Duke basketball lacking alpha is one of biggest issues

Duke basketball forward Dariq Whitehead (Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Dariq Whitehead (Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball team is lacking an alpha on the offensive side of the ball. 

Wednesday night was the worst performance the Duke basketball in recent memory and one of its issues became abundantly clear.

North Carolina State jumped out to a 20-2 run on the No. 16 Blue Devils en route to its 84-60 demolition.

Duke could never stop the bleeding in the opening ten minutes of the game no matter who head coach Jon Scheyer put on the floor, which creates a completely different problem that this team does not have an alpha on the offensive side of the ball.

There is no Paolo Banchero, Jayson Tatum, RJ Barrett, or Zion Williamson.

It feels like this squad is comprised of a group of role players who cannot create for themselves in isolation sets and struggle to shoot the basketball.

The same issues presented itself in losses against Wake Forest and Purdue when the Blue Devils could not get a basket when it desperately needed it.

Junior captain Jeremy Roach has not been good in recent games as he has failed to score at least ten points in three of his last four games.

Roach has been battling a toe injury since late November but his play to this point of the season has not been equivalent to what he showcased during last season’s run to the Final Four.

Kyle Filipowski, who appeared to be the team’s alpha in the early portions of the season, has seen his play taper off in recent games despite his 14-point showing against the Wolfpack.

Filipowski has only made two 3-pointer since Duke left the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament and his athletic limitations make it difficult for him to create off the dribble and in the midrange.

If Duke wants to commit to running its offense through the promising freshman it has to utilize him on the block more often and try and post him up against smaller defenders.

Duke basketball needs more from five-star freshmen

Dariq Whitehead was supposed to be the best individual player on this Duke roster but his broken foot has obviously limited him so far this season.

However, in his last three games Whitehead has been coming around and beginning to look like the player that was a superstar at the high school level and the Blue Devils desperately need that production.

The freshman has posted at least 12 points in those games and is the one of the only players on the roster that could create with the basketball in his hands and have constant isolation sets run for him.

As for Dereck Lively, it has been a disappointing season for the top ranked high school recruit after suffering a calf injury in the preseason.

Lively has only reached double figures once this season and has not played more than 13 minutes in either of his last two games. It’s very concerning to see the biggest player on the Duke roster struggle this much when the team could really use some type of scoring production in the paint — outside of Ryan Young — to stretch the floor.

Wednesday night proved there are a lot more questions than answers surrounding this Duke team and the coaching staff has to figure things out quickly.