Duke basketball: A Blue Devil is red hot and needs to stay that way

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball guard Jeremy Roach (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Jeremy Roach steps up for Duke basketball

The extremely insightful, hard-hitting answer after deep-diving for days into Jeremy Roach, Duke basketball player, is…DUN-DUN-DUN…not much.

I know. It was a bit of a letdown for me too.

Jeremy Roach’s assists to turnovers for Duke basketball’s last four games is 29 to 4. In his previous five games, it was only 12 to 5. His usage rate is only 3.6 percentage points higher, and he has played an average of five minutes more during his hot streak, but he hasn’t shot the ball any better and has been mired in a shooting slump the entire season.

He has hit some timely buckets, both on spot-up threes and his drives to the basket. And most importantly, he hasn’t shot the Blue Devils out of any games as he seems to be realizing the limitations of his game at present and shifting his focus to other areas accordingly.

Sometimes, things can really be that simple as intimated by both the coaching staff and the player himself. Chris Carrawell recently expounded on that subject to ACC media:

“You’ve got to understand, when Jeremy came in, he was a scorer…Now, you’re going to have to adjust when you get to this level. You’re playing with guys that can put the ball in the basket. So now, being a guard, the best way to get guys involved is to get them involved. You have to sacrifice not looking for your shot as much, and it’s looked like he’s mastered it, so to speak, these last three games.”

And after a recent contest, Roach spoke about when his shots aren’t finding the bottom of the net: “…so find other guys and hit them. Let them knock them down with confidence.” That’s what this Duke basketball team really needs as well. A full-time facilitator has plenty of options with these Blue Devils, especially with AJ Griffin’s emergence and ability to stroke it from deep, Joey Baker’s steady play, Paolo Banchero’s continued dominance, and Mark Williams’ range around the basket on put-backs and lobs.

This also gives Keels the opportunity to ease back in without having the responsibility to set up others while focusing on scoring and on-ball defense, his two most important contributions for this team.

Plus, it seems that Wendell Moore has taken the slightest bit of a step back offensively compared to his stellar play before COVID shut the Blue Devils down for two weeks. Running some designed plays for him coming off ball screens or down in the post may get his scoring back up again, and where the Blue Devils want it to be for a run at some post-season hardware.

Roach has proven to be an able setter to Duke basketball’s table of bounty, and it just eases responsibilities on other players when he can do it so well.

He is the most effective at getting into the paint, although he sometimes gets too deep without an outlet. He seems to have changed that in these last few games, and off of drives, he can be one of Duke’s most effective players breaking down the defense and kicking it out to open shooters.

Also, the simple act of putting the ball in Roach’s hands to bring up the floor and start sets allows him to take confidence from the familiarity he has with the role that he occupied much of last season and during his high school career. He is also Duke’s best at passing into the post, which has obvious benefits for these Blue Devils considering their imposing physical make-up and size.

Although Roach is finding where he fits on the offensive end, he still needs to improve defensively. He has the worst defensive rating on the team outside of Stanley Borden — one minute played — and hasn’t recorded a steal in seven out of the last eight games. Still, he is progressing along the right track. And his contributions aren’t going unappreciated or unnoticed, as Mike Krzyzewski said to the media after a recent win:

“I’m proud of him because he didn’t shoot well, but it didn’t affect his…passing. That’s a sign of a really good player. We need him to keep doing it.”

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