View Full Version : How do we beat Duke?

12-13-2009, 02:12 AM
IMO, at a minimum:

1. We need to have Bouldin and Harris do their thing with no foul trouble.

2. We need to have the bench do their thing but provide 5 assists and no TO's.

3. Meech needs to what he did against Davidson but with a positive assist/TO ratio and 75% FT%. (64% FT is unacceptable if he is going to slash and not kick it out for the open 3 pt shot.)

4. Sacre needs to do what he did against Davidson but get 9 rebounds with at least 3 off rebounds.

But which is more critical come next Saturday; FT% or rebounding.

I tend to believe FT% is the #1 weakness right now for the Zags. I know we are not finished yet, but if we continue, this is the worst FT% in 15 years for GU. Yet oddly enough, the 1999 team was 68% FT and I have yet to figure out if poor FT teams win more championships than not. I should ask Memphis. Anyway, we shoot 68%. Duke shoots 80%. We rank 166th. Duke ranks 4th. Duke shoots 21 FT's per game and makes 17. The Zags shoot 32 FT's per game and makes 22. If we can shoot 78% rather than 68%. That will statistically provide us with 3.2 more points.

But many say that rebounding is our #1 weakness. Yet the Zags have a +4.3 margin in 10 games and Duke has a +8.4 margin in 8 games. Zags have grabbed 383 reb's (38 per game) with 27% of their being offensive. Duke has grabbed 337 (42 per game) with 36% being offensive. They have a +4 margin on us which statistically will provide them with 3.8 more points. With Duke shooting 45% from the field and the Zags shooting 49%, if we can equalize possessions, we have a better chance.

It seems that if Sacre can get 2 more def reb's and 3 more off rebs (like he should!!) we should equalize. the possession count. If Sacre isn't shooting he needs to be banging the offensive boards. Period. His game will be critical next Saturday.

So, "How do we beat Duke?" If you had to choose, which one is more important, FT% or rebounding margin.

12-13-2009, 05:09 AM
My gut tells me rebounding, but, then again, I'm having stomach issues.

Duke is normally a sound defensive team, so I don't think we will get to the stripe as often as in previous games. Duke is a good offensive rebounding team, and personally I don't like giving the other team second and third chances. Limiting their possessions will help us stay out of foul trouble, and I like our chances if that happens.

Of course, we will have to both rebound and shoot free throws well, and we are capable of doing both.

ZagMan in Philly
12-13-2009, 06:40 AM
The big guys (Sacre, Kelly, and Harris) have to stay out of foul trouble.
Meech's quickness to penetrate the basket to break down their defense.
Rebound, Rebound...
Score 1 more pt than them....:p

Go Zags!

12-13-2009, 08:00 AM
Davidson was unconscious from 3 point land but had no answer for Harris and Sacre inside.

I see a replay of Davidson.

I don't think all of the prerequisites from the OP are necessary. Wisconsin handled Duke. If Zags bring their "A" game (ie. Maui) they can win this.

Das Zagger
12-13-2009, 08:32 AM
Score more points?

12-13-2009, 08:40 AM
The way to beat Duke is for all players to be "all in".

Focus on rebounding -getting good position and blocking out.

Smith and Scheyer need to be held below season averages.

Need to limit their second chance points.

We can expect bouldin to be well-guarded.

Harris and Sacre must make 70% free throws to win this....probably another tale of two halves.

12-13-2009, 08:50 AM
which is inside out. Don't let them dictate anything and keep up the smothering defense.

and here's the kicker: do it for ALL 40 minutes.

We have potentially the best team in the nation, in fits and jerks. We need to not h it those peaks and valleys and instead, reach a sustainable level of driving, dishing, shooting and defending that will, like our season, get better and more steady, every game, perhaps beginning with Duke.

Go TEAM Zags !

12-13-2009, 08:53 AM
Coack K teams thrive on D pressure taking you out of your rhythm and making you play further and further away from the basket; don't know if he has the players to execute that as before. the D also creates easy opportunities for them and open looks from 3; Coach K teams also use the bounce to get to the lane and kick for open 3s

so limiting turnovers will help a lot, getting back in transition and defending the three is probably big! and denying dribble penetration without help will be key so we don't leave their shooters open, just what they want; force those drivers to try and finish tough shots in there without fouling, then rebound!

