When teams lose its usually for a myriad of reasons. Tonight the Duke Blue Devils had their 25 game winning streak ended because they didn’t shoot well (31%), they were out hustled and turned the ball over too many times (15 turnovers). It’s the worst trifecta you can have in a basketball game. There is no way any team, even one as talented as Duke, can win a game when they do all three.
They completely abandoned their inside game, settling for the quick three way too often. Miles & Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly were 1-of-5 from inside the three point line and Duke made only 11-of-35 three-pointers (almost 60% of all their shots were 3-pointers).
I understand that the Plumlees are not big inside threats, but without the illusion of trying to get them the ball, it was easy for Florida State to concentrate on stopping the Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler combination (12-of-33 shooting). It was like a football team abandoning the run to do nothing but pass the ball. It makes it easier for the defense to play when they know what to expect.
Even after they made their run to get back into the game, they still played sloppy. Yes, Florida State played the best defense Duke had seen this season, but the Blue Devils were too one dimensional. It was either Nolan Smith trying to get to the basket and turning the ball over, or it was Kyle Singler trying to do everything by himself, taking threes from somewhere near Orlando.
Duke was partially exposed in the Maryland game and Florida State expanded on what they learned from Gary Williams’ game plan. Play suffocating man-to-man defense on Smith and Singler, force them to give up the ball and make someone else beat you. In the Maryland game, Duke was able to find someone else to help them win the game (Seth Curry & Tyler Thornton). Against Florida State, Duke wasn’t so lucky. Smith and Singler just weren’t enough to get Duke the victory as the winning streak came to a crashing halt.
With the loss the haters will come out of the closet and talk about how Duke was overrated and shouldn’t have lost to an inferior Florida State team, or even been number 1 in the country. Lets face it, there is a reason why no one has gone undefeated in over 30 years.
What’s the old adage? Any team can beat any other team on any given night.
When that team has a target the size of the Atlantic Ocean on their back every game and play as poorly as Duke played tonight, that adage often comes true.
Coach K will use this lose to devise a more efficient game plan for the future and I feel sorry for the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon.