"It was OK. It wasn't an efficient game — a lot of turnovers, some things I should have finished," Mason Plumlee said. "But it's the first game of the season. We aren't supposed to be peaking right now. I'll be alright, and I'll be better the next game."
The teams were locked in a close game for most of the first half before Duke used a 13-2 spurt to build a 13 point lead. Georgia State didn't get any closer after that.
Here's out very early takeaways from the opener:
Murphy's Law: He started the games in China and then promptly disappeared for the remainder of 2011-2012. Fast forward another year after a summer spent playing International tournaments, and earning a starting spot in each of the two preseason games, and…Alex Murphy once again has disappeared. The 6-foot-8 forward didn't start and he didn't play. In the locker room after the game he confirmed he was healthy, but wouldn't say more. In the post game press conference his head coach said Murphy didn't get off the bench for reasons of unique match ups. It seemed to be an interesting explanation as every other healthy Blue Devils logged minutes, but that's the word out of Durham. Given that the Wildcats have several players who are big and tall, there's a definite need for Murphy to be ready to go on Tuesday.
One big on the floor: Mason Plumlee did his part on the boards, grabbing 14 total (11 defensive), but he's going to need some help as the season goes along. That's got to come from 6-foot-11 Ryan Kelly (3 rebounds in 33 minutes played), the aforementioned Murphy (DNP), Amile Jefferson (2 rebounds in 13 minutes), and Josh Hairston (1 rebound in eight minutes). As a team, Duke was out-rebounded 33-31 by the CAA opponent, and gave up 10 offensive rebounds. Similarly, Duke managed just six offensive rebounds on the night. It's a number that's got to be a concern for the Blue Devil coaching staff - and something opposing coaches are going to look to exploit.
Musical PG chair: Quinn Cook was named the starter in the preseason. The sophomore was hyped up as finally being healthy and ready to lead. He played as the starting point guard in the two exhibition games, and showed flashes of being ready to take over the role in Durham. Of course there were some concerns (his nine turnovers against four assists), but it appeared as though Cook was 'the guy'. Until Monday when head coach Mike Krzyzewski told Cook he would not be starting the season opener. Coach K followed up on that in the post-game press conference by noting that his team has four players who are entrenched as starters: Rasheed Sulaimon, Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and a healthy Seth Curry. The fifth position (which seems to be a point guard at initial glance) will "rotate based on match-ups". While that could be a reference to the battle between Cook and Tyler Thornton, it could also mean that Krzyzewski has no qualms with Curry handling the ball for extended periods of time this year assuming that either Jefferson or Murphy comes in as the fifth starter against bigger teams.
Tonight, the offense seemed to struggle in the first half with Cook and Thornton alternating as the lead guard. Duke finished the first half with nine turnovers and nine field goals made. Three were by Thornton, two by Cook. As Coach K said in the preseason, he was really hoping one of the two guards would cement himself as the starter early on. Perhaps they still will, and both players played extremely well in the second half, but after 40 minutes of season being played, Duke doesn't appear to have a starting point guard.
Injury worry and news: Senior Seth Curry has battled a leg injury throughout the preseason. It's limited his ability to practice, but he was in the starting lineup on Friday night. After 30 minutes of action, and after drawing some tough fouls on the GSU defenders via quick head fakes, Curry left the game and was limping a bit on his way to the bench. After the game there was no mention of his status, but Krzyzewski did mention that Marshall Plumlee will likely see action in next weekend's game.
Second half adjustments: After getting stuck in the half court and settling for a number of off-balanced shots throughout the first half, Duke began to attack the Georgia State defense by penetrating and then making the extra pass. The Blue Devils also had several scores out of dead ball situations - something K noted in the preseason as being a good indicator that the team is thinking and listening. After halftime Duke hit 56 percent of their shots overall, and 47 percent from behind the arc.