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Blue Devil Block Party

Duke is on a historic pace for blocked shots

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NCAA Basketball: Eastern Michigan at Duke
Nov 14, 2018; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Cam Reddish (2) blocks the shot of Eastern Michigan Eagles guard Damari Parris (23) during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, there’s an element of silliness here. Too early. Too anomalous. Too extreme.

Still, a team trending toward a remarkable achievement can’t be ignored even its season is only approximately one-third complete. So it is with a young Duke squad and its ACC-leading, NCAA Division I-leading blocked shot total.

After a dozen games, as they approached the dawn of conference play, the Blue Devils had accumulated 96 blocks, an average of 8.0 per outing. Project another two dozen games averaging eight blocks and the Devils would finish with 288 blocks, most ever in a season by an ACC squad.

Leading the way for Duke in 2019 is Marques Bolden, notching 2.25 blocks per game, one every 7.7 minutes played. Zion Williamson is second on the squad, fifth in the ACC, at 1.92 rejections per contest, one every 13.7 minutes.

To date, no ACC team averaged even 7 blocks per game. The best has been 6.7, achieved four times. As recently as 2014 Duke managed a mere 105 blocked shots in 35 outings. Last year it was 185 in 37 games, a 5.1 average.

Now, here come the caveats.

Because it’s relatively early in the season, injuries have only started taking their toll on players’ bodies. Opponents have, more often than not, been overmatched. Player tendencies have yet to be rigorously studied and countered by rivals. The stakes have not been all that high, encouraging more daring than might be the case later on.

Also keep in mind that the ACC didn’t begin recording blocked shots until 1976; the NCAA got around to the same statistical recognition a decade later. That means records exclude great shotblockers, especially on a national level. Folks like, oh, Kansas’ Wilt Chamberlain and San Francisco’s Bill Russell, 7-2 Artis Gilmore of Gardner-Webb and Jacksonville, ACC career block leader Ralph Sampson of Virginia, and Patrick Ewing of Georgetown.

Best Field Goal Percentage Defense by Krzyzewski Squad
Total PerG School, Season Record
245 6.3 Duke, 1999 37-2
235 6.7 Clemson, 1990 26-9
235 6.7 Maryland, 2000 25-10
233 6.9 Maryland, 2007 25-9
224 6.6 Maryland, 2008 19-15
221 6.1 Clemson, 2014 23-13
221 6.0 Georgia Tech, 2017 21-16
220 6.7 Duke, 2005 27-6
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