Game Notes: Duke at Miami
Blue Devils second half barrage enough to shell Hurricanes.
by Sam Guelil
Coming into tonight’s nationally televised game between Duke and Miami, there are a few things I’m really looking forward to seeing. As you’ll be able to tell from my writings, scouting and NBA Draft prospects always peeks my interest. The Blue Devils have a few guys on the radar for sure. The main guy on display that you could see in the League next year or the year after that is Duke’s 6-7 junior SF Kyle Singler, who’s actually sporting a black eye tonight to match his uniform. Scouts are all over the board on him. He was projected as lottery pick coming into the year, but seemed to have fallen out of favor with some. Bottom line, this kid is a player. Duke also has 6-2 junior G Nolan Smith as well as the 6-5 senior G Jon Scheyer who comprises their “big three.” All are going to get paid to play somewhere when their days at Duke are over, but the guy that the NBA has their eyes set on, or should, the most is 6-10 freshmen F Mason Plumlee. The No. 6-ranked Duke Blue Devils are led by the legendary Coach K, that’s Krzyzewski if you’re spelling at home. But when you are in your 35th season as a college coach, have three national titles, racked up 854 wins, and just recently led Team USA to the gold medal in Beijing, China, Coach K will do just fine thank you very much.
From the home team side, well this is my second Miami game. What I’ve noticed so far about this squad is that there is definitely some talent here. Miami is known to be a football school. Honestly, I don’t think there are such things as “football” or “basketball” schools. I believe there are schools that just happen to really excel in certain sports as opposed to others. Some are great in both. Miami can be one of those schools. The home game against Georgia Tech wasn’t ideal to be a Hurricane. You have a ranked team coming in and you barely have anybody there. I’m looking for more fans to be in the building tonight.
More people are indeed here tonight, but that’s because Duke is in town. The Blue Devils have a quality like the New York Yankees. You either love them or hate them. They actually have a whole section in the arena and fans in blue jerseys sprinkled all throughout.
Miami looks loose in warm-ups and Duke is very business-like. They have an awesome pre-game routine that sort of resembles a practice. They work on a lot of fundamentals and everybody knows what to do. They are extremely organized and everything has a purpose. Even the managers have a stone cold look about them.
Both teams have different agenda’s before the ball goes up. Duke is playing for first place in the ACC, seeding for the big dance, and simply trying to get better so they can make a deep run into the NCAA tournament. Miami, well, that’s another story. It would probably take a miracle for them to get into the dance. They are 17-8 overall, 3-8 in the ACC, and don’t have any non-conference win’s that are worth talking about. Developing their young guys and remaining competitive is what this year is all about now. They’ll probably be an NIT team, but as we all know that just stands for Not In Tournament.
Miami’s Julian Gamble scores the first two points of the game and it is really loud in here. The Miami fans are doing a great job of drowning out those of Duke. The Blue Devils are all over the glass but can’t hit shots. Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith are really struggling early. Neither can find their stroke and look like their thinking out there. Basketball is a game of reading and reacting, thinking is for philosophy class. But that doesn’t mean you can’t play smart. Miami coach Frank Haith did a great job of switching defenses and seemed to baffle the Duke players at times. Going from man to a 2-3 match-up zone is very effective right now. The Miami players are also playing well, especially 6-3 freshman G Durrand Scott. Duke is always known as a good defensive team, but if theirs any weakness to them this year it’s their ability to stop dribble penetration from the perimeter. Smith is a solid defender and so is Scheyer, but he lacks lateral quickness. Scott is very aware and is in pure attack mode. Miami is driving and doing a nice job of finding the open man and knocking down shots. Duke lives and dies by the three point shot. Right now they are floundering and the Hurricanes are playing with an extra bounce to their step. They have it all working right now. The offense is humming, their defense is suffocating, and the crowd is at a crescendo.
I never thought I would say this, but a Coach K led team doesn’t seem to be playing very hard. They aren’t even playing smart. There is no ball or player movement. We’re under the 4 minute mark and its 25-20 Miami. Duke is still right there until Durrand Scott’s 4 quick points spark a 12-5 Miami run to end the half. Coach K even called a timeout to set up a play with 32 seconds left, but it was poorly executed. Scott then took the ball down the floor and threw a floater up to beat the clock and stopping short of Kyle Singler who was trying to take a charge. Singler looked befuddled. I would love to be in that Duke locker room at half. Coach K looks like a mild mannered guy, but when it’s necessary he’s not against getting into his guys. We should see a better effort from Duke in the second half.
Former University of Miami and NBA great Rick Barry was on hand to help honor the lifting of the jerseys belonging to Jack McClinton (2006-2009), Don Curnutt (1967-1970), and Dick Hickox (1958-1961) into the rafters. McClinton got a huge ovation.
Good thing for Duke that in college basketball there are two halves, but that was bad for Miami. On their first possession of the half Singler knocked down a three, then he drove to the rack and scored. Coach Haith tried to call timeout, but as his team was inbounding Scheyer stole the ball and Singler would eventually score again. That’s a quick 7-0 Duke/Kyle Singler run to cut the deficit to 5, with the score now 37-32. Whatever coach K said at the half worked. The Blue Devils were fired up and playing with a purpose. This is the Singler that we had hoped to see. He’s more then making up for his first half. Singler looks like a man possessed. Duke is bouncing around going into the timeout and Miami looks like someone hit them over the head with a shovel.
