Duke basketball: Jeremy Roach the key to Blue Devils turning things ...
Duke had a rough follow-up to its win over North Carolina, as the Blue Devils found themselves at the wrong end of an 81-59 scoreline at Miami. And ESPN's Chris Spatola said that veteran guard Jeremy Roach needed to step up his game for Duke to reach its potential this season.
"The difference for Duke last year and that run to a national championship was not (Paolo) Banchero," said Spatola, the son-in-law of Duke coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski. "As well as Banchero was playing, Banchero had a good year all year, and he was the No. 1 pick in the draft. The difference in Duke was Jeremy Roach and the run he went on in the last month of the season, his ability to break down the defense, his ability to draw attention, his ability to finish at the rim and his ability to make shots. You had a guy late in games, and Roach did this: hit a massive 3 in that Michigan State game, I’m probably missing other ones. In that tournament run, the guy who had the biggest shots late in games was Jeremy Roach, Roddy.
"And I just think as he gets healthier coming off of that toe injury, and he gets a little more continuity, more practice, he can kind of get himself in top form," Spatola said. "The ceiling is absolutely attached a little bit to (Dereck) Lively. The ceiling is, ‘OK Jeremy Roach, who are you going to be for the last two months of the season?’ You gonna be a guy that by the end of the year, by the tournament we’re saying, ‘Yo man, this guy is like first, second-team All-American?’"
Duke reached the 2022 Final Four, not the national championship game, as Spatola said.
Spatola continued to note Roach was the biggest part of Duke's formula to become a successful team.
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"If he can do that, and then you get these freshmen starting to play better, maybe Whitehead, although I have no faith in Dariq Whitehead coming back," Spatola said. "I mean this dude … what a puzzle this dude is. I’m not saying he’s not hurt. But come on, man."