Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.22.09 EditionPosted by rtmsf on February 22nd, 2009
1:00pm. Welcome back to another day of BGTD. There are only 2o games today, but there are five of particular interest that we’ll be tracking. Villanova @ Syracuse and Illinois @ Ohio St. at 1pm, Wisconsin at Michigan St. @ 3pm, Wake Forest @ Duke at 7:45pm, and Arizona at Arizona St. at 10pm. Pretty strong day. Let’s get it started in upstate NY…
1:02pm. Before we get going, we want to touch on this story from the LA Times yesterday that UCLA has stopped recruiting local 6’11 prep star Renardo Sidney even though by mid-last week the Bruins were still considered the front-runner. Certainly UCLA could use a big man with guard skills such as those that Sidney has, so what gives? Color us jaded, but all we could think of when we heard that UCLA so abruptly dropped Sidney was this story written by Gregg Doyel about a Pac-10 recruit who was charging $10k per on-campus visit a few years ago. Did Sidney finally give UCLA his price? Was there a package deal that Ben Howland wasn’t willing to stomach? Not surprisingly, USC (of OJ Mayo, Daniel Hackett and Reggie Bush) is now considered the leader. Let’s see what happens later today when Sidney announces his college choice at 4pm PDT.
1:13pm. Villanova looks fantastic thus far, with seven scores in eight possessions, including three threes from Dwayne Anderson. If you’re still reflecting on yesterda’s wild Saturday, here’s Andy Katz’s article focusing on how quickly things can change.
1:23pm. Nova is getting whatever it wants offensively, and the Syracuse crowd still looks asleep (the players aren’t much better). Uh-oh alert – Clemson is already down double-figures at Georgia Tech – remember the Tigers lost a road game last weekend at bottom-feeder Virginia.
1:45pm. Cuse is coming back here just before the half, now down 2, behind Devendorf, Rautins and Flynn. Clemson is also back in the game, after getting down by as much as 15 to Ga Tech. Illinois appears like they’ll hit their total from the Illini’s last game vs. OSU in the first half (up 26-24 with 2:30 left).
2:00pm. Nova goes into the half with a six-pt lead, 46-40. Neither one of these teams is playing much defense – both sides are shooting 55% from the field. The key difference is that Villanova has been able to get to the line eight more times than the home team. Clemson fought back to tie things up at Georgia Tech, and Xavier is ripping GW 36-20 at halftime.
2:05pm. Seth Davis just got on board the RTC train with the Duke Swoon at halftime of the Syracuse-Nova game, predicting that the Devils will be the highest ranked team to lose early next month. Not sure if Duke will lose tonight, but there are two things in Wake’s favor… 1) Duke will play man-to-man, which helps Wake penetrate to the rim; and 2) Wake has shown this year a propensity to take ranked teams seriously, home or away. The Deacs get into trouble when they’re playing teams they don’t respect.
2:22pm. Cuse just made a nice run to get back within one, while Clemson hsa come out strong after the half to run out by 7 pts on Ga Tech. Xavier is now up 19 on GW, so that game is pretty much over. Illinois is looking strong on the road at OSU, now up 7 as well.
2:33pm. Phenomenal stretch there where Villanova’s hands were everywhere on defense, resulting in a 3 and two dunks. One area where Nova doesn’t get nearly enough credit is with their defense because they don’t have any shot blocker types, but their positioning and quick hands are consistently productive.
2:35pm. Georgia Tech is coming back on Clemson now. Actually this game resembles the Virginia loss from last week quite a bit – with seven minutes to go in that one, Clemson led by three. Right now, with ten minutes to go, Clemson now leads by three.
2:46pm. Tough upstate NY call there, an offensive foul call on Nova’s only big man, Dante Cunningham, giving him four. He’ll sit for the next few minutes – let’s see what Cuse can do with an open middle…
2:50pm. Not much. Apparently the Orange believes that three-point shots are the way to go here. Luckily for Villanova, we might add. Meanwhile, Nova just keeps attacking the rim and having good things occur. Now up nine again. Clemson also just went on a run to take an eight-pt lead with five to go.
3:00pm. Syracuse had a huge possession to cut the lead to three or two and instead chucked up another three. And it looks like Clemson is going to hang on against Georgia Tech – the Tigers are now up nine with less than two minutes to go. KC Rivers has 19 on 8-11 shooting. Xavier is finishing off GW, and Illinois is barely hanging on against OSU (too bad we can’t see that one here).
3:04pm. Yes, these are clean looks, but down five, why not get an easier two at the rim rather than continually throwing up threes in this situation?
