Despite being stocked with recruiting riches, Duke is going home early and it's not too surprising why: streaky offense, untimely turnovers, killed on the boards, nothing in the post, the list goes on. But what's different about this team? Why isn't Coach K's formula working anymore?
Coach K has always recruited players with radically inverted ratios of talent to likeability — incredibly gifted, fundamentally sound players who always come across as arrogant and entitled. His players are not only good athletes, they're (generally) clean-cut, team-oriented guys who care more about winning than stats, and usually, come March, they're mowing teams down with a single-minded drive to the Final Four.At least part of the problem seems to be that this particular model (coaches and players alike) just isn't built for, nor is it capable of adapting to, the kinds of competition it sees in the tournament. Davidson doesn't have a reliable post presence, and they're still around because (a) they've got a guy who can light it up, and (b) they had other guys who leapt into the breach when that guy wasn't getting it done. With Duke, it's partially a function of the players just not getting it done, but it also seems like the coaching staff isn't addressing at least one fairly obvious problem.
Someone needs to tell him the truth
Who is going to tell Coach K that point guard Greg Paulus is killing the team with terrible transition decisions, ill-advised threes and really bad defensive gambles? Not Wojo. After all, he *was* Paulus eight years ago. Not Chris Collins. He was Paulus ten years ago. When you include Quin Snyder, Tommy Amaker, Jeff Capel, and the unattainable model — Bobby Hurley — in the conversation, it becomes clear that Coach K has basically recruited the same guy again and again. Or perhaps he has just always been trying to recruit Bobby Hurley. Unfortunately for Duke, Paulus is no Bobby Hurley. He's not even close.Maybe you can be the next one; here's a DVD called Mike Krzyzewski: Duke Basketball — Developmental Drills for Point Guards.
Fellow Duke haters, our cup runneth over
When Duke is struggling, there's a disturbance in the Force across college basketball universe, and it ripples through the sporting press. On Sunday, The New York Times — which generally reserves its biased reporting to Democatic politics, the local teams and the Big East — published an fairly obviously gloating analysis of Duke's loss on Sunday. Most sports journalists would ignore — or even criticize — the posturing of players during post-game press conference, but this article uses post-game trash talk as the platform for game analysis.
When told that the Mountaineers had just beaten a team with eight McDonald's all-Americans, Alexander seemed startled. He arched his eyebrows and asked in a serious tone, "Who?"Nearly every Blue Devil who played Saturday was a high school all-American. West Virginia has none. So after embarrassing the Blue Devils on the court by scoring 22 points in a 73–67 victory, Alexander and his underrecruited and underhyped teammates spent much of the postgame interviews in the locker room mocking the Duke mystique.
There are at least two things really wrong with these paragraphs.
First of all, Joe Alexander knows who Duke's All-Americans are. They probably whooped his butt in AAU games and took all the big prizes on the summer camp circuit. (I stand corrected. Apparently, Alexander grew up in Asia). By beating Duke in the tournament, Alexander earned some recognition — good for him — but why spend it on schoolyard taunts? Secondly, West Virginia in no way "embarrassed" Duke. The game was tight, both teams battled. An embarrassment could take many forms, but this game wasn't one.
For the second consecutive year, the Blue Devils found out that their blue-blood history, recruiting pedigree and ESPN-fueled aura mean little in the N.C.A.A. tournament.
I highly doubt that Duke's seeming nightly presence on ESPN has done anything to make other teams fear them. If anything, it makes them a bigger target, and it gave everyone in the country a chance to witness their ineptitude against North Carolina twice this year.A much more sound analysis of the game can be found at The X's and O's of coaching, describing the various ways in which Huggy Bear's offense exploited the propensity of Duke defenders to overcommit.