DURHAM — Typically the Duke Blue Devils view their regular season in terms of energy cycles, smaller segments spanning a few games. That mindset has been tweaked, though, for Dukes current four-games-in-eight-days stretch.
Saturdays 69-67 win against Maryland will be followed by a Tuesday trip to Georgia Tech (13-12, 4-8 ACC) for a 9 p.m. tip. Thursday will bring the rescheduled game at North Carolina, and the week concludes Saturday with the highly anticipated rematch against No. 1 Syracuse.
If you start looking at it as a series, then theres a tendency to rationalize during the sequence, coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the Maryland game. Over the years, to me, one of the great enemies of success is rationalization.
Like you can get to the Final Four and rationalize, Boy, weve made it, and then not be as on edge to win a national championship. Things like that. So, were just going to talk about the next game.
Krzyzewski elaborated on that during the weekly ACC teleconference Monday.
You can get ahead of yourself with the build-up that people will give for the Thursday night game and the Saturday game, he said. You can have a tendency of not giving each game its value of emotion, of mental, physical and emotional preparation thats needed, so thats why were trying to look at it that way.
Playing is a far better option than the idleness that last weeks snowstorm brought. Duke canceled classes starting midday Wednesday and all day Thursday and Friday. The game against North Carolina that was originally scheduled for last Wednesday at 9 p.m. was postponed at around 5:45 p.m., when it was clear the Blue Devils would not be able to make it to Chapel Hill.
You get out of a rhythm of doing things, Krzyzewski said. Like, were in February, youre in school, you play two games a week, and all of the sudden we have this disaster in the area, and we dont play a huge game that were ready to play and theyre ready to play. Then the next two days, we dont have school. Theyre out of a disciplined way of doing things, and everyone around them is laissez// faire.
I didnt think we practiced well on Thursday. We had a really tough, emotional practice on Friday to try to right the ship, to try to get them back. Remember, were playing games now, were not just shoveling snow and having time away from class.
I actually think the next week, even though you have all these games, at least were playing and going to school. Come on, how can that be bad? Its got to be pretty good.
The Blue Devils were able to weather another sort of storm against Maryland the barrage of their own misses. Duke started the second half 2-of-19 and shot a season-worst 23.1 percent in the final 20 minutes, the worst half of the season. Despite that, it was able to come from behind and win.
The constant stream of misses would have gotten to the Blue Devils earlier in the season, Rodney Hood said.
At the beginning of the season, I think that was the attitude, he said. But now we just have to mature, we just have to get stops, and I think we did a good job in the last couple of minutes.
Hood came up with the final key defensive stop, going straight up to contest Charles Mitchells final shot that rolled off the rim. He shook off early foul trouble he had three fouls before the 7-minute, 30-second mark of the first half and collected his fourth within the first four minutes of the second half and was able to come up biggest when his team needed him most.
Those types of plays are what will get Duke through this stretch.
It energizes us but it also gives us something to work toward, freshman Jabari Parker said after the tight win. Were not complete yet. This is just going to get harder from now on, so if we want the end result to be good, then we have to go twice as hard.