What a game! Tre Jones talks the exciting victory in the Duke locker room.
What a game! Tre Jones talks the exciting victory in the Duke locker room.
Duke freshman Cam Reddish and Tre Jones are close on and off the court. The two stars addressed the media before their game with Central Florida where the winner goes to the Sweet 16 in Washington, D,.C,
After a long break, the Duke men's basketball team returns to the court this Saturday evening to take on Clemson in both teams ACC opener. Duke will do so ranked as the number one team in America after going 11-1 during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
During the seasons opening stretch, the Blue Devils won a memorable game over Kentucky in dominant fashion in. They would be humbled against Gonzaga but also gathered wins over solid teams in Auburn, Indiana and Texas Tech.
The Blue Devils have also become must-see basketball where they dominate the likes of the ESPN airwaves with the teams' exploits. While R.J. Barrett is the teams alpha player, it is Zion Williamson that has set the world on fire.
Williamson has made it clear that no analysts can properly describe his game to date, The young phenoms game is more than powerful dunks. He has shown an uncanny potential to flourish in any on the court situation and his every move is watched.
Duke has also developed quite nicely around their two high scoring stars. Tre Jones has run the point guard position effectively and his defense often starts the machine and its roll.
Cam Reddish has struggled at times, but his potential points to more consistent play and aggressiveness during ACC play. But when the four freshmen play together, they are at times unbeatable.
In the preseason, most analysts felt Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden would share the fifth starting spot. Both of these players have shown flashes of solid play. An injury set DeLaurier back a bit and Bolden has had some moments.
The most surprising contributor to date has been Jack White. In fact, he is currently the fifth man due to his ability to fit in seamlessly. White is flourishing in his captain's role on and off the court.
Duke has also been able to develop more depth in the way of Alex O'Connell. A timely three-pointer here and there but more importantly being better on defense has made him an option.
The team will now face the gauntlet known as the ACC schedule. And the league is good. Florida State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Virginia Tech are all off to solid starts and each is ranked.
The Duke staff will now have to prepare the team in a short time between games until the NCAA Tournament ends.
By all accounts, the time off has been beneficial for the players before the ACC slate, It is the last time they can really catch their breath and reflect on how things have gone to date. Those lessons learned can help prepare them for the stretch run.
From this point forward, the games and lessons come quickly. In a sense, Duke is ahead of the curve with concern to chemistry, This seasons teams core was set early on and there is little to no controversy to date.
It will be important for the collective team to learn in the coming battles, who takes shots and when in close contests. When it is time to leak out into the passing lanes instead of leaving others open and so and much more. Those are the lessons which will help guide them to their goal of getting to the Final Four.
One thing we know for certain. That being that the hype will not go away. During ACC play, Duke will have to learn to deal with expectations and how hard it is to bring your A game every night. In short, they will get every teams best shot.
While this team has yet to achieve anything in the way of championships, they surely have the potential to be special. This team has the air of those special teams past but it will take continued work and some luck for the ultimate success.
It will surely be fun for the Duke fan base to watch as the season unfolds with what has become one of the more likable teams in memory. And that is saying a lot for Duke fans love all their teams.
Strap yourself in for what is now the greatest show in college basketball. But there will be some bumps along the way and how the team deals with them will ultimately decide if they become truly special in the way of title memories.
Here is the first edition of "10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball." I will be covering various tidbits worth mentioning that will consist of little known facts and things to ponder.
Marvin Bagley III is only scratching the surface - What a phenomenal week for Marvin Bagley III. He wins ACC Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week while setting various freshman records at Duke. But he could be in high school for his final season. What I am saying is he is young and learning and will realize more and more what he is capable of doing as the season wears on.
Duke is more than just Marvin Bagley III - Take a look at Wendell Carter Jr. for a second. He is having a solid freshman season as are all of the starters. It is his play and ability to help protect the lane and garner rebounds that helps Bagley to be great.
Duke is going to get a lot better soon - Okay, so you know they will have played 9 games in 20 days after they take on Indiana tomorrow night. But have you considered that during this stretch there has been little to no practice time? Once Mike Krzyzewski and his staff has time to break down the film from this run, Duke will make major adjustments and tweak what they are doing. In short, you ain't see nothing yet.
Run your own race - I have covered Duke basketball for many years. In that time I have seen great players in time not have the success they would like in their freshman and sophomore seasons. Heck, ask Nolan Smith about sticking with it after barely playing as a freshman. Duke has some guys on the roster that may not fully blossom until their junior years, but if they stick with the system, they will become stars with key roles.
What we have learned to date - You can never count this Duke team out. Fans should look over their timelines to see how they reacted when Duke was down 17 to good teams. Moving forward, they should know this team is talented and can wear their opponents down over the course of a whole game. The confidence gained in these comeback wins will serve Duke well.
Special - Mike Krzyzewski aka Coach K called his team special in the post game after the win over Florida. Special can mean many things, but he has seen this group will not give up and wants to play together, learn and get better. What he did not specifically mention is that these are all really good young men off the court as well and that he love teaching them.
Indiana is a trap game - The Hoosiers had one of the worst losses in their fabled history in their opening home loss to Indiana State of Larry Bird fame. They lost to a good, ranked, Seton Hall team on the road. But they have shown signs of improvement pushing their record to 4-2. They are rested and playing in their super bowl tomorrow night.
Duke does not announce their injuries - I often see fans ask what is wrong with so and so or he is having a bad game or two, It is not policy for the Blue Devils to announce their injuries and do not expect them to help their opponents scouting report by doing so. Food for thought.
The Duke team will soon get a break but - the coaches will be breaking down filming in between holiday recruiting events later this month.
That needed break will come - after Duke returns from Bloomington where they will face a good South Dakota team in CIS (Cameron Indoor Stadium) on December the 2nd (Saturday) and then St. Francis in a brutal 9:00 start this coming Tuesday. Wait! I am not finished. The team will then go as far north in the ACC as possible for their league opener against Boston College on the 9th. At that time comes a much-needed 11 day break. Duke will then play Evansville on December the 20th in CIS to shake off the rust before another 10 day break when they will come back to take on Florida State at home with the students still on vacation break. Duke will need their non student fans to be on the top of their game in the home ACC opener.
I hope you enjoyed my first edition of "10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball," and return for more. Remember that we are doubling your membership to all new members of BDN Premium through the new year. If you join for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months, we will double your membership time. IOW, 2 years is just $100.00, or if you join for 6 months at $60.00 you get a full year. By joining you help us spread the news on Duke Basketball on various platforms while getting some inside news. For recent new members, you now have access to the message board, but it is a separate sign up which will then be approved.
BDN caught up to the legendary Christian Laettner during the recent Coach K Academy, and he shared his thoughts on coaching, on being recruited by Coach K, and on his confidence as a player.