Duke Looks For More From Supporting Cast

Before the week began head coach Mike Krzyzewski pointed out the one thing that being No. 1 in the middle the season gets you: A big headline when you lose. On Wednesday night Duke got that headline after dropping a 70-68 decision to Wake Forest. But looking beyond the final result, the Blue Devil head coach has much to be excited about with this year's team.

After watching his team shoot just 28 percent in the opening half; record twice as many turnovers as assists; and generally only have two consistent scoring threats throughout the game, head coach Mike Krzyzewski saw his team rally from a double figure deficit against one of the nation's top five teams, on their home court to have a chance to win.

Of course that didn't happen as Gerald Henderson was whistled for a bizarre traveling call after grabbing a rebound and then being pulled down on top of the Wake defender. On the next play Duke suffered its final mental lapse, not reacting to Wake's inbounds play which allowed a routine layup to spoil a terrific comeback effort and to send Duke tumbling from the top of the national polls.

"We were going to switch everything, but you have to body up. We didn't body up, obviously. We wanted the ball to go to the outside, so you'd switch to take the inside away," said Krzyzewski of the final play. "If they were going to do anything, we wanted them to make a jump shot. We were not physical on that play. We deserve to lose if you don't do that."

Consider it a lesson learned and a one of the little things coaches key on in January to prevent similar lapses come tournament time. And, unlike the character showed by his team on Wednesday, the mental lapses and lost defensive assignments are correctable with practice.

"I didn't think that we had the aggressiveness or toughness that we showed for most of the season and then all of a sudden we had so much of it, it was unbelievable. Our kids played so hard to put themselves in a position to win. Losing the game on the last play makes it hard a little bit more. Sometimes getting hurt is good."

It'll certainly be the theme of this week's practices in which Krzyzewski and his staff begin challenging the rest of the roster (outside of Kyle Singler and Henderson) to step up on the offensive end of the court. Aside from Duke's two First Team All-ACC candidates, the rest of the team combined to score just 26 points on 6-of-30 shooting from the floor and 1-of-15 from behind the arc.

That's something that will have to change for the Blue Devils to distance themselves from the elite teams in the country, though such a performance appears to be more aberration than common occurrence. And, after Wednesday, Krzyzewski can be confident that he's got a team that will battle no matter the circumstances.

"There was a period there where we thought we were going to get blown out of here. We had some foul trouble and we weren't hitting anything and it's just not a great night for us. That's one of the tough things about sport. The fact that we had that type of determination shows that we have good heart on the team."

Going forward the Blue Devils will regroup and prepare to face Virginia at home on Sunday beginning at 2:00 PM EST.


The Devils Den Top Stories