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Well we finally got ourselves some Duke Basketball as the Blue Devils won a closer than expected contest against the Coppin State Eagles 81 to 71. The Eagles, coached by a former ACC POY and National Champion in Juan Dixon from the University of Maryland, boasted a bevy of big strong guards that seemed to give the Blue Devils fits.

The Eagles kept the game close for most of the first half, even trading buckets for a stretch but Duke, powered by Jalen Johnson’s first half double-double, blew past the Eagles to build a 17 point lead at the half.

The second half saw the Blue Devils seemed to implode. The Blue devils began the half with 6 turnovers in the first 3 and a half minutes of the first half and Coppin State went on an early 8 – 0 run. The Blue Devils would turn it over a total of 13 times in the second half which led to 17 points for the Eagles. The Eagles pushed the Blue Devils and managed to pull pithing 2 possessions a handful of times. Sharpshooting my freshmen DJ Steward was a second half weapon to keep the Duke on top scoring 14 of his 24 points in the second half on 10-18 from the field and 4-9 from beyond the arc. Steward also pulled down 9 rebounds.

Jalen Johnson also had a memorable first game as a Blue Devil scoring 19 points and pulling down 19 rebounds. Johnson was perfect from the floor going 8-8 and 2-2 from the free throw line. Johnson’s 19 rebounds are the 3rd most by a Duke freshman, and his 15 defensive boards are a Duke freshman record.

The effectiveness of the guard play by the Eagles forced the Blue Devils into a smaller lineup overall and Duke’s 22 turnovers provided the extra possessions a confident Coppin State team needed to stay in the contest. Coach K when asked about the turnovers remarked, “It’s tough to explain some of those turnovers” and that they were “the biggest disappointment”.

The Eagles of Coppin State boasted a pair of 22 point scorers in Anthony Tarke and DeJuan Clayon. For the Blue Devils, in addition to Johnson and Steward, double figure efforts were notched by Wendell Moore Jr with 13 points and Matthew Hurt with 12, Hurt also added 7 rebounds.

The Blue Devils shot 53.1% from the field, 33% from 3 point range and 40% from the free throw line. Duke out-rebounded Coppin State 50 to 31, the Blue Devils turned the ball over 22 times to just 8 for Coppin State leading to a 28 to 10 advantage in points off of turnovers for the Eagles.

TAKEAWAYS:

Coach K said in his post game that this team has a lot of work to do and that they need to develop. The glaring issue for the team was turnovers. 21 turnovers is hardly a sustainable model going forward and considering most of these were unforced it should be something they can clean up. The scarier part of the 21 turnovers were that 10 were committed by guards. It’s hard to say whether this was a matter of a team just not having really played together as a unit, opening day jitters or something else but with a game coming up on Tuesday we should definitely know more soon. Duke needs more from their returning players. 6 turnovers from Goldwire and Moore is a stat that just can’t happen. Freshman Jalen Johnson was the biggest offender with 7 but this was also his first game as a collegian, he’ll get better in that regard.

 

DUKE HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

Opening Statement: “Juan [Dixon] had his team really well prepared and they are old … they’re men. They reminded me a lot of Stephen F. Austin from last year. We showed how young we were today. They sensed it. Some of these kids are four years older than us and they’ve been through it. They are great kids and it was a chance for them and they played their butts off. They were more physical than us and we had so many unforced turnovers. We had 22 turnovers and they were like ‘how did that happen?’. They played good defense but it’s a containment defense so you shouldn’t turn it over as much. If you get 22 turnovers in a game and go 4-for-10 from the free throw line, it’s a recipe for disaster. Our rebounding was excellent — we had 50 rebounds. Our two young guards really came and helped us. There was a lot of game pressure on our team today. It’s such an unusual atmosphere and there’s no pressure on the other team. None. Especially for a young team at home, there can be a lot of game pressure because you’re supposed to win. You’re supposed to win and win at home except home isn’t like it has been. Obviously, Jeremy [Roach] helped with his leadership and DJ [Steward] really came through. We really put ourselves in a position, and they [Coppin State] put us in that position too, where there was an immense amount of game pressure down to six points. During that time period, some guys really stepped forward. DJ hit some big buckets, Matthew Hurt hit a big three and although he had limited minutes, [Jaemyn] Brakefield really helped us. We have a lot to do but give them credit. They played well and they got to the free throw line. That’s another thing you have to adjust to in not having a game yet or a scrimmage are the fouls. They’re touch fouls — you have to keep your hands off people. You’re not really gaining an advantage because your habits aren’t there yet. It’s your first collegiate game and all the sudden, [Anthony Tarke] backed you down. He’s 230, 6’6” and if you don’t use your forearm and use your hand, it’s a foul. There’s so much to learn from.”