Punish them in the paint. Will Matt be back?

EDIT to add: stay w/ Singler on the pick and pop; don't let him have it!

12-13-2009, 08:56 AM
limit 3 pointers...we don't win if duke hits 15 3's like davidson

rebound rebound rebound. especially taking away their 2nd chances.

pound the ball inside. imo, we are vastly superior down low with sacre and harris compared to their stiffs. this creates foul trouble for duke, easy buckets for us, and will kill their spirit.

limit dumb fouls (3 point shooters, ticky tack stuff inside, open court stuff 45 ft from the basket). this is my biggest fear. i don't know if we are just commit a lot of dumb fouls or if the refs have been screwing us over. but my biggest fear is giving duke a ton of 4 pt plays, rob and elias having foul trouble early, and scheyer/smith living at the line because of fouls at mid court by meech and steven.

limit turnovers. keep it under 10. otherwise, our chances dim significantly.

go bulldogs. kill the dookies.

12-13-2009, 09:04 AM
To beat Duke the Zags must be able to hit from beyond the 3 pt line. This is how Wisconsin beat them. The, Zags, like Wisconsin, have a very good power foward who is difficult to stop inside (Leuer for Wisconsin) but can also shoot from the outside. If we're hitting from the outside it opens the middle up for guys to drive the lane (like Harris, Matt, Gray, and even Bol). I think Bol Kong will play more in this game for this reason. Also, Duke has a 6'6" point guard (Sheyer), who isnt really all that fast.

I think it's going to be a great game however it's played. Our Zags are tough and so are Dukes. I believe the Zags have what it takes to beat Duke. We have two really good post players. Better than Duke's. Each team has a potential first team All-American, and both of them play the 3 position so that will be quite a Match-up. Duke has 3 good guards. That's their strength. They are all 6'6" or better, and it's why I think we need Kong. And Gibbs is close to 6'6" so he should be affective too, as he's a good defender/rebounder.

They have a great young gun named Dawkins who can really shoot the 3. We must defend him when he's in the game. He is NOT a great defener so we must take advantage of that when he's in the game.

The Dukies will certainlly be favored in this one. The game is being played in MSG which is often described as Duke's home away from home. They've already played there once against UCONN and won. But this Zag team has true grit and fight in them. They will be tough at the end. Zags must shoot good from the line. And they will.

12-13-2009, 09:12 AM
Bench play and rebounding will be the keys, IMO. Playing the vaunted Duke program on the national stage means to me that Duke will very likely have the advantage of the officials. I don't care what anyone in the NCAA says, there is prejudice in officiating based on player and team reputation. For that reason I suspect the bench is going to have to produce.

Secondly, Zags need to out rebound Duke and limit second chance opportunities. Give up a bunch of second chance points and it could get ugly. Got to make it one shot per trip for the Dukies.

12-13-2009, 09:14 AM
They have a great young gun named Dawkins who can really shoot the 3. We must defend him when he's in the game. He is NOT a great defener so we must take advantage of that when he's in the game. .

I believe that Dawkins is the young man who left the team after the death of his sister in a car accident last weekend. I have not heard who they will replace him with.


Xin Loi 67
12-13-2009, 09:25 AM
get in their grill and push them around. Our post play must provoke to prevail.

12-13-2009, 09:31 AM
I believe that Dawkins is the young man who left the team after the death of his sister in a car accident last weekend. I have not heard who they will replace him with.ID ZAGFAN

Thanks! I do recall that now. I would guess that he'll be back for the game though. If he isn't, that will really help us. A LOT!!!

12-13-2009, 11:55 AM
the teams FT% or their rebounding effort? Both are lacking so far.

12-13-2009, 12:15 PM
Keep cool when the zebras eff us over in Cameron Indoor's Northern Annex.

And Few needs to jockey the refs the way Rat-face does.

12-13-2009, 12:38 PM
Dawkins will be back as of yesterday- eligible tuesday; per Duke site

12-13-2009, 01:02 PM
This is not the game for the bigs to impress people with their roughness. Their muscle is going to have to be employed with some finesse, otherwise they will get 2 fouls in a heartbeat. The officials are going to ref to Duke's style, not one like Cincinnati's.

