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Basketball(M)

Virginia + / - Duke

Posted on February 29, 2020 in The Team by Val Prochaska.

Virginia vs Duke had all the hallmarks of the classic physics conundrum:  what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object?  In this case it was Duke’s offense (#2 in the country at 83.3 points per game) vs Virginia’s #1 defense at 52.7 points allowed.  As it is always, something had to give.

 

Duke50
Virginia52

 

 

 

Positive

A win is a win is a win. Virginia had lost three consecutive games to Duke in the friendly confines of the JPJ. Duke was led by returning sophomore guard Tre Jones and man-child Vernon Carey and an ensemble cast that has seen 6 different players lead the team in scoring and has had four different players record 19 or more points in a game. But Virginia is now 11 – 0 when holding a team to 50 or fewer points, and for the Virginia fans who care about such things, we’re going to be ranked again come Monday’s poll.

Positive

Jay Huff. Just when you were ready to discount Huff as a force, he records a game where he is one rebound shy of a triple double.  Huff had 15 points, 9 boards, and an astounding 10 blocks, including the game-winning block of Vernon Carey in the post with 4 seconds left. He had three thunderous alley oops and a beautiful two that was a toenail away from being a 3-pointer.

Negative

Huff Will Not be Denied!

Where has this Jay Huff been all season? We’d be a legitimate Final 4 team if Huff was playing with this kind of energy every night.

Negative

Dick Vitale.

Positive

Tempo travels.  I’ve often said that defense travels, meaning that defense is more consistent than an offense that relies so much on jump shooting. But the Virginia defense has been torched 4 times in the past seven games for 42+ points in a half.  Coach Bennett’s defensive-1st mindset and our pace of play are intertwined, but Virginia can consistently dictate the tempo, even in a season that has been, at times, such a challenge.  The game was tied 25 – 25 at the half and my confidence had grown such that I was completely calm as Duke opened a 7-point lead in the first 6 minutes of the second half.

Negative

Duke’s Jack White. He’s a senior, so he’ll be gone after this season.  I will miss him greatly.  While he’s not the inveterate gunner of yesteryear, he’s still a stiff and I’m happy with every minute he gets in the game.

Positive

Clemson.  The Tigers have collected a lot of pelts this season, beating UNC at Chapel Hill for the first time since WWII, beating Duke, Louisville, and today, Florida State. With the win vs Virginia Tech, UVa clinched sole possession of 4th, but with new losses for Duke and FSU, and a game to play at home vs Louisville, Virginia is now in the running for the ACC regular season title.  After losing three straight ACC games to Boston College, Syracuse and FSU, could anyone have predicted we’d be this close to the title?  Not me.

Negative

Tomas Woldetensae’s hair. As Woldetensae has emerged as a three-point weapon, he has generated a lot more interest from opposing defenses, and both Tech and Duke have sold out on defense to try to stop him.  Maybe Tomas was smarting from a rough outing against Tech, but he released his braids and he was back to his season-starting fuzzy afro.  His best performances have come under a braid regime; he needs to get back to it.

Positive

The Shirt Wins Again

After last year’s magical run to the national championship, my buddy Mike said he was going to frame the shirt. Perhaps luckily for us, Mike has not, because it was worn when the football team ended their skid vs Virginia Tech, and again now for Duke.  There’s still magic in the shirt!

Positive

Mamadi Diakite’s defense.  Twice in the last 2 minutes, Duke fed the ball to Carey, and he went to work in the block, isolated against Diakite. Twice he failed to score as Diakite stood him up and did not allow Carey to back into the paint. This after shutting out Pitt’s Justin Champagnie two games ago. Diakite is making a strong case for Defender of the Year, and it’s not solely because of his shot blocking abilities.

 

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Duke (Basketball(M), February 29, 2020)