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Why Tonight’s Game is Important for Duke

The verdict after two games into the basketball season is that Duke is young. And young teams take time to gell with one another to work in unison for wins.

We all know by now and some before now that when the ball tiped off on the season that it would take this team a bit of time to figure out what or who it wants to be. As that development is happening the early season schedule is as daunting as ever with the recent loss to a veteran Michigan State team and Illinois looming early next week.

Unlike seasons past, Duke did not have many games against non-powerhouse opponents before taking on the Spartans. And it showed for they're a new team trying to learn one another preferences on the court.Unlike seasons past, Duke did not have many games against non-powerhouse opponents before taking on the Spartans. And it showed for they're a new team trying to learn one another preferences on the court.

Add to the fact, head man Mike Krzyzewski is experimenting with lineups and combinations to the fray and we are presented with a live learning curve during games.

Some games allow him to grow his roster and find out who is ready or wants to play. Tonight's match up with Bellarmine (7:00 ACCNX, FOX Sports South) is one such game.

The Duke staff has likely worked a lot with film from the last contest and they want to see which players show the ability to learn from such lessons. And the games come quick, so this team is learning many things on the fly.

Teams like Duke, which are breaking in a lot of new players needed their traditional exhibition games and most certainly their non-conference scheduled games. Duke lost their scheduled season opener with Garnder-Webb due to COVID testing issues and that single game being canceled hurt with invaluable development.

Fortunately for Duke, the game with Garnder-Webb has been rescheduled for Sunday, December 6th in Cameron. I say fortunate because Duke needs all the experience they can get before the ACC begins.

There is no word yet whether this Saturday's canceled game with Elon, again due to COVID issues will be rescheduled.

Back to tonight's game versus Bellarmine. Firstly, you cannot get back on the court quick enough as a player after a loss and this should be a game where Duke can look deeper into combinations.

Duke needs to see some things go right and they should be able to implement their will against a Bellarmine team which despite being a former Division II power is picked near the bottom of their conference via pre-season projections.

The Blue Devils hope to see some guys step up tonight or bounce back if you will. Joey Baker, DJ Steward, and Wendell Moore need to get off the skid, where none of their shots was falling against the Spartans.

Duke will likely continue to develop Matthew Hurt into a go-to guy this season while developing duel threats upfront where he teams with talented freshmen Jalen Johnson.

The one position which needs to be better is the point guard spot where Jeremy Roach has been a bit slow out of the gate while Jordan Goldwire contributes there as well. But this position needs to distribute better to get the motor running.

So, yes, this Duke team desperately needs the experience from tonight's game to experiment and prepare for the coming schedule where the ACC despite its top teams all having early losses, seems better than expected.

Duke will be playing the Knights for the first time in regular-season play. They own an exhibition win over Bellarmine where Duke played the defending Division II national champs which is a common practice to open the season under Mike Krzyzewski.

Tre Jones Named 2nd Team All American/USA Today

DURHAM, N.C. – USA Today announced its 2020 college basketball All-America Teams with Duke sophomore Tre Jones earning Second Team honors.

The ACC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports Third Team All-American, Jones was the floor general all season long for the Blue Devils. The sophomore team captain, who is also a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award and the John R. Wooden Award, and a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, ranked sixth in the ACC in scoring (16.2), second in assists (6.4), fourth in assist/turnover ratio (+2.4), sixth in steals (1.8) and 11th in field goal percentage (.423). He was the only player ranked in the league's top 11 in each of those categories. The native of Apple Valley, Minn., was a three-time ACC Player of the Week selection.

Duke ended its regular season with a 26-5 overall record and 15-5 mark in the ACC.

Duke Looks to Get Back on Track vs Hokies

The Duke Blue Devils will attempt to get back to playing winning basketball when Virginia Tech visits Durham for an 8:00 tipoff on ESPN this Saturday.

Both teams are coming off disappointing losses but in a different fashion. The Hokie let a three-overtime game slip away to Miami, while Duke suffered a butt whipping to N.C. State.

