The problem about early season tests its that when your lineup is comprised of mostly freshmen and sophomores it’s difficult to really tell where they are prior to those tests starting. The Blue Devils showed fight in the waning minutes against an Arkansas team desperate for a win, but it left everyone to wonder where it was for the the first 35 minutes of the game.
Once again the Blue Devils seemed to struggle to score when they needed it the most in the first half. Luckily for the Blue Devils, Arkansas was fairly inept as well with neither team eclipsing 40% shooting in the half. The Razorbacks took a 1-point lead into the half and it appeared like Duke was poised for another second half explosion. The Blue Devils weren’t much better early in the second half, struggling to both finish at the rim and also not able to hit on open 3’s. Defensively the Blue Devils started to slowly let up and the Razorbacks got into a solid rhythm offensively building a 14 point lead with 8:55 left in the game. The Blue Devils did show a level of fight, clawing their way back to within 3 points but it was too little, too late ultimately succumbing to the Razorbacks by 5 points.
Kyle Filipowski paced the Blue Devils with 26 points but those 26 points came off of 20 shots. Jeremy Roach was the most consistent Blue Devil, scoring 22 points on 7-13 shooting. With Roach and Filipwoski accounting for 48 of Dukes 75 points, the Blue Devils needed someone else to step up unfortunately the rest of the roster went a combined 8 for 34.
The Blue Devils have a quick turnaround on the road and must regroup to face a hungry Georgia Tech team on Saturday fresh off of a win against Mississippi State.
Aside from the last 5 minutes of the game that saw the Blue Devils actually dialed in and focused there wasn’t much good to speak of.
This team still has the talent to do big things but the issues are glaring at this point, some are fixable, some are internal and some are things Duke is going to have scheme around and hide.
- Kyle Filipowski, the sophomore big man is definitely getting his numbers but I don’t feel I’m alone in seeing something is just amiss. It’s hard to tell if it’s physical, mental or otherwise but the fire we saw last year doesn’t seem there. Definitely something to look at in the coming weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear something come out soon about Filipowski but so far that’s just my guess.
- Mark Mitchell. Mitchell, like Filipowski, hasn’t looked himself so far this season minus a spurt here or there. Duke needs Mitchell, not only to hit open shots, but to be a physical presence on both ends of the floor. It was telling that Mitchell only played 19 minutes in the game despite only having 2 fouls.
- Opponents are very keen on knowing that if Tyrese Proctor is having a bad night then Duke is having a bad night. In order for Proctor to be effective he has to be a threat to hit shots but last night he was easily guarded and just looked pedestrian.
- Offensively, in general this team is all over the place. There is a distinct lack of identity and I can’t imagine that they are practicing like they are playing. It’s very easy to lay the blame at the foot of a coach but a coach doesn’t miss 16+ layups and a coach doesn’t miss your open 3-point attempts. A coach can design and scheme ways to get you those shots but it’s up to the players to convert them. A coach cannot defend for you nor can they keep you out of foul trouble. These all fall on players basketball IQ.
- The most troubling thing, in my eyes, was what appeared to be a lack of spirt for most of the game. I’ve mentioned it several times but something feels off for this team and that is scary.