Duke men's basketball suffered their third loss of the season Tuesday night against Florida State. Now, the Blue Zone breaks down the overtime defeat with one player, one word and one stat:
One player: Paolo Banchero
Paolo Banchero’s dominance late in the game was the main reason Duke was able to rally and bring this matchup to overtime before their eventual loss. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for Banchero. He is clearly the number one scoring option for Duke when offense is desperately needed, yet he only had four field goal attempts until very late in the second half. It seems to be a pattern that the star out of Seattle fades into the background for stretches.
When he does drive into the paint and take his shots, it appears as though he can score at will. But that begs the questions of where that will is when Duke scores just eight points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Moments like that are when the Blue Devils need Banchero's dominance the most. He is clearly a star and absolutely deserves his rating as a top NBA prospect, but in order for Duke to find more success in these close games, there can no longer be mysteries in its play. Its best player needs more than just four field goal attempts per half. Duke has had very limited exposure to true away crowds, and it is possible that these situations can be intimidating for the freshman. However, as he grows more comfortable through the rest of the season, he needs to remain locked in for the full 40 minutes (or more) in order for Duke to pull out these close games.
One word: Pressure
Out of the three true road games Duke has played so far this season, two of them have ended in losses. That is not entirely unexpected for a team that relies so heavily on a group of young players to carry its weight. Even sophomores Jeremy Roach and Mark Williams don’t have much experience with hostile crowds, as many of their games last season took place in empty stadiums. It's a major adjustment going from playing in high school courts straight to major ACC arenas, and the team has showed signs of growing pains.
At times, star players, such as Banchero, played timidly. Rather than hunting for their own shot, swatting away balls enthusiastically or throwing down thunderous dunks as they would in front of the Cameron Crazies, the young team seemed to shy away. It is entirely possible that it was simply not their night, and the away crowd did not have much affect on them. However, it is important to note that the Blue Devils' one away win took place at Wake Forest, a location where many Duke fans were able to make a trip out to see them, while the two losses took place at Ohio State and in Tallahassee, Fla. Come tournament time, games will all be played at neutral sites, but for now, the ACC regular season poses a challenge to this roster. They must learn to look past the pressure opposing fans create and get back to playing the way they want to, so they can overcome the away-game barrier.
One stat: 19 offensive rebounds
The rebounding was a glaring problem all throughout the game for the Blue Devils. Time after time, the effective defense led to missed shots, but that led to missed box outs, which led to second-chance points for the Seminoles. By the end of the game, Duke had grabbed seven offensive rebounds compared to 19 by Florida State. The loss of countless possessions due to failed rebounding attempts is a major factor in the Blue Devils dropping the game.
The stat that displays this best is the disparity in field goal attempts. While shooting 49% for the game, the Blue Devils got up just 55 shots. Florida State was able to win this game despite shooting 36% from the field, simply because they got up 73 total shot attempts. In the future, the Blue Devils will need to box out on missed shots and use size to their advantage. Against a team as big as the Seminoles, some struggle on the boards was expected, but Mark Williams and Paolo Banchero are 7-foot-1 and 6-foot-10, respectively, and that needs to be on better display for the rest of the season. This team has both the talent and coaching to go far come tournament time, but execution will need to be better if a sixth title is to come to Durham.
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