Jeff Gravley

NC State and Duke: Before, during and after their lone meeting

Posted January 24

In my daily segment with Adam and Joe on 99.9, we talked on Monday about how State’s visit to Duke would be a 4-point game with both teams having a chance to have the upper hand. OK, it turned out to be a 2-point contest won by the Wolfpack.

How and why?

From State’s perspective

It starts with Dennis Smith, Jr. The freshman from Fayetteville put together his NBA resume tape in one showing. He played with his usual skill, but also brought a confidence and determination that his teammates fed off of. Big shots, sick passes, dominating drives punctuated with ice cold stares and flaring nostrils.

A team that was listless in Chapel Hill showed life at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Adbul-Malik Abu was a beastly man who benefited several times from Smith’s keen ability to find the open man. Again, energy fuels effort, which produces results.

To dial back to my radio hit before the game, I wondered what was up with Ted Kapita? There was a reason he wasn’t playing but I didn't know why, the staff did. After the win at Duke, Pack coach Mark Gottfried said he is still learning his team and went with a hunch to play Kapita.

"Have a hunch, bet a bunch," he said.

The freshman made the coaching staff look brilliant by producing a double-double -- 14 points and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes.

I went to see State play Pittsburgh last week in person. It gave me a better chance to watch what I wanted to watch and not what the TV broadcast wanted me to watch. When Beejay Anya was in the line-up, it was like State was playing 5-on-4 at both ends of the court. You can’t have that and I don’t see that improving. Maybe play Anya a few minutes here and there but that’s it.

Minutes after snapping the 22-year winless streak at Cameron, State fans celebrated big time with millions upon millions (sarcasm there folks) of fans meeting the team bus as it took a trip down Hillsborough Street. I would guess some of those fans were ranting on social media the last few weeks, about how Mark Gottfried should be fired at sundown. That was before the win at Cameron, Gottfried's 400th of his career.

State can be as good as it was at Duke and against Virginia Tech or they can be as bad as they were at Boston College and against Georgia Tech. Awesome or agonizing, depending on the day.

On the Duke side

It was a very interesting move by interim coach Jeff Capel to start the five who began the second half on the Miami game. It left Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen on the bench. Luke the lefty, a Chris Mullen clone, responded well. Allen the antagonizer did not. Are his actions and the ad nauseam reactions acting like a ball and chain weighing down the preseason ACC Player of the Year? Yes, but he made this bed of rocks that he has to sleep on. Soon we will be able to watch Grayson Allen iso-cam, streamed live on the web during a game.

At times this year, Georgia Tech and Miami, Duke has played as a tight-knit unit. At other times, they have splintered into individuals heading in different directions. Jason Tatum is an incredible talent with a score first mentality. Even if it means taking bad shots while ignoring a wide open teammate who has a better shot. He’s not the reason Duke lost to State but big picture, the Blue Devils are a bigger threat when they all share the basketball.

Mike Krzyzewski is recovering nicely from back surgery and has been back in his office a few times the last week. He is offering advice without getting in the way but his return to the head coaching role is still unknown, but drawing closer. Krzyzewski has some things to fix but it's not like Duke is irreparable.

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