Well Duke Just Can’t Seem To Get Over The Proverbial Hump …………………..
Last night at the Cameron Indoor Arena two of the titans of the college game basketball fraternity got together. At stake was the battle to seek supremacy within the state as to overall bragging rights. Perhaps the Wake Forest Demon Deacons may well have something to say about at this juncture ? The University of North Carolina Tar Heels squared off against their instate rival the Duke University Blue Devils.
However what’s painstakingly clear is that within the realms of men’s college basketball there isn’t a more sought after rivalry. Many of you may well disagree with that. But I for one would like to hear your thoughts on that if you feel that I am indeed wrong ? You have two storied programs and two equally well respected coaches in Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina . Two finer coaches of men’s basketball you may find anyone better than these well respected individuals. Not only respected by their players but also amongst their peers. And that speaks highly as to the esteem with which both are held.
Duke’s John Scheyer (30) watches as North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough shoots the jumper over Lance Thomas of the Blue Devils. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Greg Boorman …………..
In this matchup of ACC titans you had number 6 ranked Duke taking on number 3 ranked North Carolina. And the rankings being what they are the result of this game would go a long way as to what both team’s aspirations might be come the NCAA tournament. It can be said with March Madness just around the corner any signs of consistency will go a long way in boosting a team’s confidence. And a result against an instate rival is just as good a result against anyone else.
Ty Lawson of North Carolina drives to the basket as Duke’s Brian Zoubek tries to defend the play. …………………………
In front of a packed sold out crowd one could feel the buzz of excitement and anticipation. Both teams had something to prove and their records though not on the line. Pride would be. Duke (20-2) and the Tar Heels also at (20-2) had a lot in common. But other than that shared record it was more about the level of play of both teams. North Carolina are a much more solid all round team. Whereas Duke is known to stick to the bare fundamentals of the game. Boring to some but it’s what gets them to where they are a lot of the time. Their record has borne this out over the years and Krzyzewski’s success can’t be denied. Nor too can that of his counterpart Roy Williams. Both men have been to the top of the mountain in terms of the pinnacle of men’s collegiate basketball. And they’ve obviously haven’t been spoilt by that success and the ensuing success that has followed them both over the course of their careers. It has been what has defined them both and got them to where they now both are.
Duke’s Kyle Singler (left) and Lance Thomas battle with North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough for a loose ball.
The game itself was fraught with distractions, with the fact that both sought legitimacy as to their overall rankings. And with the likes of Connecticut , Oklahoma , Pittsburgh , Louisville , Wake Forest and Memphis all in the mix at present. It was imperative for both teams to have a good showing. The U Conn Huskies and Oklahoma Sooners may well be adding legitimacy as to why those two teams at present may well be justified as sitting atop of the rankings of men’s college basketball. And with the electrifying play as two of the most talked about players in the game on those teams being on the rise in Hasheem Thabeet of Connecticut and Blake Griffin of Oklahoma. There’s the thinking that both Carolina and Duke may well feel that their teams possess players that are capable of carrying their respective teams.
As alluded to earlier we had two somewhat contrasting teams as to their play. With Duke what you see is what you get and rarely does it change. North Carolina when they’re on a roll you’ll get an up tempo game and athleticism to match. But don’t be fooled to think that the Blue Devils aren’t capable of showing that. However tonight was to the Tar Heels’ night as they put on something of a show and got about derailing the hopes of the fans at Cameron Indoor Arena, home to the Duke Blue Devils. Seven miles may well separate the two campuses. But last night there was no kinship between the two sets of fans.
Blue Devils’ coach Mike Krzyzewski knows that the inevitable is about to happen as he can no longer bear to watch the waning moments of the game. …………….
Roy Williams’ team sought out and did prevail in a game that would be defined by the resolute 101-87 victory of his team and the play of their junior guard Ty Lawson. The maturity and his productivity shown by way of the 25 points scored showed that should he declare for the NBA Draft he would indeed find a home. The two teams played with a fire and passion that one would normally expect to see born out of a heated rivalry. And the fans in attendance were not disappointed at all.
Danny Green of North Carolina celebrates knowing that his team has defeated their instate rivals in their much heralded ACC matchup ………..
But it was becoming abundantly clear that as the game progressed Duke did not have what it’d take to usurp their instate rivals. Try as hard as they did the resolve just wasn’t there when it really mattered. Sound fundamental basketball may well count for a great deal but in many ways there has to be something beyond that. And if there’s one thing that clearly shows you that Duke has an Achilles’ heel when it comes to the game. It’s the mere fact that they can’t really improvise and change their identity as a team. They are who they are. A team that’s well respected but when asked to do just that little bit more , by way of changing their psyche. They just don’t possess what it takes. It may well be a reflection as to the demeanor of their coach. But I’d like to think not. But then again upon reflection after seeing the success of Team USA in Beijing. My first assumption just might be right after all.
picture appears courtesy of ap/photos/ Greg Boorman ……………