Tuesday, January 22, 2008
ACC game of the week (1/20- 1/27) - #3 Duke vs. Maryland (1/27)
Pretty wild week in the ACC as UNC goes down to the once strugglin' Terps of College Park. I was on the way back from a women's college basketball game and didn't get a chance to see Murlin's big win until Sunday morning when I caught a replay. Best part about Maryland is that they have two battle tested guards in Vasquez and Hayes. I especially like the fact that Greivis Vasquez impacts the game in several different ways. He is the only player in the conference that leads his team in scoring (16.6 ppg) and assists (6.3 apg) while also being the team's third leading rebounder (5.4rpg)....
Now that that's out of the way I'd like to congratulate Deron Washington of Virginia Tech for being recognized as the Best Dunker in the conference.
Ya know, it's hard to argue with this.
Now back to the matter at hand. Duke versus Murlin. Crazy Terps fans will come up with ways to make fun of Paulus and Scheyer. Maryland will go on a really scoring drought. Duke will get a few calls they don't deserve. Osby and/or Gist will be in foul trouble. With about one or two minutes one of the teams will be up a 2 or 3 and the other team will try and execute a designed play or two to win the game. That's how it's always been and after Murlin's win at UNC there is no reason to think they won't play Duke tough at home.
Duke has a lot of guards. John Scheyer is giving Coach K 11.4 ppg and 40% three point shooting off the bench. Scheyer would start for every other team in the conference with the exception of UNC (he might start there as well). The two reasons why he doesn't start gives you an idea of just how talented this Blue Devil team is. Sophomore Gerald Henderson Jr. and senior DeMarcus Nelson have combined to average 27.4 points and 12.8 rebounds per. Nelson is shooting an ridiculous 51.6% from the field. Unheard of for a guard. This quality depth at guard just might be what does Maryland in. While Maryland sophomores Greivis Vasques and Eric Hayes have helped their 7 freshman teammates along as best they can, they aren't going to be able to prepare their your teammates for the pressure Duke will apply. The best the Terps can hope for is that Hayes and Vasquez stay out of foul trouble so that Gary doesn't have to go with one of two backup freshman guards he has on the roster.
Yes, for Duke the point guard situation is a bit iffy as the much maligned Greg Paulus is still manning the position. Unfortunately for the Terps Coach K has been grooming McDonald's All-American freshman Nolan Smith to play that spot. Smith has been called upon to D up on the opponents best handler and to this point has done a pretty good job. With this said, Hayes can help negate a bit of the backcourt advantage that Duke possesses if he can put enough defensive pressure on Paulus. When Paulus struggles to bring the ball up court Duke's offense isn't nearly as crisp. If this happens it'll be interesting to see how fast Duke turns to Smith. All things considered Duke still has the advantage here.
Advantage Maryland. All you need to know is that Gary Williams has seven frontcourt players at his disposal and the blue devils have about 2 legit post players. Granted, the best front court player on either team is freshman Kyle Singler and he plays for Duke, but i doubt he will be enough to against Maryland's starting front line of Landon Milbourne, Bambale Osby, and big time James Gist. Gist, Osby, and Milbourne have all played well at different times in the season but not until Saturday in Chapel Hill did they each play well in the same game. Against UNC the Terps' frontcourt trio combined for 48 points, 19 rebounds (13 of those were Gist's), and 3 blocked shots. I'm thinking that the momentum from Saturday will carry over to this coming Sunday's big game.
While Maryland has a favorable matchup down low, Duke is still Duke. They have two formidable low post players in Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas. The only issue for them is depth. If either of these players gets into foul trouble or simply too fatigued to go Duke will have very little to turn to. Singler can cover most power forwards in a pinch but Gist and Osby are way too physically mature for him.
As this novel post might indicate this game should be fantastic. There will be emotional outburts from fans, players, and coaches at each whistle. The Comcast Center should be loud and filled with an absurd amount of Terps fans (You get an idea of how many people are there when the camera guy pans over to the student section). I know some times I have to convince others that certain games will be good but Duke/Maryland speaks for itself. I'm going with Maryland to win by 3 or 4 due to bad free throw shooting by Duke down the stretch. Enjoy it.
....and new to ACC Ballers is the ACC Dunk of the Week:
This week we have Virginia freshman Mike Scott throwing one down against Virginia Tech.