Well, basketball season is upon us as the tipoff to the Kentucky game is fast approaching. If this being Mike Krzyzewski's last season as head coach of the Blue Devils is not enough excitement, the team itself has the fanbase giddy.
Duke Looks Like a Well Oiled Machine
Judging from highlights seen of the secret scrimmage with Villanova and the onslaught of Winston Salem State in their only exhibition game, these Blue Devils look unusually together as a team considering it is only November the 1st.
In short, early-season chemistry is something we expect to see several games into the month if not later. By being able to spend extra time with his team and not being on the recruiting trail, this team doesn't look like a team that has been playing together since summer.
Duke hit their overwhelmed opponent like an octopus to its prey on Saturday. There were few uncontested passes or open shots for WSSU nor lanes to drive through. Be it on the boards or showing off the mentality to pass ahead for easy buckets, Duke was absolutely dominant.
While we all know that was not Kentucky, but it was still clear to see that this team is unselfish and determined and a far different team that looked uncertain a season ago.
AJ Griffin Returns
A nice surprise for the team and fanbase was the return to the court where AJ Griffin made a lengthy appearance. The solidly built freshman has battled injuries while not really playing a lot of basketball in the past year.
What you are seeing now is the start of him getting back into game shape. That means he is not as quick or jumpy just yet for it takes time to reenter the flow of playing against the competition.
In about eighteen minutes of action, Griffin tallied 10 points and 6 rebounds, and a steal and assist. He will only get better and one of the next stages in his return is to acclimate him further with teammates as his legs return.
Duke has a 10th man, depth and why it matters
Coming into the season some worried about depth with the team with just nine scholarships or originally recruited players. Enter Bates Jones, a Davidson transfer and of course, the brother of former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones.
Jones put in some minutes, did not miss a free throw, went 2 of 4 from beyond the three-point stripe that translated into 11 points and 4 rebounds.
Some may say this is an anomaly, but the kid is solid as are the walk-ons this season. Building and maintaining depth will come in handy this season more so than others for Duke plays five games in ten days this month and four games in eight days in December.
Duke also has two quick turnarounds in ACC play where their Saturday then Monday matchups feature N.C. State at home before heading to Florida State and they play at North Carolina and then Virginia at home with a single day in between.
It is hard to ignore nor not say anything about the struggles which have befallen the football program. In gauging the fanbase via social media and beyond it is clear that we are nearing the end of the David Cutcliffe era at Duke.
It is a very complicated situation. It is not an ideal time to set off a search should they decide to make a move in that it interrupts what many at Duke want to focus on. That desired focus should be on Mike Krzyzewski's last season at Duke so we are in the tricky timing department.
I take no joy in speaking harshly of David Cutcliffe and #DukeGang but it is clear that there is not the desired foundation in place for the future in a world where college athletes are changing.
Things are very stale in Durham these days. The same struggling offensive schemes, lack of depth and player development, and good coaching are missing. And it has gone down too far for any kind of quick fix.
What that means is little hope, followed by little caring. If there was something positive to point to in the future I would not have to end this week's Monday Musings on a somber note.