The OP Stat of the Game: 12 first half points- 12
So there it is. That's the summation of last night's game. The first half.
Yes, Duke played strong defense and caused us to spread the court and move out of our offensive comfort zone, but I don't think we would have done much better if they had played no defense at all.
The Tigers were cold. They couldn't make a metaphor or cliche with all the words in the dictionary.
Our Shooting % was abysmal. You can choose to blame it on the refs and their love of allowing Duke to draw charges, but that is a weak argument at best. The answer is much more simple and less conspiratorial: Hit more shots.
The freshmen played like freshmen. The seniors, juniors, and everyone else, however, didn't play much better. Stitt and Grant provided us with some strong play. But, if the first minutes of the second half could be bottled, or emulated, or even approximated throughout a game, the Tigers would have been, and would be, in a much better position. It was nice to see OP make some changes at the half, rather than just let it be and stick to the scheme, but those changes have to be fluid.
Concerning the depth of this team, we were wallowing in the shallow end last night. Duke played and plays a small rotation, it was effective for them. Maybe our team would be play with some energy if they could stay in the game longer than a minute or two continuously. I am not suggesting Singler/Scheyer-type minutes for everyone on the team, but at least continuous minutes for some of the players.
More than anything, we missed leadership last night. Some will want to say we miss the outside shot, but that is secondary. We need someone to step up and lead- Stitt is beginning to do that, but with this being "(T) Booker's Team," that will be difficult for him. Booker needs to play hard for forty minutes. This leading by doing and not saying didn't work well for KC Rivers and thus far is not working well for Booker.
Uncle Cliff where are you now? That's right, Cliff Hammonds, modern day Prometheus. With Cliff Hammonds, or any comprable, capable leader, we would be in a much stronger position and feel much more positive about last night's game about any loss for that matter, because we would know that the team gave its all. Tanner Smith has some of that fire, and Stitt shows it at times, but others are playing without that.