3:06pm. Gotta say, it took us a long time to believe in Villanova as an elite team, but they’ve proved us wrong this season. Nothing that they do really pops off the page, but it’s clear that they have a strong collection of high-basketball-IQ players who can score, defend and don’t make a lot of mistakes. A team like Syracuse has more pure talent, but they’re not as mentally strong as Nova.
3:09pm. If Cuse shoots another three here… well, they finally got smart and got the easier two. Of course, that was only after Jonny Flynn got stripped while rising for a corner three. Lucky break for the Orange.
3:12pm. Sighhhhhh…….. another terrible three attempt by Flynn that damn near went over the backboard. GET THE EASY TWO. How many times to we have to say it to these teams???? Btw, Illinois held on against Ohio St, and Clemson finished off Ga Tech.
3:14pm. Well, Syracuse can’t say they didn’t have chances there. The last three looked good (and was appropriate given time/score), but the first one wasn’t. There was still time to get a layup and cut the lead to one there.
3:17pm. Moving on to the next set of games, Wisconsin is up early on Michigan St., the team that we declared was the most disappointing in America on Thursday of last week. WVU is already up 14 on Rutgers over on ESPN FC, if you’re interested.
3:20pm. We just learned Duke will be wearing alternate jerseys tonight in the Wake Forest game (see pic below). The jerseys feature “an embedded design inspired by some of Duke’s iconic buildings and Gothic architecture on the back of the uniform.” Ummm, ok – can’t wait.
3:25pm. Another thrilling Big 10 scoring bonanza. Wisconsin 15, Michigan St. 9… with nine minutes left in the first half. You’ll forgive us if we take a nap through part of this one.
3:40pm. Good news for Oklahoma – Blake Griffin’s MRI came back negative, but his status is still unclear for tomorrow night’s game against Kansas in Norman.
4:12pm. MSU is showing signs of making a run in E. Lansing – maybe it was the presence of Jud Heathcote and Magic Johnson in the building that inspired them. WVU is still up around ten or so on Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights are pushing. One upset to report from the A10 – UMass upset St. Joes’ in the Palestra despite Ahmad Nivins’ 22/11. Temple defeated St. Bonnie to go to 8-3 in the A10. It looks like Dayton, Xavier and Temple are going to battle down to the very end in that league. Dayton plays both XU and Temple in the next two weeks.
4:46pm. Things getting good here. MSU has roared back to tie things up at 45-all. Rutgers made a small run but now WVU woke up and is up 14.
4:59pm. MSU really woke up there, didn’t they? WVU pulled away at the end to win by 18.
5:55pm. Sorry, not much going on the last little while. Some garbage Big East game (St. John’s-Seton Hall) along with a garbage Big Ten game (Michigan-Iowa). We’ll be back for the start of Duke-Wake at 7:30pm or so…
7:31pm. And we’re back. Jeezus it’s wet out there. So did you guys know that Duke is an 8-pt favorite over Wake tonight? That seems absurdly high given the way Duke has been playing lately. The question really is which Wake team will show up tonight – the team that beat BYU and Clemson in hostile environments; or the team that got punked at Miami and Georgia Tech? Thoughts?
7:40pm. Should probably mention that Iowa defeated Michigan in OT in the Big Ten during our break, effectively ending much more talk about the Wolverines as an at-large (ok, not really, but it should). Back to D-town, the key to this game in our eyes will be whether Duke can effectively deal with Wake’s size and length, which really frustrated the Devils in the previous meeting.
7:41pm. We were just informed that there’s something called The Oscars that is also on tonight, which probably presents an interesting dilemma in many co-dependent households. Luckily at the RTC compound there are multiple tv options so as to not cause problems. Besides, our guy Nate Silver has it covered, and the winners are pretty much already a lock. You can’t say that about Duke-Wake and Arizona-ASU though, can you?
7:45pm. Here we go… the prediction here is that Duke wins a close one.
7:51pm. Looks like Duke has already found Wake’s weakness – three TOs in four possessions off the press. Wake is #299 nationally and #11 in the ACC in turnovers per game (15.8 per game).
7:57pm. Minnesota is doubling up Northwestern at halftime, 36-18, in the only other game going on right now. Where the hell are the commenters today? Is anybody out there with some keen observations – if so, pipe up!
8:01pm. That multiple-save possession was one of the best examples of hustle from both sides I’ve seen in a long time. This game does mean a lot to both teams. With Carolina’s loss yesterday, the winner of this one is only one game behind UNC in the standings. Another backcourt TO for Wake (and nearly another). Wake will only win this game in Cameron if they can settle down and control the ball.
8:04pm. Quick aside – Renardo Sidney is heading to USC next year. Whatever deal he wanted, Tim Floyd is more than happy to accomodate. Should be interesting if the Trojans can hang onto Demar DeRozan for another year.