The Hokies (15-11) have won just one of their last seven games. That means Duke will be a healthy favorite. But before you think it is a sure win, consider they were ranked early in the season and beat a then #3 Michigan State team. And is this where I mention they have a 14 point win over N.C. State?

Teams are fighting for their tournament lives this time of year and the Hokies are one of them. They're a guard-heavy team led by Landers Nolly that lost to Duke by 14 in the first matchup in Blacksburg.

Duke will likely come out with some fire. There was enough dejection from the way they lost to the Wolfpack to make sure focus will be intact come tipoff time.

The Blue Devils need to get their entire team involved again where they had a mere six assists in their last outing. But what people will look to see is if they come out with purpose.

Chances are that the Blue Devils will rebound with a win, but what the staff seeks is consistency in the team's effort. Duke can ill afford let-downs the rest of the season where just five regular-season games remain.

Duke will look to shut down two freshmen coming off their career games. Tyrece Radford and Jalen Cone scored 26 and 20 points respectively vs Miami.

The Blue Devils should also be able to score the ball inside where Vernon Carey Jr, should get looks early and often. Duke will also try and get their offense going beyond the big to of the aforementioned Carey and team leader Tre Jones.

The Blue Devils are currently a half-game out of first place in the ACC and tied with Florida State for second place.

Sidebar

  • Duke holds an impressive 48-11 edge over Virginia Tech in the series which began in 1912.
  • Duke is 12-3 in the last 15 meetings.
  • Vernon Carey Jr. was just 4-7 in the first matchup, a 77-63 Duke win.
  • Tre Jones led Duke in scoring with 15 points in the first game.

Q & A With Tre Jones – Post UNC win

You cannot talk about the thrilling Duke overtime win over North Carolina without mentioning Tre Jones -- a lot. I mean, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Wendel Moore Jr., and Cassius Stanley all lauded his play in the post-game presser and they did so for good reasons.

Jones was dominant down the stretch doing everything one could ask of the teams leader. His exploits to get Duke into overtime and then help his team pull out the win will live forever in Duke-UNC rivalry lore.

His teammates praised his positive attitude when all hope looked dire before Duke made a miraculous comeback. Tre finished the game with 28 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and the W.

Perhaps, his teammate Wendell Moore said it best, “It all started with Tre [Jones]. Tre had that look in his eye. When he had that look, we knew that we could follow him to victory. He led us there today.”

On his last shot of the overtime which he missed -

I missed and Wendell [Moore] pursued it. He got down low and was able to tip it out to Jordan Goldwire and saved the ball to me. I went up with a look and again, Wendell pursued it like he was doing a game and he got that huge basket.

On if he thought the team stole the victory -

No. Not at all. I feel like we earned this one. Things were not always going our way necessarily bt we continued to just ground it out. We never gave up and I think we earned and came out with the win.

What were you thinking when you got the ball in that situation?

Just get the shot off in time.

On the missed free throw... is that something you practice?

It is something I practice, yeah. Me and Scheyer [Jon, Duke Assistant Coach] actually talked about that in practice together. At the time it wasn't really serious but it helped tonight.

Q & A WITH VERNON CAREY JR.

One of the key performers in the Duke win over Pittsburgh last evening was Vernon Carey Jr. The big freshman tallied a team-high 26 points to go with 13 rebounds but he also had a career-high 4 assists. Carey now has nine double-doubles this season and he has scored 20 points or more and grabbed 10 or more rebounds in eight games. Blue Devil Nation caught up to Carey for a brief post-game chat.

It seemed like they wanted to get the ball into you early and often. Was that part of the plan against Pitt?

That was our gameplan coming in, to look inside early and just kind of play through me and I feel like we did a pretty good job of that as a team.

You have come into Duke and had a good shot from day one. What kind of work did you do in the offseason and here for that to happen?

I have always worked inside-out game or post and perimeter. We just work on screens and pops and just everything really.

The team was a little sluggish early after the break and you allowed them to make a comeback in the second half.

We came out a little sluggish and they cut the lead to three and just need to be more poised and turn the ball over less and get more stops.

You get to play in that [Carrier] Dome next. Have you ever played a game in a dome before and are you looking forward to it?

No, I have not played in one yet. I am looking forward to it.