The best suggestion I can offer is to go in loose with a nothing-to-lose attitude. Defense will lead to offense. Play hard, don't take a play off, and be willing to trust the subs to play just as hard.

12-13-2009, 01:10 PM
Less zone defense. More man to man. And a full 40 minute effort.

12-13-2009, 01:21 PM
I believe the biggest key will be Gray defending Scheyer. If we can frustrate and slow him down we'll have a great chance to win.

12-13-2009, 02:22 PM
I believe the biggest key will be Gray defending Scheyer. If we can frustrate and slow him down we'll have a great chance to win.

If Gray guards Sheyer, who does Meech guard?

12-13-2009, 02:32 PM
The key to a win is a good night's sleep the night before game time. They won't get one if they stay at the Hotel New Yorker. They will be up scratching all night--not a good formula for winning the next day.
Tell me they won't stay at the New Yorker---puhleeze.

12-13-2009, 02:51 PM
If Gray guards Sheyer, who does Meech guard?

I would imagine Meech would guard Nolan Smith. Scheyer is 6-5 and I don't really think it would be a good idea for Meech to be gaurding him as he is a good three point shooter. While Nolan is 6-2 and more of a point guard than combo guard like Scheyer.

12-13-2009, 03:35 PM
They need to do what Wisconsin did. Keep control of the ball and the clock. Take the time to work the ball around and get a good shot everytime down the court. The bigs need to be smart, get to the boards and use their size to our advantage.

12-13-2009, 03:40 PM
That was your first post so welcome!

12-13-2009, 05:26 PM
Feed them spoiled seafood? :rolleyes:

Martin Centre Mad Man
12-13-2009, 06:04 PM
The Zags can absolutely beat Duke. I watched Duke for much of the Wisconsin game and Duke has a fair number of players who just seemed to get pushed around by those big Badger players. The Zags need to play a hard, physical game where they come up with more hustle plays - more loose balls, more rebounds, more forced turnovers. They need to play aggressive defense on every possession.

If they win the hustle game and take care of the basketball on offense, they WILL beat Duke.

12-13-2009, 06:29 PM
1) Get Bouldin healthy

2) Guard the 3 point line

3) Gray must due a good defensive job on Singler

4) Goodson must pressure the point of attack

5) Zags must make Harris and Sacre an issue. Both guys must quickly respond to double teams.

Duke doesn't have much depth in the backcourt this year, so they can't pressure as much as they normally do. If GU can get Smith or Scheyer in foul trouble, that would help.

12-13-2009, 07:27 PM
Duke likes to pressure the ball and the first pass way out on the court. They will use two hands on you 40 ft. from the basket if the refs allow it (and they will).

So, the zags have got to slip screens and use hard backdoor cuts. Harris, Gray, Bouldin should be taking it to the rim after receiving the pass. Meech needs to be strong with the ball and every once and a while, if Duke is trying to manhandle him, he should keep his dribble and drive--the refs will usually call the 3rd or 4th grab if you point it out to them by pushing the issue; do not pick up the dribble until you know exactly where you are going with it.

12-14-2009, 06:20 AM
The Zags win this if they forget the name on the jersey. This Duke team is not the Duke teams of old. They only have three guards that they can use (due to transfers and NBA earlies)
Jon Scheyer is a very poor mans Bouldin (Big advantage GU).
Smith has trouble with quick guards just look at how Trevon Hughes abused him (Big advantage GU) The same guard Meech dominated.
Singler is an All American but Gray has shown himself as a great defender (Slight advantage Duke)
Harris is quicker and more explosive with a better face up game than Thomas (advantage GU)
Sacre and Zoubek, please (big advantage GU).
Bench Duke has an advantage in the frontcourt bench with so many bigs coming off the bench, but it is balanced by the guard play off GU's bench (even).
MSG is more of a home court (advantage for Duke.)
GU has a slight edge over Duke overall.
The key is to attack and attack and attack their guards, and then attack their guards so more. Make Scheyer think he is wearing a Zag uniform with all the attacks off the dribble. Make Smith see more of the back of GU jerseys as the repeatedly pass him on drives. Push the ball at every opportunity. Make them pay for only having three guards.

