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A review of the ACC men’s basketball matchup weekend

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
The Truth Network Radio
January 29, 2024 3:44 pm

A review of the ACC men’s basketball matchup weekend

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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January 29, 2024 3:44 pm

Brendan Marks, The Athletic, on the ACC men’s basketball matchups from the weekend and what he saw.

The game of Duke vs Clemson was extremely physical, which may have almost cost Duke the game. Did Brendan think this was an approach they should stay away from or did it work for them? What is the issue defensively for Duke? What does Brendan think was amazing about Hubert has been able to do with this team? Hubert Davis was limited last year, but that is not the case this year. Brendan points out all of the places this team has progressed greatly over the last season or two under Hubert Davis.

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For the ones who get it done. Only an award winner can cover both Duke and North Carolina basketball. Brendan Marks of The Athletic, the reigning, the champion sports writer of the year in North Carolina, joins us on the Adam Gold Show. How are you? I think this is our first chat since the news, so congratulations. I was just going to say, yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

Pleasure is mine, the honor. All right, I want to start with Duke, even though Carolina is, I think, a final four, a bona fide final four contender, maybe even a favorite at this point. Blue Devils blew a lead in the second half to Clemson, and depending on your point of view, your preferred shade of blue, maybe you like red, felt like Duke got away with it. On second thought and second view, I think Tyrese Proctor was fouled on that final play. But what exactly is bothering Duke, especially late in games? Yeah, well, first of all, for starters, I don't actually think it was much of a question that he got fouled on that last play. I've had a lot of people, you know, say things to me about, you know, did Clemson get hosed? I don't think so at all. And I would also point out Clemson had a five point lead with two minutes left in front of all over four times in a row.

Don't do that. And the last point doesn't actually matter in terms of what's plaguing Duke. And I think this is just still a team and this is probably something that frustrates John Shire and Duke fans, but this is still a team in flux as we're about to flip into February.

You know, it's still a team that doesn't necessarily have everybody at full strength and everybody fully understanding what their roles are. You know, I thought it was impressive that Jeremy Roach even tried to sort of gut out a game the other night, but he was clearly not himself, did not look like he was anywhere close to the player that we've seen really most of the season was grimacing a couple of times. Kyle Filipowski didn't have anywhere near his best night.

You know, I actually thought it was from a body language perspective, and that's something that we talked about with him before, probably one of his worst of the season. And instead you needed really big nights from Jared McCain shooting the ball in the second half. Mark Mitchell was great in the first half, Carrie Duke, and then Tyrese Proctor hit a couple of clutch threes, hits the clutch free throws and puts the game on ice.

But to me, this is just still a team that's like figuring itself out and late in games. It shows I don't know who is the guy for this new team. Is it Jeremy Roach? He's got the seniority. Is it Kyle Filipowski? He's probably the best player. Is it Jared McCain at times? Is it Tyrese Proctor at times? They've got the highest ceiling, so it's just hard to know who's going to be the person to make those plays, and as a result, I think you see some of the issues that we have lately. Brendan Marks is joining us here on the Adam Gold Show covers both Duke and North Carolina basketball.

Here's the thing. The fact that they have so many different guys, and when they're playing well and Roach isn't hobbled by an injury and Filipowski is playing, this is like a few game kind of a shooting slump for him after a scalding hot stretch, but when they've got guys playing well offensively, they have so many weapons, which is a blessing until you get to those moments at the end of the game where you have so many options, but nobody who is automatically the guy other than Filipowski. I think even when he's not playing well, he's going to be the guy, and they went to him needing a bucket out of a timeout late anyway.

Maybe it's a blessing and a curse. What is the issue defensively, because whether it was Georgia Tech or Pitt, and Pitt just could have been an out-of-body experience, not being able to stop Hinson from three-point range is beyond the pail, but what is it defensively? Is it just the fact that they don't have a natural shot blocker, or is their on-ball defense suffering a little bit?

