He recognized that teams in the lower third of the league have played a number of one-possession games, which he called “incredibly unusual” for a league. While being recognized as incredibly unusual is not exactly a consolation, it is indeed Tech’s reality.
“If you give them seven possessions, and Brian is able to just say, ‘OK, I’m going to be successful on those seven possessions,’ he might have six or seven more wins,” Krzyzewski said. “Like Saturday. They played their butts off and played well and (forward Marcus) Georges-Hunt was spectacular. What a heartbreaking loss. And they still come back over and over. So sometimes, some of your best coaching jobs are done in those type of situations.”
Ultimately, the 1-8 record through the first half of the season has inhaled the Jackets’ margin for error for what most would constitute a successful season. At this point, at 10-11 overall, simply finishing above .500 will be an achievement. After Duke, the second half of Tech’s ACC schedule still includes two games with No. 12 North Carolina, one with No. 9 Louisville and two with perennial thorn Clemson, which has somehow managed to defeat the Jackets the past 10 games.
“The thing is, you’re playing against really good teams,” Gregory said. “We’re competing and our guys are fighting and we’re doing a lot of good things. And now the next step for us is either to get a break here or there, get a call here or there, because those things are important, too, in those situations.”
The breaks may be hard to come by in Cameron Indoor Stadium. On top of Duke’s near-invincible status in its gym, the Blue Devils excel at Tech’s strength — rebounding. Through Monday’s games, the Blue Devils ranked No. 4 in the ACC in rebounding margin (plus-6.9), just one spot behind the Jackets (plus-8.8).
Further, Cameron has not been a charitable venue. Tech has lost seven in a row at Cameron and 14 of its past 15 there. The past two Tech teams to win there won the ACC regular-season title (1996) or went to the national championship game (2004). Tech has lost seven in a row overall to Duke.