They did it again! Just when you thought the team was about to lose their third game of the season, Duke came alive. The Blue Devils uses an 18-0 run to shock Miami and snatch a key ACC road win. Without further ado, here is volume V of 10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball.
30 Point Efforts
No other team in the ACC has more than two players with 30 plus scoring games this season. Duke, on the other hand, has now had players go for 30 points or over in seven games. Last night it was Gary Tent Jr.s turn. After being sick the game before against Wake Forest and still playing well, Trent followed up that game with 30 points which included some big time three pointers. His effort helped Duke remain undefeated against teams in the current A.P. Top 25.
Trailing 66-53, Duke went on an 18-0 run and outscored Miami 27-4 over that stretch which sealed their fourth conference win. Gary Trent went 6 of 9 from three-point range, knocking down two consecutive trays to start the comeback. Trevon Duval also stepped up his game after struggling with turnovers early in the game and ended up having 8 assists. Duke has had a way of turning up their offense for spurts all season long. Quite simply, they are capable of staging major comebacks in just a few minutes or when the game looks to be in doubt.
Not to take anything away, but ...
The Blue Devils still need to find some consistency in many areas of the game. Firstly, they need to protect leads they build in the first half or leads in general. Duke also needs some work on their free throw game. They got away with going 10 of 21 from the charity stripe last evening and left a lot of points with misses of late. Then there is the need for a consistent effort and better shot selection not to mention a better understanding of man to man defense. Duke is young and learning. Once they take better shot and gain a killer instinct with the lead, they will be hard to beat. Just a little bit of improvement in the aforementioned areas could pay huge dividends.
A different role from Bagley
Well of course Marvin Bagley III got his 15 double-double on the season. And he tallied 13 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists by deferring to other Duke players at times. Last evening three other Duke players had more shots than Bagley. The talented freshman took another step in his development by allowing this to happen which translated to a win. And if Duke wins, Bagley will still remain the center of attention for many.
Wendell Carter went beast mode
When teammate Marvin Bagley went to the locker room with a shoulder injury, Carter played outstanding basketball. He was a machine on the boards where many of his game high 14 rebounds came early or in key times in the game. Carter is a double-double guy as well and he has pout together back to back games with the not so easy feat. Duke would be well served to make sure he continues to get touches moving forward for he is better when that happens as is the team. What people might miss is there is a timed development with players from the staff. They told Carter he would float outside for some shots to better that part of his game when recruiting him. They are keeping their promise. BTW, Carter has an insane stat line - 15 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Allen continues to struggle with his shot
Sometimes players get in a shooting funk. That has been the case with all of the Duke backcourt players at times this season. It is scary to think how good Duke can be if all three are hitting on the same night. What Allen is doing is finding his way into the stat line and remaining the senior leader a team needs. Last evening he led Duke is steals with 5 and his effort towards the end of the half to get one and assist Trent for a 3 halted Miami's momentum.
I know there is a part of Mike Krzyzewski that hates going to a zone. But in the one and done era with limited teaching time with players, not to mention a top-heavy team with concern to minutes: it is necessary. And when Duke does go to that zone it seems to have a great effect to date. When they went to it last evening, the Hurricanes offense immediately struggled with the length and movement.
Bad Duval, good Duval
Trevon Duval got into some early foul trouble and had to sit. He needs to learn to harness his aggression in that Duke needs him on the court. He is the best option at his position hands down. I thought he was on his way to 8 turnovers like he had against NC State, but he flipped the switch and halted that. Instead of 8 turnovers he ended the game with 8 assists. And he was very efficient from the field going 7 of 11 and 2 of 2 from 3. There is no position like the point guard spot which makes mistakes stand out. Duval was good down the stretch and was a part of Duke not committing turnovers after a season high 19 during their 30-9 run to close out the game.
This and that
Duke has now had players garner 25 double-doubles on the season. Bagley is 2nd in the nation in double-doubles and 1st among freshmen players. Trent tied a Duke freshman record with six made three pointers. Coach K is now 1014-273 at Duke and has 1087 total wins.
Pitt will visit Cameron Indoor Stadium on Coach K Court this coming Saturday. That game will tip-off at 4:00 on ACC Network Extra. Duke should get both rest and good practice time this week. They should also be able to let injured players continue to mend against Pitt which s struggling while rebuilding their program.
