Duke Basketball: Blue Devils Still Need Improvement As They Look At Deep Run

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 15: (L-R) Trevon Duval
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 15: (L-R) Trevon Duval /

The Duke Blue Devils secured their spot in the round of 32 with an 89-67 win over Iona on Thursday afternoon. The outcome was never in doubt and there was a lot to take with a grain of salt with the game being against Iona but there some things that need to be cleaned up if Duke hopes to make a deep run in the tournament.

In their wins, Duke has done a good job of masking their deficiencies. In the first half against Iona, even with shooting the lights out, the Gaels still kept it relatively close. Then the Blue Devils pulled away due to the sheer size and talent gap between the two teams. The aspects that still need work have been talked about at length all year but still need work as we get deeper into March.

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-Getting back on defense requires absolutely no talent or basketball skill and for some reason Duke does a terrible job at it. On misses, Iona was pushing the ball down the floor and while they weren’t scoring as much as they should have, they were still showing that you can push the ball on the Blue Devils. Better teams will exploit that even more and take full advantage of it.

-Who is going to give productive minutes off the bench? Marques Bolden has done a great job at being a sixth man when Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter need breaks but there isn’t anyone else Coach K can put in that will give the team some scoring. In the second half against North Carolina in the ACC tournament, when Duke couldn’t buy a bucket, Javin Delaurier was on the floor. In no situation should he be on the floor when Duke needs a bucket. If Grayson Allen and Gary Trent aren’t on the floor with him, he shouldn’t be playing. He’s a great hustle guy but he offers no offense outside of put backs and offensive rebounds.

-What happens when Duke doesn’t shoot 43% from three? I’m hoping that Thursdays game was just a taste of what will happen in March. Maybe the Blue Devils are picking the right time to get hot. When Duke isn’t shooting well, they look to Bagley and Carter for easy buckets. Teams have figured out how to stop that. They double Bagley and they defend the high low that works so well with the two big men. Trevon Duval isn’t shooting 4-5 from three again. I hope I’m wrong but Duke is going to have to figure something out on offense that doesn’t revolve around passing the ball around the arc and stalling.

I might just be overreacting and it might just be that I’m terrified of another early exit for the Blue Devils. All of this might just be nitpicking for a team that has finally put it together at the right time. However, they’re issues that have been there all season and they need to at least show some improvement.