banner
Aaron Schoonmaker

Blue Devils notch pivotal win in upward trending season

Posted January 25, 2014

Amazingly, the college basketball regular season is roughly two-thirds done, and in a top-heavy ACC, Duke’s win Saturday could be considered the first “big win” for the team picked in the preseason to run away with the conference.

(Okay, the win against Virginia after dropping two of their first three league games was also “big,” but hear me out.)

The Blue Devils entered the weekend tied with Florida State for fourth in the ACC, along with Clemson, at 4-2 in league play. That’s a big deal because the top-4 teams in the league earn double byes in the first year of the 15-team expanded conference tournament. The bottom six all play on the first day and the middle five will begin on Day 2. The little kids in the AT&T commercials could tell you it’s easier to win three than it is to win five.

Duke played Saturday with a sense of urgency from the opening tip as if they knew this was a pivotal game in conference play. They forced turnovers and got three-pointers from Andre Dawkins on two of the game’s first three possessions. That set the tone for a game in which they grabbed 27 offensive rebounds and forced 17 Florida State turnovers.

“We were so hungry,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “I don’t ever remember having 27 offensive rebounds in a game.”

With apologies to Coach K, Duke had 28 offensive rebounds in a game in 2002 against NC A&T. However, I looked back at every game dating back to 2000-01, and they had not exceeded 24 in a conference game in that span before today.

Coach K made another interesting point Saturday after notching his 900th career win at Duke, joining him with Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim as the only two Division I men’s coaches to reach that milestone at one school. He said not to judge his team on the full season’s stats or performance.

“People use stats from November, before we really start our season. We play a difficult schedule,” Krzyzewski said. “The most relevant stats are what you do in the last four-to-six games because teams trend. We have been getting better throughout.”

Over the last four games, Duke has indeed seen noted improvement. They have forced double-digit turnovers in three of four including 21 against NC State and 17 Saturday. They have also out-rebounded their opponent in three of four and shot at a better free-throw percentage in all four games.

True, loses at Notre Dame and Clemson could go either way depending on how you define "bad losses", but a loss Saturday against Florida State could have put Duke in a serious hole when you consider the remainder of their schedule.

Yes, there are still 11 more games for Duke in conference play before we get to the conference tournament, but they now have the inside track at a double bye. Unfortunately for them, they also have the toughest road left with home-and-home’s against both Syracuse and North Carolina and a road game at Pittsburgh.

“We are getting better. We are not a powerhouse, but we are getting better,” Krzyzewski added.

The cliché goes, ‘you want to peak at the right time’. For Duke, they could make things really easy on themselves down the road if they can maintain their current trend upward. And while this year’s team may never reach “powerhouse” status, peaking in March after a year of constant improvement would be ideal.

Next up for the Blue Devils? Nationally televised road games next week against the top two teams in the ACC – Pittsburgh Monday and Syracuse Saturday.

14 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • thinkfirsttypelater Jan 26, 2014

    View quoted thread


    pitt has beaten nobody of note

  • 903 Hail Providence Jan 26, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Duke started the year ranked higher and has played a much tougher schedule than Pitt. I don't think Pitt has any signature non-conference wins...

  • rk1115 Jan 26, 2014

    How is puke ranked 2nd in the ACC power poll? when pitt has a better record and better team and record then puke?

  • alphaman Jan 26, 2014

    Dear aaron....no one, and I mean NO ONE picked Duke to be a run away winner in the ACC this season.

  • StunGunn Jan 26, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Must have been a special event - maybe "Coaches Against Cancer" or something, because I saw all the coaches wearing those white sneakers in the games yesterday.

    Hey - I'm hoping the Heels move UP to the middle of the ACC:(

  • Toddler10-21 Jan 26, 2014

    Guess I'm mature if I'm pulling for Duke?

  • jmcdow2792 Jan 26, 2014

    I don't see anyone else moving out of the middle. But, I wanted to comment about the photo of K. Looks like he has installed the famous "white shoes defense" that Chuck Amato developed at State back in 1967.

