Duke’s season this year continues to have resemblances of last season’s campaign more and more. Similar to when the Blue Devils suffered a road loss to Maryland a week before the regular season ended in 2010, Duke had a loss at Virginia Tech last Saturday that once again had critics bemoaning Duke’s talent, per se.
“This again proves how there are no great teams in college basketball,” said one analyst after another on whatever network you turned to.
But while everyone and his mother wants to try and figure out what in Lord’s name has happened to college basketball, the games still have to be played. And for Duke, the lessons learned from Saturday to Wednesday are huge.
Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler were honored on Senior Night at Cameron and performed up to par with Smith scoring 21 points and Singler adding 18 points and 11 rebounds. Clemson gave Duke all it could handle before losing 70-59 as the Blue Devils primed themselves for a classic meeting in Chapel Hill against a resurgent North Carolina squad.
But the most important element that came out of Wednesday’s win was Seth Curry’s ability to bounce back after the worst performance in his college career.
Curry’s zero-point night in Blacksburg was understandably overshadowed by Duke losing its No. 1 ranking. The sophomore guard had to deal with a lot in a game the Hokies needed to get off the bubble.
Playing in front of his father, Dell, who is the second-leading scorer in Hokies history, Curry was jeered in introductions, whistled for two quick fouls at the start of the game and again early in the second half and played little.
Seth Curry, who was recruited by the Hokies but wound up at Liberty and transferred to Duke after one season seeking a bigger challenge, needed to respond, for himself and for Duke. Against Clemson, he did so in a major way.
He finished with 18 points, going 6-for-13 from the field and 3-for-6 from downtown and drew high praise from coach Mike Krzyzewski for his ability to play through contact in a very physical game last night.
“I think a bad player goes into a funk,” Krzyzewski said. “A good player says, ‘I played poorly.’ If he goes into a funk, he shouldn’t have a Duke uniform on. This isn’t some middle school, where Johnny had a bad game and Johnny might have another bad game. You have to be a man. Nothing against those middle school kids, they have time to grow up to be men. Seth really responded well. I thought one of the biggest plays of the game was where he hit that three. I think it put us up 58-50. It was after we lost the ball. He didn’t play as good a defense and they scored. He came right down – and that was not an easy three point shot, that was a determined three – he was coming off things and coming through contact better. He had a heckuva game. Seth had a great game tonight.”
Duke needs someone or two to be there when other teams hone in on Smith and Singler. Curry can be that man.
“That’s what this team has been needing for a few weeks now—someone to come in and be a consistent third scoring option,” Curry said. “It’s good to take some pressure off [Singler and Smith].”
About the Author
Written by Chris Girandola
I currently write for the St. Petersburg Times, MLB.com, the Naples News, Demand Studios, LiveStrong, Fuel Football, Fuel Basketball and Fuel Football.