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Our best game of the year thus far.

It didn’t come against the best team we’ve played, but it was the game that saw our best offensive execution, best decision-making, best fundamentals, etc.

The dramatic decrease in turnovers is the most conspicuous improvement. Four turnovers at halftime, and whatever small number we ended up with, is precisely what we need.

This is a good step. Now can we take care of the ball consistently…and in hostile environments, in which we are yet to play this season?

Henderson’s explosive, one-handed dunk was a thing of beauty in the second half. That is the kind of offense we all hope Henderson can bring to the fray. Now how did that come about?

Execution.

We’re starting to move the ball around, and we’re starting to move without the ball. That coincides, of course, with our players feeling more comfortable in the offense and being able to improvise. The second half of the Georgetown game may prove to have been the tipping point.

Still too many hurried shots, but there was much more good than bad in this one. And I’ve been Mr. Negativity in past games, so I’ll stick to the good.

Paulus showed a lot of maturation today on certain plays, things that won’t stick out statistically…but he remedied mistakes he’d been making previously.

Consider, when Paulus was bringing the ball up the floor on the right side, two Patriot defenders were lurking toward him, clearly about to trap him in the corner, just as soon as he crossed midcourt.

Instead of trying to break it, or pass over top of the taller defenders, he stopped, took a dribble to the left, and waited for the second defender to retreat. That allowed him to cross mid-court unencumbered.

Certainly, one could say that Paulus should have been making such decisions all along. But he hadn’t. So to see it happen today was encouraging.

McRoberts’ role is very interesting to me. I can’t decide if he’s playing so much on the perimeter because he’s effective out there, or because he’s hesitant to play down low.

Whatever the case–as Majerus highlighted today–even when McRoberts can rack up assists with the best of’em, he absolutely must fortify himself around the basket. He’s got to explode a bit more and be able to dunk the ball on occasion rather than contorting his body in order to avoid getting blocked. Or rather, I think he needs to be a little more fearless around the basket.

That isn’t to say I want him to force bad shots…but he’s agile enough to make things happen in the paint. When we need a go-to basket, McRoberts is the guy. Right now, he’s a little too inconsistent. But he’s making strides, and there’s no reason to think he won’t get there.

Scheyer was trigger happy today, and I loved it. You think one of the coaches told him to start heavin’ it up there? (Ahem, Coach Collins…). And it paid off. Having Scheyer–and Paulus, who nailed a few from downtown as well–as deep threats will pay off considerably in the short and long-run.

Nelson’s three-point shooting has improved dramatically, too.

If Marty and Henderson can become 35% shooters from behind the arc, too, then we’ll be that much more difficult to defend.

I think we can penetrate more on teams. And when we are penetrating, I think we’re doing it without enough control. Marty’s drive is an example (though he’s got a predilection for such drives, I suppose). The aggressiveness is encouraging, but as Marquette demonstrated when we play them, a penetrating trio of guards can be deadly no matter the superior overall talent of the opponent.

Paulus and Scheyer certainly aren’t penetrating-type guards, but Nelson and Henderson can fill that role, me thinks.

But I digress…

Defense is still stalwart. Keep it up.

Other ramblings:

> Zoubek had a great post move early in the first half when we were starving for a bucket

> When we push the ball, we’re hard to stop. Look for that transition offense to increase noticeably from here on out.

> Our transition defense, surprisingly, was not up to par today. Don’t know why.

> Nelson’s turning into a helluva player. Another 20-point performance. He’ll be an All-American before he graduates.

 More links:

 > DBR

> N&O

> Richmond Times-Dispatch

> Washington Post

> Associated Press (via GoDuke)

> Herald Sun

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Duke welcomes last year’s Cinderella to Cameron this afternoon for a Noon game that will provide the Blue Devils with another opportunity to get their offense in working order before heading to Madison Square Garden for a major test against Gonzaga.

