Well. That was a pretty wild game! Nice to have the big officiating break at the end of a Duke game work out in our favor for once! I’ve been saying but I’ll reiterate here at length, I don’t really have much interest in rehashing that play in much detail. It’s especially laughable that they said it was Dunn who fouled Filipowsky when Dunn didn’t appear to touch him.
The most plausible explanation for what happened is that the referee called a foul then, upon review, decided it wasn’t a foul, so they found a way to interpret the play that was both consistent with their calling a foul and so that they could still send the game to overtime. Duke fans will be incensed by this because it goes against the letter of the law, but practical applications outside of the standard rules happen all of the time. For example, how often do refs ignore over-the-back or reach-in fouls as they occur in-game, instead, awarding the ball to the team who was fouled (but who touched the ball last)? Regardless, I have absolutely no interest in arguing about whether or not the officials botched the review of their initial botched whistle. At the end of the day, the play was over 5 seconds to inbound anyway, so it never should have happened. The correct team won, and Duke has benefitted from far worse and much more blatant calls over the years (Grayson Allen’s travel, for example) without then getting an ACC apology after the fact. We move on!
To discuss the game in broader terms, this is one we probably normally lose. We shot just over 40% from the foul line on 22 attempts – losing 6 more points than if we’d shot our season average. We also blew several open layups around the rim (Reece had an especially bad day in this regard). All-in-all, you don’t normally beat Duke when you’re missing out on so many opportunities. And yet, we still did.
Our Smaller Ball lineup with Ryan Dunn at the 4 and BVP at the 5 was our strongest unit in this one. When we went to it, not only were we better at defending the pick and roll, but we had a lot of success opening up the middle of the floor, allowing for some back cuts, and open driving lanes. In fact, Duke shifted to zone defense for a couple of stints in this one, but especially down the stretch of this game in direct response to the Smaller Ball offense. I’m not going to have a dedicated section to this lineup, but I did want to call it out here so that you take notice of it below when it comes up, and can compare it to other things I’m highlighting with other lineups. And away we go.
So, the first thing that we need to set the table with before digging deeper is what a height/size disparity there was throughout this game. Across our starting lineups, Kihei was giving up 4 inches to Roach, Beekman was giving up 2 inches to Proctor, Franklin was giving up 4 inches to Mitchell, Gardner was giving up 6 inches to Filipowski, and BVP was giving up 5 inches to Lively. That’s an average heigh discrepancy of 4.2 inches for any single position. It improved some with substitutions, but really not that much. We’re regularly under-sized across some, or even all positions, but almost never this universally or by this much disparity. As a result, everything was harder in this game, especially for our offense. Shots were more well-contested, even when we created good looks. Closeouts often eliminated opportunities that might otherwise have been there. Rebounding was a huge challenge; they ended with a final advantage of 15 in that area. I’ll show a couple of looks here just to illustrate what I mean and to lay the groundwork for what we were regularly up against.
This clip below is a great example of Duke’s omnipresent length. Clark attempts to run a pick and roll with Gardner but Young on Duke is able to drop while still keeping his hands high and eliminating a shot possibility for Clark. Both defenders had gravitated toward Clark, so he swings it back to Gardner who would likely have been open for that mid-range jumper. Instead, Young is able to close out on him, keeping his hands high, and then play solid post defense, again keeping Gardner from a shot attempt. Gardner passes to Shedrick, who resets with Clark and attempts a pick and roll there, but Filipowski’s size easily keeps Clark from being able to pull the trigger on another shot, while also blocking sight/passing lanes back to Shedrick. The possession doesn’t end in a shot clock violation only because it ends in a travel first.
Just one more look at this in the clip below, this time late in the game. Look at how many close outs, even when they’re flying by the play at times. First Clark beats his man off of the dribble, but the size of Mitchell is too much to offer an attempt inside, so he has to kick it back out to Reece. Reece attempts his own penetration and kicks it back out to BVP, whose man closes out and flies past him. He dribbles into the lane and draws defenders and kicks out to Reece, who Proctor closes out on. Reece then attempts to beat him off of the dribble, hesitating through the offside help before going to the rim, but Proctor’s length is real and he bothers the layup attempt enough that it misses before Young cleans up the rebound.
