The Duke Blue Devils played their best forty minutes of basketball this season. The result was an impressive 74-52 ACC win over Virginia Tech. The win sets up a situation where the (9-4 ACC, 21-5 overall) Blue Devils can move into second place with a win at Clemson this weekend.
Duke played zone the entire contest and more importantly they talked to one another on the defensive end. "We stress talk. The system we try to teach is offense, defense and communication. But defensively, especially in zone, when you are talking you will be wider," said Krzyzewski.
The Duke coach also acknowledged it was his teams best defensive game of the season. The Blue Devils helped themselves after a half time adjustment where the Hokies had nine turnovers after just one at the break.
Grayson Allen led Duke with 25 points and was the kind of leader the staff envisioned for Duke tonight. "He's our leader. We've had him off the ball a lot, so he has tried to lead from there but the ball is not in his hands. With the ball in his hands he can make plays and call plays and is in more command, said Krzyzewski.
You can expect the strategy of Allen having the ball in his hands more to continue for Krzyzewski acknowledged it has helped the team in their last two outings.
All of the Duke players Blue Devil Nation spoke with after the game said this was their best 40 minute effort of the season. And all of them had things to say about their communication in a zone defense that held a potent Hokies team to just 52 points.
Gary Trent Jr. added 19 points for Duke. He was joined by Revon Duval (10 points) and Wendell Carter Jr. (13 points and 13 rebounds) as double figure scorers.
Duke started Marques Bolden (2 blocked shots) in the first half but opted for Javin DeLaurier in the second half. DeLarurier played with energy and went 3 for 3 from the field and was on the end of some outstanding passes. Those scores helped Duke gain continued energy in their victory.
The Blue Devils also scored 18 second chance points and tallied seven steals in the game to just one for the Hokies. Duke held a monster advantage on the boards with a 36-19 advantage despite their leading scorer and rebounder in Marvin Bagley III being sidelined with an injury.
Duke can take over sole possession of 2nd place in the ACC with a win at Clemson this Sunday. That game tips off at 1:00 and will be televised by the ACC Network.
The Duke Blue Devils travel to Wake Forest this evening in a game that will tip-off at 9:00 and be televised on the ACC Network. The Demon Deacons are struggling, but as anyone knows strange things can happen when you are on the road in the modern-day Atlantic Coast Conference.
It has been quite a week for the Duke program. The team is playing better defensively and the roles of the starters are being defined in a better way. And there is no avoiding the verbal commitment from Zion Williamson which gives Duke the top class next year.
In a sense, it is hard not to get involved in the excitement and be caught looking ahead. Virginia will visit Cameron Indoor Stadium this weekend in the best match up of the week. And there will be a lot of hype for the #2 and #4 teams in the nation squaring off.
But first things, first for the Duke Basketball program. The team finds itself poised to make a move up the ACC standing ladder but only if it takes care of business. And that business starts with a difficult starting time against a Wake Forest team which will play loose with nothing to lose.
On paper, Duke should win the game. Gary Trent Jr. was recently named ACC Player of the Week. He is turning the corner as a player. the same can be said for Wendell Carter Jr. who seems more comfortable in his role. And then there is Marvin Bagley III who is quite simply the leagues best player.
Add to that group, Trevon Duval who leads the conference in assists and the leadership of Grayson Allen and you see why Duke is a 9 point favorite. But these guys are young and one of the next things they must prove is their ability to handle their business when they need too.
Duke has been fortunate enough to have two games with cellar dweller Pitt of late. Those games provided the team a chance to work on many things, including their man to man defense. But the Deacons, even with just 8 wins on the season is a much more talented team.
Wake Forest will come to play. That Harlely Davidson will rev up before the contest and this is their biggest game of the year at home. Duke will certainly have some fans in the stands, but this is the game for the Deacon faithful and they always play Duke tough in Winston Salem.
You can expect Duke to play its bench in this game as well. But the two points they got from the backups in the last outing won't cut it moving forward. So, the next step is developing some sort of consistency from this cast of players.
So, what we are watching for tonight is whether a young team which is favored on the road at the end of January can focus on the job at hand. And that will be a task having mentioned possible distractions. And while we are speaking to distractions, Duke must turn around and play Notre Dame the Monday after the showdown with Virginia.
Duke has a golden opportunity to get back into the regular season race by a week from today. The three conference games coming up will show us a lot about this teams meddle. So, in that sense, an interesting seven-day stretch starts tonight.
The Blue Devils are also starting to position themselves for a possible bye in the fast approaching NCAA Tournament. But before we look too far ahead, first things, first for this team. Make no mistake if the Blue Devils want to win the regular season crown, business is at hand.
