So was this game in doubt? Yeah, absolutely. For most of it. The Dukes came out cold and stayed cold for most of the game. There was some sloppy play and some really awful unforced errors.
But they went on a big run late and won the game. Me, I’ll take the W. If we’re done with “almost wons,” then I’m done with “almost lost.” The Dukes beat adversity tonight, and there was absolutely no reason that they had to be. Should they have had to come back? Not necessarily. But they were in that position and did.
A few things on NJIT…
…and reasons you shouldn’t feel too badly about the obstacle that they posed:
- They have some excellent players . Better ones than you’d think. There’s a lot of youth there, but this coach has really brought some athletes to the team.
- They are well coached. Look at their improvement over the last several years. They are NOT the team that was an 0fer, far from it.
- This is the biggest game they’ve ever played. They’ve never hosted a school from a conference like the Atlantic 10. They were getting UP for this, believe it. They wanted to make a statement and were going to give their best effort
This is still the same team that took ranked SLU to the buzzer and beat a solid Bona team. They’re probably not quite as good as the near-upset, and they’re not as bad as the team that got off to a slow start here.
What I Liked
Desmond Ridenour stepped in and got the assists. As far as point guard play goes, Des was the better tonight over Colter – 5 assists and just one turnover. Des gave some quality minutes tonight.
Adjustments made by Ferry – notably a 1-2-2 trap – are what disrupted NJIT in the 2nd half and enabled the Dukes to win the game. It isn’t just that he made the adjustment, because that’s half the battle, it’s that the Dukes also executed that adjustment.
McKoy played well and was a point away from a double-double.
NJIT’s best player was extremely limited by the Dukes. They’re actually an incredibly good 3 point shooting team – and the Dukes didn’t allow that tonight.
Mason turned in some great stats tonight all around.
What I Didn’t
Conventional wisdom says that Tra’Vaughn White was down because of the higher level of A10 play. But he was not good tonight. I have to wonder what that’ll mean for his PT going forward.
There’s also how cold the team was. NJIT wasn’t particularly amazing on offense, the Dukes just gave up that many opportunities on their own end. The Dukes did a lot right – rebounding, defending, winning the foul battle – but they were completely off-balance on offense.
If Colter is going to be the guy who gets the ball at the end of games, then he’s also gotta be the guy who can make the foul shots at the end of games.
* * *
So the Dukes win, pull above .500 and into double digits. It was a little more exciting than it should have been, but a lot of people feel that these games, if close, are won or lost in the last five minutes. The Dukes stayed within striking distance and won those five minutes.
Surely we’ll talk a lot about this, but hey – they won. I’m good with that.