With 5 quick points by Duke freshmen the college basketball season for the Duke Blue Devils began. Obviously this wasn’t expected to be a tightly contested game but just to have fans and this team back on the court is a win for College Basketball in general. Duke was off to the races early in this game and looked sharp against the rams. The Blue Devils opened with an 8-0 run over the first 1:14 of play, with back-to-back three-pointers from freshmanTrevor Keels and junior Wendell Moore, forcing the Rams to take an early timeout. Duke did not let up from there, as it led 17-2 at the first media time out and built up a 53-point lead with under a minute left in the half. Firing on all cylinders against Winston-Salem State. The Blue Devils ended he first half with a 63-13 advantage on the scoreboard not allowing the Rams an assist. Jeremy Roach, Trevor Keels and Mark Williams all reaching double figures in scoring.
The Blue Devils never looked back but often looked good. Despite the talent disparity the Duke coaches could definitely be happy at the effort an execution. The Blue Devils only committed 9 fouls in the game which resulted in 4 free throw attempt for the Rams and the Blue Devils won the turnover battle 19 to 4 and only allowed 2 assists the entire game. There were other good things as well for Duke defensively as in holding their opponent to only 24% shooting, recording 7 blocked shots and doubling up the Rams on the defensive glass. Duke finished with a 21-0 advantage in fast break points and outscored the Rams 48-14 in the paint.
There were areas that this Duke team will have to improve on including giving up an 8-0 run with the second team in during the early stages of the second half and not being able to get the free throw numbers above 70%. As far as the run, it’s one of the hardest things to up 50 points to not lose a bit of edge and focus. These are things that will be areas of discussion and add far as free throws the hope is that practice will make perfect.
Paolo Banchero led the Blue Devils in scoring with 21 and 9 rebounds with Trevor Keels, Jeremy Roach, Wendell Moore jr., Bates Jones, AJ Griffin and Mark Williams all reaching double figures. The Blue Devils had 4 players with 3 assists or more with Jeremy Roach leading the way with 7. The Blue Devils as a team shot 11-27 from beyond the arc (40.7%).
DUKE HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI
Opening Statement: “I thought our guys played hard and well and sharp the whole time. They shared the ball well, we had 26 assists. There were a few exchanges that were just beautiful and we didn’t hit a shot. So, if that becomes a characteristic of the team, we have a shot to be really good. They shared it, I thought our defense was good, you know, we’re more talented than they are. [Winston-Salem State] can dribble and drive, and we really defended that well without fouling. Our starting perimeter and Jaylen [Blakes], especially, really use their bodies well, and not their hands. They move their feet, use their bodies. Jaylen did a good job and Bates [Jones] did a good job, just solid. That’s what we need – to keep moving. We’re pleased with AJ [Griffin]; we’re pleased that he’s fine. When he got hurt three weeks ago, we thought it was going to be two months, but he’s come back real quick. He’s just had a few practices, so it was good for him to play the number of minutes he played. I think you could see that the longer he played, the better he played, so it’s just a matter of comfort and time. We’re pleased, and we’re going to keep moving on.”
On the team sharing the ball well: “Well, I think that one of the strengths of our team is [that] in the group that starts, we really have four ball-handlers, including Paolo [Banchero], so that’s why we advance the ball fast. When one of those guys gets it, they don’t need to throw it to somebody to bring it up, they bring it up, and we’re very comfortable. So, we don’t have a so-called point-guard, we really have four ball-handlers, and if Jaylen [Blakes] is in there, he can do that also. Those five guys are guys that you’d want [with the ball]. They might pass to one another, it also means they’re touching the ball. When guys touch the ball, it means we don’t have to run something for them to touch the ball, it’s very good.”
On the team’s chemistry early on: “Yeah, well before we get along with them, they get along, and then they let me in. This is the most I’ve spent with a team [in] a long time, probably in the past decade or last 12 years, with the one-and-dones. When you’re with a veteran team, I cooperate with them for a long time. We had three juniors come back. Not being on the road recruiting, recruiting being done on campus, has benefitted me immensely. I know they know me, they know my staff, obviously, and they’re a very together group. It’s been fun coaching them and they like to play. They play hard, so we just have to stay healthy and keep it moving.”
