Why Duke Will Not Make a Deep Tournament Run

        Duke suffered just their second loss of the season to Temple this week, their first to the Owls since 1996 and snapping their five-game win streak in the process. Temple has not defeated a Top Ten ranked team in each of the last four seasons (No. 8 Tennessee in 2008, No. 3 Villanova in 2009, No. 9 Georgetown in 2010 and now, No. 3 Duke), so the win is not a huge surprise, but when you look a little deeper, it's a huge loss for Duke.

        Temple played their best basketball of the season without a doubt, shooting 64 percent from the field in the first half and knocking down four clutch 3-pointers to end Duke rallies in the second. The Blue Devils capitalized on some possessions with their massive size advantage inside; Mason and Miles Plumlee combined for 33 points on 15-of-22 shooting from the floor as the Owls were without 6'11" starting center Michael Eric (knee) for the ninth game this season. Redshirt freshman Anthony Lee stands at an athletic 6'9", but just a shade over 200 pounds and he was a fly on the arms of the Plumlees when the ball was entered into the post. Unfortunately, the ball rarely got their in part of the selfishness of the Duke guards and also in part to the perimeter defense of Temple. But the Plumlees had excellent position about one-foot outside the blocks every time down the floor, setting up a drop-step to the baseline or a baby hook shot in the middle.

        The lack of a playmaking and initiator of the offense, despite how well point guard Quinn Cook was playing of late for Duke, led to the loss. Austin Rivers scrambled around on the perimeter, missing entry passes to the bigs or driving with his head down before Temple's defense swarmed. Seth Curry too had an off night with almost as many turnovers (5) as total points (6). Andre Dawkins had an oh-for night, finishing with zero points. Meanwhile, to continue to highlight the Plumlees efficiencies inside, Miles had 17 points off the bench in just 19 minutes.

        Without such offensive recognition and a rhythm on that end of the floor, Duke will not be able to compete with the likes of Ohio State as previously shown in the 22-point loss or the North Carolina's or Kentucky's of the college landscape. This guard-oriented attack led by freshman Austin Rivers and Seth Curry, needs to become more balanced and then, and only then, will Duke be considered a serious threat.

By President - Corey Ruff - 1-5-12