January 8, 2007

Blue Devils not cashing in free throws

The reasons are plenty for why Duke lost its ACC opener to Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

There were the 22 turnovers the Blue Devils committed and the defensive struggles Duke had with Hokie guards Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell, plus an assortment of other issues that don't need further discussion..

Plenty of criticism has been directed toward Greg Paulus for the turnovers and the defensive issues. While the sophomore captain certainly didn't play well, perhaps there's another element that has gone relatively overlooked.

Duke was 18-28 (.643) from the foul line against the Hokies, far below the standard that has been set in the Coach K era.

But the unsettling part of that stat is that it doesn't appear to be a one game anomaly. Duke's free throw struggles have been mounting over the course of the last seven games.

Prior to the Virginia Tech loss, the Blue Devils were playing their best basketball of the young season, perhaps masking the developing problems at the charity stripe. But after a loss, problems become magnified, and free throws have been a problem.

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