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Duke Hoops Monday Musings

Vernon Carey Coming Out Party

After four consecutive games where he tallied double-figure points and rebounds, Vernon Carey Jr. has officially arrived as one of the nation's best players. Once Carey started to take his game inside first, it has allowed him to be a stat stuffer in the Blue Devils 6-0 start. Carey leads the team in scoring and rebounding and has shown the ability to knock down various outside shots with his great touch for a big man. He is also realizing his ability to clog the lane on defense. Look for the staff to push Carey to be even more dominant moving forward.

New York Trip Beneficial for Duke

The Blue Devils took care of business with two wins over California and Georgetown during this past weeks 2K Empire Classic. In the first game, the Duke defense smothered Cal. In the second game, Duke seemed a little tired at first while learning the lesson every team will come after you hard when wearing the four letters on your chest. Duke was able to gather itself and play a complete second half defeating a Georgetown team that was playing its best basketball of the season. The team grew up a lot while defining the roles of certain players on the trip which is a major positive moving forward.

A Sign of Things to Come?

During the trip to New York, it became evident that Cassius Stanley and Wendell Moore were seeing more minutes. They did not disappoint and at times played off one another. In the win over Georgetown Stanley tallied 21 points and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes. Moore 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 36 minutes. More importantly, they showed signs of growing chemistry between themselves and teammates. If the two versatile freshmen continue their growth while playing efficient and together good things will follow.

Next - Getting Matthew Hurt Untracked

Anyone who saw Hurt in high school knows he can be a solid contributor on the court. I think Hurt has struggled a bit with the physicality of the game as he grows into his body. Sometimes a player needs to go inside first and then float out to get it going. Some buckets near the rim while working on rebounding could open his game up. It is not a question of if things will come together for the talented freshmen, but when.

Duke Still #1

The Duke Blue Devils will remain the top ranked team in the country when the polls come out later today. Duke takes on Stephen F. Austin tomorrow evening in Cameron and then entertain Winthrop this Friday at 7:00. The Eagles are better than their 3-3 record suggests (likely 4-3 after taking on Pfeifer on Monday) and likes to play a slow down style. They have a 2 point loss to St. Marys on the road

Next up - Stephen F. Austin

Duke will take on Stephen F. Austin which is off to a 4-1 start including a 30 point win over Durhams' own North Carolina Central. Guiard Kevon Harris leads the way for the Lumberjacks who have four players averaging double-figure scoring. Tomorrow night's game has a dreadful 9:00 tip off time in Cameron.

The Duke Offense is Coming Along

One of the concerns for this season's edition of Duke Basketball was where would the offense come from. Last year, it was clear that Duke was led by two of the NBA's top three draft picks in Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski while running an immensely successful program is quick to tell you that he handles each team differently. That means there is no preferred system from yeat to year.

At some point in the pre-season, the hall of fame coach will gather his assistant coaches and come up with a game plan for their rostered players.

It is obvious that this year's team does not have two alpha dogs which will lead the team in scoring. The plan this year is for Duke to get all of their rostered players prepared to score the ball.

So far, the aforementioned plan is working. Duke has only played three games but it has become clear that a different player could lead the team in scoring on a given night.

Matthew Hurt came off the bench for the first time to lead the team in scoring with a current career-high of 19 points in the win over Central Arkansas.

In the win over Colorado State, Cassius Stanley led the way with 19 points. And in the opening night win over Kansas Tre Jones led the way with 15 points. The sample size after three games points to early success in creating a new offense

The Blue Devils have had four, five and then six players in double-figure scoring during the 3-0 start. Surprisingly, to date, Duke has had little trouble finding points on the offensive end.

Krzyzewski said in the pre-season that he would play more players as well. Many scoffed at that comment in that he has in the past gotten down to a core group of players he trusts.

But many who did not believe what they were hearing had not covered some of the early years Krzyzewski coached Duke teams. And while playing time may lead to a shortened bench at crunch times in close games to come, it is clear that there is not enough separation by players to not continue to see Duke using more players than some are accustomed to seeing.

In a sense, this new trend will not allow for opponents to focus on any one player. And that is a positive as the team gets more accustomed to one another.

And if you have not figured it out by now, it is clear that Duke has no set starters past Tre Jones and that we will see a lot more combinations in the coming days before ACC play begins in earnest.

Duke is still very much a work in progress, but Krzyzewski focussed a lot of effort on his team's defense knowing the offense would come as the season progressed.

The defense has been good thus far and some of that comes from playing more players. It means, legs remain fresh and his players can go all out when playing. But more importantly, it allows for the offense to develop its identity.

While there is still plenty of work to do for this team to become all it can be, Krzyzewski has had a good start to his staff's vision. But make no mistake, there will be challenges and more adjustments along the way.

Duke is a very young team with some veterans helping the young guys along. With a win over Georgia State this Friday as the 2K Empire Classic continues, Duke will likely be the new number one rated team in the polls. That will open a whole new can of worms and teaching opportunities for the staff in how to handle the hype which comes with the honor.

Cassius Stanley Can Ball

Perhaps the number given to Cassius Stanley's was a hint that he could play. The California freshman who led Duke in scoring with 19 points against Colorado State dons number two for the Blue Devils.

