banner
Aaron Schoonmaker

Duke finding stability in starting five

Posted February 26

— It is hard to believe that a team that holds a 23-6 record and top-10 ranking would struggle with stability, but that has been the case for the Blue Devils this season. However, following an 18-point win over lowly Virginia Tech Tuesday night, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said he believes the team has found it.

Duke marched out a starting five of Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, Rasheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thornton and Amile Jefferson for the fourth consecutive game and seventh time in the last nine games. Impressive considering they have used seven different starting lineups on the year, have had a player leave the team, and at one point, benched a key member in their now-starting rotation.

“I like our starting unit, they have developed good chemistry,” Krzyzewski said.

The starting unit has been able to do a number of things over the course of the last few weeks that have given Duke an identity. To name a couple, they are scoring less, but defending more and they are getting out to early leads and controlling the pace in a clamp-down style.

Over the last five games, Duke has not scored more than 69 points, but has gone 4-1. In the five games prior, Duke didn’t score less than 78 but also went 4-1. How? In a word, defense.

In the most recent five-game stretch, they have forced their opponent into double-digit turnovers four times, upping their season average in forced turnovers per game to 12. The five before, they forced 10 or less three times. On the flip side, they are protecting it. The back-court combo of Thornton and Sulaimon combined for 12 assists and zero turnovers against Virginia Tech.

On Tuesday, they opened the game in a full-court press and were able to build a 24-4 lead midway through the first because of their pressure. Of the start, Krzyzewski said, “Sometimes it’s not a good thing to get a lead like that because the guys start to let up.”

While that gripe might be valid, it is better than having to explain being down 24-4. Because of the fast start, Duke was able to go deep into their bench and play 10 guys in the first half. They took a lead to the break for the seventh time in the last eight games.

Another stability factor is finding the guys that can and want to play.

Quinn Cook, who started the first 20 games of the season for Duke at the point guard position before giving way to Sulaimon in the role, looked disinterested at times Tuesday. Multiple times he had his head in his arms while sitting on the bench. When he got on the court, he was beaten off the dribble multiple times and scored just three points, committing two fouls in 11 minutes without registering an assist.

Andre Dawkins, Josh Hairston and Matt Jones, all of whom have made multiple starts this season, were similarly quiet in nine, two and four minutes, respectively.

“We started out so great and we didn’t get that push from the bench,” Krzyzewski said. “We need to get Andre shooting again. During this period, Andre has not been a big factor and he should be a bigger factor. Quinn should be a bigger factor.”

After wrapping up a stretch Tuesday in which Duke played five games in 11 days, Hood admitted that it took a lot out of the team. They return to the court March 5 in their last tune-up before UNC on March 8. For the Blue Devils, their newfound stability could not come at a better time.

“What’s good is that a lot of our guys are playing well, we are getting better,” Krzyzewski said. “And the main thing is we are healthy.”

13 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • mittnfriends Feb 26, 8:57 p.m.

    RANDDJACOBS - I believe you have the most pertinent statement here - if Marshall can be some type of factor here down the stretch, Duke will be hard to beat. On top of that, they seem to be doing a good job at getting the ball into and attacking the middle of not only zone defenses, but defenses in general. Hood and Parker are both lethal when they get the ball free throw line extended.

    A month ago, I was thinking Duke wouldn't have much success in the post season, but with the emergence of Plumlee and their growth in reading defenses I have a sense of optimism.

  • mike honcho Feb 26, 8:21 p.m.

    It was just VT....it wasn't even a week ago the Heels dismantled them and needed a bail out by... View More

    — Posted by HEELSrocknU

    It was only an eight point victory and Duke dominated for 30 minutes of a 40 minute game.
    Tired legs caught up with Duke and UNC rightfully took advantage of it. Duke will have some well rested legs come March 8th and I expect a much different outcome in Cameron.

  • vt94hokies Feb 26, 8:04 p.m.

    UVA and UNC are playing the best of all in the ACC right now. I did say Right Now. Duke lives on the 3, and it may catch them soon. UVA will beat Jim Blowheim, excuse me; I meant Jim Boeheim this Saturday.

  • mike honcho Feb 26, 7:06 p.m.

    I was at the game last night and Sulimon's on the ball defense is truly impressive. Cook is in a funk right now and is beaten off the dribble by everyone. I really like MP3's energy off the bench, 7 foot and athletic, theres has to be minutes for him. Duke's scoring has dropped off some, thats due to the energy they are expending on the defensive side.

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 26, 4:03 p.m.

    Duke fan told me that he isnt worried about but one team, Fla. Reminded him of the ECU and Vermont game. Agree they are not that good.

  • jdpridg Feb 26, 3:18 p.m.

