Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils played zone defense almost the entire night on Wednesday en route to a 74-52 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Duke has splashed in some zone from time to time throughout the Krzyzewski tenure, so it wasn’t exactly a shock to see the Blue Devils make the change. However, the volume of zone they played was certainly a departure from the norm in Durham and it appears that could be a consistent trend as Duke attempts to find itself heading into the tournament.
Krzyzewski admitted after the victory that the zone would be “pretty much [the] primary defense,” according to Lauren Brownlow of WRAL. And both the stats from Wednesday and the overall metrics seem to indicate that’s for the best for Duke.
The Blue Devils held the Hokies to 52 points, 42.9 percent shooting and just 3 offensive rebounds in their victory without freshman sensation Marvin Bagley III. And Duke has given up just 0.79 points per possession in zone this season against 0.85 points per possession in man-to-man.
Still, Duke has been running man on about 70 percent of its defensive possessions this year, according to this detailed look from ACCSports.com’s Brian Geisinger. At 30 percent, that’s already the most zone that Duke has run in the last eight years, but the clear indication from Wednesday is that it can work on a much larger scale.
So expect heavy doses of zone from Duke in the coming weeks and that — theoretically — should lead to more general defensive competency. And it shouldn’t take much for one of the most dynamic and efficient offenses (No. 2 in adjusted offensive efficiency) in all of college basketball to be dangerous come March.
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