No, I think it's both. It's funny you bring up the Pitt game because I hear a lot of people, and even in the Georgia Tech win the Duke hat a couple of weeks ago when Georgia Tech was shooting the lights out, and people go, especially Duke fans say to me, teams only do that at guns. They only make shots like that. The fact of the matter is, for the season, Duke is outside of the top 200 nationally in three-point defense. They're outside of the top 100 nationally in two-point defense. They don't have a natural shot blocker, but they also don't necessarily turn you over.

And we saw that last year with John Shire, right? The philosophy last season was we're going to funnel everything to Derek Lively at the rim, and we're going to have him basically delete whatever you want to do. Duke wasn't even going out and really creating as many steals last season. They're still not creating them at a crazy rate this year, and it's been good on the offensive side of things, the number of ball handlers that they have, because they don't turn the ball over very much.

They're not going to get stolen very often. But defensively, they're not really creating a lot of havoc, and the fact of the matter is, as we saw again against Clemson, we saw it against Georgia Tech. We've seen it a number of times in the season. Duke is just not a very big team, especially when they're starting multiple guards like they are. They're going to be vulnerable inherently based on their roster construction and the guys they play when they play athletic teams, when they play long teams, and especially when they play teams that have both. So it's not like it's one issue defensively.

It's not like if you had a shot blocker, yes, that would help things, obviously. But the fact of the matter is they have a couple of areas defensively where they're just not tremendous. There's not one thing you look at defensively and say, yes, Duke is excellent at that.

And that's obviously a huge difference compared to last season. The interesting thing to me, and we're going to move on to North Carolina here, is that against Georgia Tech and against Pitt, there were spectacular shooting performances, and there were also some ridiculous shots made, whether it's the end of the shot clock, where all things being equal, those shots don't go in. And we're probably, Duke probably, well, they won the Georgia Tech game, but they probably win the Pitt game if Vincent doesn't go seven for seven, including some crazy shots.

And we're still, but we should still be having the conversation because their defense, the one or two shots doesn't make you 200th in the nation in three-point field goal defense, and that's basically right where they are. All right, let's get to the Tar Heels, who, again, they did it against Wake Forest, I guess, last Monday. They did it against Florida State, where they play close to the vest first halves. They were down five at Florida State. I think the Seminoles put on a pretty good run the last 10 minutes of the first half, but then they just blow the other team's doors off for the first 10 or so minutes of the half and basically put the game away. What are they doing? Are they just goofing around in the first half, Brendan? I don't let Hubert Davis hear that. I'm just kidding, of course, but their second halves have been amazing.

They have been, and I think some of it is probably getting into a rhythm. I think RJ Davis, especially in the second half against Wake Forest, the rim to him must have looked like a hula hoop. It was unfair, basically, and you could see a little bit of that in the second half, too. The thing I think to me that that really is helping North Carolina a lot this season, and you're starting to see it in the second half is last year and really the last two seasons under Hubert Davis. The starters were capable of doing that in certain games.

They were not capable of doing it every single game, and if they were not capable of doing it, you didn't have anybody else to go to. What we're seeing now from North Carolina is the starters are capable of doing that, but if they need to, you can still go to the bench. Seth Trimble is playing 15 minutes off the bench and is a stalwart defensive sphere.

Jalen Withers, he wasn't as spectacular against Florida State, but I thought he had played really nicely against Louisville, against Wake Forest. He had started to look like sort of the athletic foreman that we thought he could be when they brought him in from Louisville. And the other thing that I think is important to mention, too, is this team is getting better in season. Guys are improving.

