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It’s been a long time coming for Duke fans and the college basketball world in general but we are back baby! Not many Countdown to Craziness events have had as much hype as this one, maybe Zions year. This year was different so many reasons. The obvious thing that makes today special is it’s Coach K’s last, that coupled with Cameron being an empty shell last season and the return of crowd noise, the return of energy. It was sorely missed and desperately needed. The fans did not disappoint. Cameron was packed, it was loud and boy did we need it.

The much-anticipated night began with Duke student group performances before introductions of the men’s squad. After warming up the fans, the Blue Devils took to the court for two 12-minute intrasquad games. The first game ended in a 22-22 tie before White flexed its muscles in the second game and pulled away for a 34-14 victory.

There’s zero need to overly analyze an intrasquad scrimmage but there’s always a nugget or two you can glean from something like this.


“I thought it was just a great day for our Athletics Department, and Duke, to finally have thousands of people come together in Cameron,” said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “It was just a great atmosphere … I thought our kids played hard, and pretty well. I was really pleased with the entire day.”

The much-anticipated night began with Duke student group performances before introductions of the men’s squad. After warming up the fans, the Blue Devils took to the court for two 12-minute intrasquad games. The first game ended in a 22-22 tie before White flexed its muscles in the second game and pulled away for a 34-14 victory.

Freshman Trevor Keels led the Blue Devils with 19 points over both games, to go along with five rebounds and five assists while sophomore Mark Williams combined for a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards. Sophomore Jeremy Roach led the way with eight assists.

In the first contest, the Blue Team jumped out to a 15-11 lead with 5:53 remaining when Roach found Keels for a triple. But Paolo Banchero found his grove late in the period and sparked a run with a rebound, a dunk in transition, a blocked shot and another layup to tie the game at 15-15 with 3:41 left.

Wendell Moore Jr., canned a three for White with 1:52 left to make it 22-19, but Joey Baker answered with a three of his own off an assist from Roach on the next possession to cap the scoring at 22-22.

After head coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the crowd at halftime, White came out hot in the second game and opened a 10-6 lead thanks to a Banchero layup in transition. A Moore jumper made it 19-11, and then back-to-back buckets by Williams – a dunk off a pass from Banchero and a three made it 24-11 and brought the sellout crowd to its feet with 3:45 to play.

White was led by Keels and Williams with 12 and 11, respectively, as White shot 13-of-21 from the field in the second game, including a pair of threes from Keels to take the 20-point victory.


Paolo is going to be a special player. He didn’t have a great shooting night which happens to every player, probably pressing a bit but seeing him lead the break, deliver accurate passes off the break is something that is going to be magical for this Duke team. If that becomes a regular thing defenses will not be able to account or get set and Duke will have great offensive advantages. The frontcourt for Duke in general is a problem. They are formidable and can come at you with different looks. The adage of iron sharpening iron is going to be so evident as Mark Williams, Theo John and Paolo Banchero beat each other up in practice. Mark is just going to be difficult to score over and he moves his feet well when guarding on the perimeter. Coach K remarked that when Mark gets tired which happens with how Duke plays defense Theo John brings in another very high level defender to spell him. It’s going to be a very good year for that position. Mark was Mark tonight, basically cleaning the glass and erasing shots like the pink part of a number 2 pencil. Theo brings a hook shot that is smooth and unguardable on offense. He gets the pass and if he’s within range he’s going to throw it down and if not he’s a capable passer and that hook is pretty.

The backcourt situation is build for transition and speed. Seeing Trevor Keels and Jeremy Roach on the court you’d think they’d played together before…oh wait, they have. Roach did more deferring to Keels in the backcourt but had a couple of nice dimes, one pocket pass for a dunk and one alley oop to Keels. Keels may have been the most impressive player on the court He seemed to be all over the place offensively. Keels scored scored with ease, BIG guard energy is real. Jeremy Roach did his damage as a dimer dishing 8 assists over the two games – 2 led to dunks, one on a pretty alley oop to his backcourt mate Trevor Keels. Tales of Wendell Moore’s improved athleticism are not exaggerated he almost threw down what would have been the dunk of the night off of a missed shot. He did a lot of handling in the scrimmage and did have a couple of turnovers but definitely seemed to handle the ball relatively well and his shot looked smooth.

 Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski Quotes

Opening Statement: “I thought it was just a great day for our Athletics Department, and Duke, to finally have thousands of people come together in Cameron. It was just a great atmosphere…I thought our kids played hard, and pretty well. I was really pleased with the entire day. Jeremy [Roach] and Mark [Williams], even though they’re sophomores, it’s the first time they’ve played in front of fans in Cameron. We had eight guys, for the first time, playing in front of fans in Cameron — the two grad transfers, the four freshmen, Mark and Jeremy, kind of crazy, really, and I thought they responded well.”

