One of the players who will play a vital role for the Duke Blue Devils next season is Javin DeLaurier. Firstly, he will be one of the most experienced players on the team and therefore will be counted on to teach newcomers the Duke way of doing things.
DeLaurier started in five games for the Blue Devils last season and he has played in 45 games in his previous two years at Duke. As a junior, DeLaurier will take on a key role in the front court where Duke is losing both Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr, to the NBA.
Duke will have just three big men or post players on next seasons roster in DeLaurier, Marques Bolden and Antonio Vrankovic. That is a stark departure from the riches they enjoyed a season ago.
Incoming freshman Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson will most certainly have their moments down low, but neither of them are considered a center type of player. While Duke plays what is known as a positionless team by head coach Mike Krzyzewski; DeLaurier will be asked to guard players bigger than him at times.
So far, DeLaurier has career highs in 30 minutes against Clemson, 13 points against South Dakota and 11 rebounds versus Elon during his two-year career. Just having some experience will lend as a valuable teacher to the younger players as they learn what the college game is about.
As a rising junior and an upperclassman, DeLaurier will establish yet another new role next season. Duke will be taking a trip to Canada in August and it will be interesting to see how they blend five newcomers in with a handful of experienced players who are expected to play.
One of the players who should play a key role in the rotation on this seasons team will no doubt be Javin DeLaurier.
The Key Factors for DeLaurier -
Play under control.
Cut down on turnovers.
Continue to work on being a solid rebound guy.
Work on becoming a better free throw shooter.
In closing, DeLaurier played 13 minutes per game a season ago, but knocked down just 22 of 42 free throw attempts. On the other hand, he was 54 of 81 from the field which is a solid 67% clip showing he can clean things up around the rim.
With his athleticism, DeLaurier is capable of playing a larger role this season. Much of that will depend on having chemistry with basically a new roster while demonstrating more consistent basketball habits.
The Duke Blue Devils played their best forty minutes of basketball this season. The result was an impressive 74-52 ACC win over Virginia Tech. The win sets up a situation where the (9-4 ACC, 21-5 overall) Blue Devils can move into second place with a win at Clemson this weekend.
Duke played zone the entire contest and more importantly they talked to one another on the defensive end. "We stress talk. The system we try to teach is offense, defense and communication. But defensively, especially in zone, when you are talking you will be wider," said Krzyzewski.
The Duke coach also acknowledged it was his teams best defensive game of the season. The Blue Devils helped themselves after a half time adjustment where the Hokies had nine turnovers after just one at the break.
Grayson Allen led Duke with 25 points and was the kind of leader the staff envisioned for Duke tonight. "He's our leader. We've had him off the ball a lot, so he has tried to lead from there but the ball is not in his hands. With the ball in his hands he can make plays and call plays and is in more command, said Krzyzewski.
You can expect the strategy of Allen having the ball in his hands more to continue for Krzyzewski acknowledged it has helped the team in their last two outings.
All of the Duke players Blue Devil Nation spoke with after the game said this was their best 40 minute effort of the season. And all of them had things to say about their communication in a zone defense that held a potent Hokies team to just 52 points.
Gary Trent Jr. added 19 points for Duke. He was joined by Revon Duval (10 points) and Wendell Carter Jr. (13 points and 13 rebounds) as double figure scorers.
Duke started Marques Bolden (2 blocked shots) in the first half but opted for Javin DeLaurier in the second half. DeLarurier played with energy and went 3 for 3 from the field and was on the end of some outstanding passes. Those scores helped Duke gain continued energy in their victory.
The Blue Devils also scored 18 second chance points and tallied seven steals in the game to just one for the Hokies. Duke held a monster advantage on the boards with a 36-19 advantage despite their leading scorer and rebounder in Marvin Bagley III being sidelined with an injury.
Duke can take over sole possession of 2nd place in the ACC with a win at Clemson this Sunday. That game tips off at 1:00 and will be televised by the ACC Network.
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski briefly addressed the media today. Here are some tidbits from that Q & A.
-If there is one thing that bothered the Duke coach in not only the loss to St. Johns but in the games of late; that would be turnovers. Krzyzewski said that many of the turnovers against St. Johns were unforced. "A really good team doesn't need to beat itself and when you commit that many turnovers we beat ourselves."
-Krzyzewski would like to see a more aggressive Grayson Allen. he wants him to shoot hunt his shot and to play aggressive. "He has done that for the most part but not all the time. He is trying to help his teammates but you have to be careful not to lose some of you."