The player development here is clearly working. Elliott Cadeau, I have been critical of him at times this season. I didn't think early in the year that he necessarily deserved to be starting. I thought that his defense was kind of defenseless. And offensively, I saw that he was obviously creating open opportunities, but in himself was a net negative. And the defense, especially that he has played since the NC State game, has been tremendous. And I think he had arguably his best college game against Florida State, like Harrison Ingram, the rebounding. I know we've talked a lot about how much better he's gotten at that, but it's miraculous. It's miraculous how Hubert Davis has bought him, a guy who was doing everything offensively and now is dealing with a wrist injury, to buy in and just become this box-out awesome rebounder. Did anybody notice? Armando Baycott had five points before rebounds the other day.

And it didn't matter. That team last year and even the year before could not have survived that. So I think it's a lot of things that go into it. But the fact of the matter is, this is just a really good team. They're still continuing to get better. The fact that they're tough enough to handle these road-ass years is crazy. And I think I agree with you, Adam. They are absolutely a Final Four contender, if not a favorite at this point. But there's no doubt in my mind they are. And they do continue to get better. Here's what's interesting to me.

And I don't know if you and I have discussed this specifically. We know what the DNA of UNC basketball is. It's incredible offensive basketball. But this team, I think this team is rooted on the defensive end. And I do think that the way that Trimble plays defense has kind of rubbed off on Cadeau because he realizes that if he doesn't defend better, he's going to lose time to Trimble because Trimble can come in and lock down.

I think Withers gives them another option. They only got seven points off the bench. And Baycott scored five points. And if you had told me that before the game, going to Florida State, a team that had won, what, six of seven in the league, I would say no chance.

No chance. And they outscored them by, what, 11 in the second half. It was an awesome performance, I thought. Yeah, I agree. And here's the thing. We've talked a little bit about the defense. North Carolina is now fourth on the year in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency nationally. They are one of four teams, or one of three teams, excuse me, that has a top 15 offense and defense this year. It's Houston, Purdue, and UNC.

That's it. And since Christmas, they're the second best defensive team in the country behind only Houston, which basically suffocates people to death every single game. I would agree with your point about Seth and how I think that he, you know, sort of pushes the envelope and makes Elliott Caddo realize like, hey, if I don't do this, like there's a perfectly capable guy right behind me who deserves to be playing too.

I think that philosophy kind of applies across the board. You know, like Hubert Davis was starting Paxson Wojcik earlier this year, and I know his time is depreciated considerably. But if Cormac Ryan is goofing around or he is, you know, committing a couple of thousand a row, like passion can go in. Jalen Washington is strong enough now that he can hold his own Armando doesn't have to play 30 minutes a night. You know, last year, one of the big things that I heard from talking to people around the program, and I think one of the things that hurt the team was even if guys were not playing as well as they need to, or even if they weren't taking something seriously, the sense of accountability was maybe not always there because Hubert Davis was limited and what he could do and the number of options he realistically had off the bench. That is absolutely not the case this year. So I think the guys have bought in on the defensive side of things.

I think the tweaks they've made in season, I wrote a story a couple of weeks ago about it, but those are still working. And again, like the mental toughness and all of it cannot be understated, like ranked teams against unranked teams on the road have a losing record this season. And North Carolina just keeps winning on the road. It's kind of wild to me to see the switch flip with the guys who were here last year to this year. And, you know, again, you put it all together. And I don't even think, you know, for most of this year, I had been considering Duke in North Carolina, a one A and a one B in the ACC.

Nope. My thinking on that has changed. It's just a clear number one and then a clear number two. And it's kind of hard to see anybody catching the Tar Heels at this point. I agree.

And I mean, Duke is a clear number two, but they're probably closer to number three right now than they are to number one, if we're being honest, which will make next or this upcoming Saturday that much more intriguing, I believe, at the Smith Center. Brendan marks from the athletic. I appreciate your time. My friend at Brendan are marks on Twitter. We will talk very soon. Absolutely. Thanks for having me very much. Looking forward to Saturday. Oh, my gosh.

Why wouldn't you? I mean, again, should be tons of storylines. Appreciate your time, man. Absolutely. Thank you. You got it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-11 21:57:46 / 2024-02-11 22:04:02 / 6

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