reality.’’

Plumlee had primary responsibility for guarding Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Plumlee didn’t play badly, and that seems fair when you consider what a load Sullinger is.

He’s the most dangerous low-post scorer in college basketball, so it was inevitable the Blue Devils would have to give Plumlee help guarding him. They did, and the Buckeyes had a far too easy time exploiting those double-teams. Ohio State’s 8-of-14 accuracy from 3-point range was a direct result of how well the Buckeyes found the open man and how poorly the Blue Devils rotated.

Duke won’t play a team of Ohio State’s skill and talent every night. But to effectively play man-to-man defense the way Krzyzewski expects, this group has to do a much better job of doubling, then recovering, if it expects a Final Four season.

Unlike college football, one early-season loss in basketball doesn’t derail a season. It might demonstrate what Duke must do to get where it expects to be.

-- Rick Bonnell


Anonymous said...

Go Buckeyes! 2nd best team in the country after UK, hands down.

Anonymous said...

Thus far I'd call OSU the best, Kentucky a close second.

Anonymous said...

1. OSU
2. UK
3. 'Cuse
4. UConn
5. Dook/Holes

Anonymous said...

way to keep this blog updated guys! nice work.