8:10pm. Turnovers are murdering Wake – 9 TOs so far and Duke is on a 108-pt pace against one of the best Ds in the nation. Danger time for Wake.
8:18pm. Gaudio can’t be pleased right now – the TOs are the difference in this game right now (13-2 in points off TOs). Coach K knows exactly what he’s doing in pressuring the Demon Deacon guards.
8:20pm. This is on the verge of getting very ugly due to the turnover problems for Wake. Some of these passes are ridiculously bad. Duke’s players are clearly overplaying every pass, which means the backdoor cuts are open, but it doesn’t even seem as if that’s being considered by the Deacs.
8:25pm. That stretch where Gerald Henderson went on a personal dunking exhibition showed us everything we need to know about Wake’s moxie. They were literally giving up defensively. Talk about getting in another team’s head!
8:30pm. Jeff Teague just drained two 25-footers but Wake has an unreal sixteen TOs in this half. Still, with 22+ minutes remaining, can Wake settle down long enough to make any kind of a run?
8:33pm. What a bizarre game. Wake is shooting 64% against the nation’s sixth most efficient defense and is down 15 pts due to 16 turnovers. Duke is shooting 54% against the nation’s eleventh most efficient defense. Duke is still on well over a 100-pt pace, but strangely, we don’t feel that it’s over just yet.
8:37pm. Gotta agree with Fowler and Gminski there – Jeff Teague saved Wake from getting completely blown out there. By our count, from the 6-minute mark on, Wake didn’t have another turnover. Jeff Teague also scored 16 pts in the final ten minutes. The second half will depend completely on how Wake responds to the next Duke run predicated on their mishandling of the ball. If Wake can minimize it to something like a 4-0 or 6-2 push while keeping Teague involved, the Deacs may actually have a chance to get back into this one. If there’s another 12-2 run coming, then Duke will win going away. So here’s the prediction. If Wake has a six-TO or less second half, they’ll be there in the end with a shot to win the game. If not, Duke wins by double-figures.
9:00pm. Wake is a lot more comfortable with the ball this half, but will it last? It appears that Johnson has realized he can get to the rim anytime he wants on Singler, who, ahem, struggles defending in one-on-one situations. As for Duke, they need Henderson to get going again. He’s the one player on the Duke roster who can legitimately present matchup problems with Wake. This should be an interesting last fifteen minutes – who will have the legs to finish it off?
9:05pm. That was a completely absurd dunk by G. Henderson, followed by a couple of threes, one on each end. Wake down three now – does this remind anyone else of the Carolina game at Cameron a week-plus ago? Still a ton of time left, but the key is that Wake has ZERO turnovers this half.
9:08pm. Gerald Henderson is absolutely torching the Wake defense – that duck-under twenty-footer was nasty. Wake is getting a layup every time down on their end – it’s clear that they have figured out that they are quicker off the dribble, and Duke has no interior size to defend the penetration. Wake is now hitting a ridiculous 63/67/82% from the field/three/foul line, and they’re still down 5 pts.
9:18pm. When was the last time Wake shot a jumper outside of the lane? Ten minutes ago? It’s patently obvious Duke cannot stop their dribble penetration. And we don’t remember a single Wake turnover this half (maybe one?). Duke right now is depending on Henderson and some timely threes. Can it last?
9:20pm. Scott, thanks for the question. Right now, doesn’t it appear that Wake is the team with all the momentum? Duke has been able to keep Wake at bay, but if the Devils have one more run in them, they need it soon. Otherwise, Wake is going to continue going inside for easy buckets and put the pressure on the Duke defense.
9:23pm. Sick oop. Didn’t think there was any way Johnson could get up to get that one. Great ball fake from Scheyer as well. Duke is just hanging on little by little.
9:26pm. How can one team be so sloppy with the ball in one half and so confident with it the next? Sixteen turnovers to zero is unfathomable. Duke is starting to draw some fouls on the Wake defense – it’s not like the Devils are falling apart here – they’re shooting at a stellar 54% clip.
9:31pm. Duke with the mini-run based on the rebound after the FT miss and finally a turnover for Wake. Duke is really showing some poise here offensively because they’re continuing to get torched on the defensive end. They’re doing just enough to keep the pressure on Wake to score every trip.
9:34pm. Henderson has been phenomenal tonight, drawing another foul against the Wake defense. He’s got thirty pts on 10-14 from the field. More importantly, he’s had quite a few run-stoppers in the last quarter of this game, where it looked like Wake was one key stop away from taking control of this game.
