Dying by the Three….
16/60……5/27……What are these? Lotto numbers? No, unfortunately for my beloved Blue Devils these were their shooting percentages from last night’s whoppin’ by Villanova (I’m sad to say). Duke shot 18% from 3-point in one of the most horrific scoring performances in recent memory, also the worst in Coach K’s 93 game coaching career in the NCAA tournament.The NCAA might as well have put a cover on the basket….or so it seemed. Rim outs, airballs, bricks: all words that best sum up Duke’s ability from behind the arc last night. Even as a fan, it was humiliating. The worse part is that they did have good looks, especially when the game was actually close and they were still competitive with the ‘Cats (wasn’t too long however). Unlike them however, they failed to knock them down when they needed it the most. After a quick 5-0 burst to start the game, Jay Wright’s ‘Cats never looked back.
This brings to life the offensive strategy of absolutely living or dying by the three-point shot. Last night was a very explicit case of the latter. Duke, as much as I love them, refuses to recruit any aggressive, manly inside presence to help out their jump-shooting philosophy. As a result, in most recent years, they have been forced to live behind the arc. Coach K, they need help! You’re a great coach but goodness, don’t you remember when you had the man-child Utah knows now as Carlos Boozer? You dominated teams on the boards and other teams were actually scared of your guy playing the Center position. Brian Zoubek, your tall gangly so-called “big man,” is the least of anyone’s defensive worries. Boozer let the other Blue Devil assassins go to work on the perimeter and made their lives much easier.But, Duke has chosen a different approach and recruited pretty much the best shooters in the country, so let’s just focus on that. Because their entire offensive scheme revolves around a motion set with screens and picks to open up 3-point looks, the offensive is handicapped if the shots don’t drop (i.e. last night, all night long). All year long, they have lit opponents up from behind the arc and made them pay for playing zone. Unfortunately, at the worst possible time, the Blue Devils chose to shoot less than 20% from 3-point land and look what happened? They got blown out by 20.
Overall, as much as Duke has it, I do not support this “guard only, 3-point slinging” philosophy. Without an inside presence, a team with quick defenders is able to hawk the ball (like ‘Nova last night) and take away any good lucks from three. What does that mean? You have to go inside. What does Duke have? No inside game. To be a true national championship contender and a well-balanced team, you MUST have some sort of inside presence to open up your jump-shooting scheme. A motion offense with no inside presence is way too vulnerable as we saw last night. Duke absolutely killed themselves and died by their own philosophy in front of our very eyes. I thought they would have trouble with ‘Nova’s defense, but no one honestly would have ever thought they would’ve lost by 20+ points. As a die hard and dedicated fan of Durham’s pride and joy, the night just got worse and worse as the game went on…..
What next for the Devils? Coach K, I am begging you. Go find DeJuan Blair or Hasheen Thabeet’s twin and recruit them….PLEASE?!?! Maybe then your “let if fly” philosophy will win you another national championship…..I’m getting restless….what’s Christian Laettner up to these days? O yea, watch here….
Courtesy of YouTube