Stanford CARDINAL3-0 Overall; Won 3 Straight
F- 25 Roscoe Allen (11.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
?F- 22 Reid Travis (10.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
C- 04 Stefan Nastic (16.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.0 apg)
G- 21 Anthony Brown (15.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
?G- 05 Chasson Randle (17.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 100% FT)
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Chasson Randle returns for a his senior season after posting 18.8 points per game as a junior - good enough to be named First Team All-Pac-12. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Randle is able to hurt his opponents in a number of ways beginning at the perimeter (39 percent). He’s also proven to be lights out at the free throw line, hitting all 16 of his attempts this season. However, Randle has been turnover prone early in the season, committing three per game while handing out only seven assists.
Despite the turnovers, it's hard to speak on the top guards in the country without mentioning Randlek and will easily represent the biggest challenge of the year (so far) for either Quinn Cook or Tyus Jones. The Cardinal point guard played well in the semifinal round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn, scoring all of his 18 points on three pointers.
While their point guard hasn’t been the most giving when it comes to assists, Stanford does feature one of the better passing big men Duke will see this year in the form of Stefan Nastic, a fifth year senior out of Toronto who was a second team all-Pac-12 selection last year. In the early going the 6-foot-11, 245 pound center is second on the team in scoring (16.7), rebounding (7.7), and leads the team with 4.0 assists per game. He’s also recorded a team best five blocks in three games.
The Cardinal rotation isn’t overly extensive, but the team makes up for the lack of depth with a lot of size. The front line begins with the 6’11, 245 pound Nastic and adds in former Duke power forward recruit Reid Travis (6’8, 245), and 6-foot-9, 225 pound Rosco Allen. The trio of forwards are averaging 38.0 points, 17.7 rebounds, and shooting 49.3 percent from the floor in 62.4 minutes per game.
“They are big and Johnny has a really good system with how he uses them,” said Krzyzewski of Stanford's front line.
It’ll be an interesting matchup for Duke in that Amile Jefferson may struggle to guard Travis near the basket, but Allen would also struggle laterally to guard Justise Winslow on the perimeter. Will Coach K elect to force the Cardinal to go small as he did when the Blue Devils faced Kansas last season? And how will Duke handle the glass - specifically Okafor who managed just one defensive rebound against Temple on Friday night.
Coach Krzyzewski doesn’t like to face off against his former players and coaches who have gone on to lead other programs. And, for the most part, his former players would prefer not to face their former coach and mentor. But, here we are. Johnny Dawkins will forever be known as the recruit who got the Duke basketball machine rolling under Coach K. Then he was then a longtime assistant in Durham before moving on to Palo Alto.
The two will meet for the first time on Saturday night.
“We are in a tournament and just preparing as best we can,” said Dawkins of the matchup. “I don’t think any of us (coaches) look forward to playing each other. (Coach Krzyzewski) and I have always been so close that typically we do not play each other during the season. It just so happens that this is a tournament setting and you play the teams in front of you.”
“First of all, I’m proud of Johnny,” said Krzyzewski. “They’re an outstanding team. They’re big, they’re huge. Johnny has a really good system, how he uses them. I’d rather not play him. He’s part of our family. It’s too bad we have to play one another, but that’s the way it is.”
The coaches aren't the only ones enjoying a reunion. Former AAU teammates Tyus Jones and Reid Travis will be on the floor on opposite sides as well. For much of last summer there was a strong belief that Travis would join Jones in Durham before the power forward ultimately picked between the Cardinal and Minnesota.
Oddly enough, the Blue Devils have never beaten Stanford, losing in 2000 and 1999 - both losses by one point.
LEARNING ON THE FLY
Jahlil Okafor played his worst game of the season against Temple. "Worst" being a somewhat relative term as the Duke big man still recorded 16 points and eight rebounds against the physical Owls. However, seven of those rebounds were on the offensive side of the court, leaving just one defensive rebound. At halftime, his associate head coach, Jeff Capel told the broadcast team that Okafor needed to toughen up and “get angry”. But is that in the big man’s nature?.
“Jahlil has to be ready for that,” said Krzyzewski of his prized freshman dealing with physical play. “He has to go through these things. He is a willing learner, he is a great kid…He’ll keep learning, he’ll keep getting better. His teammates have unbelievable confidence in him. They get him the ball and they should.”
