Sunday, March 4, 2012

Duke an 'empty box' in loss to UNC

DURHAM -- About five minutes after North Carolina put the finishing touches on its 88-70 win over Duke on Saturday night, the Blue Devils players made their way back onto the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Miles Plumlee addressed the remaining crowd, thanking the Duke students for their support during his career. He then said the Blue Devils would make amends for its disappointing performance against the Tar Heels by reaching the Final Four.

Such a promise required a bit of a leap of faith after Duke’s miserable effort in the first half against UNC. But if the fourth-ranked Blue Devils (26-5, 13-3) have shown nothing else this season, it’s that they have the ability to defy expectations in both directions.

“It’s like a surprise gift,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said when asked if he had a feel beforehand that Saturday's game wasn’t going to be the Blue Devils’ night.

“You open it up – for the most part, it’s been a nice surprise. I never have any idea of what is in the present. Today there was nothing. It was an empty box.”

While there were many reasons Duke was an empty box on Saturday night – UNC outrebounded the Blue Devils by 17, for one – the Blue Devils’ most obvious problem was their shooting.

After Plumlee scored on Duke’s first two possessions, the Blue Devils missed 15 straight shots, allowing UNC to build a 22-5 lead by the time the game was eight minutes old.

When Duke looked like it might wiggle its way back into the game in the second half, cutting UNC’s lead to 11 points, Seth Curry missed a wide-open look from the wing that could have brought the Blue Devils within eight.

In all, Duke hit 28.6 percent of its 3-point attempts, making only six of 21 attempts. Ryan Kelly and Austin Rivers, two Duke shooters who entered the game hitting 43 percent and 39.3 percent of their 3-pointers on the season, combined to miss 10 of their 11 attempts from beyond the arc.

“I did think we had good looks, though,” Krzyzewski said. “When you base, like we do, a lot of your offense on 3-point shooting – maybe someone will say, ‘Don’t,’ but that’s who we are, man. So that’s who we are. If we’re not hitting them, we have a much greater chance to lose.”

Krzyzewski thought the gravity of the moment may have unsettled his team. From Miles Plumlee’s senior day to the implications for the ACC regular season championship to the hoopla always associated with Duke-UNC games, there was a lot for the Blue Devils to digest.

Then Duke started missing its shots, which Curry said led to the team becoming demoralized.

“It was a horrible first half for us,” Krzyzewski said.

With the ACC and NCAA tournaments beckoning, the Blue Devils don’t have to dwell on what went wrong.

The Blue Devils seemed to be in a similar position when it lost to Miami at home in early February, and Duke responded by winning seven in a row. A similar response would serve the Blue Devils well now.

“Now, everyone is zero and zero again,” Krzyzewski said. “We got to regroup and learn from the 31 games and try to get refreshed this week to go down to Atlanta and win some more games before the ACC tournament.”

--Jack Daly


Anonymous said...

Re: the last quote. Was K confused or was he mis-quoted? wins b4 the ACC tournament?

Anonymous said...

k meant "wins before the NCAA Tournament" probably. i just think it is funny Miles f'in Plumlee is guaranteeing anything other than not aging gracefully

Anonymous said...

Just a close win by the Heels would not have been enough of a payback for the loss 3 weeks ago. But the total butt kicking they put on duke on senior night at Cameron was payback and then some.

Cedar Posts said...

Best post game Tweet: A great Tarheel Jedi once said, "Duke, I am your father." #UNC #WhosYourDaddy?

MIke W said...

Wait...who said Dook is making the Final Four? The kid crying on the bench Saturday night?

Carl from Cramerton said...

If all the Carolina cheerleaders were laid end to end....I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

Anonymous said...

Carl from Cramerton, you're too SOFT on them.

Coach K said...

Dook won't win the ACC tourney and will not get past the Sweet 16. They got EXPOSED and BEATDOWN to China town on Saturday...Lol...

perhead costa rica said...

I really did not know what happened to Duke, I had very high expectations and in the end it was all disappointment