Mike Krzyzewski has to be at his wits end with this team. I know the fans are.
What can you say about the 2012 Duke Basketball team that hasn’t already been said a million times before?
They are too young. Check. They don’t play great defense. Check. No on-court leader, lack of consistency, lack of energy? Check, check, check. We all know Mike Krzyzewski is pulling out his hair with this team.
The one question we don’t have any answers to is why is all of this is happening?
If I knew that then I likely would be more than a blogger on the subject but even Krzyzewski, who knows this team better than anyone, doesn’t seem sure what the heck is going on. All of this uncertainty is incredibly frustrating.
It isn’t like this team is bad though, they do a lot of things well, just not consistently.
And it isn’t like there is just one thing that Duke does consistently bad. Well there is the fact that the opponents shooting percentage is greater than 40 percent and worst in the ACC but other aspects of the Blue Devils game have all been good, at least at times.
Mason Plumlee has provided that dominant inside go-to-guy Duke hasn’t had in a while. Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly also have been solid at times this year on both ends of the floor. But against Miami on Saturday they were no where to be found. And when you allow a player, and with all due respect to Reggie Johnson, who is basically a big fat guy, to score at will on you then you are going to lose.
Johnson man handled the supposedly more athletic, fit and trim Plumlees with ease. He even beat them down the floor on at least one break. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Ryan Kelly was also no match for Johnson either and basically a half-court set for Miami turned into a feed the post and score more times than not scenario for Duke. But the big men aren’t the only ones struggling.
With a plethora of guards you’d think Duke would have better perimeter defense but they don’t. It is the worst I’ve seen in years. At times some of those players vanish too, like Andre Dawkins.
Defensively though, teams can get past the Blue Devils perimeter with seemingly no effort at times and when their big men collapse on the penetration those opposing guards simply find open guys.
That is a system that has generally been what Duke does to others not what others do to Duke. The Blue Devils as a program under Krzyzewski have always been a defensive oriented team but this year Duke just can’t apply the kind of pressure they are accustomed to doing.
Offensively Duke too has had its moments. They average just under 80 points per game, near the tops in the ACC. They also average close to 50 percent from the floor good enough for 21st in the country. But they only average 13.3 assists per game that puts them at about 132nd in the country.
Once again there are those that feel Duke’s lack of a true point guard or the lack of multiple guys that can put the ball on the floor and can create there own shot is a problem. I don’t really see that though.
They have a budding star in Quinn Cook and solid player in Tyler Thornton. Obviously Austin Rivers is a guy that can create off the bounce and they are showing they can score.
The problem is their decision making at times is poor. You only need to look at the end of both regulation and overtime of the Miami game to see that. Critical errors in driving and taking poor shots or starting the possession with entirely too much time on the clock proved costly.
Then there was the free-throw shooting debacle that amazingly enough came from Duke’s best free throw shooters in key moments of the game. Both Seth Curry and Austin Rivers missed key free throws that could have tied or given Duke a lead late.
Krzyzewski questioned his team’s energy and that too has been a problem at time. They showed about 16 minutes of extreme focus against Miami and that cannot continue if they are to do anything the rest of the way.
This team is teetering on 2006-2007 status. If you don’t remember it was the year they finished 22-11 and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That was a team that started strong and finished poorly. It was a team that had a lot talent but they were inexperienced and inconsistent.
If Duke isn’t careful this season could end very much like that season did and it would be a shame to see such a talented team crawl to the finish.
This has never been a dominant Duke team, they just aren’t. But they certainly are good enough to play with anyone in the country. But they are also not good enough to put it into cruse control and coast to any victory this season.
What are the answers? I don’t know? How do you solve a problem you can’t quite put your finger on. It would be one thing if it were something consistently bad, but again, aside form opponents field goal shooting there is nothing that is consistent.
Funny how Duke is criticized for not being good enough consistently and yet they can’t even be consistently bad.
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