Stock watch: Schedule eases up for Duke men's basketball; Injury bug lingers
The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has rung again, meaning it's time to take a look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. Each week, the Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics.
Bull Market—Trending Up
Ease of Duke men's basketball's schedule: Coming off back-to-back losses against ranked teams, hope is on the horizon for the reeling Blue Devils. After losing on the road against then-No. 9 Florida State and then-No. 14 Louisville, Duke is set to play three straight games against unranked opponents.
Sophomore Luke Kennard and company will play Miami and N.C. State at home before traveling to Winston-Salem, N.C., to play Wake Forest in the upcoming week. Duke can hope to get over its January slump before facing No. 15 Notre Dame on the road to end the month.
Leaonna Odom: Despite struggling for much of the early portion of the season, the freshman forward has seen success recently since entering the starting lineup for the first time Dec. 21. Odom had a breakout game against North Carolina Jan. 12 with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, seven rebounds and two blocks.
Odom has found success on the offensive glass and leads the team in offensive rebounds despite being fourth on the team in total rebounds. As she continues to acclimate to the college game, the Lompoc, Calif., native should develop into a dominant presence on the glass for Duke.
Bear Market—Trending Down
Free-throw shooting: The Blue Devil men are shooting just 73.6 percent from the free-throw line on the season, failing to crack the top 50 in the country. Duke’s free-throw woes came to prominence against Louisville, where freshmen Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum missed three free throws on consecutive possessions that would have cut into the Cardinals’ lead late in the game.
Only two Blue Devils are shooting better than 80.0 percent from the charity stripe this season—Kennard and Tatum. A team-wide improvement on the freebies will help an otherwise-potent Duke offense, and Giles, who is shooting just 45.5 percent from the line, must be at the forefront of that progress.
The Blue Devils are doing much better on the women's side. Point guard Lexie Brown stretched her ACC-record streak to 56 consecutive free throws made before she finally missed one off the back rim at N.C. State last Sunday.
Duke men's basketball continuity: Head coach and five-time national champion Mike Krzyzewski has missed the last three games as he recovers from back surgery, but graduate student Amile Jefferson may be the Blue Devil most sorely missed by the rest of the team. Jefferson was averaging a double-double with 13.6 points and 10.1 rebounds before going down Jan. 7 against Boston College with a bone bruise in his right foot.
In the last two seasons, Duke is 22-3 with Jefferson in the lineup and 17-12 without him and has outscored its opponents by 14.6 points more with the forward healthy. Not much information has been made available about the 6-foot-9 forward's status, but a quick return would help the Blue Devils bounce back into the ACC picture after two straight losses.