Yes sir the season is upon us and the first game albeit preseason is in the books. Duke would drop the Division II champs North West Missouri State Bearcats 93-60. Duke was expected to take out the Bearcats handily but in the drubbing there were things to learn about this young Duke team. Could they defend? Could they take advantage of obvious matchups. Would the young freshmen get rattled?
It didn’t take long form some of those questions to get answered to the tune of a 3-3 start for freshman Gary Trent Jr. Trent didn’t score the first point of the season, that honor want to another freshman in Marvin Bailey III off of a free throw but Trent did hit the first bucket. Trent displayed an arsenal of offensive skills from mid-range to long-range to floaters. Trent would go 7-9 from the field in his college debut, scoring 15 points and adding 2 assists. Marvin Bagley shook off early nervous turnovers to score 16 points (a high for the freshmen class). Bagley showed the versatility and athleticism that had him a top pro prospect entering the season. He also added 6 boards and 2 assists. Wendell Carter also showed why he was a top prospect with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Duke was paced by senior captain Grayson Allen who went 9 for 15, scoring 23 points. Allen went 5-10 from 3 point range, dished 5 assists and pulled down 5 rebounds.
What we learned from this team is that (and again, this is just the first pre-season game) the freshmen seem to be gamers. Duke did have 15 turnovers, 10 of which were by the freshmen – most were unforced and probably nothing indicative of an issue. Trevon Duval had a quiet but effective game. The freshman point guard only scored 7 points on 3-5 shooting but dished out 5 assists and grabbed 3 rebounds. Duval defended well adding 2 steals to his stat line.
While the freshmen got most of the hype, the award form breakout performance goes to a sophomore – Javin DeLaurier. DeLaurier went 4-4 from the field for 9 points and grabbed 7 boards. Javin played with confidence and like the preseason reports have indicated from scouts and pundits, he was impressive.
For the game Duke shot 60.6% from the floor and 33.3% from beyond the arc. There wasn’t a large enough sample size to discern whether Duke does or doesn’t have a free throw issue – Duke had only 9 attempts, of which they made 5.
Duke definitely has the talent to be a very good inside – out team. Gary Trent Jr. and Grayson Allen can handle the 3-point angle for Duke, but Trent adds the mid-range dimension and a designated scorer that should be able to feed off of the attention that Allen receives. I liked the pace at which Duke played, pushing tempo should give Duke easier looks at the basket and aid a young team as they find their way.
On the interior Duke seems to be set but I’d like to see Bolden establish himself on the offensive end of the floor. I think one the film is watched he’ll see he is going to hustle a little more heading toward the offensive end to get more involved. One he establishes position he is dangerous in the paint but the guards need to be aware and reward him for that position. I’d like to see him calling for the ball and the guards making a concerted effort to get him looks. Some of that is on him.
I think we got a glimpse of what Trevon Duval can do in this game. Obviously Duval is limited in his ability to shoot the ball but seemed to have a handle on finding the open man in transition and in the secondary break. It will be interesting to see if what he showed tonight can translate against stiffer competition.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski:
“Overall tonight was good. We beat a really good team. There’s a reason they were National Champions last year and they have a chance to do it again this year. Their offense is so well conceived. They move you around, and for our big guys early on that was a big challenge because you are accustomed to playing somebody in the post and all of a sudden you’re chasing a 3-point shooter and their center is like a second point guard. That was a good offense for us to try to defend. Initially we didn’t defensive rebound very well, but then after 10 minutes we did. We have seven freshmen, they’re nervous, some of them. Trevon (Duval) had a terrific game. He made some really simple, great passes and then guarding their best player, who is good, and he did a good job on him. Gary (Trent Jr.) and Grayson (Allen) form a really good team on the perimeter. Overall, I’m pleased. We’re going to come back tomorrow morning and watch tape early at 10:00 and then practice and try to simulate what we will do those first two games when we start the season. Younger guys, even older guys, you play one night and you have to be ready to play the next day, so we’ll see how our practice is tomorrow.”
On wearing equality t-shirts:
“There are a lot of mixed messages about standing before the game. All of our guys, all of our guys want to stand. Not everybody wants to put their hand over their heart and they don’t have to do that. Some guys put their heads down because they are praying. Some people put their hands on the side or in the back. But then we wanted to make sure that basically the equality of the shirt stood for “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Does that sound familiar? It’s part of the Pledge of Allegiance and it’s basically what our program and our school is about. That’s what we want our country to be. That’s why we stand in reverence to the men and women who served our country, who have protected those rights, but also for every race, every gender, every religion. That’s what our country is about and that’s what we said. We wanted to initially let everyone know, when we stand, that’s what we stand for and we don’t have to wear it all the time, but tonight we did because it was the first time that this group stood together.”
On what he learned about his team tonight:
“I learned that the freshmen were much more talented than that first recruiting class that I had. No, I learned that they play hard, just like that first recruiting class did, and they want to win. They got good experience tonight. We’re real young and we just have to keep playing and hopefully keep getting better and not get injured.”
On adjustments during the game against Justin Pitts:
“Trevon is a great athlete. He not only pressured him, but he made it hard for him to get the ball back. When he did get the ball back, he had to work during that time and then he didn’t get it back necessarily in his normal area of deployment, he was 6 to 8 feet further from the bucket than he would have been and then he had a guy who was playing him hard. In other words, there was constant, hard work done against him. That’s to Trevon’s credit, and Jordan (Goldwire) did a good job of that. He got sloppy at the end with a couple, but Goldwire did a good job. But Trevon was very good and the bigs did a good job making sure he didn’t go all the way to the bucket and how they defended the ball screen was pretty good.”
On areas of improvement:
“Everything. We’re a work in progress, but a good work in progress. Just keep learning, they’ll learn a lot from watching tape tomorrow. We will watch right now and pick out themes, where they are not just watching game footage, but you do maybe six themes, fast break, defensive rebounding, whatever it is, and you watch five or six things so they can visualize it. They need to see, that’s one thing I’ve learned about this group. The more they can see, the better. They like it, and then they respond. They have a lot of learning to do, but they want to learn. Tonight was good, that was a good start.”
Senior Grayson Allen
On Duke’s fast pace of play early in the game:
“I think a little bit of it was jitters because I think we played a little too fast in some areas, but we want to push the tempo every time, miss or make, push the ball every time – play to our strengths. We have an extremely fast point guard in Trey [Duval] and then our bigs can really run. That’s going to be a deadly offense when you have seven-footers spreading the lane each time.”
On how poised Duke’s freshmen were tonight:
“They don’t [play like freshmen], especially not tonight. They didn’t seem nervous. I don’t think we forced that many shots. I thought we had really, really good shot selection and defensively they were active. One of the things we told them was try to just talk. As soon as you get out there, just talk and get yourself into the game. I thought we did a good job on defense. We were rotating and helping off the ball a lot, which is a really good thing. I almost think we over-rotated sometimes, which is a good thing – we can fix that. But we were really active on defense – that’s what I was proud of.”
When asked what Duke did to contain Northwest Missouri State’s Justin Pitts:
“We put a lot of attention on the balls screens that he was in and really tried to get the ball out of his hands because we knew how good he was. He did a great job of finding guys. I don’t know how many assists he had, but he got a lot of open shots for them. But that was one of our keys – to attack him and try to get the ball out of his hands.”
Freshman Wendell Carter, Jr.
“The crowd wasn’t as hyped as a regular season game, but it was a lot of fun to be able to play in front of all our fans. Most of our parents were here to see us play. It was just a lot of fun to play in front of them again.”
On the difference between rebounding at the college level versus high school:
“In high school, it’s so much easier. No one boxes out in high school, and no one sticks to the fundamentals. In college, you’re working until the ball is actually in your hands. In high school the ball just kind of fumbled around and then you could get to it, but you have to get it at its highest point in college. You have to work the whole time to get to the ball. College is a very up-tempo game. High school is very slow and you can go at your own pace, but in college you’ve got to have a high motor and just keep going.”
When asked if there was anything about the college game that has surprised him so far:
“The coaching staff did a great job of telling [the freshmen] what to expect and we do simulations of that in practice, so I think I came in well-prepared.”