KIH: In your eyes what is the biggest reason for Duke’s recent home losses?
BDB: The Blue Devils have recently seemed to be playing without hardly any direction and toughness at home. But, I think the biggest reason the Dukies have recently lost at Cameron is that they still haven’t established a strong defensive front, and that plays into the fact that they are playing with little direction and toughness. In the game against Miami, Reggie Johnson was absolutely destroying Duke’s defense in the paint. It was like watching Shaquille O’Neal dominate the boards like he did back in his prime.
KIH: Given Duke’s recent struggles, how far can you see this team going this season?
BDB: The Dukies are definitely going to make the NCAA Tournament, and they are not going anywhere outside of the AP Top 25. But, with the way they are playing now, it’s going to be tough to go far in the tournament, though they have the talent and potential to do so.
KIH: Outline for Carolina fans Duke’s biggest weakness and biggest strength
BDB: Once again, Duke’s biggest weakness is their defense. It has the potential, but it’s not there yet. The defense has just looked lost the past few games, with a couple of exceptions here or there. But, for the most part, it still has a ton of room for improvement.
Their biggest strength is their offensive talent. Many of the guys can shoot very well, like Austin Rivers, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Quinn Cook, Ryan Kelly, et cetera. Plus, the Blue Devils also have the Plumlee brothers on the inside who are honestly true athletes and basketball players. Mason Plumlee is a pretty big threat on both ends of the floor.
KIH: What does Duke have to do to beat Carolina at the Dean Smith Center Wednesday night?
BDB: They have to do a quite a few things. First off, they have to contain Kendall Marshall and not allow him to dish the ball inside all the time, which is he is well known for. Other things that Duke has to do include out-rebounding UNC and limiting their second-chance points, playing aggressively, attacking offensively, and also having great shooting performances from the Blue Devil guards.
KIH: Breaking down the match ups. I don’t see how Duke is going to be able to hang with the size of the Tar Heels, especially on the perimeter. How has Duke made up for this weakness in past games this season that could help them against the Heels?
BDB: They have been able to start out games on hot shooting streaks and then continue to maintain their leads until the final buzzer sounds. Duke has always been known to have excellent shooting. And if they can start out of the gate with high-percentage shots and a few three-balls, they can have this game within reach. As long as they get a lot of open looks which lead to great outside shots, Duke shouldn’t worry about UNC’s perimeter size.