After Duke’s thrilling, shocking 74-73 win at North Carolina, Brandon Ingram woke up sore.
That’s when the Blue Devils’ freshman guard knew he needed to get serious about taking care of his body.
It’s easy for younger players to think they can skimp or skip entirely the time in the training room. After all, they are used to just rolling out of bed and playing game after game on the AAU circuit.
“Being at a young age, coming in, I didn’t think I needed that stuff, that I could run around a lot,” Ingram said. “Just now, I’m back in the training room, working on my body.”
As the games have started to pile up for Ingram and No. 17 Duke (22-8, 11-6 ACC), fatigue has naturally set in. Now, there is just one more regular-season game left, the finale with No. 8 UNC (24-6, 13-4). And Ingram may be feeling the fatigue more than most.
“He’s a little bit worn down,” Krzyzewski said of Ingram. “Everyone from every team is. Because he’s not fully developed yet, it probably affects him a little bit more.”
This past Tuesday against Wake Forest, Ingram played 39 minutes and scored 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field, and he attempted just two free throws. That’s not a bad night. But Krzyzewski thought it could have been much better.
“The last game, Brandon could have had a 35, 40-point night,” Krzyzewski said. “He was doing things. He didn’t finish. With strength and that, you’re going to see in the future – hopefully in March – where some of these things, he’s going to dunk it. Or he’s going to have a confrontation instead of trying to put it in.”
Going stronger to the rim will likely draw more fouls, too. Right now, by just trying to lay it in, Ingram is opening himself up to more body contact that will go uncalled. This is surely a message the coaching staff will drill into his head before facing the likes of Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and the rest of the UNC front court. And so far this year, when Ingram has been given instruction, he has been good about applying it right away.
“You just have to tell him once. He gets it, no maintenance, no extra time of explaining,” Krzyzewski said. “His basketball intellect is super high. And he has a great feel for the game.”
Ingram isn’t the only one showing the effects of virtually a full-season of ACC-level basketball. As a team, the Blue Devils haven’t been shooting well of late (a harbinger of fatigue). In its last two contests, against the Demon Deacons and at Pitt, Duke has shot less than 40 percent from the field. The Blue Devils haven’t shot their average in ACC play – 45.6 percent – since their Feb. 6 win over N.C. State.
“Talk about shooting, we’re not shooting worth a darn,” Krzyzewski said. “Our whole team, we haven’t shot well the past couple of weeks. Some of that has to do with just the wear and tear.”
That hasn’t prevented the Blue Devils from winning, though. Since that win over the Wolfpack, Duke has gone 5-2 with wins over Louisville, Virginia and the Tar Heels. And the Blue Devils’ shooting percentage will naturally go up with higher percentages shots. That means more driving and more trips to the free-throw line for Ingram, Allen and everyone else.