On the free-throw shooting: “It’s always a point of emphasis. I think when we’re playing this fast and this hard, sometimes it affects our free throw shooting. [We can take], I call it, cleansing breaths, that relax you. You just have to launch it. We’re good shooters, we shoot well from the floor, but it doesn’t always translate. Would I want to shoot free throws better, absolutely. We’re going to have to, we’ll see as games get more intense, we can hit some big time free throws. But we’re working on it.”
On tradition of playing exhibition games: “Well, it’s been a while since we’ve played against an HBCU team. We added an exhibition against a Division II national champion. It’s very important because it’s a sign of respect, and these teams are very good. Winston-Salem State, the history of their basketball program is one of the best, with big house names. The schools are outstanding HBCU schools. We have ultimate respect [for them]. And, they haven’t played for two years. So, we’ll continue to do that, well, Jon [Scheyer] will determine what we do, I think that we will continue to do that. I think we found this year that a scrimmage with an exhibition game is probably a better combination than two scrimmages or two exhibition games, at least it’s worked out great this year.”
On the return of fans in Cameron: “It’s really what our game is about. It’s the intimacy of the guys on the court, the women on the court, and the fans. It’s an extremely close environment in sport, hockey is right there also. You’re in shorts, you’re moving around. You feed off of the energy in the crowd, the crowd feeds off the energy of the guys of the teams playing. It’s fun to do this again. A number of these kids didn’t get a chance to feel that last year, and it had an impact.”
FRESHMAN GUARD TREVOR KEELS
“I thought we played great. We started off strong and finished strong. We had a lot of players come in and give us energy. This team is just crazy – we’re versatile, strong, athletic. I think we’ve got everything we need.”
On Duke’s upcoming matchup with Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden: “It’s crazy. Emotions won’t come until I really get there. It’s going to be exciting. A packed Madison Square Garden – not a lot of people can say they’ve played at Madison Square Garden in front of all those people. I’m really just excited. We’ve got to take this week and really focus in on Kentucky and get the win.”
When asked what he thinks led to Duke’s ability to shoot the ball from behind the three-point line today: “Just being confident. Everybody can shoot on the team, so we don’t try to tell somebody, ‘You can’t shoot through this. You’ve got to get to the lane.’ Everybody shoots threes, we’re confident, and they fall. We’re going to shoot a lot of threes this year, and we’re going to make a lot of threes.”
FRESHMAN FORWARD PAOLO BANCHERO
“It was something we had been looking forward to, all spring and all summer, coming in and all fall as well, so the fact that it’s here is really exciting. Just being in front of the fans finally, being able to put on a show for them, it was fun. I think we played well. Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] thought we played well. We wanted to come out and jump on them early and keep the intensity up the whole time, no matter who was on the floor, and I think we did that. We moved the ball well, shared the ball well, and it showed. It was fun.” “The sky’s the limit for us. We’ve just got to continue to lock in and play well with each other, share the ball, play fast, play hard. I can’t put a ceiling on our season. I think we can be really good.”
FRESHMAN GUARD JAYLEN BLAKES
When asked how helpful the scrimmage against Villanova was in helping Duke prepare for the game today: “Villanova was really our first time playing against another team and just for our team to build confidence and play against a great team, a great program, and other good players, college players, so it really helped us in building our togetherness and chemistry. But it also helped us in dealing with physicality because they’re a very physical team. So it really prepped us and in practice it really helped us emphasize, ‘OK, this is what we need to do. This is the level we need to practice at.’”
On the first experience of playing against another team in Cameron Indoor Stadium:
“You can never really truly understand what it was if you’ve never played in it. Just our first time playing in here [against an opponent], it was just a great experience. You have expectations of it, but it really exceeds all expectations because you’re playing behind classmates, you’re playing behind fans that are crazy but very passionate about Duke Basketball and Duke the school. Just playing for them, having them behind you, having your teammates on the floor was really great, and it just provides energy. You come out on the court and you see them cheering for you, it just provides a lot of energy.”