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Duke is coming off a bad loss -- Look! I am as big an optimist as anybody, but there is no sugar-coating the fact that Duke Basketball is coming off a bad loss. The team was a 16 point favorite on the road and it was the all important ACC opener. But what's done is done.
Good things can come from bad losses -- Nothing gets a good teams attention like an upset loss on the road. Fans storm the court making an exit difficult and then the players are peppered with questions about what happened. The young Duke players found out that they will get every teams best shot and that they are not as good as the hype which surrounded them. Now, the team must look at the ACC standings where they are 0-1 and in last place until they can do something about it on December the 30th against Florida State. If this does not motivate the team, then there is no hope.
Practice counts -- As I look around I see a lot of people complaining about what the current group of players need to do better. Well, they are finally getting some time for practice, sort of. The team will be taking exams this week and that makes for a stressful time.
What needs to happen in coming practices -- Get better on defense. The team to date is very efficient on the offensive end but their defense, especially against the perimeter has been suspect at best. One of the hardest tasks the staff has is to teach one and done or young players how to play defense. But to win and win big, the team must buy into what they are about to learn. In fact, I would bet that 75% of practices will concentrate on teaching the defensive aspects of the game. Teams will continue to jack threes against Duke until they prove they can run players off the stripe.
A little perspective -- Before I go on, may I remind you that Duke has wins over Florida, Michigan State and Texas. They have a single loss which everyone with the exception of Villanova, Arizona Sate and one or two other contenders do as well. The team has a bevy of freshman playing key roles who have played together in 12 games and they will get better with the aforementioned practice time and another break to come after the Evansville game. The teams talent alone will win games, but once they improve things will get even better. Number four in the country in December is not a bad place to be. And better to learn lessons now than later.
However -- The ACC is once again good this year and Duke will face a test almost every night out in league play. A game with Florida State is looming and the Seminoles are ranked and undefeated. Six league teams are currently ranked and Virginia Tech should be. UNC is adjusting as is every other team in what will be another brutal league schedule. There will be many wars ahead as the season progresses.
Evansville is good -- It is always fun to hear fans say, we'll take it out on our next opponent which in this case Evansville. Well, a look at the standing shows a team that is currently 8-2 and likely to be 10-2 when entering Cameron on December 20th. The students will be gone for this game and the ACC home opener with FSU, so the fans who have closest to Coach K Court will need to be loud and proud.
The mental part of the game -- So many things can happen when you have a youthful team. But the one thing that will no matter how talented the youth might be is there will be a learning curve. As good as Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval are, they are going up against grown men. And as grown men, it is not just their physical aspects which come into play, but the mental part of the game where they can take advantage via experience. In short, improving mentally is important. Shot selection, consistency, team play and much else fall into the mental category.
Development -- It is already clear to many what Javin DeLaurier brings off the bench with his motor that helps with energy. But another freshman in Alex O'Connell seems to be developing and earning the staffs trust. The key is to play within yourself and not try to do too much when earning burn.
Lastly -- Nobody involved was happy with the loss at Boston College. But basketball can be a cruel sport at times. Duke faced a team that had players step up for great games and flirting with a loss via having to stage a comeback caught up with the team. But the future is bright and this group while not immensely deep is talented. Keep in mind that this is December basketball and while it counts, the goal will always be to develop fully come March. This has and will be a fun group to watch, so enjoy the ride for Duke Basketball never stops.
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Unless you have been in hibernation or are not a sports fan, you know that Tennessee recently fumbled the handing of hiring or firing Greg Schiano. Okay, maybe he was neither hired nor fired but let me add for emphasis that it was a hot mess.
Now, sources say they reached out to David Cutcliffe who has already balked at the opportunity in the past. Make no mistake about it, part of Cutcliffes heart is in Tennessee where he met his wife.
But the Vol Nation has had horrible timing in hires of late and their track record of success has been abysmal with choices. Had they offered Cutcliffe at the right time, meaning years ago -- perhaps he would be there today,
Anyhow the story is making the rounds on ESPN. But Cutcliffe seems likely to end his coaching career at Duke. He has invested a lot of time in building a program that will soon get its fifth bowl invitation in six years. And the university has invested in him with facilities in a mutual plan for improvement.
FWIW, Tennessee is now flying a group to Stillwater, Oklahoma to entertain Mike Gundy.