12-14-2009, 06:45 AM
Score more points?



El Voce
12-14-2009, 07:34 AM
A couple of historic points that really bother me about the Duke game:

1. The Zags have historically played poorly their first game after finals. Finals are this week.

2. The Zags have played poorly when traveling east three time zones, and playing a day game. At least, this game starts at 1 PM Spokane time, so their bodies may have adjusted somewhat.

3. MSG, while technically a neutral site, will be a home crowd for Duke.

This is a different Zag team this year. I don't think the crowd will bother them that much, and hopefully, they can overcome points 1 and 2.

I am thankful the game is on CBS, and not the World Wide Leader, as two hours of Dukie V would be hard to take.

12-14-2009, 07:52 AM
If they win the hustle game and take care of the basketball on offense, they WILL beat Duke.

Reading through this thread, there are a lot of varying opinions on how to beat Duke… from fast to slow, from sleeping (not scratching) to improper dietary techniques, but MCM seems to say it best.

Duke hasn’t played since the December 5th game against St. Johns, but play essentially a warm up game tomorrow at 4:00pm on ESPN2 (December 15th). A ten day layoff, possibly some of those days without practice due to finals, will help rest the Duke players and will help Duke’s coaches prepare for three days of practice focused primarily on beating the ZAGS.

Reviewing past Duke game stats, Coach K has started numerous lineups and finished with a different lineup and starters getting few minutes. So, with the exception of the three S’s, it’s tough to know exactly who will be on the floor. Call him what you will, Coach K is a master at adjusting to get the right match ups, and knows how to prepare his team.

The ZAG staff has a week to prepare while the players focus on finishing their semester finals. There is a long layoff after this game, and then essentially the second half of the season begins.

As has been said, the college basketball season is a marathon, and while this may be one of the defining games of the ZAG season, it is not one that they really need to win. Similar to MSU, play hard and compete, and respect will follow. The only way for the ZAGS to truly loose this game is to not show up.

All that said, this is a game the ZAGS can win. They have the coaching, they have the talent, they have the depth. As has been mentioned a couple of times in this thread, all they need is to bring it all together for a full 40 minutes, and BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF DUKE!

Breath in…, breath out…, and…


12-14-2009, 10:58 AM
But, there are specific things we have done in the past that ruin our offensive momentum and allow the opponent to get it. Most of our games have been defined by momentum swings. We lose if we let the other team control after halftime and we squander opportunities (like TO's, missed FT's, and bad fouls).
There are many elements to hustle and there should be all out hustle every second of every game. Just not sloppiness.

It gets hard to maintain hustle if we throw the ball out of bounds on fast breaks and they defend the paint (see MSU). The start of the second half was horrible, we were sloppy, and we could not hand in for the kill. We had 3 or 4 instances where we "sloppied" ourselves to a loss even though we dominated them the first half, we had a stretch of sloppy play that doomed us.

Also if our "Hustle" guys are in foul trouble its harder to maintain that rhythm and team chemistry that the other team just got. (See Wake) We simply choked after the technical fouls and they had the better bench that beat us in the second half. We were only down by two with 4 minutes left. Nothing that happened earlier in the game should have mattered at that point but they still beat us. In both of our losses we did things that got us out of our own rhythm and gave the opponent the edge. That is my opinion and that IMO only.

12-14-2009, 12:13 PM
Send in the flying kitties-

12-14-2009, 04:14 PM
1. Foul trouble-esp for the bigs as Duke is taller this year

2. Perimeter D-Duke shoots 3s and so far we aren't fast enough to the wing.

12-14-2009, 05:04 PM
Who guards Singler? Matt, Steven, Elias? Tough matchup. I think it'd have to be Steven, at least at the beginning, because Duke starts (usually) the 2 Plumlees (6'10), so Harris will have to guard one of them. I'd guess Gray on Singler, Bouldin on Scheyer, Goodson on Smith.

12-14-2009, 06:04 PM
I like Goodson on Singler and Gray on Scheyer. Let Matt guard Smith and Harris roam for the double teams when we need it on Singler and Scheyer.

