It’s not very often that the Duke Blue Devils end the season with consecutive losses. But a defeat in the ACC tournament championship game to the Virginia Cavaliers, followed by an upset in Duke’s first NCAA tournament game by Mercer left the Devils feeling very Blue as a 26-9 season came to an end.
Few expected that many losses for the Blue Devils with the addition of super freshman Jabari Parker, who at least offensively lived up to his billing and then some. Parker, joined by Rodney Hood and Quinn Cook, combined to score almost 60 percent of Duke’s points this season.
But the Blue Devils also had issues with foul trouble in big games and lost some head-scratching games to Notre Dame, Wake Forest and Clemson, not to mention the season finale to Mercer, the champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Duke has perhaps the nation’s top recruiting class coming to Durham for next season, though Parker has left for the NBA Draft, as has Hood. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski will have plenty of new talent to build around next season in a bid to get Duke back to the national podium. Here is an evaluation of the 2013-14 Blue Devils:
Offense: When Duke was hitting its 3-point shots, the Blue Devils’ offense was one of the best in the country. Even on nights where nothing else seemed to work, the outside shot bailed out Duke, such as in its home win over Virginia early in the ACC season, when Duke went 10-for-22 from outside to win 69-65.
Four Duke regulars shot 41 percent or better from 3-point range for the season, while Cook (37.1 percent) and Parker (35.8 percent) were decent threats. The Blue Devils were 27th in the nation at 79.1 PPG. But when Duke struggled from 3-point range, the offense usually tanked. In the 82-72 loss at Wake Forest, the Blue Devils were a meager 6-for-27 (22.2 percent) from beyond the arc.
A focal point next season will be a more balanced offense and improved and more consistent post play. Grade: B+
Defense: What Parker gave the Blue Devils on offense, he often gave away defensively. The biggest hole in his game heading into the NBA will be his inability to defend. Duke was somewhat pedestrian defensively this season, giving up 67.4 points a game, which wasn’t good enough to crack the top 100 teams in the nation.
Duke allowed 94 points to an excellent Kansas team in an early-season loss, but also gave up 72 to light-scoring Clemson, 82 to Wake Forest, and 91 to Syracuse in losses. Teams usually could shoot over the Duke defense from outside, but even if not, the Blue Devils’ interior presence was sorely lacking and opponents could often control the paint.
Even teams with moderate post presence could work inside vs. Duke, something that will need to change next season. Grade: C-
Overall: Any time the Blue Devils bow out in the second round of the NCAA tournament (their first game), it’s cause for rejoice for many in the college basketball world and an unsuccessful season at Duke. Despite all the talent coming in, the Blue Devils really missed an opportunity to excel while Parker, Hood, Cook and role players like Amile Jefferson were together.
There’s little doubt next season Duke will again be in the national mix, but 2013-14 feels like a disappointment for this group. Grade C-
The 2013-14 Blue Devils in a tweet: “So, did it feel the same as it did against VCU or Lehigh? Just wondering. #LoveMercer”