Duke will know where they are going bowling this coming weekend. As for Tennessee, a storied program continues to struggle in their efforts to rebuild.
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III has swept the ACC basketball weekly awards, earning both Player and Rookie of the Week following his MVP performance at the PK80 Invitational in Portland.
No. 1-ranked Blue Devils (8-0) have garnered six of seven ACC weekly honors in the season’s first three weeks. Bagley III, the ACC’s leading scorer (22.3 ppg) and rebounder (11.3 rpg), was both co-Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week on Nov. 13, while senior Grayson Allen and freshman Wendell Carter Jr., were Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, last week.
Bagley was named the Most Valuable Player of the eight-team Motion Bracket in leading the Blue Devils to the title. In four games last week, he scored 106 points and grabbed 53 rebounds, averaging 26.5 points and 13.3 rebounds.
He is the first Duke player since 1973 to post three consecutive games of 15+ rebounds and is the first Duke player in history with consecutive performances of 30+ points and 15+ rebounds.
Bagley had 34 points and 15 rebounds in an overtime PK80 semifinal win over Texas, including eight of the team’s 12 points in overtime. He followed with 30 points and 15 rebounds in Sunday night’s win over No. 7 Florida in the title game.
The 34 points versus Texas tied Duke’s freshman scoring record (J.J. Redick vs. Virginia in 2003). Bagley’s six double-doubles are tied for the most in the NCAA. For the week, Bagley shot 60 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free-throw line, including 9-of-10 in the PK80 title game. He added seven assists, four blocked shots and two steals last week.
There is something about this years Duke Basketball team that allows them to stage epic comebacks against good teams. After an overtime victory over Texas on Friday, the Blue Devils gained an even more impressive win over a top ten team in the Florida Gators.
Florida held the lead for more than 34 minutes of the game and they built a 16 point advantage over Duke in the 2nd half. But these Blue Devils did not fold and played through fatigue to go on a 15-2 run over the last 4:04 of the game for a 87-84 win.
Duke has a way of wearing teams down and hanging around just close enough to make a comeback. But they were playing high level competition against a Gators team that will contend in the SEC all season long, so valuable lessons were learned.
After a painfully slow offensive start the 2nd half, Duke warmed up as did their defense. The Blue Devils would go back to man to man and that held the highest scoring team in the nation in Florida to just 31 points.
Duke put game pressure on the Gators as they did the Longhorns and much of that is from the play of their outstanding freshman, Marvin Bagley III. The soon to be first pick in the coming NBA Draft scored 30 points while pulling down 15 rebounds.
Bagley was named the PK80 MVP after scoring 82 points and pulling down 45 rebounds in 3 games. The young man is a match up nightmare while remaining a good team player.
The Florida defense held Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. scoreless for most of the 2nd half. But when the two players came alive it was during some of the games biggest moments.
Allen (14 points, 7 assists) would knock down back to back 3 pointers during the comeback. Trent (17 points, 2 blocked shots) knocked down two free throws to give Duke an 85-84 lead with 1:12 to go, then made a steal with 11 seconds left and sank two more free throws to seal the win.
The Gators held the edge on the boards for much of the contest, but Duke was tough on the glass during their 8-0 run to end the game. They ended up holding a 43-36 rebound advantage when the dust cleared.
Two key factors played a role for Duke. Firstly, going 19-20 from the free throw stripe was their best showing of the season in that department. Secondly, Duke was hot from beyond the three-point stripe hitting 10 of 23 attempts.
Duke also shared the ball well with 20 team assists. More importantly, they remained poised even when they were not playing well. When you have a knack for continually chipping away at teams, good things will happen.
The Blue Devils celebrated the victory at mid court where Phil Knight awarded them their trophy. The Duke team is likely heading for their flight as I type and will arrive in Durham mind morning.
Duke will soon have played 9 games in 20 days during a brutal scheduling stretch. They will go to class on Tuesday afternoon before heading to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the Hoosiers in a game that tips off this Wednesday on ESPN at 9:40.
With tonight's win, Duke moves to an impressive 8-0 on the season and will remain the nation's top ranked team. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to build on his record as having coached the most games as the top ranked team in the land.
All in all, it was a great learning experience for a young team as they played three game opponents and varying styles of play in four days. Duke is far from a perfect team but they are certainly a special team which has plenty of upside moving forward.