Thursday, February 22, 2007

Duke at Clemson Liveblog

Tonight at 9 PM the Blue Devils travel to Littlejohn to take on the Clemson Tigers. I'm feeling lazy right now so I'll skimp on the preview and follow up with a liveblog during the game. Duke won the first matchup infamously with a Dave McClure floater as time expired. This followed a much-dissected clock error which was corrected to the fullest extent allowed by NCAA rules (which do not allow for referees to adjust for time that should have come off when a clock is not started). Regardless, Clemson had one of it worst rebounding performances of the season (offensive and defensive) and one of its best free throw shooting performances (10 of 11 for a team that normally shoots 60%). Hamilton should be the focus of the Duke defense in this game, as he was an efficient scorer in the first matchup: 5 for 6 on layups and 4 of 8 on jumpers, for 21 points. Duke had a fairly average game (for Duke) all around, but they handled the Tiger press well almost the entire game, and scored inside in bunches. Of Duke's 51 shots from the field, 23 were either layups or dunks; Demarcus Nelson made six layups, and his ability to drive to the hoop is critical for Duke's offense.

The Blue Devils have won back to back games in convincing fashion following their four game losing streak. Clemson, meanwhile, has been in free-fall since ACC play started. Three one or two point losses (including the Duke game) have been supplemented by absolute blowouts, such as in their last game, at home, to Maryland. If Duke can dominate the boards the way they did the previous matchup while playing the efficient offense they've showed versus GT and BC, this could be a laugher. But, it's a road game in the ACC, which equals uncertainty. Join me (both of you) and follow along for all the action. Alllllll the action.

Pregame. Hopefully that's the last time we'll see the "controversy" of the clock tonight. Maybe if the game is close they'll show it again. I can understand the return to it in the preview, but now it's done, let's play basketball in the present, not the past. No Dickie V, so this game will be watchable.
20:00 Starting for Duke: Nelson, McRoberts, Scheyer, McClure, Paulus. Duke with the first possession, against man-to-man defense.
19:22 Rivers shows no signs of his shooting slump hitting a trey. Could it be one of those games, like GT in the first matchup?
18:34 Clemson fans have apparently caught the "boo every call against us" bug. Support is one thing. Stupidity is another.
18:18 Transition 3-on-1 for Clemson leads to a Hamilton dunk. But at least it came off a missed shot and not a turnover.
16:52 Paulus hits a three after Duke's weave at the top of the key confuses a Mays-less Clemson defense. Mays checks back in immediately.
16:00 Scheyer beats the shot clock, with Patrick declaring "big time players make big time plays." Argument by definition, sir, and a poor effort. The block on McRoberts is a good example of why Shelden Williams was so dominant... nearly every block he made had a purpose, and he wouldn't do it if there were no chance to get it to his teammates. There was no chance there for Clemson, the ball went straight to Duke's best shooter. Impressive athletic achievement? Sure. Fires up the crowd? Absolutely. Smart basketball decision? Ultimately, no. Duke up at the first break, 7-5
14:40 Lance Thomas in for Duke, and makes an immediate impact on defense, locking down on the perimeter and eventually drawing a charge late in the shot clock.
14:17 And then on offense, Thomas with the bucket and the foul. According to the possession-by-possession stats collected on, Thomas has been crucial to both offense and defense the last few games.
14:08 Also getting old: Sarcastic-Bronx-Cheer when the home team gets a foul called. And again on the other end, booing a no-call on Booker being out of control on defense.
13:07 xenod2: come on Lance, gotta move your face away from his elbow
xenod2 you're gonna get called for that every time
12:27 Nelson singlehandedly breaks the press, then all three Clemson players foul Nelson as he enters the lane. The crowd boos.
12:11 McClure picks up a second foul with a moving screen. This marks the first moving screen called in NCAA history.
11:16 Clemson does not press after tying the game at 13, Duke does not score running its normal offense.
10:58 To be fair, I didn't see Perry foul Nelson there either, but the refs are calling this game pretty closely, so it fits into that trend. As for the actual play, Duke is failing to get the second chances it got in the first match-up, so despite scoring relatively efficiently, the game is tied, 13-13 at the second break.

Ohhh, This is college basketball. I was confused. I thought this was ouuuuuur country. Also, yes, only guy to ever buy orange posterboard, Duke was totally in charge of the time that clicked off the clock. Not the ref in charge of starting the clock. Thanks for clearing that up.