-Krzyzewski said it is easy to see what his team has to do better and while he is not minimizing issues as a simple fix -- he feels hard work will get the team to where it needs to be,
-Krzyzewski praised UNC for still being a good rebounding team despite playing a smaller lineup. "Thursdays game is not an end all. It is a huge game but there will be another after that. Their program and out program is built on more than one game."
-When asked of struggles of late, Krzyzewski said, "Nobody wants to be at their peak in February."
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Team Williamson was in the stands for the Duke vs Virginia game this past weekend. Zion Williamson was able to see more of the Duke campus and the facilities with members of his family. Flanked by his mom Sharonda Sampson, they sat behind the Duke bench. Be sure to check out the documentary below which is sure to get you excited while allowing you to the the character of the Blue Devil to be.
There was an NCAA type intensity in the Duke loss to Virginia yesterday. It is true that the Blue Devils had the home advantage which makes the Virginia Cavaliers win even more impressive.
After the dust cleared Virginia moved to 20-1 on the season solidifying their ranking. Their coach, Tony Bennett, said that his team knew exactly who they were as a team. He inferred that his squad knew their roles and played as one on the court, not caring who takes the shots.
On the other side, Duke lost a game on Coach K Court in Cameron Indoor Stadium which is rare. They pretty much allowed Virginia the regular season crown by not taking care of the business at hand. That means, one goal is all but done -- that being the regular season ACC crown.
Unlike Virginia, Duke is a young team that is trying find their stride. The Blue Devils, while good, are not playing like a well oiled machine just yet. And that is a fact, despite a starting lineup that is playing exclusively together.
On one hand, it is still early in the season with ten regular season games left. On the other hand, the staff needs to push the right buttons and start to see results and togetherness. With injured players Marques Bolden about to enter the fray and Javin DeLaurier starting to get healthy, team chemistry will be a challenge.
That is the keyword, right there. Chemistry. For this team to make great things happen, it has to improve. Yes, Virginia is the best defensive team in the nation. But the 16 turnovers Duke committed in the game was far too many.
Countless times, Duke tried to pass the ball through defenders or they would passes were not properly anticipated. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have just five turnovers and shoot lights out from the free throw stripe.
The game plan to beat Virginia is to not beat yourself with turnovers and bad shot selection. Missed front ends of one and ones helped doom the Blue Devils as did not playing smart when the game was on the line. You must value every possession.
The Duke defense was not that bad. In fact, the team, at times, looked great in that area. But Virginia would find just enough spacing to launch some timely three pointers. And this happened despite the fact that making their guards dribble or penetrate while limiting space is the way to go.
The Blue Devils looked dead in the water at the half. And perhaps they dug too deep of a hole to climb out of. But after a raucous comeback, where they took the lead came some untimely carelessness.
In short, the opportunities were there but the team could not execute well enough at crunch time for a win. And that points to questions. The main one being, can this team turn the corner in short time and play with more rhythm and better chemistry.
Maybe this is the way it will be with a young team. But Duke is immensely talented and capable, despite its youth. Duke had dominate performances from Marvin Bagley III and Wendel Carter Jr. which felt wasted. The teams guards were not consistent nor effective as a group, especially in some of the mental aspects og the game.
While there is no particular blame for the loss, there is concern with the back court. Gary Trent seemed to get back to the way he was playing before the loss to N.C. State instead of allowing the game to come with him.
Despite leading the league in assists, Trevon Duval made a very untimely pass into the teeth of the Virginia defense late in the game. It was a deflating turnover which was majorly risky.
As for Grayson Allen, he did not seem like himself in the loss. Nor has he of late where his offensive output has been streaky at best. And in this game, his other stat lines were not making up for his sudden shooting woes.
Another thing which from my non coaching vantage seemed amiss, was that Duke allowed the Virginia defense to set up. There were times towards the end of the game where the movement to take advantage of an unbalanced defense was not there. And that had something to do with spacing and not putting game pressure on when you had numbers.
But credit Virginia. They play a methodical and systematic style which causes players to doubt their instincts. While Duke is the more talented team, Virginia was the most savvy group where they played older and wiser.
The good news is that there is time to get better for Duke. The bad news is that the window closes each game out. With March madness approaching the staff will need to see some better results.
At some point this team has to get on the same page and cut down on errors. That potential efficiency can take this team far and maybe to the promised land. But at this point in the season, as Mike Krzyzewski has said, they either will or they won't -- it is that simple.
The current reality is that Duke has little time to learn anything with Notre Dame visiting Cameron on Monday evening. But perhaps the experience from top five showdown loss will spur them to a much needed win.