Talking Points: Duke denied
Posted March 31, 2013
1. Last time Duke played their final game of the season in Indianapolis, the Blue Devils won the NCAA Championship. This time inside Lucas Oil Stadium, they were denied a trip to the Final Four by Louisville.
Upon initial review, it turned out to be a good season for Duke.
The Blue Devils had an incredible stretch in November and December, so at least they've got the "Battle of Atlantis" over the Cardinals. Duke then battled through Ryan Kelly's foot injury and put together a conference season good enough for the second seed. They ultimately got to the Elite Eight and were beat by a team that looks to be the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing.
What keeps the season from being considered "great" by Duke standards would be the lack of banners. Nothing from the regular season, no title from the conference tournament and no cutting of nets in the NCAA Tournament.
2. Ryan Kelly was saddled with foul trouble. Seth Curry only took two shots in the first half. Quinn Cook could barely breathe under Louisville's press and the team turned the ball over 11 times. The Blue Devils had an equally difficult time stopping dribble penetration from the Cardinals.
And yet, the game was tied at 42 after Mason Plumlee dunked with 16:20 left on the clock. Duke exerted so much energy staying in the game, what happened next seemed inevitable.
Louisville hit the Blue Devils with a 17-2 run sparked by Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng. Worn out by points in the paint, blocks and rebounds, Duke didn't knock down a field goal for over eight minutes. By the time Cook made a layup with just over eight minutes left in the game, the Cardinals had a 14-point lead and all the momentum.
3. How Louisville seized control over Duke is put into a more compelling context when considering what the Cardinals had witnessed in front of their bench just an hour earlier.
Kevin Ware broke his leg with 6:33 left in the first half after he landed awkwardly trying to guard Tyler Thornton's 3-pointer. Players on the sideline recoiled in horror as Ware laid flat on the raised court. Dieng leaned over in agony for his teammate, Russ Smith began to cry and coach Rick Pitino eventually wiped away tears before play resumed.
CBS showed the replay a handful of times before shifting the focus to player reactions, including Thornton simply holding his hand over his eyes as he walked away from the scene.
The Cardinals huddled around Ware before he was eventually taken off the court with a stretcher. During the post game celebration, Louisville players held up Ware's jersey for team photographs.
4. Has any athletic director in the county experienced a better 2012-13 than Louisville's Tom Jurich?
The Cardinals escaped the imploding Big East for the safe (for the moment) harbor of the ACC. The football squad topped Florida in the Sugar Bowl and head coach Charlie Strong remained with the program. Now the basketball team is headed to back-to-back Final Four appearances.
5. The ACC, and more specifically the Triangle area, is in a Final Four drought. This 3-year stretch marks the longest without an appearance from either Duke, North Carolina or NC State since 1962.