Feb 7, 2013; Durham, NC, USA; The Duke Blue Devils mascot greets fans before their game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
The Duke Blue Devils overcame a slow start and a halftime deficit to knock off defending Div II champion Drury, 81-65.
While the potential of this Duke team is beyond exciting, one of the my biggest concerns heading into the season would be how long it would take the Blue Devils to gel. With defending Div II champs Drury coming to town, I was more than interested to see how all the new faces would perform.
It wasn’t pretty.
At halftime, the Blue Devils trailed 38-34, a result of a lack of energy and a lack of hustle, specifically on the boards. They didn’t shoot well, pass well, play defense well, or even shoot free throws well. It was a disaster of a first half, and it was every sign of a team that A) wasn’t taking the game as serious as it should have and B) is still learning how to play together. Neither coach was impressed with the first half effort:
The beginning of the second half, though, brought the beginning of a different Duke team. The effort was there; they hustled more on the boards and played a lot smoother, although it still wasn’t as sharp as we would’ve liked to have seen. Rodney Hood stepped up and emerged as the guy who can weather the storm, scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds in a solid, all-around effort from the redshirt sophomore.
- Rasheed Sulaimon did not play (illness)
- Andre Dawkins, who many expected to be either a starter or the sixth man this year, received only six minutes of playing time today. The redshirt senior missed both of his shots, both three-pointers, and turned in an uneventful performance.
- Jabari Parker isn’t perfect. The freshman still has plenty to learn, and there were moments where he seemed to struggle or get lost on both sides of the ball.
- Amile ∞ Jefferson needs as many minutes as possible. He is Duke’s best rebounder, one of their highest energy guys, and his hustle is contagious. In my opinion, he turned in the strongest performance of the day, finishing with 13 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, a block, a steal, zero personal fouls, and zero turnovers in 21 minutes. Wow.
- Matt Jones is starting to emerge as the best option at shooting guard. I always figured Dawkins and Sulaimon would receive virtually all of the playing time, but Jones has fought his way into a position where he deserves every bit as much, if not more. The true freshman finished with 9 points and 3 steals in 28 minutes and looked incredibly mature for someone playing in just his second collegiate game. I’m a fan.
- Quinn Cook is still trying to find an identity in this offense, but he looked better today (13 points, 2 assists, 3 steals). I don’t know how long it will take him to adjust to his new role in this fast-paced, lack of primary-ball handler offense, but we’ll keep an eye on it.
- That is it for Duke’s exhibition slate. The next game is for real. Davidson vs Duke on November 8th in Durham. Who is pumped?