Duke v Virginia

Virginia bolsters NCAA tournament resume with win over No. 3 Duke

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With an overall resume that continues to baffle even the most esteemed of bracketologists, Virginia entered Thursday’s game against No. 3 Duke in need of another resume-building victory.

Thanks to Joe Harris and Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense the Cavaliers accomplished that feat, beating Duke 73-68 in Charlottesville. Now 10-5 in ACC play (20-8 overall), Virginia still has work to do but the ultimate goal of getting back to the NCAA tournament is within reach.

Harris was outstanding, shooting 12-of-20 from the field and scoring a game-high 36 points to go along with seven rebounds before fouling out in the game’s final minute. Duke threw a number of defenders at Harris throughout the night but to no avail, as he was consistently able to find quality looks.

Akil Mitchell added 19 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia, which made up for a 3-of-11 night from beyond the arc by making 51% of its two-pointers and shooting 22-of-29 from the foul line.

Just as important was Virginia’s play on the defensive end, as Duke shot 39.6% from the field and made just eight of their 32 three-point attempts. The goal of the pack-line defense is to keep offenses away from the paint, and with Duke lacking a forward capable of stretching a defense (that, of course, would be the injured Ryan Kelly) the Cavaliers were able to not only keep Quinn Cook from driving but also limit Mason Plumlee’s touches on the low block.

Plumlee attempted just five shots, finishing with ten points, seven rebounds and three turnovers. Cook managed to score 22 points (8-of-17 FG) but tallied just two assists (he entered the game averaging 5.5 assists/game in ACC play).

Virginia has now won five of its last seven games, and Thursday night was their last shot at a “marquee” win before the ACC tournament.

Does the win over Duke mean that they’re a lock to reach the NCAA tournament? When considering their overall resume the Cavaliers aren’t a “lock,” but they have to feel good about their chances at this point.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.