Duke notebook

Duke football takes a step back with lopsided loss to Hurricanes

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Duke football has fallen from the ranks of the undefeated as they took a demoralizing loss to Miami this past Friday night 31-6. While the Blue Devils defense slowed Miami for most of the game, the offense had its worst showing of the year. That caused the Duke defense to be on the field more than they have been in any game this year, and they gave up a season-high 31 points. The ground game was moving fairly well, as it has all season, but Daniel Jones missed on some tight throws and his receivers were unable to fight for 50-50 balls against the more athletic Miami defensive backs. It didn’t help that the offensive line gave Jones little time in the pocket.


The Duke offensive troubles have showed themselves mostly in the red zone this year, with the Zac Roper-led unit generating touchdowns on just 39 percent of possessions. Duke has a lot to figure out if it’s going to be one of the upper echelon teams in the Coastal Division this season, but they have a lot of positive things going for them. Specifically in the running game, both on offense and defense, Duke is effective. The team will need to focus on its strengths as the meat of its schedule kicks off this Saturday against Virginia. It will be the team’s first trip out of the state of North Carolina this year. It continues next weekend when Florida State comes to town, a team that was highly ranked coming into the season, but has struggled and will surely be looking for redemption.


Duke’s basketball program met with the media earlier this week and Coach Mike Krzyzewski had a number of comments on the current state of college basketball. The corruption and bribery scandal that has ripped through the sport recently has not touched Duke, but Coach K has his eye on the ramifications of the sport that he’s coached for over 40 years. Shoe companies have had an undue influence for years on recruits and their decisions on where to attend college, but this latest scandal that brought the FBI into the college basketball world has ramifications that will be felt for years. Hall of Fame Coach Rick Pitino was let go just this week at Louisville and a number of prominent assistant coaches were fired or put on probation. Surely, this is just the beginning of the fall out.


When the players had their turn to speak to the media on Tuesday, it was clear that this group of eight freshmen, four sophomores, one junior and one senior is very loose and is not feeling the pressure of last year’s team. Grayson Allen was named the team’s sole captain heading into the year and he has taken on most of the leadership in the offseason. He did not maintain his captain’s status last year as issues on and off the court caused him to lose focus and become more of a distraction to the team. After long discussions with Coach K and his parents, Allen made the decision to return to Duke for his final year of eligibility despite having the opportunity to head off to the NBA. Allen underwent surgery in May and under the advisement of Coach K, took three months off during the off-season away from the game of basketball, conducting an internship in Chicago and getting healthy for the first time in over a year. He seems to have a new appreciation for the game, which is rubbing off on the new members of the team that will be counted on to replace the bulk of the scoring from last year after early departures by Frank Jackson, Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles. The season gets underway with Countdown to Craziness (Duke’s version of Midnight Madness) on Oct. 20, but the team has already started to practice officially. The first exhibition game comes in less than a month on Oct. 27 against Northwest Missouri State.


Most of the attention this offseason has been on freshman phenom Marvin Bagley ever since he made the decision on Aug. 14th to reclassify up to be eligible to play college basketball this season. He enrolled at Duke just eight days later and now is a projected top three pick in next June’s NBA draft. While his timeline is accelerated moreso than other college freshmen, Bagley has shown throughout his career that he has the ability to play against competition much older and experienced than him. Over the next six months, he’ll get the chance to prove that on a much bigger stage than he ever has. All projections have the 6-foot-11 forward being able to do just that, and he’ll almost certainly come into the 2017-18 season as the Preseason ACC Freshman of the Year.