Monday, January 30, 2012

Blue Devils bad on defense, or just misunderstood?

Two days after expressing disgust at Duke’s second-half effort against St. John’s, Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski was more sanguine Monday in his assessments about his team.

Krzyzewski was most explicit when discussing Duke’s defense.

“Overall, we’ve had to play pretty (darn) good defense in order to have the record we have against the competition we have,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t care what stats there are out there.”

The stats that are out there don’t paint a pretty picture.

The Blue Devils’ defense ranks 11th in the ACC in scoring defense and last in field-goal percentage defense. In Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defense rankings, which take tempo into account, Duke ranks 94th in the NCAA.

“We’re not inherently a defensive team – the mentality of these kids,” Krzyzewski said. “They’re more offensive players. But they’ve shown that they can play really good defense. We just have to get it going for longer periods of time.”

After allowing easy buckets on St. John’s first four possessions Saturday, Duke’s defense was fine for the rest of the first half and the start of the second, allowing the Blue Devils to build a 22-point lead.

Over the final 17 minutes, however, Duke seemed to lose interest, perhaps assuming the game had been won.

“Some of our worst defense has been with the leads,” Krzyzewski said. “But in order to get the leads, you have to play good defense. We’re striving for consistency.”

Part of the issue is that the Blue Devils don’t have a lock-down defender who can play multiple positions, a la Nolan Smith. Tyler Thornton comes closest, as he can match up on point guards and wing players, but there aren’t many players beyond him.

“It’s a different team than we’ve had,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ve know that since China and Dubai. We’re not going to be this juggernaut defensively. We have to keep striving to get better.”

-- Jack Daly


Anonymous said...

Heels could have won by 30 if they would have maintained focused throughout the second half. This has been the case with VT and NCSU. Since that loss at FSU, UNC has dominated teams so badly that they can't comeback regardless how how weel they play. WFU is next in the beating line....then Maryland...the dook..and so on. Heels win the ACC!

Anonymous said...

As a Duke fan, I have to agree that UNC is the better team. Our defense stinks and we have no true point guard. I miss Nolan and Kyrie!

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anon@12:18. I'm a Duke fan as well and feel that they will be fortunate to split with Carolina this year. UNC won't have a meltdown against Duke like they did against FSU. Duke will need to play 40 minutes of SOLID defense and maintain their high level of offense to take down Carolina.

Blah. This Duke team does not thrill me. And Rivers is overrated. There. I said it.

And, I don't know why Coach K is backing off his previous comments. Sure, this team can play good defense for two minutes. Most teams can. Maintaining a high level of defensive intensity throughout the entire game is what differentiates an average defensive team from a great defensive team. Given how sporadic their defensive effort has been, I'd qualify this group as a poor defensive team, especially against Duke's typical standards.

Anonymous said...

Neither Duke or UNC will do anything special this year. The difference is that this is an acknowledged rebuilding year for Duke, while UNC was at one point an overwhelming favorite to win it all.