Duke Basketball Playbook 2022-2023


I WANT TO READ ABOUT THE MOST RECENT GAME

Duke Basketball Playbook (DBP) (Season 14 Issue Zero)

Pre-Season Edition
“This is my team,” Jeremy Roach takes up the mantle of team captain in his junior season. 
Photo credit: Alyssa Ting | The Chronicle 

Last season’s DBP ended with:

Next Year – Going Out With Coach K or Hanging In With Coach Scheyer?

“This week, when I asked Bill whether he wanted to go out with Coach K, or do the DBP next year, he said he wasn’t ready to decide.  For me, it’s been a 13-year joy to work with Bill (and now Jeanne and Laramie – go to dukebasketballplaybook.com for our history in a single page).  It wouldn’t be the same without him.

“So to all you Tinkerbell fans out there, do you believe Bill will return with Cliffsnotes next season??”

BILL RETURNS!!!

Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Jon Scheyer is one of my favorite Duke players. Because of his legendary scoring in his high school career, he entered college dubbed by the press as “Jewish Jordan” and was graduated as an accomplished point guard, whose heady all-round skills helped Duke win the 2010 NCAA Championship. Whom, of all Duke players ever, would you want on the line to ice a game (Laettner, J.J. Redick, & Scheyer)? It is no surprise that Coach K selected Jon from amongst all his ex-players to be his replacement. He is smart and handles pressure well. I expect Coach Scheyer will continue to recruit the right players and put competitors on the floor who mirror his traits as a player.

This team appears to shoot free throws and the three better than some recent squads (both were Scheyer attributes).  

ALANALYSIS

There may never have been a season like this in the history of Duke basketball.  Coach K had already been Duke’s head coach for five years and been to the NCAA Championship game before new coach Jon Scheyer was born (August 24, 1987).  

You get insight into Scheyer from his high school decision and career.  Scheyer refused to transfer from his small high school to a basketball powerhouse high school.  Little Glendale North in the Chicago suburbs relied on his scoring.  (He once scored 21 points in 73 seconds in the State Championship game).  At Duke, Scheyer transformed into the multitalented point guard (quarterback) of the 2010 National championship team.

The 2022-2023 Blue Devils have exactly one returning player who played significant minutes during the 2021-2022 season, junior Jeremy Roach.  Also returning is Jaylen Blakes, a backup sophomore point guard who averaged only 0.5 assists per game in his mop-up 4.5 minutes per game (93 minutes total) last season.

On the other hand, Duke has the top-ranked incoming freshman class, as well as four graduate transfers for experience and depth.  The freshmen are so highly regarded that Duke, with a new coach and only one returning veteran, is ranked 7th in the pre-season polls.  

Here is what we have to chew on so far as we draw closer to the season opener on Monday, November 7 against Jacksonville.  Countdown to Craziness (October 21, 2022) featured a 16-minute intra-squad scrimmage that was great to watch, but less than informative.  On October 29, the Blue Devils flew to Houston for a controlled scrimmage against the Houston Cougars (ranked 3rd in pre-season polls), which was not televised or broadcast.  No box score was disseminated, but word of mouth was the currency of the sports writers.  Finally, on November 2, 2022, the young Blue Devils faced off in a televised exhibition game against Fayetteville State (Div. II).  

Duke’s pre-season has been so far without Dariq Whitehead and Derek Lively, who are rated as the two highest ranked freshmen in the country this season.  Whitehead broke his foot early in the pre-season and is still in a boot, weeks away from returning.  I have watched him a couple of times and am very impressed.   [Here is what I wrote about him last year after the Nike Summit game: “6’6” listed as a small forward.  He is my new favorite player in the world!  He is a tenacious and aggressive defender (and showed it in the all-star game!!!).  He has an outstanding handle, using it to penetrate and dish … when he wasn’t drilling jump shots from deep and mid-range.  He scored 17 points (5-7 from behind the arc)”]  Duke has announced that Whitehead has grown to 6’8” and that Kyle Fillipowski has reached 7’0”.

Lively’s playing condition will be evaluated each morning and the staff isn’t predicting when he will be cleared to play.  There is much speculation that Lively will play on Monday against Jacksonville.