10:39 Nelson doing what he does best, the breakaway. Hamilton does indeed foul Nelson before the shot. Nelson has also pushes off, but the ref curiously calls continuation. Duke rebounds the free throw miss and converts for a four point possession.
9:14 A bad inbounds pass by Clemson leads to a turnover and a solid possession for Duke, ending in a trey by Henderson. Timeout Clemson, so it must be time for a human-interest story. A Clemson football player does something for his younger brother, bringing him out of a broken home, and gets an award. Mike Patrick absolutely butchers the story, for a man who appears on television he is one of the most inarticulate people ever. Further, Ray Ray realized that he had courage all along, and didn't need to get it from the Wizard.
7:18 Wasn't really paying attention while commenting on the human interest story, but, catching up, all that happened is that McRoberts answers Mike Patrick's challenge and embarrasses some Clemson defenders in the process. Then Duke gets whistle for a foul and the player is not given continuation as Nelson was (erroneously). But there should be no complaints about fouls- Duke is already in the bonus with 7 minutes left.
6:40 Paulus hits a 30 footer with Hamilton in his face. Shades of JJ. Duke forces a turnover on the other end and Paulus does what he does best in transition, with a great pass to Nelson, and suddenly it's a blowout- 28-14
5:35 xenod: more than double (clap clap clap clap clap) Zoubek grabs an offensive rebound, which is indicative of the 17-1 run Duke has had since the 12 minute mark. Offensive rebounds, forcing turnovers, all those tempo-free things that win games for these Blue Devils.
3:18 I have a feeling that the anti-stall ball folk are going to go bananas in the second half. Then again, if Clemson keeps being inept on offense and Duke continues to make defensive plays, it's not going to matter. 31-16 Duke. Clemson has not had a field goal in nine minutes.

Why does Doris Burke get to sit at a computer? Is she searching for stories on Wikipedia? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of a "sideline reporter"? Shouldn't she be drudging up stories by listening to coaches' huddles and the banter on the, you know, "sideline"? Oh wait, all these people do is rehash old stories with prescripted blurbs about things like Dancing With the Stars. As you were.
1:00 Hamilton curiously takes a 30 foot jump-shot with 11 seconds left on the shot clock, and it bricks. Unheralded in that possession was some excellent position defense by Pocius, who slid over to cover an unmarked man under the hoop, thwarting the player's dunking plans. Thomas eventually came over and the player (don't know his name, the guy with the pony tail), passed out of the block.
38.0 Duke uses its "use-it-or-lose-it" timeout to set up the final possession of the half: head-tap play! Henderson makes minced-meat out of Clemson's pressure defense, and scores a jumper.
10.8 Aww, sad Tigers everywhere. Ya hate to see that. McRoberts manages to miraculously make a free throw. And another! Then Hammonds hits a 3-pointer as time expires in the half to close the lead to 42-21.
Halftime Thoughts: Clearly Duke has played well, and the tempo has been very quick for Duke: 35 possessions, light-speed outside of the UNC and Maryland games. 42 points in 35 possessions, for those keeping score, is an offensive efficiency of 120, while Clemson's 21 points in 32 possessions is an OE of 65. Expect Clemson's shots to keep falling in the second half, and expect the much-maligned slow-down offense to make a return visit to Duke's fans' paranoia. Look for the stall-ball to begin when Duke's lead is double the number of minutes left, that seems to be a good indicator for Coach K.

Clemson Fan Griping Watch: Fouls against: Duke- 10, Clemson-11. Free Throws Attempted: Duke- 11, Clemson- 11. Players with multiple fouls: Duke- 2, Clemson- 3 (no player has more than 2 fouls). But, expect with a Duke lead of less than a dozen for Clemson to foul more, on purpose. And for Duke to end up with more fouls called. And for Clemson fans to complain. It's what they do.

