Duke heads to Maryland for emotional battle
One of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s common terms is energy cycle, a way to manage the ups and downs of a long college basketball season.
His No. 2 Blue Devils find themselves nearing the end of a major one this weekend.
Coming off an emotional win over rival North Carolina on Wednesday night, the Blue Devils jump back into another pit of emotion.
Duke heads to College Park, Md., where it will face Maryland today (6 p.m., ESPN) at the Comcast Center, an arena consistently filled with Terrapins fans quick to unleash fury on the Blue Devils.
“This,” Krzyzewski said, “is a hunker down kind of week.”
Duke (22-2, 9-2 ACC) has won six consecutive games entering the matchup. The past three made up the beginning of what Krzyzewski considers an energy cycle.
On Feb. 7, Duke beat N.C. State 98-85 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Three days later, on Feb. 10, the Blue Devils traveled the day of the game to snowy Boston College, eked out a 62-61 win over the Eagles and traveled back home that night.
Three days later came the hard-fought win over UNC, when Duke rallied from seven points down in the second half to win 73-68.
With little time to prepare, Duke hit the road again Friday for the Washington, D.C., area ahead of tonight’s ACC battle with the Terrapins.
Maryland (17-7, 5-6) hasn’t played since losing at home to Virginia 80-69 this past Sunday. It was a rare home loss for Maryland, which is 14-2 at Comcast Center this season.
Given the schedule, Krzyzewski would consider a win today, which would be Duke’s third in seven days, even more impressive.
“If we are able to do well in these three games, that says a lot,” Krzyzewski said. “It says a lot more than if we have more preparation and time to prepare.”
Duke, which will play its 10th game since senior forward Ryan Kelly was sidelined with an injured right foot on Jan. 8, faces a Maryland team that also will be shorthanded.
Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon announced Friday that guard Pe’Shon Howard was suspended for today’s game for violating team rules. Turgeon said Howard was suspended for “not making very good decisions” and that the situation will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
Howard scored five points and had three assists in Duke’s 84-64 win over Maryland at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 26. Seth Allen and Nick Faust will handle the point guard duties for the Terrapins, who have lost six consecutive games to Duke.
The Blue Devils continue to get solid play from senior starters Mason Plumlee (18.2 points, 10.8 rebounds) and Seth Curry (16.5 points per game).
But two players who will suit up as Blue Devils at Comcast Center for the first time are sophomore point guard Quinn Cook and freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon.
Cook, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, did not make the trip to Maryland with Duke a year ago because of an illness. Having scored in double figures in 14 Duke games this season, Cook had 18 points against UNC.
Sulaimon leads the ACC in scoring by a freshman with an 11.5 points per game. By now, he said, he can’t be considered an inexperienced freshman anymore. His 13 points against UNC, including nine during the second-half rally, show he’s ready with energy for the atmosphere he and the Blue Devils will face tonight.
“I’ve got to step up and help my teammates out,” Sulaimon said. “The great thing about this team and this coaching staff is they have confidence in me and they have the belief in me that I can do it. And if they believe in me, why shouldn’t I? I’m just ready.”
NOTES — Krzyzewski will reach a pair of career milestones if Duke wins today. He would have 950 career wins, extending the all-time Division I men’s record he already holds. But he also would notch win No. 877 with the Blue Devils, moving him past former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp into third place alone on the NCAA’s all-time list of most coaching wins at a single school. The leader is Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, who still is active with 909 wins. Former North Carolina coach Dean Smith is second at 879.