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Basketball: Q&A with the Duke Report

This was one of the most fun QA's I've been a part of. Special thanks to David Aldridge and the guys at the Duke Report.

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Before I go any further, make sure to check out the game tonight on the ACC Network regionally, along with on the radio at 106.7 WYAY-FM at 9pm. Duke is ranked #5 currently, making this game the most exciting and toughest opponent the Jackets will see at home this season.

I formatted this a little differently this time. Maybe it will be more confusing- we shall see. Duke questions will be in bold blue, FTRS responses will be in normal gold. FTRS questions will be in bold gold, Duke responses in normal blue.


Q:Georgia Tech is coming off a thrilling 74-71 win over Boston College. Does it give you optimism that the Jackets won a close game or does it make you nervous that they struggled to beat a Boston College squad that has been pitiful?

A:It does give me some optimism, but not as much as it would had we beaten a bit of a more competitive opponent. No offense to Boston College, but they have underperformed similarly to the Yellow Jackets this season. So for that reason, it makes me nervous. I was expecting us to put up better numbers in the first half and the beginning of the second. When the Jackets win, its due to a strong start. With the amount of injuries that we have had and lack of personnel , we cannot afford to get down by a lot and have to work harder to get back.

Q:Maryland has had a few more ACC wins, but I think they have a relatively similar team to Georgia Tech. Duke struggled against Maryland last weekend. Walk me through why they struggled and the fixes that Duke needs to make in order to be successful for the rest of the season.

A:The biggest issue against Maryland was Duke’s poor shooting. For a team that’s led the ACC in three-point shooting all season, the Blue Devils were abysmal against Maryland, going only 5-for-24 from three-point range. They weren’t much better inside the arc, hitting 18-for-54 from the field for 33-percent. It was Duke’s worst shooting performance of the season, and I’d like to think it was an outlier for a team that has been extremely efficient from the perimeter.

If it happens again, the shot selection needs to improve. When guys like Rodney Hood, Andre Dawkins and Rasheed Sulaimon aren’t knocking shots down from the outside, they need to make more committed efforts to attacking the basket. All three guys have the ability, but they tend to use the drive as a secondary option behind taking outside shots. When it’s a cold night from the perimeter, attacking the lane has to become the new objective of the offense.

Q:Georgia Tech only trailed Duke by one point at halftime in the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season. What did the Yellow Jackets do well that could carry over to this game?

A:Ball control, playing their offense, and limiting easy Duke shots. Trae Golden played 38 minutes against Duke- that's ridiculous! They were able to have their most experienced PG play for the entire game basically. The struggle the Jackets have is putting guards on the floor that can control the ball and run the offense. We need to have a high intensity, efficient offense if we want to win because I know Duke will bring it.

Q:What was Duke's takeaway from the first game against Georgia Tech? Do you think the Jackets just got lucky in the first half, or did Tech have a fighting chance?

A:It’s not uncommon to see teams hang with Duke for a half at Cameron Indoor Stadiums. Opponents always talk about the emotion of playing a game in front of the Cameron Crazies, and it often brings out the best in teams. The challenge for most guys is that it’s very difficult to maintain that emotion and high level of play for 40 minutes, which is often why Duke is able to use a big run to put a team away.

Georgia Tech certainly showed in that game that it could compete with Duke, and the Yellow Jackets can present some interesting match-up challenges. And now that the Blue Devils are having to travel to Atlanta in the middle of a very difficult stretch of four games in a week, I could definitely see the Jackets being able to make Duke fans very nervous in this game.

Q: Daniel Miller seemed to have great success against Duke’s frontcourt. Do you think he’ll be a big part of the gameplan?

A:Every game we have won, we have fed Daniel Miller. He is huge and has a high bball IQ. He never rushes his moves, never seems phased, unlike Kam Holsey (our other major post player). I think with the return of Robert Carter Jr., he will see less post feeds, but if the Jackets are smart, they will try to find Daniel as much as they can. You better expect to see him on the defensive scoreboard too, as he has been the major contributor to blocks and rebounds this season.