Against a different team, there were probably no fewer than 4 quality shot opportunities in this set, but we weren’t comfortable taking the first three. The shot we did get is usually one Reece would have been able to finish with a much more pronounced advantage. So, this is what was deterring us much of this game, and is also why I don’t subscribe to the idea that we played a sloppy or bad offensive game in the first half. We were working through these challenges and making adjustments. In order to create good offense, we had to create space and savvy opportunities inside, or had to hit some well-contested shots. Fortunately, we did just enough of both and some adjustments for the second half really helped.
Like: Backdoor Cuts
One of the ways we created such advantages was through intuitive cuts and quality passes. BVP was the biggest driver of this, both as a cutter and also sometimes as a passer. Things especially opened up when Dunn was on the floor, as the middle was often vacated as we’ve seen in the past, but he was also able to find and exploit weaknesses with other bigs on the floor as well. BVP’s experience and craftiness came up big in this game on both ends, which we’ll talk about, but let’s focus on cutting through the defense first.
Here’s a good look early on in the game with the Small Ball lineup in (Gardner at the 4) and Franklin joining the Triangle offense with the middle screen actions. At first, BVP goes as if to set a ball screen for Beekman on the wing, but instead flares out at the top of the three-point line where he gets the ball before sending it back to Beekman on the wing. Gardner sets a screen for Franklin and then floats down to the short corner, creating some space. Filipowski is out on BVP and Franklin sets a back screen on him, with BVP cutting to the hoop and Beekman finding him with a beautiful pass in stride.
You’ll see Duke have a similar strategy against Caffaro a little later in a different way, but what I like about this is that it both pulls Filipowski away from the basket at first, and then forces him to cover a lot of ground, through a screen, to get back into the play. It takes advantage of an aspect of defense he’s not as comfortable with and forces him to rely on his limited, comparative, mobility.
This next clip below is a very similar concept, but this time with Franklin on the wing and both Shedrick and IMK inside with the Triangle. BVP again feigns a ball screen, this time for Kihei, gets the ball back, swings it to Franklin in the wing. As Franklin tosses it into Kadin into the post, IMK simultaneously sets a back screen for BVP, and Kadin finds him with a beautiful pass. In both of these last two clips, BVP’s threat of shooting outside of the three-point line is crucial to opening up the space for the dive. His defender has farther to recover and there’s much more space for BVP to catch in rhythm. Notice, also, that Shedrick getting the ball far enough away from the block and being the one to handle the ball creates all of that space on the back end as his man would typically be help side but, instead, has to defend. I’m sure that this play was designed by CTB, either as an ACTUAL play or, more likely, a purposeful variation of their offense that the players recognized. It could have been a set piece off of the inbounds but, if it was, many of the players sold it incredibly well in terms of seeming momentarily indecisive with where to go with the ball. Either way, the structure of the formation and execution was surely part of the offense – brilliant stuff!
Now let’s look at a couple of examples in Smaller Ball with Dunn at the 4. As we’ve discussed previously, this set often creates the most open space inside, because Dunn is able to stay outside of the three-point line where both Gardner and Shedrick are most effective closer to the basket, and their defenders play them that way.
This next clip is such a great example of the spacing created through this lineup. Off of the inbound, IMK trades with Dunn so that he’s offside and Dunn is nearside. It’s definitely intentional as you can see Clark directing that switch before he starts the play. I believe this is likely because that’s where they’d normally get more frequent kickout looks for three. With McKneely in the opposite corner and Dunn in the nearside corner, Beekman stays on the opposite wing and Kihei sets up a two-man pick and roll situation with BVP in a 5-Out look. Again, the spacing here is very much an NBA set designed to provide a ton of room on the inside and to take advantage of a wealth of shooters. Clark runs Roach off of the screen, briefly hesitates, and then pushes his advantage into the lane, drawing both Lively and the recovering Roach. BVP pops out to the three-point line and Clark finds him on the kick out, causing Grandison to rotate up from the corner to help contest the shot. But Lively is also attempting to recover to his initial man (BVP). This miscommunication (and it would have been challenging to call this one out correctly for anyone, let alone the freshman Lively), allows Dunn to dive from the corner for a wide-open dunk. Just really well executed offense and why this lineup is so hard to defend.
