Duke had every opportunity to win this game against N.C. State but when crunch time came around one team stepped up and one team wilted under the pressure. Dennis Smith was everything that he was advertised to be and torched Duke for 32 points on the way to a 84-82 victory against the struggling Duke Blue Devils at Cameron.
The loss to N.C. State left Duke fans scratching their heads and wondering if this team has hit it’s rock bottom. They are wondering when or if there will be a moment or a player who steps up consistently. In the Miami game it was Matt Jones but Jones could not save Duke nor manufacture enough fire to get Duke going. This was not a game where statistics told the tale it was simply a matter of one team had a killer instinct and one team looked like they were going through a walk-through. It’s been said that talent wins games and generally that is true but talent isn’t the only factor to a successful team. Clearly there are pieces to the puzzle that this team is trying to figure out and they have clearly not been on schedule. With only 5 games together as a full unit there are going to be stumbling blocks that this team is going to go through and no amount of coaching them up is going to solve it. It’s going to take a realization that this team has right now, with all of the issues they’ve faced this year, a much smaller margin for error than a team that has had a chance to play 15-20 games as a unit. It’s hard sometimes for the average fan to understand, especially those that tend to strictly compare teams instead of actually analyzing them. It’s fair to say Duke has under-performed, and it’s fair to say that there are issues that Duke is facing that they have to figure out a way to overcome. But in my opinion it’s there were bright spots, defensively this team is much improved – that may be a very unpopular opinion but Duke has definitely done some things in practice that are showing up in games. That being said they have not been able to sustain that effort through an entire game and that lack of consistency is why they lost to N.C. State at home for the first time since 1995. Until Duke can sting together consistent efforts on both ends of the floor they will be vulnerable to basically every team they face. The ACC is an unforgiving league and opposing coaches are well aware that Duke is not the Duke it would have been if the stars had aligned and everyone came into this season healthy. Going forward Duke is going to have to gut out wins, they have to be a more scrappy team this league has no room for finesse and no room for complaining or taking plays off. Effort is going to rule the day and the for letters on the uniform are meaningless without the requisite effort and attention to detail.
I have no idea if this ship will sink or right itself but I am not a negative person or fair-weather fan. I don’t have the need to say a team sucks or that players need to go or quit. If that is the type of fan you are then maybe you should be cheering for a different team. True fans welcome your resignation from Duke fandom.
Defensively Duke wasn’t bad, just not great
Duke out rebounded N.C. State
Second half shooting and shot selection
offensive execution was lacking
Duke could not string together stops
Distinct lack of fire and emotion for most of the game