Duke v Fayetteville State on November 2, 2022

The Blue Devils started grad transfer Ryan Young (from Northwestern) at center, freshmen Kyle Fillipowski and Mark Mitchell at forward, with junior Jeremy Roach and freshman Tyrese Proctor in the backcourt.  The two reserves who played starter minutes were grad transfer (from Illinois) Jacob Grandison and returning sophomore Jaylen Blakes.  The first half was more informative than the sloppier second half (with many players on the court who I predict will not be part of the rotation when the fat is on the fire).  Duke led 50-22 at half.  Jeremy led in minutes played with 16; Mitchell and Proctor played 14.5 minutes; Young played 13 minutes; Fillipowski 12.5; and Grandison almost 12.  

The perimeter defense was amazingly good for this early in the season and is my most positive take away from the pre-season.  Fayetteville State was held to 22 points in the first half and 23 in the final stanza. We know Roach can defend and will run the team (8 assists against a single turnover).  Jeremy will be Duke’s most important player (especially if he can perform at the point as his coach did in 2010).  

Proctor, who turned 18 last April, is worth analysis.  He has been a star on the Australian Under-21 team and played on the World team in the Nike Summit last year (Whitehead, Lively and Fillipowski were on the American team in that game).  Proctor is 6’ 5” and a lightning quick one-on-one defender.  Mark Mitchell (6’8” power forward) was a star on offense, whose defense looked as good as Proctor’s.  Mitchell is Proctor’s equal for speed, and he is a scorer as well (he led Duke’s first-half scoring with 13 points on 4-6 from the floor, including 0-1 from deep; and 5-5 from the stripe).  Add Whitehead and Lively, and this could be the starting five.

Scheyer played two Bigs at times (Young and Fillipowski) and sometimes a faster team with just one big (briefly it was Mark Mitchell).  Duke’s substantial size advantage limits analysis.  Young had 10 first-half points (12 for the game). Kyle hit one 3, had a two-handed slam and 4 boards.  He is very smooth for 6’ 11”.  Both will play substantial minutes.

Jacob Grandison shot 41% from deep last season for Illinois, and he kept it up last night, leading Duke in scoring with 17 (6-9 from the field including 3-6 from deep and 2-2 from the line).  Against Fayetteville, Jacob  scored 10 in the first half on deep shots and attacking the basket. I predict he will play a lot!

Jaylen Blakes got a long run in the second half after an impressive first half.  He is fast and hustles every second.  Whether he gets big minutes during the season will depend on how he looks when he gets opportunities (and how the other backcourt players perform).  Scheyer is evaluating to see if Jaylen merits inclusion in the rotation.

Duke was 11-11 shooting foul shots!  Indeed, the only troubling statistic is that Duke gave up 9 offensive rebounds to Fayetteville State in the first half (14 for the game).  Scheyer mentioned the need to improve rebounding in his post-game press conference.

Duke’s “Closed Scrimmage” Against the Houston Cougars on October 29

Because Houston is expected to be a powerhouse this season (ranked #3 pre-season), the scrimmage is a better test of where the young Blue Devils are in team development.  A recent development from the NCAA, the “closed scrimmage” has no television cameras or fans; just the statistics released to the press.  Duke, using essentially the same rotation as in the exhibition game, was beaten rather soundly, 61-50, while shooting poorly (15 for 41, including 2-17 from 3land).  Ryan Young was 3-3 and Mark Mitchell 3-4 from the field, which means the remaining Blue Devils were 9-34.  A good reminder for this young team not to be mesmerized by its press clippings.

Season Starts

Jacksonville, followed by USC Upstate on Friday, November 11.  The first real test will come on Tuesday, November 15 against Kansas in Indianapolis in the State Farm Champions Classic.  

Other November highlights include the Phil Knight Legacy in Portland Oregon (first round on Thanksgiving: Oregon State; second round on Friday versus the winner of Florida v Xavier, and the finals on Sunday) followed by a visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium by Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 challenge on November 30.  Should be a fun and informative month! ….stay tuned

Next Play:  Jon Scheyer’s First Game as Duke’s official head coach on November 7 versus Jacksonville!!!

Here we go! Jon Scheyer’s first season as head coach.
Photo credit: Samantha Owusu | The Chronicle 
Duke Basketball standing roster for 2022-2023 (pre transfers/additions) 
Photo credit: @Duke_Recruiting

Duke 71 v. Jacksonville 44 (Season 14; Issue 1) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”(November 7, 2022)

Roach & Scheyer: Running the team, from court and bench. 
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Head Coach Jon Scheyer: “I just took a moment before going out there. What an opportunity, what a moment. This is a place I’ve grown up in, playing, coaching, and to be here as a head coach, I was not going to be anywhere other than this moment right now. And hopefully I can do that, going forward through the ups and downs. But for me tonight, that was my main focus.”  