A quick look at Blue Devils past shows that some good players have worn #2 over the years. A season ago the number belonged to Cam Reddish and Gary Trent Jr. before that. You can trace the number back to two national champions in Quinn Cook and Nolan Smith as well.

Whether the number assigned to Stanley has anything to do with his ability or not, after just two games he's shown he is more than capable of handling a starting nod on the 2019-20 Blue Devils.

The Los Angeles native has had immediate success on the court this season. Stanley was wonderfully efficient in the Duke win over Colorado State. The self-proclaimed LeBron James and Lakers fan, went 8-11 from the field for his 19 points,

But Stanley is more than just instant offense. A quick look at the box score shows he grabbed a team-high 7 rebounds and added a blocked shot for good measure in 25 minutes of play.

His play was noticed by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski who lauded his newcomer during his post game press conference. The long-time Duke leader called Stanley's two opening games outstanding -- high praise indeed.

Duke won a defensive slug-fest against Kansas and Stanley scored 13 points in that game on 5 of 6 shooting. He also played 30 minutes, the second-most on the team.

You can already see that Krzyzewski wants Stanley on the court. And the reason for that is his efficiency. One of the most telling stats was the fact Stanley committed 4 turnovers against Kansas only to cut that down to zero in the win over the Rams.

Stanley has the potential to be a solid on-ball defender as well. He gets his hands on the ball and has stayed with his man in the 2-0 Duke start to the season.

It's also clear that Stanley likes to run the court and his two baskets against Kansas on the break were game-changing. Despite the early success, Stanley is still learning the Duke system and getting better as a player.

We have yet to see the finished product with concern to Stanley. But it is clear that he will play a vital roll on this year's team. The one thing which is evident early on is that Cassius Stanley can ball. And that is great news for this year's Duke team.

Hunter Dickinson Has Duke in Final 4

Courtesy of Tipton Edits

Duke center prospect Hunter Dickinson has included the Blue Devils in his Final Four.  The Duke men's staff is now trying to iron out the details of a visit to Durham.

Check out what he had to say about his four finalists at Stockrisers.com

Five-star Hunter Dickinson is down to four schools, has decision timetable

There are many exciting happenings on the recruiting front.  Join BDN Premium during our yearly special for a straight forward take on the situation.

Zion Williamson Addresses New Orleans Media

Former Duke basketball standout Zion Williamson spoke with the New Orleans media today about the coming NBA season.  The Pelicans rookie talks of his adjustment and advice he is getting from teammates.  New Orleans will open their season on Tuesday, October 22nd at the defending champions Toronto Raptors in a game that will be nationally televised on TNT.

Duke Moving Quickly with Hunter Dickinson

Hunter Dickinson in action with one of the top Nike EYBL programs in Team Takeover. The young prospect seems like a good fit with Duke on and off the court. The Blue Devils are moving quickly to make sure he knows of his priority status.

The Duke men's basketball staff is wasting no time with their recruitment of 2020 center Hunter Dickinson.  The Blue Devils recent offer is being followed by an in-home visit where the staff will get to know the key prospect and his family.

Dickinson announced his offer on twitter this past Friday.  The DeMatha Catholic prospect stands 7'2 and weighs in around 250 pounds plays where former Blue Devil Danny Ferry starred in high school.  Another former Duke standout, Quinn Cook played at the program as well before transferring to Oak Hill for his senior season.

The latest Blue Devil offer went out after Walker Kessler elected to go to North Carolina.  Dickinson had been on the Duke radar for some time and now has a chance to develop his skills under Mike Krzyzewski in Durham.

Dickinson played for Team Takeover, an AAU program on the Nike EYBL circuit.  That program has had great success over the years teaching their player how to develop within a team concept.

The Blue Devils are now moving to get Dickison on campus in October or early November at the latest.  Duke looked at several big man prospects when a scholarship became available and came to the conclusion that Dickinson was the best fit.

Duke currently has an offer out to another big man in Mark Williams who is the teammate of committed prospect Jalen Johnson, his teammate at IMG Academy.  Williams is the brother of famed Duke women's standout Elizabeth Williams.

The Blue Devils also have a standing offer to Zaire Williams who is a west coast stud prospect.  Duke needs to sign a large class where they are once again faced with mass losses to the NBA.

The Duke class currently consists of a point guard, in Jeremy Roach and the aforementioned small forward Jalen Johnson, the first two players to pledge their service.  Duke later added talented swing guard DJ Steward and most recently got a pledge from hard-working Henry Coleman, a power forward out of Virginia.

Dickinson holds several offers which include Michigan where he visited earlier this month.  Ten other ACC schools have offered Dickinson who has had multiple suitors.

Should Duke land Dickinson, he would be one of the few big men on the teams' roster.  Duke will lose senior captains Javin DeLaurier and Jack White after the coming season.  And the Blue Devils will also lose freshmen studs Matthew Hurt and Vernon Carey Jr. as early entrants to the NBA draft.

Duke has two staff members in Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith who can share with the Dickinson family how much similarly sized Brian Zoubek meant to the program.  Those three guys were a part of the 2010 national championship team.

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