12-14-2009, 07:18 PM
5-11 on 6-8? I don't know about that. I think it has to be Gray maybe Bouldin

12-14-2009, 07:32 PM
Maybe Gibbs

12-15-2009, 06:13 AM
This Saturday the Zags take the next step, which is to knock off Duke. The Zags have not gone back east yet, and most of these guys have not played in Madison Square Garden. But I have a feeling that these Zags are going to like it there. These guys are different. They seem to like big stages and bright lights, and playing tough teams. They respond to adverse conditions. Logic and reason would tell us that the Zags can not beat Duke In MSG. They've got tons of fans there and coach K. Duke has Kyle Singler and Scheyer.

For some reason I don't think that this Zag team is going to be in awe of Duke. Maybe because we have so many foreigner's on the team. I know Elias Harris is not going to be afraid of them. And honestly, I believe Matt, Meech and Steven really believe that they are better. And Mark Few is coaching better than he ever has. He's different this year. His demeaner on the sidelines is different. He yells more. He's coaching more during the games. I think this is the year that Few outcoaches coach K. It is his time.

Honestly, I think the Zags are better than Duke. I think they are more battle tested and have played tougher opponents. Gonzaga is a more diverse team, and they have many ways that they can beat you. I think Duke will rely on Singler, Scheyer and Dawkins, but really mostly Singler.

Gonzaga, once upon a time, was referred to as "little Duke." Or at times, and I think a little better, the West Coast Duke." The last time we played them (just a few years ago) I think Big Duke showed Little Duke who was boss. I think things have changed since then. Gonzaga will show that they are not in the shadow of Duke, and that Gonzaga is NOT little Duke. Gonzaga is Gonzaga, The Zags, and the best team in the West.

This is going to be a great game, an awesome fight to the end. It's a match I am so excited about. I know I feel a lot different about this Zag team than I did about the one that went back there a few years ago.

And don't forget. Breathe in...breathe out......

12-15-2009, 07:40 AM
Ask Duke to wear LMU jerseys ...

12-15-2009, 08:09 AM
Ask Duke to wear LMU jerseys ...


12-15-2009, 09:35 AM
Do not fall behind.

Few has to have a game plan that allows the Zags a chance to stay in the game. If the crowd gets into it and the Zags are down by double digits it will be a long night. This is not Colorado in Hawaii. This is Duke at MSG.

Every starter have their game of the season.

There will be no recovering from a poor night by any starter. They all have to have, while not "career" nights, "season" nights. No cheap fouls or unforced turnovers. Duke is #7 for a reason. They are good. Ok..for two reasons, they are also East Coast.

Bench play.

Besides playing strong team defence, the bench has to play within themselves and not force things. If they play their roles, be it shooter (Bol) rebounder (Manny), presence (KO) control (Gibbs) and not get caught up in the moment, they will play even with Dukes bench.


The rest of the team has to step up and respond to Matt's game. There is no doubt he can lead, but will they follow? He has to push when needed and calm when neccesary. The experience gained by Matt at MSU will be huge here in taking these kids to the next level.


Free throws. Turnovers. Misses. Rebounds. At the end of the day nothing else matters if the execution is not there. It is what determines how many points each team has on the board when the clock hits 00:00.

Other than that, should be an easy win. ;)

12-15-2009, 10:14 AM
Be tougher. We went toe to toe with brawlers like Cincinatti and M-State. Duke has the talent but not the ferocity to match Gonzaga. Bring that edge to the Garden and there will be no other outstanding conditions for a win.

12-15-2009, 01:04 PM
I expect to see Gray on Singler. Versus SJU the Dukies started the Plumlees in the post and put Singler at the 3.

12-15-2009, 01:09 PM
I think Gray has to be on Singler. You can then stick Meech on Sheyer. Take your chances in the paint by letting Sacre and Harris go 1 on 1 with their men. Don't let the Dukies start burying 3's.

At the offensive end I think everything needs to flow through Matt and Harris. I don't think Duke has the firepower in the blocks to stop GU. If things work in the paint it'll open up opportunities on the perimter for Gray and Bouldin and will provide lanes for Meech to drive.

12-15-2009, 04:12 PM
I expect to see Gray on Singler. Versus SJU the Dukies started the Plumlees in the post and put Singler at the 3.

I for one hope to see Gray on Scheyer. Take a look at his line tonight.

