Next Up - Georgia Tech

Duke has some things to work out after the loss to Notre Dame - Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Tech will not have the services of Robert Carter Tuesday night.

Is it us, or was there an overreaction to Duke's two-point loss to Notre Dame?

The AP voters dropped Duke nine spots to #16. The USA Today Coaches Poll was more conservative, dropping the Devils to #13.

AP put Baylor, a crippled Louisville, San Diego State and Colorado ahead of the Devils.

Look, polls are meaningless. The only thing that stings a little is losing a measure of consistency: Duke has been in the Top Ten for six straight years.

Being in the Top Ten in January isn't as good as being in it in March, though, so we'll see how that plays out.

People also overreacted to Jabari Parker's poor game in South Bend.

First of all, regardless of his brilliant play to date, he is still a freshman and was in his first road game. It's hardly unusual. In fact, it just underscores his brilliance. He's been so good no one can believe he was bad, even for an afternoon.

Leave it to Coach K to put in in perspective: "They’re all human beings. That’s why no one wins everything and no one has a great game every time and the fact that somebody can play well most of the time separates you. This is just one of those times where he didn’t play well. Hopefully those are kept at a minimum."

In other words: next play.

That opportunity comes Tuesday night in a very chilly Durham with Georgia Tech visiting.

Tech is coming off a tough loss to Maryland and playing without ace big man Robert Carter, who was averaging 10.3 ppg and a league-leading 9.3 rpg.

That is a significant problem inside, but overall Brian Gregory has built some significant depth with 10 guys getting at least 9.5 mpg. It would probably be 11 if Travis Jorgenson hadn't been lost for the year due to injury.

And in fairness, Jason Morris is still working his way back.

But regardless, for the first time in a long time, Tech has some meaningful talent.

And while Gregory had his frontcourt more or less sorted out before Carter's injury, just as importantly, transfer Trae Golden, from Tennessee, has mostly been solid at the point.

Tech also brings back Daniel Miller (6-11), Kammeon Holsey (6-8), Marcus Georges-Hunt (6-5), Morris (6-5), Stacey and Solomon Poole (6-4 and 6-0, respectively) and Chris Bolden (6-3).

Corey Heyward, a promising 6-1 point guard who missed last year with an injury and also the son of the late Ironhead Heyward, who made the most intimidating shower commercial of all time, is playing again.

And you know what? Against Duke, with a smaller lineup anyway, missing Carter may not be as critical as it would be against some other teams.

On the other hand, what Tech may not enjoy is this: since returning from the Notre Dame loss, Coach K has been after his team. We're not sure if he's eviscerating them or encouraging them, but we are sure he's getting to the truth: to an extent, Duke got punked at Notre Dame. A close final score?

Sure.

But unacceptable nonetheless.

Notre Dame scored layup after layup inside, and at times it looked like Dunk City went Catholic.

The Irish came after Parker, who to date has always handled the game by taking whatever comes and waiting for the rest.

And without offense, Parker's defense is a significant liability, which, come to think of it, is probably why he sat at the end of the Notre Dame loss.

As you'll probably remember, up to the Notre Dame game, Duke's defense had been improving.

Against UCLA, a team which has at times been explosive, Duke held the talented Bruins to 63 points and 40.4% from the floor.

Bad game by Parker aside, there is plenty of good news for Duke, starting with Quinn Cook.

Cook's improvement continues. He's now as good as any point guard in the country.

Rodney Hood is back on track after a few mediocre shooting games.

Amile Jefferson, Rasheed Sulaimon and Marshall Plumlee continue to play much, much better.

If form follows, Duke may well change some starters against Tech.

Since the Gardner-Webb game, for instance, Jefferson has been averaging almost as many rebounds as has Carter. And Sulaimon's all-around game is really coming on.

The guy who intrigues us now, though, is Plumlee.

Plumlee is now listed as the biggest of the three Plumlee brothers - 7-0, 260 - and over the season, after having serious foot injuries prior, has become much more fluid, mobile and dangerous. In limited minutes, he's done some neat things and shown some instincts - and a bit of a snarl.

He doesn't have to do phenomenal things to get more minutes. Really he just has to offer serious defense around the basket. That's it. If he can do that in whatever minutes he gets, Duke improves tremendously. Anything else, this year, would be gravy.

It's hard to say what we'll see on Tuesday. As he's often said, Coach K coaches by feel.

However, he may also want to send a message. And if that's the case, then one of the aforementioned players may be thrust into the spotlight.

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