Mike Krzyzewski: 'We weren't ready to play' vs. St. John's
There was no bigger story in college basketball last weekend than Duke’s 93-78 throttling at the hands of unranked St. John’s at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Closer to home, the import of defeat — when dropped the NCAA champions from No. 3 in the national rankings to No. 5 — revolved around whether the loss would make Duke a tougher opponent for Maryland (14-7, 4-3) Wednesday at Comcast Center or whether it exposed vulnerabilities for the Terps to exploit.
Duke hasn’t lost back-to-back games since February 2009, when the Devils were beaten at Cameron Indoor Stadium by North Carolina and fell four days later at Boston College.
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t try to sugarcoat the drubbing by St. John’s during the ACC’s weekly conference call, calling Sunday’s game, in which Duke trailed 46-25 at the half, “our worst game of the year.”
“I just thought we weren’t ready to play as a program, and they were really ready to play,” Krzyzewski said. “As a result, they just handed it to us. So [it’s] something we need to learn from. Throughout the course of the season, every week is a little bit different. Last week had its complete opposite. [Duke easily handled Boston College, 84-68, last Thursday at Cameron]. Hopefully we can get moving in the right direction when we play a real tough team up in Maryland.”
Duke was plagued by poor shooting throughout Sunday’s game. Averaging 39 percent from three-point range this season, the Devils made just five of their 26 attempts from beyond the arc. They also turned the ball over 17 times and were lax on defense.
“We have to keep trying to develop, really, in all areas,” Krzyzewski said, asked about the key to what remains in Duke’s season. “We have nine scholarship players. We need to, one, stay healthy, and, two, keep working at being the team we are now and not the team that we started the year with (before star freshman point guard Kyrie Irving was sidelined by injury).
“I’m not sure we’ve come to the realization of who we need to be yet because we’ve been able to win most of our games. Sometimes people don’t come to the realization of what they have to do until they lose something. So we just have to get tougher and play better defense and take care of the ball better.”
Krzyzewski pointed out that Duke (19-2, 6-1) has typically done well against nonconference opponents during the stretch run of the season. And he suggested that there’s a value in stepping away from the familiarity of conference foes, regardless of the outcome.
“It’s a time where you get out of conference [and] somebody does something to you that might help you [develop], or you do something to somebody that might help you get a better picture of what you need to do during the last part of the season before you get– hopefully you make the NCAA tournament—to the NCAA tournament,” Krzyzewski said.
“Obviously we didn’t play well at all [against St. John’s]. Throughout a year, a team is not going to play well all the time. What you hope to do is when you aren’t playing as well, you win. Then there are other days like [Sunday] when the other team says, ‘You’re not gonna win! We’re gonna kick your butt.’”
| February 1, 2011; 5:40 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball | Tags: Duke basketball, Kyrie Irving, Maryland basketball, St. John's basketball
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