Enough. No more. Nada.
No more talk about being a title contender. No more talk about “earning” a No 1 seed in the tournament. Hell, right now I don’t want to hear another word about an ACC championship. Until this Blue Devils team can actually win a true road game, you and I cannot talk about any of those things. All I see is a team that can win at home and until the NCAA allows Duke to play all their NCAA tournament games in Cameron, I’m not impressed by this team.
Like other defeats Duke has tasted this season, they reverted back to making the same stupid mistakes and again, turning themselves in a three-man team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to take anything from NC State. They were on tonight. They had a game plan and they performed. The Devils were outplayed, out-hustled and out-coached.
So what did I see?
Duke had ZERO answers for Tracy Smith. The man shot 10-12 from the floor. He scored 23 points and probably should have scored much more if not for a couple of long stretches where the ball never came inside. Coach K obviously made the decision to guard him one-on-one, ignoring the double-team for most of the game. It failed.
Smith made his first six shots, abusing Duke’s big men with NBA-like moves. In the second, Duke did some doubling and played some zone and that slowed him down some, but in reality, Smith showed that if he’s not the best big man in the ACC, he’s damn near close.
Speaking of defense, Duke must have left their D in Durham. NC State shot an astonishing 58.2% from the floor. How does that happen? Duke gave up 27 more points than their season average of 61ppg.
When things get tough, Duke turns into a three-man team. Look at this stat line…Smith, Scheyer and Singler took 46 of Duke’s 57 shots. Stunning. It’s one thing if you’re hitting those shots, but the three of them were only 18-46. Singler and Scheyer in particular were bad tonight on the offensive end.
Singler’s struggles continued. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of writing that sentence. He again missed some open threes (he was 0-3 on the night) and finished hitting only 6-16. The only reason he led the team in scoring was his 10-12 free throw shooting.
Tonight, Scheyer looked like a underclassmen. His defense was weak and the ACC’s assist/turnover leader had only one assist. Of course, it’s been a rough week as Scheyer appears to be in a mini-slump. Over his last three games, he’s only hit 12-39 (that’s 31%). He was 5-16 tonight and took some God awful shots, throwing up odd shots in the middle of the lane.
Nolan Smith was the only player who decided to show up in Raleigh. He scored 18 on 7-14 shooting.
The Plumlee’s came up small tonight. After both Plumlee brothers had career nights at home against Wake Forest, they disappeared against NC State. They took only four shots (hitting one), but in reality, they weren’t on the floor much. Miles got abused by Tracy Smith early and Mason struggled with the switch offs and rotation.
Tonight, Thomas and Zoubek were the better big men. They combined to score 11 and they did grab a solid 21 rebounds, but let’s just be honest here. Duke will not have a long tournament run if we have to give the majority of playing time to these two guys. Don’t get me wrong, they got the heart, they got the smart and they do a pretty damn good job on the boards and on the defensive end. The problem is, teams know they’re not an offensive threat and this is when Duke becomes a three-man team.
It has become simple…if Duke was to be really successful, they need to Plumlee’s to be on the court. However, for Mason and Miles to be on the court, they have to play defense better. It’s a ton to ask for. Mason is a true freshman and Miles sat most of his freshman years.The question is, is it too much to ask for?
In reality, you could make the same argument for Andrea Dawkins. He took zero shots tonight. If he’s not going to score…if he’s not even going to attempt to score, then Coach has no reason to have him on the floor. You’re a great shooter, Dawkins, so shoot the ball. If it doesn’t go in, don’t sweat it. It will eventually.
The strange part about tonight was, Duke actually still had a shot late. Despite shooting 20 points worse than NC State, handing off 10 less assists and turning the ball over 14 times, Duke actually had a shot to win it. If Gonzalez doesn’t hit that prayer of a three-point shot with three to play (assuming Duke grabs the board), the Devils have the ball with a chance to cut the lead down to six or even five.
The big reason was the boards. Besides Nolan’s play, the rebounding was the only other positive. Duke out-rebounded State by 15, including a 16-5 offensive rebounding edge. Of course I guess you could argue that there simply were more offensive rebound opportunities because Duke shot 38.6% from the floor.
Is it me or is storming the court getting old. I understand, the Wolfpack haven’t been to the tournament in a while. They haven’t beaten Duke in a while either, but does a 13-win team vying for a tournament spot really need to storm the court? I guess the answer is yes, but we need to come up with some ground rules for when it is appropriate. Every team outside of Chapel Hill who beats Duke storms the court.
There’s really only one thing to talk about…the Devils are not road warriors. After tonight’s defeat and just days away from an even tougher road game, the talk will be of Duke’s 0-3 record on the road. The critics will say, Duke doesn’t schedule enough road games out of conference, thus the team is not prepared come ACC time. You know what, those critics might be on to something.
Right now, home Duke looks completely different than road Duke. Maybe someone smarter than me can explain it to me, because I certainly don’t have a clue. All I do know is, in each road loss, the Devils have actually looked worse each time.
Hopefully, they’ll figure it out soon. They head into a brutal one against Clemson, looking for a little revenge after a 21-point loss in Durham. A week later, they head up to DC to face a top-10 worthy Georgetown team. A week later, they head up to BC and right now, I’ll be honest, I see no reason to think we can handle the Eagles in Boston. After that of course is a big one against North Carolina. Yeah, they’re struggling, but when Duke/NC play, the records don’t matter.
One final word…I don’t know if it my cable (Time Warner) or Raycom Sports, but quality of the broadcast is a joke here in New York. When Raycom does a game, I won’t even watch it on my beautiful 47-inch flat screen. It looks too bad. I have to watch it on my smaller TV. I can’t believe I can get better quality video on my phone than on a Raycom broadcast.