Duke 113-Presbyterian 44
This was a total mismatch from the start, but here’s some post-game thoughts.
First 2 Opponents:
-I’m glad that Duke’s starting off with a couple of games against teams with lesser talent, unlike Louisville playing their first game against a legit Minnesota team. I’ve spoken of Duke’s youth as a concern, so it’s nice for them to get some confidence right away. Early on, Winslow and Okafor missed some bunnies, and it was obvious that they were a bit too juiced up at first, which is understandable. Playing against a team like Presbyterian allowed them to take some time and get into the flow of things while the adrenaline settled down.
Specifics About Athleticism:
-Coach K says that with the athletes Duke has, they can get back to playing the Duke defense of old. It’s more than athleticism, though. It’s about length (of limbs), instincts, and most of all, footwork. On this team, I would say that Cook and Semi are the only guys whose footwork I worry about. The rest of the guys do an incredible job, which allows them to press, extend defense in the halfcourt, and make up ground when a guy beats them off the dribble. Winslow brings the whole package as a perimeter defender.
-Jahlil Okafor was double, and even sometimes triple-teamed tonight. But rather than act like a typical 18 year-old kid who wants to build up his stats, he showed tremendous patience and unselfishness. He consistently found the open man, getting 4 assists as well as plenty of hockey assists. I would like to see more cutting to the rim when Okafor gets the ball inside, as that keeps that aggressive attitude of play rather than sitting outside and settling for jumpers.
-The game didn’t seem to be moving too fast for them, which says a lot. When excited (i.e. Marshall Plumlee) many players start making their move before even receiving the ball. Not so with these four Freshman. I remarked during the game that Tyus has some Trey Burke in him, meaning he always looks cool under pressure. When the Freshmen struggled at the start, Tyus was the one who hit a shot to loosen up the jitters. Tyus is a team-first guy, but that was just the first of many times this season that he will take charge when necessary. Any any point considered crucial or crunch time, I trust Tyus with the ball. Winslow is making Duke fans slobber, as he should. Against players with lesser talent, he’ll show out to the max. I’m interested to see him in a slower, half court type game like against Virginia. Anyone who’s followed me on Twitter or read my articles and recaps about him knows how I feel. The guy is a freak. Grayson, after shooting 3 pointers his first 3 shots in the first exhibition game, has now found himself, and is attack-first at all times, which frees him up to take 3’s when in a rhythm. He’s pure energy in a bottle. Okafor is a beast, and was toying with guys when not being patient and unselfish.
Quinn hit spot up, open 3’s. This is what he can bring physically. In the early part of the season, Coach K wants him on the court more for his communication and how he can help Tyus early on. We’ll see how it works against Michigan State, but soon enough, Tyus will be running the show by himself. The defense couldn’t extend as well with Cook. Amile had a typical Amile game. I’m not even sure about his stats, but he was the defensive leader that Duke needs. Anyone who recorded the game should watch him talk and move his teammates around to the correct place on defense. Such an important player. Stats don’t matter with him. He’ll be important throughout the year, but at this point in the season, he’s extra vital. In my opinion, he’s the player that Duke needs most on the court right now.
I could include him in with the vets, but no. Many Duke fans buried him after the exhibition season, and wondered why Coach K sat him more than others. Well, guess what? Exhibitions are exhibitions for a reason, and Sheed wasn’t sitting tonight. He was almost a de facto point guard, setting up guys and looking for his shot when necessary. He provided tremendous defense as well. Overall, it couldn’t have been a better first game for Sheed. With my prediction that Cook’s minutes will lesson as the year goes on, that leaves Sheed & Amile as the only upperclassmen who will get major minutes. I’m happy to see him off to a great start.
-Plum3 and Matt Jones provided great hustle minutes. Jones even hit a straight on bank shot, but he might be better off staying around the perimeter. Semi didn’t show me anything, and he needs to take advantage of these early games. Not impressed. Duke had a few lulls where they settle for passing around the perimeter, leading to forced 3’s, but mostly stayed in attack mode, which is for the best. If they settle, teams will zone them nonstop. Against the zone, Winslow, Tyus and Sheed need to get into the center to break down the zone. If Amile had developed a face up jumper in the offseason that would have been perfect against the zone, but unfortunately that doesn’t look to be the case. I was actually surprised to see Okafor catch the ball at the foul line on one play and feed Grayson for a cutting layup. It’s just another way that Duke is finding ways to get the ball in Okafor’s hands. I liked that Duke was in constant attack mode early in the game. They need to attack to gain confidence as well as open up the outside game. Very well done tonight.
-I’d probably say the players of the game were Okafor/Winslow. This is an exciting team, and will be fun to watch this year. As you have read, this game was more about Duke and less about the opponent and game situations. In order to find out what this team really is, Tuesday will be fantastic against Michigan State for the young guys to get experience in a pressure game. I’ll try to get a podcast out Sunday and/or Tuesday after the game.