Takeaway No. 3: The way Duke basketball won may not be a recipe for success
Even after just one game, it’s clear that Duke is much more physical and a better defensive team than the Blue Devils were last season. The program’s rediscovered pressure on defense made it very difficult for the Wildcats to run their offense and get clean looks.
Kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler is one of the fastest players I have ever seen. He was nearly unstoppable when trying to penetrate the lane. But Duke did an excellent job of shutting down the Wildcats’ other offensive weapons, such as TyTy Washington, Davion Mintz, and Keion Brooks.
The Blue Devils have tremendous versatility on the defensive end. They can switch 1-4 and have either Mark Williams or Theo John on the backline to protect the paint. Moving forward, we should continue to see Duke take teams out of what they want to do offensively and shut teams down in the halfcourt.
However, the Blue Devils must shoot better than 7.7 percent from 3-point range (1-for-13 against Kentucky) and not end up with more turnovers than assists (nine to seven in the opener). Otherwise, it could be difficult for them to find consistency in the win column.
Kentucky deserves some credit for Duke’s inability to knock down shots and move the ball on offense. The Wildcats also have a very long and athletic team that will disrupt what teams want to do on offense.
Trevor Keels made the only Blue Devil 3-pointer. I thought he looked a little nervous shooting the ball early in the game. He would kick out his legs when shooting, something he did not do in the exhibition blowout of Winston-Salem State or the Countdown to Craziness Blue-White scrimmages.
Offensively, this team’s strength is its ability to score inside and on the fast break. But for these Blue Devils to get where they want to be, they will have to shoot it better from the outside and move the ball more effectively in the halfcourt.
Some of the turnovers for Duke resulted from guys being sped up and trying to do too much. That could be due to the younger players feeling a little too amped up and the first-game jitters.
Overall, it’s great that they won the game, and they will continue to improve as the season moves on.