Adam Rowe runs Duke Hoop Blog, which, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Duke Blue Devil basketball. We had the opportunity to exchange Q&A with him to get to know the Blue Devils and talk about tomorrow night's matchup between BC and Duke.
BC Interruption: Duke is humming along to the tune of 18-1 this season, despite the loss of freshman star Kyrie Irving. How has this team missed Irving, if at all? Who has stepped up in Irving's absence?
Duke Hoop Blog: Early on, Duke relied on it's two senior leaders, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith to provide scoring. Unheralded freshman Tyler has stepped up the defensive pressure at the guard spot, which has been a nice surprise. The two Plumlee Brothers and Ryan Kelly have provided increased rebounding. It's really been a collective effort, as Kyrie provided so much. Duke has a lot of options on offense. It's the only team to have six players score over 20 points in a game this season.
BCI: Is the ACC truly in a down year for basketball? And when it's all said and done, who do you see getting first-round byes for this year's ACC Tournament?
DHB: Yes. Absolutely. There's no two ways about it. But, I do think the severity of this down year has been exaggerated. There are three teams with new head coaches, UVA lost a few unexpected players and got hit with injuries this year, Wake Forest has had to deal with unexpected departures and injuries, and Virginia Tech has been hit pretty hard with injuries as well. Maryland is in a transition phase, and North Carolina has been a mess for about a year and a half. These things work in cycles and there's a lot of young talent in this league where it should be a strong player next season.
I think Duke, Florida State, Boston College, and UNC will end up with byes. In that order.
BCI: The lone blemish on Duke's record this season is a 66-61 setback at Florida State. How were the Seminoles able to beat the Blue Devils? In what ways has this team responded and adjusted in its last three ACC games?
DHB: The Seminoles dared Duke to shoot and the young Devils couldn't do it. For a team with three upperclassmen out of 10 (one of those only playing 6 minutes in that game) it was a shock to their system I think to go on the road in the ACC. Granted, Andre, Ryan, and Mason had done so last year, but in a much different role. When the outside shots aren't hitting for Duke it can make things tough as there are really only a couple of guys who can create their own shots through penetration. In that game, there was an absence of post entry passes. Since then, Duke has made a much more concerted effort to get the ball inside, no matter what happens after that. You have to remember too that Florida State is an amazing defensive team. They are the #1 team defending the 2-pointer and the #10 team defending the 3-pointer. In the country.
BCI: Steve Donahue brings a completely different offensive philosophy to the Heights, one that relies very heavily on perimeter shooting. How has Duke fared against similar teams that live and die by the three?
DHB: Surprisingly for Duke, they are not good at defending against the three at all. They are currently ranked #151 in the country. While some of that can be due to being up big in a lot of games and playing against teams that shot a lot of threes to catch up against Duke's reserves, it's still an alarming stat. For perspective, Duke was 2nd in the country last year against the three. If BC gets hot, they have a great chance of pulling off the upset.
BCI: Duke owns the nation's longest home winning streak at 30 games. Will said streak still be intact when the 2011-12 season tips off?
DHB: I think BC and UNC have the best chances of pulling off a victory in Cameron. It's pretty amazing but Duke hasn't lost to a team other than UNC in 59 games. It's an amazing amount of focus and a tough crowd atmosphere that has lead to that record.
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Any chance BC can pull off the upset? Who ya got? What's the final score?
DHB: Definitely a chance BC wins. If they're hot and Duke isn't, that's all it will take. Unfortunately for your Eagles, I doubt you'll be able to pull it off against this team. They are hungry and inspired right now. It should be close though. I'll take the Devils 88-81.
BCI: Thanks for joining us, Adam.