 Previews galore:

 > Herald Sun

> The Chronicle

> Rocky Mount Telegram

> Winston Salem Journal

> The Devil’s Den

How They Got Here:
Duke enters Saturday’s game with an 8-1 overall record and riding a four game winning streak. During those four games the Blue Devils have a +13.0 average margin of victory, though that state is somewhat skewed by a 28 point defeat of Davidson. Since then Duke has won by margins of 3, 9, and 12 points. The Patriots enter Saturday’s game with a 4-3 overall mark. In those seven games George Mason has alternated wins and losses throughout, never winning or losing more than one game in a row.

Series History:
The Blue Devils lead the all-time series with the Patriots 2-0. The last time the teams met was back in 1983 with Duke prevailing 90-79 at home on January 3rd.

Patriots Still Basking In Final Four Glow:
In this crazy era of college basketball, it’s odd to think that George Mason has been to a Final Four more recently than Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and so on. But that’s the case as the Patriots shocked the college basketball world a season ago with victories over Michigan State, No. 10 North Carolina, Wichita State and No. 2 Connecticut to reach the 2006 Final Four. It was the first time in 27 seasons a ‘mid-major’ program had reached the season’s final weekend. Though they were easily defeated on the big stage by eventual national champion Florida, the Patriots served notice that even smaller programs who keep their players for four years on average, can compete with the big boys.

This season the Patriots have adjusted to having somewhat of a target on their backs as teams look to make a statement against a recent Final Four program. To make matters tougher for Coach Larranaga, he’s replacing three starters (Jai Lewis, Tony Skinn and Lamar Butler) from last year’s team and replacing them with players who aren’t nearly as proven or reliable. Thusly, the Patriots have been consistent in their incosistency.

Offensive Scoring Woes Not Limited To Duke:
Losing so much fire power from the backcourt was always going to be rough, but so far the Patriots’ outside attack hasn’t been able to keep opponents honest. As a team the Patriots are averaging 17.4 three point attempts per game, but are only making 5.4 – a shooting percentage of just 31.1%. Only Jordan Carter, who has made 3 of his 5 perimeter shots on the season, is shooting above 33% for the season. The regular rotational players like Smith, Campbell, and Norwood are shooting 33%, 28.6%, and 28.6% respectively. Instead the Patriots rely on driving and attacking the basket, but have struggled to score against teams with size. More accurately the Patriots have struggled to score against most teams, averaging just 62.9 points per game while topping 66 points just once (79 in the season opening win over Cleveland State).

Under-sized Big Men Boarding:
Starting big man Will Thomas isn’t overly tall at just 6’7, but he is strong and he has a nose for the ball. During the NCAA Tournament he quietly led the team in scoring and showed that despite his size, he could match up with most collegiate big guys inside. This year he’s become the focus of opponents’ defensive strategies, but has worked his way clear to the tune of 13.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 63% from the floor. As the primary big guy, Thomas has stayed out of foul trouble so far, averaging a hair under 37 minutes per night while logging a season high three fouls in one game just twice in seven contests. Redshirt junior Jesus Urbina (also only 6’7) missed all of last season due to injury, but has given the Patriots a second inside presence to date. Though he’s not the scorer Thomas is, Urbina has proven very capable at handling the blue collar battling under the boards. He’s pulling down six rebounds per game, but is taking just 2.6 shots per game, and hitting only 37.5% of those shots. Backup Darryl Monroe (6’7, 260) has more weight to throw around, and averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a season ago in the JUCO ranks.

Blue Devils Awaiting Offensive Chemistry:
After putting together a strong second half rally against Georgetown, many Duke faithful were hoping the Blue Devils would parlay that scoring prowess into a blitz of Holy Cross on Wednesday. Unfortunately that didn’t happen as Duke’s offensive woes continued to force the team to rely on defense and the opposition to miss open looks. For the season Duke is scoring just 69.5 points per game, and has topped the 65 point mark just once since November 20th. The 69.5 points is the second lowest total in the Mike Krzyzewski reign. Only the 1981-1982 team which scored just 64.0 points per night were lower. Much of the problem has been traced to the inconsistent play of the freshman class, as well as the struggles of sophomore point guard Greg Paulus, who is averaging just 3.9 assists against 3.7 turnovers while scoring only 5.8 points per game. Paulus has logged more assists than turnovers twice in nine games this season.