Early in the second half a fan in the Miami crowd was approached by security because he was making noises while Duke was at the line. He was blowing into a seashell. Needless to say they took it away like Duke took any of Miami’s chance of winning this game. Both teams exchange a few points then Scheyer hit a three to tie the game at 39-39. Miami’s DeQuan Jones answered with a jumper and had them up two going into the first TV timeout. Then with 15:14 left in the game Singler made another three to give Duke the lead. In my head the theme from Jaws was playing. It was basically a wrap from their on out as Duke wouldn’t trail for the rest of the game. Then a sequence that captured what Duke’s second half was all about occurred. At the 10:42 mark Singler grabbed an offensive rebound and was knocked to the floor from a hard foul given by Miami senior James Dews. Singler wouldn’t let anybody help him up and sprung up quickly. He then went to the line and drilled both free throws.
After a Miami timeout and a Dwayne Collins bucket the lead was cut to 61-59. Then an 8-0 spurt gave Duke a 69-59 lead and total control of the game. Duke would make 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:30 and won by the final of 81-74.
Miami seniors Dwayne Collins and James Dews, as well as freshmen Durrand Scott did their best to keep their team in it, but Duke was playing their game in the second half. They started defending, making 3s, and most importantly playing hard. Duke’s “big three” went for 49 second half points and simply took over. Kyle Singler finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, Nolan Smith scored 21, and Jon Scheyer ended up with 15 points and 6 assists. Miami struggled to score in the second half after having their way with the Blue Devils early. Miami was led by Dwayne Collins who had 21 points and 9 rebounds and Durrand Scott who went for 19 points and 4 assists. I went at the Miami fans for their effort against Georgia Tech, but I have to give them some props for tonight. They came out and really supported the Hurricanes. The building was close to a sellout with 6,860 people in attendance, which was close to capacity.
Coach K on what he said at halftime, “I don’t even remember what I said, nothing complimentary.” According to Nolan Smith, “He called us out; he let us know it’s now or never. You can take control of the ACC right now or put ourselves in a hole.”
As far as next level guys, I’ve already written about Miami’s Dwayne Collins. Since I’ll be at the final three Miami home games, we’ll break down the others in the coming weeks. Here is a closer look of what the NBA or other professional leagues may have in store for some of these current active Duke Blue Devils.
Jon Scheyer | 6-5 | 190 | PG-SG | Duke | Senior
This kid is an outstanding college player. But you need to be great to be NBA caliber. Duke has played Scheyer often times at the point, but he is a natural scoring guard. At 6-5 he has good size, but lacks strength and quickness. This will not help him defensively trying to defend other guards in the League. If you play him at the point he has no chance of stopping guys like Chris Paul. Scheyer can score the ball though. He’s outstanding as a catch and shoot player. Off the bounce is another story. He can be effective in this area in college, but again the lack of athleticism may not allow for him to do so in the NBA. Scheyer is very savvy with a good basketball IQ. He won’t make the spectacular play, but won’t turn it over either. Like most players from Duke, he knows how to play and is very competitive. Scheyer is a probable second round pick in this years draft class. It will be interesting to see if he can stick on a roster, play in the D-league, or will go make some bread playing oversees. He is tough and a winner so I would never doubt this kid.
Kyle Singler | 6-8 | 230 | SF | Duke | Junior
This is a jack of all trades and master of none. Singler does everything on the court well but nothing extraordinarily well. He can shoot, pass, rebound, defend, handle, and is one of the most competitive players in the nation. He can take you inside and outside. If Singler were an elite athlete then you would have a top 10 pick, but he’s not. Although he has gotten much bigger since arriving to Duke, he still lacks elite speed and athleticism. It might be tough to get by guys his size in the League. He can do it now in college because he is so crafty and really knows how to play. He has a great looking shot with a quick release. Singler is a tough call whenever he decides to come out. I think he’ll go in the first round next year and is on the border for this year’s draft. If he goes to the right system and plays for the right coach then he could really find his niche somewhere. This is a player that teams could look real good on or make somebody lose their job. He is so talented and plays with such an inner fire that he very well could be a good NBA player.
Nolan Smith | 6-2 | 185 | PG | Duke | Junior
Smith is a guy that has to be on the NBA radar. He reminds me of a Chris Duhon. Smith is an elite defender that plays bigger then 6-2 because of his wingspan. He is a very good athlete that keeps getting better. He is unselfish, a good passer, and a very capable scorer. This is a great kid with an outstanding work ethic. A natural born leader with all the intangibles you look for. His shot is odd looking but it goes in. Smith must improve is shooting percentage, but when he’s on he can go off. It will be very interesting to see where and when he goes in the draft. If he leaves this year, he may not even get drafted. If he stays another year then he probably won’t play the point full-time with the highly toughted Kyrie Irving coming in.
Mason Plumlee | 6-10 | 230 | PF | Duke |Freshman
Plumlee is big, strong, quick, skilled, and athletic. He doesn’t play that much right now, but when he’s on the floor he is effective. He is still very young and a long ways away from reaching his full potential. Plumlee has bounce and gets off the ground quick. He is coordinated and can handle well with both. Right now he doesn’t like to bang down low on the block. He hangs outside the key a lot, but is very good when he’s on the break. If he develops at a decent pace and expands his game, then watch out. This could be the best big man to come out of Duke since Carlos Boozer. He may bolt for the League if he has a break out year next season, which I fully expect him to do. You are looking at a future first round and a potential lottery pick.