Saturday, December 10, 2005

I've been reluctant to dive into the new NCAA basketball season as Duke was ranked pre-season #1 and I'm always a believer in jinxes when it comes to roundball. But I watched most of the Blue Devils' 30-point ass-kicking of soon-to-be no-longer #2 Texas. I don't want to denigrate Texas as they are a good team, a very good team even. But Duke was hitting its shots and I saw some of the best team defense I've seen in a while. If the pros were allowed to play defense like this, I might actually care about the NBA.
There are a few things about Duke that make me worry. First, when Duke had scored 66 points, JJ Redick had scored 33 of them. He finished the game with 41 points but a balanced attack doesn't have one player score half the team's points. Second, if Duke has a off night in hitting its shots, they can be beat. Fargin' VA Tech almost did it at Cameron the other night. But sometimes luck is as important as talent and a 40-foot buzzer beating three to win has a whole lot of luck in it. Third, I'll be a lot happier when DeMarcus Nelson gets back in the mix. A third scorer is important.
And finally, Duke is still a young team. Two freshman start. If the young player don't develop, there will be a late season breakdown. On the other hand, if the young players do develop as expected, this team will be in the top five for another couple of years. At least I hope.
Also, Roy Williams at UNC is showing anybody who didn't already know it how good a coach he really is. Last year's championship UNC team was decimated by the departure of superb players. UNC was not picked in the top 25 preseason. Yet they've already beaten a top ten team. Don't be surprised to see the Tar Heels stay in the top twenty and even make the Sweet Sixteen at year's end.

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