Image Credit: FSU Athletics
The stretch run of basketball season is here. Both Florida State and Duke are coming off Saturday wins – of varying margins, true. The schedule was not kind to either team here, but at least it’s fair to both. Duke edged by rival North Carolina, 98-96, while FSU dispatched rival Miami 99-81. So even on short notice, we were able to speak to the Fifth Quarter Duke writer regarding his Blue Devils to see what the Blue Devils have in store for the ‘Noles.
1. So you lose two Top 5 picks to the NBA draft and Duke keeps on going. How does that coaching staff keep churning out NBA talent while consistently winning at a high level?
Obviously it all starts at the top with Coach K. Being able to go out and bring in some of the top talent in the country on a consistent basis is huge. These are kids that – if playing in the early 2000’s – are going straight to the league and not even sniffing college. I think the fact that Duke has such a storied past and having the opportunity to work with Coach K is a big reason why Duke stays at the top of CBB. Now on the other hand, Coach K has created a staff where most of the assistants played for Coach K at Duke. They have bought into the brotherhood. Their coaching and recruiting shows these young people that K is there with your best interest in mind.
2. Who are the main folks to watch out for this season?
Vernon Carey, Jr. and Cassius Stanley are really my two main factors going forward. Tre Jones, Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, and the rest of the guys are extremely important to this team but going forward we need a healthy dose of Cash and Vern. Stanley is the spark plug for this team and brings a certain energy that the team needs. Extremely exciting and talented, Vernon Carey Jr is just imposing his will at this point in the season. Coming off a HUGE game at Pitt, he comes back and tops that performance with a 26 and 17 night against ‘Cuse. He’s going to be the guy they need moving forward. If Duke is going to make a title run he needs to play like Okafor did in 2015. He will be the X factor and he REALLY needs to stay out of foul trouble.
3. Duke-FSU basketball games often seem to come down to the wire. Who or what about FSU’s team scares you this year?
FSU is always extremely tough and well-coached. They are very disciplined and Duke always gets their best. In years past, one of the big problems FSU has presented were these 7 footers that could guard the rim and were extremely athletic. This season is a bit different, in which they have a guard trio that could be one of the best in the nation. Vassell, Forrest, and Walker are all extremely talented. Vassell can score on you anywhere on the court. Shooting 44% from 3 this year, Duke is really going to need to watch out for him. On the other side, Trent Forrest is averaging almost 2 steals per game. That guard trio will be who gives Duke trouble, and we are going to need to play tough on the defensive side of the ball to get a win.
4. Final score and why?
On February 10th Duke comes away with a victory inside Cameron Indoor. Vernon Carey, Jr. has a big game and the Blue Devils show up defensively and contain FSU’s guards. 76-68 Duke.
From our own side:
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think we’re coming away with a win here, either. It should be a close game, but the bigs have to be, well, BIG in this game for FSU to win. I don’t see that happening yet. Give me a back-and-forth nail-biter – 80-75 Duke.