Just before breaking for exams Duke played four straight games against teams it figured to beat. And so it did. Handily.
An essential ingredient in making that happen was a defense that forced at least 20 turnovers per game, 90 in all in four outings. That embrace of energizing man-to-man defense added an element not often seen recently at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Suddenly, through 10 games the Blue Devils averaged 16.7 turnovers forced per game.
This put the 2018-19 Devils in an elite category among recent Duke teams, even if such a rate of forcing turnovers is unlikely to be sustained once ACC play begins.
No Krzyzewski squad in the past dozen years has created turnovers at a more handsome rate. This in sharp contrast with teams in the first part of the century, when five of the first eight years of the 2000s saw Duke force at least 17.2 turnovers per game.
One of this season’s more intriguing developments, then, will be how well the Devils are able to sustain or even extend their ability to force ballhandling mistakes by opponents. Note that relatively few turnovers were created in each of the last two underclass-reliant seasons.
Turnovers Forced Per Game by Duke Since 2001
(Listed in Descending Order, 2019 Through 10 Games)
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