In this next clip below, Duke has changed their defense to zone coverage in response to the play above, among several others that we’ll highlight later (and some we won’t). They appear to be running a 2-1-2, which is basically like a 2-3 but the center has more freedom to roam the middle of the floor, as Young does here when BVP sets a ball screen for Kihei. We’ll see later how really benefitted from the spacing created through these looks in the second half, but it was enough so that Duke switched to the zone often to give some more backside help. Clark gets past his man, and you can see how our five men around the outside would normally give him room to operate but he’s unable to with the zone there to help contain. He ends up passing the ball back out to McKneely, who rotates up to Beekman. It seems like things have stalled at this point, but BVP senses an opportunity and dives from the opposite wing right through the center of the lane. Beekman hits him in stride, and he’s able to finish at the rim while getting fouled by Young. This is nothing but experience by BVP (and awareness by Reece), sensing that a wrinkle was needed to make something happen. Great awareness.
Last clip on this, this one from OT. Duke is back in their zone, and we’re back to Small Ball with Gardner in instead of Dunn. I’ve mentioned this before, but against the zone is the one time I really like the BVP/Gardner pairing on offense, because Gardner’s mid-range game and passing is effective at finding and creating soft spots on the interior and the spacing that Dunn would provide doesn’t really do anything to free up the middle of the court. This is a similar cut to the one that BVP made in the clip earlier, but this one was set up through his ability to go between the perimeter and the high-post, popping in and out. Gardner getting the ball on the opposite high-post draws Young out to him, forcing Mitchell to have to shift his responsibility from guarding Franklin on the perimeter to recovering in time to stop the diving BVP. He can’t, and BVP draws the foul. A great illustration of how we have unique personnel to take advantage of any defensive adjustment.
Now, this wasn’t all BVP. Franklin got a few solid buckets on the interior as well from similar designs against man. But, his presence as a cutter and a passer was on show on Saturday and illustrated the value that he brings when it comes to creating easy buckets, even against such length, and even when his outside shot isn’t falling.
Like: Kihei in Space
Similarly, Kihei Clark did a great job of taking advantage of this spacing, especially in the second half. This is a good job of spotlighting something we’ve been doing offensively for a while now, but I haven’t called out specifically. In transition, or even after a made bucket, often our guys, regardless of the player groupings, will stop outside of the three-point line as the ball is being brought up the court. This pause works as a mini-5-Out setting, designed to keep the middle clean and allow the primary ball handler (usually Clark) the chance to take his man to the hoop either one-on-one or via a ball screen, if the opportunity is there. If it’s not, or the ball handler pulls the ball back out, we’ll then proceed into our Triangle offense. It’s a neat little add-on that sometimes gives us a bonus opportunity to get quick early points prior to making the other team defend our base set.
The clip below gives a look at this in the first half. Notice how everyone, including Gardner just kind of waits around the outside. Lively doesn’t worry about a Gardner three, but it still naturally keeps him higher and away from the hoop. BVP goes to set a ball screen but actually doesn’t, he actually floats away from Roach, but Clark just beats him off of the dribble and is able to finish at the rim because the defense never fully got back due to our strategy.
