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Austin Rivers is slumping, but Coach K doesn’t sound worried


Mike Miller

Seems Austin Rivers isn’t unlike most freshmen. He’s hit the proverbial wall.

The 6-3 guard has hit just 16 of 44 field goals in his last five games (36.4 percent) and made just three shots beyond the arc. He’s still the Devils’ leading scorer (13.8 ppg), but maybe not for much longer. After Sunday’s four-point outing against Clemson, Rivers hardly seems like one 2011’s elite freshmen, let alone a kid ready for the NBA.

But let’s talk big picture. Duke is 15-2, atop the ACC and Rivers has been a major reason why. I mean, if coach Mike Krzyzewski isn’t overly worried, why should we be?

“I just think he’s going through what a freshman goes through,” Krzyzewski told the Raleigh News & Observer. “There’s adjustments to everything. Overall, he’s done it really well.

“There’s adjustments to more physicality, speed, height, experience. There’s not one adjustment – all freshmen have to go through it. He’s done it fairly well to average about 14 points per game with the schedule we’ve had. He has to continue to make those adjustments.”

At this point, the best thing Rivers could do is to do what he’s been doing during his shooting slump.

But he hasn’t been forcing shot after shot. In three of the last five games, he hasn’t taken more than eight shots, which is saying something for a guy who uses more possessions and takes the highest percentage of shots in Duke’s offense.

Sure, there are ill-advised attempts, but Rivers is a scorer. He’s trying to find his game, adjust to the speed of college ball and help Duke win. The last part’s the most important for Coach K’s team.

As long as Rivers’ shot selection doesn’t adversely impact that, I’d say he’s doing just fine.

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