Blue Devils' Magic Too Much for Dunph's Owls


I guess the subway ride wasn't quite enough last night. Duke rolled into town, and even with a somewhat more low-key team than we've seen from the storied program for decades, they still had that air of confidence that screams, "You have no chance."

And I know the Duke fans will call me biased (and they'll be right), but Temple just couldn't get a call from the refs. It seemed like everything was going Duke's way, and even my brother, a big Coach K fan, agreed. The worst of it came in the second half, when Temple stormed back after being down 19. Dionte Christmas shook off a terrible first half, and started shooting the lights out. Christmas scored 11 straight points in the game, cutting the Duke lead to nine. But then the wheels came off, and it seemed like Temple was getting called for everything. A Duke player tripped over his own feet. Foul. Another made a fast move behind a Temple player, with no contact between them. Foul. A blocked Duke shot that was all ball. Foul. Etc. The run was over, and Duke was still Duke on the other end, making their shots and keeping an even composure.

But I would be remiss to say the Owls lost because of the refs. Not even close.

They lost because of sloppy play and poor shooting for much of thegame. Were it not for gravity, they wouldn't have been able to hit theground in the first half. Bricks, clangs, even an air ball on a lay-up.Turnovers were as much of a problem. Temple had nine before the half waseven over, and these weren't just Duke steals. They were passes thrownwith both feet off the ground, passes forced inside when the better option would be to slow down and set up the half-court, and a few passes that were seemingly to no one. Those are the reasons Temple lost.

And as much as I want to continue to give Fran Dunphy a pass, saying this isn't his team yet, it's hard to let that be the reason for this loss. True, seven of his 13 players are holdovers from the John Chaney era, and obviously, the six who are his selections are young and inexperienced. But no matter who recruited the players on the court, it's the coach's job to have them be disciplined. Last night's loss had less to do with (A) the incongruous talent matchup and (B) the team's inability to execute Dunph's system than it did sloppiness and undisciplined play. Did I expect him to be able to pull off a miracle and beat Duke (even when the Blue Devils are short a few players, as they were last night)? No. But it was disappointing to see them throw the game away.

(photo creds: Coach K: MSN; Dunph:

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