As a usually outspoken Duke fan it is odd that I would wait until now to post about this past Saturdays UNC-Duke game. I needed a few days to collect my thoughts. Not because of the humiliation of the final score but I was disappointed in the Blue Devils more than ever before.
All I have heard from Tar Heel fans and media is: “UNC is the better team“, “Duke is not a #2 seed“, and “UNC can compete with Kentucky“. If you’re such a better team care to explain how you lost on your home court to us, such an “inferior” team? Even though the final score was in your favor, take a deeper look at the stats from the game. We had roughly the same amount of assists, blocks, and we did better in the turnover and steals category.
The UNC Tar Heels did NOT beat the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday night, the Blue Devils beat themselves. If you take the Plumlees out of the game, there were 8 players that scored a total of only 37 points on 12-41 shooting and 7-13 free throws. Overall the Devils missed 37 shots and only had 7 offensive rebounds. Did we forget to box out? The three-point shooting was horrendous at 6-21. I think Mac and T-Bone could shoot better against the Heels than we did.
The thing you need to remember though is that the UNC defense was not very good during the game to keep our shot percentage low, we were just flat-out missing wide open shots. I’ve NEVER seen a team full of shooters miss so many wide open shots.
Willing to accept that but you want to blame the refs? How about the fact that the fouls were almost exact at 21-19. The referees were making equally horrible calls on both teams. But since you’re Carolina fans you’re so used to whining about the refs that it comes natural. On a side note each team is about to be charged with 3 more offensive charges just because Karl Hess sucks.
The in-ability to shoot the ball will crush any team regardless of whether you’re playing UNC or Gaston College. Duke went on 3 stretches on the game where they couldn’t buy a bucket. The first was during the 1st half, the score was UNC 8-5 at the 17:26 mark early in the game. Duke didn’t score again until 11:19. The second was from 7:27 down 30-19 to 0:57 (minus 1 free throw). The last was during the 2nd half and went from 5:59 down 75-64 to the end of the game 88-70.
That’s a total of 18:30 minutes of play that resulted in 7 points. That’s almost an ENTIRE half of the game. How can you beat anyone without scoring during almost half of the game? Again, it wasn’t the refs holding Duke back, it wasn’t the Tar Heels playing good defense, it was simply Duke not hitting their shots.
Duke had a chance to change the outcome when they were on their run in the 2nd half. They closed the gap to 11 down from 26 and had the ball at the 5:49 mark. Miles Plumlee missed a jumper, Seth Curry missed a three-pointer, and Austin Rivers missed the front end of a “one and one”. If Miles makes his shot, Curry hits the 3, and Rivers makes at least one of the free throws, the score would have been 75-70 and Duke would’ve had the momentum needed to potentially complete the comeback. Instead they missed their shots and blew their chance to have the ACC regular season championship and #1 seed in the ACC tournament.
Duke has been playing from behind all year and a lot of the games they came back and won. But you can’t play from behind every game and win them all. It’s bound to bite you in the butt and this past Saturday night giving UNC a 26 point lead was obviously way too much to overcome.
Now the media, the experts, and Carolina fans are saying Duke is not a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Fine, unless the win the ACC tournament in convincing fashion they should not be a #1 seed. But I’m hearing constant chatter (including on air personalities on this very station) say that Duke shouldn’t be a #2 seed. That is absurd. With their schedule (9 teams that were ranked at the time they played or ranked now), their record, and their players, Duke is easily a #2 seed. Yes, it hurts having a performance like that at home on the last game of the season, but it won’t kick them from a #1 to a #3. People forget we are ranked #6 in the nation. That means the AP and the Coaches think we’re the 6th best team in the country. 6th = #2 seed.
I have to comment on a few things Chris Johnson said. He posted a blog on Valentines Day ripping Duke after the Blue Devils beat his Heels on Feb 8th. After that post he had to apologize for several things he said, including calling Ryan Kelly a hobbit. I’m not sure Ryan Kelly is a hobbit, but he is a funny looking dude. To top it off he played like crap and I’m not a fan of his. It always seems like when we need him to hit a basket or grab a board he never comes through. He played 28 minutes, was 1-8 from the field including 0-5 from the three-point range, had 2 points, 1 rebound, only 1 assist, and 2 fouls. Don’t get me wrong, the junior forward from Raleigh has increased his production in every category every year at Duke, but Saturday night, when we needed him (and others) he flat-out sucked. He should apologize to us as Duke fans.
I personally think Coach K will use this game as motivation for this years team to rally around and bounce back to win this ACC tournament. One game will not make or break this season, but this one game (and the failure to perform) is indicative of how Duke has played most of the year.
As a 20+ year Duke fan I’m sure I’ll get ripped by fellow Blue Devil fans, however as a professional for WFNZ 610 AM Sports Radio I have to speak the truth, even if it includes flaws on our team.
You can send your love and hate mail to me at Bruce@SuperiorCarService.com. You can follow me on Twitter @BruceRWilson. You can also follow my personal blog here.
Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Sports Radio 610 AM WFNZ The Fan.