On DJ [Steward]’s ability to make key plays: “We have a lot of confidence in him. He or Joey [Baker] could have started but we started our veterans today and started DJ in the second half. He’s a natural scorer. To come up with 24 points in your first pressure collegiate game, that’s a big time performance by that kid.”

On the importance of Jalen Johnson’s rebounding: “In the last couple of scrimmages, he’s had high double-figure rebounds. He had 17 in our last scrimmage and he’s getting stronger with the ball. In congestion, he had seven turnovers. He goes 19 and 19 … that’s a heck of a first time performance for anybody but especially a freshman. We just have to be stronger with the ball. The biggest disappointment for me was the turnovers. The turnovers lent itself to not playing as well on the defensive end at times. Jalen did a heck of a job for us. We had two freshmen with 19 and 24 (total points from Johnson and Steward respectively). I can’t remember when we had a guy with 19 rebounds. He’s shown that in practice.”

On cleaning up turnovers: “Obviously we work on it every day. It’s tough to explain some of those turnovers. You throw the ball across the half court and you throw it out of bounds. Why would you even be looking there? Or you leave your feet. I don’t know if there were some jitters. But again, they [Coppin State] played solid defense. In the history of me being here, he [Juan Dixon] is one of the greatest competitors we’ve ever faced and one of the great guys with his Maryland teams. They played with that toughness. We’ll work on it. You won’t win many games if you turn it over 22 times. We’re shooting over 50% from the floor and that’s 22 times you didn’t get a shot. And you gave them a run out in some of those. Overall, our defense was pretty good, but not on those run outs.”

On the season opener with no fans: “It’s very difficult to explain because you can’t compare it to anything. It’s never happened…there’s not atmosphere so you have to provide the atmosphere with your enthusiasm and talk. We did not talk very well. I think once you start making a few mistakes, you draw within and you’re thinking about that. We have a bunch of guys who need to develop. We have good talent, but it’s not developed talent. A kid knows when they make mistakes that are crazy. It affects you because you’re like ‘Why am I doing that?’. You get within and without a crowd to pick you up, even if it’s an opposing crowd, you can get more within.”

On getting the post players more experience: “When you’re playing against five guards, they will take advantage of a big guy and that’s what they were doing right away. Mark [Williams] and Patrick [Tapé] will play and they are good players. [Coppin State] shot 35 threes … that was a game plan. If you don’t adjust and go small, they will have a better chance of beating you.”

On the play of Jalen Johnson today: “19 and 19. We wouldn’t win without him. He’s such a good passer. It’s his first collegiate game and if we don’t turn the ball over like we did today, we would be jumping up and down saying wow. But when you have 22 turnovers, you don’t want to jump because you might turn the ball over again even though the game is over.”

 

FRESHMAN FORWARD JALEN JOHNSON

When asked to describe the experience of his first college game: “It was just fun. I’m really taking advantage of the opportunity, being here at Duke. This has always been a dream of mine, so I finally got a chance to live out that dream today. Everything went how we wanted it to.”

On his record-breaking rebounding performance today: “To be honest, I was just trying to get the win. The win was the only thing on my mind during this time, and I was doing whatever I could to help the guys get the W.”

When asked how the game today compared to his expectations and if there was anything that stood out to him: “I think just coming out and finally playing against somebody else other than ourselves felt good because we’ve been waiting. I didn’t really have any expectations other than to go out there and be myself. Just being myself – you see what happened when I was just myself. I just let the game come to me and whatever happens, happens. Most importantly, getting the W is what matters.”

On the one apparent blemish on his game today, the turnovers: “I’ve just got to be stronger with the ball and know the time and score. It’s definitely something I’m going to get better at and improve for the next game.”

On how it felt to play in Cameron without any fans: “You can control what you can control. Having no fans stinks but you can’t really do anything about it because there are bigger issues going on in the world. Just being able to play basketball is really what mattered right now.”

 

SOPHOMORE FORWARD WENDELL MOORE JR.

When asked what Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was telling the team when it was struggling in the second half: “The main thing he was telling us was just to play hard. We felt like we were playing not as hard as we could, and, in turn, giving up easy baskets that we shouldn’t have given up. So his main message to us was to play hard and keep taking care of the ball.”

