Thursday, February 12, 2009

Krzyzewski: UNC is better

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t deny the obvious on Wednesday night after North Carolina’s 101-87 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“We’re not as good as they are right now,” Krzyzewski said. “They’re better than us, and sometimes a team that’s better doesn’t play as well as that, but they played that way, too. It’s going to be difficult to beat them.”

Krzyzewski entered the game saying Duke’s offense still is a work in progress. It looked fine in the first half as the Blue Devils shot 21-for-34 from the field to lead 52-44 at halftime.

But Duke’s lack of a post-up game and over-reliance on the 3-point shot caused problems in the second half. After shooting 6-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half, the Blue Devils were 2-for-13 after halftime.

The shots that looked so easy in the first half wouldn’t go down in the second half as the pace of the game and the heat seemed to cause Duke to wilt a bit.

“We didn’t have the same cohesiveness going into the second half,” said Duke forward Gerald Henderson.

The Blue Devils also didn’t have anybody who could stop North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson from getting into the lane and scoring easy baskets. There aren’t many teams that do have somebody quick enough to stop Lawson.

Finally, Duke still is trying to find the right mix at point guard, where Greg Paulus brings perimeter shooting and Nolan Smith brings solid defense but both players have limitations.

“I don’t know what you’re looking for rotation-wise,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re still finding out about our team.”

If the goal is to finish in first place in the ACC or win the ACC tournament, Duke needs to find a way to fix these problems. The Tar Heels (22-2, 8-2 ACC) are a game ahead of Duke (20-4, 7-3) in the ACC standings and show no sign of turning back after winning eight straight games.

On the plus side for the Blue Devils, though, they played a lot better than one week earlier, when Clemson stomped them in a 74-47 rout at Littlejohn Coliseum. Krzyzewski was asked after the game if he thinks his team can be as good as North Carolina.

For now, at least, that’s not his concern.

“That won’t be our goal,” he said. “. . .I’m not beating around the bush. We need to get better. I don’t care how anyone else does. We need to keep getting (better), and we are. We’re getting better in this last week. A lot better.” - Ken Tysiac