There are two schools of thought when analyzing this game for the Dukies.Â One is to look at the name on the jersey of the team that Duke was barely able to get by, and the other is to acknowledge that this team has a lot of growing up to do and that Belmont is a quality team, with veteran players that won 30 games last year.Â The latter is the correct one, anyone who watched Coach K’s post game interview after the game would think he won a national championship.Â Why, you ask, for that level of exuberance?Â It’s because he stated he has feared this game with Belmont since scheduling it, and he was right to worry and just as correct to praise his team for finishing this game, no matter what the fashion.Â Just to look at the X’s and O’s would be foolish, obviously it does need to be studied but sometimes you have to look at the instinct and perseverance of your team.Â They won.Â They clawed, they fought, they stumbled, they overcame.Â They did these things against a team that has been there before, a team that will probably win their league and will be a quality opponent for others throughout the season.Â Both teams benefit from this game for sure.
The kinds of things that Duke did wrong should be able to shore up.Â Mostly, as Coach K points, out were on offense, “Our offense gave them offense,” Krzyzewski said.Â “Our offense let us down.”
So much of basketball is being in position, and Duke was often out of position.Â Over-penetrating on offense leading to breaks where the defense was caught with pants down and open shots were aplenty.Â Sometimes stats betray the heart a team shows and Duke grew up a lot.
Duke did get a quality outing out of Mason Plumlee who shot 6 or 10 from the field with 13 points, also Mason grabbed 14 boards and had 6 assists.Â His confidence is growing and he may be ready to be that player that people have been expecting him to be.Â At very least he didn’t seem timid and was constantly talking on the court, something I’m not used to seeing.Â It often seems like two Plumlees can’t have great games at the same time, while Mason was a man Miles seemed out of sorts on the court tonight, only getting about half the minutes of his brother, taking half the shots as well.Â Miles was 2-5 and even missed on a dunk attempt that had him shaking his head as he backpedaled on defense.
Tyler Thornton continues to impress, making good decisions on the court and knocking down big shots when his number is called.Â Already earning time due to his tough defensive efforts, Thornton also went 3-3 from the field including 2 from behind the arc.
It seems Austin Rivers is ready and willing to make a living from that free throw line and that is a-okay with me.Â The freshmen went 8-10 from the line 2 of 4 from 3, and 3 of 9 overall from the field.Â While Rivers did not play the perfect game, for the most part he let the game come to him on the offensive end.Â Driving hard to the whole when the situation called for it, but knowing when to drive and kick.Â He still has a ways to go in that regard but you have to applaud the effort and the result overall.Â 6 points in his first game? I’ll take it.
All Seth Curry does is hit shot after shot for this team, he may not have put up huge numbers, but when Duke needs a basket Curry was there, hitting 4 of 5 from three, also diming 4 assists and coughing it up 3 times.Â I’d like to see Seth with a few more assists, but again things will come on time.
Duke plays again against Presbyterian Saturday evening and the quick turnaround is good for this team, it will force the bench to step up and will keep this team conditioned and ready.Â Look for more minutes from Gbninije, Murphy, and Cook in this game.Â Duke will also need more from Andre Dawkins in this game, he hit a big 3 to give Duke some breathing room during a Belmont spurt but consistency is going to be the key for Andre getting more minutes.Â Start time for Saturday is 4:30pm.