Watched the ACC matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and the Florida State Seminoles. FSU played very well, and probably did deserve the win as much as Duke, but it came down to execution down the stretch, Duke just played with more confidence and made the right plays, chalk it up to experience.

What really struck me though watching Duke in the second half was how much better their spread offense was this year as compared to last year. Now, certainly the personnel factor has something to do with it, but another factor was the extension of the 3-point line. You would think that for a 3-point shooting team like Duke, that would be a bad thing, but it actually helps to stretch the defense even more creating more gaps to penetrate and also leads to more open 3-point shots. Take a look at a few sequences of their spread offense in the second half,

2008 Versus 2009:

If you want more diagram breakdown of Duke's spread offense, then click here. What I want to do here is just a quick illustration of how much of a difference the extension of the 3-point line has made. This first picture is from last season (07/08) between Duke and Wisconsin. Watch how the weak side defenders are able to stay close to the paint despite Duke's spread,

Now, from last night's game. I know the PNR is slightly different from the top of the key as opposed to the wing. But still, you can see that the help side is at least 1 or 2 steps further away from the paint. That 1 or 2 step can mean the difference between a layup or dunk, and a defensive stop. Also, the defense has that extra 1 or 2 steps to help and recover, makes a big difference,


Ultimately for Duke though, their success in the spread offense will largely be determined with how they shoot the 3-pointer. On this night, they were decent going 10-for-30. But in a one and done tournament format, all it takes is one bad half, and they could be bounced. In comparing 07-08 and this season, Duke is slightly down (38% vs 34%) in 3-point shooting percentage. Still, I like the spread offense especially since they've stretched the 3-point line, a lot more gaps to penetrate into.

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