Next up for Duke is a road trip to Miami, just two days after the big win over UNC. Duke has clearly grown up a lot lately. Enough to win a tough road game?
We’ll see. It’s not likely to be easy.
There are always stretches like this in every ACC season but having it with Miami on the schedule is not ideal.
The Hurricanes, #23 last week and likely to move up, are ranked for a reasons. The ‘Canes are really good.
Jim Larranaga tends to have good backcourts and this season is no exception.
Well, really you could say perimeter rather than backcourt. Miami has 6-3 Isaiah Wong, 6-0 Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack, 6-5 Wooga Poplar and 6-7 Jordan Miller. Miller is a senior, Wong. junior, and the other two are sophomores.
They also have 6-6 junior Harlond Beverly and 6-2 Bentley Joseph coming off the bench, both of whom are dangerous.
Norchad Omier has been a revelation in the post. Just 6-7 but powerfully built at 248, he has really been a huge asset for Miami.
Duke’s perimeter has vastly improved, not least of all on defense. In the first meeting in Cameron, Jordan got 19 but Wong had just seven and Poplar just two.
And it was still just a two-point win.
The Blue Devils have a major challenge Monday and it’s made more difficult by the quick turnaround.
It’s also made more difficult in some other ways.
First while we just tend to see guys in two hour windows, they still have to recover from a demanding outing. Competing at Duke’s level is not easy, least of all after the emotions invested in playing UNC. And for Kyle Filipowski it could be really tough.
Filipowski really took a beating Saturday. He was obviously a major target for UNC’s defense and he was knocked down several times. As you probably remember, when he got knocked down the last time, it took him some time to get up. He did sprint back to the huddle, but that obviously took something out of him. He’s a warrior, as Jon Scheyer says, but he’s only human. That obviously hurt and he’s probably sore.
Dereck Lively was tremendous Saturday but he’ll have an interesting matchup with Omier.
For that matter, who does Filipowski guard? Miller? Jon Scheyer has seen Miami so he has ideas, but it could turn out that Duke can’t really run two bigs against a small, quick team like Miami. And with a thin bench, that could be a real problem.
Needless to say, this would be a great game for Dariq Whitehead to return to action. Even if he didn’t score a lot, he is a solid defender and would really help Duke’s depth.
This game is likely to be a major test for Duke. Can Lively continue his elevated play? He had six points, five blocks and 14 rebounds when these teams met in Cameron.
Can Filipowski rebound from the bruises he got against UNC? Will Mark Mitchell assert himself offensively? In Cameron, Miami raised Cane(s), shooting 10-21. Can Duke suppress Miami’s three point game?
And just as importantly, can they do it on a quick turnaround? Duke has shown a lot of growth. Lively and Tyrese Proctor have grown enormously.
The next step for this team is to be able to win a game where a lot lines up against them. On the road, against a challenging team with a short turnaround, a win won’t be easy.
It would, however, be a major milestone.