Miami comes to Duke, a place where they've never won, for a really interesting game, given Duke's 27 point loss to Clemson and Miami's 27 point win over Wake Forest.
We honestly can't remember if he said it during the Duke game or maybe after, but Jay Bilas was talking about practice and said that no one would need to bring a ball.
If you've followed Duke for awhile, you can understand what that means.Â Practice after the Clemson game is bound to have been intense and unyielding.Â And while there's no guarantee of winning any game, you can reasonably bet that Duke will come out aggressively and work their collective ass off.
Like Clemson, Miami presents some interesting challenges, starting with Jack McClinton.Â McClinton, who averages 19 ppg, may be the most successful ACC transfer ever.Â The only guy we can think of who is close is Roshown McCleod, who had a really good Duke career, but we're sure there are others who escape us at the moment.
McClinton, though, is pretty unusual.Â At his best, he's unstoppable.Â He's got tremendous range and real courage.Â At times this works against him and his emotions get out of control, but generally speaking, he's really, really solid.
Miami is a pretty athletic bunch. Along with McClinton, they start Lance Hurdle (6-2), Brian Asbury (6-7), Dwayne Collins (6-8) and Cyrus McGowan (6-9).
It's also fair to say that, other than McClinton, they've been pretty erratic. Frank Haith has pushed Asbury to be more aggressive for his entire career.Â Collins can be a world-beater at times but other times he doesn't really assert himself.Â And McGowan, who's starting at Miami, transferred after not doing as well as he would have liked at Arkansas.
Still, the 'Canes are about as athletic as anyone around (ask Wake).
They bring Jimmy Graham off the bench as a rough big man reserve, and it's a role he's just about perfected.Â Julian Gamble is a 6-9 kid out of Durham who hasn't really excelled yet but who is promising. And then, speaking of athleticism, there's freshman DeQuan Jones, who has it in buckets.
Still, Miami beat Wake largely because they zoned them, which isn't really the way to exploit atheticism.Â Wake Forest, people are realizing, is critically weak when it comes to outside shooting, aside from Jeff Teague.
Zoning Duke might be different, particularly at home, but since Duke has struggled from outside lately, don't be surprised to see Miami try it.Â It worked last time.
For Duke, the obvious thing is show that last time was an anomaly.Â Aside from that, Kyle Singler has had two bad games in a row.Â Jon Scheyer has not shot well in some time.Â Duke needs to get more out of the center spot, and out of Nolan Smith as well.
He was in double figures for almost every game until Xavier, and since then has been up and down.Â He's been in double figures since against Virginia Tech, FSU, State, and Virginia, and since Xavier, like his freshman year, he hasn't hit for double figures in two straight games.
More importantly, although getting points out of his spot is critically important for this team, like everyone else, he struggled mightily against Clemson's pressure.
In practice, Smith, like his teammates, is going to be challenged on the most fundamental level. And like everyone else, if he can't respond, he'll take a seat.
Though Duke's post play is better than last season, Duke got abused down low against Clemson.Â This is for two reasons.Â One is that Trevor Booker is just really good.Â But the other part is because he got the ball without too much of a challenge.
Duke is going to have put a lot of time into defense before this game, and a lot of time into handling pressure.Â But it may not be called that.
What it might go under is the need to play hard and to play like men.Â After what happened at Clemson, there are no guarantees.Â Nobody's job is safe.Â Guys who get it will get the minutes.