Sunday, November 29, 2009

Duke Pre-Game Analysis

Opening Thoughts: With the victory over the Terps of Maryland, Wisconsin is now 3-0 against the ACC in the past year… and the Badgers are looking to stay undefeated against the Blue Devils of Duke University. The last time these two teams met, it wasn’t pretty. Wisconsin mustered a lowly 58 points in a 24 point beatdown at Cameron Indoor. The one bright spot was a relatively unheralded freshman forward, Jon Leuer, led UW in scoring with 12 and showed flashes of future potential. As for Duke, they are big and long this season. But don’t let their size and extreme whiteness fool you. They are very athletic, especially Nolan Smith and Miles Plumlee. And then there’s Kyle Singler, a Robbie Hummel clone that’s more talented off the dribble. Sorry to Duke fans, but I've always found this frame capture hilarious.

Forums to Visit:

Duke Basketball Report (Independent)
Devil's Den (Scout)
Devil's Illustrated (Rivals)

Duke Probable Rotation:
*G – 6’2” JR Nolan Smith (18.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.8 RPG)
*G – 6’5” SR Jon Scheyer (16.8 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.2 RPG, 87% FT, 10.3:1 A/TO)
*F – 6’8” JR Kyle Singler (15.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.0 BPG, 41% 3PT)
*F – 6’8” SR Lance Thomas (6.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 48% 2PT)
*F – 6’10” SO Miles Plumlee (9.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 56% 2PT)
G – 6’4” FR Andre Dawkins (10.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 50% 3PT)
C – 7’1” SR Brian Zoubek (6.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 57% 2PT)
F – 6’10” FR Ryan Kelly (3.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.0 BPG, 50% 2PT)
F – 6’7” SO Olek Czyz (3.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 75% 2PT)

Last season they played at a pace of 68 possessions per game, very close to last season’s Marquette and UW-M teams. They will play a high pressure man-to-man defense, but have gotten many steals or forced turnovers this season.

They are returning 60.2% of their minutes, 67.1% of their rebounding, and 64.1% of their scoring from last season. They return 5 upperclassmen in their rotation. They start a sophomore and have a bench full of two freshman, one sophomore, and a senior.

There have been rumors that Mason Plumlee, Miles’ brother, could play on Wednesday coming back from injury. Apparently he is supposed to be better than Miles, and if that’s the case, it’s not good news for us. I choose to believe/hope for the more conservative estimates that put his return closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving.

Key Players:
Nolan Smith – Duke’s most athletic player in the backcourt, Smith specializes in aggressively driving to the hoop. He excels in the transition game and is a tough defender. But with that aggressiveness, he has a 94.1 offensive rating and turns it over 15.2% of his possessions.

Jon Scheyer – Scheyer is the senior leader. He has great vision and passing skills, and is a rather deadly shooter at 44% from 3 and 88% from the line. He also is phenomenal at taking care of the ball. He turns it over a ridiculous 3.7% of the time. He has an offensive rating of 123.4.

Kyle Singler – Singler is a guy who will potentially cause some trouble for our defense. He’s a great inside-outside player… better on the perimeter than Leuer, but probably not as good in the paint. He’s only got an offensive rating of 100.0, but had one of 111.3 last season.

Miles Plumlee – Just like Nankivil and Leuer, this guy’s whiteness deceives people into thinking he’s not that athletic. Our bigs have an equal on Duke’s side in Plumlee. He doesn’t have as versatile a game as Nankivil or Leuer, as he doesn’t have 3-point range, but he is an extremely talented post player and rebounder. He has an offensive rating of 131.9 but does have a bit of a turnover problem, coughing it up 22% of the time.

What Duke is really good at:

1. Shooting the rock. They were 35% from 3, 50% from 2, and 73% from the line last season, combining for the 106th best eFG% in the nation, 50.5%. This season they have increased three, with 41% from 3, 78% from the line, 53% eFG, and 2-point shooting has dipped slightly to 49%.

2. Defending the Paint. So far this season, their opponents have shot 38.3% (15th) from inside the arc and the Blue Devils have blocked 12.3% (64th) of their opponent’s 2-pointers.

3. Not turning it over. They have turned it over only 15.5%, good for 16th, and somewhat better than Wisconsin’s 18.3%.

4. Offensive Rebounding. With Duke’s increased size, they have increased their offensive rebounding ability to 41.3%, good for 21st, and similar to, but not quite as good as, Michigan State.

5. Defending the 3. They have allowed a measly 27.2% from behind the arc this season. To compare, Wisconsin has allowed 25.4% this season.

What Duke is really bad at:

1. Getting to the line. They attempt one free throw for every three field goal attempts (33.2). For comparison’s sake, this is a little bit worse than Wisconsin (33.8).

2. Stealing the ball. Last season, Duke stole the ball 12.1% of their opponent’s possessions, good for 36th in the nation, but this season they have fallen to 8.6%, for 223rd. I would likely attribute this to Duke’s decided change in style of play. They are much, much bigger than last season, and likely will defend the paint and block shots more this season instead of getting steals and pressing a bunch.

Relative efficiency:

When Duke has the ball: Duke has scored a great 1.20 PPP in their first 6 games, while UW has given up 0.90 in their first 5 games.

When UW has the ball: Duke has given up a great 0.83 in their first 6 games, while UW scored 1.04 in their first 5 games.

Duke played at 70 possessions in their first 6 games compared to UW’s 65 in their first 5 games.

My expectations:

1. The Badgers grab 67% or more of the rebounding opportunities on defense. Duke has been rebounding 41% of their misses. However I think they have had this success due to smaller, less disciplined opponents. This stops against Wisconsin.

2. Leuer and Nankivil combine for more than 25 points and 10 free throw attempts. Duke’s 3 main post players, Plumlee, Thomas, and Zoubek, all average more than 5.6 fouls per 40 minutes. Zoubek is at an astounding 9.5! For comparison’s sake, the foul happy freshman version of Jordan Taylor averaged 6.1. None of them have 3-point range, so they may feel more uncomfortable guarding Keaton and Jon on the perimeter, leading to a few more fouls than normal.

3. The Badgers hold Duke to less than 35% from three-point range. Wisconsin gives up 25.4% from 3 and Duke shoots 40.8%. Something’s gotta give, and I think Wisconsin wins the battle with great close-outs and hands in the face.

4. The Badgers slow down Duke's transition game, holding them to less than 4 fast break points. This season Duke is averaging 8 points per game in fast break points and they rung up the Badgers for 17 the last time they faced each other in 2007.

My Prediction: The Devils make the Badgers blue, 77-70 in a 68-possession game. Let's hope I'm wrong.

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