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ball is even settled in the Blue Devils' end, according to one of the coaches IL spoke with for a scouting report prior to the quarterfinals. He said that in a clearing situation, the Duke ride doesn't just stop when the ball clears midfield the way many teams does. Instead, the Devils' long poles play very agressively, trying to force turnovers and get the ball back Nike Blazer High Grey into their high octane transition Nike Basketball Shoes Zoom Ascention
but don't overlook the other side
If a team can weather that initial storm and settle the ball into their offensive zone, life doesn't get much easier with the likes of Tony McDevitt, Parker McKee, Mike Manley, Ryan McFayden and Nick O'Hara patrolling the box.
Quick: Of the four teams left to play this weekend, which has put up the best defensive numbers?
"Until we beat them [in the tournament], we feel like we can't say that we've done anything. It's great to say you've beaten the defending champs in the regular season, but every team that plays the game wants to go through the defending champs to win it."
Before you look at your stats, it's not Hopkins, whose 7.87 goals against per game is solid, but is just the third best of the semifinalists. It's not Syracuse either, as the Orange come in at No. 9 in the country (7.38). No, the top defensive dog in the fight is the team many don't even realize have players on the other side of the field due to the firepower they bring offensively the top seeded Duke Blue Devils.
To some, the success on that end of the field is inevitable, because of how much Duke's offense can do and how solid Sam Peyton has been at the face off X. The argument is that, no matter how good or bad Duke is in that end, the team is going to be successful because they play very little defense. But if you look at the first time Duke played Hopkins, it was more than just a game of keep away.
we're playing out there.
For a lot of people that watch Duke play, it's tough to get past how great their offense is. With an all world attack line, the Blue Devils have been breaking records and making very good defenses look like the JV going against the seniors. But one need go no further than reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Matt Danowski for an opinion on the men that work the other end of the field in Durham.
In that game where Duke held the then reeling Blue Jays to just six goals the Blue Devils out groundballed, out saved and out cleared their Homewood counterparts en route to a lopsided win at home. After playing out to a 4 4 tie midway through the second half, Duke exploded with nine straight goals, holding Hopkins off the scoreboard for over 20 minutes.
While Duke has gone out and scored a whopping 15 goals a game to lead the country, they have also allowed a hair over seven, good for the seventh best mark in Division I. With a schedule that included a bevy of NCAA bound squads (including three contests against fellow semifinalists Johns Hopkins and Virginia), Duke allowed their foes to break the 10 goal barrier only twice: a March 22nd loss to Georgetown and last week's lopsided quarterfinals win over Ohio State.
"We take a lot of pride in our riding, both with our attack and with the ball in our end," says goalie Dan Loftus, who ranks among national leaders in both goals against average (6.83) and saves percentage (63.2) but somehow doesn't get mentioned in the same circles as other elite goaltenders. "It's not easy to prepare for us, because a lot of teams can't simulate how fast Nike Dunk Pink
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"[Our defense] has really bailed us out of a couple of games, holding teams to single digits," he says. "They've flown under the radar all year in terms of recognition, but they're going to need to continue to play like they have if we want to be successful this weekend"
"It starts with the attack, but we'll get after it after it gets into the midfield because if we can create that turnover and get the ball back on offense, it usually leads to a goal. Sometimes it'll bite us if the other team makes that home run pass for a one on one in front of the goal, but in the long run it usually pays off."
"We just try to be as basic and fundamentally sound as possible," Blue Devils defensive coach Chris Gabrielli says. "We harp on the team concept, because we have some fantastic athletes back there and if they're on that same page, we can be very, very tough."
"Obviously, Duke's defense has tremendous sticks and they knock down passes," our scout says. "There's a reason their offense throws so many hard passes they have to practice against that defense every week."
"The thing for us is, we just need to stay consistent, McDevitt says. "All around, we have the athletic talent and the ability, we just have to take care of our matchups and play team defense."
"They're definitely a great team. Rabil. Peyser. Everyone out there can shoot the ball. But we've just got to approach this like every other game and play our way.
game before opponents can even get their offense going.
Loftus, one of Duke's fifth year seniors, knows all too well what the Blue Jays are capable of offensively, so he and his teammates aren't counting any chickens before Saturday's game faces off.
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