Skip to content

No. 6 Duke escapes but has some serious defensive issues to address

Nov 24, 2013, 9:16 PM EDT

parker Getty Images

After having trouble defensively in their 83-74 win over East Carolina on Tuesday night, No. 6 Duke had their hands full with the Vermont Catamounts on Sunday evening. Thanks to a Rodney Hood free throw with five seconds remaining and Vermont not attempting a shot in time on the ensuing possession the Blue Devils escaped with a 91-90 victory. But with the amount of talent on Mike Krzyzewski’s team, with freshman Jabari Parker (26 points, nine rebounds) leading the way, beating Vermont in late-November isn’t the standard for this group.

And that’s what makes their performance on the defensive end so concerning as they prepare for a trip to New York for the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals.

Vermont shot 64.8% from the field for the game, with Pepperdine transfer Hector Harold (24 points) and starting forward Clancy Rugg (20) leading four Catamounts in double figures. Through the use of proper spacing Vermont was able to find quality looks throughout the night, and during much of the second half Duke looked ill-equipped to get the stops needed to win the game.

Vermont finished the game with an offensive efficiency of 142.4 and an effective field goal percentage of 68.9%, but Duke won in the end because of Hood’s ability to attack the basket on the game’s deciding play and their overall ability to go “shot for shot” with the upstarts from America East. But in order for the Blue Devils to be a true national title contender they have to get better at keeping teams out of the paint.

Some may say that the Blue Devils need a “rim protector” of sorts to emerge, but where is that player coming from? 7-footer Marshall Plumlee, who didn’t see any action on Sunday night, is averaging just five minutes per game and neither Josh Hairston nor Amile Jefferson fits the “rim protector” role. That’s why Duke has to improve defensively in regards to both individual and team defense. There’s no “last line of defense” at present time, and it’s difficult to see such an option developing based upon the available options.

The Blue Devils are good enough offensively to beat most teams regardless of their issues on the defensive end. But in order to be one of the nation’s elite and challenge for a national title, the current effort being given defensively won’t cut it. Duke may not have lost on Sunday, but it became even more evident that the Blue Devils have a lot of work to do when it comes to stopping the opposition.

Latest Posts
  1. Head coach’s son becomes Iowa’s first 2017 commitment

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    mccaffery Getty Images

    Connor McCaffery was expected to play for his father, and he announced the intention to do so Saturday.

  2. Four-star shooting guard to announce decision September 5

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT

    Jorge Lopez/Nike Jorge Lopez/Nike

    The Floridian averaged 26 points per game as a high school junior.

  3. SMU center’s double-double leads Angola to win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    SMU v Memphis Getty Images

    Yanick Moreira missed time last season due to injury, so this month could prove incredibly valuable for both he and the SMU program he’ll rejoin.

  4. Providence’s non-conference slate headlined by Kentucky, four ACC foes

    Aug 30, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Providence is looking to reach consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time since the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

  5. Junior college guard verbally commits to Western Kentucky

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    Franklin Edmond averaged 18.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a freshman.

  6. Two Auburn players taking indefinite leave of absence

    Aug 30, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    After a big recruiting week for Auburn, two players from the current roster are leaving the program.

  7. Cincinnati announces non-conference schedule

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin AP

    Cincinnati has some tough opponents in the non-conference portion of the 2014-15 schedule.

  8. Utah State forward granted sixth year of eligibility by NCAA

    Aug 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Stew Morrill AP

    Utah State returns a veteran locker-room presence.

  9. Providence adds late 2014 commitment to bolster guard depth

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Ed Cooley AP

    Providence added another piece for the 2014-15 season late this week.

  10. Summer mixtape of four-star guard P.J. Dozier (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    P.J. Dozier

    P.J. Dozier had a big summer on the grassroots circuit.

  11. SMU, Louisville headline Indiana’s non-conference schedule

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Indiana will take on the SMU, Louisville, Georgetown, Butler and Pittsburgh before the New Year.

  12. Four-star 2016 guard remains ineligible to play this season

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline Kelly Kline

    The 6-foot-2 guard has 30 days to appeal the decision.

  13. Kentucky gives walk-on a scholarship for 2014-2015 season

    Aug 29, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    According to a report on Friday, a Kentucky sophomore earned a scholarship.

  14. College dunk champ Marcus Lewis shows off against streetball all-star team (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Marcus Lewis

    Marcus Lewis defeated Cory Jefferson and Adreian Payne in the college slam dunk contest in April

  15. Former Illinois great tweets why Jalen Brunson should stay in state

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg1y2mznddmzmeymjrjowyxmgfky2zhndqymjlhnjvh AP

    Dee Brown, a member of Illinois’ national runner-up team in 2005, would love to see Brunson in an Illinois uniform.

  16. College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    News and notes from around the world of college basketball.

  17. Former Michigan center discusses hasty departure for the NBA (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Mitch McGary AP

    Mitch McGary discusses the circumstances that led to his early departure.

  18. American Athletic Conference releases 2014-15 schedule

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Kevin Ollie AP

    The teams expected by many to finish in the top five will all face each other twice in 2014-15.

  19. Medical issue forces FGCU freshman guard to redshirt

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:36 AM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida Gulf Coast v Radford Getty Images

    Zach Johnson was a player the Eagles could have used to add some depth to their backcourt.