Friday, February 19, 2010

Is Duke vulnerable to Hokies' strengths?

DURHAM - On the few occasions when Duke has struggled this season, a couple of deficiencies have been to blame.

In a key ACC game at 7:45 p.m. Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Virginia Tech (21-4, 8-3 ACC) appears to have the talent to take advantage of both of Duke's problem areas. No. 6-ranked Duke (22-4, 10-2) will try to extend its lead atop the ACC standings over the Hokies and Maryland, which are tied for second place in the conference.

It may not be easy. In losses at Wisconsin and N.C. State, Duke's guards failed to stop the penetration of some guards who have the quickness to get into the lane and create scoring opportunities. And in ACC scoring leader Malcolm Delaney (20.2 ppg), the Hokies have a point guard who excels at getting into the lane and getting fouled.

"I just have to play smart," said Duke junior Nolan Smith, who will guard Delaney. "Be smart defensively, but at the same time still be aggressive, like I like to play defense. Just make him take tough shots and not foul him, as he likes to get to the line. Just make him shoot tough, contested shots. And at the same time I need to be aggressive offensively as well and stay in the game without fouling."

Another problem area for Duke has been getting back on defense to guard against the fast break. Georgetown frustrated the Blue Devils with fast-break layups in an 89-77 thumping on Jan. 30, and guard Jon Scheyer said Maryland got four layups in the first half on the fast break last week at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Virginia Tech guard Dorenzo Hudson averages 14.0 points per game, and Scheyer said he's getting a lot of his scoring because he is an excellent finisher on the fast break. Scheyer said rotating back on defense has been a priority for Duke in practice.

"Because we're playing motion [on offense], we'll be in different positions now," Scheyer said. "Sometimes I'll cut through and I'll be under the basket, so that means someone has to cover for me. Or if Nolan's down, I need to get back. So that's something we've worked on."

It's also something Virginia Tech will test Sunday in a meeting of two teams that have both won five games in a row.

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Nah. They'll win by 15 at home. Ho hum. Kind of a one-team conference race at this point.

I just hope Duke gets to destroy UNC again in the ACC's. 3 in a row would be sweet, Duke fans and ABC'ers alike.