    Duke is peaking at the right time, and it looks like the hockey style substitutions are a thing... View More

    — Posted by GunnyGoesArrrgh

    In most other conferences, that sub style would have worked. It goes a long way towards wearing your opponent down while keeping your players fresh. The problem that K didn't think about was the fact that most (not all) ACC teams are better conditioned and can keep players on the floor longer.

  • HEELSrocknU Feb 26, 12:20 p.m.

    It was just VT....it wasn't even a week ago the Heels dismantled them and needed a bail out by the refs to Cuse over the weekend. This team is not that good.

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 26, 11:20 a.m.

    Agree. Cook can score, but cant play defense. Thornton plays ok defense, but cant penetrate, but will hit a open three. Suliamon is a off guard, not a point. If parker and Hood leave (which I don't think so) Duke will be the same next year. Lack of depth.

  • heelsforever Feb 26, 9:16 a.m.

    26-3? Who edited this garbage?

    — Posted by dooksucks001

    Nothing personal, Kay pulled the Jedi mind trick on Aaron hoping that the rest of the world would believe it.

  • dooksucks001 Feb 26, 8:46 a.m.

    26-3? Who edited this garbage?

More...

 

 

  • HSFB: Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Tonight at 11:35 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:58 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Mississippi State at Ole Miss

    Tomorrow at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at Baltimore

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:30 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
3rd
PIT 2
CAR 3
 
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
 
2nd
UF 35
UNC 45
 
2nd
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
 
3rd
TOR 56
DAL 69
 
4th
DET 72
MIL 85
 
4th
ATL 72
NOP 62
 
3rd
HOU 44
LAC 56
 
3rd
OKC 59
NYK 33
 
3rd
IND 49
ORL 45
 
2nd
SAN 46
SAC 40
 
1st
DEN 16
PHO 9
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
MEM
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MIN
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
Final
MIZZ 21
ARK 14
Final
SALABAMA 40
NAVY 42
Final
ARZ 42
ARST 35
Final
AFA 27
COLST 24
Final
UCLA 10
STAN 31
2nd
VT 10
UVA 6
 
2nd
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
Final
OSU 73
JMU 56
Final
TXSOU 71
LAM 59
 
Final
TAMCC 75
MVSU 66
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
Final
BUCK 80
PSU 88
 
Final
PROV 72
YALE 66
Final
UGA 62
MINN 66
Final
WISC 69
OKLA 56
Final
Terriers 70
NORST 72
 
Final
PEAY 62
STEPH 83
Final
FSU 58
CSOU 47
 
Final
VALPO 66
DRAK 46
Final
CIN 69
MTST 51
Final
SDU 75
PRIN 65
Final
WASU 76
RICE 74
 
Final
CSFU 64
USCU 79
 
Final
GT 61
RIDE 54
 
Final
TXPA 79
ALAST 91
 
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
Final
TCU 57
BRAD 49
 
Final
WAKE 65
DELST 72
 
Final
HART 83
EMERSON 50
 
Final
STJ 66
GONZ 73
 
Final
CLEM 62
HIGH 59
 
Final
SYR 72
HC 48
 
Final
MD 61
MON 56
 
Final
JVST 74
SAV 71
 
Final
MIAMI 87
SALA 75
 
Final
RUTG 68
VANDY 65
 
2nd
PETE 57
TENST 54
 
2nd
MARS 32
CLST 43
 
2nd
JST 38
HOF 51
 
2nd
INDST 36
MEM 48
 
2nd
UF 35
UNC 45
 
2nd
LATU 44
SAMF 35
 
2nd
TULA 62
SELA 49
 
2nd
NEB 54
TENNM 44
 
Half
MISS 31
CREI 37
 
Half
PORT 30
MURST 29
 
1st
MARQ 11
MSU 15
 
1st
ARK 16
UNT 16
 
1st
NCOL 23
STET 11
 
1st
IND 18
UNCG 9
 
1st
SJST 10
WMICH 18
 
1st
MNTST 18
TXARL 8
 
9:30pm Tonight
UVA
LAS
9:30pm Tonight
STLU
MSST
9:30pm Tonight
COLST
PAC
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
NDAK
10:30pm Tonight
ILL
BAY
10:30pm Tonight
UAB
UCLA
11:30pm Tonight
WASH
LBSU
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
MERC
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
Final
ANA 1
CHI 4
Final
WAS 5
NYI 2
3rd
PIT 2
CAR 3
 
3rd
NJD 4
DET 4
 
3rd
BUF 1
MON 1
 
3rd
CLB 0
VAN 3
 
3rd
BOS 1
WIN 1
 
2nd Intermission
FLA 1
OTT 2
 
2nd
STL 1
EDM 1
 
1st Intermission
DAL 0
MIN 2