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A Few Rantish Thoughts on Duke Surviving Vermont 91-90

By November 25, 2013No Comments

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but on defense I will take good. Duke off a Rodney Hood free throw had a one point lead with just a few ticks left on the clock. Vermont got a good look but unluckily for them, they had no clock awareness.You almost have to feel sorry for them to lose on a play like that but it was a game of oddities. Duke’s non-existent defense. Duke twice fouling 3 point shooters in the act of shooting. The disparity in Vermont’s favor in points in the paint and shooting percentage. Once again Jabari had some game saving plays one steal and dunk all on his own on his way to a 26 point, 9 rebound performance. Rodney Hood gave Duke 22 and 7 boards, Hood very easily could have had double digit rebounds if he boxed out with regularity or at all. Defensively Duke was bad, very bad and they know it just like the coaches know it. Vermont  took full advantage of the scouting report to the tune of changing up some things that they did. It wasn’t anything spectacular but the results were and nearly took Duke non-conference home winning streak down at 105. Duke’s offense was also choked up by the zone applied by the Catamounts. Dukes assist numbers went from 10 in the first half to only 6 assisted buckets in the second half.

well, I guess a win is a win but as we all know there are always subplots and stories behind each win and loss. This particular loss leaves me scratching my head. It leaves me wondering how Duke blew out Davidson and how they were even in the ball game with Kansas. I certainly understand that Duke is not the biggest team on the block and short of a miraculous turnaround for Marshall Plumlee they are always going to be very difficient in the middle. A 6’9 Amile Jefferson has yet show he is capable of being a shot blocker or rim protector which leaves Duke extremely vulnerable to the dribble drive. Duke cannot magically muster a bulky tall power forward or center out of the blue so they are what they are, with that being said, perhaps it’s time to scale back the ball-pressure and focus on staying in front of opposing guards. The over-play managed to leave Vermont with either open mid-range jumpers or drives to the lane and open bigs in the middle. Duke is helping probably to its own demise and opposing players are cutting to the hoop with ease. So basically Duke is defending the harder shots and giving up the easy ones.

Vermont did nothing special to Duke per their coach, “We didn’t really run any plays.  We just ran a ball screen motion, and our guys did a really good job at finding each other.”

To me that is probably the most troubling part. I can get past the offensive woes, Duke didn’t play horribly on offense at all but defensively there was nothing there. Duke is too talented a team physically to allow what happened against Vermont to happen at all, against anyone.

Its understood that this is a veteran team in terms of wins (Vermont) and that this is a Duke team still trying to find itself and yes I tend to overreact (true), but I’m not spewing vitriol at this team, simply wondering how it happens. I believe that the coaches on the Duke side of the locker room are also wondering the exact same thing.

It seemed to me that a lot of the mistakes I saw are correctable with one simple word…effort. Teams are going to hit big shots against Duke because, well, because it’s Duke they are playing. You win this game, you get on sports center. Duke has to answer the bell, these players need to understand the history that precedes them. Duke has had wonderful offensive taken in the Coach K era but I can tell you that Coach K is most proud of those defensive players of the year, the players that do the little things, the players that maybe came to Duke with suspect defensive abilities that eventually embraced the process and learned to value “D”. I believe that it is very easy to get caught up in your own hype, your own cloud of quotes of how great you should be or eventually will be so much so that you wear that uniform and think you are entitled to a win.

It’s not an uncommon occurrence and the positive is that this lesson comes in a win, it comes with game heat on the Blue Devils in front of a national audience where people are going to openly start doubting all of the preseason accolades.

Thankfully Rodney Hood was able to hit his free-throws and

A lot of this stuff is simple stuff, a lot of it revolves around effort-based lapses. Lapses like boxing out, such a simple process.

BOXING OUT: A type of basketball maneuver in which a player positions his body against an opponent, in an optimal space on the floor between the opponent and the basket, in order to secure a rebound. It is an essential skill for every player on the floor and is especially important for the centers and power forwards, whose primary goal on missed shots is to rebound. There are many techniques used to accomplish the maneuver, and no one technique works every time.

[jwplayer player=”1″ mediaid=”4391″]

I saw several, and several is the wrong word. I saw lots of opportunities for rebounds where Duke was simply out-hustled. DUKE WAS OUT-HUSTLED. Duke has some player versatility in Rodney Hood but it was Hood who was the main culprit of allowing his man to get tip-ins, dunks and rebounds as he stood and watched. Being out for a year may be partially to blame but Hood will have to correct this. Duke needs much, much more from it’s guards in terms of rebounding. It may be a foreign language to the Duke guards but its something that is going to kill them in a game and soon. I’m aware that Duke did win the rebounding battle against Vermont numbers wise but the rebounds that Duke gave away were instant offense for Vermont. 8 second chance points in a 1 point game is huge.

Duke will have to do a much better job with perimeter defense as well, I’ll take a solid defensive stance over shooting the gaps any day. If Duke is simply able to keep the guards in front I think a lot of the issues with a team like Vermont shooting 64.8% against you is at least partially remedied. Some are blaming the new rules and if so then why isn’t Duke capitalizing in the same fashion, Duke should be doing a lot more slashing to the rim in my opinion. Utilizing Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook more going at the basket. If not then perhaps using more slip screens for a player like Amile Jefferson to get a head of steam heading toward the rim. What I do like about what Duke is doing is the ball movement. Early in games Duke seems to make the extra pass and get open looks, but when zoned all that seems to go out the window.

I guess this is why I’m not a coach, there is a ton of stuff this team can do better, and I believe wholeheartedly that they will get there. With the coaches they have on staff, particularly Coach Wojo and Coach James, I cannot imagine this team will be this bad defensively for very long.

top plays if you feel like watching it, I didnt (