On December 20th the Duke Blue Devils lost to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 81-70, making their overall record 10-3 and 1-1 in conference play. If you are a Blue Devils fan, you knew that this loss was coming. Before the Blue Devils tipped off against the Demon Deacons, the last time they played was ten days ago against Maryland Eastern-Shore. That is very poor scheduling on the Blue Devils' part for playing an above average conference matchup against Wake Forest after ten days of not playing, especially how the Blue Devils are playing this year so far. The Blue Devils took ten days off due to finals and then are taking another eleven days for Christmas break before they play against Florida State at Cameron Indoor Stadium on New Years Eve. If this was last years Duke team with Paolo Banchero, Mark Williams, and Wendell Moore Jr., that would be totally fine. But with this very young and banged up Duke team who are performing very sub-par, taking ten days off before playing an ACC conference matchup was a very terrible idea. Duke against Wake Forest was without Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead, something the Blue Devils are very used to.
The main problem with this Blue Devils squad are two things: inexperience and injury. Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively have missed a lot of games due to injury and have played minimal games when they are both on the floor together. Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead are both the number one and two ranked players in this years freshman class, but Dereck Lively has been playing like he isn't an ESPN Top 100 player at all. He is very soft on the offensive side, and a little above average on the defensive side with his length helping the Blue Devils with blocks and rebounds. Dereck Lively needs to do better on the offensive side. He needs to be strong with the ball and not fade away on his post shots. For Dariq Whitehead, I am very optimistic and confident. I know he will get better game by game. The only problem is time. We are already in January and we haven't seen the Dariq Whitehead we saw at Montverde Academy just yet. We saw some sparks of plays, but that is it. I am very hopeful that he will get better game by game and will be the number two recruit in the freshman class we have been waiting to see.
Another problem with the Blue Devils is inexperience. Duke will always have this problem for years to come since they are a "one and done" school. Duke always gets the best freshmen every year, and they always leave for the NBA after their first year. Duke will always be an inexperienced team unless some key players stay three or four years, like Jeremy Roach. Junior point guard Jeremy Roach has been stepping up big time this season and has guided these inexperienced freshmen. Jeremy Roach can't do everything on his own, just like what we say against their loss to Wake Forest. These freshman five stars need to step up as they have a loaded ACC schedule in front of them. For Duke to fix their problems, the first thing they need to fix is having Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead fully healthy. After that is accomplished, they just need to focus on their ACC games so they can try to get a good seed in the NCAA Tournament. This might not be the Final Four Blue Devil squad we saw last March, but don't count them out just yet. Once fully healthy, this Duke team can be very scary.
The Blue Devils play their next game against Florida State at home on New Years Eve at 1pm.