Getting Defensive:
Of course the flip side to that argument has been the stellar defensive numbers this team has posted. Duke is holding opponents to an amazing 52.3 points per game. That is nearly 12.0 points lower than the best team of the entire Coach K era, the 1997-1998 team that limited opponents to 64.1 ppg. That defense has allowed Duke to hold a very impressive 17.3 average margin of victory – which ranks fifth of all the Krzyzewksi led teams.

Nation’s Best Win Streak:
With Villanova knocking off Oklahoma on Wednesday night, the Blue Devils now have the nation’s longest home court winning streak against non-conference foes. The Blue Devils have beaten 47 straight non-ACC foes in Cameron. The next closest streak is 37 straight non-conference home wins by Utah State.

Prediction:

Duke 71
George Mason 55

As the N&O reports today, sophomore Greg Paulus has gotten off to a rough start.

The Devils made just four field goals in the second half of their win over Indiana on Tuesday.

“I do think [point guard play] has something to do with it but [Greg is] working very hard,” Duke sophomore forward David McClure said of Duke’s uneven play on offense.

Playing fewer minutes (24 per game) has been difficult for Paulus, who started 33 of 36 games and played 32.3 minutes per game during last season.

Paulus says he knows the time he missed stalled his conditioning, which has caused him trouble on both ends of the court.

Paulus last started against Marquette on Nov. 21 and recorded two assists and six turnovers. On defense, Paulus grabbed several steals but when Marquette guards took the initiative, they blew by Paulus with quick first steps.

“Me not playing for so many weeks, my decisions were a little slow, making reads,” Paulus said. “For every one of our [offensive] sets, and plays or actions, you have to be able to read a defense and see all the options for our offense to be fluid. I struggled a little with that just not being on the floor and seeing it on a daily basis.”

To help get his guard, and his team on the right path, Mike Krzyzewski called Paulus into a one-on-one film session last week. They went over all the good and bad Paulus had done on the court.

“It’s a lot different picking it up fullcourt, trying to run a team and make moves to the basket,” Paulus said. “Getting back into basketball shape is part of the process.”

And as well all know about Paulus, no one is harder on him than himself:

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I like to make all the right [plays] at all the right times,” Paulus said. “I do get a little frustrated but I’m working on not being such a perfectionist.”

One would tend to think that this is his biggest problem. He’s beating himself up, and so desirous of doing well, that he’s regressed from a year ago.

Furthermore, he no longer has two of the best basketball players in Duke history to rely on in the offense. Or rather, he can’t make a simple pass to the wing or into the post and compile assists. Paulus is in a place in which he is the floor general–unquestionably–and thus far, he has not lived up to the expectations that Duke has for its point guard in the Krzyzewski era.

The season is young, however, and as this article reports, Paulus is still very much recovering mentally and physically.

First, to fire you up.

That was a year ago. I had the displeasure of being in attendance at that game, having made the trip from Columbus for the explicit purpose of watching the Blue Devils continue their then-undefeated season.

The Hoyas played uncharacteristically well that day, turning their season into one of the program’s best since the head coach’s father had roamed the sidelines.

Following the game, the streets of Washington were flooded with unimpeded bliss. Their beloved program had finally found its footing in a new offensive system, one that utilizes patience and backdoor cuts. It had worked well against Duke largely because the Hoyas’ perimeter game was on fire that day.

Today, the Blue Devils hope to turn the tables.

Georgetown’s big men will pose perhaps the most imposing challenge for Duke, for whom freshman Brian Zoubek may be required to play as pressing a role as he’s had in his young college career.

But the success of this Duke team–as with all Duke teams–falls on the shoulders of those who lead it. Can the Blue Devils find a steady hand? Can their sophomores find their way out of their early-season woes? Can the freshmen begin to meet the lofty expectations hoisted upon their 18-year old shoulders?

The season is young. Finals loom just two weeks into the future. But this is Duke basketball, and excellence is expected every step of the way.

Here’s expecting Duke to come out with a vengeance as it defends its home court against Coach Thompson’s streaky Hoyas.

