Loss Lead To Changes For Duke

The loss to Ohio State has lead to Coach K shaking up the lineup and rotation for Duke

The Blue Devils have been strong for most of the first month of the season. But sometimes it's the shortcomings that stick with Duke.

So while the Blue Devils want to build on conquests of such teams as Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan and Kansas, they'll dwell to some degree on the disturbing loss at Ohio State.

That means adjustments are in the works with the Atlantic Coast Conference portion of the season approaching.

"A 23-point loss to Ohio State leads to a lot of things," Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We're still very much a developing team. We've had a very difficult schedule. That's how you learn about yourself and you have to keep adjusting."

With extra practice time in December because of a light game schedule, the Blue Devils figure to have time to make alterations as they see necessary.

"The practice time is going to be real valuable for the month," forward Mason Plumlee said.

It seems clear that freshman guard Austin Rivers is fitting in well for the Blue Devils and that tended to be one of the major questions entering the season. Seth Curry has become comfortable in his new role at point guard, though he'll play without the ball at times as well to accommodate Rivers' talents.

Duke is paired with North Carolina atop the preseason projections for the ACC and little has changed that perception through the first month of the season. But before Duke-North Carolina issues become prominent, there's plenty more work to be done.

--The Blue Devils won't start conference play until Jan. 7 at Georgia Tech, but they'll have made some notable trips by then. Six of the team's first 10 games were played away from home and there's another one (vs. Temple in Philadelphia) before the league schedule kicks in.

--Duke's defense is one of its staples and the Blue Devils' ability to lock down on opposing team's top offensive threats could bode well when the ACC portion of the schedule arrives. Through 10 games, only four players reached the 20-point mark against Duke. "All the Duke teams of the past have done that," F Ryan Kelly said of an emphasis on defensive pressure.

--The Blue Devils play only four games in December, so there's plenty of practice time leading into ACC competition and the teeth of the schedule. "The more practice this team can get, the better," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Only two of those December games come after Dec. 10, with part of the layoff coming because of fall-semester final exams.


G Austin Rivers -- He leads the team in scoring with 15.8 points per game and he appears to be as good as advertised. He led the Blue Devils in scoring in six consecutive games through mid-December. His ability to get into the lane with the ball has created openings for others, including guards who can spot up for perimeter shots. He was able to play in front of his father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, for the first month of the season because of the NBA lockout.

KEY CONFERENCE GAME: Feb. 8 at North Carolina -- This will be the first meeting of the season between the rivals and it might be the Blue Devils' first conference game against a ranked opponent this season. Duke's last trip to Chapel Hill resulted in a winner-take-all loss for the ACC regular-season championship, though eight days later the Blue Devils avenged the defeat to win the ACC Tournament title game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It has been a grueling 10 games and we're 9-1. I'm proud of that." -- Coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team was 9-1 through 10 games for the 10th time under him and the 18th time in school history.


2010-11 CONFERENCE RECORD: 13-3, second place.

LINEUP BREAKDOWN: The Blue Devils figured to be more balanced in their production compared to past guard-oriented teams. But the guard play has been the focal point for much of the time, with freshman G Austin Rivers (15.8 points per game) leading the charge and G Seth Curry and G Andre Dawkins doing their parts as well. The balance comes in the form of F Mason Plumlee and R Ryan Kelly, who've been regular contributors at both ends of the court. The lineup has fluctuated at times, with G Tyler Thornton taking his turn and C Miles Plumlee filling a role.

--G Quinn Cook played only four minutes against Washington on Dec. 10, but he was on the court for the last 2:19 after teammates G Austin Rivers and G Seth Curry fouled out. Quinn has played 87 minutes this season, committing only four turnovers, and he handled the pressure against Washington without a drop-off.

--F Mason Plumlee is shooting a team-best 64.5 percent (49-for-76) from the field through 10 games. Despite his quest to improve his free-throw shooting, his 2-for-11 outing at the foul line against Washington dropped him to 38.1 percent (24-for-63) on free throws.

--G Andre Dawkins dealt with back spasms Dec. 7 against Colorado State, missing the second half. While his status going forward was considered uncertain, he was back for the next game Dec. 10 to pour in 17 points against Washington.

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