  • StunGunn Jan 26, 2014

    View quoted thread



    There does seem to be a logjam in the middle tier of the ACC. I think the Duke/'Cuse game will be terrific.

  • jmcdow2792 Jan 26, 2014

    Looks like four teams in the hunt right now. Duke, Pitt, Cuse, and UVA look to be the leaders. Will anybody else rise out of the middle or become a player by tourney time?

  • rk1115 Jan 26, 2014

    I can't wait until the Duke vs Cuse game, should be a good match up. It will be the first team in the ACC, that's not a former Big East Team, that might actually give 'Cuse some trouble. Duke will probably have a lot of troube against the 2-3 zone of Cuse. I'm a Cuse fan all the way, I'm hoping that this is actually a really exciting game to watch.

More...

 

 

  • NCAA: Gonzaga vs. UCLA

    Tonight at 7:00 on WRAL-TV

  • NCAA: Duke v. Utah

    Tonight at 9:40 on WRAL-TV

  • NCAA: Division II Championship: Indiana (Pa.) vs. Florida Southern

    Tomorrow at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NCAAT: Teams TBD

    Sunday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NCAAT: Gonzaga vs. UCLA

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • NCAAT: NC State vs. Louisville

    Tonight at 7:37 on WRAL-FM

  • NCAAT: Oklahoma vs. Michigan St.

    Tonight at 9:30 on 99.9 The Fan

  • NCAAT: Duke vs. Utah

    Tonight at 9:30 on Buzz Sports Radio

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 5
PIT 2
Final
WISC 79
UNC 72
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
CHA
 
7:37pm Tonight
LOU
NCSU
 
9:45pm Tonight
DUKE
UTAH
 
Final
PIT 5
ATL 7
Final
DET 6
BAL 4
Final
STL 3
MIA 5
Final
BOS 5
MIN 4
Final
TAM 6
NYY 5
Final
TOR 4
PHI 1
Final
CLE 2
CIN 13
Final
SEA 0
KAN 3
Final
CWS 6
LOS 9
Final
MIL 15
SEA 1
Final
ARI 3
SDP 3
Final
WAS 3
NYM 8
Final
CHC 4
ANA 8
Final
TEX 6
COL 3
Final
SFG 4
OAK 6
1:05pm Today
ATL
BOS
 
1:05pm Today
STL
NYM
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
NYY
 
1:05pm Today
MIN
PIT
 
1:05pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:05pm Today
BAL
TAM
 
1:07pm Today
TOR
DET
 
4:05pm Today
CHC
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
TEX
 
4:10pm Today
ANA
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
CLE
 
6:05pm Tonight
HOU
MIA
 
9:05pm Tonight
KAN
SEA
 
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
10:05pm Tonight
CIN
MIL
 
10:05pm Tonight
LOS
SFG
 
Final
MIL 111
IND 107
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
CHA
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
LAC
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
BOS
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CLE
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
LAL
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
GSW
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
MIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
SAC
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
DAL
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
UTA
 
10:00pm Tonight
PHO
POR
 
Final
ND 81
WICHS 70
Final
WISC 79
UNC 72
Final
LALAF 82
EVAN 89
Final
KENT 78
WVU 39
Final
ARZ 68
XAV 60
7:15pm Tonight
GONZ
UCLA
 
7:37pm Tonight
LOU
NCSU
 
9:45pm Tonight
DUKE
UTAH
 
10:00pm Tonight
NARZ
KSU
 
10:07pm Tonight
OKLA
MSU
 
Final
BOS 2
ANA 3
Final
BUF 3
ARI 4
Final
NYI 2
LOS 3
Final
WAS 3
NJD 2
Final
CAR 5
PIT 2
Final
TOR 1
FLA 4
Final
TAM 2
NAS 3
Final
OTT 1
NYR 5
Final
DET 4
SJS 6
Final
WIN 5
MON 2
Final
VAN 1
COL 4
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
CAL
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
CLB
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
DAL