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Some Thoughts On Duke-Virginia Tech

A fun game and one with some growth too

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Duke
 Feb 22, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Isaiah Wilkins (1) shoots over Duke Blue Devils forward Matthew Hurt (21) during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Duke played really well against Virginia Tech but there were a few particular points we wanted to focus on, starting with Cassius Stanley and Matthew Hurt.

Both guys have really grown during the season.

Remember earlier when Stanley was timid? He’s really gotten over that. He’ll take the ball in now, pretty fiercely, he’s emerged as a very dangerous three point shooter and he’s become a very fine defender. He’s probably not going to be All-ACC but he’s getting close to that level.

In the beginning of the season, Hurt was essentially a three-point specialist.

Well, no more.

The Hurt we saw Saturday was...hard nosed and rugged. It reminded us in one sense of his Minnesota predecessor at Duke, Nick Horvath.

Horvath was skinny and a good shooter when he got to Duke - who can forget his giddy reaction when he hit a three to beat Notre Dame in Cameron? - but later became a powerful inside presence. We don’t think Hurt is going to follow that exactly but in general? He’s filling in the holes in his game.

Hurt has become a scrapper but he’s also learning to work inside. When he went behind his back on a drive we were surprised but not totally. If he can gain 15-20 over the summer he could be a monster next year.

In general Duke maintained focus against the Hokies and really shut them down offensively, particularly their biggest threat Landers Nolley, who Hurt, along with Wendell Moore, held to three points.

One other thing we’d like to mention. We caught on to Justin Robinson as being an unusual walk-on when he was a freshman. Now a senior, and on scholarship and a captain, Robinson has emerged as a force behind the scenes for Duke. In his post-game press conference, Coach K praised Robinson, pointed to his influence on the team, and said that he’d like for him to stick around after this year and maybe move into coaching.

That’s tremendous. And well deserved.

For all the impression of tunnel vision, Coach K does read the papers, if you will, and is clearly aware of the criticism UNC coach Roy Williams got earlier for mocking his players.

If you’ll recall, when the losing started, Williams ripped his team pretty good.

On Saturday, K said that he wouldn’t throw his team “under the bus” or say that they’re “not good.”

We’re sure he’d say he wasn’t referring to Williams, but it’s hard to see how else to take that, particularly when it’s not the first time he’s made such comments. Like everyone else, it seems to have bothered him and he’s made sure, albeit discreetly, to express an opinion on it and to make clear he would never do any such thing.