Even though you can probably catch every Duke game on national television, it's always nice to hear about an opponent from an insider's perspective. For that reason, we decided to reach out to Amogh and Jake of "Crazie Talk". They do an outstanding job covering Duke basketball from a student's perspective, much like us. We were able to ask them five questions about their squad this year and they really provided us with some outstanding information about the Blue Devils.
The Slipper Still Fits: The one blemish on Duke's very nice looking resume right now is a loss at Wisconsin. What did Wisconsin do to upset the Blue Devils? Was it just too much Trevon Hughes or can you blame it on Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith's poor offensive efforts?
Crazie Talk: At home in Madison; Wisconsin was able to dictate the tempo of the game. Once they hit their shots early, Duke was never really able to get back into the flow of the game. Everyone was out of rhythm offensively, except for Kyle, who exploded with a career high. Nolan had himself a decent game, but Jon completely disappeared offensively and had no answer for Hughes on defense. But if you were to pick out one thing that stood out to me over the course of the game, it would have to be the lack of production from the seniors, Zoubek and Thomas, in the post. Help defense was poor (especially on Hughes) rebounding was subpar, low post scoring was nowhere to be found. That's a recipe for a loss, especially against a hungry Wisconsin team.
TSSF: One of the things that got a lot of attention over the summer was Kyle Singler's move to the outside at small forward. How has Kyle looked at his natural position and what sort of impact has him moving outside had on Duke's front court.
CT: Kyle's move to small forward has helped our squad in a variety of ways. For one, Kyle creates mismatch problems for the opposing defense. At 6'8'', he often has a smaller player guarding him. This also allows him to conserve energy; you don't fatigue as much guarding smaller players than banging down low with bruisers. As the star of our team, we need him in for 35+ minutes most games, and it's important for him to be as fresh as possible. Also, he has been able to play outside-in a lot more than in previous seasons. Kyle has a knack for drawing contact and getting to the rim, and his jumper has become very consistent, especially from mid range. The move to the perimeter, his more natural area on the court, has allowed him to showcase both of these skills. Kyle can still bang down low and get offensive boards, but now we have three 6'10+ guys to do that too.
continue reading our Q&A with Crazie Talk after the jump...
TSSF: Speaking of position changes, there were also a lot of questions about Jon Scheyer starting his first full season as the Blue Devil's point guard. From an outsider's perspective, it appears that he is exceeding expectations with his ridiculous assist-to-turnover ratio. From a Duke perspective, are you as blown away as I have been?
CT: Honestly, I'm not surprised at all that Jon has thrived at the point thus far. He's one of the smartest players Duke has ever had, and his height(6'5) allows him to see the court a lot better than other shorter guards. He's a very heady player who minimizes turnovers - which is probably the most important statistic for a point guard. It seemed kind of strange to me that all the pundits were questioning Scheyer's abilities at the point when it was very clear at the end of the season that the team was much, much better with the ball in his hands.
TSSF: Gonzaga's defense lends itself to allowing their opponent to shoot the three-point shot at will. I'm assuming Mark Few will make some changes for Saturday but how worried should Gonzaga fans be about guys like Scheyer and Andre Dawkins who have been outstanding from beyond the arc.
CT: Scheyer is coming off a career night in Cameron in which he shot 11-13 from the field, including 7-9 from beyond the arc. I don't expect him to be allowed those kind of shots against Gonzaga. But a hot shooting Scheyer makes this team a lot better. Jon has proven himself an incredible playmaker this year, mainly with the pass. With the emergence of Nolan Smith as a go-to scorer, many thought that Scheyer would be the third offensive option behind Smith and Singler. But as his 36 point outing Tuesday night proved, he can still fill it up-especially from beyond the arc.
Dawkins has been an outstanding shooter. I didn't expect him to contribute this much this fast, especially being so clutch in the Connecticut and Wisconsin games. At the Kohl Center he singlehandedly gave us a chance with four consecutive threes. He currently shoots over 50% from distance. Accordingly, his minutes have increased to 20 per game. He's instant offense if his shot is on.
As for defending these two guys, Scheyer is the king of the shot fake. He draws a lot of fouls by getting his defender up in the air and shooting into the contact. Dawkins is more of a catch-and-shoot guy. If you leave him open, he'll take it. Both have a solid mid-range game as well, and can take one dribble into space and knock down an 18 footer.
So I would say that Few must adjust his defense. If our guys get good looks and get hot early, it could be a long night for the Bulldogs.
TSSF: How is the pulse of Blue Devil nation going into this game? Is this a game that you guys are really worried about or do you expect to go into MSG and win and if you can, what really worries you about this Gonzaga team?
We're pumped. Tuesday's win against Gardner-Webb was a solid tune-up, and the team looked exceptional the team had been through a lot in the past week - from the passing of Andre's sister to the rigors of final exams. That said, Gonzaga will be the toughest test yet for this Duke team. Bouldin is a fine player, and will be a handful for whoever ends up matching up with him on defense. What worries me the most, however, is the battle on the blocks. They have been excellent thus far-we really enjoyed their play in the Maui title game against Cincy. But Miles and Mason Plumlee, along with the improved Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek, are a formidable post presence as well. If Duke can control the glass, our size should win the game. But if Gonzaga gets a lot of second chance shots for guys like Bouldin and Gray, this could be a Bulldog win. I expect Kyle Singler to be the X-factor. If he plays like he did at Wisconsin, Duke should take this by 10. If he disappears, we may lose by 10. It will be a great game either way.
Prediction: Duke 75, Gonzaga 70 in a nail biter.
We'd like to thank the guys over at Crazie Talk for helping us (and you) learn more about Duke!