clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Next Up - Boston College

Duke goes on the road again, this team to Beantown, to play a less talented but very dangerous bunch of Eagles.

Florida State v Duke
 DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 31: Jaylen Blakes #2 of the Duke Blue Devils looks to pass as he drives against Darin Green Jr. #22 of the Florida State Seminoles during the first half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Date 1/7 || Time 1:00 PM || Venue Silvio Conte Forum || Video ACCN

After the awful beat down at NC State, Duke goes on the road again to play Boston College. And while the Eagles are just 8-7, they play hard and, having gone 3-1 in the last four games, are probably playing with a lot more confidence than they showed at Duke in early December.

Beating Stonehill doesn’t count for much but a win over Virginia Tech, even without Hunter Cattoor for part of the game, was a big deal. And while Notre Dame is slumping, that’s an experienced, tough team.

Even if you dismissed the teams they’ve beat lately, which would be foolish, they’re gaining confidence and developing good habits.

In short, we’re sure they’re enjoying winning.

Did you see this?

BC out-rebounded Notre Dame 41-28 Tuesday. Interior play has been a huge concern especially while big man Quentin Post was out, but against the Irish, Post had nine rebounds. He also had 10 points. That’s surprising but great news for the Eagles.

Jaeden Zackery really drove BC down the stretch in that game, hitting 14 of BC’s final 17. He’s playing much better than he did in Durham.

Remember CJ Penha? He played well at Duke we thought and showed some real skill.

We love his game but the D-II transfer succeeds more through intelligence and effort than raw talent.

He came off the bench against Notre Dame, which suggests the core is improving - and he’s probably a wonderful player off the bench. He’s a guy you really don’t want to lose track of.

This is a team that, deservedly, is playing with confidence.

We’re not sure you can say that about Duke right now, least of all on the road.

The Blue Devils struggled at Wake Forest and more so at NC State, where Duke just couldn’t seem to get going.

And that’s not good, obviously.

But people seem to be focusing on that and somehow forgetting that this team gave Kansas a good game, and also beat Xavier, Ohio State and Iowa.

Keeping in mind that this is still an exceedingly young team that has had injury issues, there seemed to be a major problem at Wake and State: Duke didn’t fight as hard as it should have.

After the loss at State, coach Jon Scheyer, Jeremy Roach and Kyle Filipowski all said as much.

Part of what ails Duke is probably down to Jeremy Roach’s toe.

He sat out for 10 days over the holiday, returning to practice the day before the Florida State visit to Cameron.

He shot 2-10 in that game and 0-8 against NC State.

He clearly hasn't been himself. His timing is off - he takes drives that he could do last year or earlier this year and just hasn’t been able to pull them off. The urge is there but the body can’t always come through.

We don’t know if he’s practicing regularly or not, so it’s hard to say when he’ll be 100 percent.

For Dereck Lively, part of what happened was exactly what a State player said: they smashed Duke in the mouth and Duke didn’t respond.

For Lively, who is 7-1 and highly athletic but still very thin, that was a particular problem. He only played 12 minutes and had a limited impact. Clearly he’s better than that.

For Filipowski, it was a different kind of problem. He, too, seemed to wilt in the first half, but played much better in the second.

He still needs to work on patience and making smart choices, but he did at least play better.

One of the few bright spots - perhaps the only bright spot in Raleigh - was the improved play of Dariq Whitehead. He did have four turnovers, but it’s not like everyone else didn’t have butterfingers too.

He shot well, hitting 4-7 on threes and had one beautiful drive.

And, perhaps as importantly, he played like he belonged. He was gliding up and down the court. Whitehead hit a new high as Duke collectively hit a low point.

Roach is still dealing with his injury, so we just have to hope for the best with him, and he’s showing enormous heart to play through it. Any toe problem is going to get enormous punishment during a game.

But Duke could have gotten more from Jaylen Blakes, who has looked great lately until Raleigh, and Tyrese Proctor, who may have been trying too hard coming off of the bench against both Florida State and the Wolfpack.

Despite the issues at Wake and NC State, praise for Ryan Young should be universal. Since the Ohio State game on November 30th, Young has shot 24-28. That’s a blistering pace, something you might see from Zion Williamson. That’s nearly 86 percent in the last seven games which, frankly, is freakish, particularly since Young, who is not massively talented, scores exclusively around the basket.

When you balance the team that did so well against Kansas even in a loss, Xavier, Ohio State and Iowa, the main thing missing in the last two road games is simple: it’s just not backing down.

It’s punching back when someone hits you in the mouth.

That’s a tough lesson to learn for any team with a lot of freshmen, but it’s one every team has to learn.

We know BC is not as talented as a lot of other teams in the ACC, but what we really admire about that program is that coach Earl Grant has taught them to fight in a damn big hurry. You know now that they are coming for you and you have to match their intensity first and foremost or pay the price.

Actually, it reminds one a bit of when Tony Bennett first got to Virginia. We knew about his style obviously because his dad had pioneered the agonizingly slow Bennett system at Green Bay and perfected it at Wisconsin.

We noticed very quickly that although UVA didn’t have massive talent in the beginning of Bennett’s tenure, you could never fully shake them. They were always hanging around.

It’s like that with BC too, but in a different way. They just honor the game and play hard.

What we really want out of this game is to see Duke play with a higher level of intensity than BC has. If they do that, and keep doing it, things will be fine.

We’ll add links as we find them.