~

> The Washington Post

> Herald Sun

Posted by: Coreyo34

In today’s Charlotte Observer, an editorial appears slamming the University of North C*rolina for the extraordinary amount of money that new head football coach Butch Davis will receive for his efforts.

He will earn an average of $1.86 million a year over seven years — not including bonuses and deferred compensation. Here’s how that shakes out: His salary will be $286,000 per year, plus $25,000 for expenses, plus at least $1 million a year in “supplemental” income that the contract states UNC will pay, along with generous bonuses.

There’s more. He’s expected to sign a $250,000-a-year media contract and a $150,000-a-year apparel contract. In addition, his contract’s retention and buyout clauses are so generous they required permission from the UNC Board of Governors to violate the rules.

That’s outrageous. That money has nothing to do with the primary missions of a public university: teaching, public service and research.

Don’t blame Mr. Davis. He’s an experienced coach, and he negotiated a great deal. Instead, blame the leadership at Chapel Hill — specifically the chancellor and board of trustees. Blame the UNC system Board of Governors, too, for going along. For the second time in three years that board has ignored its own sensible rules prohibiting excessive buyouts of coaching contracts. The first was in 2003, to hire Tar Heel basketball coach Roy Williams.

Why does this issue matter so much? Big-money college sports exploits young athletes. It wastes precious resources and nurtures impropriety (just look at Alabama). It also undermines public and political support for academic needs — which North Carolina can ill afford.

This final paragraph is the buttress upon which the paper’s argument relies.

Let’s analyze it one sentence at a time:

Big-money college sports exploits young athletes.

Whether or not this statement is accurate, “big-money college sports” are irrelevant to the Observer’s stance. That which is relevant is UNC’s athletic department, and whether or not its big-money college sports programs have exploited young athletes, and whether or not the pay of its head football coach will somehow exploit young athletes.

To my knowledge, there is little historical basis upon which to criticize UNC’s athletic department for exploitation of young athletes.

It wastes precious resources and nurtures impropriety (just look at Alabama)

Again, generalities are irrelevant. The Observer must consider UNC specifically because, much as some may lament to admit, UNC is an atypical public university, and in a very good way. Or rather, Alabama is not in the same atmosphere as UNC in any way, shape or form aside for the fact that both are land-grant universities in Southern states. Alabama has a long history of bending and breaking the rules with regards to football. UNC does not. So I pose the question once again: Can the Observer prove that a head coach’s pay will directly result in impropriety?

Absolutely not.

To the contrary, Butch Davis is widely credited for cleaning up a program that had been encumbered with impropriety–the University of Miami–and therefore, the large amount of money Bowles and Baddour have opted to grant him ought to be considered a wise investment in ensuring the future purity of the program.

It also undermines public and political support for academic needs — which North Carolina can ill afford.

The Observer makes this statement without any evidence to support it. That’s intellectually lazy.

Certainly, the dinosaurs in academe–and they’re not all dinosaurs, of course–will lament this move and compare Davis’ pay directly to that of a tenured professor. But that would be unwise and unfair and, largely, illogical.

Politically, this move is, in fact, wise. The masses are happier with a better football program, and the politicians will certainly take advantage of that come election season. It’s hard for a politician to score points by donning the school’s colors when the team isn’t cracking .500.

Overall, this editorial from the Observer is shoddy at best, as its conclusions are unsubstantiated and ill-considered.

Of course, this is the same paper that once employed one Greg Doyle, so I suppose this is what we ought to expect.

Additionally, the Observer itself has much to gain from a strong UNC football team because as the program’s stock rises, presumably the prospect of selling newspapers (and advertisements in print and online) will increase as well…

Oh, Louisiana.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco has called the presidents of the Rose Bowl Presened by Citi and the FedEx Orange Bowl to lobby LSU for a high Bowl Championship Series berth.

“Anyone who follows college football knows this has been a successful year for LSU and we Tiger fans are some of the most passionate fans in college sports,” she said Thursday. “Our team deserves a BCS berth.”

“I am reminding representatives of these bowls of the excitement our state shares for this team and everything we offer as LSU fans. An invitation to any of these bowls would be a major win for both LSU and the bowls themselves,” she said.