Jon Scheyer, G 11-13 7-9 7-7 1 8 8 2 0 2 2 36

He seems to me to be the engine that makes them go and though Meech could certainly stay in front of him I could see him going off from three if Meech is guarding him. Why couldn't Bouldin or Harris guard Singler?

12-15-2009, 04:32 PM
Meech will guard smith...It's likely all but written in stone. It's a matter of speed vs. speed. I'm not sure who else matches up well.

I'm worried about Singler. We just don't have a great match up for him. I think Gray is too small. If the dookies are smart (and Gray is guarding) they'll invert and post him up (isolated on the block). He has a decent post up game for a wing.

Also, I think Gray on Scheyer is a good fit for us. A much better match up (Gray should be able to effectively neutralize Scheyer). But again, who guards Singler.

Plumlee and Zoubek aren't nearly as bad as people like to perpetuate. Especially plumlee. I think we'll see Will a little bit. Subsequently, I think Will will be less than effective. Sacre is going to have his hands full...IMO these posts are stronger than any posts we've played thus far (including Yancy Gates who is relatively undersized from a heigth standpoint).

I don't have a great feeling about this game...

12-15-2009, 04:33 PM
One more thing. K has ZERO class.
Up 35 points and has starters in. Bahumbug...

12-15-2009, 04:46 PM
I know after posting on this board and the old board for years that we have very little "rat face" sympathizers.
I feel comfortable with my statement, knowing I won't have to meet an angry GUboards mob outside my internet house.

12-15-2009, 05:20 PM
64 points in the 2nd half.... WOWZA!!!!!!!!

12-16-2009, 03:21 PM
but he hides it sometimes and he forgets that he learned most of what he knows from Bobby Knight.

I am convinced that no TO's, and rebounding margin are the keys to winning on Saturday. A 70% FT would help out too as well as keeping everyone under 3 fouls in the first half.

With Bouldin playing we have a great chance.

12-16-2009, 04:10 PM
If Rob gets it going early and often, and Elias and him stay out of foul trouble, I'd say we have a 50/50 chance.

12-17-2009, 07:53 AM
Don't dive into Duke's tall timbers, the first turnover creates an out of sync feeling that is often hard for the rest of his teammates to recover from.
Spot the trailer, kick it out for a possibly uncontested three or slow it down and go into half court offense. He was successful against Davidson's porous defense but that won't be the case Saturday. Use that baskbetball IQ we all know you have, Meech.

12-17-2009, 02:57 PM
For some reason I don't think that this Zag team is going to be in awe of Duke.

I made this statement prior to watching the videos of their interviews about the Duke game. After watching those videos I am convinced that they are not intimidated by either Duke or MSG. These Zags are from a new and different generation. They didn't grow up fearing Duke, and I think to the foreigners MSG IS just another arena to play in.

So taking these issues out of the picture and just match up the two teams, Gonzaga is better. The biggest issue will be that it's a road game. I don't care where you play on the road it's going to be a very tough game. Duke will have a decided advantage in MSG, first because the fans in MSG will mostly be for Duke, and next Duke has already played there twice this year I think. Few did say in an interview that Gonzaga does have a pretty good fan base that will show up at MSG. So it may not be TOO bad.

12-17-2009, 03:07 PM
Might as well post this here as well:

If we inexplicable play zone more than we play man-2-man vs Duke, I'll probably freak out. We have the personel to man up Duke and their ability to penetrate and finish at the rim is below average. We can match-up and extend our defense this game--nothing to lose. If we play zone against the Dukies, they'll have a hay day knocking down open 3's. Scheyer, Singler, and Dawkins will bury us. I'm not saying I'm an expert by any means, but I know we MUST play in your face defense against their unbelievable jump shooters(they shoot 42% from 3pt as a team and have one of the best, if not the best kick-out, mid-range games in College hoops.) Also, Their screens along the perimeter are perfomed with perfection. Our guards will need to amp up the toughness, fight through screens, and communicate switches like their lives depend on it. We'll have little issues defending their post play, its up to the Guards(Gray, Bouldin, Manny, Meech) to stop their trio of shooters.

12-18-2009, 12:17 AM
will be a huge factor. We need to assist buckets more than 11 times this game. Can we shoot FT's better than 70%? Can we hit better than 40% of our 3 point shots? We will have to, and Bouldin, Goodson, and Grey are our guards who have to play their A game.