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.
Always check back for new 10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball. And take advantage of our special on Blue Devil Nation Premium where we double your membership through the month of January. Get two years for the price of one or one year for the price of six months.
After an unseasonably warm couple of days, the weather turned cooler on the day of the Duke-Wake Forest game. Walking up to Cameron Indoor Stadium one could see tent city in full bloom. The students were back in force to cheer on their beloved Blue Devils who sought to get back in the thick of the ACC race with a win.
But things were far from normal on this day. About an hour before tip-off, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski decided not to coach in the game. He had just come down with a stomach virus and he did not want to make his players sick, especially with a trip to Miami on the horizon where Duke has to take on the Hurricanes in just over a day away.
Add Gary Trent Jr. to the list of sick players as well. Trent hovered over a trash can on the bench but would play in the game. Duke was also without the services of Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden, but the team did not give in to the pressure. Instead, they rose to the occasion and came away with an 89-71 win over Wake Forest.
Duke Associate Assistant Coach Jeff Capel took the reigns in Krzyzewski's absence. And Capel looked more than a little comfortable taking over the role with short notice. After all, this is not his first rodeo.
Capel substituted enough to keep the players fresh in the game. The involvement seems to have helped Duke in wins over Pitt and Wake Forest which has pushed the team's record to 3-2 in the ACC and 15-2 overall.
Of course, it is nice when Capel has Marvin Bagley III (30 points, 11 rebounds) on the floor. Bagley threw down some emphatic dunks on his way to his 14th double-double of the season which ties the Duke record for a freshman.
Bagley also has 4 steals. And, of course, some of those led to crushing dunks. Some of the students were donning his face on their shirts which his Dad had made.
Wendell Carter Jr. (15 points, 11 rebounds) chipped in with a double-double as well. The duo were also beasts on the glass and altered many Wake Forest shots over the course of the game.
Grayson Allen continues to struggle with his shot. But he earned the praise of Coach Capel in that while only scoring 2 points he led the team in rebounding with 12 and assists, dishing 8 dimes.
Despite being really sick, Trent Jr. nailed three consecutive three-point shots and played another good overall floor game. Capel praised his toughness where he tallied 19 points.
Duke played a zone for much of the game and they were active in it when doing so. The Blue Devils held a good Wake offense down when Capel went back to it in the 2nd half, after they cut into the Duke lead and closed to within 13.
Due to the closeness of the two games, the staff will not be able to go on the road and watch some key prospects in the Hall of Fame Classic. It is unknown when Krzyzewski and player Bolden and DeLaurier will return.
Well, Duke got a much-needed road win over Pitt last evening. Here are my 10 random thoughts on Duke Basketball going into the next game.
Put the win to bed quickly, get to bed quickly
The Blue Devils impressive ACC road win over Pitt 87-52 cured many ills. I will take a look back as my random thoughts progress, but the most important thing for Duke to do is put this game to bed. Duke needs all the rest they can get before Saturdays high noon game with Wake Forest. And just mere hours later, they will board a flight for Miami in a critical road match up.
That is why Duke played their depth
Come on. You know it was fun to see Justin Robinson knocking down three pointers on his way to a career high. Duke got major minutes from its bench players last evening and it was by design. With games coming at a fast and furious pace, the Blue Devils need to rest their iron men starting rotation. With injuries to Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier, Duke was able to steal some minutes and develop its bench against an even younger than they are Pitt team. Those minutes will improve team camaraderie via involvement. The team will benefit from strategic resting of players legs in certain games in the long haul.
Double-doubles are the norm for Bagley III
How ridiculously spoiled we are for now expecting a double-double from Marvin Bagley III each time out. Last night he scored 16 points and pulled down 15 rebounds and he happens to lead the league in scoring and rebounding. If you are counting, that was his 13th double-double which puts him one game shy of the record held by Jabari Parker and Gene Banks. This young man is special.
Speaking of Jabari Parker
If you follow my Blue Devil Nation twitter feed, you saw where I retweeted video of former Duke player Jabari Parker moving well in the pre game for the Milwaukee Bucks. Parker is expected to return to the Bucks before the NBA All Star Break. Parker underwent his ACL surgery on Feb. 14, 2017, after tearing that ligament — for the second time in his career.
Staying on the NBA for a moment
How cool is it to see so many Mike Krzyzewski era Duke Blue Devils playing key roles in the league? I must admit to being a bit of a Boston Celtics fan now that Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum are both starting and tearing it up. But I like following Brandon Ingram and all the rest as well. Back to my twitter feed, you can vote Blue Devils into All Star game considerations with retweets. So, get at it!
