3. Overrated shooters
At this point, it’s probably too late to correct most shooting woes with extra reps. No, the Duke basketball coaches should have fixed their players’ inconsistencies at the charity stripe — a 10-for-22 clip at NC State dropped their season accuracy to 69.2 percent, ranking No. 224 in the nation — either way back in October or back on the recruiting trail.
At this point, the same is true for shooting from beyond the arc. Though the team’s 3-point percentage is 35.1, a marked improvement from the 30.8 last season, and several Blue Devils often look sharper from deep than expected, that mark only sits at No. 85 in the country.
Plus, consider that shooting percentage is lower than that of every Duke basketball team in history other than last year’s bricklayers and the 2008-09 squad (34.9 percent). Yes, the distance is longer than ever before, but the result of a miss is still the same: zero points.
The problem, however, unlike last year, is not the number of total attempts. No, the problem is that the mediocre-at-best shooters, who find a false sense of confidence by displaying prolific shooting nights from time to time, are attempting more than a mediocre share of Duke’s 3-point attempts.
Simply put, the fact that Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire led Duke in 3-point attempts against NC State makes little to no sense, no matter how hot they’ve been of late. As a team, the Blue Devils finished 4-for-17 from long distance.
Jones, who has knocked down only 32.9 percent from downtown for the season, is second on the team in attempts per game. Freshman forward Matthew Hurt is rightly No. 1 at 3.7 attempts per game, though by only 0.2 over Jones despite the fact he is finding the bottom of the net an impressive 41.1 percent of the time.
And it’s now too late in this article to bring back up the undeserved lack of respect for sophomore wing Joey Baker, who once again had no choice but to watch most of the no-show Duke performance at NC State from the bench — despite the fact that he is the most consistent energy booster on the squad and is hitting 41.8 percent of his mere 2.8 attempts per game from deep.
Meanwhile, junior guard Alex O’Connell, who has hit a dismal 27.1 percent of his 3-point attempts this season, was on the court a dumbfounding 20 minutes, accounting for all of two points, zero assists, zero rebounds, zero steals, zero blocks, and two turnovers.
OK, it’s too late to change the past (besides, 22-4 is not too shabby, so it’s not like much other than the game in Raleigh would call for a change in the first place). But it’s never too late to learn from an embarrassment, refrain from resting on laurels, and thereby trade in future humble pies for a sweeter option that doesn’t end ’til April.