The second half is where Clark really got going and this is another variation of the look above. Notice again, most of our guys are hanging out around the outside, including Gardner (Dunn is in for BVP). Franklin is the exception, likely because his man would be in position to help deter a Clark drive on the wing. So, instead of setting up the offense in full, Franklin pulls his man like he’s going to go set a back screen for Dunn, which is standard Triangle action and causes Young to turn his back on Clark altogether so he doesn’t see the play developing. This distraction is all Kihei needs, as he beats his man off of the dribble and there’s no one from Duke in position (or aware) enough to help. I can’t stress this enough; this is really smart offense that requires a lot of nuance, and the experience of our guys is allowing them to assess the floor map and make adjustments based on what needs to happed to allow for the core concepts of the attack to be effective.
This next play is not in transition but is certainly by design with both BVP and Gardner on the elbow. Clark and Beekman fake the dribble hand off and then Clark explodes around the screen (which isn’t even set, he just beats Roach with quickness) with a clear path to the hoop on the back end. Interestingly enough, Franklin is lurking on the opposite block and Mitchell could theoretically be there to help, but he seems to have trouble with vision on the play as all of the clutter at the top of the lane is unfolding, and when Franklin sees the play developing, he immediately cuts straight out like he’s going to use a screen off of the big men, causing Mitchell to react and go with him… just in time to vacate the space wither Clark finishes on the opposite side of the rim.
Here’s a pretty nifty look within our Triangle offense in Smaller Ball. One thing that I think is especially neat about this play is that the Triangle is as far extended as I’ve ever seen it with Clark, IMK, and BVP navigating it and Dunn and Beekman in the corners. You can see that it’s still the Triangle because of the screening action between IMK and BVP initially, IMK pops outside, BVP fakes a screen for Clark, and then pops outside, but the action creates some confusion for Duke and leaves Young trying to keep Clark in front of him, which he can’t do and gives up the and-1. A great finish by Clark, and a really interesting example of how the core offense can be adapted to the different folks running it for optimal effect, in this case working like a de facto 5-Out.
Here’s a look, below, at all of it unfolding in one sequence. Initially, we try to clear out in transition to allow Clark a path to the hoop. Duke doesn’t bite this time, giving space and providing help. Clark kicks it back out to Dunn who resets it to BVP who resets it to Clark. Now you’re already into the Triangle with Beekman and IMK on the wings and BVP, Dunn, and Clark working the three-man. BVP sets a ball screen for Clark, who actually has IMK open for a second as two men have collapsed on Dunn, but the ball screen again gets Young on Clark with space between them and the rim; just a terrible mismatch for Duke. I also like what Dunn does here, floating out into space while the drive is ongoing so that his man doesn’t help, and then crashing HARD to the rim when Clark goes up for his shot. A great look at the continuity and all of the different things we’re making Duke track and be aware of when defending.
Last one. I thought this was Clark’s most impressive finish of the night AND it was in OT. This is the play before they went back to their zone in OT because they couldn’t defend us. We’re basically in four corners with Gardner setting a ball screen for Clark – basically a 5-Out concept but a distinct look we appear to go to more often in late game situations (we saw some of this against N.C. State late in the game). Duke continues to play sag defense off of the screens and Clark, once again, gets a run at Young one-on-one. Young does a better job this time of keeping himself between Clark and the rim, but Clark still has him on the back foot enough that, despite the huge size difference, he’s able to elevate and finish over him with the left hand. I was really impressed with this one because you much more often see Clark finish in the lane when he’s past the defender, not as much using his shoulder to protect the ball and finishing over a player (especially one who is 6’10”).
Historically under Coach K, Duke has hung their hat with their on-the-line up-the-line man-to-man defense (which is an aggressive style that attempts to get in passing lanes, make ball movement more difficult, and use athleticism and help to recover on the back end if there are cuts). They take pride in it, they slap the floor, etc. So, it was really cool to see that between our savvy cutting and creative ways to get Clark into isolation with mismatches, that they felt like they had to abandon man defense entirely at times for the zone. They were out of other answers. Great stuff!
