Duke is 2-0 in the ACC. The Blue Devils opened with a home win over a Clemson team that we can reasonably expect to see in the postseason and a road win against a Wake Forest team that we can reasonably expect to not see in the postseason.
Duke ups the ante Saturday afternoon, visiting a deep and talented Florida State team, a team good enough to advance to last year’s Elite Eight.
And an experienced one. Forward Phil Cofer is a sixth-year guy, with more knee surgeries on his resume than anyone should have, while guards Terance Mann and P.J. Savoy and 7-4 center--no, that’s not a typo-Chris Koumadje are seniors.
It’s also a balanced team. Eleven different Seminoles average between four and 12 points per game. Grind-you-down is a big part of their game plan and they’ve done it well enough to jump to a 13-2 start, the losses to Villanova and Virginia, wins over such notables as Florida, LSU, Purdue and Miami.
Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier met with the media Thursday to share their thoughts on the FSU game.
“They’ve played us tough over the years,” Bolden acknowledges, “so every time we play Florida State, we have to be ready for a fight. We haven’t played a team like that. We need to be able to go in and fight for 40 minutes.”
Bolden is coming off two solid games, 11 points and five rebounds against Clemson, 12 points and six rebounds against Wake Forest.
He says its no accident. “My coaches and teammates as well have talked about me being more aggressive and looking to make more plays at both ends of the floor. Being more active, being able to guard and switch and guard anybody. Me having a high motor is really important for this group.”
FSU is averaging more than eight steals per game.
DeLaurier says Duke is aware and ready.
“They really try to control the tempo of the game, try to speed guys up. So, it’s going to be really important that we’re strong with the ball and don’t turn it over, don’t let them get out in transition, because they’re really dangerous out there.”
“Being physical, gang rebounding, Making sure everyone is boxing out. They’re a team that crashes the O-boards really hard, so it’s going to take a group effort.”
There are other things. DeLaurier says Duke isn’t talking enough on defense early in the game, which leads to early deficits and acknowledges that Duke needs to reduce early fouls.
Not a lot of talk about Xs and Os and it’s not like Duke is going to discuss any wrinkles they might have for FSU. But the Seminoles try to out-athlete teams and they have had some success against Duke. The last time Duke traveled to Tallahassee they came back on the wrong end of an 88-72 game. Back in 2002 FSU upset top-ranked Duke 77-76, on January 6, on a day when it snowed copiously in Durham.
No ominious trends there.
DeLaurier says FSU on the road will be a “lot more hostile . . . a bit of a different animal” than anything Duke has faced this season.
He says Duke will be ready for the test and there’s no question that Duke will need to bring its A game to overcome a wave of tough, veteran FSU players.
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