Saturday night, in front of a sold out crowd at the Dean Smith Center, the Blue Devils fell to their Tobacco Road Rival Tar Heels 93-84. From tip off the Tar Heels played with a level of intensity Duke didn’t match. Whether it was diving for loose balls or making lazy passes, the effort was missing.
“I just wasn’t happy with the way we competed, head coach Jon Scheyer said after the loss. “That’s disappointing for me. You can play really well and compete your butt off and still lose to them, because they’re a really good team. But we didn’t compete to the level that you need to, to have a chance to beat this team tonight.”
That’s what the Blue Devils will have to sit with the next few days.
7th ranked Duke, who led all of sixteen seconds Saturday, has the talent to beat any team in the country, but the is book it out on how to beat them. Bully ball.
Instead of matching an opponent’s level of physical intensity or even setting the tone themselves, the Blue Devils cower. It happened during last year’s NCAA Tournament loss to Tennessee. It happened against Pitt January 20th and last night against UNC.
“They out-competed us, for sure,” Freshman guard Jared McCain said. “They got those 50-50 balls and it translated.”
In addition to not fighting for 50-50 balls, the Blue Devils turned the ball over 11 times to Carolina’s five – resulting in 19 Tar Heel points.
After having today off, the Blue Devils will regroup Monday to prepare for a Wednesday night matchup against Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor.
“I have to be on them and get back to it on Monday,” Scheyer continued. “End of the day, when I say this, this is my responsibility. This is our responsibility. But you have to compete. You still have to bring it.”
Historically the Blue Devils have shown up after tough losses, but they’ll have to do more than that. Duke will have to charter the unfamiliar territory of being the bully and not the bullied. It’s a tone that will have to be set by Jon Scheyer and executed by the players the moment the ball is tipped. The standard for Duke basketball has been set, now it’s time for this Blue Devil team to live up to it.