Ex-ACC head coach says Duke basketball players aren't 'dawgs'

A former ACC head coach says the Duke basketball team has to be tougher and play with more intensity

Feb 7, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA;  Duke Blue Devils guard Jared McCain (0) and guard Caleb
Feb 7, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jared McCain (0) and guard Caleb / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
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It's been a strange season for the Duke basketball team, to say the least.

A preseason that was filled with National Championship expectations has dwindled off to chatter if the Blue Devils can make the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

The latest major conversation topic was a 93-84 loss to North Carolina in which its defense provided absolutely no resistance to the Tar Heels.

Former ACC head coach Chris Mack explained on The Field of 68 what he thinks is wrong with Duke.

"They've got talent, I just don't think that they are dawgs," he explained.

The former Xavier and Louisville head coach said that the Blue Devils do not play as hard as other top tier teams around the county, like Houston.

"Having played against [Duke] whether I was an assistant at Wake Forest or head coach at Louisville, I always felt like Duke's intensity was at another level."

Staying focused throughout the duration of a game has been a challenge for the Blue Devils, specifically closing the first half of games.

Duke saw a 12-point lead with 3:03 remaining against Clemson turn into a four point game at halftime and an 11-point lead with 3:29 remaining against Virginia Tech dwindled down to a six point advantage.

Even a 15-point lead on Notre Dame on Wednesday night was trimmed to eight points heading into the intermission.

It's something that Jon Scheyer and his coaching staff have yet to figure out this season.

"I don't see that type of intensity," Mack continued. "I don't know if its the makeup of those kids."

"I think they are talented, but until they play with a little more intensity, for me, I don't see them being a threat to win a National Championship."

The Blue Devils returned four starters from last year's team that won the ACC Tournament and was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Round of 32 but the toughest player on the team in recent weeks has been freshman Jared McCain.

When shots are not falling consistently for the rookie, he is impacting the game in other ways with rebounds and assists. It's something other players needs to do if they do not have their best offensive performance on a given night.

The Field of 68 also posted a poll under Chris Mack's comments, asking if this Duke team had 'that DAWG in them' and 84-percent of 1,346 voters agreed with the ex-head coach and said no.

The No. 9 Blue Devils (17-5, 8-3 ACC) will host Boston College (13-9, 4-7 ACC) on Saturday afternoon (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN).

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