Preview: Duke (9-0) vs. Temple (5-5)

Duke returns to the floor Saturday to finish their out of conference portion of the schedule until late February when they host the Temple Owls along with their Hall of Fame coach John Chaney. Though the talent level for Temple isn't what it once was, the vaunted match up zone defense is enough to give any team fits, including a thing group of Blue Devils. <i>TDD</i> previews the match up.

Last year the Owls made a living off of now departed senior David Hawkins near 25 point per game performance. Despite his brilliance, the Owls managed just a 15-14 record and a NIT invite. That may be good enough for some schools, but Chaney spent most of his career with the Owls among the top programs in the country. The goal in 2005 was to take steps towards restoring Temple among the elite. So far, it hasn't happened as the Owls haven't cracked the .500 mark all season.

That isn't to say that the Owls aren't dangerous. Quite the contrary, having already put a serious scare into both No. 5 Wake Forest (67-64) and No. 18 Alabama (75-71) thanks to the defensive scheme. For Duke to earn another non conference victory, it'll take a good shooting performance from the perimeter from J.J. Redick and Dan Ewing.

Starting Lineup:

C- Keith Butler (7'1, 250, SO) – Back in high school Butler was considered to be much like 2005 prospect Andrew Bynum: tons of upside, great size, but a project. So far that has been the case for the seven footer, as his lack luster efforts have held him back significantly during his time in school.

Despite tremendous size, and good athleticism, Butler isn't a good rebounder relative to all his physical gifts. That's probably more to do with his wiring upstairs. Instead he's a big body who can finish inside, but doesn't have enough polish to be a finesse player and hasn't shown the drive to be a bruising power player.

Duke big man Shelden Williams usually doesn't match up with players who are bigger than him. However, the 6'9, 255lbs junior will have his hands full with Butler who will be able to use his size, if motivated, to force Williams into several situations where the temptation will be to go over the back, which could lead to early foul trouble. If that is the case, Duke could be in serious trouble.

F- Wayne Marshall (6'11, 285, SO) – Marshall didn't play last year for the Owls because of troubles in the classroom. Now, with those problems seemingly in order, the sophomore big man is starting to play at the level he did in high school, when he was considered a high major prospect. Blessed with outstanding size and good quickness for that size, Marshall has the potential to be one of the Atlantic 10's best big men.

Despite all that potential, Marshall hasn't exactly been a world beater thus far. Averaging over points and five rebounds on the year, Marshall has struggled to get into position on both ends of the floor, which has limited his ability to rebound and score inside. At no point this year has he grabbed more than nine rebounds, and only three times has he pulled in more than five. Still, with a wide body, he can seal off the lane and box out the opposition, which can prove valuable, especially since he'll likely be matched up with players at least six inches shorter than him on any given play.

Match Up: Duke will likely counter with 6'6 wing Lee Melchionni, who continues to show the ability to help out in spot duty. However, he's playing way out of position, by necessity, as a secondary post player. He is smart enough to play to his advantages, which will mean pulling Marshall away from the basket and to the perimeter, but given Temple's match up zone, Melchionni will probably have a chance for some good perimeter looks.

F- Antywane Robinson (6'7, 215, SO) – Another big player with a long wing span and, on the surface, several athletic gifts including a seven foot wing span. So what's holding him back? Simply the fact that he prefers to play outside instead of going to the basket and battling in the paint whenever possible.

So far that's been the case this year as he's attempted 33 perimeter attempts, hitting 11 of them while averaging just fewer than four rebounds per game. Overall his offensive game hasn't been stellar this year, as he's hitting just 36% from the field and 60% from the line.

Match Up: Robinson will be the biggest defender J.J. Redick has seen all season long. Defensively, his length may give Redick trouble, and when the roles are reversed, he should be able to get his shot off over the shorter Blue Devil. Not to mention be able to take him inside. Despite that, Redick's ability to run off screens, and draw fouls should be enough to give him the edge.

