Duke basketball: Improvements still needed following victory

Duke basketball forward Mark Mitchell (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Mark Mitchell (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball team took down a gritty Ohio State team in the latest edition of the ACC vs. Big10 Challenge.

It’s quite clear that the Duke basketball defense is ahead of the offense as the No. 17 Blue Devils (7-2) continue to struggle shooting the ball and finding their rhythm offensively despite its 81-72 victory over No. 25 Ohio State (5-2) on Tuesday night in Durham.

Jon Scheyer’s team still needs to identify their preferred lineup and optimal rotations and this obviously has not happened yet which is affecting their offensive rhythm, as to be expected.

If there are two major surprises through nine games it is how consistent and dominant Kyle Filipowski has been and how much more Duke is going to need from Jeremy Roach.

However, Duke’s guards need to do a better job of turning the corner and attacking the big man on the hard hedges.

The guards are too passive which makes them, and their offense, one dimensional and easy to defend.

This is where the lineup comes into play because Ohio State was hard hedging on ball screens as the bottom guard has to tag the roller which creates an opportunity to put their defense in a tough spot with a shooter in the corner.

Ohio State would have to decide what to take away, the roller or guarding the 3-pointer, but Duke continued to put non-shooters in that corner.

The one time they did make a triple in the game, it was a Mark Mitchell in the corner due to the help.

Additionally, the Blue Devils are catching passes on the wing are entirely too far out from the basket.

The guards need to be tougher and catch the ball closer to the 3-point line since they are getting pushed too far out making it hard for them to be a threat on the catch.

Another confusing offensive tactic I have seen is the guard-to-guard screens at the top of the key. It’s a clear and easy switch for defenses and it doesn’t then lead to any other action.

Duke basketball defense continues stout start

Defensively, Duke had a decent performance against a tough traditional Big 10 team.

Ohio State did a great job sealing off Duke’s big men on drives and not allowing them to help or block shots.

The victory will provide great film for the Blue Devils to learn from as it has hurt them throughout the game.

Duke’s forwards will have to work on getting separation from its opponents on drives in order to have the ability to provide help defense and alter shots near the rim.

Five made 3-pointers seems to be the magic number for a Blue Devil win as in all seven victories thus far this year Duke has hit at least five triples.

However, Duke will not always face a team that only makes three 3-pointers like Ohio State did on Tuesday night.

Duke must shoot better if they want to be a formidable threat in March.

The schedule has two more challenges ahead as Boston College (5-3) comes to Durham on Saturday followed by a trip to New York City on Tuesday to play a dangerous Iowa (6-1) team in the Jimmy V Classic inside Madison Square Garden.