Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tudor's Take: Duke clears hurdle

GREENSBORO -- Duke’s lack of depth almost was too much to overcome in its 74-69 second-round NCAA win over Texas on Saturday in Greensboro.

Now, the Blue Devils will have to really sweat out the numbers game. In a third-round East Regional game on Thursday in Boston, the Devils (30-6) will face a 28-7 Villanova team that is among the deepest in the Big East.

In their second-round 89-69 win over UCLA, the Wildcats got 29 bench points, including 25 from guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes.

During much of the season, Villanova coach Jay Wright routinely used eight or nine players in his rotation.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski primarily goes with seven players, but got the most out of subs Nolan Smith (11 points, three assists) and Brian Zoubek (four rebounds) against the gritty Longhorns.

After leading 36-29 at halftime and by double digits in the second half, Duke ran into trouble when starters Lance Thomas and Kyle Singler fouled out. The Longhorns (23-12) eventually tied it at 69 with 1:07 left, but Smith bagged two free throws to push the Devils back ahead to stay with 47 seconds to go. Singler left with 17 points, but the Duke leader was Gerald Henderson with 24, plus six rebounds.

The good news for Duke in Boston is it finally gets to face an opponent its own size. Wright normally starts 6-8 Dante Cunningham, 6-6 Dwayne Anderson, 6-5 Shane Clark, 6-2 Scottie Reynolds and 6-4 Reggie Redding with the 6-1 Fisher and 6-5 Stokes first off the bench.

In the ACC Tournament championship win over Florida State, the Blue Devils easily overcame a size deficit. But in two losses to North Carolina and another at Wake Forest, taller lineups gave Duke trouble.

Whatever, Duke’s dramatic win was enough to put a happy face on a miserable weekend for its league. Seven ACC teams earned NCAA bids, but only Duke and Carolina are still standing. Four lost opening games and Maryland was roundly dismissed by Memphis earlier Saturday in the second round.

To add insult to injury, Miami and Virginia Tech made quick, ugly exits in the NIT. So, the ACC turned out to be a two-team league again. Why should we be surprised? -- Caulton Tudor, (Raleigh) News & Observer


Anonymous said...

Wake is clearly the team that embarrassed the conference the most. Former #1 getting thrashed by Cleveland State(and I mean THRASHED)? Come on.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet there was one heck of a celebration in Durham last night. The Sweet 16 for them, is like The National Championship.

Anonymous said...

Considering Duke has been in the Sweet Sixteen 10 of the last 12 years, this is hardly anything new for the Blue Devils.

Rather, the Heels should be celebrating, as this is their 3rd Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last EIGHT years. Great job, Carolina! Pop open the bubbly!

5:17pm, check wikipedia or something before making inane comments.

Anonymous said...

*correction: 4th Sweet Sixteen in the last 9 years for the Heels. If that isn't basketball dominance, I don't know what is.