Wednesday, April 7, 2010

DUKE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS: HOW THEY DID IT

VERSATILITY: Coach Mike Kʂɨˈʐɛ(f)ski and Duke got throttled by an bigger, stronger (and ultimately incredibly inconsistent) Georgetown team earlier in the season and subsequently changed their style of play. It was most noticeable against Purdue and Baylor when Duke utilized a slashing/penetration game to loosen up defenses that have shut down their traditional run and shoot style in previous tournaments.

Duke still runs a motion offense, but Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer driving to the basket and the emergence of Brian Zoubek as a force near the basket made a big difference. Like it or not, that's good coaching.

Smith has already announced he will return for his senior season, while Singler said post game he had “no idea” about his future.

EXPERIENCE: Like the North Carolina team that won last year with two juniors and two seniors making up the core of the team, this Duke team featured three seniors (Zoubek, Thomas and Scheyer) and two juniors (Singler and Smith). Say what you want about Kentucky’s fancy freshmen or any of the other spectacular one-and-done players out there, but ultimately they were all in the same place come Monday night – at home watching.

Keep an eye on Butler next year as the Bulldogs are a young team compared to the Duke squad that vanquished them in championship game. Monday night, the little-school-that- damn-near-could sent out Matt Howard, Gordon Hayward, Willie Veasley, Shelvin Mack and Ron Nored. Veasley is a senior, Matt Howard is a junior and Hayward, Mack and Nored on sophomores.

SECOND CHANCE POINTS: Like the Tar Heels last year, the Blue Devils made some serious hay on offensive rebounds. It wasn’t that they so greatly outnumbered their opponents, it was what they did with them that counted.

At tournament’s end, Duke had a huge second chance points margin and it was most noticeable in what ended up being a blowout in the Final Four against West Virginia. Unlike many teams, Duke’s big men don’t always go straight back up with the put back when they grab an offensive rebound.

On many occasions, they turn and fire a quick pass to a guard waiting to fire off a three-pointer. In most of their games in the tournament, Scheyer, Smith and Singler turned those offensive rebounds into three-point-plays. Those were back-breakers for the Blue Devils’ opponents.

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