This year’s crop of Blue Devils have excelled in many areas and have proven themselves to be true title contenders, however, in order to take the next step, there needs to be some sort of change on offense.
A large part of Duke's offense revolves around center Vernon Carey Jr. The freshman sensation has started every game this season while taking home multiple ACC Freshman of the Week honors. His offensive arsenal is vast and has been vital to Duke’s success this year, but it has one major flaw: setting the pick-and-roll.
The pick-and-roll play is an offensive cheat code if it's run with scorers like Carey and Tre Jones. Both Blue Devils can easily take it to the basket and Jones possess a lethal mid-range pull-up to add another dimension to the play. But, Duke has struggled to run this set thus far because Carey's screens are not as effective as they could be, and he doesn’t roll hard following the pick.
In this first clip against Georgetown, Carey comes up from the post to set a screen for Jones, however, the freshman goes for a slip screen without a hard dive to the basket. Although he directs the double team to Jones, Carey drifts too softly to the paint and is quickly covered up before Jones can find him, forcing a tough shot.
If Carey was able to make contact and disrupt the defender, then the Blue Devils would either have a mismatch or a wide-open cutter for an easy bucket.
Coming in at 6-foot-10, 270 pounds, Carey should easily be able to cut off any guard who is on Jones. He again misses contact here, but even after that he fades towards the basket instead of making a cut to an open space. It seems like Carey simply needs to learn to cut hard after going for slip screens. Although the play ends in success with a Cassius Stanley three pointer, Carey ends up losing his position, getting boxed out easily by the Georgetown center.
All of this is not to say that he doesn’t have exceptional talent, and according to Mike Krzyzewski, Carey only started playing in the post when he arrived in Durham. His abilities run deep, but as long as he is Duke’s centerpiece, the Florida native will need to open up his game even more before the Blue Devils near the end of conference play.
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