And an impressive 71-44 debut it was with his young team dominating Jacksonville from the very first alley-oop slam dunk by an impressive Mark Mitchell.

To the best of my memory, the only thing I recollect about Jacksonville University’s basketball team was when Artis Gilmore led them to the 1970 finals of the NCAA Tournament at Maryland’s Cole Field House where they lost to favored UCLA 80-69. I happened to be sitting behind the UCLA bench at that game, and the Bruins two All-American forwards, Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe, had their hands full with Gilmore. Coach Wooden just kept a tight grip on his rolled-up program and gave a “what me worry, you guys are playing him, figure out how to neutralize this guy” look at his over-matched stars before finally calling a timeout, calming them down, and employing a full court press that made it difficult for the Jacksonville guards to get the ball to their 7’1’’ star. 

Fortunately, there was no Artis Gilmore on this Jacksonville team. He was one of only a few players who could have saved the Dolphins tonight in an impressive debut of Scheyer’s young squad.

Jeremy Roach, the sole returning starter from last year’s Final Four team is the only captain, and the acknowledged leader, of this Duke team. He demonstrated as much tonight. However, Duke was not at full strength.  Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively, the two most highly rated freshmen, are injured and did not play but are expected to do so shortly. 

The rest of the players all had their moments, none more than Mark Mitchell as a virtual Swiss Army Knife player who does a lot of things and does them very well. Seven foot Kyle Filipowski, who just turned 19 yesterday, played to his height and more;  Graduate transfer center Ryan Young, while not as impressive athletically,has a more sophisticated understanding of post play which should become beneficial to the big men. Ryan scored 12 points, finishing 6-of-6 from the field with seven rebounds, six offensive.  Kyle scored 10 with 12 rebounds.  Sophomore Jaylen Blakes has made a giant leap in skill level from last year and, more importantly, clearly has the coaches confidence as a ‘pit bull competitor’.

The entire team seems to accept that it is DEFENSE FIRST philosophy. Time will tell how this team progresses, but it was a most impressive start.

Miscellaneous Notes:

Johnny Tar Heel thinks that Duke was more impressive tonight than North Carolina was in beating N.C. Wilmington. Duke is now 91-27 all-time in season openers, having won 22 consecutive. In season openers that occur at home, Duke has won 30 consecutive times.

Duke new head coach, who made his head coaching debut, is the 20th head coach in  Duke’s history. 

ALANALYSIS:

The Jon Scheyer-era opened as expected, with Duke’s superior athletes overwhelming Jacksonville, but the Blue Devils were still sufficiently tested,  considering the new coach and 11 new players.  However, it is worth noting that Duke’s two most heralded freshmen, Derek Lively and Dariq Whitehead, are still injured and did not play.  Scheyer said at the post-game press conference that each would be available “sooner rather than later.” We will know more about this team when the Blue Devils journey to Indianapolis on November 15 to play Kansas.   Here is what we learned from the opener:

STARTING LINEUP

Duke started the same five as in the controlled scrimmage against Houston and as in the exhibition game against Fayetteville State: Ryan Young (grad transfer from Northwestern) and freshman 7-footer Kyle Fillipowski in the front court, with team captain Jeremy Roach and Australian freshman Tyrese Proctor at guard.  6’8” Freshman Mark Mitchell was a revelation both on the wing and in the interior.

ROTATION

Duke essentially played only 7 players; five others made brief cameos at garbage time (Duke led by 25 with just a couple of minutes left to play).  The two reserves who played almost starter minutes were Jacob Grandison (grad transfer from Illinois) and returning sophomore Jaylen Blakes.  Interestingly, Duke had the best production when there was only one freshman on the court (either Mitchell or Fillipowski).  That freshman was on the floor with grad transfers Young and Grandison, plus Roach and Blakes (the only two returning players from last year).

Jaden Schutt, a freshman, played 3 minutes in mop-up time, without scoring.  The big news for me, unmentioned by the announcers, was the 2:03 minute appearance by Christian Reeves, a 7-foot freshman.  Reeves had been scheduled to redshirt this year, but… apparently not.  In the past, he would have automatically lost a year of eligibility when he entered the game. Note however: the NCAA rule may be changing to allow the redshirt later in the year (NCAA already made that the football rule). The decision to play Reeves may have been a result of his excellent play in the 16-minute intra-squad scrimmage at Countdown to Craziness.

THE DEFENSE

It is hard to find fault with a defense that allows only  44 points in the entire game, and truly only about 12 points in the second half.  With 7:21 left in the game, Jacksonville had scored only 10 second-half points.  Jacksonville finally earned points # 11 and 12 with less than 1:51 left (before Jacksonville scored 6 points during the remaining garbage time).   

