The Duke Blue Devils are on a terrific run, coming out of the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, beating the Iona Gaels 89-67, and also beating the Rhode Island Rams 87-62.
In the first round, Duke was expected to overcome Iona, but coming into the second round, it was a little more challenging for them. They were competing with an all-around better team than the Gaels. In the game against Rhode Island, Duke knew they had to come out with a chip on their shoulder, and that’s exactly what they did. That “chip” will have to continue to grow as they progress into the tournament.
Someone that was seen in both games, that hasn’t been too noticeable all during the regular season, happened to be Trevon Duval. He came out seemingly ready to play and has been competing with a purpose. He came out in the Iona game driving, which is something he has been lacking all season. Duval finished the game with 8 assists and 19 points. He has been a great contributor to the team thus far, and if he continues to play at this rate, that will make Duke an even better team.
Grayson Allen is continuing his roll as a leader, as he’s getting others involved into the game, but is also getting his share of points. He needs to continue being himself for the remainder of their run if they want a shot at the title, simply because Allen is the glue to the Blue Devil’s basketball organization.
Gary Trent Jr. is an outstanding ball player, as he can shoot and rebound. Although it does seem that he has gotten out of his shooting rhythm lately, that could very well turn around. One thing he has been productive in is his ability to add another body into the paint when a shot goes up. With his size, he needs to continue to pull in rebounds. His ability on the boards assists the play of guys such as Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter.
As for Carter, he will need to accumulate more rebounds, because for his size, eight boards against Iona and nine against Rhode Island, is unacceptable. He is also producing turnovers, so there’s obviously room for improvement.
Marvin Bagley III has had a very outstanding season, and he just needs to continue to play at his own pace, minus the few tweaks that are holding him back. He is in the same exact boat as Carter, so he also needs to be reeling in more rebounds and cutting his turnover rate. Another issue involves his ability to pass the ball and defer, as he is known a “shoot-first” player.
For Coach Mike Krzyzewski, something that could start playing a major factor as his team proceeds into the tournament is the fact that his players are fatiguing at a quicker rate. All of the starters played 20+ minutes against Iona, but playing the reserves at some point could helped give rest to the starters at hand. In the Rhode Island game, the starters were forced to play 25+ minutes, aside from that Wendell Carter, who played 19. Coach K definitely has the depth to play some guys who usually don’t see much time on the floor. The likes of Alex O’Connell, Jack White, and Jordan Goldwire could have gotten plenty of minutes on the floor in the first two rounds of the tournament.
As a whole, this team could have a legitimate chance to be National Champions for the sixth time in their history. On the other hand, their chances to win it all have declined as their season has developed. Their upcoming opponent will be the Syracuse Orange on March 23rd, with an approximate tip-off time of 9:37 PM EST.
🏀 Duke v. Syracuse
📍 CenturyLink Center
⏰ 9:37 ET
📺 CBS pic.twitter.com/p8GC1EbfES
— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) March 19, 2018
Photo Credits: ESPN.com