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Duke men's basketball 2019-20 player review: Alex O'Connell

O'Connell has increased his scoring average for every season he has been in Durham.
O'Connell has increased his scoring average for every season he has been in Durham.

Alex O’Connell

Season breakdown: Alex O’Connell’s season was a story of ups and downs which were predicated by usage. He started off the season strong, averaging 22.3 minutes and 11 points over his first three games, two of which he started. His performance quickly went south, however, when he went six straight games with only five total points to show for it. For the remainder of the season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski would attempt to increase O’Connell’s minutes to try and get him out of slumps. He would be effective for a few games, but would soon lose his touch or sense of urgency and return to the slump.

O’Connell’s sporadic performance made it nearly impossible to predict what games he would find success in. Krzyzewski saw this fault and kept him glued to the bench for most matchups against ranked teams like Michigan State and Louisville. However, apart from these big games, O’Connell was capable of making highlight plays and being a reliable scoring option in non-marquee matchups.

His 3-point shooting has been a necessity for Duke teams that struggle with outside scoring, but his accuracy has been in a free fall since his freshman year. O’Connell’s 3-point percentage has dropped from a 48.9 percent mark during his freshman campaign to this season’s 27.3 percent, the third lowest percentage on the team. Now that he has lost his greatest initial strength, it is difficult to see a future for him on Duke’s roster, which is likely one of the reasons he made the decision to transfer for his final year of eligibility.

Results relative to expectations: O’Connell played right up to, but not above the level expected of him. He put up a solid scoring average of 5.2 points per game off of significantly lower minutes than what predicted for him entering the season. On top of that, his hustle and athleticism were as strong as ever with 2.2 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game, both career high.

This season was a make-or-break moment in O’Connell’s Blue Devil career. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to surpass expectations. After finishing the year on an anticlimactic note and leaving much to be desired in terms of shooting, O’Connell will hit the road and hope to find success elsewhere.

Stay tuned to the Blue Zone for our continuing player reviews.


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