One thing you can say about this Duke team is that they find a way to win. Against a Butler team who was fouled and dialed in and defensively stingy Duke was able to get just enough separation to get the win. Butler clamped down and executed just as well as they did in the championship game without some of the same pieces. Showing that Brad Stevens is in fact a fantastic coach. The Butler backcourt continually frustrated Kyrie Irving the first half limiting him to four first half points. The frontcourt was able to bang with the Devils down low and Mason Plumlee in particular seemed to be bother by that. Plumlee did have a nice alley oop Dunk and 8 rebounds but needs to understand that players are going to continually body him up, and make him finish at the rim as his foul shooting is still suspect. Also not showing up in the stats are the rebounds that our bigs lost not being strong with the ball.
The amazing thing about this Butler team is the way they not only dictate tempo, but also get good shots whenever they want. Despite a disparity in talent from top to bottom this team is capable of playing with anyone. They forced Duke into a halfcourt game that seemed to rattle the Duke players and until the Devils are able to acclimate to that style of play it is going to be on every teams scouting report. Duke continued to jack up three point shot after three point shot to no avail. While the makes from beyond the arc were even in this game, Duke had significantly more attempts, this shows Butler took their shots in rhythm and flow. The Butler defenders closed well and under control on Duke shooters and caused a good amount of foot shuffling on shots. It was pretty obvious from watching which were going in and which shots were not, and Duke was not strong on the boards so there were very few recycled possessions (a Duke staple).
Dukes all everything freshman guard Kyrie Irving despite not having a great floor game (5 turnovers and 2 assists), had 21 points and 6-10 from the floor and 6 out of 6 from the free throw line. What was good to see was despite being stifled on the offensive end and not being able to get his teammates off in this game, Kyrie did not get let it stop him from scoring, hitting a couple of big three point shots to get Duke some separation. And when the opportunities came about Duke took advantage. Duke got some breaks in this game when Ronald Nored picked up a 4th foul and Shelvin Mack had cramps that basically took him out for the better half of the second half. Like any good team Duke seized the moment and took advantage of the situation, running the lead to 10 and then 12 points. This sort of run generally puts the clamps on a Duke win but Butler was ready and continued to fight Duke tooth and nail, making Duke work but Duke was just too much to overcome without Nored, Mack, Zach Hahn and Matt Howard. The latter two each fouled out.
Nolan Smith, the man who is usually lost in the headlines of Singler and Irving quietly put together a solid offensive game with 24 points, and only had one turnover. A stat that I’ve been watching closely this year. He would have to be the player of the game, taking the ball to the hole on drives and hitting 13-14 from the foul line.
The other spark has been the fantastic play of Andre Dawkins who is basically the 6th starter, while he does not start the games, he is indeed a finisher. Dawkins despite playing usually under 30 minutes a game, had 10 points and 2 key 3 point field goals. He also had 8 rebounds 2 assists and a steal.Â The steal resulting in a 2 point play as he was fouled on a strong drive and dunk. He is not only the energy for this team he is the most consistent player this year. Seems like the struggles in his freshman year and the summer work he’s put in has his confidence at an all time high. He is a star on any other team, and I wonder how long he will be coming off of the bench.
This scrappy, struggle with Butler should provide Duke with an excellent teaching tool to work on the pieces of their game that really need work. Especially rebounding, defensive intensity and executing in the half court. Its unlikely that superstar guard Kyrie Irving will face a better backcourt that he saw with Butler so this too will be a nice teaching tool for the young guard. Duke found a way to win in what could have been a trap game.
|Matt Howard, F||24||5-12||1-1||2-2||3||3||1||2||0||1||5||13|
|Andrew Smith, C||22||3-9||0-0||4-6||4||5||0||1||0||0||2||10|
|Shelvin Mack, G||21||5-9||1-3||0-1||1||6||5||2||0||3||0||11|
|Zach Hahn, G||21||1-4||1-3||0-0||0||3||3||2||0||2||5||3|
|Ronald Nored, G||26||0-1||0-0||0-2||0||4||4||1||0||4||4||0|
|Shawn Vanzant, G||28||6-10||2-3||0-1||0||5||0||1||0||4||2||14|
|Erik Fromm, F||3||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Alex Anglin, G-F||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Chrishawn Hopkins, G||3||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Grant Leiendecker, G||2||1-1||1-1||2-2||0||0||0||1||0||0||2||5|
|Khyle Marshall, F||12||0-2||0-0||2-6||1||2||1||0||0||0||1||2|
|Emerson Kampen, C||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Garrett Butcher, F||18||3-5||1-1||0-0||1||1||1||0||0||0||1||7|
|Chase Stigall, G||18||2-5||1-3||0-0||0||1||0||0||0||1||1||5|
|Duke Blue Devils|
|Kyle Singler, F||29||5-10||1-6||2-3||3||4||0||2||0||3||5||13|
|Ryan Kelly, F||14||1-4||1-3||0-0||1||2||1||0||1||2||1||3|
|Mason Plumlee, F||26||4-6||0-0||0-1||2||8||2||2||0||3||2||8|
|Kyrie Irving, G||34||6-10||3-6||6-6||0||2||2||1||0||5||2||21|
|Nolan Smith, G||35||5-13||1-6||13-14||0||2||1||1||0||1||2||24|
|Tyler Thornton, G||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Josh Hairston, F||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|Andre Dawkins, G||32||3-5||2-4||2-3||1||8||2||1||0||0||2||10|
|Miles Plumlee, F||13||1-4||0-0||0-0||0||5||0||0||0||0||2||2|
|Seth Curry, G||14||0-1||0-1||1-2||0||0||3||1||0||1||2||1|
|Casey Peters, G||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|