Duke simply played excellent defense based on outstanding hustle and admirable effort.  Proctor, Roach, Blakes, and Mitchell were glue on the perimeter.   Duke looked out of sync and a bit slow in the first half while attempting to defend ball screens and drives and control Jacksonville’s offensive rebounding. The Blue Devil halftime adjustments, however, completely destroyed Jacksonville’s offense.  The Bigs took control of the backboards in the closing stanza. Great coaching!  

THE OFFENSE

Ball movement and good passing were keys to the Blue Devils’ efficient offense.  Scheyer, I think you see that on the court, the way we shared the ball. We ended up with 12 turnovers, but we had 19 assists.”   Duke was 10-29 from deep but Grandison, Proctor and Schutt were 0-9.  The starters and Blakes were 10-20 (Roach 4-7; Mitchell 2-5; Fillipowski 2-5; and Blakes 2-3). 4-10 from the two Bigs, Fillipowski and Mitchell, is encouraging. Duke was really 10-20 (50%) which is  great distance shooting.  The three who were 0-9, dragging the  percentage down are really good shooters, so it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Duke led by 29 with 2:03 to go (67-41).  

In the first half, Jacksonville had cut the lead to 3 (25-22) with 6:42 to play when Roach and Mitchell led Duke on a 10-0 run to its 42-26 halftime lead. Mitchell (11), Roach (16) and Blakes (6) scored 35 of Duke’s 42 first-half points.

Here are the relevant statistics:

  • Roach (31:56), scored all of his 16 points in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three-point range. This was a tie for his third highest-scoring career game (19 points is Jeremy’s career high). He was 0-1 from the foul line, and 0-3 with 0 points in the second half.  However, while Duke needs Roach to be a scoring threat, that is not his most important value.  Scheyer, “Jeremy Roach really set the tone for us. That’s what we need him to do all year long. … Overall though, Jeremy just had a great floor game. Forget about the scoring and the passing. I just thought his presence and his poise were really key for us tonight.” 
  • Ryan Young (31:54), 12 on 6-6, 0-1 stripe; 7 boards (5 offense), 3 steals, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers.  He has been a hustling force on the interior and (for me, anyway) a pleasant surprise so far.
  • Mark Mitchell (29:34), 18 on 7-14 including 2-5 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe. 2 assists, a steal, and a block, with 0 turnovers.  11 in the first half on 5-10 including 0-1 from deep plus  1-1 from the stripe.  He has been the eye-opening surprise of the early going on both ends of the floor.  He has shown no weaknesses so far.  Mark wears # 25, which is a retired number (Art Heyman’s number).  Heyman was a freshman when I was a senior and was the first overall NBA draft choice after he graduated in 1963. Mitchell obtained permission from the Heyman family to wear it.
  • Kyle Fillipowski (25:29), Coach Scheyer, “we’ve emphasized, defend and rebound. And I thought he was a great example of that tonight. He started off probably missing a few shots he normally would hit, and he just stuck with it and made some big-time rebounds. And a couple of them translated into easy baskets on the other end.”  Kyle became only the fourth Duke freshman ever to record a double-double in a season opener — 12 boards, 10 points 4-8, including 2-5 from deep, 0-0 from the line.  2 blocks, 3 assists, but 3 turnovers.
  • Tyrese Proctor (25:35), 2 points – 0-8 including 0-4 (2-2 from the stripe); 4 boards, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers, plus a steal.  He is a good shooter; this was just an off shooting night for him.  He never let his bad shooting impact his defense or ball handling.  I predict he will be a scorer for the Devils this season.
  • Jacob Grandison (24:26), 2 on 1-4, including 0-3 from deep.  Grandison shot 41% from behind the arc last year for the Fightin’ Illini.  As with Proctor, this was a good shooter having a bad night.
  • Jaylen Blakes (21:18), 8 points on 2-3 from deep in the first half and 2-4 from the stripe in the second half, to go with 3 boards, an assist, and a turnover.  Jaylen has displayed great quickness and hustle in his bid for inclusion in the rotation.  Monday was a good step forward.

GOING FORWARD

Duke’s next critical challenge will be to establish Derek Lively and Dariq Whitehead in the rotation and in the starting lineup.  Be patient, this will take some time.  Lively may indeed play on Friday and will almost certainly be ready for Kansas.  It would be desirable for Lively to have at least some court time prior to Kansas on November 15.  Whitehead (and Lively) were each dancing up a storm at Countdown to Craziness, so cannot be that far from playing.   Personally, I am eager to see Whitehead and compare to his high school all-star performance that so captivated me last year.

