Duke Basketball: 5 Reasons the Blue Devils Will Go off in This Year's Tourney
With the ACC regular season now officially over, teams are looking forwards to the ACC Tournament and the Big Dance.
When it comes to preparing for a tournament, teams must work on the fundamentals to hone their skills. Skills like free-throw shooting and clutch shooting become even more important as more and more teams are knocked out. The outcome of the game can come down to just a few points and free throws could possibly make all the difference.
Looking at this year's Duke Blue Devil team, they have the ability to win the ACC Tournament and make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. They have the necessary abilities to create problems for other teams like big men who can do it all and a coach who has pretty much done everything there is to do in NCAA basketball.
This years team has the ability to go off in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.
If you can shoot a three, then you are never out of a game.
This sentiment holds true during the regular season, but during tournament times, it can be even more important.
The Blue Devils are hitting 39 percent of the threes that they are taking. They are averaging 8.4 three-point attempts per game which puts them 20 overall in the NCAA.
Both Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins are shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arch while Seth Curry, Tyler Thornton and Austin Rivers shoot between 38-40 percent.
Duke has the ability to knock down long shots to help extend their lead or to shrink their deficit.
Athletic Big Man
What Duke lacks in a true center, they make up for in their three tall and athletic forwards.
Mason and Miles Plumlee both stand 6'10" and Ryan Kelly measures 6'11". They might not have the size of Reggie Johnson of Miami but they are excellent at using their quickness and length to pull down about 21 rebounds per game between all three of them. The three also combine to block about 3.5 shots per game.
Mason is shooting 55 percent from he field while Kelly hits 44 percent of his shots. Miles on the other hand is making 62 percent of the shots he takes.
What also separates Kelly from his foes is his ability to step back and hit a jumper. He plays more like a poor man's Dirk Nowitzki. Kelly has the ability to play a variety of positions as well as guard them. He can play shooting forward but can also guard centers like he did against Miami.
Yes, I am going to bring it up for the millionth time.
As shown in the first matchup between Duke and North Carolina, Austin Rivers has the ability to take, and more importantly, make the last shot.
As the tournament games get whittled down to just a few teams left, the games are going to be closer and closer in terms of final score. Having that one person who you can rely on to take the final shot is a must have. There is no doubt in any Duke fans mind who is going to take the last shot when the game is on the line.
Even though Rivers is just a freshmen, he has shown the maturity and presence to stay calm in the face of adversity (and Tyler Zeller) and calmly hit a game winning shot.
I know as a team that Duke only shoots 69 percent from the charity stripe which puts them at 144 of 338 teams in the NCAA division one.
It takes a closer look to discover that Duke has two players that, in fact, shoot over 80 percent. Seth Curry currently stands at 87 percent made and Ryan Kelly makes 81 percent. These are players that play every game and not some backup player that only enters the game in garbage time.
Free throws are perhaps the single most important aspect when it comes to winning games in March. Team who succeed typically are able to hit their free throws. I can remember watching good teams, final four teams, lose in the first couple of round because of their lack of ability to hit the free shot.
He is the all-time winningest head coach in division one basketball, 27 NCAA tournament bids, 79-23 NCAA tournament record and has won four NCAA championships.
That is the resume of one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the college game.
Having Coach K's experience on the bench will be one of the biggest assets that Duke will have going into the ACC and NCAA tournament. He knows how the game is played and can adapt his strategy to better attack an opposing defense.