Thursday, March 26, 2009

Duke-Villanova: Five things to watch

BOSTON – The last time Duke won an NCAA Tournament regional semifinal game, J.J. Redick was a sophomore and Larry Brown – not Mike Krzyzewski – was preparing to coach Team USA in the Olympics in 2004.

Opportunities like the Blue Devils have tonight just don’t come around all the time, even for a program as proud as Duke. Can the Blue Devils make the most of this chance?

Perhaps. Here are five things to watch when No. 2 seed Duke (30-6) meets No. 3 Villanova (28-7) at 9:57 p.m. today in the NCAA Tournament’s East Regional:

1. Scottie Reynolds’ production. Villanova’s honorable mention All-Big East guard holds the key to the Wildcats’ fortunes. He’s averaging 16.2 points with 100 assists and 61 turnovers in Villanova’s 28 wins.

In seven losses, he averaged 10.9 points with 21 assists and 32 turnovers. Duke will have to count on some combination of Elliot Williams, Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer to slow him down.

2. Duke’s 3-point percentage.
The Blue Devils have made at least 40 percent of their 3-point attempts in each of their postseason games, going 5-0.

This team relies on perimeter shooting because it’s not a great team attacking the basket unless forwards Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler find an advantage on the drive.

Villanova’s opponents have shot 33.9 percent from 3-point range this season. If the Wildcats hold Duke below 36 percent, the Blue Devils could be in trouble.

3. Defense on Cunningham. Duke needs to be able to defend Villanova forward Dante Cunningham with somebody other than Kyle Singler, who’s the Blue Devils’ second-best scorer.

Cunningham has the ability to get Singler in foul trouble, which is why defensive specialists Lance Thomas and Dave McClure need to handle him. Their play will be important as Duke tries to protect Singler.

4. Villanova’s bench boost. If the Wildcats don’t score early, they bring guards Corey Fisher (10.9 ppg) and Corey Stokes (9.7) off the bench for instant offense.

Duke doesn’t have that kind of scoring ability coming off the bench and will have to be aware of the boost Fisher and Stokes can give Villanova.

5. Gerald Henderson’s field goal percentage. Henderson, Duke’s leading scorer, is shooting 33.3 percent (10-for-30) from the field during the NCAA Tournament.

Numbers like that will get you past teams seeded No. 15 (Binghamton) and No. 7 (Texas) in Greensboro. They won’t help much against No. 3 seed Villanova in Big East country.- Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

1 Thing to Watch; Duke getting on the bus to head back to Durham....Bye Dookies, you shot is over....Villanova will wim by 10+

Anonymous said...

Now that's journalistic insight. While most of us thought Coach K was coaching Duke in 2004, the Observer has uncovered that it was actually Larry Brown. And, to go a step further, while we all thought it was the US Olympic team competing in the 2004 Olympics, it was actually the Larry Brown coached Duke Blue Devils. Boy Observer, you sure are on top of things aren't you!

Freakin' ridiculous. Nice editing.

Anonymous said...

Ha, the 2004 Olympic squad!! Coached by Tar Holes Larry Brown and Roy Williams. Biggest disgrace in US Basketball history. Thanks Heels!!

Anonymous said...

How many Duke players have an NBA title compared to UNC players?

Do the math, biggest disgrace are the Duke players that enter the NBA.

How many superstars have ties to Duke? Seems like someones system doesn't teach enough fundamentals.