It’s been a while since the Blue Devils were able to string together back to back games. After having 3 games cancelled and 2 games postponed to who knows win it was a treat for players, coaches and fans alike to get some semblance of schedule normality – oh and by the way it was the return of Coach K after missing the Boston College game after having to quarantine due to possible COVID exposure. Duke after coming back from 16 down against BC had Wake Forest today. Wake came into the game 0-2 in conference and the only team that has suffered as much as Duke has from issues related to COVD-19. Wake began the game completely up to the task in Durham Wake benefited from 9 first half Duke turnovers and a 13 to 7 edge in points off of turnovers. The Blue Devils would build a lead on the Demon Deacons to the tune of 13 points but Wake battled back and the Blue Devils ended the half up 4. Matthew Hurt started the game strong for the Blue Devils scoring 11 points on the first half on 5-6 shooting. Hurt and DJ Steward, who scored 12 in the first half, kept the Blue Devils viable despite their unforced errors.
The second half the Blue Devils go up by 7 on a Matthew Hurt 3 in the early seconds of the second half but the Deacons battled back to take a 1 point lead with 15:25 left in the second half. It took until the 3:33 mark in the second half for the Blue Devils to achieve breathing room and a double digit lead spurred on by another Matthew Hurt 3. The lead would never dip below double digits and the Blue Devils finished off the Deacons by 11 (79-68). The recurring theme for the Blue Devils has been keep turnovers low and rebound the basketball, the second half saw Duke turn the ball over only 5 time after a first half that saw them cough it up 9 times. Duke got timely rebounding, especially on the offensive end form Matthew Hurt and DJ Steward. Duke pulled down 15 offensive rebounds which lead to 15 second chance points. Overall the Blue Devils out-rebounded Wake 35-25.
Matthew Hurt led all scores with a career high 26 points on 10-15 shooting. Hurt also added 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. DJ Steward added 21 points on 8-15 shooting and 6 rebounds. The Blue Devils got double-figure efforts from Jeremy Roach who scored 12 points and dished 4 assists and Jordan Goldwire who score 14 and hit 2-3 from beyond the arc. Wendell Moore who, once again, didn’t shoot the ball well (1-7) did lead the team in rebounding, pulling down 8 boards the game.
The Blue Devils shot 50.8% from the field, 33.3% from 3-point range and 80% from the free throw line.
Daivien Williamson and Ismael Massoud each scored 17 points to lead the Demon Deacons.
DUKE HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI
“I’m really proud of the job my staff and my players have done while I wasn’t physically present. They didn’t get tired of me on Zoom. Listening to me is one thing but when you look at my face for a long time, it’s not the prettiest sight in the world. I appreciate them hanging in there with me. I also want to just say thank you to Duke Medical. They stepped in when I was getting on the bus to go to Florida State and they were right to do that. Mickie and I have been tested every day since. Mako was at our house at 5:45 this morning to test us and at 8:30, I came in and stayed isolated here and then told me we were good to go. I was able to participate in our walk through at about 9:15 so that helped, instead of me just coming in and saying ‘surprise!’ just before the game. I was able to establish a little more contact with them. My daughter, Debbie, and my granddaughter, Emmie, are still fighting the virus. It’s not going away. They’re doing okay but not great. My heart goes out to everyone out there who has a family member or they’re fighting this. It’s serious. We had 16,000 people die in the last four days. I’m just happy that we have such a good medical center and people to take care of us. I’m happy to be back. I thought my team played really well today. I thought this was a really good basketball game. It was back-and-forth. Steve [Forbes] has done a great job with his team. He’s had more interruptions than anyone in our conference with COVID, but in the last couple of weeks getting his team together, I think him playing Catawba was a good thing. He tried lineups against Georgia Tech. He was beating Virginia in the second half. Today, he put out a lineup and he’s getting to know his team. The kid [Daivien] Williamson … he was a veteran for them today. They were a tough team to defend and they defended well. I think the key to the game was our rebounding, especially our perimeter rebounding. We got some big time buckets where our guys just hustled and got it. Obviously, Matt Hurt had a big game and I’m proud of Wendell [Moore Jr.]. Wendell did not score well but it did not affect the other aspects of his game. In the first part of the season, if he wasn’t scoring he didn’t play well. He played really well … he was our leading rebounder and played well defensively. We have to go really small because they put those four perimeter guys out. [Ismael] Massoud was a tough matchup because he’s such a good three-point shooter. I think they’re a good team. I know he’s really a good coach. I’m proud of my guys. I’m talking a lot … I haven’t talked to anybody. My dog won’t even listen to me anymore. I start talking and Blue leaves the room … he’s had enough.”
