A win is a win, but this one will look a lot better in the box score than it did in real life. Credit to the Dukes who rebounded after five halves of terrible offense including the first half tonight to move to 4-5.
The second half. The Dukes lagged a little in middle but I think they played their best half of the year in the second. The guards got penetration, they shot well over the zone and they played their best stretch of man defense from 16 – 11 remaining that I’ve seen since Jim Ferry took over. They locked it up when it counted holding the Red Flash to just one field goal in the final 4:20.
The first half. The Dukes controlled early and could have opened up a bigger lead had they made some of their bunnies and open looks from three. The cold shooting continued into the first half of yesterday’s game even if they did a nice job from the FT line. Rebounding and a couple of poorly timed turnovers also hurt the Dukes.
Transition Offense. While most offensive aspects looked better in the second, transition offense still struggled. I saw too much dribbling into a double or triple team, poor spacing and the inability to recognize and hit the secondary break. This looked a lot better last year.
The Moment I Knew It Was Over
Tra’Vaughn White hitting the front end of the 1 and 1 with 16 seconds left. Could have gotten a little hairy with a miss and a made St Francis lay up. The Dukes had the perimeter locked down, but I think the Red Flash could have easily found a lane and got to the basket for an easy two. Miss that free throw and I see a one possession game with the Dukes heading to the line with 4 seconds left.
Play of the Game
Ovie Soko keeping it alive on the offensive glass to make it 73-69. This was clutch more than it was pretty. Dukes missed three shots in close but kept fighting for the put back which Soko eventually found.
Credit Where It’s Due
Even after blowing their 10 point half time lead in a matter of minutes in the second half, St Francis hung in there and switched the momentum after a foul on Ben Millaud – Meunier three point attempt and his three subsequent free throw makes.
Player of the Game
I wish there were a Duke who played an even first and second half. They’d automatically win this. In their absence, I have to give the honors to Ovie Soko for his 23 point 12 rebound performance that included a 10 for 10 evening at the charity stripe.
I can’t say that I saw anything tonight to make me more optimistic about them salvaging the season, but at least I didn’t come away with a bad taste in my mouth or the same sense of despair that a lot of people deservedly still have right now. The Dukes had their third decent defensive performance in a row although I’d still like to see them hold St Francis to less than 40% from the floor. However, this was a “good enough” defensive performance all game and a more than good enough offensive performance in the second half. If the second half portends things to come, the Dukes outlook improves significantly, but if I look at the entire game, I don’t see a team that wins more than ten games.
Still, the Dukes have a long way to go. The defensive rotations still have room to improve and the players still don’t have much chemistry in the half court offense or in transition save for the occasional rim rocking Colter to Soko off the glass alley opp. I still see a lot of players who think they need to do it all themselves, but I’m hoping they have a little more faith in their comrades following a good character win.