What John Scheyer and players had to say after Duke basketball's disappointing loss to NC State

Duke basketball head coach John Scheyer as well as Kyle Filipowski and Mark Mitchell spoke about their team's loss to NC State in the ACC Tournament.
Mar 9, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Jon Scheyer reacts during the
Mar 9, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Jon Scheyer reacts during the / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Needless to say, Duke basketball fans were not happy with their team's loss to NC State in the ACC Tournament on Thursday. Thus, there was plenty of attetion paid to what head coach John Scheyer and his players had to say after the game.

"Well, obviously, look, it's disappointing," Scheyer said. "It's a disappointing loss for us. We wanted to make a run at this thing. Coming off of Saturday, we've been able to spend a lot of time on ourselves for the first time. That didn't translate fully, clearly.

"NC State is playing the best basketball they've played probably, and you give them credit. They're talented. When you're playing in the postseason, teams don't want to go away. You have to make them go away."

There's no doubt that NC State didn't want to go home. After all, they are playing for their NCAA Tournament lives this week.

Meanwhile, Duke had the look of a complacent team, one that already knows it's spot in the Big Dance is secured.

"Overall, look, I can go through the details of the game. I think for us, though, it's about the competitive fire you need to have in the postseason," Scheyer said. "I told these guys, one, I think
both [Kyle Filipowski and Mark Mitchell] were big-time competitors today. They almost willed us to win the game. They were playing a lot of minutes. Combined, they have 46 and 22.

"But I just thought they had the will to win, which is what you need. But we didn't have that collectively overall. For us, we have to go get back to it and work. The biggest postseason is ahead of us, and we're going to be in the tournament. We're excited about that. I don't know where we're going to go, what seed we're going to be. But my thing is all about getting ready and focused for that."

Certainly, it appears that Duke does need a refocusing heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils are now going to ride a two-game losing streak into next week and many of the problems that plagued them against North Carolina in the regular season finale were issues against the Wolfpack on Thursday.

"Yeah, for me at least it's even more of a wake-up call," Filipowski said, "because we could have just had one more game left to the season now, and you may have high expectations just with winning the ACC and things like that, but you've got to really see the reality of it and see that every team is really fighting for their lives, and we just have to want it more than any other team that we play against."

Now, Duke has no choice but to use this game as a motivator which might be exactly what is needed in Durham. Of course, finding motivation in March shouldn't be all that difficult.

"Yeah, obviously it hurts to lose a game like this," Mitchell said, "but I think we've just got to use it as motivation and just go back to the drawing board. Obviously, we're going to have some time to really work on some things, look ourselves in the mirror and see what we can do better, and hopefully next week we can start our run in the tournament."

One issue that has plagued Duke lately is slow starts. That was again a problem on Thursday and it can't continue in the NCAA Tournament. Scheyer addressed that problem.

"Yeah, it's happened three games in a row," he said. "That's a concern. That's a big concern. Even the
start of the second half was the same way. So as a coach, we have to -- I'll have to figure out how to get that message across better or differently. These guys, we talk about it a lot, we work on it a lot, but there's -- each part of the season you have different levels
to it, so you have non-conference play and then you have ACC play, and then you have the ACC Tournament, which goes up, and then you have the NCAA Tournament. You can't do the same thing. You have to keep raising your level."

Another issue was that Duke's guards were not at their best against the Wolfpack. Scheyer was blunt in his assessment of his backcourt.

"Well, those guys, we need them to be better," he said. "We rely on them to do so much for us. It's not the scoring. It's everything else. It's the poise. It's the rebounding. It's the guarding. It's everything else that comes with it.

"I've seen all of them do it, have it at different points. But we need it every game. We don't have a team where we're not wearing you down with our depth necessarily, so we need those five guys that start, we need them to come out with such force right away. Clearly, we didn't have that tonight. I wish I had the answer for you. I can't tell you why. But is Jeremy Roach important to our team? Absolutely. Tyrese, Jared, we need those guys to play at a high level, like they have for a majority of the year. That's the bottom line."

The bottom line is that Duke had better do some soul-searching over the next week because this team has to find its identity again after dropping its last two games. The good news is that the latest disappointing loss came in the ACC Tournament and not in the tournament that matters the most.