On every championship team for the Duke Blue Devils dating back to where it all began in 1991 & 1992, having a backcourt that can weather the storm and dictate tempo has been integral..and it is what it will take for this year’s team to elevate to another dimension.
Second year point guard Jeremy Roach, throughout the first seven games of the season, is shooting just 38 percent from the field – averaging nine points, two rebounds, and three assists per game. When you see Duke’s record at 7-1, the numbers don’t really cast a gray cloud over how poor the backcourt has played, specifically the last three games. I’m not saying this to wrongfully critique Duke, but to further illustrate areas that can become concerns throughout the duration of the season – if bad habits continue to arise against inferior competition.
In Duke’s last three games, that included the number one watched game of the year thus far versus previously undefeated top-ranked Gonzaga, the formable backcourt of Trevor Keels and Jeremy Roach combined for 16-66 from the field (27.2%). In addition to shooting poorly from the field, the numbers from downtown are even more abysmal, with the duo shooting 20 percent from deep (6-30) during the span.
On the season the Roach and Keels have combined for just 37 percent from the field. At the charity stripe they are a combined 69.1 percent. These are both areas of concerns but, both players have talked about not just growing as players, but as a team.
Of course we highlight the clutch shots that are made during pivotal moments, such as Roach attacking the lane late during the Gonzaga game, or Trevor Keels attacking the basket early in the second half for the “And-1 flex” during the same primetime matchup. Both helped maintain the Duke lead and the Blue Devils have yet to play their best ball, which further puts everyone on notice on not just how much potential this team has, but that there’s always room for improvement.
Both have showed the ability to push the tempo, find the open guy in transition, and excel on the defensive end…as a point guard should. The good thing is it’s early and both have plenty of time to perfect the chemistry.
Areas of growth for Duke:
- 3-point shooting (32.8 as a team)
- Free throw shooting (74.6 as a team)
- Half court offense
Duke has a two-week holiday break, after which they will open up against South Carolina State December 14th and 8:00pm on the ACC Network.