Kansas is the first game we evaluate Duke against a national contender.  Then, over Thanksgiving the Blue Devils will play 3 games against Big Time opponents in Portland (Phil Knight Classic) followed by hosting Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.  What a great November!

Mark Mitchell ferociously drives for a score.
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics

Next Play:  USC Upstate on Friday, November 11 in Cameron at 6:30 p.m.   ACCN.


Duke 84 v. USC UpState 38 (Season 14; Issue 2) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (November 11, 2022)

Lively makes an emphatic return to the Court 
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

I don’t know what you can really tell from early basketball games. Stetson beat Florida State; College of Charleston gave # 1 UNC more than the ‘Heels could handle for about 32 minutes; Duke clobbered both Jacksonville and USC Upstate. 

Even later in the year a great game is no guarantee of a deep tournament run..  After Duke rather easily beat UNC at Chapel Hill, not many people thought Carolina would not only beat Duke, but also barely be beaten in the NCAA championship game.

It is a shame that we don’t get to see the young players mature.  Surely, they would benefit from physical and mental maturation that comes with a few more years of college.  Had Laetner left after his freshman year, Duke would never have won two NCAA championships – and never known the joys of “THE SHOT” of a lifetime!  Laetner himself would never have played in the Olympics on the Dream Team.  Grant Hill would never have had the thrill of the pass that led to “THE SHOT”.  Hurley would never have had the satisfaction of beating UNLV in 1991 after having been humiliated in 1990 by 30 points.

But I digress. Duke, as usual, shows promise –perhaps the deepest talent of any team since the 1991-92. I know what I like to see in young players – smart playmakers who know when their team needs someone to make a play, and then makes it.  So far, that is Roach and Mitchell, perhaps Lively and Grandison, and the most improved player, Blakes. We have not yet seen Whitehead, the much ballyhooed freshman. 7-foot Fillipowski is talented but needs to get stronger. Grad transfer Young can teach the other centers about post moves.  Only Proctor has not shown much as a shooting guard, but he has a good resume.

Don Henson, my old tennis coach, told me early on that there were 3 levels of shotmaking – in practice, in a match, and on a big point.  The same is applicable to basketball.

Somehow I feel that Scheyer’s biggest coaching challenge will be deciding who to play with whom – and when.  

ALANALYSIS:

It is hard to get an accurate read on this year’s edition of the Blue Devils because in each game (an exhibition and two regular season games, so far) Duke’s athletes have been simply bigger, faster, quicker, and measurably better than the players on the other team.  The first meaningful evaluation will come on Tuesday, November 15 (the day after tomorrow) when Duke meets 5th ranked Kansas (the 2021-2022 National Champions) in the State Farm Classic in Indianapolis.  This should pit two teams full of talented players seeking a big early season win, and supply that realistic evaluation we have been seeking. 

Derek Lively II

I thought the most meaningful event in Duke’s slaughter (84-38) of the University of South Carolina Upstate was the first appearance of Derek Lively II, the 7’1” freshman who was rated #1 in the class coming out of high school.  Derek hurt his calf in an early practice this season, causing him to miss the scrimmage at Countdown to Craziness, the closed scrimmage against Houston, the exhibition game against Fayetteville State, as well as both regular season games.  Even though Derek appeared far from his best form, his return to the court is very good news for the 2022-23 Blue Devils.  In almost 15 minutes, Derek scored 4 points on a pair of dramatic dunks, while grabbing two boards, and blocking two Upstate shots (the only Duke player with more than a single block), while also making a steal.  Coach Scheyer said, “His biggest thing is just getting back in game shape. You know, he has a live body. Got those dunks running the floor. That’s something he can really do, and it allows us to play very fast. He [Derek] and Ryan [Young], they can also play together. They’re a heck of a one-two punch with both of those guys in the game. They play differently but they complement each other very well. And I think that going against each other has made them each better, and ready to contribute in a big way.”   

Derek made his first appearance of the season with 15:39 remaining in the first half and played for approximately 4 minutes before a respite.  Duke was fighting back from a 7-0 opening deficit and Lively delivered immediately with an opening splash.  The Blue Devils still trailed 7-5 when Derek set a screen for Roach, and then rolled to the basket where Jeremy hit him for a powerful dunk to tie the game.  On virtually the next play, Derek released his defensive position and sped down court where Roach made a perfect pass  to Derek for another power slam and a 9-7 lead.  Derek impressed with a steal and some good quick defense.  He returned to the game for another 3 minutes from 7:40 to go until 4:43 left in the first half, getting 2 blocks — one without leaving his feet!

