Duke Beat: Bye Week brings Healing, Improvement and Basketball

Duke heads into its much needed bye week banged up and bruised after taking a couple upper cuts that have left the program staggered and hurting.

However, they are not knocked out. At 6-4 (3-3 ACC) Duke remarkably still has a chance to win the ACC’s Coastal Division, and there isn’t a Blue Devil fan out there who would not have taken that at the beginning of the season.

The fact is that Duke still isn’t up to par with teams like Florida State and Clemson, but considering the hole that David Cutcliffe has had to drag this program out of that isn’t a surprise.

Still, the Blue Devils are now able to compete with the bad and middle of the road teams in the ACC, and when it comes to the ACC, that can still get you a shot at a Championship in a given year.

Duke heads into its bye week later than just about any other ACC foe, and they desperately need some time off to get better. Cutcliffe acknowledged as much after the Clemson game.

“The open date comes at a good time; we are pretty beat up. We will do some healing. We will do some immediate work,” Cutcliffe said. “The number one goal is defining our goals at this point on. Number one is getting better.”

And getting better is something that the Blue Devils will have to do. They have, in my opinion, two very winnable games remaining. If they win out and get a little help from Virginia Tech, then the good news is they’ll likely be in the ACC Championship Game, since North Carolina, who is likely to have the best record in the Coastal, is ineligible.

Duke needs to get some players back healthy. Running back Juwan Thompson and defensive end Kenny Anunike didn’t play at all against Clemson. And the too-often beat up secondary needs a chance to heal as well.

Safety Dwayne Norman left the Clemson game with a shoulder injury. Two weeks will give the Blue Devils a chance to heal some wounds and hopefully get some players back healthy.

But they also will get a chance to prep for the task of stopping the Georgia Tech spread option. Historically, a team with an extra week to prepare does markedly better against the Yellow Jackets. That will be the next test to see how far this Duke team has come.

Since coming to Duke, Cutcliffe has never beaten Paul Johnson’s Georgia Tech squad, and this year might be as good as any to do that. Still there are would haves and dids and anything can happen.

Basketball Season Tips Off

With no football to keep Duke fans occupied, they are going to have to settle for some round ball action. The No. 8 Blue Devils start their season at home Friday night against Georgia State.

This will be a tune up game for the Blue Devils, who take on Kentucky in Atlanta the following week.

So far, this Duke teams appears to be much better, at least in terms of potential, than last seasons. They are more athletic and have more players who can play out on the wing.

They are thin in the front court with an injury to Marshall Plumlee, leaving preseason All-ACC brother Mason as the primary interior player. He has delivered so far, recording a double-double in both exhibitions, but can he continue to dominate the paint consistently and against teams with solid big men?

There are a lot of questions about this team, but with the inclusion of three very skilled newcomers in Rasheed Sulaimon, Alex Murphy and Amile Jefferson, the ceiling appears a bit higher, if they can show improvement as the season goes by.

I’ll have more analysis and insight on the basketball team later, but the season is upon us, and with the football team on hiatus it’s time for some hoops.

 

Click here to sign up for a free InsideTheACC.com account, so you can comment on articles and post on our forums.

 


Duke Sports BlogMike Kline is the operator of DukeSportsBlog.com, a site dedicated to coverage and analysis of Duke Football and Basketball from a fan’s perspective. He is also a regular contributor for DukeReport.com. Mike does a monthly podcast with Jim Oliver of Duke Report focusing on Duke Basketball and occasionally football. Mike is a long time Duke football and basketball fan. A former journalist, Mike is now a mild mannered middle school teacher by day and blogger by night. Follow Mike on Twitter at @DukeBlogMKline

Follow Inside the ACC on Twitter at @InsideTheACC.

Leave a Reply