Superb freshman Jabari Parker is having to play the center position for coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils team this season which is a telling sign that defense will be the focal point of the weaknesses. Having not played a single ACC game, Duke is one of the worst defensive teams in the conference.
The Blue Devils currently rank 155th in the country in opponent points per game at 71 points per contest and allow teams to shoot almost 47 percent from the floor—ranking 192nd in the country. These defensive woes are going to be the reason for Duke’s lack of success in not only the tournament, but throughout conference play.
Luckily today, the Blue Devils squared off against the Elon Phoenix of the Southern Conference. However, the Phoenix can score and Duke showed they could stop them at their game—with eight minutes left in the first half, the Phoenix had scored a total of nine points.
If Duke can somehow grow to be more physical on the defensive end like it showed against Elon at a neutral location, the Blue Devils can win the ACC.
The offense is outstanding for Duke, scoring 85 points per game and ranking 14th in the country. Today the Blue Devils were led by Andre Dawkins who finished the first half with 12 points off the bench. The hot-shooting guard came in and made his first four three-point jumpers.
The offense is there for Duke, but the defense is the aspect that’s lacking for a young team that has high aspirations in the NCAA tournament. If coach Krzyzewski’s team cannot play defense it might mean an early exit in both the conference tournament and NCAA tournament.
Duke’s win 86-48 against lowly Elon showed that the will to play defense is there. The Blue Devils will just struggle against teams with a good big guy like the Kansas Jayhawks, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Michigan State Spartans.
John Lloyd is a Pac-12 Basketball Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHLloydIII