> TDD’s Game Story

> TDD’s knee-jerk analysis:

There’s going to be a lot of handwringing after this one, particularly because our offense was sour and our defense–mostly in the first half–was vulnerable.

As JohnTDD has been telling us from day one, this team is young and is going to play like it. And sometimes that means that despite all of the accomplishments these young men compiled in high school, they’re going to play like they’ve never held a basketball sometimes. But as they get accustomed to everything that is Duke basketball, they’ll really come together.

Tonight, Brian Zoubek was hard to spot on the floor, which is saying something since he’s 7’1. That stands in stark contrast to a night ago, when he dominated Columbia. So what was different? Georgia Southern tried to push him around with bigger, stronger defensive players than what Columbia had at its disposal. Zoubek didn’t adjust well to it today…he’ll get better and better at adjusting as the season goes on.

Will he be ready for Hibbert? Probably not. Will he be ready for Hansborough? Meh. Long way to go. And he’ll be far better prepared then than now.

Henderson and Thomas will both vow for All-American honors before they graduate. Great instincts, great effort, great athleticism, solid fundamentals. Henderson can make things happen with the ball. He reminds me of Dahntay Jones with a better skill set and a less formidable build and a less fiery personality.

Scheyer’s a player. He needs to add some explosion, but that will come.

Paulus and McRoberts did not look 100% to me–particularly Paulus, obviously. His lateral quickness is a liabilty right now, but he’ll only get faster by playing in games like this one. He was spurned far too many times by Foreman tonight, however.

So if that’s going to happen, we have to be able to adjust…and we did that in the second half. That more than anything else was the most encouraging aspect of tonight’s game.

The problem, of course, is that when we play better competition, we won’t have a half to dilly-dally.

McRoberts came alive in the second half…I’m not sure what to make of his slow start today, and his low-output game yesterday. I would tend to think that he’s waiting for the offense to come to him like it did last year to J.J. and Shelden, rather than being assertive and using his massive skill set to his advantage…maybe he’s not comfortable with the role of being the go-to guy just yet…we know he loves to score, we know he wants to score–we saw it all last year…perhaps he’s not 100% and is hesitating as a result. Regardless, he looked hampered to me today.

Pocius looks nervous on the court, as if he’s petrified that if he doesn’t make a highlight-reel play immediately he’s going to be yanked. And then he turns around and makes a bad play and gets yanked. I’d really like to have Pocius available for valuable minutes this season, so I hope I’m dreafully wrong in my assessment.

Overall, when we ran, we dominated. We got good spacing and we used our big men’s ability to run to our advantage when we chose to push the ball. Paulus is still making some bad decisions, but I think that may be because he’s a bit rusty, he’s a bit anxious to prove that he’s a big-time PG.

Our man-to-man defense will benefit tremendously from a 100% Paulus, but until then, we have to continue working on help-side defense and the immediate adjustments that come along with it. We also have to do a better job of boxing out, because we gave up too many offensive boards to a less physical team.

Offensively, we really looked out of sorts for a large chunk of the game. Early on we lacked balance–it was Nelson all the time. That’s not the way this team is going to beat superior opponents, in my opinion. Nelson had a terrific game, and his explosion is so encouraging (and welcome) to see. But he can’t carry the load–the team must share it collectively.

We were impatient on offense; our screens were half-a$$ed; our cuts were unconvincing. You saw tonight our lack of confidence in outside shooting, and oru reliance on penetration. We can’t be that predictable, particularly against bigger teams that will punish us accordingly. We have to have more than Scheyer and Paulus as outside threats…and no, McRoberts launching the occassional three doesn’t count.

I like what Thomas brings to the fray. Me thinks he’s going to be my favorite member of this squad by nature of his energy and his ability.

So we’ve got a raw product right now. Our team is in serach of its identity, as are our individual players, starting with McRoberts.

This team, more than any team, will have a conspicuous maturation over the course of the year. How lucky are we to be able to enjoy the ride?