Regardless of the merits of her argument, a governor has far more important things to be concerned with then her state’s flagship football team’s postseason hopes.

However, this is a politician, not restricted by logic and reason. Therefore, this is a wise political move, even if it may have no impact whatsoever on the Tigers’ chances of earning a BCS berth.

Blanco has been hammered in the press for her handling of Katrina. So by going to bat for something that is immensely popular in the state–Les Miles’ LSU Tigers–she can go through the motions of being a compassionate public servant doing the states’ bidding.

Further, there is certainly some economic benefit to LSU and the state of Louisiana should a BCS berth be granted.

Regardless of all that, one would imagine that the national press will jump on Blanco for expending any time whatsoever on something as trivial as college football while her state continues to limp toward normalcy in the wake of the worst natural disaster in the Deep South’s history.

As posted on GoDuke.com:

> Duke is 98-41 against current members of the Big East conference. The Blue Devils’ lone loss this season was a 73-62 defeat at the hands of Marquette in the CBE Classic championship game. The Blue Devils are 49-17 against current members of the Big East under Krzyzewski.

> With Tuesday’s win over Indiana, Coach K moved into a 10th-place tie with Ed Diddle (Western Kentucky) for career coaching victories. Krzyzewski currently has 759 career coaching victories, including 686 at Duke (seventh-most by a coach at one school).
Duke is second in the country in consecutive non-conference home wins with 45. Oklahoma is just ahead of the Blue Devils with 48 straight non-conference home wins. The Sooners’ next home non-conference tilt is a 2:00 p.m. contest against TCU on Saturday, Dec. 2. Duke’s last home loss against a non-conference foe was an 83-82 decision against St. John’s on Feb. 26, 2000. The 45 straight non-conference home wins is the second-longest streak in school history. The Blue Devils won 95 consecutive non-conference home tilts from Feb. 2, 1983 through Nov. 29, 1995.

> The Blue Devils, ranked 11th in the latest AP poll, are 863-217 overall as a ranked team, including a 608-129 mark under Coach K. As the 11th-ranked team, Duke is 16-8 all-time. Georgetown enters Saturday’s contest ranked 18th in the AP poll. The Blue Devils are 9-8 all-time against teams ranked 18th in the AP poll.

> Turnovers continue to plague the Blue Devil offense. Through seven games, Duke ranks last in the ACC in turnover margin (-1.43) and next to last in assist-to-turnover ratio (0:75:1). The Blue Devils enter the Georgetown game with 122 turnovers and just 92 assists. Duke has finished the year with more turnovers than assists just five times (1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83, 2002-03 & 2004-05) under Coach K.

> Duke has shot over 50.0 percent from the field in five of seven games this season. Four players (DeMarcus Nelson, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek & David McClure) are shooting 50.0 percent or better from the field, including three players (Thomas, Zoubek & McClure) shooting over 55.0 percent from the field on the year. As a team, the Blue Devils are shooting 49.1 percent (166-of-338) from the floor.

> The Blue Devils have outrebounded six of their first seven opponents, including an impressive 30-10 rebound margin in a win over Air Force. Duke ranks fourth in the ACC with a +8.5 rebound margin. Last season, the Blue Devils were 10th in the conference with a -2.7 rebound margin.

> Sophomore Josh McRoberts, a preseason Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy candidate, is among the most versatile big men in the country. The 6-10, 240-pound forward is averaging 10.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 blocks per game. McRoberts is ranked in the top 10 of the ACC in rebounding, blocked shots, defensive rebounds and free throw percentage.

> Freshman Jon Scheyer has reached double-figures in scoring in five of Duke’s first seven games. The Northbrook, Ill., native is third on the team in scoring at 10.0 ppg. and is shooting 46.4 percent (13-of-28) from three-point distance. Scheyer also ranks tied for fifth in the ACC in minutes played at 32.0 mpg.

> David McClure continues to make big plays late in games for the Blue Devils. In Duke’s 54-51 win over Indiana, he stole an inbounds pass with 34 seconds left in the contest and the Blue Devils clinging to a two-point lead. For the year, McClure is shooting a team-best 69.6 percent (16-of-23) from the field, including 2-of-2 from three-point distance. He is also averaging 6.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, while playing just over 18 minutes per contest. His 2.3 steals per game is fifth-best in the ACC.

