Game Preview: Duke vs. Presbyterian

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Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (0-0, 0-0] vs. Presbyterian Blue Hose (0-0, 0-0]

Coaches vs. Cancer Classic • Friday, November 14, 2014 • 6:00 p.m. • ESPNU • Durham, N.C. • Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314)

1. Snapshot

[This preview covers the first of two games held at Cameron Indoor Stadium as part of the annual  Coaches Versus Cancer Classic. Duke is serving as one of four host sites along with Stanford, UNLV, and Temple.]

Duke

Duke opens the 2014-15 season against Presbyterian College. The Devils are ranked No. 4 in the AP Preseason Poll, having been ranked in the AP Poll for 137 consecutive weeks. Duke is  4-2 all-time in Coaches vs. Cancer contests. Duke has won its last four games in the event capturing the 2008 title in the process. Duke opened its 2008 Coaches vs. Cancer championship run with an 80-49 home win over Presbyterian.

Duke is 32-2 under Mike Krzyzewski in season openers. The Blue Devils have won 14 straight season openers with the last loss coming in 1999 when Duke fell to Stanford, 80-79, in the opening round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Blue Devils have won 32 consecutive home openers and are 33-1 in home openers under Coach K. Duke’s last loss in a home opener was a 76-75 double-overtime defeat to Vanderbilt on Nov. 28, 1981. Duke posted wins over Livingstone (115-58) and Central Missouri (87-47) in exhibition play. Seven different Blue Devils scored in double-figures in the win over Livingstone November 4, while Tyus Jones collected 11 of Duke’s 25 assists for the game. Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor combined for 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds and four blocks in the November 8 win over Central Missouri.

Presbyterian

A trip to Duke to open the season on ESPNU as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, as well as a 15-game home slate, highlight the 2014-15 Presbyterian College men’s basketball schedule that was released Monday. “Obviously opening up with Duke, who will enter the season ranked in the top five, at Cameron Indoor Stadium will be huge for us,” said Head Coach Gregg Nibert. “Our third meeting all-time with the Blue Devils will be on ESPNU and should be an exciting game for us. The most tremendous thing about our 2014-15 schedule is the 15 home games, the most since we moved to Division I in 2007.”

 

2. Team Seasons Thus Far

 Duke Blue Devils

Senior PG Quinn Cook is 27 points shy of becoming the 64th player in Duke history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. He is averaging 9.4 points per game over his 104-game career. Duke returns two regular starters, Cook and Junior SF Amile Jefferson, from a year ago. The Blue Devils have the third-fewest returning starts (69-of-175) in the ACC. Junior SG Rasheed Sulaimon also started 17 contests last season. Freshmen PG Tyus Jones, C Jahlil Okafor, and PF Justise Winslow are expected to start the season opener. Duke last started three freshmen (Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, and Brian Zoubek) in a game February 7, 2007 against North Carolina. Cook and Jefferson were tabbed as team captains for the 2014-15 season. Cook is Duke’s leading returning scorer after averaging 11.6 PPG a year ago, while Jefferson is the top returning rebounder after corralling 6.9 RPG last season.

Duke’s top-rated freshmen class, Okafor, Winslow, Jones, and SG Grayson Allen, combined to average 51.5 points, 19.0 rebounds, 13.5 assists and 6.0 steals in the Blue Devils’ exhibition wins over Livingstone and Central Missouri. Duke scored 115 points in its exhibition opener against Livingstone as all 10 players scored and seven different players reached double figures. Five Blue Devils averaged double figures in exhibition play with freshmen Winslow (18 PPG)and Okafor(15.0 PPG) leading the way. Sophomore SG Matt Jones averaged 12.0 PPG while shooting 56.3 % (9-of-16) from the field, including 50.0 % (6-of-12) from three-point range, in Duke’s two exhibition games. Last season, Jones struggled from the field shooting under 30% from the floor and 15% from three-point range. Jones displayed a solid floor game in exhibition play with 17 assists and an 8.5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the pair of lopsided victories. Duke averaged 61.0 shots per game in exhibition play while experimenting with a 30-second shot clock. The Blue Devils shot 51.6% (63-of-122) from the field in wins over Livingstone and Central Missouri. Duke’s post trio of Jefferson, Okafor, and Junior C Marshall Plumlee were a combined 18-of-25 (.720) from the field in exhibition play. Duke assisted on 66.7% of its field goals in exhibition play, averaging 21.0 APG. Last season, Duke averaged 14.5 assists and assisted on 54.8% of its field goals.

Presbyterian

This will be the Blue Hose’s first game of the season, having played no exhibition games.

The Presbyterian College (PC)men’s basketball team opens the 2014-15 season at #4 Duke as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. PC has opened its season the last six of seven years with either a SEC or ACC opponent. The lone year, in 2011, PC’s second game was Duke after opening at home against Montreat. The last two years it has been an ACC school that has met PC with Clemson in 2012 and Georgia Tech in 2013. The Blue Hose opened with Duke in 2008, Clemson in 2009, and Vanderbilt in 2010.

