From The Stands: Duke vs. Wake

Duke dropped its second game of the season on Wednesday night with a similar symptoms ultimately spelling defeat for the Blue Devils. With several quick whistles and a depleted amount of depth, Duke fought hard, but ultimately bowed to Wake, which played as well as it could in its biggest game of the season to date.

What Went Wrong

- Once again the Blue Devils weren't able to put together a complete effot, and it cost them midway through the game as Wake was able to race out to a lead of as many as 14 points midway through the second half. In the end, despite the terrific and clutch play of J.J. Redick, it was too deep a hole for Duke to dig out of.

- Duke also had some questionable shot selection at critical times during the second half, which contributed to Wake being able to run out to their big lead. While it's admirable that Duke has a roster full of kids willing to step up and take the big shot, at times some of them were way outside the flow of the offense.

- The interior game was better in spots, but the real telling stat was the second chance opportunities Wake was able to get via offensive rebounds. In all the Deacons earned 21 offensive rebounds and converted them into 25 second chance points. Duke managed just 35 boards, including 12 from Williams. Simply put, Duke must get the Landlord more help. Wake also exploited Duke's one man show inside, outscoring the Blue Devils 42-32 in the paint.

- Offensively, Duke became way too eager to rely on their three point shooting. Sure, Redick's outside barrage at the end of the game was incredibly inspiring, but the reason Duke was in so much trouble was the proportion of inside to outside attempts. After intermission Redick took 14 shots, Shelden Williams had seven attempts. When he got the ball inside, Williams proved productive, yet Duke forgot about him over and over again.

- Despite the offense's problems during key stretches, the Blue Devils still managed to get 49 points from Redick and Williams. However, no other Blue Devil starter reached double figures, with reserve Lee Melchionni adding 13. Simply put, Duke needs more scoring from other sources outside of Redick and Williams. Usually that comes from Ewing, but he wasn't able to help tonight (see below) as much as in the past. Shavlik Randolph and DeMarcus Nelson showed flashes of being able to help, but until they become more consistent, Duke's offense remains vulnerable.

- In a game that was extremely competitive, the Blue Devils were never able to adjust to the way in which fouls were being called. It cost them Daniel Ewing for most of the second half (he played just 20 minutes), while the team finished with four players tallying four or more personal fouls. For the game the final foul total was Duke – 24, Wake –19

What Went Right:

- One thing this team has is an enormous amount of character and heart. Down by 14 to the best team in the ACC (according to the preseason) midway through the second half, and without their senior captain who was lost to dubious fouls, the Blue Devils rallied to come within one possession of stealing a win. Wake gave them their best shot, and still they couldn't put Coach K's troops away.

- Though it was brief in each case, Duke began to see flashes of solid contributions from freshman DeMarcus Nelson and junior Shavlik Randolph. Both shot 3-of-6 from the field, rebounded well, and played good defense – including Nelson slowing down Paul in the last part of the game. For this team to continue to be successful, it'll be crucial to have both of them as regular parts of the rotation.

- After struggling from the perimeter in the past, Duke shot a sizzling 54% from beyond the three point arc on Wednesday. Most of the looks not taken by Redick were wide open shots, which were byproducts of good passing and ball rotation, which surfaced sporadically throughout the evening.

Final Thoughts

The rally at the end of the game by J.J. Redick was both a good and bad thing. Good in the sense that Duke almost clawed its way to a win despite playing poorly for most of the game. Bad that it masked many of the problems that caused such a big hole to dig out of. In the end it can be argued that this year's team is still searching for another consistent scoring option. It was supposed to either Randolph or Nelson but injuries have set both back a good way at one time or another this year. However, both are starting to show flashes of their abilities as their minutes increase, which is something to hope for as Duke moves on.

Player of the Game:

Despite some poor shot selection before his miracle run at the end (previously 2-of-9 from the perimeter), J.J. Redick's all out hustle and tremendous effort to bring his team back to far more than he needs to once again be named our TDD Player of the Game.

Next Play:

Duke has no time to lick their wounds as a very motivated Georgia Tech team comes calling to Cameron over the weekend. Once again the name across the jersey of the good guys will most assuredly bring out their opponents best efforts. To be successful, Duke will certainly need more than they've been getting from senior Daniel Ewing. They will also need to continue to balance the offense and look for Williams in the post, and hopefully will get more from either Nelson or Randolph in a supplementary scoring role.

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