From The Stands: Duke v. Miami

Daniel Ewing

Duke finished off the home portion of the 2004-2005 schedule with a big victory over Miami in Cameron on Thursday night. From the start it was evident that the Hurricanes didn't have enough to prevent Daniel Ewing and Reggie Love from going out with a win in front of the home crowd. <i>TDD</i> examines the match up and offers thoughts on what went right, wrong, and what may happen on Sunday in Chapel Hill.

What Went Right

- Despite starting the game running a box and one on J.J. Redick, the junior knocked down his first two long range jumpers and stayed on target from that point forward, scoring 18 first half points on 5-of-6 shooting and 3-of-4 from long range. Though he's been prone to take bad shots in the past, all his looks in the first period were clean and he didn't force the offense, but reversed the ball and looked to open teammates. When Miami began playing tighter defense, J.J. simply backed up another seven or eight feet and began launching threes, which continued to fall.

- As a team Duke shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter, making 14-of-33 from behind the arc on the night. Most of the looks came after the team got into their half court offense and made at least three passes, something that has lacked in the games where there is no offensive flow. With the ball being worked inside and then kicked out and worked around the perimeter, Duke resembled some of the previous years' teams, which isn't at all a bad thing.

- In his final home game, Daniel Ewing played his best game as Duke's lead guard. At times in the latter part of the season, the senior has been prone to firing early in the shot clock without allowing his teammates to get into position. On Thursday he still got his looks (15 shot attempts), but he also distributed the ball at a career best rate (10 assists) and took care of the ball despite Miami's frantic defensive attempts – committing just one turnover. His shot wasn't falling, but his impact on the game was substantial, something that wasn't able to be said earlier this month.

- Both DeMarcus Nelson and Lee Melchionni continue to serve the Blue Devils well on both ends of the floor. Nelson scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds, and played solid defense, while Melchionni hit all 12 of his points from behind the arc (4-of-8 from the perimeter). The combined 22 points and 8 rebounds from the small forward slot in the rotation is something that will have to continue as this team turns the corner into March.

- Though he scored just four points, Shavlik Randolph played one of his better floor games of the season. The junior pulled in nine rebounds, blocked a pair of shots, and came up with two steals in 24 minutes. While he's still a bit timid on the offensive end (see below), Randolph is hopefully rounding into the same kind of form he did last season during the NCAA Tournament.

- The overall defensive effort of the Blue Devils was as good as it had been all season in the first half. Duke contested every look the Hurricanes had, and held Miami to just 35% shooting from the field and 20% from the perimeter. All this while forcing 12 Miami turnovers and out-rebounding the ‘Canes. The second half featured a bit of a let down as the lead swelled to nearly 30 before Duke slowed it down and cruised to the victory, allowing Miami easier shots and better looks.

What Went Wrong

- Though he earned another technical foul, this time it was a totally horrendous call by the zebras when Daniel Ewing was T'ed up in the first half. The referees figured that Ewing was showboating on his breakaway dunk, though the replay clearly showed that if he had let go of the rim he would have ended up landing in the first row of the stands, horizontally. Yet he was whistled anyway. The officials should be ashamed of that decision.

- While he was rebounding, defending, and doing the things away from the ball, Shavlik Randolph was simply not part of the offense. Perhaps it's a byproduct of the junior's lack of confidence in his offensive game, but several times the junior was looked off despite being wide open. In the post game news conference, Coach K said he was proud of the way Shavlik continues to battle and picks his spots, but when it's garbage time it would be nice to see the big guy continually fed the ball until he has to shoot. Instead Shav was continually getting the ball and getting rid of it like he was in a game of hot potato. When he did shoot, he seemed to wonder if it was a "good" shot instead of just playing the game. For Duke to be successful in March, Randolph simply must have the confidence to operate on the offensive end without worrying about the results.

Player of the Game:

While J.J. Redick scored a game high 29, it's almost what we've come to expect from him. However, with it being their final nights in Cameron, the duo of Daniel Ewing and Reggie Love earn TDD Player of the Game honors. Ewing for his first career double-double and Love for his energy and help inside and on the boards. Both of these seniors have helped this team throughout their careers, including this season's unexpected successes.

Next Play:

Duke now heads to Chapel Hill for a season ending tilt with arch rival North Carolina. The Tar Heels seemed a bit vulnerable without Rashad McCants against Florida State before putting the Seminoles away in the second half behind the play of All-ACC big man Sean May. The Heels will look to win just their third game in the last 18 match ups on Sunday, and will have the incentive of clinching the ACC title outright should they beat Duke and earn a season split. To have a shot at the Dean Dome, Duke will need to control the tempo and put together another strong defensive effort, while getting contributions from sources outside the big three.

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