Dislike: Pick and Roll Defense Without Dunn or Shedrick
Now let’s back up for a moment here. The concern coming into the game was Duke’s size and the worry about the getting easy buckets on the interior. And yet, Filipowski was shut out entirely, Lively was held to 2, and Young to 6. Through a team effort and savvy defense (which I’ll discuss more soon), we did a great job on their interior players. So what gives here? Where Duke did a great job against us, was breaking us down off of the pick and roll, drawing defenders, and either their guards finishing in the lane or kicking it out to the corners for open three-pointers. It’s not like Dunn and Shedrick were perfect defending these. Dunn lost the hedge entirely once and Shedrick tripped/fouled the ball handler once. Shedrick, in general, was only able to stay on the floor for 7 minutes due to foul trouble (two of which were very soft calls). But it WAS when neither were on the floor, and thus our mobility and/or length were limited that this most often reared its ugly head. Let’s take a look:
This clip below is the first play of the game and these are Lively’s only points (on the free throws). Proctor gets a ball screen from Lively, who dives to the hoop. Gardner, concerned with defending Filipowski does nothing as the “tagger” on the back side to deter Lively’s dive or the pass to him. Notice, he has a moment where he has time to get in front of Lively and sees the play, but instead chooses to dart out to Filipowski who is on the perimeter. This results in BVP fouling as he attempts to recover. This was just bad risk assessment from Jayden.
Here’s another clip out of Small Ball with BVP and Gardner again. BVP gets duped on the screen action, as Young initially fakes the screen to Beekman’s right side, but quickly shifts to his left. BVP had already moved to hedge the screen in the opposite direction, so Young’s screen is able to just catch Reece and BVP isn’t in position to help deter the drive. Both IMK and Franklin are actually in position to step in front of Roach on this drive, but both fake and then recover out to their men. I think this was the correct move for Armaan here, but that IMK should have stepped in front of Roach. An easy two for Duke.
Okay, now from here, these are all going to be clips featuring Caffaro. Unlike in the VT game where Caffaro inexplicably got run over Shedrick, it made a lot of sense to try him in this one both because of the size matchup and because of the foul trouble all of Shedrick, BVP, and Gardner were in at times throughout the game (all three finishing with 4 each). But, moving forward, I hope we’ll just turn to Dunn in similar situations, even against big lineups. In his 11 minutes on the floor, Caffaro got absolutely shredded in the pick and roll. Rather than deal with his size on the inside, Duke did what we’ve seen many other teams do this year, and just forced him to defend the screen on the outside, taking advantage of his lack of mobility. Let’s look:
This first clip below, Caffaro simply doesn’t execute a good hedge, sagging too deeply. This allows Proctor to split both he and Clark, and drive right down the middle of the lane for the thunderous dunk.
In the next one, below, Caffaro this time defends with Reece. We see Young execute a similar fake that he did on BVP earlier, faking the screen one way, then executing it to the other. Caffaro gets completely lost in no-man’s land. Fortunately, on this one, Franklin steps in on the drive and draws the player control foul on Whitehead. This is a play that should have been easy points for Duke.
Later on, Duke found a matchup it loved; putting BOTH McKneely and Caffaro in defense of the pick and roll. Watch this clip below, where it’s obvious how intentional they were being about forcing these two to defend in tandem. Initially, they run a pick and roll with both, but they both do probably their best collective job of crunching Proctor and forcing the pass out to Young, away from the basket. Undeterred, however, Duke simply resents and runs the exact same action with both. This time the pick catches IMK higher, he isn’t able to use the same angle to help on the drive, and Proctor gets Caffaro in space, forcing him on his heels prior to hitting the mid-range jump shot over him.
Same duo in the next clip below. This time Proctor rejects the ball screen entirely and his ability to get entirely by IMK comes far too easily. As Proctor strolls into the lane, he draws help, and kicks it out to Whitehead in the corner for the wide-open three.
