It was bound to happen to the weary Devils but they ran into a buzz-saw at Pitt and were handled relatively easy by the Panthers 76-62 – honestly it wasn’t really as close as the score indicated.
Pitt bested Duke in just about every category and minus a couple of runs that kept it within reach the Blue Devils just didn’t have what it took to push through. There are excuses and there is just plain reality. The reality is when you play only 7 guys and the other team is playing 9-10 you are probably not going to have enough in the tank on the road to match their level of energy. Pitt had an abundance of energy as well as the will of a desperate team. Duke had no answers.
The tale of the tape is pretty telling. Duke was nearly doubled up in the rebounding department 39-20. Even with the fatigue factor Duke was rarely in position and did very little in terms of boxing out. A rebound isn’t something that comes to you, it’s something you go get. The other telling stat was points in the paint with Pitt also dominated at a 24-6 advantage. Duke guards had no luck penetrating the Pitt defense and the few times they did they were unable to finish.
Grayson Allen scored 22 in the losing effort but also turned the ball over 4 times. Brandon Ingram scored 17 but also had issues holding on to the basketball with 3 turnovers.
Rebounding has been an issue for Duke the entire season but when the Devils aren’t even getting the amount they can normally depend on it spells trouble. Dukes leading rebounder only managed to snag 4 in 28 minutes of play and that was senior center Marshall Plumlee, in relief of Plumlee, Chase Jeter was only able to grab 2 for a total of 6 from Dukes tallest position. The guards didn’t fair any better.
A lot of fans criticizing the effort put forth by this Duke team are confusing to me. This is clearly a team that has talent, and a lot of it, but no depth – some due to injury and some due to just a lack of readiness but all year people, supposed fans, have been overly critical of players and coaches and also effort. I can, and with supreme confidence, say that not very many if any of you could manage the type of schedule and rigors these student-athletes are having to deal with. Compounded by playing unheard of numbers of minutes and youth. People need to check themselves before commenting and stop thinking you have it bad as a fan when this team loses. I know there will always be bandwagoners and people who call themselves Duke fans that spit more vitriol than support but think before you tweet, no wonder opposing fan bases think Duke fans suck – stop proving them right. Just stop.