Friday, April 15, 2011

game preview: Duke

Date/Time: April 16; 11:00 AM

History against the Devils: 49-24

Last matchup: Duke 14, UVA 13; 5/29/10; NCAA semifinals (Baltimore, MD)

Last game: UVA 11, UNC 10 (4/9); Duke 18, Presbyterian 6 (4/11)

Opposing blogs: it's a basketball school, man

It's a Dooky Dook weekend with both the baseball and lacrosse teams taking on the Blue Devils.  You know how it's gone on the lacrosse field lately.  One win in the last however many tries; of course, it was a biggy last year since it advanced the Hoos to the ACC final, which they would also win.  But one win does not break a curse, and it's hard to be overly optimistic with this game on the road.


- More zone defense.  The zone was probably the #1 reason for the win over UNC.  Dom Starsia said he'd be scaling back on it (I wish I could remember where I saw that but he did) and that's fine because you don't want to give the whole world a chance to find out how to pick it apart.  So, man-to-man will probably be featured.  But there should still be a reasonably heavy dose of the zone.  It's a good treatment for the off-ball ills and it helps cover up the loss of the team's best on-ball defender in Matt Lovejoy.

- Play aggressive.  Not stupid, just aggressive.  You always prefer to avoid penalties, but if the refs are calling things tight on both teams, that benefits UVA.  Duke's special teams (to borrow a hockey phrase) are awfully mediocre, both when they're a man up and a man down.  UVA is outstanding in those situations.  One common theme in Duke's losses has been a total failure to take advantage of a significant penalty advantage.


- Keep trying to make silly low-percentage passes.  That was the culprit behind most of the derpitude last week.  Nerves?  Maybe, since they were trying to break the first losing streak any of this team had ever seen at UVA.  Koskinen Stadium at Duke is not a place where we've found any success at all this decade and so the nerves could easily be back this week.

- Faceoffs.  The broken record strikes again.  It so happens Duke is actually pretty good at faceoffs.  Say it with me: Uh-oh.


Another uh-oh for good measure.  I never like our odds against Duke - nobody ever does - and I especially don't like them on the road.  And I don't know how the team will show: will we get the kind of solid, quality, well-played lacrosse that won the game against Carolina or the showoffy, braindead variety that almost lost it?  Duke is not a consistent team either.  Statistically they're pretty ridiculously good.  They dominate ground balls in a way that we once did and no longer do, they can match UVA almost goal for goal this season, and they've got a goal-scoring machine in Zach Howell, while our goal-scoring machine is slumming around on one good foot and trying to make it work.  On the other hand: three goals against Penn and a loss to Denver (though Denver is turning into quite the force and really that says more about Denver than Duke's vulnerability.)

The only thing I can say with much confidence is that we're in for an old-fashioned shootout here.  The defense held Carolina to 10 goals last week which is pretty good considering how many of those were the unsettled result of facepalm-inducing passes.  We should be so lucky this week.  If the score is 18-15 it won't surprise me one bit.  But who gets the 18?  I'm a little less confident there.

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