Question To Be Answered
1. Who will force the matchup?
As noted above, the Cardinal has a big lineup that provides some physical advantages. Duke has more depth and quickness , but will it matter? Stanford will park Travis around the basket where he’ll carve out space and utilize a very soft touch. Nastic won’t bully Okafor as much as Temple and Michigan State tried to, but if the big man and his teammates aren't looking, he can hurt them with his vision and abilities around the paint.
The Blue Devils will likely look to play a faster pace than Stanford would like and Duke will also likely extend pressure the full 94 feet in order to prevent their opponents from finding any sort of rhytym. Duke will need much better nights from both Matt Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon, both of whom are still searching for a break out game after four contests.
2. Defense Into Offense
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team played as well defensively against Temple as they had all season long. The Blue Devils forced 17 turnovers, held the Owls to just 34.5 percent shooting in the first half and a 1-of-12 from long range overall. Those 17 turnovers resulted in 22 Duke points.
“I thought we played really good defense tonight; I mean really good defense,” said Coach K. “We did not hit shots like we normally do, so that made playing defense even better. We missed some shots and their defense is real good.
The missed shots will need to fall if Duke is to beat Stanford on Saturday. The Cardinal showed the ability to knock down long range shots against UNLV (9-of-16), and as a team they are shooting over 46 percent for the season from the perimeter. Meanwhile, Duke shot a miserable 30.8 percent in the first half against Temple, but cleaned things up after intermission, hitting 13-of-25 attempts.
A big point of emphasis in knocking down shots and locking down the Cardinal will start on the glass where Stanford held a 47-29 advantage against UNLV on Friday.
Notebook:- The Blue Devils are 7-2 all-time in Coaches vs. Cancer contests, including wins over Presbyterian (Nov. 14), Fairfield (Nov. 15) and Temple (Nov. 21) this season. Duke has won its last seven games in the event, capturing the 2008 Coaches vs. Cancer title in the process.
- Coach K has coached against a number of former assistant coaches including Tommy Amaker, Mike Brey, Mike Dement, Tim O’Toole, Quin Snyder, and Chuck Swenson. Only Brey has won against Krzyzewski, that win coming last year as Notre Dame beat Duke in South Bend.
- Duke has made 30 more three-point field goals than its opposition on the year. The Blue Devils are 39-of-90 (.433) with the opposition going just 9-of-58 (.155) from behind the arc. Quinn Cook has 13 threes on the year and leads the ACC in three-point field goals (3.25 3pg.).
- Tyus Jones recorded seven assists in the win over Temple to lead the Blue Devils in that category for the third time in four games. The freshman guard ranks sixth in the ACC in assists (5.8 apg.) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.75:1).
They Said It:
“The biggest thing for us is taking every game as an opportunity. We have a 1-0 mentality every single game. Every game we play we want to leave our mark. We don’t care who the other team is. We just focus on ourselves and play to the best of our abilities.” - Stanford 6th Man, Anthony Brown
Stanford is big and experienced. Duke is young and extremely talented. Both teams are very well coached. Both teams have dominated their way to the championship round of this event. Last year for Duke was about a number of streaks ending from the Top-10 ranking streak to the preseason tournament winning streak. And then there’s also the fact that the Blue Devils have never beaten Stanford. Starting two new steaks (tournament championships and beating Stanford for the first time) won’t be easy. The Cardinal have all the tools to make things tough on Duke, and the Blue Devils certainly sputtered for extended periods on Friday night. Most notable for the Blue Devils was the number of times their head coach exploded on the sideline after one of his players seemed to be less than enthusiastic about going for loose balls, or battling inside. Things seemed to be corrected after halftime and Duke cruised. UNLV came out and seemed to be sleepwalking early against the Cardinal and it cost them dearly. The Rebels were down big early and never had a chance to come back. Look for Duke to come in and try to establish Okafor and the pace early, and for a veteran team from Palo Alto to weather that storm and battle up until the end. It’s not going to be a blowout, but in the end we see Duke getting a lift from either Sulaimon or Jones off the bench (much like Jones did against Alabama a year ago in New York) to grab the win. The pick…
Duke - 84
Stanford - 78