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Pretty Much Destruction: Duke 79, Miami 45

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It's a long way from here to April, and who knows what will happen between now and then.  But we can say one thing with some confidence: this year's backcourt has the potential to be the best Duke has ever had.

That takes in a lot.  In the K era, it means it would be better than Amaker-Dawkins, Hurley-Hill, Williams-Duhon, and Langdon-Avery.

But here's the difference:  as great as it would be -- is -- to have Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving in the same backcourt, those two and Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry are all good enough to be first-team All ACC.  That's amazing when you think about it.

The backcourt scored 49 of Duke's total 79 points and Curry, off the bench, was the high scorer with 17.  But it could have been any of them.  And keep in mind that Irving picked up two quick fouls and only played 19 minutes.

But as much fun as the offense is to watch, the defense has been torturous for opponents.

Duke held Miami to 33% for the game.  Before they took their collective foot off of Miami's neck, Duke was up 71-29.

And the guards were in the thick of it.  We've now seen everyone except for Curry pull off a spectacular block.  But Curry has a special knack for knowing when someone isn't seeing him and getting his hand on the ball.  He's really, really good at that.

Unlike Princeton's 27 turnovers, Miami only coughed it up 15 times, and they didn't panic as Princeton did early in that game.  But they just couldn't move the ball very easily.

Although Kyle Singler had an off night, Mason Plumlee had a bit of a breakthrough game, pulling down 14 boards and scoring 10 points. However, this was made somewhat easier because Miami coach Charlie Coles opted to drop four men back to slow the break, which left the rebounding mostly to Duke: Miami only got five offensive boards and Duke outrebounded the Red Hawks, 48-27.

Mixing up lineups is something of a tradition in the early season, and this time out, Duke moved Ryan Kelly in for Miles Plumlee.  Coach K said that he wanted to see how Kelly worked with Mason Plumlee as a sort of high-low strategy.

Pretty well, all things considered.  In the first two games, for whatever reason, Miles Plumlee has not played very well.  Presumably that'll change, because he's immensely talented, but he hasn't shown much fire so far.

We're always hesitant to slam someone for that because all we know is what we see and there's a lot more than what we see.  These guys are human beings who deal with all the things we all deal with including physical ailments and emotional issues.  A few years ago, one kid on Duke's team was off balance all season because his parents were on the verge of splitting up.  What's basketball next to that?  We got this clearly last year when Andre Dawkins lost his sister.

It's not like they're trained seals who just pop out to play a few tunes for us.  It's fair to expect a solid effort, but just ripping guys because they weren't great isn't really fair.  He'll get there.  Let's hope Duke fans don't get impatient.  Last year's object lesson in this was Brian Zoubek, who ended up a brilliant big man. Limited, true, but superb within those limits.  A lot of Duke fans wrote him off.

So it's only two games in, four counting exhibitions, but what's changed?

For one, communication has gotten a lot better.  There were some defensive breakdowns earlier, even against Princeton.  Those are becoming much less common, although for part of the second half, Miami found a seam in the left side of Duke's defense and penetrated repeatedly.

Colgate is coming to town on Friday, and they are 0-2 with losses to a crippled Binghamton and also Saint Francis.  They lost both games by a total of five points, so it's not as bad as it might look. Still, it's not like they played Pitt and Texas.

Odds are pretty strongly in Duke's favor and it's another chance to work out some kinks before a brutal stretch with Marquette, Oregon at Oregon, Michigan State and Butler.

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