Somebody please give DeMarcus Nelson a back brace, because after a performance like the one he just gave against Maryland, he's going to need it.
As corny as that may sound, Nelson carried his team tonight. Any Duke sparks were supplied by Nelson, be it a clutch free throw, difficult layup, nothing but net shot.
But then again, that is expected from Nelson, the lone senior on the Duke roster.
Nelson leads Duke in scoring, averaging 14.1 points per game, and is second in rebounding averaging just under six boards per game.
As if that is not enough, he has 24 steals which ties him for first on his team AND second in assists with 50.
Did I mention he was named mid-season candidate for the Naismith and Wooden Awards?
But where are the rest of the Dukies? In past years, J.J. Redick was the go to guy for a drilled shot. Chris Duhon was the premiere point guard who could distribute the rock. Sheldon Williams was the "Landlord," blocking shots and getting rebounds.
Don't forget about Luol Deng; even though his time at Duke was short lived due to the NBA draft, he played a big role for the Blue Devils.
All four of these guys had to share the spotlight. They were the definition of Duke basketball players. They were known for their tenacious defense, signature end of the half runs, impeccable foul-shooting and court sense that came with smart basketball playing.
Not to mention, these guys were hated by UNC fans.
Against Maryland, Duke showed little defensive intensity in the first half. They made poor decisions when handling the ball and could not convert much when they caused a Terrapin turnover.
Greg Paulus is still a question mark at the point guard position. He is not a freshman anymore, but he sure is not acting like a veteran.
Paulus, along with his fellow Dukies, have continued to make poor decisions by making bad passes and committing dumb fouls. It was nice to see some enthusiasm from Coach K’s team tonight once they started the second half.
Hopefully Nelson can inspire his team and this will carry over to the rest of the season and give Duke fans something to cheer about when the North Carolina Tar Heels come to town and face the Devils on March 8th.