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Thursday, January 06, 2005


Duke 59, Princeton 46. And it wasn't even that close (and I'll admit that my prognostication of a Duke win at 56-48 meant that the game was going to be a close one, and, well, it just wasn't.).

There were many keys for Princeton going into last night's game, and I'll just touch on a few of them.

I haven't watched as many Princeton games as some of my readers, but they seem to be rather slow coming out of the starting gate. They aren't always in sync, and the result is that they don't always put forth a solid effort in the first half. Princeton coach Joe Scott said after the game that he needed a solid 40 minutes against Duke last night, and he only got 20. The Tigers have to improve on their starts, even in the Ivies. They need to do a better job of coming out and taking charge.

Princeton needed to shoot fairly well from behind the arc to win the game, but they just couldn't do it. They didn't even come close. Coach K said after the game that they saw that Princeton scored 60% of its points on threes, so Duke's strategy was to deny the three and make Princeton find other ways to score. Unfortunately for the Tigers, their ballhandling and passing wasn't crisp enough in the first half to exploit Duke's overplaying on defense. Only Tiger Will Venable was composed enough and relaxed enough to blow by Duke defenders for layup after layup, and he played a great game, with 21 points and 6 boards. Bottom line and key stat: Princeton shot 1-17 from behind the 3-point line.

Double ouch.

I had also said that the Tigers needed to keep Duke off the offensive glass, and they just failed to do so. They also didn't establish a third option on offense outside Venable and C Judson Wallace, who battled Shelden Williams admirably but who only got going in the second half. The back door was there at times last night, or at least shorter jumpers after getting the ball past overplays, but the Tigers just couldn't convert. Cameron is a very tough place to play at, and the Tigers had trouble staying poised in the face of a suffocating Blue Devil defense.

The Tigers were outrebounded 37-24, and Duke got 11 offensive rebounds to Princeton's 5. Princeton only turned the ball over 13 times to Duke's 18, but Duke did a very good job converting after Princeton turnovers. And, while Princeton kept its fouls down, relatively speaking, it shot only 6 free throws to Duke's 22. The Tigers had 10 assists to Duke's 8 and 13 steals to Duke's 10, but the great Duke perimeter defense told the story.

Click here for the box score.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The threes were usually open, just missed. Cameron is worth a few baskets for Duke all the time -- the usual home court advantage of familiarity plus intimidation of officials. If Princeton had hit only 1/3 of the threes, it would have been close.

Duke looked VERY quick throughout the lineup, and their guards pressured and overplayed the passing lanes -- similar to the success of Temple's guards. That seems to me to be the best way to handle Princeton. Is there any team in the Ivies who can present that kind of problem?


3:29 PM  

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