Post Game: Blue Devils Crush the Wildcats 126 – 57; Joey Baker Goes 6-8 from 3; 22 points

Brian HoraceGame Results, Results/ThoughtsLeave a Comment

The Blue Devils weren’t looking necessarily for stiff competition against the Fort Valley State University Wildcats but a feel-good outing was needed to cleanse the pallet after the disappointment of how they finished against Northwest Missouri State. There would be no real game pressure on the young Devils as was expected, considering FVSU was holding open tryouts just 3 weeks ago. This game was more about having good habits, doing the little things and not playing down to the opponent.

The Blue Devils wasted night time in asserting themselves running out to a 17 point lead against the hapless Wildcats, etching a double- digit lead before FVSU even scored a bucket. The Blue Devils started their most defensive-minded backcourt with Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire and it paid off to the tune of 6 first half steals, the pair notched 8 overall and Duke as a team took the ball away 24 times. Another question that the Blue Devils needed to answer was where will the outside shooting come from. Joey Baker, who saw very limited action in the first exhibition game was part of the first group of subs to enter the game and he did not waste much time in getting it going from beyond the arc. Baker found himself in a zone and his teammates, recognizing that the sophomore was feeling it, kept find him for rhythm shots to the tune of 5-6 in the first half on his way to 6-8 from 3 point range.

Another question that the Blue Devils needed to answer was where will the outside shooting come from. Joey Baker, who saw very limited action in the first exhibition game was part of the first group of subs to enter the game and he did not waste much time in getting it going from beyond the arc. Baker found himself in a zone and his teammates, recognizing that the sophomore was feeling it, kept find him for rhythm shots to the tune of 5-6. Baker would lead the team in scoring with 22 points on 8-11 shooting. Matthew Hurt showed his vast array of moves on the inside and on the perimeter scoring 19 on 9-13 shooting. Vernon Carey was the high rebounder for the Blue Devils with 8 to go along with his 11 points. Cassius Stanley was the most efficient Duke scorer going 8-10 for 16 points and dishing 3 assists. Alex O'Connell scored 12 points, going 3-7 and 2-5 from beyond the arc and 4-4 from the free throw line. O'Connell also had 3 steals and 2 rebounds.

From 3 point range as a team Duke shot 46% and 61% from the floor overall.Overall for the Blue Devils this wasn't a game about score but about asserting themselves, picking up habits and understanding the regardless of the competition you need to bring the same energy. This is a team that will have games where they struggle on the offensive end and the defensive intensity needs to be a constant presence for them. Tre Jones sets the tone with his perimeter pressure and that has to rule the day for the Blue Devils. Offensively, when Duke is slowed down and the game becomes a half court affair - how will the Blue Devils adjust. Will they run more sets to their offensive leaders? Next up is Kansas who will be a formidable test for the Blue Devils.

HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

Opening Statement:

“Obviously, we’re a much more talented team; not necessarily a team that works any harder than Fort Valley. Mark (Sherrill)’s starting to build a program there. It’s his second year, we’re proud of him. He’s a Durham kid, to see where he’s at is terrific. Our team played really hard. We looked at some different lineups, and how we’re going to play defense. I thought the last couple of days of practice we improved, and even though they didn’t have big guys, they had a lot of guys that could handle, and so our guys did a good job of defending the dribble. We shared the ball. When you have 29 assists, that’s great. Joey (Baker) kept it simple, and his teammates found him, and he knocked down six threes. He’s great; he’s been doing a great job in practice…He’s just playing off people, and if he can add that to our team then that makes us a deeper squad. We’re healthy, we have a mandatory day off tomorrow, come back Friday morning, leave Sunday after practice for New York and start the season.”

When asked about not finishing around the rim in the previous exhibition game:

“We had a different approach to the last game. I told them I was gonna sub units, and I started to do that, and it wasn’t as prepared as we normally would be. We were trying to use it to take a look at our guys. They were too good to do that. I thought during that game, too, we played well at times. We did find the lineup we started [today], having those three kids, with (Jordan) Goldwire and Tre (Jones) playing together, and Cassius (Stanley). That’s a lot of athletic ability out front. Matt (Hurt) and Vernon (Carey) are good athletes, and you can bring in good athletes. I liked how hard we played defensively, and guys were taking charges. We should finish a little bit better against them, they don’t have shot blockers. But we played hard and well and unselfish, so it’s a good thing for this second exhibition.”

On defense being this team’s identity:

“Well I hope so. It’s gotta be a balance. The best way to be balanced is to have everyone play good defense.”

When asked about improved team shooting:

“We shared it better. It’s our second game, we don’t even have the same lineup in practice all the time. We just have to get to know one another, it’s not like you have a set starting five. The group we started played together for these two days. But they’re not going to be out there for eight minutes straight. Wendell (Moore)’s gotta get in there. Javin (DeLaurier], Jack [White], we get some type of rotation going, where everyone when they come in, feels like they’re a really good player that can play with one another, that’s what we’re looking for. The easiest way to do it is on the defensive end, because roles don’t change. They all have to do the same stuff.”

When asked if it’s going to take a different approach this season:

“Well Zion (Williamson)’s not here, and RJ (Barrett). It’s a different approach every year. This group is going to be a unit, not a starting five. Everyone’s gotta be ready to play. I’d call it old school. Like older Duke teams, from years past. Not the (Christian) Laettner, (Bobby) Hurley, or (Shane) Battier, or those guys, but a team that plays really good defense. Our kids want to do that. We’re going to keep that going.”