Six double figure scorers
With every starter hitting double figure scoring and JRob's points off the bench -- Duke had six players in double figures for the first time this season.
I want to talk about Gary Trent Jr.
A shooter has to keep shooting even when their shot is off. But there have been some games this season when Trent Jr. IMHO, may have taken too many shots. We saw the best of Trent Jr. last evening where he allowed the game to come to him while getting other teammates involved. He looked for his teammates first and that led to his career high in assists. Trent then scored at will down the stretch after finding a balance or comfort zone. And do not overlook his 2 of the 11 Duke steals. He is a good defender capable of getting even better.
Don't overlook the positives
There has been a lot of talk about the Duke defense and for good reason. Until last evening and in select other games they have not been very good in that area. But don't overlook the positives with this team. Duke leads the nation in scoring at 93.5 ppg. Duke is 2nd in the nation in rebounding and close to the top in scoring margin of win.
And then there is Trevon Duval
It's Du-val. Think Val Kilmer. While many are figuring out how to pronounce his last name, Duval is quietly leading the ACC in assists. What burning minds want to know is if that 3 of 5 from the three-point line was a mirage. If he hits that shot at a 40% clip, his game would go through the roof. Of course, he was just over 16% going into last evenings win over Pitt.
And then there is Wake the snake
Will Duke allow for Wake Forest to slither into this game and challenge them in Cameron at high noon this Saturday? Wake had a six game winning streak after a slow start to the season and they took UNC down to the wire in Chapel Hill. They most recently lost to a good Virginia Tech team at home. Hidden in the stat line from that game is the fact they outrebounded their opponent by ten and connected on nine three-point shots. You cannot overlook them, but Duke certainly needs to come away from this game with a win. And then go to bed. Back to random thought number one here... Duke will fly all the way down south to Miami and be hit by the body shock of its warmer weather. The team will have about 50 hours in between the end of the Wake post game meal and their next opponent.
Stay tuned for the next 10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball coming next Tuesday after the game with Miami. One more thing, we are still doubling the time of premium memberships through January. You can get two years for the price of one or a full year for the six month price. Help support BlueDevilNation.Net by joining at this discounted rate --
The Duke Blue Devils rebounded from an upset loss at N.C. State for a convincing 87-52 win over Pitt on Wednesday evening. In the process, the Blue Devils push their season record to 14-2 overall and 2-2 in the ACC.
After letting up over 90 ppg in their first three ACC games, Duke held Pitt to 52 points which included 11 team steals and 15 forced turnovers. It was the Blue Devils best defensive effort since a win over Evansville in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
All six Duke starters would end the game with double figure scoring. Duke was one again led by Marvin Bagley III who tallied yet another double-double. The National Player of the Year candidate scored 16 points to go with 15 rebounds.
Trevon Duval added 14 points and had just a single turnover after committing a season high 8 in his last outing. Duval was also 3 of 5 from beyond the three-point stripe despite shooting just 16% for the season coming into the game.
Duke was also aided by Gary Trent Jr. scoring 14 points, most of those coming late in the game where he scored 9 straight points in one stretch. It was perhaps his best overall floor game of late in that he led the Blue Devils with 5 assists to go with 2 steals.
Grayson Allen would add 12 and Wendell Carter Jr. 10 for Duke. Justin Robinson was also in double figures with a career high 10 points including three from beyond the 3 point stripe.
Duke had 22 points off the bench despite missing Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier who are out with injuries. Alex O'Connell added 8 points while Jordan Goldwire and Antonio Vrankovic had 2 each.
"Our bench was really good. They all gave good minutes and kept us going in the first half," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Jack White also played and while he did not score, he had 2 key rebounds and 2 steals. In fact, Duke had 11 steals as a team. In short, Duke got production from everyone who played.
Duke also dished out 21 assists as a team and scored 30 points off turnovers. The Blue Devils also protected the ball with just 6 turnovers while forcing 15.
Pitt cut the lead to 17 in the 2nd half, but after a timeout, it took the Panthers over 8 eight minutes to score another field goal. Whatever Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said, allowed his team to close strong.
One thing he did was play zone knowing Duke was tired where their big men were taxed having to do more due to injured players. Duke was very efficient from that point on.
"We have been practicing hard and played while we practiced. We are trying to play good defense and played good zone in the last ten minutes," said Krzyzewski after the game.
Duke will take on Wake Forest in Cameron Indoor Stadium in their next game. That contest will tip-off at 12:00 noon. "We have to hope our fans are ready for when we play Wake Forest," said Krzyzewski.