Some Notes from the Countdown to Craziness Blue – White Scrimmage

Brian HoraceGeneral InformationLeave a Comment

Each season Duke puts on an ode to the beginning of the season, Countdown to Craziness. The highlight of the evenings festivities is a scrimmage (The Blue – White Scrimmage). The intra-squad scrimmage goes for a half and gives the fans the opportunity to see the team before the official start to preseason games.

I always hate to put too much emphasis on a 20 minute scrimmage where a team is playing a fractured lineup against each other but, well it’s what we have so lets dive right in. Firstly the starters:

BLUE:

RJ Barrett, Marques Bolden, Cam Reddish, Jack White, Jordan Goldwire
Blue Bench: Justin Robinson, Mike Buckmire

 

WHITE:

Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier, Zion Willamson and Antonio Vrankovic
White Bench: Joey Baker, Brennan Besser

Secondly, it was no surprise that the White team took the win 44-39. I say it was no surprise because the 2 best passers resided on the same team (Tre Jones, Zion Williamson).

The game as expected was a bit sloppy but there definitely signs of life and indications of what we can expect this season. Zion was Zion. He scored 14 points and pulled down 5 boards and had some very nice dunks. He was very active around the ball and seems to get his hands in the action wherever it happens. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lead this team in steals. For a guy his size he really has great body control and quick hands. Junior Javin DeLaurier impressed on the offensive end going 4-6 from the floor and 2-4 from beyond the arc which to most Duke fans is a surprise. DeLaurier finished with 10 points. Freshman Tre Jones finished with the high in assists with 4 to only 1 turnover. Jones added 8 points on 4-8 shooting. The other surprise was the 2-2 shooting of Joey Baker, the freshmen looked smooth with his shot though likely still will end up redshirting this year. Physically, Baker may not be ready to compete and with the current lineup his allotment of minutes would be low although if tonights shooting was any indication of his abilities he could very well help Duke this year offensively.

RJ Barrett is the alpha dog of this team – for better or for worse it seems that Barrett is the go to guy. The freshmen still did force a few shots but still it’s a scrimmage and its early but he does not lack for confidence and aggressiveness. Barrett went 9-19 in the game for a game high 23 points but was only 2-6 from 3 point range. Cam Reddish, nursing a broken rib was 5 of 12 for 13 points. Reddish also went 2-6 from beyond the arc. Also for the Blue squad Marques Bolden went 1-3 for 3 points but the junior pulled down6 rebounds.

Just going by this scrimmage alone the areas of concern in my eyes may be outside shooting (Blue went 4-14 and White went 4-12). If a healthy Cam Reddish can shoot a serviceable percentage, perhaps between 35-40% then that raises Duke’s ceiling tremendously. Also if they can get solid minutes from sophomore Alex O’Connell, who also can stretch the floor with his shooting – then Duke in the 5-out offense becomes a dangerous team

My other area for concern, especially in the 5-out offense is offensive rebounding. With the majority of Duke’s starters being more offensive minded players, the key will be desire. The benefit of the 5-out in rebounding is that all your players being on the perimeter makes it difficult for defensive players to box out but that being said the offensive players have to desire and crash the boards.

 

PLAYER QUOTES:

JUNIOR FORWARD JAVIN DELAURIER

“It’s really an exciting time for us, our freshmen’s first time playing in Cameron in front of our fans, and that’s just a tremendous experience. I remember how excited I was [as a freshman], and I’m really glad they got to enjoy tonight.”

“We really have a super-talented team. Guys like the upperclassmen, Alex [O’Connell], Jack White, Marques [Bolden], Antonio [Vrankovic], everyone’s really playing well right now, which is great because that just drives the freshmen and the older guys to compete harder in practice and makes everyone better. So right now everyone’s been playing well. We’re really just excited for the season to start so we play other people.”

When asked if he had worked on his shot during the summer:

“Day after day after day after day after day. That was one of the glaring weaknesses in my game, so I was pretty upset last year when teams would effectively just not guard me [on the perimeter]. So that was something I took personally, and I spent a lot of time in the gym working on my shot.”

FRESHMAN FORWARD ZION WILLIAMSON

On his array of dunks in the game:

“It’s like a fun game, and you just get people excited for the season. It’s probably the only time I’m going to have the luxury of doing that because in the [real] games, it’s all serious and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get the two points. Tonight was a very electric atmosphere and I loved it.”

On the competition between him and fellow freshman R.J. Barrett in the game:

“Of course it was like a friendly competition because I feel like that’s what great players do – they push each other to do stuff that they usually don’t do. I feel like R.J. and I have a really great bond, we’re roommates, and I feel like we just push each other to go harder.”

On Duke’s implementation of the 5-out motion offense:

“It’s a great offense. It opens up the floor for everybody. I just feel like you can’t really sit in a zone with us. We move the ball so much and we just create for each other, just like the Warriors and the Celtics.”