On Matt Hurt’s biggest strides:
“He’s playing at a good pace except for that one fast break where he thought he was a point guard. Because he also has to play defense sometimes on a big guy. I like the fact that it’s more of a workman-like performance for him. He did ask once to come out to get a little bit of a blow. We have to keep developing a bench. I know Henry [Coleman III] only played a few seconds but he got a big charge. We missed two wide open threes after that. Henry’s charge could’ve led to a six or five point turnaround. But Matt is playing at a good pace. People are going to come at him and they’re going to defend him so when he touches the ball, our guys get more room. We need to keep learning that. We started learning that at Notre Dame and we have to keep doing that.”
On the team’s growth defensively:
“By the way, I haven’t been sick … I’ve just been quarantined. I feel great … not good, great. I think the longer we play together, we’re more instinctive defensively than we are offensively. Especially the freshmen … Jeremy [Roach], DJ [Steward] … these guys on the perimeter, they’re past the thinking stage. They’re more instinctive. They’ve learned the defense well enough and that’s the bridge you have to cross when you’re learning something. You make yourself a little slower because you’re thinking about what you have to do right. When you instinctively know it, it adds to the quickness. I think that’s what’s coming around. Really at the end of the Boston College game, DJ caused that turnover right in front of BC’s bench. He’s getting into passing lanes better, we’re talking more and we just have to keep going. Joey [Baker] came up with a big defensive play for us. We have to get our big guys going where we don’t lose the ball by the bucket. We’re stronger with the ball and that’s the bridge young big guys have to get over. In high school, they didn’t have that. The physicality and also people really wanting to get the ball out of your hands. If we can improve in that area, we’ll show even more improvement as a team.”
On the events on Wednesday:
“The sorriest day … I’m 73 years old … outside of 9/11, shootings in schools where kids have gotten shot and killed. By the way, I know everyone went under desks in the Capitol. I’d like to ask how many times teachers have done that at schools when there is gun violence. Wednesday was a horrible day. It was an insurrection. It went to the very fabric of this great country. The symbol of our democracy is that Capitol. We allowed that symbol to be spit on and stepped on. It was a sorry day. My prayers go out to the officer’s family who was killed from the Capitol police, just like my prayers go out to the 16,000 families that have lost loved ones this last week (due to COVID). Are you kidding me? There’s 16,000. What the hell are we doing? Where we can’t work as a country to come together and get these vaccines out and make sure we’re coming together. If someone’s doing something bad, Congress has the responsibility of stepping forward. I’m not sure if you saw Colin Powell be interviewed on TV, a man who is a great American. What he said was as this whole thing is moving along, Congress needs to step forward and say you can’t do that. Where are our values? Our nation has been built on values. It was a sorry, sorry day. Everyone who was involved should be prosecuted. Our leaders and politicians who spoke up in support of that should be chastised. This is not about being a Republican or a Democrat. It’s about being a damn American. Work together. People say that’s not who we are … that is who we are right now. We need to change who we are. We need to get back to the basic principles that founded this country. Being home and watching that … with my West Point background and being in the Army and all that. I’m used to being on a team. Our country needs to be a team again.”
SOPHOMORE FORWARD MATTHEW HURT
On his strong offensive performance today: “My teammates were doing a great job of getting me in the right positions. I just had the opportunity to score and I just took advantage of it. But I can’t get all the credit, so I give the credit to my coaches [and] the other players. It’s not just me – it’s a team effort.”
On the importance of offensive rebounding for Duke in the win today: “That was a key for us, coming into the game. Just trying to read angles, where the ball’s going to drop. Just reading that and then also going up with two hands, and just fighting for the ball.”
When asked how much he worked on his defense over the summer and how his added weight has helped on defense: “I could be a lot better. I don’t think I was too good on defense tonight, keeping the ball in front of me, but I’m just going to keep working on it, keep trying to get the right angles. But I think, this offseason, I just tried to get the feedback from the coaching staff and try to get better overall as a player.”
On having head coach Mike Krzyzewski back on the bench today: “It was awesome. We missed him this week. I think he got tested at 6:00am this morning, and he was at shootaround today. The energy he brought, he missed us [and] we missed him. It was great to have him back.”