At one point, Duke had 3 freshmen on the court up front (Lively at 7’1”, 7’ 0” Fillipowski, and 6’8” Mark Mitchell) with Roach and Blakes in the backcourt.  The announcers said that lineup would be the 8th biggest starting team lineup in the NBA.  Derek was back in the game with 2:04 to go in the first half. He corralled a rebound, but at 55 seconds before halftime, Lively got tangled up on a subsequent rebound attempt and came up gimpy.  That was a scary moment, as Livelywas removed immediately and did not return in the first half.  In all, he played 8:28 in the first half, scoring 4, on 2-2 shooting (dunks), plus a rebound, a steal, and 2 blocks – but two turnovers.

Happily, Derek returned to play at the 16-minute mark of the final stanza, and played 3:20 (committing one foul), leaving the game with 12:40 left in the half.  Lively re-entered again at 9:31 and grabbed a rebound before committing his second foul and leaving the game for the final time with 6:36 remaining.  He did not look as good in his 6:22 of second-half playing time as he had in the opening period.  When Lively exited the game for the final time, the Blue Devils led 77-34.

The Rotation

Jeremy Roach (25:21) scored 10 points (3-8, including 2-6 from 3land, plus 2-4 from the stripe.  Great floor game included 8 assists (only 2 turnovers), 2 steals, and a block.

Mark Mitchell (23: 38) scored 13 points (6-10, including 1-1 from deep) to go with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Only a single turnover.

Kyle Fillipowski (20:41) led Duke in scoring with 15 points (4-11, including 0-1 from behind the arc, plus 7-8 from the foul line).  Kyle notched his second double double of this 2 game season, adding 10 boards, an assist, two steals and a block. 0 turnovers.

Jaylen Blakes (19:39) scored 6 points (2-4 from the field, including 1-1 from deep, plus 1-2 from the stripe).  Jaylen is firmly in the rotation, playing excellent defense and showing exemplary hustle.  He added 2 boards, 2 steals, and a block without a turnover.

Jacob Grandison (19:33) was a double-figure scorer with 12 (5-9, including 2-6 from 3land).  Jacob added 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and an assist (2 turnovers).

Tyrese Proctor (19:08) is still trying to find a comfort zone.  He is a heralded player, who was anticipated to play well and be a starter, but Tyrese has shot the ball terribly (0-8 in the first game; just 2 points on foul shots).  And only 3 points in this game (1-4, including 0-1 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe). However, he is a very capable defender.  He had 3 assists without a turnover and made a steal.

Ryan Young (17:33) also scored in double figures even though his playing time was slightly reduced from the previous games when Derek Lively had been unavailable.  Ryan scored 11 (4-8 from the field and 3-4 from the stripe) and pulled down 8 boards and blocked a shot.

Derek Lively II, (14:52) scored 4 points on 2-2 (dunks), pulled down 2 rebounds, plus contributed a steal and 2 blocks.  Welcome back, Mr. Lively.

Jaden Schutt (12:33) another freshman, played double-figure minutes for the first time at Duke.  His previous appearances have been unimpressive cameos, but he was better in this game.  Jaden scored 5 points (1-4, including 1-3 from deep and 2-4 from the stripe) to go with 3 rebounds and a block.  However, I doubt he has shown enough yet to be in the rotation.

The Defense

Scheyer sounded pleased with the Duke defense. “We played a good defensive performance, out rebounding them, holding [Jordan] Gainey to five points. He’s a really good player.  I thought Jacob Grandison and Jaylen Blakes’ energy brought defensive intensity. They really sparked us; from there we were off and running. The big thing for us is turning our defense into offense. 

“We’ve spent a lot of time on defense. That has been our main focus, and I think we’re in a good spot. They [USC Upstate] had six assists and 23 turnovers – I thought we were really disruptive. … We have Jaylen Blakes, Jeremy Roach, Mark Mitchell, Tyrese Proctor, and guys that can really defend the ball, and then we have a big frontcourt. We’re learning how to play physical without fouling. I think we have the makings of being a good defensive team.”

Playing excellent defense against USC Upstate and Jacksonville is not the same as trying to contain nationally ranked Kansas.  It will be interesting to evaluate the defense – indeed the team – after the next game.

