Quite possibly the worst performance from a Duke basketball team since Coach K has taken over as coach. The first ten minutes were predicated on solid Duke defense and Duke just not being able to hit an open shot. Miami gets hot and Duke stays cold, the score is 29-15 Miami with five minutes left in the first half and Duke calls a timeout. These last five minutes of the first half are critical to at the worst not let Miami build on the lead. When a team is not shooting well they have to fight harder.
Really focus on defense and rebounding, and offensively you have to go relentlessly to the basket to draw fouls. Instead, Duke let their poor shooting affect their defense and effort, and as a result Miami closes those final five minutes outscoring Duke 13-4. Now the game is most likely out of reach and its all about playing for pride and winning the second half score. What happens to open the second half, Miami goes on a 7-0 run. A lack of fight and a lack of leadership were clearly evident. This isn’t unprecedented in recent memory. In 2009 Duke lost at Clemson 74-47. In past seasons Duke has been blown out at NC State, at Georgetown and at St. John’s. The question going forward now for Duke is how will they respond to this.
Let’s focus on the 2009 season and the 2010 season. 2009 included the 27 point loss at Clemson. Duke followed that game with a home matchup against Miami. Duke goes down by as many as 16 points at home in the second half before coming back to win in overtime. They comeback the following game and get blown out at home at the hands of North Carolina, losing the second half by 22 points. Following that game Duke lost to a very mediocre BostonCollege team. So Duke followed two blowout losses with an overtime comeback win at home and a loss. Now the 2010 team; they get blown out by a below average NC State team, but they follow that up with a road win against a ranked Clemson team 60-47 in a primetime college game day game. Duke also suffered a blowout loss to Georgetown that year; they followed that up with a twenty point blowout win over a good Georgia Tech team who had Derrick Favors, Iman Shumpert and Gani Lawal. As you can see those teams bounced back in different ways and had their seasons ultimately end in different ways. The 2009 season ended in a blowout loss to Villanova in the Sweet 16, and the 2010 season ended in cutting down the nets in Indianapolis. For those of you thinking a loss like this means the season will end poorly, remember just last season that a completely healthy North Carolina squad lost to Florida State 90-57 and that team went on to the Elite Eight and it probably would have been further if not for the Kendall Marshall injury. Duke’s next game is critical in finding out just what this team is made of.
That next opponent for Duke is Maryland. This may be the final time Maryland plays at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Many Duke fans don’t consider Maryland to actually be a rival and for the last 10 years they really haven’t been. In the last 10 years Duke is 15-6 against Maryland, but from 1999-2000 through 2002-2003, Duke and Maryland was much more of a rivalry than Duke and North Carolina, just ask Jay Williams. Now on to this years Maryland team. Maryland is built on defense. They rank number two in the country in field goal percentage defense. Defensively they are built upon a low pressure defense that packs it in, forcing you to take perimeter jump shots making sure they corral all rebounds. They truly are very good defensively. Maryland’s problem this year has been on the offensive end of the floor. The Terps aren’t bad offensively but they suffer from too many turnovers and a lack of perimeter shooting. As far as teams Duke has played offensively they most closely resemble Minnesota, who also turns the ball over frequently and doesn’t shoot well from the perimeter. Duke did a fairly good job guarding the Golden Gophers, but gave up 16 offensive rebounds. Rebounding will be a big key against Maryland. Maryland is definitely a talented team and one capable of beating the Blue Devils; this is a huge game for Duke in so many ways.
G #32 Dez Wells So.
Maryland has had huge issues at the point guard position; both Seth Allen and Pe’Shon Howard have been unable to lock down the position. Dez Wells has been playing some point forward for the Terps and it looks like that is the direction they are going. Wells is supremely athletic, a good defender and just an al around stat sheet stuffer. Offensively Wells struggles with his jump shot and he actually doesn’t attack the rim as much as he could. Look for Duke to pressure Wells as much as possible if he’s initiating the offense.
G #0 Nick Faust So.
Faust has been a little disappointing in his sophomore season. Thought to be a breakout season for him, but his numbers are nearly identical to last years across the board other than turnovers. Faust is similar to Wells in that he possesses good athleticism, but doesn’t attack the basket enough, also like Wells he is not much of a shooter.
F #10 Jake Layman Fr.
Layman is a big, tall, athletic small forward, similar to Alex Murphy. Layman has struggled with his perimeter shoot so far this season, but don’t let that fool you, he is capable of knocking down perimeter shots. He really is similar to Murphy both in playing style and in how he has been use so far. Layman is just starting to get big minutes, playing 28 against BC, scoring 15 points.
F #0 Charles Mitchell Fr.
Big and strong, one of the best rebounders in the country. He is over 6 boards per game in less than 20 minutes per game. Keeping Mitchell off the glass is a big key and if you can accomplish that he doesn’t do a whole lot else at this point in his career.
C #25 Alex Len So.
In my opinion one of the best bigs in the country. Len is huge, listed at 7’1” 255 pounds and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was actually bigger. Len is a big time defender as well as rebounder and low post scorer. Mason Plumlee has his work cut outfor him going up against Len. Plumlee had a huge game against Len and Maryland last year, putting Len on the bench in foul trouble. Huge matchup between Plumlee and Len in terms of this game as well as for NBA Draft stock with both being projected as top 15 picks.
G #4 Seth Allen Fr.
Don’t be surprised if Allen is in the starting lineup. Allen is a super athletic guard that reminds me about of Terrell Stoglin. Allen can get real hot from the three point line, it will be important for Duke to take away one of the few shooting threats for the Terps.
G #2 Logan Aronhalt Sr.
Transfer from Albany and by far the best perimeter shooter on the team. Have to run him off the three point line and whoever he is guarding has to attack him.
C- #44 Shaquille Cleare Fr.
Cleare is a very big body with a good looking low post game. Cleare struggles a bit with conditioning and stay out of foul trouble. If you extrapolated Cleare’s stats to 30 minutes per game, he’d be averaging right around 10 points and 7 rebounds. Just like with Charles Mitchell, Duke must keep Cleare off of the boards.
G #21 Pe’Shon Howard Jr.
The much maligned point guard who has been moved to the bench. Howard just can not score the ball. Howard does a decent job running the team, but he is shooting 25 percent from the field. You simply don’t have to worry about Howard scoring when he is on the floor, ala former North Carolina point guard Larry Drew.
F #35 James Padgett Sr.
Yes, if you haven’t noticed yet Maryland is very deep. Padgett gives the Terps an athletic forward who can rebound and score along the baseline.
Final Thoughts and Prediction
Who starts for Duke? I remember a game against Wake Forest, following back to back losses where Coach K started Patrick Johnson, Reggie Love, and Patrick Davidson. Coach K said he wanted the five guys who worked the hardest in practice to start. I honestly think any of the Duke players could end up starting this game. I am not going to even try to make a prediction. The keys to the game are keeping Maryland off of the offensive glass and pressuring the wing players that are trying to initiate the offense. If Duke can accomplish those two things then I can’t see Maryland even getting 60 points. Offensively it would be nice for guys to start helping Seth Curry (save the Miami game) knock down some perimeter shots, especially since Maryland packs it in defensively. I am really not sure how this game is going to go, because I have never seen this group of guys have to battle back from this kind of adversity. I do believe this game is crucial in just how good or bad the rest of the season will be. I’ll go with it being a physical, low scoring game and I’ll choose to believe that this Duke team will fight.
SCORE PREDICTION: DUKE: 63 MARYLAND: 52
By Ray Horn
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