Last clip with the same duo below. As soon as they found this, Duke went after it almost as often as they could. Initially, Caffaro flows with Proctor this time, leaving Young entirely alone. Proctor hits him with the behind the back pass, but he’s not a threat to shoot and the lane is too congested to do anything with hit. Duke gets it over and briefly runs another pick and pop with Whitehead and Mitchell which is well defended. Watch Proctor aggressively clap to get the ball back. They have a matchup they want to target. This time Young again executes the misdirection screen. Caffaro sags a little lower, but his recovery time is so slow and so deep that Franklin has to help off of Whitehead in the corner, who Proctor finds for another open three. Notice the time stamps on all of these. These were back-to-back-to-back intentional plays to exploit Caffaro (and to target McKneely while doing so).
Basically, I’m at a point (and have been for a while) where I don’t think you can play Caffaro much. His lack of mobility is SUCH a liability on defense that is continually targeted when he plays. There may be some teams and systems that don’t attempt to take advantage of this, but they’re pretty few and far between.
Like: Shotty Violache(s)!!!
Now, we’re going to compare the defense above with three of the four shot clock violations that happened Saturday, all three with Dunn on the floor (Small Ball forced one, too). This one below is with Shedrick on the floor. Notice at first, Whitehead has the ball with Beekman on him and Filipowski, with Dunn on him, comes up to set a ball screen. Whitehead waives him off entirely, not interested in testing the Beekman/Dunn duo. They eventually get the ball back to Roach with Clark on him, and Filipowski does set the ball screen for him. Dunn hedges effectively, leaving Filipowski, but is able to quickly recover to get in front of him as Filipowski briefly stalls due to Shedrick doing a good job of faking the close out and staying back on Lively. Dunn then does a great job of matching the physicality and bothering the shot so that it misses the rim entirely, for the violache! What a night and day improvement from Dunn’s hedging on the pick and roll than from Caffaro/BVP (as well as good back-end help from Shedrick to support it).
This next clip below is from later in the game, now in Smaller Ball with BVP at the 5. The game is in crunch time now, up 1 with around six minutes left. As an aside, CTB made an adjustment after half time to much more regularly put Beekman on Roach and Clark on Proctor. This was effective because, even though Proctor is 3 inches taller than Roach, he doesn’t have the same level of confidence, especially in the pull up game. Where Roach thrives elevating and shooting over Clark, Proctor was not as comfortable doing that and Beekman’s length gave Roach issues. Back to the play at hand, Duke eventually tries to run the pick and roll with Roach and Lively guarded by Beekman and BVP. BVP does a good job of sagging back into the lane, and Dunn does a good job of tagging Lively here, keeping the pass from going to him (remember the first play of the game, for contrast). Roach actually jumps with the initial intent of firing to Lively, but thinks better of it and kicks it over to Filipowski. Filipowski attempts to take Dunn off of the dribble but Dunn is quicker and is able to angle him toward the baseline. BVP supports with the double team, leaving Clark on the back end attempting to deny Lively the ball. Fortunately, Filipowski doesn’t see him as his back is to the play protecting the ball from the double, BVP recovers, and Dunn forces a very challenging shot that misses the rim entirely!
The last of these is the most impressive, in my opinion, and is a stark comparison with the Caffaro plays above. Duke isolates another pick and roll with two of their best players, Roach and Filipowski, against likely our two best defenders in Beekman and Dunn. Dunn initially cheats and sags off of the screen, containing Roach and keeping him from getting into the lane. Filipowski flares out to the three-point line and Dunn is able to recover to him to prevent a shot. Then, Filipowski attempts to back Dunn down into the lane, but Dunn’s positioning is flawless and he absolutely inhales the shot from the much taller player, forcing the last violache! Seriously, though, this is one of the best individual defensive plays we’ve seen this season. Incredibly impressive stuff that hopefully calls for even more than his 16 minutes in this one moving forward.
So, Smaller Ball with Dunn at the 4 wasn’t just an incredibly effective offensive solution to open things up, but it was an improvement on the defensive end, as well.