> Duke is coming off its worst shooting night of the season in a 54-51 win over Indiana on Tuesday. The Blue Devils shot 31.8 percent (14-of-44), tied for the fifth-worst shooting percentage under Coach K, in the win. The 54 points was also the lowest output in a victory since the Blue Devils defeated Clemson 50-44 on Jan. 1982.

> The Blue Devils have 19 home games on the schedule this season, the most in school history. The previous high was 17 during the 1996-97 season. Duke went 15-2 at Cameron Indoor Stadium that season. The school record for home wins in a season is 16 set in 1990-91 when the team was a perfect 16-0 at home.

It was a particularly good month for Duke alums in the NBA in November.

Carlos Boozer has blazed his way out of the gate for the Utah Jazz, averaging a double-double for the team with the best record in the NBA while Luol Deng earned the Bulls Player of the Month after leading one of the league’s best young teams in scoring at over 18 points per game in November. Those are two of the Blue Devils’ 13 players in the NBA.

Additionally, seven Blue Devils were in starting line-ups on opening night in the NBA and that number was also the second highest total. Two other former Blue Devils have worked their way into the starting line-ups for their respective teams and two more are their team’s sixth man.

Will the Blue Devil defense be able to deal with Georgetown’s Thompson, Jr. offense? Can Duke’s offense pick it up from a game ago?

> Duke Chronicle

Although the No. 18 Hoyas (4-2) have had a tumultuous start to the 2006-07 campaign and are coming off a loss to unranked Oregon, they still boast an athletic frontcourt that includes Jeff Green-who torched the Blue Devils with 18 points and seven assists last season.

In that game, the Hoyas’ Princeton-style offense took advantage of Duke’s pressure defense, exposing the Blue Devils’ to a litany of backdoor cuts and layups.

“We overextended ourselves on the defensive end,” said point guard Greg Paulus, who had 14 points and four assists in last year’s loss. “We need to stay in position to make plays this time.”

Having already faced Air Force-another team that runs the same offense-in the semifinals of the CBE Classic, however, the Blue Devils believe they are ready to handle Georgetown this time around.

“[They] get a lot of backdoors, and that’s where we got taken advantage of last year,” said Dave McClure, who redshirted last season. “I think last year we were a little too set on denying the pass which left us vulnerable to the backdoor, where they got a lot of buckets.”

> The Hoya (Georgetown’s student paper)

“There are some things that we need to straighten out, things we need to fix,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said, “and so whether we are playing Duke or playing someone at the other end of the spectrum, I’ve said this from the beginning, we have a long way to go.”

For Georgetown, the improvement must come on both ends of the floor if it is to be the first non-conference opponent to win in Durham in 46 games.

Wooden Award candidates junior forward Jeff Green and junior center Roy Hibbert combined for just nine points and 11 rebounds against Oregon.

“We have to go about giving [Roy], as well as Jeff, the ball in different ways,” Thompson said. “They have to be much more aggressive about trying to get the ball, and then, we have to put the ball in the basket…”

> The Hoya: “Duke-Georgetown Fault Line Runs Through Paulus Home”

Beads of perspiration are beginning to surface on Greg Paulus’ furrowed brow, a byproduct of the rising temperature and the mounting pressure of the competition at stake. He takes a deep breath as he surveys the court before him, determination flaring in his eyes. As the starting point guard for the Duke Blue Devils, he has faced situations like this before, but at this moment, a creeping insecurity gnaws at his self-confidence. The raucous din of Cameron Indoor Stadium has been replaced by the steely silence of a claustrophobic basement. The gaze of a thousand perfect strangers swapped for the intent scrutiny of family members. Instead of palming the familiar sphere of a basketball, he holds only a small paddle. Greg’s opponent doesn’t sport Carolina blue or Terrapin red, and this isn’t the insanity of Big Monday or March Madness. It’s the Paulus family’s annual holiday ping-pong tournament, and Greg is once again at the mercy of his father Dave.