“We’ve been really working hard on our offense, whether it’s sets, whether it’s actions, whether it’s moving off the ball, just playing free. I think just doing that every day, the coaches are doing a great job of keeping that on our mind. I think that’s where we’ve improved since [the game against] Illinois.”
FRESHMAN GUARD DJ STEWARD
On the importance of Duke’s defensive stops in the second half to help them pull away from Wake Forest: “We’re just ready at all times to get those stops. Coach K was telling us, ‘Dig deep, dig deep, right now.’ He told us at halftime we’ve got to dig deep and lock in defensively, and everything else will fall into place. And that’s what we did.”
On the importance of offensive rebounding for Duke in the win today: “Offensive rebounding is a key thing for us. We try to keep at least three people on the boards at all times whenever a shot’s up. I think we’ve been doing that really well, and going forward, that’s going to help us.” “I just go out there, I play hard, I play off of instincts, and my coaches, they always push me in practice to do more than score the ball. I just try to do everything and be an all-around player. [Defense] is big. I want to be a two-way player. A lot of people, they say when I was in high school, I wasn’t a great defender. So I’m trying to get better every day on defense, and I give props to my coaches and my teammates for pushing me every day to be a great defender. Jordan Goldwire especially, I really watch him, how he plays defense. And Wendell Moore. They help me a lot.”
On the play of Matthew Hurt over the past couple of weeks: “I see consistency in him. He’s ready to play every game. He’s a great player, he’s a great scorer, and I love playing with him. He knocks down shots.”
“Our defense has been really good, but I feel like our offense is getting there. It’s getting there. It’s not there all the way, so that’s why I feel our ceiling is so high. If our offense gets there, we’re going to be a really dominant team.”
When asked to describe what it was like when Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski arrived at shoot around this morning: “It was exciting. He came in and the first thing he said was, ‘Let’s go!’ And he told us to yell that out. He just brought the energy, and we needed that energy, so just going forward, it’s going to be good having him back.”
WAKE FOREST HEAD COACH STEVE FORBES
Opening Statement: “I’d like to give a lot of credit to Duke. Their guards played really well. They rebounded it. Their guards really hurt us on the offensive glass, especially in the second half. They maybe had nine of the offensive rebounds. Matthew Hurt is a handful, we knew that coming into the game. He’s a good player. It’s hard to guard him as he can play inside and out. They play at a fast pace. There were really two areas that cost us the game. It was the offensive rebounds. I think they had four in the first half and 15 for the game. Then it was the 50/50 balls. To me, every big-time game, every great game, every meaningful game is won by whoever gets the most 50-50 balls. I can remember a back-breaker, I don’t remember the time, they shot it, two of our guys had their hands on it and they got it. Not only did they score but they got a three-point play. I think they scored 11 points on 50-50 balls. It’s hard to win that way. I thought we are aggressive on offense. We went to the line 21 times. I thought we put a lot of pressure on their defense. Daivien [Williamson] is a reflection of me. He’s a tough kid and a competitor. I like that about him. Carter [Whitt] did a great job in the first half, keeping the game close. He got downhill constantly and made a couple tough shots. It really hurt us when Ody [Oguama] got into foul trouble and fouled out. We were able to get the ball to him because they were switching one through five and we were able to throw it in there to him but we have to keep him in the game. Ismael [Massoud] stepped up the last two games. He had eight rebounds and I am proud of the way he played. Ultimately at the end of the day, we played about 32 minutes and you have to play 40 in this league.”
On fatigue being a factor during the second half fade: “I’m not going to use that as an excuse. These are young guys. I thought our energy was pretty good. We got tired at Virginia but today we had pretty good energy but didn’t make the plays. It is demoralizing to your defense when you force the first shot to be a miss and then you don’t get the rebound. That is demoralizing. Credit to Duke, they were aggressive on the glass in the second half, especially their guards. We have to find a way to fight through fatigue and win the game.”
On gaining possession of rebounds and 50-50 balls: “It’s both. Sometimes it is checking your man out so he can’t get it. A lot of the times it is just going to and getting it. You just have to want the ball. You have to have a desire for when that ball is loose and 50-50, it is your ball or my ball, I am going to get it because I understand how important it is to have this possession. I don’t think we are there yet with that, that hunger. I don’t care how tall we are, it doesn’t matter. Box out and go get the ball. If you are going to stop them, you have to finish the play and go get the ball.”