Duke Basketball: Should Coach K Be Content or Concerned with Blue Devils?

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIFebruary 26, 2013

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 24:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts during their game against the Boston College Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 24, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Mike Krzyzewski might be in serious trouble.

Despite being the No. 3 team in the country, his Duke Blue Devils have already lost three games on the road this season, going 4-3 on the road this year.

While his team is next to untouchable at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the team has struggled away from home, and that makes some Duke fans uncomfortable—especially after last year's loss to Lehigh in the Round of 64.

Let's take a look at whether or not Coach K should be concerned.


Why He Should Be Concerned

Duke has looked pretty bad in its last few games.

Other than blowout wins over Virginia Tech on the road and Boston College at home, the team struggled to compete with unranked teams like North Carolina, Maryland and Boston College on the road.

What's worse for Coach K is that his best big man (really his only great big man) has proven to be human.

After dominating in the beginning of the year, Mason Plumlee has faded a bit, including being eaten alive by Maryland's Alex Len to the tune of four points, three rebounds and five fouls.

Plumlee isn't the only one struggling, though. Sophomore point guard Quinn Cook is no longer dishing out assists like he used to, averaging 3.0 assists and 3.4 turnovers per game in the last five contests.

Duke's stars have not been shining very bright in recent weeks, and this is the worst possible time for the Dukies to go cold if they want to avoid another embarrassing upset in the NCAA tournament this season.


Why He Shouldn't Be Concerned

To be completely fair, Duke hasn't been healthy for much of the regular season.

The team was 15-0 and No. 1 in the country before Ryan Kelly got hurt, and now it looks like Kelly will return for the Big Dance (per Detroit Free Press).

Kelly is vital to the team's success, averaging 13.4 points per game and extending the defense, as he shoots over 52 percent from three, despite being the tallest player on the team. He is also the team's second-leading rebounder.

With Kelly back, the team will have two 6'11" giants in the starting lineup, and that will immediately take pressure off Mason Plumlee.

Plumlee has been a workhorse all season, averaging 17.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game on 59.6 percent shooting from the floor in his 34.4 minutes per game. However, since Kelly went down, he is almost constantly being double-teamed, and he has struggled because of it.

While Coach K will have to work Kelly back into the lineup, I doubt that Duke's chemistry will fall apart upon his return.

Star freshman Kyrie Irving may have disrupted the team when he came back right before the Big Dance a few years ago, but Kelly is not a point guard and does not control the team as much, and the Blue Devils do not seem to have truly adjusted to being without him.


Final Verdict

In a year of parity, Coach K should be very happy with his Blue Devils.

While the team has struggled as of late, every team has had its ups and downs this season, and there is no team who has proven that it can beat Duke when Kelly is healthy.

There is no guarantee that Duke will make a run to the Final Four or later in the tournament, but so long as Kelly is healthy and the team meshes well, I expect Duke to be a tough out in March.