Next Play:  Kansas on Tuesday, November 15 at the State Farm Classic in Indianapolis at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Roach is Duke’s high flying valuable leader
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics
Mitchel is the biggest pleasant surprise of the season so far.
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics

Duke  v. Kansas (Season 14; Issue 3) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (November 15, 2022)

Tyrese finally plays a superb half!  Duke needs a point guard who can give Jeremy a rest now and then.  If Proctor plays as he did in the second half, he could be it.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

After the first two games of the 2022-23, I wrote: “I don’t know what you can really tell from early season basketball games.” Well, now we can tell that  Duke’s young squad understands they aren’t in high school anymore. The best college teams (Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Gonzaga, North Carolina) play like men, the games are forty minutes long.  and every opponent wants to beat Duke. Unfortunately, the Blue Devils did not play well to start or finish the game, so they lost. But for about the middle thirty minutes the young Duke team gave the veteran Jayhawks all they could handle. The remaining ten minutes were signs of immaturity.

Fillipowski had a third game of double-doubles (17 pts. & 14 rebounds) and showed considerable tenacity and fight; Roach was Roach 3.0; Proctor was more impressive than in the first two games; Mitchell was somewhat neutralized; Lively was not as impactful as expected; Young appeared overwhelmed athletically; Blakes and Grandison were nonfactors.

Defense has been a priority with Duke’s teams for decades. It is somewhat disconcerting that this team could not stop Jaelen Wilson from scoring 25 points and then freshman Gradey Dick from finishing off the game for Kansas in impressive fashion. Time will tell whether or not this young squad learned some painful lessons and matures into a team that is more than the sum of their considerable talents, or whether they are more focused individually upon impressing NBA scouts.  Whatever the case, it will be fun watching this talented group play and develop.

ALANALYSIS:

Predictably, both coach and experienced commentators correctly said and wrote that early season games (even losses) against elite competition is how young teams improve.  Coach Scheyer: “There’s no question that’s the best form of learning. Just being in these moments, there’s no way to simulate it. That doesn’t mean I’m happy or I’m enjoying this loss by any means. You have to hate it and learn from it, grow from it.”  

An in-depth analysis is part of how the experience of playing an elite team helps a young team grow.  

THE DEFENSE

The Blue Devil defense is a work in progress, and it showed, especially in the first half, while Duke tried to adjust to the speed of the Kansas game in contrast to their several past games against less-than-elite opponents.  Mark Mitchell had more trouble than we saw in the first games, as did Jeremy Roach.  I thought the best Blue Devil defenders were Tyrese Proctor and Kyle Fillipowski; each had good success keeping the Kansas player in front and preventing penetration.  They switched seamlessly.

Derek Lively II is still adjusting to playing again.  While he did show flashes of what Duke hopes he will become, the rust was obvious.  Kansas had 21 assists for the game while Duke had 8. The Jayhawks penetrated the Duke defense with skill and enthusiasm.  Still, Duke forced 15 turnovers (many were simply bad Kansas passes), but blocked only 2 shots (0 by the starters).  Ryan is too slow to defend efficiently at this level.  I predict his playing time will shrink as Derek approaches game-shape and gains experience.  These weaknesses are real but need to be considered in concert with some terrific switching and individual defense.  In short, while the weakness against such a good team was real, this edition of the Blue Devils did demonstrate the makings of an excellent defensive team. 

OFFENSE

Duke had only 8 assists, but committed 18 turnovers, a disappointing number of which were indisputably offensive fouls (lowering-the-shoulder charges) on drives. Duke shot just 9% from 3land in the first half (1-11); 14% for the game (3-21).  The second half was very different from the opening stanza, and I believe an in depth look at the closing period is the most revealing evaluation of Duke’s offense in this game.  Both Proctor and Mitchell played well after fruitless first halves (neither scored in the opening stanza), while Fillipowski was close to dominant for long stretches – especially in the second half.

First Half

Jeremy kept Duke in the game, scoring 11 of his 16 points.  Kyle scored 7, Jaylen 5 and Ryan 4.  Derek had the other 2 points for Duke’s 29 first half points.  It was ragged for sure.  Duke had 11 turnovers against 2 assists.  The Jayhawks blocked 7 Duke shots and Duke committed 9 first half fouls (too many charges).  Duke should have been down by far more than 4 points.