G/F- Mark Tyndale (6'5, 210, FR) – As a virtual unknown last year on the national recruiting scene, Tyndale made his name in the Philadelphia public league where he averaged over 20 points and over 10 rebounds per game as a senior. Arriving on Chaney's doorstep at an opportune time, Tyndale has stepped in right away and has become the team's second leading scorer (13.2), while also placing second in rebounding (4.7), assists (2.2), and steals (1.3). However, he's also struggled mightily from the field (29%) and his three point shooting has also failed him (22%) to this point.

Despite the efficiency struggling on the offensive end, Tyndale doesn't make bad decisions and isn't likely to turn the ball over. However his carefree trigger when it comes to shooting (he's attempted more than 15 shot attempts four times already this year) doesn't lend itself well towards keeping possession if the shots aren't falling, and to this point they haven't been.

Match Up: After a rough outing against Princeton, Daniel Ewing got back into shape against Princeton. He's still yet to shake off all the rust from a long lay-off, but is heading in the right direction. With the match-up zone coming at his team, Ewing will be asked to run the offense while also looking for open looks from the perimeter, which will certainly present themselves. If he's back to his old self, he could put up a big number.

G- Mardy Collins (6'5, 205, JR) – Plays nearly every minute of every game, while leading the team in scoring, assists, and steals as the point guard. Closer to 6'6 in shoes, Collins sees the floor well and uses his size advantage to post up smaller opponents, but has the handle and quickness to go by more traditionally built lead guards. Still, in a perfect world Chaney would move Collins to the wing, where he played all throughout his high school career.

Despite being out of his natural position, Collins hasn't seen his scoring decrease. In fact he scored 20 or more points in three of four games beginning in mid December including 25 against both Wake Forest and Princeton. Able to hit the perimeter jumper, Collins will also go to the basket hard in search of contact and trips to the free throw line where he's hitting just 61% on the year despite being at the line more than six times in three of his last four games.

The job of shutting down Collins will likely fall on a number of Blue Devils, most of all Sean Dockery, who continues to rehab a hip flexor injury sustained in practice last week. Still, Dockery will need to keep Collins in front of him, preventing drives to the hoop. Offensively, Duke will continue to ask for more from the junior guard, given the limitations of the bench.

The Bench:

The Owls don't use much of their roster off the bench after their sixth man, Dustin Salisbery, who is actually the team's third leading scorer at 10.6 points per game. An above average athlete, Salisbery's vice is that he simply isn't a very good jump shooter, though he has improved his numbers to 38% from the floor and 32% from the perimeter. Next comes Dion Dacons, a 6'6 sophomore who averages one point and just under two rebounds per game in relief of either forward position. Finally there is DaShone Kirkendoll, a 6'5 scoring guard from Ohio who has shown the ability to fill it up quickly from the floor, but has struggled with Chaney's system at times.

Match Up: Duke counters with a pair of freshmen in DeMarcus Nelson and David McClure, along with 6'10 former walk on Patrick Johnson. Of that trio, it's Nelson, at just 6'3, who is best rebounder and natural scorer of the bunch. For his part, McClure has shown flashes of becoming a very good player in the future, but his offensive game is behind his defensive abilities and the intangibles he brings to the floor. Meanwhile, Johnson, will be called on to spell Williams inside and pick up the occasional rebound and use his five allotted fouls wisely.

Bottom Line:

This game is eerily similar to the 2001 ACC title game when North Carolina came in with superior size, while Duke was down to one post player on the roster over 6'8 in the form of Casey Sanders. In the blow out that ensued, the Blue Devils used their superior speed and guard play to force the Heels into a game they were not comfortable playing. That's what will need to happen against Temple, as the Owls' sheer size advantage will make a slowed down, half court game a decidedly uphill climb for the Blue Devils. If Duke can run, and they can hit their perimeter jumpers, it should equal success, especially in Cameron. If not, then there could be a lot of nervous Crazies.


Duke- 68
Temple - 57

The Devils Den Top Stories