20:00 The ESPN feature on Duke's "spacing" was lame, but it did show something interesting: rather than their full court pressure, Clemson was playing a zone, which Duke absolutely demolished in the first half. They're back to man-to-man to start the second, after Duke's own lock-down man to man forces a shot clock violation.
18:43 "That oughta count for more than two!" says Patrick after a circus shot by Hamilton in transition. Well, Mike, I really think that would fundamentally change the game. I mean, who would be awarding these extra "style" points on shots, and wouldn't that introduce a subjectivity to the game that would be unwelcome? Oh, wait, you're not serious, you're just a doofus. Carry on.
15:58 Well, as I predicted, Clemson's shots have started falling, and while there hasn't been stall-ball yet, Duke's letting them creep back in with silly passes and Clemson is playing much better defense against Duke's motion. 45-29 at the media break.
15:39 I watched it 3 times, Mays loses control of the ball and just taps the ball off McRoberts, who is already standing out of bounds. How Clemson gets the ball there is beyond me. They convert, and it's a 14 point lead. Nelson throws the ball away and Hamilton converts. Coach K is furious and calls a timeout. If somehow Clemson wins this game, make a note of this section. I'll go ahead and put it in red for ya.
Duke goes back to its weave and is successful, ending their scoring drought. Or as DBR poster hurleyfor3 might say, a "nonslaught."
13:07 A transition bucket cuts the lead to 10, and Littlejohn wakes up. Chances this was going to happen were very good. Go back to the weave, Duke.
12:10 Paulus misses a jumper flying away from the basket with a bunch of time still on the shotclock, ending a possession very poorly. That right there would be a good example to show the anti-stallball folk. Not up 10 points with 12 minutes left, but you need to control the basketball, and Duke isn't doing that.
11:52 Clemson seems to not have its superhuman free throw shooting it had in the first matchup, which bodes well in a close game here. Duke turning the ball over, on the other hand, does not bode well. Or Bode Miller, for that matter.
10:58 Nelson gets a make-up call for his uncalled pushoff in the first half. Yes, refs have that kind of memory, according to people who believe in make-up calls. Clemson fans' ref griping officially has no basis, for the record.
10:16 After a hack on McRoberts goes unwhistled, Hamilton makes it a five point game with yet another transition basket. 47-42 Duke. Yes, Duke has been outscored 21-5 this half.
9:09 Everything that went well for Duke in the first half in their most crucial areas: defensive rebounding and limiting turnovers-- has been woefully absent in the second half. It's going to be a physical game the rest of the way.
8:25 McRoberts saves what should have been another Paulus turnover and dishes to McClure, who can apparently dunk? Clemson scores again for what seems like the 30th consecutive possession. Paulus ends this awful four minute stretch with a turnover, fittingly. Duke up 51-45.
7:13 My contribution to the ACC ref fund pays off as the baseline ref misses a two inch gap between the ball and the rim in calling offensive goaltending. We've found what Clemson fans and ESPN will focus on if Duke wins.
6:05 Duke quietly takes it back to an 11 point lead as Paulus finds his shooting stroke he left back in the first half.
5:03 Clemson has lost its defensive intensity/Duke has stopped turning the ball over. Scheyer was wide open for a 3
4:41 But Duke keeps Clemson in the game by failing to get a rebound on a missed free throw. This was a five point possession for the Tigers. Point this sequence as well if Duke loses.
3:49 Duke has lost its press breaking ability, but Clemson is not taking advantage. What a sloppy sequence. 59-52 Duke.
2:36 Here comes the stall-ball... let's watch closely. Paulus initiates with 11 seconds left on the clock and commits a turnover. Execution, not strategy...
2:24 Booker with a reverse layup, and the Clemson press forces a 5-second call on the inbound.
2:16 With an 8 point lead, Duke falls victim to the press again. Hammonds hits a 3 to make it a 5 point game.
1:48 Duke finally beats the press and Clemson leaves a lane open for McRoberts to make an easy bucket.
1:23 Clemson answers with an equally easy bucket. Paulus is fouled by Potter with 1:03 left. Duke is finally in the Bonus (Clemson has been there since the 10 minute mark). He hits both, 66-59
47.9 McRoberts lays off (he has 3 fouls) and Clemson starts fouling on the inbound. Mays then tosses the ball of the back of Nelsons' head, but apparently thuggy behavior is acceptable. Nelson is a good guy to foul, and he misses one of two.
28.7 Clemson misses two shots, and Patrick says that Clemson should have pulled out and gone for a three. Erroneous. Yes, it's a 6 point game, but there's plenty of time, especially when people like McRoberts and Nelson are shooting freethrows.
12.9 Scheyer is fouled after Hamilton bricks a trey- not sure why the Tigers were passing it around so much, they burned a lot of time there.
6.5 Rivers hits the "It Matters" three. The last six and a half seconds are going to take twenty minutes. More "It Matters" points, but then it's over, 71-66.

This was a typical 2007 Duke game, going back to the pre-conference play. Quick leads in the first half followed by letting the other team creep back into it. Is there some kind of trend- fatigue comes to mind- because it can't be that multiple teams just happen to play that much better in the second half. It surely wasn't stall-ball this time, as Duke only played it once (maybe more, counting some slower possessions in the first half). But, just like what needs to happen during the delay offense, Duke didn't protect the basketball, committing turnovers and losing the defensive rebounding edge. Only three offensive rebounds all game for the Blue Devils- fine in the first half with an high percentage shooting offense, bad in the second half as the opponent creeps back into it. I stayed and watched the Sportscenter on it... and of course they point out McRoberts' frustrated lash-out after his back was climbed (no foul called on either). That'll fuel the whiners, but the fouls were exactly equal.

In the end, Duke has beaten Clemson 21 straight times. PWND.


Jeff said...

This game is not really applicable to the stallball argument, seeing as how they could barely get it to the other side of the court, much less play stallball.

Xenod said...

It'd be nice if for once it'd feel like we're "Winning" a game, as opposed to "Desperately trying not to lose."