Duke’s loss on the road at Boston College last weekend wasn’t the first time this season the Blue Devils have been in a tight game in the second half. The young Blue Devils roared back in wins over Portland State, Texas, Florida and Indiana.
In the comeback over Texas, Duke got back into the game with a barrage of pick-and-rolls between Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley. On the road against Indiana, Duke used off-ball screen action involving Allen to get Bagley low-post touches.
But against the Eagles: Duke, inexplicably, went away from the post.
In the first half, Duke used seven post-up possessions, per Synergy Sports. Two of which ran through Marvin Bagley. In the second half, though, Duke used just two post-up possessions; according to Synergy, Bagley didn’t account for a single used post-up possession in the final 20 minutes.
By the numbers
The two second half post-ups were the fewest of any half this season for Duke. In the second half against Michigan State, Duke used just four post-up possessions — that’s the second-lowest of any other half. The nine total post-ups are the fewest of any game in the 2017-18 season for Duke.
That’s concerning, too, because Duke entered the bonus with 13:07 left in the second half. Theoretically, it should be even more inviting for Duke to attack the paint; if there’s contact, it’s an automatic trip to the line. However, the Blue Devils attempted just eight free throws after hitting the bonus. Grayson Allen accounted for four of those attempts, while Marvin Bagley attempted just two.
In the wins over Texas and Florida, Duke used 42 total post-ups possessions. Bagley accounted for 12 of 23 post-ups against Florida. Bagley also scored 30 points in that game, and shot 9-of-18 on two-point field goals.
Gotta get more touches
According to KenPom, Bagley has used 26 percent of Duke’s possessions while on the floor this season — the most of anyone on th team.. The 6-foot-11 southpaw played 40 minutes against BC, but accounted for just 18 percent of Duke’s possessions — the lowest of any game this season.
In a diversion from the recent past, nearly 12 percent of Duke’s possessions are of the post-up variety, according to Synergy. That’s a big jump over a season ago: 6.6 percent. Wendell Carter and Bagley are shooting a combined 49.3 percent on post-ups this season, per Synergy. It makes sense to feed that duo; however, it simply didn’t happen against the Eagles.
Perhaps this was Mike Krzyzewski playing 4D chess, and inviting his team to learn a tough early season lesson on the road: If you don’t defend and look for the post, bad things can happen. Or perhaps this was a young team losing track of one of its key strengths. Remember: went just 8-of-30 on three-pointers in this game, too.
Regardless, there’s still a lot of basketball left to be played, including a marathon conference season. Duke will make sure Bagley and Carter get their looks.