On the most encouraging things he saw in the scrimmage: “Well, they’re good basketball players, our freshmen are physically mature. They’re older, stronger bodies, and they’ve played before [against] big-time competition. When you add that to Mark, Wendell [Moore], and Joey [Baker], those three guys and Jeremy, and then you add the two grad transfers, there’s a lot of maturity. It’s already a much more mature team than, pretty much, at any time last year. I watch them every day during the summer, so I know how good Wendell has become, he’s a big-time player. They really like one another, the whole team. The stuff we’ve done this summer, and in the fall, [they’ve] developed really strong relationships – one-on-one that they have with us, and as a group.”

On the value of having fans back in Cameron: “It’s huge. Our game’s supposed to be played in front of fans. Basketball, to me, even more than others. It’s indoors, it’s intimate, they’re right on the court. There’s, like I mentioned, the word “feel.” There’s no way you felt Cameron last year, no matter how hard the two teams played. That’s part of the game, the feel of the fans, and what it does to the home team, the visitors, and the officials. It provides a human element. Our guys were really excited when they came back in, I just talked to them. They were so darn happy to play in front of people.”

On Theo John’s potential with the team: “Well, I think he’s one of the reasons Mark’s getting better. They compete, they’re really close friends. They’re different players, but they both can defend the basket. Mark does a good job with ball screens util he gets tired, part of that will be with subbing. Theo, I thought he was one of the better defenders in the Big East. What we haven’t done much of, but we will, is both of them in the game together, and Paolo [Banchero] with them. That’s a really big lineup.”

On Trevor Keel’s maturity and development: “Well, Trevor played at a great high school, Paul VI, and he played in one of the great AAU programs, Team Takeover. That Catholic league, in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia is as good a league as any, and he was MVP as a sophomore. He’s been the top player of that league for three years; he’s been accustomed to it. Even though he has this strong body type, he had the best results on our VO2 max testing. He’s a guy that doesn’t get tired… and he’s an easy guy to play with. I think he’s a big-time player. I think he’s really good.”

On Paolo Banchero’s performance in the scrimmage: “He’s progressing. A big thing with him is, he’s really a good ball handler, and he’s got to learn to move the ball a little. You can’t just get it on the first dribble. He probably puts a little bit too much pressure on himself right now. I thought he played well, but I think he can play a lot better. That doesn’t mean he didn’t play well tonight, just that they have to be given time to grow…This, because it counts as a practice, this is our 12th practice. I actually think we could play a game right now, maybe not as well as I would like, but we could play a game. We don’t have A.J. [Griffin]. A.J. would give us another very athletic person on the perimeter or play a small four. We could look at some different lineups.” 

 Duke Player Quotes

 Sophomore Center Mark Williams: 

On the Duke freshmen: “I think the freshmen did great. I think they’re a great group of guys. They’re hungry. They know what they’re getting into, and I think they’re really excited. I think they showed well tonight.”

When asked to describe how it felt after the game to stand on the media table with him teammates and celebrate with the Cameron Crazies: “It was great. We didn’t have that at all last year. I love playing in environments like that. The crowd, I know they’ve been waiting to get back into Cameron, so I had to show them a little love.”

When asked how much he’s looking forward to playing an actual opponent: “It’s fun every game, but to go against somebody else, it’s night and day. It’s night and day – can’t wait.”

On how Theo John is making him a better player: “[He’s making me] a lot better. He’s really strong and with that, you’re going to have to have a really strong base and be decisive with your moves, because if not, he’ll body up and make shots difficult. The shots are still difficult, but I feel like he’s making me better, making me sharper.”

Freshman Forward Paolo Banchero:

When asked to describe his first experience with the Cameron crowd: “Crazy. Better than I thought it would be. It was crazy, it was surreal, and the fact that we get a whole season in front of them is crazy. I feel privileged to play in front of them. It was great. There’s no way you can come out and be asleep. You’ve got to get up, the adrenaline that you get. That was just for Countdown [to Craziness]. We’re not even playing anybody else yet, so when we get out there with another opponent, it’s going to be even more.” 

“Our chemistry is great. This is a great team, through and through, and we all play off each other. No one is selfish, no one has their own agenda out there, and we just all want to see each other score and do well. When you have that on a team as talented as we are and you mix that, it’s special. I agree [with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski], I think we are ready for a game [against another opponent].” 

When asked how it felt to play together with Mark Williams and how he [Banchero] benefits from that lineup: “How did it feel? It felt easy, having him down there. We threw a couple of high-lows to him – we’re definitely going to run that a lot, just me and him working that. That can be a major factor along with the threats on the outside. He’s a great player, he’s dunking everything, and he’s up on the rim every play. It was good. It was easy.” 

When asked if he agreed with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski that he [Banchero] was probably putting too much pressure on himself: “I enjoyed myself. I would just say on the free throws and my jump shot – everything was on target but it was either long or short. Just jitters. I’m going to knock those off and get back to it. I wouldn’t say it was pressure, but it definitely was some jitters – I’m not going to act like it wasn’t jitters.” 

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