Like: BVP’s Defense
In the past, I’ve called out the pairing of BVP and Gardner for their collective defense, which is still very much true as a unit over the long term. But, at his best, BVP is a pesky defender with quick hands who uses his smarts and positioning to draw offensive fouls and force challenging shots. He was at his best on Saturday, and there’s zero chance we would have had the success defending the interior that we did without his presence back there. I wanted to take this opportunity to spotlight the quantity of these moments and to illustrate how positively impactful they were, from his quick hands forcing turnovers Here, keeping Filipowski from being able to go up with a shot:
Here, swooping in from help-side to take an open opportunity away:
To here, not just being satisfied with a hedge/trap but actively trying to reclaim the ball (great anticipation, too!):
And then, man, was he opportunistic taking charges like here on Filipowski, making it very obvious to the refs when the shoulder was dipped and initiated contact:
Like here, on Mitchell in transition:
And, finally, here in OT from the help side he ducks in to draw the charge on Filipowski after he’s already passed the ball, in continuation:
All-in-all, Duke had 22 turnovers on Saturday thanks, in no small part, to BVP looking to be a playmaker on defense, not just on offense.
Like: Clutch Franklin!
Armaan Franklin led the team in scoring with 23 points on 9-13 shooting from the field and 3-5 shooting from outside. He was huge and he was efficient, and it feels odd that I haven’t spent a good chunk of time diagnosing his contributions yet. On a night where really only Kihei was shooting well otherwise, he did it inside, off the bounce, through cuts in the Triangle, and from outside. But it was this play in OT, that I wanted to spotlight from him:
First of all, I love the way this play comes together. We’ve got Dunn back on the floor, so notice how much we’re spreading the zone. Kihei starts in the middle and then comes out and Franklin actually rotates through to the low block to offer a high-low with BVP. But when BVP pops outside of the three point line and takes the pass from Beekman, he forces Whitehead to take him, and when BVP passes it over to Clark, that forces the wing, Filipowski, to extend up to take Clark. Recognizing this, Franklin immediately darts from the opposite block to fill the space in the corner and confidently knocks down the three. Great recognition and exploiting the zone.
But, even though this was cool from an Xs and Os standpoint, the real reason that I wanted to celebrate this play is for how clutch it was from Franklin. Up 1 point with about 40 seconds left, making this is the difference between still being in a possession-by-possession game and, realistically, being in full control as long as we hit foul shots (certainly not a given that evening). The fact that it was Franklin is huge. Recall the Michigan game where he looked flustered to be shooting the clutch free throws down the stretch, and missed both, giving Michigan the opportunity to take that last shot. It was directly after that game that we saw his minutes reduce for a little while and his shooting cool off for several games before he heated up again. To have him rise up in this occasion and deliver the knock out blow against Duke, of all teams, really can’t be overstated.
I didn’t think we played poorly in this game at all. On the contrary, I thought we elevated our game and did exactly what we needed to do to (should have been more comfortably, in regulation) beat a pedigree team that matches up so strongly with our weaknesses. It was great to see the players who had been cooler over the past few contests (Franklin, BVP) or getting fewer minutes (Dunn) have some of the biggest impact in this one. It, once again, speaks to the versatility of the lineup; so many players who can beat you on any given night, even when we’re a combined 0-6 from outside from BVP, Beekman, and IMK.
I would like to see us firmly pair down the rotation to 8 players; excluding Caffaro from here on. I’d also like to see the N.C. State Kadin when it comes to foul issues; because he did have a positive impact in this game, but couldn’t stay on the court long enough for it to be felt to any real degree. Two of those were pretty tick-tack calls, but he also didn’t adjust his game accordingly when they started piling up. He’s got to do that.
But, I was very encouraged by this week’s response to Blacksburg and hope to see us keep the foot on the gas vs. Louisville.
2 responses to “vs. Duke 2/11/2023”
Great work as always, really appreciate it. This game really made me appreciate BVP in a whole new light. I am worried a bit he’s lost his confidence from 3-point land, though maybe Duke’s length was a factor in this game.
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There was another window of time earlier in the season where I thought the same and then he caught fire. I think he’s just streaky and you never know when he’s going to be off or on. Hopefully more on than off in March!