Duke has seen their fair share of struggles in ACC play. What are the keys for Duke to find success in the ACC? Read on to find out!
Find a 7th producer
Ever since Amile Jefferson’s injury, Duke’s rotation has essentially consisted of 6 players (3 Freshmen): Kennard, Jones, Allen, Ingram, Plumlee, and Thornton. The cold hard truth is that making a run in March with 6 players is nearly impossible. With the current rotation, if even one player gets in foul trouble, the affects are fatal. If not foul trouble, it will be fatigue that will haunt the Blue Devils down the stretch. Brandon Ingram, Grayson Allen, and Marshall Plumlee are basically playing 40 minutes a game since the injury. If Obi, Jeter, or Vrankovic could simply provide 5-8 minutes off the bench, it would be monumental. A 7-footer like Plumlee needs a rest every once in a while, and Ingram has been a victim of lethargic second halves. At some point, K has gotta put some trust in his bench. I’d like to see Obi, Vrank, and Jeter given more of a chance.
Hit threes, but don’t settle for them
It’s never a good thing to rely on jump shooting and three pointers, but unfortunately Duke has been in that situation. Three pointers have been such a key for Duke thus far, I’d go as far as saying that if Matt Jones and Luke Kennard had consistently hit 32 – 40% of their 3s, we could be sitting at 19-1 as opposed to 15-5. That being said, I think Duke has been a little too three-happy as of late. Penetration and aggression is what created the constant foul trouble Duke put opposing teams in early in the year, but lately the Devils have been in love with the three point line. Settling for threes will not work, there must be a balance.
Stay out of foul trouble
Fouling is not an option for Duke. As soon as a player gets in foul trouble, the entire dynamic of the game changes. We need all 6 contributors playing fearlessly without being hindered by fouls. This team is too thin to afford anyone on the bench due to foul trouble. For that reason, I think a zone would be more beneficial, as it would save legs and prevent useless fouls outside the arc.
Everybody, rebound the basketball!
At the moment, Duke only has one true big playing meaningful minutes (Marshall Plumlee). The lack of trusted depth in the front court, along with Amile’s injury has caused major issues in the rebounding department for Duke. Duke has been out-rebounded in each of its last three losses by a total of 24 rebounds. The fault does not fall on Marshall Plumlee, who corralled 35 rebounds in those contests. It lies on everyone else. Ingram, Allen, Kennard, Jones, and Thornton all have to be crashing the boards. Duke cannot afford to lose in this department, and if someone could step up from the bench… it would be very, very nice.