“Greg’s a phenomenal ping-pong player, but he’s still fourth best in the house,” Dave Paulus says. “I’m first, [brothers] David and Chris are second and third, and Greg’s fourth. That is one game where age has not caught up with me.”

Crossposted here.

Series History:
Saturday night’s match up will be the 12th time the Blue Devils and Hoyas have met with Georgetown holding a 6-5 all-time lead in the series. The only time the two teams have met in Cameron Indoor Stadium, was a 93-86 Duke victory on January 8, 2003. Last season the Hoyas upset then #1 Duke 87-84 at the MCI Center in Washington, DC.

How They Will Enter The Match Up:
After rolling to four straight victories, Duke stumbled against then #17 Marquette in the finals of the CBE Classic. Since then the Blue Devils have beaten Davidson and squeaked out a win over Indiana on Tuesday night. The Hoyas started the season 2-0 before falling to Old Dominion 75-62 at home on November 19th. After rebounding with wins over Fairfield and Ball State, the Hoyas lost on Thursday to Oregon 57-50.

Georgetown Has Size But Seeks Consistency:
The Hoyas start three players that stand 6-8 or taller led by 7-2, 280 pound Roy Hibbert. The big man started the season off extremely strong, averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds over the first three contests. However, as has been his calling card throughout his career, he has inexplicably disappeared from the scoring column over the last three games averaging just 7.3 points and 4.6 rebounds. Green, who is a true small forward at 6’8 and 235 pounds, has also struggled to find consistency this year, mixing in 17, 19, and 14 point efforts with 2, 8, and 5 point duds. Last season Green touched Duke up for 18 points 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.

A New Backcourt being broken in:
Last season Georgetown’s backcourt gave Duke all kinds of problems by slashing to the basket at will. The trio of Brandon Bowman, Ashanti Cook and Darrel Owens (combined stats against Duke last season: 53 points, 18 rebounds, 9 assists, 19-30 from the field and 5-9 from the perimeter) was a huge hit that has the Hoyas now trying out new players. Among those is returning point guard Jonathan Wallace (12 points, 6 assists vs. Duke) whom Thompson has implored to take a more active role in the offense as more than just a distributer. Scoring guard Jessie Sapp learned the ropes from his departed teammates a year ago and has shown flashes of being a capable scorer. He struggled against Oregon, scoring just 2 points in 28 minutes.

Hoping For More From The Veterans:
As TDD touched on earlier this week, the sophomore class from Duke has not produced at a high level consistently this year. Third year players David McClure and DeMarcus Nelson were both injured when Duke and Georgetown met a season ago, leaving only Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus as players who have played meaningful minutes against the Hoyas. Last year McRoberts struggled, scoring five points in 13 minutes, while Paulus played well, scoring 14 points and handing out 4 assists against 4 turnovers in 37 minutes of action.

#14’s style of player looks familiar:
Red shirt sophomore David McClure’s play of late has many Duke fans conjuring up visions of former Blue Devil Nate James. McClure made several key plays down the stretch to preserve Duke’s narrow lead against Indiana. Doing the little things that may not show up in the box score was what endeared James to the Cameron Crazies, and McClure is well on his way to mimicking that. Over the past two games McClure is averaging 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in just 21 minutes of action.

In Search of the O:
Duke’s 54-point output against Indiana on Tuesday was the lowest since a 50-44 victory over Clemson in 1982. It was just the 16th time in Coach K’s tenure that Duke had failed to reach the 55 point mark. When putting fewer than 55 points on the board, Duke is just 5-11 under Coach K. The field goal percentage of 31.8 percent is tied for the fifth-worst shooting performance under Coach K, but Duke is 3-3 in those six games.

The Streak Is Still Alive:
The win over IU gave Duke its 45th straight win over non-conference opponents in Cameron Indoor – the second longest streak in the country behind Oklahoma’s 48 game winning streak. Duke is 175-3 in its last 178 non-conference home games.

He’s #10. He’s #10:
With a victory over Georgetown, head coach Mike Krzyzewksi will claim sole possession of 10th place on the all-time victories list with 760.

Prediction:
Duke 72
Georgetown 67