Postgame: Thoughts from Duke’s 91-90 win over Vermont

Posted by Laura Keeley on November 24, 2013 

Duke was rarely in the right place defensively against Vermont.


— Yikes.

That’s pretty much the takeaway for Duke from the 91-90 non-loss to Vermont. Credit the clock for stopping that last Catamount shot, which did go in well after the red light flashed on (click the link for a picture).

After the game, Mike Krzyzewski said his team played like it was immature. He pointed to an exact moment in the game to back that theory up.

"In the second half, when Jabari stole the ball, and we went up 61-49," he said, referring to a dunk Parker first looked to throw down one-handed but then wisely pulled up and dropped the ball in with two.

"Right after that was our worst. My feeling is just like, kids," he said, beginning to imitate his players’ thoughts: "‘I got enough. Now we got it. We’re good now.’

"No, we’re not good, there are 15 minutes to go in the game. And they’re shooting over 60 percent from the floor. We just got one steal. It’s not good. Not good tonight."

Indeed, the Catamounts went on a 10-0 run after that, and the Blue Devils went more than four minutes until their next field goal. Duke called two timeouts in that span and had a TV timeout in there as well, but none of the above stopped the Catamounts.

The last Duke team to not be led on the floor by strong senior players didn’t last long come March (Lehigh took care of that, shredding the Blue Devils’ terrible perimeter defense). The good news for the 2013-14 Duke team is that it’s November, and there’s time to figure it out (and an abundance of athleticism). But the lack of effort and focus Krzyzewski pointed to should throw up red flags.

And it is, with the coaching staff at least. In his first press conference of the year, back in September, Krzyzewski said, " We have a chance to be good, real good. If for some reason we’re not, we’ll have to figure out why we’re not."

Six games in, this is not a good defensive team. In 12 halves of play, Blue Devils opponents have shot at least 45 percent (with rounding) in six of those:

1-5 Davidson 1st half (48.4)

4-0 Kansas 1st half (51.7)

4-0 Kansas 2nd half (60.7)

4-1 East Carolina 2nd half (44.8)

1-5 Vermont 1st half (66.7)

1-5 Vermont 2nd half (64.8)

"It all comes with talk—we have to talk better, and we have to change it now," Rodney Hood said. "We’ve got to change it now."

Defensive communication—something Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee did for last year’s team—is even more critical this year with the new emphasis on hand checking and the new rule on the block-charge call. Gone is the option to slip in front of a driving player in attempts to take a charge. If a defender isn’t set by the time the driver takes off, it’s going to be call as a block. So being in place early on help side defense is critical.

Krzyzewski chalked up his team’s lack of communication to their belief that they didn’t need to communicate, which goes back to immaturity. It’s an issue the players and coaches alike will work to address.

"We played real young, and we are. We as a staff, we need to do better," Krzyzewski said. "This is all of our responsibilities. In our program, we believe in collective responsibility. We win and we lose together. If we’re good, we’re good together, if we’re bad, we’re bad together."

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