SENIOR FORWARD JAVIN DeLAURIER On how the Duke freshman did tonight in executing the defensively-focused game plan: “They did a great job, especially bouncing back from the first exhibition game to now. They really absorbed everything that the coaches have been preaching to us about playing Duke defense and playing our style of basketball. Everyone really bought in and it showed tonight.”

When asked what his personal goals are for the upcoming season:

“Consistency – really just being a consistent contributor for our team and being a solid senior leader. We’ve got a lot of young guys and, for the first time since I’ve been here, we’ve got multiple ‘old guys’ who’ve been through some big games. So really [I’m] just trying to help them through the roller coaster that is the college basketball season.”

On how this Duke team is different from previous Duke teams he’s been a part of:

“Obviously we don’t have really just a go-to guy. We’re a much more balanced team than we’ve been in the past. On any given night, you never know who’s going to be really putting the ball in the hole for us. We just have to play together and use each other and play a little bit different style of basketball. But at the same time, when we’re clicking, we’re a really dangerous team, especially defensively. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

When asked about the upcoming matchup with Kansas and how long it might take for the team to adjust to being on such a big-time stage:

“Hopefully it’ll be as soon as the ball goes up. We’re going to be amped up and ready to play, I know, [but] just making sure that our eyes don’t get too big in the bright lights and we keep ourselves grounded and we’ll be alright.” SOPHOMORE FORWARD JOEY BAKER “My teammates were finding me, and we were just doing what Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] has talked about all week leading up to the game. It was just what we practiced all week that carried over to the game.”

On what was different tonight compared to the previous exhibition game against Northwest Missouri State:

“It really started on defense. We didn’t think we played hard enough on defense and play the way we wanted to on defense last time out [against Northwest Missouri State], so over the past couple of days, that’s really what we were working on – playing harder and more together, and that will bleed over to the offense and we saw that tonight. It’s great. Everybody’s contributing, having fun, so hopefully we can build off this going into next week.” “The past couple of days, Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] kind of referred to that – it was like an old-fashioned Duke team. We have to like do it together and it’s a whole unit. Everybody’s in it together. It’s definitely different from last year yet still the same objective.”

FRESHMAN FORWARD MATTHEW HURT “I just tried to go inside-out, hit the open shots, and then if I have a smaller guy [defending me], post him up and finish inside.”

“We didn’t know much about this team coming in. We just knew that we had to pressure the ball, and I think we started out that way. We had a great start and I think the whole team did a great job.”

When asked what Duke’s focus was heading into this game:

“We just have to be tougher, play more hungry. [Northwest Missouri State] outplayed us last week and that was emphasized in practice. I think the coaching staff did a great job of preparing us for this game. We emphasized [defending] the passing lanes and playing better defense, and I think we did that tonight.”

“We’ve been working hard, beating up on each other in practice, so it’s kind of nice to play against new teams, new competition. It’s been good.”

FORT VALLEY STATE HEAD COACH MARK SHERRILL

When asked if he saw what he was looking for out of his players:

“I was actually looking for a little bit better fight, but I thought due to the circumstances -- a lot of guys, a lot of new faces, a lot of guys that were not proven -- they came in and tried their best, you know. We came up here for this opportunity, and I thought that they [Duke] came in, and I thought that Duke did a great job of taking us out of our offense. We were not able to run a good offense period, but that’s a sign of the number four team in the nation, a good sign, and we actually caught them at a bad time.”

On his experience coming back home to Durham and his relationship with Coach K:

“I thought it was a great experience. Again, since the age of 10 growing up on this campus, and having the chance now as an adult to bring my college team back into Cameron to play against a legendary coach like Coach K -- being a coach, what you want to give your guys are opportunities to grow and to have different experiences. And I think that this was a great experience that they will one day be able to tell their kids about.”

On how the exposure will benefit Fort Valley State:

“I think it’s done a great job. Fort Valley has great leadership. Dr. Jones [President of FVSU], Mr. [Anthony] Holloman, the athletic director, and I think that it’s one of the hidden jewels in the country. I think a lot of students who are coming out of high school need to take a look at Fort Valley State. It’s a hidden jewel down in Fort Valley, Georgia, where some great people are. Great education, great campus, great experience. And one day, I am excited about it, as head coach of the men’s basketball program there, I am going to put that program on a national level, and I am looking forward to doing so. And this is just one example. We’re gonna get there.”

On his personal relationship with Coach K:

“You know, for years he’s always told me ‘Mark, if you need anything, please gimme a call, gimme a call.’ But I know he has his own family, his own team, and for once I finally reached out to him and I wanted to give my university and my players a great experience and I thank him for that. And I just remember as a kid sitting in his gym. Back then, his office was located in this hallway right here [in Cameron], just going and sitting in there in his office and watching him do business. And this was the Coach K that hadn’t won 100 games yet, this was the Coach K who wasn’t sure if he was going to have a job next year. But when you’re a good person, and you put your student athletes first and you put your university first, Duke University couldn’t have done no better keeping him here and letting him take this program to a whole other level. So, hey, it speaks for itself.”

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