12-18-2009, 06:24 AM
I'll keep it simple:

Duke is almost like playing a more talented, skilled, and amped up version of our very own WCC brethren--Portland Pilots. Both teams rely heavily on their 3pt shooting with kick-outs and ball screens while relentlessly searching for the open look or drawing fouls along on the perimeter. They also have just enough of an inside-presence to keep defenses honest.

While many see Duke being a good match-up vs the Zags given our strength and advantage inside, I see Duke as being the worst or bigest mis-match for us.

2 reasons:

1) Offensive rebounding - Duke is ranked as one of the best overall offensive rebounding teams in the country. They Rank inthe Top-15 in O-rebs per game and Top-20 in Offensive rebs % as a team. The Zags, on the otherhand, rank in the bottom 15% in these categories.

2) Perimeter & FT shooting - Duke shoots 42% from 3pt as a team and have four players who shoot above 40% from 3pt overall. Team defenses have attempted to limit Duke from getting open looks, yet it doesn't matter if they have a hand in their face or not -- they hit 3's better than any team in the country, yes, even better than Portland. Duke will bury us by 25+ pts if we allow the open looks on the perimeter. Players such as Singler, Scheyer, Smith, and Dawkins will spot up and nail 3's to an easy victory. We've dared teams to "beat us from three", yet Duke is the first team that can and will do it if we let them.

Also, FT shooting will be key. Duke, just as all teams, will foul Harris and Sacre this game. There aren't many teams in the country who can stop both of them in the paint. If they can't hit FT's at an unprecedented rate, it'll be tough. Duke shoots nearly 82% from FT as a team and everyone recognizes the officials have a tendency to play favorites with Duke over the years. However, its no excuse and we must not allow ticky-tack foul calls on our players to get in our heads or they'll take us out of our game in a hurry.

Keys to the game:

-- keep them off the FT line as they never seem to miss. No reason for our guys to foul Duke's inside guys or "reach" to help on the weakside. We have the horses to man-up and match-up against their players. Play strong, man-to-man defense and have faith in each other they'll keep them from getting open looks.

-- Perimeter defense. Coach Few and Giac will need to alter their defensive gameplan in this one. Someone eluded to this earlier, yet Duke is a team built to smoke a zone all over the court. If we play more than 5 mins of zone defense, we'll have no chance -- zero, zip, game, set, match, etc. The boys have 9 days off following this game, no reason we can't extend the defense a bit since their primary threats on offense our Guard, Guard, Small-forward. This isn't Wisconsin or Cincy. We MUST defend their shooters like our lives depend on it. 35-40 minutes of tough, physical, in yo face, ol' school man-to-man defense on the perimeter. TRUST that Bouldin, Gray, Manny, and Meech to guard these guys. Unleash them to stop their perimeter game. As many posters mentioned above, if they see too much zone against the best 3pt shooting team in the country, they'll "freak out". I'm on that train as well.

-- Matt Bouldin. As BZ mentioned earlier, is he ready to go? Most of all, we'll need his leadership, calm demeanor, and never-say-die attitude to help our guys stay focused under the lights of MSG against a Top-10 team. If we get behind(or ahead) he'll need to regroup our guys and keep reminding them the task at hand. Also, I fear Matt may feel as if he needs to carry this team on his back this game for us to win. NOT THE CASE. If anything, we actually have better athletes than they do, especially in the paint(a Dukie would never admit this), so spread the ball around and capitalize on the advantage down-low. While Bouldin's leadership on the court will be essential, guys like Sacre and Harris are the X-factor. Gray hitting a couple clutch shots is close behind as well.

IF we limit them to 35% or lower from behind the arc and our big boys stay outta foul trouble, I am confident we can win this game. We'll need the best effort on the season to pull this one out, b/c following a cross-country trip, finals week, and playing Duke at Duke -- err --- I mean MSG will be easier said than done.

Go Zags!!!!

12-19-2009, 03:01 AM
Couldn't have said it better even though I tried to start this thread. We see eye to eye on the FT% and Off Reb's as being critical weaknesses. If we can fix these 2 stats and step up everything else we will come out on top.