Q:Jabari Parker seems to be living up to his hype and potential. What makes him so dangerous? What do teams have to do in order to limit him offensively?

A:The way he’s handled the pressure and spotlight this season has been incredible. I’ve also been extremely impressed with how Parker has adjusted his game and grown throughout the season as teams have become more committed to stopping him.

The best way to contain Jabari is to force him to take difficult shots, which he occasionally settles for. When he gets the ball in the low post, I think he’s one of the toughest guys to defend in the country. When a defense forces him to catch the ball on the perimeter and either take a jump shot or have to create off the dribble, he’s still good, but not nearly as effective. That would be my gameplan if I were Brian Gregory going into tonight’s game.

Q:Rodney Hood was unstoppable in the first meeting between these two teams, finishing with 27 points on 8-of-12 shooting. What adjustments need to be made to contain Hood?

A:The tough part to Hood is he is a quicker post player. I think for that reason, you will see Robert Carter Jr. and Kam Holsey matching up on him for most of the game. I cannot remember who marked him the last time we met, however Robert was not available- I'd assume Jason Morris or Kam Holsey. Fouls might be an issue for these players, so look for Gregory to use multiple players to mark him.

Q:While the Yellow Jackets struggled offensively at times, their defense is relatively strong. What is Duke's biggest concern on the offensive front, especially playing against a taller Yellow Jacket team with Miller.

A:The Maryland game from this past Saturday is a great picture of Duke’s biggest concerns on offense. If the Blue Devils shoot 20-percent from three-point range and give up 17 offensive rebounds, they’re vulnerable no matter who the opponent is.

As you mentioned, Georgia Tech has the potential to create these same types of problems for Duke. The Jackets are a physical, athletic team that I believe hasn’t played up to level of talent they have on the roster this year. Yet, teams like that tend to show their full talent when playing on their home floor against Duke.

Q:Who is one player that could step up and have a big game for Georgia Tech?

A:Robert Carter Jr. was on the rise the past two games so if he plays well and takes some stress off of the recent scorers, you could see a strong offensive team. I expect Miller to play well and we would need MGH or Golden to play well too. But as for big game, I think Robert is on the up. The only other player I'd say is MGH since Golden has been injured. Unfortunately Bolden has been struggling lately, because he put up a career high 21 against Duke last year. This issue is the main concern for this team- inconsistency of the top performer outside of Miller.

Q:Which player do you think the Jackets need to limit today? Who do you see as the major threat for the Jackets, outside of Parker and Hood? Who might surprise us?

A:Rasheed Sulaimon was starting to come out of his early-season slump when these two teams played earlier in the year, but he’s a drastically different player now. He’s taken a more active role in the offense and has become one of the team’s best ballhandlers, and his driving ability can create all kinds of problems for a defense. He’s also got great finishing ability around the rim. If Sulaimon can get off to a good start, it usually leads to very good things for the Blue Devils.


A:I honestly think this will be a hard-fought, close game for a full 40 minutes. Mike Krzyzewski always teaches focus and respect for every opponent, but it’s nearly impossible for Duke’s players to not be peeking ahead to the huge weekend and games against UNC and Syracuse. I expect Georgia Tech to play an inspired game and for Duke to shoot the ball much better than what we saw against Maryland last Saturday. Ultimately, I think the Blue Devils have too much firepower and will execute a little bit better down the stretch. Duke wins 71-66.

A:I'd like to predict a win, but I think that you can't in this situation. You can't predict stuff like this outside of March Madness. However, if there was another upset on the Duke schedule, it'd be this game in my opinion since the schedule has been very loaded for the Blue Devils the past week and the UNC game is looming in the forefront.Duke wins 76-64.

If you are interested in reading more from David or the others at the Duke Report, make sure to check out their website here.

What do y'all think? Are you excited for the game tonight? Did you enjoy the Q&A session? Confusing format?