From The Stands: Duke v. Va Tech

After plodding through the Maryland game, the Blue Devils drew the ire of their head coach, Mike Krzyzewski. With a couple of very intense practices behind them, Duke returned to the court on Sunday to face an upstart Virginia Tech squad. Instead of allowing the Hokies any hope, Coach K's bunch jumped all over their visitors behind a very potent and balanced attack; easily thwarting the Hokies by 35. <I>TDD</I> reviews the match-up.

What Went Right

- After coming out extremely flat against Maryland on Wednesday, the Blue Devils jumped all over the Hokies by going inside early and often to Shelden Williams, who proceeded to rack up on opponents fouls, going to the line for a trio of three point plays in the first five minutes.

- The inside attack was a far cry from the Maryland game as Duke not only fed the post, but also got conversions from Williams inside, as well as several other key contributions. Namely, Duke went to the line early and often thanks to an aggressive, attacking style of basketball. While the performance at the free throw line was horrendous, the fact that the Blue Devils secured four offensive rebounds off missed free throws in the opening stanza speaks to their intensity, while also providing a huge advantage in second chance points.-

Speaking of hustle points, the Devils certainly rebounded in all the associated categories, taking their 16 offensive rebounds and turning them into 21 points compared to the Hokies six points (on 17 offensive rebounds). Duke also was able to convert turnovers into points, something that was lacking against the Terps, at an 18-6 clip.

- Defensively the Blue Devils were once again very strong, holding Virginia Tech to just 33% shooting in the first half, and 38% for the game. Much of that poor shooting had to do with Williams drawing so many fouls, forcing the Hokies to use several players who hadn't seen much time. Still more of it was a result of Duke's consistently getting a hand in the face of the shooter, forcing several attempts to be short armed or hurried.

- After allowing several inferior opponents to ‘hang around' with them for more than half a game, Duke finally came out and delivered a knock out punch as best the could – given the choppy flow of the game. This one was over by the 10 minute mark in the first period, and despite a strong effort in the second half, the Hokies never got within 16.

- In his continued return from mono, Shavlik Randolph provided positive momentum and solid contributions during his abbreviated time on the floor. At this point word is that the 6'11 junior will see spot action and average no more than 20 minutes per contest until he can get his conditioning to come around.

- As a whole the bench contribution for the Blue Devils was as good as it had been all year long. With Randolph back in the starting lineup, the backcourt duo of Sean Dockery and DeMarcus Nelson combined for 19 points and five rebounds. Meanwhile reserve big man Patrick Johnson logged a career best six boards in 10 minutes.

What Went Wrong

- Though it may be nitpicking to analyize the failures to execute in a 35 point victory, it has to be noted that Duke could have won this one by over 40 had they shot a respectable percentage from the free throw line. Instead, Duke went just 30-of-49 from the stripe (61%). It didn't matter in this one, but it could be a problem with the anticipated battles forthcoming. After a terrible first half (19-35 54%), Duke did manage to shoot a much improved 11-of-14 for 79% after intermission.

- Despite Williams going off in the first half and registering a double-double before intermission, the Blue Devils seemed to forget about the big guy in the early stages of the second half. This corresponded with Virginia Tech slicing nine points off the lead rather quickly.

- While Duke certainly benefited from some of the more questionable calls, the officiating crew quickly lost control of this game, and never seemed to recover. Much like last season's National Semifinal, there was no consistency on either side. However, Duke being the more aggressive side resulted in more foul problems for the visitors.

- The antics on the Virginia Tech bench will certainly get their share of coverage, but it probably wasn't head coach Seth Greenberg's finest moment when he feigned attack at a heckling student while en route to the locker room after being ejected.

Player of the Game:

Shelden Williams continues to establish himself as one of the premiere big men in the country. His 25 point, 17 rebound performance against the Hokies only cements that. For his efforts, he is our TDD player of the game.

Next Play

The Blue Devils return to the court this week to face Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. The Jackets have struggled early on with injuries and inconsistent play, while the Deacons have been extremely strong at times and very inconsistent at others. Still, the Duke jersey will likely have both clubs fired up and playing at their top levels. Duke will certainly have their biggest test of the season to date against Wake.


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