Brace yourselves Duke fans. After the Blue Devils' only managed to beat Albany by 11 points in their opening game Friday afternoon, the team opened the door for critics to slam them as a team that isn't truly ready to compete for a national title in 2013.
Well, that's hogwash.
The Blue Devils may not have been absolutely dominant for the full 40 minutes, but there's absolutely no reason to think that they won't threaten to make a deep run in this year's tournament.
For starters, while Duke's three main weapons in Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry may have played at least 30 minutes each (according to cbssports.com's GameTracker), the three of them weren't on the floor simultaneously very much.
And when they were, Duke seemed unstoppable.
Not to say that Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston are worthy replacements, but both of them are defensive minded players (though Hairston was impressive in his time on the floor on the offensive glass).
The constant shuffling of the five players on the court also made it tough for Duke to get into any kind of rhythm.
For the Blue Devils, though, there was no need to thoroughly dominate an overmatched Albany squad.
So long as they maintained a comfortable lead and won the game, their mission would be accomplished.
Resting Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly for about 20 percent of the game each was a wise move on head coach Mike Krzyzewski's part.
As big guys (with Kelly coming off injury, no less), keeping them fresh for Duke's upcoming game(s) was the right call.
The other reason that the 11 point margin of victory is a little skewed is because of the way Albany shot the ball from downtown.
Despite Duke being fairly successful at applying pressure to the ball, the Great Danes were able to hit the long bombs, draining 60 percent of their 15 three-point attempts, despite hitting just 36 percent of their field goals overall.
That kind of number isn't likely to repeat itself. With the competition bound to get better and better as the tournament progresses, the Blue Devils will surely tighten up their three-point defense, and not give their opponents as many good looks from beyond the arc.
With Albany being a team who shot just 36.4 percent this season from three-point range, the Blue Devils ran into a team who simply got hot from long range.
Had Albany shot between 35 and 40 percent from downtown in this one, the result probably would have been a much wider margin of victory for the Blue Devils.
The game may not have been Duke's best of the season, and finishing the game with a plus-2 margin in the turnover department may be concerning, but there is no reason for Duke fans to panic.
This team is still versatile, capable of beating you from anywhere on the floor with three seniors who can lead this team on a deep run in the tournament.
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