Wrapping Up The Duke Triumph

When you’re the national game on CBS and you beat one of the most storied and hated programs in the country, you’re going to get a LOT of press. We’ve tried our best to track down most of it.

Enjoy.

* Note: Throughout the tournament, instead of your usual morning Throwdown, we’ll be running with other featured content. We hope you enjoy it better than hearing NIT scores and what’s on Comedy Central tonight.

Bob Huggins returned to Morgantown to coach his alma mater. Well, as Mitch Vingle explains, that move is really paying off these days. (Like you didn’t already know.)

If you don’t think West Virginia’s 73-67 upset of Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament meant much to Bob Huggins, you didn’t see him after the red light from the television cameras clicked off.

ESPN’s Dana O’Neil explains that the Huggins “toughness factor” is the key to this Mountaineer run. She also makes an unfortunate T.M.I. misstep with the John Goodman-in-a-tutu reference.

No doubt. On the heels of its surprise run to the Big East tournament semifinal, West Virginia — a team barely on the NCAA radar as recently as February — is in the Sweet 16. Combining a second-half defensive swarm with an offensive clinic, the 7-seed Mountaineers steamrolled No. 2 seed Duke 73-67.

Less dramatic than the Mike Gansey-Kevin Pittsnogle Elite Eight dash of 2005, this West Virginia push to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament is no less unexpected. When John Beilein bolted to Michigan, he left behind a team used to playing a finesse game.

Enter Huggins, a man who has about as much finesse as John Goodman in a tutu.

Bruno Chu (via Luke Winn’s SI Blog) has a fantastic look at the Xs andOs of the new Bob Huggins offense. I say “new” because it incorporates Huggins’ traditional motion with a hint of Beilein’s sneakiness.

What happens when a John Beilein-coached team falls into the hands of Bob Huggins? At West Virginia, the result was a truly unique hybrid offense, combining Beilein’s Princeton-styled five-out scheme with Huggins’ Open Post Motion. This system, which I’ve marveled at all season, is similar to Duke’s in that the Mountaineers also shoot a lot of three-pointers. But WVU has an increased number of backdoor options and is more motion-based than the Blue Devils.

If I knew anything about basketball, I would say this is a positive step for a basketball mind like Huggins. While we’re not going to see a pure hybrid of Huggins and Beilein, incorporating a few principles in the coming years may not be a bad idea. It certainly hasn’t hurt us this year. Hell, all those back door cuts in the second half made me think it was Wake Forest, circa 2005.

Did anybody notice that Duke shot poorly from beyond the 3-point arc on Saturday? In case you didn’t, Clark Judge has you covered.

Now let’s look at Duke: After Greg Paulus nailed his first two 3-pointers, the club missed its next 15. You heard me: 15. In fact, the Blue Devils didn’t nail one until Gerald Henderson converted with 1:55 left, and by then it was too late.

Whenever Duke loses, Duke losing is apparently a story by itself. Since he didn’t think it was a fluke, I had hoped Gary Parrish was going to talk about our three Sweet 16 appearances in the last four years, etc., etc. I guess not.

But Duke’s loss to West Virginia on Saturday means the Blue Devils will now miss the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season, this after they had made the Sweet 16 in nine consecutive seasons before losing to VCU in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament. So yeah, the mighty have fallen on hard times relative to their usual type of times, and the only obvious explanation is that Mike Krzyzewski has made multiple bad recruiting decisions that have left him with a roster full of nice guys, only some of whom are physical and/or athletic enough to lead an elite program.

At least Storming the Floor (via Deadspin) knows that this wasn’t a fluke. We just managed to beat the crap out of them.

For the second straight year, the Duke Blue Devils fail to make the Sweet 16, but this year there was no Eric Maynor dagger, it was just physical, grinding, methodical Big East basketball that did them in. The Mountaineers recovered from a five-point first-half deficit behind Joe Alexander’s 22 points and 11 rebounds, and held the Blue Devils to 38 percent shooting.

We celebrated, but you know who took this loss the hardest? Duke fans. Yes, that’s right, down-on-their-luck Duke fans. It’s a wonder they even manage to get out of bed in the morning.

We’ll close with a classic quote from Jon Scheyer, who wins the Captain Obvious Award for the weekend.

“Our ultimate goal was the NCAA title, not to get to the second round and lose,” Duke guard Jon Scheyer said after scoring 15 points in the loss.

Thanks Jon, I needed the laugh. Also, Greg Paulus sucks.

4 Responses

  1. What a great fucking game!

  2. The fucking Duke game is over. We have a game against Xavier coming up. Duke has 3 NC and 14 Final Fours. When will we get 1 FF? Kinda hard to yap.

  3. The best part was watching Paulus walk off the floor dejected.

  4. C’mon…can’t we yap at least through Tuesday – that gives us two days to warm up for the Xavier game. I want to enjoy that win as long as I can. It was Duke (genuflect when you say that) after all. I’m finding the whole experience very encouraging! And I’m with Lipsander – looking at all the bummed out pictures of Paulus on the internet has made my day!

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