Photo by Maya Robinson/The Chronicle
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — For most of this year, the questions surrounding Duke have come on the offensive end. Does it rely on the three too much? Is there a lack of a post presence? Can anyone besides Gerald Henderson create his own shot?
Sunday evening, however, exhibited what may be a far more disturbing trend: The Blue Devils’ defense just simply isn’t very good right now.
After giving up 101 points to North Carolina–a result that, while surprising, is not out of the realm of possibility–Duke allowed 57 points over the final 22 minutes, a pace roughly equivalent to the amount of points the Tar Heels put up. In total, the Blue Devils gave up 80 for the game, still the second most for ACC play and third-worst on the year.
Mike Krzyzewski didn’t hide from that fact after, acknowledging that his squad is not nearly what it was earlier in the season.
“We had our opportunities to make big plays… and some of those big plays have got to be on the defensive end,” he said. “This is from a team that has been playing for the whole year really well defensively.”
The Blue Devils tried all sorts of defenses-zones, the traditional man-to-man, even some full-court traps-on Eagles guard Tyrese Rice. The defense wasn’t particularly bad for the first 18 minutes when it gave up 24 points, a number that would translate to about 60 points a game. Rice, however, eventually found his way and, along with the rest of Boston College, began to carve up the once-proud Duke defense.
It does get a little bit easier this Thursday with St. Johns, which put up just 59 points to Marquette Saturday. Three days after that, however, Wake Forest comes back to town, and it won its previous contest with the Blue Devils because of–you guessed it–a defensive lapse by Duke.
Is this just an aberration? Or is this the sign of a more ominous trend-perhaps tired legs or some weaknesses in the schemes Duke runs that opposing coaches have figured out?