9:36pm. Mike, yeah, defense is really lacking in this one. I think you, me and a third guy off the street could get into the lane on the Duke defense. Key three miss by Wake there, from a guy who probably shouldn’t be taking contested long range jumpers. Henderson just threw in the dagger from three – that was a Kobe fadeaway from 22 feet. Sick.
9:37pm. Scott – tough question. It’s probably going to come down to the last four games in the ACC and who leads their team to the conference title. Right now you’d have to say Lawson and Henderson would be right there, with Jack McClinton as a darkhorse.
9:39pm. Ballgame. Duke really earned this one, hitting key shots whenever Wake truly threatened. Wouldn’t say their defense won this one for them. The game was “won” in the first half with all the Wake TOs, but the game was truly earned in the second half when Wake was pushing Duke and the Devils had every answer. As for Aminu, it appeared to us he had a bout of freshmanitis, commonly seen in players taking their first trips to CIS.
9:43pm. Elliot Williams is getting the most time at PG tonight. Guess K figured that Paulus would get torched, but still, Wake was able to get to the rim at will anyway.
9:46pm. Not sure we’ve seen many situations where a team shot >60% and outrebounded its opponent by double figures and still lost the game, but that appears to be what will happen here tonight (63%, +13).
9:52pm. The commentators are talking about Duke in March, but we’ve seen this song and dance one too many times the last few years. Duke is just a different team in Cameron, and the fact that they can get broken down repeatedly by quick guards and have little to no inside presence on either end of the court are HUGE flaws on a neutral court. Wake is the team with more March upside, but you just don’t know about the heads on that team.
9:55pm. Well, that was an entertaining game, if little defense. Definitely a lot different than the MSU-Wisconsin game from earlier today. Gerald Henderson was nasty tonight, and Duke deserved that win. Wake fans have to wonder what it takes to win in Durham, because if 61% shooting and a +12 rebounding margin won’t do it, not much will. Let’s move on to the Pac-10 game in the desert. The last matchup was an ASU win in Tucson 53-47, but since that game Arizona has run off seven wins in a row. To its own credit, ASU has won its last four in a row. Gotta believe both of these teams are Tourney-bound, but it should be interesting given how well they’re both playing lately. We like Arizona to return the favor and get a road win in Tempe tonight.
10:20pm. Had to take a quick break, but it’s clear this one is already more of a defensive battle than what our ACC game was. It’s still really strange to see Arizona playing a zone after all those years of Lute Olson’s M2M defense.
10:35pm. We’re starting to believe these two teams don’t really like each other very much. Is it just us or is Chase Budinger looking scarier than the Unabomber right now with that beard?
10:43pm. Mike, it’s a little bit of both from our viewpoint. Certainly not as bad as Wake’s in the first half of their game, but UA is definitely showing some quick hands here.
10:46pm. ASU definitely zeroing in on these threes against the zone. NINE threes out of fifteen attempts so far. Ridiculous. UA is lucky to only be down nine points at this time.
10:51pm. TEN THREES for ASU this half.
10:53pm. What’s going on tonight? ASU is shooting 67% from the field and 10-16 from three. But the turnovers are keeping Arizona in the game, in an opposite situation as the Duke-Wake game earlier.
11:15pm. Amazing stat – ASU is 10-0 against Arizona when ranked.
11:22pm. ASU is on fire right now. They’ve only hit one three this half, but Arizona is colder than Mesa right now (35%). Arizona just hit another three to bring it to six.
11:37pm. 20-4 run for UA to get within one point here. Too bad everyone else is watching the Oscars.
11:43pm. Amazing comeback by Arizona tonight. This is the team we expected earlier in the game. ASU has hit only one three after hitting ten in the first half.
11:47pm. This has turned into a phenomenal game in Tempe.
11:55pm. A huge missed putback that would have tied the game there for UA. Let’s see what UA can do after ASU missed a FT…. the ball squirts away and that’s it!
1:55am. Wrapup here. Thanks to Mike L. and Scott in the comments section for carrying this game the last half or so. We had a phone call that made it difficult to keep up completely, but it was a gutty comeback by Arizona for certain. That makes it another day for the BGTD feature. Pretty solid day of games actually. Well, it is February, after all. We’ll try to do a What We Learned up tomorrow sometime, but no promises there.
1:59am. Should be an exciting week at RTC – we’ll have RTC Live coming to you on Tuesday night (7pm EDT) from new #1 Pitt visiting Providence game along with everything else you’ve come to expect around here. Be sure to submit your questions for Jamie Dixon, DeJuan Blair and others ahead of time or during the game so that we can make sure your voice is heard (just don’t ask us to ask Jamie about his salary at Pitt as a public employee)….