Thanks to Georgia Tech, Duke fans were finally allowed to return to earth after filling their heads with National Championship thoughts. The loss to the Jackets in a sense was a reality check. One that just confirms that right now this teams is just like the last couple of Blue Devils’ teams…if the outside shots don’t fall, Duke doesn’t win. The key words in that last sentence though was “right now.”
Implying that this team is the same as last year’s team “right now” means that in the future, this team can get better. It can improve. So after a stupid loss to Georgia Tech, will this team improve. Obviously one home game against an average-at-best Boston College team isn’t going to tell us much, but that doesn’t mean we won’t try to find something meaningful.
– First and foremost, the thing I keep watching is the playing time, particularly of two of the freshman (Dawkins and Mason Plumlee). While Duke’s success ultimately lands at the feet of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, the three guys who will need to have some impact are Dawkins and the two Plumlee brothers, simply because Duke cannot compete for the title playing a three-man offense. These guys need to play, they need to produce points.
The one thing I’ve been happy about the last two games (even though we lost one) is the simply fact that the Plumlee’s and Dawkins are getting plenty of playing time. This is important. They are young and they need to grow up this season and they can’t get that sitting on the pine. It appears Coach K gets that and he’s getting them their minutes.
Now some may argue that Dawkins isn’t producing. He was 0-3 against BC and is just 6-24 in his last seven games. He’s 3-18 from three in those same seven games and hasn’t hit a three in his last four. Let me just make it clear. I don’t care. I simply don’t care. This is part of the learning curve. I’d rather lose a game or two now and have Dawkins mature and get better throughout the year, than have him sitting on the bench for 38 minutes come tournament time. Keep shooting them kid, they’ll start falling again.
The Plumlee brothers are starting to get consistent time on the floor. In fact, they get about 20 minutes each, the same as Thomas and Zoubek. While both are still learning how to “finish” plays, if you’ve been paying attention, you’re starting to see the potential these two bring to the table. Miles is slowly becoming a monster underneath, learning how to take up space. Most of his points still come from put backs, but once or twice a game, he shows up a decent back-to-basket game. He just needs to finish it.
Mason Plumlee is going to be a great player for Duke. No doubt. He has the skill set and the mind set to do a lot. However, like I already said, it’s bout finishing for him. It’s one thing to make a brilliant move to get to the basket. It’s another thing to make sure you put up a smart shot.
The main issues the brothers continue to struggle in is at the defensive end. It’s not that they can’t handle a big man one-on-one, it’s been more about missing assignments, missing the switches and getting to a spot late. They continue to pick up way too many fouls and so many of those fouls are just stupid mistakes (i.e. Mason trying to rip the ball out of Southern’s hands in the BC game).
Of course all season long I’ve been talking about the rotation of keeping one senior (Zoubek/Thomas) in with one Plumlee. Right now, Duke starts with Thomas and Miles, while Zoubek and Mason play together. It’s quite simple…Zoubek and Thomas have ZERO offensive skills, but both are solid defenders (while Zoubek is a monster on the offensive board, which is sort like playing defense). Meanwhile, the Plumlee’s can be a liability on the defensive end, but on the offensive end, they make Duke a five-man team again.
The best line ups are one senior and one Plumlee is in the lineup, yet in the BC game, Coach K got away from this, especially in the first half. Guess what…it showed. Duke’s first-half defense was horrible. 30 of BC’s 35 first half points were in the paint and so much of it had to do with failure to properly rotate.
– Of course all this talk about the big men and we have to mention that Duke owned the boards against BC, out-rebounding by 15 the second best rebounding team in the ACC (40-25).
– What the hell happened to Duke’s outside shot? Against BC, the Devils shot 1-12 from three. The past two games they have shot a pathetic 7-40. That’s not even 18%. Better now than in March, but come on guys, unacceptable.
– Good to see Kyle have nice game, hitting 5-9 from the floor, although 0-2 from the outside. Still waiting for his breakout game. His sho0ting percentage is still at an unacceptable 41%, while his three-point average has dipped to 33%. Both would be career lows for him if this pace keeps up.
In reality, that’s all I got to say. Again, it was a home win, against an average team. Overall though, it looks like it’s going to be a crazy year in the ACC. Did anyone else see the Clemson beat down of North Carolina?
Listen, it’s not shocking that Carolina has five loses. They’ve played a tough schedule, but they have really fallen behind a lot this season. How many times have they trailed by 20 or more this year? I don’t have an answer, but it seems like a lot.