Mike Krzyzewski has no choice but to shorten Duke basketball rotation

Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The deep bench of the Duke basketball team was a major strength early in the season, but it has now turned into a weakness and Mike Krzyzewski has no choice but to shorten his rotations.

Tuesday night was the culmination of a troubling trend over the past few weeks for the Duke basketball team.

Duke’s bench was once seen as a strength and Mike Krzyzewski would sometimes play as many as ten players before the second media timeout of the game.

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That has since been dwindled down to nine players after Wendell Moore broke his hand back on January 4, but one would think the anticipated return of the freshman would revert Krzyzewski to transition back to his previous rotations, but just the opposite may be true.

Coach K played just about six players against Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. His starters were Tre Jones, Jordan Goldwire, Cassius Stanley, Matthew Hurt, and Vernon Carey.

Jack White played 23 minutes coming off the bench, but the rest of the reserves, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier, and Joey Baker played a combined 15 minutes.

The question still remains if Moore will play on Saturday night against Syracuse, but when the freshman wing returns, Mike Krzyzewski will have no choice but to shorten his rotations due to the lack of production of his bench players.

Alex O’Connell has all the potential in the world, but he has been inconsistent on offense, to put it nicely, and his defensive awareness is virtually nonexistent. Once Moore is back in the rotation, it’s easy to see O’Connell out of the lineup due to his poor play over the past month or so.

Javin DeLaurier has his moments, specifically in the wins over Georgia Tech and Michigan State, but once again it’s the consistency issue, however, the senior captain will still receive minimum minutes to give Vernon Carey Jr. a breather, unless Krzyzewski opts to roll with a small lineup of Jack White at center.

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Joey Baker will still get minutes when Duke has ten healthy scholarship players but the amount of time he receives will depend on his scoring outburst. Like any shooter, Baker is hot and cold, but he’s already proven that he can take, and make, big shots in tough environments.

Pending the return of Wendell Moore, Mike Krzyzewski will have some interesting decisions to make in divvying up 40 minutes over ten players, but the recent play of his bench is making all the decisions for him.

If nothing improves, expect the Blue Devils to enter March with a seven or eight man rotation.

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