Friday, March 9, 2012

DeCock: Duke will have hands full in semis sans Kelly

ATLANTA - Thanks to a late turnover by Virginia Tech, Duke escaped with a narrow win Friday night, but the 60-56 win raised as many questions as it answered for the Blue Devils.

Namely, who knew Ryan Kelly was so important to Duke?

Sure, the 6-foot-10 forward from Raleigh can stretch defenses with his 3-point shooting ability, and he's averaging 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds, but it turns out his mere presence in Duke’s forward rotation is absolutely and unquestionably essential. The rest of it is a bonus.

With first Mason Plumlee and then Miles picking up early fouls, Krzyzewski used Josh Hairston liberally and resorted to a four-guard lineup for large portions of the game. (Micheal Gbinije, the presumed fourth option, never got off the bench.)

That let Virginia Tech hang around right to the finish. The Hokies had the ball down four with 26.4 seconds to go, but their turnover turned into an Austin Rivers and-one at the other end, all but sealing the win for Duke.

Perhaps more damaging, with the weakened forward rotation, Duke had to look outside for offense even more than usual, which ended up with an unusual result: A team-high 13 3-point attempts for Tyler Thornton, who made, uh, three. As a team, Duke went 5-for-26 from international waters while the two Plumlees and Hairston combined for 19 points.

That’s one thing against a team like Virginia Tech, which has a short bench and isn’t the biggest team in the world, but the situation will be completely different tomorrow, no matter the opponent.

Miami has Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji; Florida State has Bernard James and a cast of thousands. Whether it’s fouls to give, inside offense or sheer bulk on the boards, either team will have a significant advantage on Duke sans Kelly.

It was easy to guess that would be the case going into Friday’s game, but the narrow escape against the Hokies confirmed the worst-case scenario: The Blue Devils are going to have their hands full.

- Luke DeCock


Anonymous said...

As a Duke fan I hate that Ryan Kelly is out. Yes it does hurt Duke's rotation and versatility but saying him being out was the reason VT hung around is completely moronic. First Duke lives by the 3 pointer. As a team they only shot 5-26 from behind the arc so as a Duke fan you knew it was going to stay a close game. Second I am guessing you did not watch the last game between the two teams in the regular season. VT hung around for the whole game and forced overtime. Go back and check and you will see Duke had Kelly that game. So where as I agree with you regarding he is going to be missed especially against the Seminoles he is not the only reason VT stayed in the game. I don't understand why someone goes down with injury and sports writers always say that team is in trouble. Maybe they are maybe they aren't. I will say I would hate to be the team playing Duke on a night they are playing 4 guards and a Plumlee and the 3 balls are falling. Please look at all the facts before writing an article.

Anonymous said...

I think that Ryan Kelly has been the biggest consistent contributor to what success Duke has had this year. Unfortunately, Coach K has been very stingy in his praise of Ryan. If he had played the minutes that rivers has played, his stats would be very different. Duke without Kelly is going nowhere. Sorry

Anonymous said...

No, not having Kelly doesn't matter, lol. If you want to know why sportswriters say a team is in trouble when a guy goes down, it's because that team usually is. 60 points scored last night and 59 today. Keep telling yourself not having Kelly had nothing to do with it.

price per head service said...

i do know it was a narrow victory, but it was a victory at last and that all that matters