Court Vision: Team effort as No. 4 Duke makes easy work of Presbyterian, 113-44
DURHAM, N.C. — No. 4 Duke (1-0) made easy work of Presbyterian (0-1) on Friday night in the season-opener for both teams, winning by a final score of 113-44. The final was a mere formality, and Duke looked every bit the top-five team it was projected to be. Oh, and its freshmen class — Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen, all of which were McDonald’s All-Americans — combined for 67 points on 26-of-37 shooting.
1. IN A SOMEWHAT UNEXPECTED MOVE, DUKE STARTED TWO POINT GUARDS. BUT IT WORKED
Sophomore guard Matt Jones was at the two-spot alongside the freshman point guard much of the preseason, but Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has insisted all off-season that there won’t be — and haven’t been — any problems between the veteran Cook and Tyus Jones. The two have a definite chemistry, and it’s never bad to have two ball-handlers in the game that know the offense.
While Jones came in as the heralded recruit ready to unseat Cook at point guard, the interesting thing was that at least for now, it still looked to be Cook’s team — at least when both were out there together.
"With Quinn, he’s a great leader. He’s been here. This is his senior year. He hasn’t won anything as far as an ACC Championship or a national championship," Winslow said. "But he’s one of our leaders and he’s one of the older guys, so I think Coach just saw that leadership within him and wanted us to go out there and lead us younger guys and just the whole team in general."
Cook finished with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, making a team-high four 3-pointers, adding five assists and no turnovers in 25 minutes.
"I’m the senior. I’ve been here, so I know what Coach wants, what we need to run at this time. I can still see things, but I’m not at the top of the offense so I want to help Tyus out because he’s still learning things on the run," Cook said. "So I just want to help him. If he is struggling with calling a play, I can just call one and we can just get right into it. I just want to be a helper out there."
And Jones doesn’t mind sharing, even though he’s used to having the ball in his hands.
"That’s just kind of how it played out today. A lot of times, on the outlet, I’ll be denied or he was right there," Jones said. "That’s the good thing about having two point guards out there. If he’s right there, he can bring it and I have no problem filling in at the two. Obviously, when I’m up top, he’s at the two. So I think that’s just the positive of having two point guards out there."
2. PART OF THE REASON FOR THE SEAMLESSNESS OF THE VARIOUS LINEUPS IS THAT THE TEAM HAS MESHED TOGETHER QUITE NICELY
It hasn’t been that past Duke teams didn’t like each other, necessarily. But roles were pretty clearly carved out, and there wasn’t as much competition.
Now, there is. But it’s much more friendly and good-natured. Rasheed Sulaimon, who once retreated into a bit of an emotional shell due to a lack of playing time last year, is now blossoming in his role off the bench.
"One thing since the summer, we always competed against each other. It’s kind of like brothers — you beat each other down until you can’t fight anymore and then at the end, you hug it out. We got over that process and now we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we just love playing with each other," Sulaimon said.
Krzyzewski has gone on and on since the season began about how much he likes this particular group, and during their season-opener it was easy to see why — 30 assists on 42 field goals, and just a lot more general — well — fun, for lack of a better word.
"They’re fun kids. They’re great kids, not good kids," Krzyzewski said. "There are no issues at all. I really commend my upper class for totally accepting this freshman class. I think the freshman class has been totally accepting. Who knows how those things happen? These guys have done that, and that’s without coaching. So that’s made that process easier.
"For a young team, it’s unusual. Usually, a young team would be concerned about — even though they’re not being selfish, they just wouldn’t be sure of themselves yet. I think by being sure of each other, they can become more sure of themselves instead of waiting to become sure of themselves before sharing. That’s what we’ve been trying to preach to them."
3. DUKE COULD BE A VINTAGE DUKE DEFENSIVE TEAM THIS YEAR, WITH ONE CATCH — ZONE
The Duke teams of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s were known primarily for being athletic, aggressive and talented. That kind of athleticism has been present on some of Duke’s recent teams, but not like it is on this one.
And the Blue Devils have struggled defensively in the last few years, much to Krzyzewski’s chagrin.
"We can play defense. We haven’t been able to play defense the way I would like for awhile. We were not a very good defensive team last year. The year before, we were pretty good but in a different way. The year before that, we were not a good defensive team. So we’ve made a real commitment to getting back to our roots," Krzyzewski said. "That’s the vision I have for the team. We have the athletic ability to do it and the depth to do it."
Krzyzewski is well known for his tough man-to-man defense, and he has never been a fan of playing a zone. But he has so much length and athleticism on this year’s team that he gave it a whirl on Friday.
"We’ll play zone," Krzyzewski said. "The key thing with zone is having athletes who talk. So the little bit that — we played about 10-12 minutes of it, and it looked good."
Duke finished with 12 steals, four blocks and as much full-court pressure as Duke has used consistently in a long time, using a 10-man rotation to its advantage and not letting up.
"Those are the Duke teams that I watched growing up. The good teams have gone after it on defense first, and that created good offense," Cook said. "That was one of the key things that we did well tonight. We didn’t let up. That’s a good sign for us."
STATS THAT MATTER
37: Presbyterian turned it over 17 times, 12 of which were Duke steals. Duke turned those turnovers into 37 points.
6: A total of six Duke players scored in double figures, led by Okafor’s 19 points, and 10 of the 12 Duke players that saw action registered at least one assist.
46: Duke got 46 points from its bench and played 10 players 13 or more minutes. And 10 of the 12 players who saw action scored.
"I just hope we keep learning. I think we had a chance to get better. I really think — look, we were really good tonight but we’re very much more talented (than Presbyterian). That’s not knocking them, it’s just a fact. If we’re playing real hard, we should win big. So we have to be able to do that against really good people and keep up that consistency. I do think that these are the kinds of kids that will want to do that." – Mike Krzyzewski
"(Okafor) is just a really good player. We’re learning how to play with him. I think the best stat for him is four assists and no turnovers. He’s a guy that if you get it down to him, obviously he’s got the potential to score but then when he passes out, if we look to get it right back into him, that’s a different kind of penetration that we haven’t had for a long time. Quinn and Tyus really help him a lot. … There’s a poise that he showed tonight that was really good. Now, he’ll get doubled and he’ll have to show that poise, and he’ll be playing against bigger people. But for right now, he’s done really well and the only way to improve is to play against those people and see what happens when we do that."
"He’s our senior captain. Quinn has done a tremendous job. Since I’ve been here, Quinn has been like a leader to me, but he’s really stepped into his role this year. No matter if he’s on the point, playing the point guard or the off-position, he’s still in charge of running the team, whether it’s by himself or with Tyus. I think he’s doing a tremendous job of that and they have a great chemistry going on between those two." – Rasheed Sulaimon