Once again the Blue Devils dug themselves a whole early in an ACC game this time 8 points at the onset of the game then 15 late in the first half – and once again the Blue Devils battled back only to fall short against the Pitt Panthers 79-73. There were some good signs and some bad signs for Duke in the contest. Good signs were the fight that the Blue Devils showed even in the loss and the play of Jalen Johnson who scored 24 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in his first extended action since a foot injury that still has the freshman wearing a boot off the court. The Blue Devils could not overcome the Panthers hitting big shots when they needed it and they could not overcome the overwhelming advantage the Panthers had at the foul line. The Panthers made 24 free throws on 37 attempts to just 11 makes out of 19 shots for Duke.
The Blue Devils employed a zone for the first this season, something Coach K added in the days following the Virginia Tech game to account for Duke’s lack of size. Unfortunately for Duke the zone allowed Justin Champagnie to have a 31 point night and shoot 4-7 from beyond the arc on mostly open looks.
My Take: The Blue Devils as a team are still showing their youth and while they won the turnover battle 11-13 they still lack the ability to overcome a double digit turnover night. The margin for error for this Duke team is still very small, it’s the only way to account for winning the rebounding battle, the turnover battle, the points in the paint battle, the fast break points battle and still losing a game by 6.
The Blue Devils fall to 3-2 in the ACC and 5-4 overall with a tough game against Louisville coming up on Saturday.
|Wendell Moore Jr.||31||5-10||3-6||2-3||0-4||4||2||2||0||0||1||15|
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
“Jeff [Capel’s] team is very good, and they probably have a player of the year in the conference in Champagnie. He’s terrific. He and [Au’Diese] Tony, give them that toughness and experience that other guys can build off of. Saying that, we had our opportunities to win the game and the most disappointing thing for me was our start. We have practiced so hard and tried different things and for me to have to call a timeout after two minutes is not acceptable. To me, that was the most disappointing thing, is how we started. Jalen had a magnificent game and he’s just started to be with us. If he comes close to doing that every game, then that’s something that we can count on every game. You’re not necessarily going to get 24 and 16, and seven assists and no turnovers, but somebody who can create and manufacturer shots. He did well and Matt [Hurt] has got to play better. You know, he had a horrible first half. Then Wendell [Moore] played well, now he’s got to play well again. For us to figure out a team, there has to be some level of consistency of performance by all the kids so you can define roles. We hit on a good unit, and they put us in a position to win the game. When you go up, you got to hit both of one-of-ones, not one of them. When you drive the ball off your foul, you gotta put that damn thing in every once in a while, so you don’t you, you lose points. We’re 11-for-19 from the free throw line and in just some critical times. But it’s a tough loss for us because that group did play winning basketball and put us in a position where we had a chance to win. To their credit, they executed right at the end of clocks a couple times that were big and they got to the foul line and they shot 37 free throws. We got to do a better job of blocking out. The rebounds were even, but we fouled a lot. For them to get 37 free throws, you’re not going to win very many games that way. And we’re fortunate that they missed them, they only hit two-thirds of them.”
On how he thought the team played in a zone defense:
“I thought overall it was good and it wasn’t good to start off with because our effort wasn’t good. We’re going to need some zone going forward because we’re not a big team, we’re not a physical team. The thing we need to learn how to do from it is when we’re in it, don’t allow dribble penetration and then rebound. I thought overall it was good. It wasn’t great, but it was good and it’s something that we can work on to go forward. With the small perimeter that we have, it lends itself to that zone. And, yeah, we need to add now that Patrick [Tape] was here for 10, 11 minutes. We haven’t had these guys. So maybe we can get some level of consistency now that we have those two guys again Jalen [Johnson] was terrific though.”
On how to get the team to not hit the panic button yet:
“They’re 18, 19 and 20. There should be no panic buttons on young people who have a chance to play at this level of college basketball. If there was a panic button, it would be for 73-year old people who have coached for 46 years, and I don’t have one. They got to get tougher. This is such a young team and it’s as young of a team as we’ve had for a long time. We can’t afford to be down, we have to respond.”
On how Jeff Capel has built the Pitt program and what it means to lose to a former assistant of his:
“I’m always pulling for Jeff [Capel]. That’s separate. We lost to Pitt, not to me to Jeff. We’re trying to beat Pitt. We’re not trying to beat Jeff. He’s done a really good job with his team, and now they’re healthy. They have a set group and a rotation because they played together. A number of those kids, they were 16 and 17 last year. And one of the best ways of worrying is to go through that and that’s how he’s built his program. They’re tough through experience. They played a lot of minutes last year and had showed flashes of really playing well. Now they’re ready to take another step. That’s something we don’t have. And the young talent we have is not as good, but it’s not exorbitant. It’s good talent, but it’s not experienced talent. Jeff’s stuck with those kids, they work hard, they got great rapport and they’re playing really hard and well together.
FRESHMAN FORWARD JALEN JOHNSON
On what the process of returning from injury has been like and if he feels he is fully healthy: “It’s been good getting back. Tonight was a tough loss of course. I’m not worried about the production. My production is doing whatever it takes to help us win. Clearly, we’ve just got to do more as a team.”
On if it took a half to get back into the flow of playing extended minutes: “No. That’s why Coach put me in, because he trusts me to be ready, bring energy and just play my game.”