The match-up with Duke marks the 14th time in PC’s Division I history the team will take on the Atlantic Coast Conference . The Blue Hose are 1-12 against ACC foes, the lone win a 66-64 decision at Wake Forest during the 2010-11 season. PC played Georgia Tech and the Demon Deacons this past season and are slated to take on Virginia Tech later on this season.

Only one current player was a part of the team that last played Duke in 2011, Senior William Truss. As a freshman, he played eight minutes, scoring four points and going two-for-two from the charity stripe. Assistant Coach Pierre Miller was a senior then, playing 28 minutes and scoring 10 points off a two-for-three effort from behind the three-point arc. Miller played in the first meeting back in 2008 as well. In 30 minutes of action, he scored seven points and pulled down six rebounds.

The PC basketball team is in a position it normally does not find itself in, the Blue Hose return all five starters from the 2013-14 team, including Big South pre-season All-Conference member Jordan Downing, who became the 22nd player under Head Coach Gregg Nibert to reach 1,000 career points and averaged 20.2 points per game last season. Backing up Jordan Downing on the court will be Will Truss, who averaged 10.9 PPG last season. Reggie Dillard, who was second in scoring with 12.1 PPG, suffered a season-ending injury during pre-season. Truss needs just 394 points to reach 1,000 career points and is 44 rebounds shy of 500 career boards.

It will be a season of record-book watching as a couple of Blue Hose are close to historical marks. Jordan Downing, with 1,017 career points, is 560 points from becoming PC’s Division I leader in scoring. He posted 647 points last season to place third behind Al’Lonzo Coleman with 1,499 and Khalid Mutakabbir with 1,576. He also needs to make just 196 field goals (Khalid Mutakabbir, with 567, is first) and 61 three-pointers (Pierre Miller is first with 206) to become PC’s Division I leader in those categories. Truss is only 330 rebounds from becoming the schools’ Division I leader. Al’Lonzo Coleman is first with 786.

Head Coach Gregg Nibert 10 wins away from career-win 400. He stands at 390-357. While it was a safe bet to see Jordan Downing, Reggie Dillard and Will Truss in the starting lineup, Coach Nibert liked to mix it up with the last two spots in 2013-14. Markus Terry got the starting nod 17 times, with Austin Anderson being announced 16. Ed Drew started 12 games, including the final nine.

The Blue Hose had several players high up in the national rankings last season. Jordan Downing was 37th in the nation in total points (647.0), 14th in total field goals made (235.0), 23rd in points per game (20.2), 16th in minutes played (2233.0) as well as 8th in total field goal attempts (541.0). William Truss was 29th in Defensive Rebounds per game (6.47) and 33rd in rebounds per game (9.0).

 

3. Head-to-Head

[See above for the history of Duke vs. PC].


4. Four Factors to Winning

[Will be displayed when more games are played with substantive statistics available.]


5. Key Points to Consider (Overall Season)

If we look at the worst case scenario, like last year, the group just will not jell. The youth on defense could be a problem again, and the Blue Devils might not get a stops late in games when they need them most. In addition, the youth could result in as many road losses as last season (five). Then, the season ends with another surprisingly early exit from the NCAA tournament, and the speculation is abuzz in that Krzyzewski just cannot win with the one-and-done model that returns louder than ever.

One point that analysts always point to is the ‘X Factor’. Remember when Sulaimon came to Duke as a freshmen and there was talk that he could wind up leaving early for the NBA? Obviously, his career has not played out along the best-case scenario route. Moreover, he has turned in frustrating performances this preseason too. “He is our best on-ball defender,” Krzyzewski said of Sulaimon. “At 6-foot-4, he’s an outstanding athlete, that’s what he does the best. So concentrate on that as your staple, as your foundation, and the other things will come.” If Rasheed does that and can rediscover his mojo, Duke will be better for it.

If we look at where to attack, until proven otherwise, make Duke’s guards stop cutters into the lane. That was a season-long problem last year. Obviously, Okafor will help defend the rim, but he is a freshman who will have to play defense at a higher level than he ever has. What if drivers get past Duke’s guards and into the lane and then kick the ball back out to open shooters? It could be problematic.

Let us look at a magic number, 7.4. That is the Duke season record for average assists per game, set in 1991 by Bobby Hurley. Tyus Jones is a pass-first point guard who could threaten that mark if Duke has a dream-type season.

Okafor became the third freshmen in the last five years to be selected to the preseason AP All-American team, and since Coach K doesn’t expect Okafor to stick around Durham for long, every game Okafor gets to play for the Blue Devils is pretty much a must-see. He leads a top-rated freshmen class for Duke this season and the exhibition games already showed just how good these new guys can be.

In the team’s exhibition wins over Livingstone and Central Missouri, the freshmen class of Jones, Winslow, Allen, and Okafor combined to averaged 51.5 points, 19.0 rebounds, 13.5 assists and 6.0 steals.

A couple of things to look for in Duke’s opener is how well can Jones and Cook play together, and what kind of role would Sulaimon have this season with the amount of depth now in the backcourt.

6. Endgame

Duke should win this game with ease. Based on the information we know to date, PC will be no match for the Devils.