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Wendell Moore Zooms The Press

As attention turns back to ACC play

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Wake Forest
 Feb 25, 2020; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. 
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Duke hasn’t played a basketball game since defeating Notre Dame on December 16. Assuming no cancellation, the Blue Devils will next take the court Saturday January 2 against Florida State, ending a drought of 17 days.

Wendell Moore met with the media Thursday morning to discuss that game and a variety of other subjects.

Inevitably, one of those subjects was Moore’s on-court struggles. The sophomore is averaging less than four points per game and is shooting 22 percent from the field.

Moore owned his slump, saying he needs to “Just keep fighting through adversity. All players hit a wall at some point in their career; this just happens to be my wall. I just find a way to get over it, do whatever it takes. Focus more in what I can do to help make our team better. It’s just one of those times, every shot I take it doesn’t go in. It feels like the game is moving fast for me. My game will come back around. This is one of the first times I’ve dealt with this big an adversity, besides my injury [broken hand last season]. This is a time we’re all fighting through together. I know my teammates have my back, still believe in me.”

Mike Krzyzewski said a few weeks back that his team needed a mental-health break and Moore says he and his teammates got just that after Duke canceled the non-ACC portion of its schedule and let its players go home for a few days.

“I’ve definitely seen some benefits .. . . We’ve been here since August 2nd and sometimes it’s nice to get a couple of days to yourself. I think Coach made that a really big point, to get time away, to get our bodies and minds rested for the rest of the season.”

Moore says he spent the days off at home with his family. But he did find time to hit a local gym, where he shot and shot some more and “got to see the ball go through the rim.”

Still, Duke came back expecting to play Pittsburgh earlier this week, only to see COVID-19 force a postponement.

“It hurts every time,” Moore said of the cancellations. “Just snatch that rug from underneath you. It never gets any easier. All we can do is move forward.”’

Moore added that the men were supportive of the women’s decision to cancel their season but that hasn’t been discussed as an option for the men’s team.

Florida State isn’t the best team to with which to ease back into the season. The 5-2 Seminoles have been up-and-down, wins over Indiana and Florida, losses to Central Florida and Clemson. But they’ve played three times since Duke last hit the floor for a game.

Moore acknowledges that rust might be an issue but countered that Duke’s freshness might be an asset.

“Our main concern is ourselves. We’re refreshed, getting our wind back.”

Moore says Duke has been concentrating on its half-court offense, getting good shots, keeping the turnovers down. Duke is preparing for a typical Florida State team, deep and physical. He adds that Jalen Johnson is “back with the team but not practicing right now” and that Duke is working freshman Henry Coleman at the wing.

But practice is one thing and games are another Duke is eager for some competition and Moore is eager to put his slow 2020 start behind him and move on to a new and better year.