On if he wanted to make a statement that he is playing at full health: “Yeah, but like I said before, the main thing is making a statement as a whole, as a team. We struggled last game and unfortunately we didn’t come out with the win tonight. So, I’m more focused on making a statement as a team. I know my game is going to take care of itself. I know Coach is going to put me in the right positions to make plays and play my game.”
On how the team can improve on getting off to better starts: “It’s the game plan before the game. The main thing on the board was to be hungry and have toughness – we’ve got to box out. It wasn’t foreign to us. We knew the game plan and what we had to do to win. We just really didn’t execute it like we should’ve.”
On how difficult it was to sit out for three games with an injury: “It was difficult, but at the end of the day I know the medical staff and my coaches are going to put me in the best position to not hopefully reinjure anything. I wasn’t mad about it, but just focused on the next game and trying to get the win.”
SOPHOMORE FORWARD WENDELL MOORE JR.
On what the team needs to do to finish out games: “I feel like we shouldn’t put ourselves in that position in the first place. The last two games, we started out not too good, going down 10, 12 early. The second half, we were down 15 early and we shouldn’t have to keep fighting back. We should be the team that comes out and fights first. We should be the team that goes up 10-0 and make the other team fight back. We get in those positions, and we’ve just got to execute when it comes down to it. When it came down to it, we didn’t get the stops we needed, we didn’t get the shots we needed and we just need to keep practicing that.”
On the challenges of switching to a zone defensively: “We worked on the zone all week. After the Virginia Tech game, that’s something that we put in. I think for the most part, we are doing a pretty good job at it. We need to talk a little more, be a little more active in the zone, but I think the zone is coming along. It’s going to be a really good thing for us in the long run.”
On having freshman Jalen Johnson back in the lineup for extended minutes: “For his first game back, to have – he almost had 20-20 again. That’s pretty impressive for somebody who’s been out that long with that kind of injury. The stuff he brings to our team is like no other. He really can do it all. Sometimes we play through him. He made a fantastic pass, he made the shots – he did everything he was supposed to do, so having him back is definitely a plus for us. We just need to keep building on it and get the win.”
On the amount of fouls the team committed: “Most of their free throws came from the offensive rebounds. If we didn’t give up that many offensive rebounds, they wouldn’t have been at the line that many times. We had 12-13 fouls in the first half, which is very unlike us, so we were just getting outbattled on the glass by a good team, a very physical team and they imposed their will on us early.”
Pitt Head Coach Jeff Capel
“Big time win for us, really proud of our guys, in order to beat that team, we had to fight for forty minutes. We were able to sustain a lead throughout the game, even when they made runs that we knew they were going to make. We were able to extend it every time they made a run, obviously an amazing effort by Justin (Champagine). What we did defensively, DJ Stewart was a guy coming into this game averaging about fifteen points a game, so I thought our defense was key, and really good. We were able to be aggressive and get to the line. Xavier (Johnson) had big assists and also Femi (Odukale) had three and no turnovers. I thought Abdoul (Karim Coulibaly) did a really good job, seven rebounds and some of those plays that he made getting us ahead. I am really proud of our team because I think we beat them when they were different and I know everyone has made a big deal about them falling out of the top twenty-five. However, they were a different team today because I thought we played Jaylen Johnson at his best. He’s a kid that is projected as a high draft pick and highly touted kid coming out of high school. They’re a very different team, so I’m really proud of our guys big time win tonight.”
On leadership during the game:
“The older players were stepping up more in that time to talk guys down but we told them it was going to be a forty-minute fight, and we have to keep pushing. We have to keep pushing, even when we are tired and fatigued. We didn’t do a good job of getting back into transition. They were all over the broads against us, but we were able to sustain our lead. We were able to make a couple of pushes to extend it a little bit. I thought Xavier (Johnson) made a big move down the stretch and got in and got a layup then right after that made a couple plays. Again, we were able to make plays because we knew it was going to be a forty-minute fight.”
On Xavier (Johnson) playing style and the way he helps the team:
“One of the great things about Xavier is he is such a great competitive spirit, but at times it can be a bad thing for him. It’s finding the right balance there are times when he’s so excited and so geared up where he can get himself in a little bit of trouble. However, he’s matured as a player, where even institutions, he still wants the ball in his hands. I trust him to make the right decision and down the stretch the free throws the basket, the past to all these the defense he was able to make us some big plays tonight.”
Senior Guard/Forward Justin Champagnie:
On what it meant to beat a program like Duke and if it means Pitt is proving themselves:
“It means Pitt is back. I think that we are going to continue to keep this up, and try our best and work hard and just take everything that that’s not given to us.”
On what it meant to give Coach Caple a win against Duke:
“I feel like we owe them a win. We owe, we owed them a win since last year, you know, we lost our house by now a lot and after that, like, we could have beaten lashes as a team. I feel like we all wanted that, we all wanted to equally – like everybody in the locker room really really want to win this game and it just felt good.”
On if playing the last two games against Syracuse helped adjust to zone defense on the fly:
“It was more like a three like a three-two kind of zone but I guess just finding about finding the open spots and I think that the team were really good at that. And we did that and it worked out pretty well for us. We now have open shots. Yeah.”