The Duke Blue Devils defense was struggling early on in the season, but since they have inserted Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston in to the starting lineup it has improved greatly. In the beginning of the season, they were all about the offensive side of the ball. They went up and down the court while scoring at will in the first few games. But since the Vermont game scare, they have gotten back to focusing on defense. Since Vermont they have held opponents to an average of under seventy points a game.
The Blue Devils have been picking up their defensive effort, but it has hurt them offensively. They have taken out Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaimon for defensive players in Hairston and Thornton. This has been one of their main problems for the offensive side, with fewer players that are a threat on the offensive side means less players for their defense to worry about.
The other thing that is limiting them on the offensive end of the floor is putting the effort on the defensive side. Their scoring will go down with fewer scorers in the game, but with so much more effort going towards defense, the scoring will be down as well. This will hurt the scoring, but overall will produce a better team.
Since they have picked up their defense, they have only lost to Arizona, currently the number one team in the country. They have been great all season, and the Blue Devils have improved since then. Rasheed Sulaimon has played better since not getting in the Michigan game, and should continue to improve as the season goes along. This will help on the offensive side, but with great defense could make this one of the better teams in the country.
This should only make them a more dangerous team; without relying on outscoring teams, they can get back to Blue Devil basketball. The Blue Devils have always taken pride in their defense under Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and when he plays zone you know how bad the defense must be. They have gotten back to defense and this is what will make them a great team keeping teams under seventy points a game.
This team should be fine going forward because improving their defense was really important. They have multiple players who can score like Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, and Rasheed Sulaimon. They will be able to score with most teams in the country, and if they can keep teams from using their size and fewer than seventy points they should be a great team going in to the NCAA tournament. They should be able to compete with the best teams in the country, and compete for a National Championship if Sulaimon keeps improving this season.