Devils Grind Out A Championship

Fresh off winning a share of the ACC Regular Season championship and finishing unbeaten at home, the Blue Devils will now turn their attention to the ACC Tournament this weekend.

GETTING INSIDE

It became a workmanlike effort for Duke to reach the end of the regular season while holding a share of the ACC championship.

Rather than accepting that as their defining achievement, the Blue Devils want to use their position to do more.

"We're not finished," senior forward Lance Thomas said.

That tends to be the theme around the Blue Devils, who have had postseason shortcomings in recent years.

"We've got a lot left to do," senior guard Jon Scheyer said.

What this shows is that despite this particular group never having won a regular-season championship before, the Blue Devils don't believe they've fulfilled their mission. Coach Mike Krzyzewski calls this Duke team a "very good team" but always stops short of making reference to a great team.

For the Blue Devils, ideally they'll reach that level.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Blue Devils won 13 conference games in the regular season, giving them 13 or more ACC wins three times in a five-year stretch. But it was the first time they won at least a share of the regular-season title since the 2005-06 season. There hadn't been a three-year drought for Duke since a four-year span (1987-90).

--Duke holds the No. 1 seed for the ACC tournament, capturing the tiebreaker with Maryland, which shared the regular-season championship with the Blue Devils. The league's unbalanced scheduled worked in Duke's favor in regard to the tiebreaker because the Blue Devils had better records against potential third-place teams. Duke had costly losses to two teams (Georgia Tech and North Carolina State) with sub-.500 conference records.

ON THE SPOT: Constant questions about Duke's depth and the large amount of playing time for its key trio of players might be put to test in the ACC tournament. Duke could be required to play three games in three days if it advances to the final. The Blue Devils have had several tough turnarounds this season (two games in three days), but they haven't played on back-to-back days since opening the season by defeating Coastal Carolina and Charlotte in home games as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Coach Mike Krzyzewski dismisses concern about fatigue, saying properly monitoring the duration and intensity of practices is the way to keep players fresh.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You never go into a game thinking you're going to blow out somebody like that." -- G Jon Scheyer, on Duke's 82-50 victory against North Carolina to end the season. That was the largest margin of victory for the Blue Devils on their home court against North Carolina in the history of the storied series.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP: The Blue Devils wrapped up a share of the regular-season title in the ACC by winning nine of their final 10 games. Duke is in the mix of teams bound to be considered for a No. 1 regional seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils ended the regular season with a 26-5 record.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Jon Scheyer, G Nolan Smith, C Brian Zoubek, F Kyle Singler, F Lance Thomas. Key Subs -- F Miles Plumlee, F Mason Plumlee, F Ryan Kelly, G Andre Dawkins.

GAME REVIEW:

  • Duke 67, Virginia 49
  • Maryland 79, Duke 72
  • Duke 82, North Carolina 50
GAME PREVIEW:
  • vs. Boston College/Virginia winner, ACC tournament quarterfinals, at Greensboro, N.C., Friday, March 12

IN FOCUS: The Blue Devils seem locked in on putting together a strong effort in pulling off the ACC tournament championship to go with the regular-season title that it shares with Maryland. This group of Blue Devils has largely been denied titles, though Duke is the defending champion of the ACC tournament, something largely overlooked because North Carolina went on to win the national championship last year.

ROSTER REPORT

--G Kyle Singler continues to take advantage of points at the free-throw line. He made 6 of 6 against North Carolina, pushing his total to 35-for-40 in the past seven games. His 153 free-throw attempts are the second-most on the team behind G Jon Scheyer's 171.

--C Brian Zoubek notched another double-figure rebounding outing with a game-high 13 against North Carolina. He has at least 11 rebounds in five of the past seven games. He also shot 4-for-4 from the field, meaning he has missed more than one shot in only one of the last six games.

--F Lance Thomas seemed as pleased as anyone with the outcome in his final home game in a Duke uniform even though statistically it wasn't anything special. He missed his only shot from the field and finished with two points (two free throws). He fouled out after playing only 16 minutes. He had played at least 20 minutes in the previous 13 games.


Blue Devil Digest Top Stories