Yet another close Conte loss
It seems like I am constantly revisiting the "moral victory" aspect of this basketball season, but what else can you do when the team keeps losing close game? Sunday night's loss to Duke was fun and pulled me in, yet even in the final moments, I had real doubts about our chance to win. Does that invalidate the previous 39 minutes of fun basketball? Does it make it any less fun to watch Odio dunk it or Hanlan intercept a pass while running in a full sprint? No. But that doesn't mean we should feel good about coming close in another loss. There are eight regular season games left. This team needs to win at least three of them. The close games are proof enough that they can. Other thoughts:
-- Odio dunk! and everything else. In a season full of empty moments and lack of progress, Odio has been one of the standouts. He's not even a space filler anymore. He's bringing legitimate energy and defense when he is on the floor. We are better with him than without. He doesn't need to shoot much. He doesn't need to handle the ball. He just needs to play smart, don't make any turnovers and be aggressive near the basket. It was a good showing.
-- The Defensive game plan. I am not sure which assistant was responsible for tonight's prep but it was well done. Even as Duke adjusted in the second half, we countered with more ball pressure and trying to cut off Plumlee's passing lanes.
-- Hanlan's driving. I will get to the final shot below, but thank goodness Hanlan is willing and able to drive to the basket. So many of the guys are passive under the slightest pressure and we waste so much time passing around the perimeter. Hanlan might miss FGs, but good things are happening when he drives.
-- The final possessions. Rahon's clanker was terrible. It was a good look but bad, bad shot. That's on him. The Hanlan possession was as frustrating but for different reasons. I would have liked for him to shoot earlier in the shot clock. Why did Donahue have him wait so long? Anderson got the rebound (and was fouled). If Hanlan shoots earlier in the possession we might get another shot. The risk is Duke answers, but when you are down a point, that is very secondary. First get the lead! Then worry about protecting it.
-- Abandoning the 3. We were cold and were keeping it close regardless, but that doesn't excuse not attempting more.
-- Officiating. It is cliches to argue that Duke gets all the calls, but they do. Cook knew he fouled Anderson on the last play. You could see how he reacted. But there were about ten different times that they could have whistled Cook earlier. Duke's guards were very aggressive with their hands. It is not the reason why we lost and is not new, but needs to be mentioned when it is egregious.