Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The (Big) Blueprint, confirmed

That was Duke out there last night, not Kentucky, even though Nike outfitted the Blue Devils in exactly the same uniforms the Wildcats wore on the night 40-0 turned into 38-1.

Fitting. Because they might as well have been the Kats.

Takeaway from Mike Krzyzewski's fifth national title last night: The Coach K Way and the Coach Cal Way are now as identical as their uniforms. Which is to say, you recruit blue-chip freshmen, you stick 'em in the lineup and you let 'em win titles for ya.

Sixty of Duke's 68 points in a 68-63 victory over Wisconsin came from freshmen, a number straight out of Lexington. And while the mortal lock one-and-done (Jahlil Okafor) got in foul trouble, two other freshmen (Grayson Allen and Tyus Jones) stepped up to save the Blue Devils after Wisconsin put them nine points down midway through the second half.

Allen and Jones gave Duke what all the smart guys said was its edge -- dominance in the backcourt -- and the Blue Devils rode them like Secretariat, thoroughly owning the last 10 minutes. Duke's guards were better, they got to the rim and drew the fouls in the second half that they failed to in the first half, and their ball pressure on the perimeter blunted Wisconsin's ability to take full advantage of Okafor's absence after Frank Kaminsky got the kid in foul trouble.

All of which was what everyone figured Duke would need to do to win. Add to that the crucial element of Sam Dekker's disappearance -- the Badgers' turbo-boost scored just 12 points and was 0-of-6 from behind the arc -- and the deal was sealed.

In the end, even with Okafor on the bench for long stretches, the Badgers only outrebounded Duke 35-33. They shot just 10 free throws. And if you bleed red and feel compelled to complain that the game was allowed to become entirely too physical ... well, keep in mind that it's the Badgers, a traditionally physical team, who should have benefited from that more than Duke.

They didn't. And so Coach K wins a third national title in Indy. At this rate, the guy will probably start taking his vacations there.

As for Wisconsin ...

Well. We all know what the solution is there.

More freshmen.


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