They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details – and the numbers:
On Saturday, junior distance runner Amina Maatoug broke the Duke program record in the women’s 3000m race for the second time in her two seasons with the Blue Devils. Her time of 8:46.89 earned her a third-place spot at the BU Season Opener in Boston and a top spot on the Duke record book ahead of her own 8:55.62 record from the last indoor season. Maatoug’s new record fits nicely with the rest of her Blue Devil resume, which notably includes a top-10 finish in this year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships as well as five other school records. This record-breaking performance happened at her very first meet of the season. As indoor track gears up, Maatoug will look to add a few more accolades to her name.
Duke men’s basketball is having a hard time, and whether that’s from growing pains or general sloppiness, it shows up in the numbers. In Atlanta Saturday afternoon, the Blue Devils suffered a shocking loss against the unranked Yellow Jackets that came largely as a result of low shooting percentages. Duke made good on just 4-of-16 shots from behind the arc, a lowly 25% from deep. Poor shooting extended to free throws, too; the Blue Devils made 60% of their 20 attempts at the stripe, an unusually low number for a team that averaged 71.8% heading into the weekend. That 25% shooting from three may indicate a problem deeper than Duke’s loss to its first conference opponent of the season. If the Blue Devils struggle to make shots from deep and also don’t have a true center to hang around at the rim and make magic happen in the paint, it will be difficult to score with the top teams in the country.
Sunday saw a little more basketball success for the Blue Devils, thanks to head coach Kara Lawson’s women’s squad. Duke did lose 77-61 in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but only after holding its own for a solid 30 minutes against the No. 1 team in the nation. South Carolina’s tough — and tall — program took more than three full quarters to take a substantial lead, and hold it, against the Blue Devils. Playing ferociously on Coach K Court, Duke forced the Gamecocks into 20 turnovers and capitalized 15 points off of them. Those astonishing turnovers from South Carolina, a team that averages 13.1 only per game, equipped junior guard Reigan Richardson to take the Duke scoring lead, putting 17 points next to her name on the box score. Her scoring was backed up by freshman forward Delaney Thomas, whose performance on Sunday, coupled with her performance at Stanford Nov. 19, makes the Charles Town, W.V., native look nothing short of promising. Following a year where turnovers were the bane of Lawson’s team — it gave up an average of 15.4 per game in the 2022-23 season — this showing of defensive prowess by turning its biggest weakness on its head indicates a bright future for the Blue Devils.
After Mike Elko suddenly announced his departure from the role of Duke’s head football coach, seven different Blue Devils have declared for the transfer portal. Starting Nov. 27 — the same day that Elko publicly committed to the head coaching job at Texas A&M — current Blue Devils put their names in the portal, leaving the team devoid not only of a head coach but also of players filling seven different positions on the roster, including quarterback. Junior Riley Leonard announced his departure from Duke Wednesday, the third player to do so. Following his decision, four followed it, a quartet that includes standout safety Jaylen Stinson, who recorded at least five tackles in all but one of the Blue Devils’ games this season.
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Sophie Levenson is a Trinity sophomore and sports features editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.