From The Stands: Duke vs. Maryland

Duke entered Wednesday night's game with Maryland with a lofty No. 2 ranking, a perfect 15-0 record, and what seemed to be a good amount of positive momentum. Unfortunately for the Blue Devil faithful, it was the Terrapins who showed up with ample desire and heart, as they pulled away late in the second half to hand Duke its first loss of the year. <I>TDD</I> examines the carnage.

What Went Wrong:

- Duke certainly caught Maryland at a very dangerous time. After all, the Terps were likely fighting for their post-season lives, and were coming off a humiliating performance at NC State. From the time the teams took the floor for warm ups, you could see that this was the equivalent to the Super Bowl to both Gary Williams and his team. Simply put, Maryland was going to bring all they had and play aggressive, physical ball. Meanwhile, Duke seemed lethargic, lost, and downright uninterested at times on the floor. The bottom line was Maryland wanted this more.

- After looking like such a well-oiled machine in the game against Florida State, the offense was stalled more often than not on Wednesday. The ball movement wasn't there. Neither was the spacing. Several times Duke would have one offensive player and four spectators on the floor.

- Rebounding was crucial to Maryland's ability to pull out the win. Whenever the Terps' couldn't convert from the field, they had at least three players crashing the boards and beating Duke to the ball. Towards the end of the game, it became noticeable as Maryland earned second chance points on several of their possessions in the final three minutes.

- Fatigue showed its head for the first time this season down the stretch as the Terps were fresher and simply wore Duke down. That may have had more to do with the physical nature of the game than the pace, but it is cause for concern. Considering DeMarcus Nelson and David McClure combined for just 14 minutes, while the big three of Ewing, Redick, and Williams averaged 39 minutes – Duke's going to be forced to use the bench more than they did tonight, especially with the battles they have coming.

- The decision making with the ball down the stretch reverted back to last season's problems at the end of the games, as Duke failed to adapt to what the defense was doing. When crunch time came, Duke needed big baskets. Instead they got a series of forced shots, contested prayers, and a handful of point blank looks that failed to convert.

- Turnovers played a huge role in Duke's demise, but many were the result of poor passing, and bad decision making with the ball more than anything that was being done defensively. Entry passes thrown to Shelden Williams' shins, waiting to pass out of double teams, and flippant passes all proved costly as Maryland tallied 13 first half forced turnovers. Duke finished with 19 for the game.

- When it became obvious that J.J. Redick didn't have it from the perimeter, Duke had a chance to go inside to Williams, whom Maryland had no answer for. But they didn't. Sure he missed some close looks, but Duke didn't make him as much of a focal point in the offensive scheme as they had in weeks past.

- As a team Duke didn't shoot the ball well, hitting just 33% on the game and an abysmal 30% in the second half. More than Maryland's defensive prowess, was Duke's poor shot selection as several attempts were low percentage looks at best.

- For Duke to be successful, there is going to have to be some more offensive diversity shown. Simply put, Redick and Williams are going to draw double teams every time they touch the ball. Redick in particular, has two guys running at him every time. At one point he faked and then dribbled and faked again, only to lay it off to Williams for the easy jam. If he'd do more of that, two things would happen: First, he'd average at least four assists per game. Second, eventually defenses would begin to ease up just a bit, allowing for more open looks.

What Went Right:

- Each player had a few highlights, including Shelden Williams' power move and subsequent jam over Travis Garrison. Williams also continues to show great accuracy on 15-foot jumpers, and had a terrific statline of 18 points, 14 rebounds, and seven blocks.

- Lee Melchionni hit a couple of big shots when Duke was seemingly on the ropes to extend the lead back to two possessions. Meanwhile, Sean Dockery had a tremendous steal and fast break conversion early in the second half.

- Duke got an unexpected lift from freshman David McClure during his brief stints on the floor. Both he and classmate DeMarcus Nelson played well in their time on the floor, working hard on defense.

- The play of Shavlik Randolph was encouraging for Duke fans as the junior big man hit for seven points and six rebounds as he continues to recover from mono. While his stamina hasn't fully returned, Randolph is playing better now than he was at the beginning of the year, showing signs of an aggressive streak that many questioned early on. If he continues to attack the basket and stays aggressive, there's no reason he can't transform into a solid and consistent contributor this year.

- While the offense wasn't good, the defense was relatively strong in spurts, forcing Maryland into 23 turnovers on the evening, while holding the terms to 35% shooting in the first half. Unfortunately that didn't continue after intermission, which was the difference.

Player of the Game:

While there weren't too many bright spots on this night, there was one positive shown in the form of Shavlik Randolph's continued recovery. The 6'10 junior rebounded, played solid defense, and scored inside (he's made his last 8 FG attempts) in limited minutes. As he contines to recover his strength and stamina, he could provide a crucial missing piece for the Bleu Devils. For his efforts, Randolph is our TDD Player of the Game.

Next Play:

Next up is a Virginia Tech team that many wrote off at the beginning of the season as an after thought in the ACC. However, the Hokies have proven capable opponents after stunning both NC State and Georgia Tech. Throw in a victory over Clemson, and you've got another ACC battle looming before its time for Duke to face this season's version of Murderers' Row (Tech, Wake, UNC).

A win gives Duke six victories with just one more game remaining in the first half of the ACC schedule, and makes a conference record of 11-5 seem within reach. To deliver on that win, the Blue Devils will have to work on rediscovering the offensive execution that made them so successful prior to Wednesday – it would also be a bonus if the Devils were able to get some meaningful contributions from either Dockery, Nelson or McClure, though they'd need to get some meaningful minutes in order to do that.

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