There wasn’t much drama on Friday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The result was decided before the first television timeout, and yet we learned a lot about these Blue Devils from the stands…
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
The nation’s top recruiting class had been drawing hype throughout the summer, preseason, and into he exhibition games. Leading into the game against Presbyterian the Blue Devil freshmen had been called “ahead” by head coach Mike Krzyzewski who also noted that his newcomers conducted themselves in a manner consistent with upperclassmen.
After 40 minutes of regular season college hoops, it’s hard to disagree with him.
Jahlil Okafor led the way with 19 points (9-of-10 from the field) and six rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. Tyus Jones ran the team from the point guard position as efficiently as expected recording severn assists and just one turnover in the same amount of time. The third starter, Justise Winslow, went for 15 points and four boards in 20 minutes.
Off the bench came the fourth member of the class, scoring guard Grayson Allen, a five star recruit that is often considered “the other” freshman on this roster. Usually such distinctions result in limited minutes. Instead, Allen made his debut with 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting, three assists, and three steals in just 18 minutes.
If you’re scoring at home, that’s 67 points (26-of-37 shooting), 13 rebounds, and 15 assists from the quartet of five star recruits. It caught the eye of both their coach and their captain.
“All four of them bring a different skill or different thing to the table, and all four of them are very mature,” said Quinn Cook. “They pick up things well, and I can’t say enough about them. They’re great – all four of them.”
“They have to figure out who they are against really good competition. As long as they stay healthy and keep learning we have a very good chance to get better. We were really good tonight but we are a lot more talented than tonight’s game. If we are playing really hard we should be able to win big. We need to keep up that consistency, and our depth is very good.”
It’s been well documented. The defensive ability of last season’s team was quite a long way from what had become the standard in Durham. A rough off-season full of extensive fitness training and retooling of the roster later and Duke appears to be getting back to what has made the program successful over 30 plus years.
The Blue Hose were held to 34.6 percent shooting overall and 30.4 percent in the first half. Duke forced their guests into 17 turnovers and out-rebounded them 46-21. Those 17 turnovers resulted in 37 points for Duke while the Blue Hose got just four points off Duke turnovers.
As for Presbyterian’s best player, Jordan Downing? He was held to 3-of-12 from the field (1-of-6 from the perimeter), and three turnovers.
“Our defense was outstanding,” said Cook. “Just to force a good team like that to call timeouts with pressure is great.”
Duke will be back in action tomorrow against Fairfield in the second round of the Coaches versus Cancer. Fairfield opened the season by posting a 71-63 decision over Central Connecticut State University. Junior captain Amadou Sidibe recorded 10 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
“It’s great to start the season with a win,” Coach Johnson said. “Playing a top-five program like Duke tomorrow night on their court is not an easy task. It was important for us to get some confidence heading into that game and we accomplished that tonight.”
THEY SAID IT
“Everybody on this team realizes that the guy next to you can really play – there’s a lot of talent on this team. And one of our absolutes is sharing the ball, so making the extra pass, it’s fun playing that way. I think that’s why today we had 30 assists and nine turnovers. It was a lot of fun.” - Jahlil Okafor
“I’m confident. Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] tells us all, if we have a shot, take it. He gives us confidence, and these guys around me give me confidence. If they’re driving and kicking, that tells me they have confidence in me just like I have confidence in them. So when you get a shot, you’ve just got to take it.” - Tyus Jones
From the stands: Duke v. Presbyterian
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