Duke basketball size and length strikes fear into opposition

Duke basketball center Dereck Lively (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball center Dereck Lively (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

The size and length of the Duke basketball teams remains a major factor in victories. 

For the first time this season I had the chance to see the Duke basketball team in person last night in Cameron against Delaware.

My initial thoughts, objects in person may appear larger than they appear.

The fact that they can at any given point swap out one of three 7-footers for each other is a luxury some NBA teams don’t have.

Kyle Filipowski’s double-double streak was snapped, albeit barely, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds as he continues to be a matchup problem for teams in the 92-58 Blue Devil victory.

Filipowski has the ability to shoot over people post up smaller defenders, and if teams decide to put their big men on the Duke forward he can take them out to the wing and attack.

Tyrese Proctor continues to make positive plays and appears more and more comfortable with each time he takes the floor.

He is an aggressive driver that has fantastic finishing ability but also creates shots for his teammates every he gets two feet in the paint.

After the Kansas loss, I thought Duke had more positive takeaways than negative. I think the opposite of this game.

The Blue Devils were up only single digits with 11 minutes left in the second half while the captain Jeremy Roach struggled for the first time this season.

Roach finished with nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and he did not look, or play, like his usual self.

The junior did not seem to have the same aggressiveness or pace of play that he usually does.

Duke’s defense continues to be a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde type situation.

In the first half, Delaware hit five 3-pointers and were getting into the paint at will.

However, in the second half they held Delaware to 22 points on 0-for-9 shooting from downtown as Delaware’s offense got stagnant half causing them to force shots that were not within their offensive sets or scheme.

The Blue Devil lineup continues to shuffle around through the first 4 games with Dereck Lively getting his first start of the season.

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I expect to see his starts and minutes continue to increase as he gets more and more comfortable on the floor.

Right now, he seems to be the most comfortable in pick and rolls, offensive rebounding, and running the floor. There have only been a limited post ups or isolations thus far, which seems to be surprising to most Duke fans.

Duke basketball has clear highlight in victory

The highlight of the night for Duke was, of course, getting to see Dariq Whitehead in action for the first time this season.

It was clear that he was being patient and letting the game come to him during his initial minutes.

His first score in a Duke uniform came on a baseline cut for a layup. Later in the second half, he started to look for his shots in isolation situations and on the wing.

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Whitehead will be an absolute game changer for this team from an offensive standpoint and, more importantly, the lineup and rotations.

Duke (3-1) faces a tough Bellarmine (2-2) team on Monday night that lost to Clemson by ten and deleted Louisville.

This will be a great test before they head to the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend as the Blue Devils begin the event on Thursday afternoon against Oregon State.

The Blue Devils continue to have a lot of questions they need to answer, but like most Duke teams over the past five years it will come down to how quickly the freshmen can develop and how well the team gels.