Ten days have passed since Ohio St. destroyed Duke. I still have a hard time believing how thoroughly the Buckeyes thrashed the Blue Devils. Every Duke fan went through the same roller coaster of emotions throughout the game. Have a chart!
This was a slaughter. There were two brights spots: Austin Rivers and Mason Plumlee. Austin Rivers made some Dwayne Wade-esque plays and also showed an improvement in ball distribution. Mason Plumlee got shit on by the referees but still played fantastically. The box score might not show it but he played great defense on Sullinger by forcing him into a number of ugly shots. Sullinger channeled his inner Tyler Hansbrough as all his shot-put attempts went in. But other than Rivers and Mason, Duke didn’t have too much to be happy about.
Where does Duke go from here? Duke fans will surely remember January 30, 2010 when Duke was demolished by Georgetown in front of *gasp* President Obama! As we all know, the Devils went on to capture the championship later that year. Does this current team have the ability to rebound from such a loss and make a run at the title? From an optimistic point of view, Duke does have a chance. There are a few things Duke needs to do to make this happen:
- Give Mason Plumlee the ball, a lot. He has proven he can be extremely effective in the paint. He no longer dribbles the ball off his knees. He has avoided shooting horrible mid-range airballs. More touches will make him more confident and more confidence will translate into better play.
- Throw Josh Hairston into the mix. Some people have compared Hairston to Lance Thomas but I don’t see it. Hairston doesn’t have athleticism of Lance Thomas. Now contemplate that sentence. You’re asking yourself why someone less athletic than Lance Thomas should play. It’s because Hairston is a scrappy motherfucker. He doesn’t back down from anyone. During the offseason Hairston and Kevin Durant teamed up to take on youth basketball leagues in the midwest. Durant was the scorer and Hairston was the enforcer. Black eyes among 12 year old basketball players rose 653% when Durant and Hairston played. Give Hairston 15 minutes a game and see how he can frustrate the opposing team.
- Try Austin Rivers at point guard. He displayed passing abilities in the OSU game that we haven’t seen before. Furthermore he has a fantastic handle and he’s lightning quick. The possible downside is his proclivity to make bad decisions after driving into the lane. However, as he gets more experience he will learn whether to take the shot or kick the ball out during his penetrations. Moving Seth Curry to the shooting guard position will help Duke spread the floor as defenders will have to stay close to both him and Andre Dawkins on the perimeter.