On being at Duke and playing with all of the talented players:

“Like I said when I committed back in January, when you go to the NBA – hopefully, if I have that chance – you’re not always going to be the man on your team. You’re going to have to learn how to play with other guys, how to play a role. Being here [at Duke], I think that’s a little bit of practice. If R.J.’s [Barrett] having a good game, then we’ll give the ball to him. If Cam’s [Reddish] having a good game, we’ll give it to him. If I’m having a good game, the ball will be in my hands. So it’s just like, ‘What can I do to help my team win in different ways, so I can be more effective with an NBA team.’”

FRESHMAN FORWARD R.J. BARRETT

When asked what it felt like when he stepped on the court for the first time when the game was starting:

“It was very exciting. I remember watching all the previous teams do the Countdown stuff, and I wanted to be a part of it. I was nervous during warmups but then once the tip-off got there I was fine. [I was] just kind of trying to get used to it. We’ve been playing scrimmages but we haven’t really played in a game atmosphere in quite some time, so there were some first-game jitters and just trying to get it out of the way.”

On fellow freshman Cam Reddish:

“He’s great. He can really shoot the ball and I like to drive a lot, so we complement each other very well.”

 

COACH K QUOTES: 

HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

Opening Statement

“First of all, I want to thank the fans. That was a great start to the season. It’s a good long day. To have all the families here is really neat to kick it off. Overall, I thought our guys did a good job. You play against each other, we split them up, and so you don’t get a chance to see what it would be like if you could keep them fresher in a game. You play three or four minutes and get a sub in. Instead of playing 20 minutes, they are playing 16. You can do that in different ways. We will find out about that on Tuesday and then Saturday. That’ll be really good. But overall, I’m pleased. Cameron (Reddish) hurt his rib on Tuesday, a displaced fracture to the tenth rib. So he played really well tonight considering that. I was really pleased. He practiced yesterday. For him to do that three days after is pretty impressive. Javin (DeLaurier) has been back for about four days. I thought he did a good job. You can see he can actually hit a shot. He hit two threes in open shots. He’s been working on that and he will be getting that type of shot with the guys that we play with.”

On how the team was split up

“The role players get a chance to play with key guys. We’ll get to see how the first unit does against another team on Tuesday and how the role players come in. Tonight, I’m not sure how you’d evaluate Jack White but I thought he player really well. He was on the boards, he played defense. If he’s playing with those guys, Cam (Reddish), Zion (Williamson) and RJ (Barrett), he’s going to get open shots and he can hit an open shot. It didn’t distract him that he didn’t get a shot. It helps the role players get better.”

On Tre Jones’ role

“I think either team that had Tre (Jones) would be better. He controls the ball well and he gets it to people. He can score but he’s looking for us to score. That’s something that can really help this group. He’s obviously a really critical player for us. A tough kid.”

On RJ Barrett

“He had to a little bit more because his team was struggling. Cam (Reddish) did a good job but he wasn’t where he would be. Cam’s been shooting the lights out of it. RJ’s a winner and he’s going to find ways to win. He’s that positionless player. He can get to the foul line. He can get his shot off and still get fouled. He’s a really good player.”

On teaching unselfishness

“Overall, they are (unselfish). You’d have to teach it if they weren’t. They all like to pass. More than that, they all like to win. They are ok with whoever scores. When we put them all together, they’ll be very good. ”

On Barrett’s fearlessness

“He’s been playing up his whole life. Really, he should be in high school. He reclassified at Montverde (Academy) and then with the Canadian team, he’s always played up and that really helped him. And playing at Montverde helped him. Kevin Boyle is a heck of a coach. He just has that in him. That’s something that we haven’t taught him, he brought that here and hopefully we can use it really well.”

On a comparison to the excitement around Zion Williamson

“I’m sure they were excited to see Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter. We’ve had guys people were excited to see. Zion (Williamson) is a unique player in that he’s not only positionless but with his body type, you can’t say ‘Well, he’s like somebody.’ What he does with his body is remarkable. He’s a competitor. He’s really a good passer. He dunks pretty well. What he has, in a couple of those plays, he has really powerful hands. He took it out of one guy’s hand early and then it was kind of a loose thing and he just grabbed it and went up. We can’t teach that. It just comes with him.”

On the friendly-competitiveness between Barrett and Williamson

“That’s another reason you play them. They can get better because they can play against that level of player. But RJ (Barrett) and Zion (Williamson) are really close. With that combination, you’re going to see some really neat things throughout the season. But the fact that they can play against each other, guard one another, and the same thing with Cam (Reddish), at times Tre was put on RJ because he is a good defender, that makes those guys better, by playing in those situations.”

On the effects of Countdown to Craziness on the team

“They are so excited. Part of it, why they were so tired, that wasn’t just consecutive minutes, they’re jumping for about five to six minutes. It’s like the Carolina game where you get exhausted in warmups and in the first two minutes, you go, ‘Holy mackerel, I need to play 38 more minutes.’ They were really excited and the fans were great. I want to thank my daughter Debbie. She puts this on with her group. They do it well every year and we celebrate the Duke student in the first hour or 45 minutes, where it’s all Duke. I’m starting my 39th year. I love Duke and I love this night. It’s a rebirth. It’s the start of whatever is going to happen but hopefully something good is going to happen.”

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