On Duke’s turnovers: “We just have to be stronger and more under control. Playing a team like [Coppin State], they have a lot of older guys who’ve played a lot of college basketball. So they’re coming in here hungry, trying to take something that’s ours, also on our home floor. The biggest thing for us is to be strong because teams know we’re young so they’re going to try to attack that.”

On the performances by Duke freshmen Jalen Johnson and DJ Steward: “I’m not really surprised by their performances because I’ve seen it since August. DJ can really score the ball and he really showed that tonight, being open and in the right spot at all times and ready to shoot the ball. He was aggressive in the lane. And Jalen – that’s just Jalen being himself. He’s grabbing the defensive board and going, making plays for himself, for others. Those two are a great addition to our team.”

When asked why he thought Duke made as many mistakes as it did today: “I don’t think it was so much about the practice or the chemistry. It was just a matter of us being stronger with the ball. We can’t allow older teams to come in and be more physical than us because we’re younger. I felt like we kind of allowed that to happen at some points in the game tonight where [Coppin State] would get a couple of steals and go on a couple of runs, and I think because we’re so young, we had a hard time figuring it out, myself included. I’m supposed to be a leader on this team, so it’s supposed to be my job to kind of fix that when it happens. I didn’t do as good of a job as I could tonight. That’s something we just have to improve on going forward – our leadership.”

 

COPPIN STATE HEAD COACH JUAN DIXON

Opening Statement: “We came out kind of slow defensively, but in the second half we were able to pick it up a little bit. Executed our principles, which we did a much better job of in the second half, but we have a lot of work to do. This is a very good Duke Basketball team. This game should give us a lot of confidence. We missed some shots. I think we probably cut the lead to five or six late in the second half, but we’re super excited about the guys’ effort and we’re going to continue to get better. We have Dejuan Clayton and Anthony Tarke leading our team. Those guys were super aggressive today making plays on both ends of the floor.”

On the Impact Anthony Tarke Has On the Program: “(Anthony Tarke) means so much. He’s a game-changer for us. When we started this recruiting process in April with Tarke, it’s a guy we knew could take this program to a level where it’s never been. Just his length, his athleticism, his toughness and we give Anthony a lot of freedom. He’s never had this much freedom, hand on the basketball, making plays. The kid is an elite defender. He’s showing people he can handle the ball, make plays and get to the basket. I’m super excited for his future. This is a kid. You know, they’ve got a ton of five-stars on the other side but like I told my guys, we develop five-stars and that’s very important to us as a staff. We take pride in that. Our guys went out and competed. You know, we missed some opportunities but this is game we can get better from once we watch film.”

On the Atmosphere in Cameron: “It definitely affected the game-plan. With the masks, it’s hard for us to communicate with our players. It was loud out there. Duke applied pressure for 40 minutes on our guards, so we just wanted to give our guards the freedom to go out there and make plays. We definitely don’t want them out there thinking. We want them playing off their instincts. We’re very fortunate to have Dejaun Clayton. He’s a guy that’s been a cornerstone of our program for many years and now he has his partner in Anthony Tarke. So, we’re extremely excited about our season and we truly believe we can do something special. If our guys can play against this top-10 team like this, we feel as though we can compete with any team in the country, and with short bodies. Justin Steers, 6’7, a long athletic four. Bryce Hunt, who plays the five at 6’7, 230. So, we’re like right there. Reggie James ruptured his Achilles and we’re looking to add another big during the conference season, so we’re right there man. We’re good. It’s good film to learn from.”

##PlayerGSMINFG3PTFTORB-DRBREBPFATOBLKSTLPTS
0101 Jalen Johnson*358-81-12-24-15192574019
0000 Wendell Moore Jr.*266-111-20-02-244230013
2121 Matthew Hurt*295-112-50-22-574110112
1414 Jordan Goldwire*241-50-30-00-11343122
1313 Joey Baker*151-40-30-01-34212002
0202 DJ Steward3310-184-90-02-791211124
0303 Jeremy Roach292-51-31-42-35343026
1515 Mark Williams41-10-00-00-00010002
0505 Jaemyn Brakefield40-10-11-21-01001101
3434 Henry Coleman III10-00-00-00-00000000
TMTM TEAM00-00-00-00-00001000
Totals20034-649-274-1014-36501920227681
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