Second Half

Four Duke players played almost the entire second half (Mitchell 20:00; Roach 19:37; Proctor 18:50; and Fillipowski 18:38). Ryan Young (8:50) and Lively (10:58) divided the center position.  Young had 2 points, a rebound, and 3 turnovers, while Lively scored 2 points, grabbed a pair of rebounds, blocked a shot, and had an assist.  Duke could not keep up with Kansas when Young was the center (explains why Ryan logged less than 9 second half minutes).  Both Scheyer (“I thought we got tired” in his post-game press conference), and I, believe that Duke’s collapse in the last 4:37 was caused, in part, by Blue Devil fatigue.  

I thought the fatigue really really caught up with Roach especially.  Roach was so great until he wasn’t.  He also played the whole game (minus 23 seconds — he was out for just enough time for Duke to turn the ball over).  Scheyer sent him right back into the game.  Offensive foul at 1:23; missed front end of a 1-and-1 with 48  seconds left.  Tired.

    First 15 Minutes

Scheyer, “I thought our guys showed great heart, great resiliency in that second half to gain the lead. And really made some big-time plays.”  Duke took over the momentum and made the important crucial plays.  Kyle was absolutely dominant (10 points and 9 rebounds), while Proctor (9 points and 3 assists without a turnover) and Mitchell (7 points and 3 boards) combined with Kyle to help Duke forge a 59-54 lead with 4:37 to go. However, “Winning Time” was a pure disaster for the Blue Devils.  Neither Fillipowski, Proctor, Mitchell nor Lively scored in the final 4:37 of the game!

    Final Four Minutes and Thirty Seven Seconds

Duke was outscored 15-5 in this stretch, with Roach scoring all of 5 Duke points – a clutch three-pointer with 2:02 to go, cutting the Kansas lead to one, and a layup with 15  seconds left, cutting the Jayhawk lead to an unfortunately still insurmountable 3 points (67-64).  But with the game on the line, Duke, including Roach, made bad play after bad play to (quoting Jimmy Breslin) “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory”:

4:08 remaining, Kansas scores to cut the Duke lead to 59-56;

3:44 Kyle misses a 3 pointer;

3:02 Roach misses a jump shot;

2:54 Kyle turns it over on a bad pass;

2:28 Mitchell turns it over (a really bad turnover; Duke just died from there on);

2:22 Gradey Dick (Star Kansas freshman) hit a 3 over a less than enthusiastic closeout from Kyle. Moving leisurely, he simply did not get close enough to contest Dick’s shot.  Kansas takes the lead at 61-59;

2:02 Roach’s clutch-answering 3 – Duke regains its last  lead at 62-61;

1:39 Dick makes a backdoor cut that led to a dunk when Proctor got caught watching the ball and losing his man, giving the lead back to Kansas 63-62.  Kansas never trailed again.

1:23 Roach turnover (offensive foul)

1:04 Dick scores on a drive (I think past Proctor) Kansas 65-62;

0:48 Roach misses the crucial front end of a 1 and 1; if he had made them both it would have been back to a 1-point Duke deficit instead of the 3-point deficit;

0:22 Kansas fast break for a layup past a foul by Lively.  Even though Kansas misses the free throw, the Jayhawks then lead 67-62;

0:15 Roach lays one up 67 -64 (but too little; too late, with only 15 ticks left – as Duke was then forced to foul);

0:09 Kansas hits the final 2 free throws for the final 69-64 score.

The Rotation

Duke played 8 men in the first half, but only six in the second half (+ Blakes, who played only 3 late second-half minutes after logging 15 minutes in the first half.  Scheyer believes Blakes is the steal maven, and Duke’s last hope in the game was for Blakes to make a steal or two).

Jeremy Roach (39:37) scored 16 points (6-17, including 1-5 from deep, plus 3-4 from the line.  That miss was crucial – the front end of a 1-and-1 with Duke trailing by 3 with only 48 seconds remaining in the game).  Roach had 5 of his shots blocked and turned the ball over 3 times (including offensive fouls), with only a single assist.  Jeremy acknowledged in the post-game presser how Kansas’s terrific defense contributed to his in-game struggles.  I thought he was ‘plumb tuckered out’ in those last crucial minutes.

Kyle Fillipowski (33:03) had his third double-double in as many games.  He grabbed 14 rebounds while scoring 17 points to lead the Blue Devils in scoring.  He was Duke’s best player against Kansas (6-18 from the field, including 1-6 from behind the arc, and 4-4 from the stripe).  He also showed a welcome aggressiveness. 

Mark Mitchell (30:30) scored 7 points, all in the second half. .   In his 10:30 first-half minutes he took only one shot (0-1) and had trouble acclimating to the speed and tenacity of the Kansas defense.  Then he came alive in the second half, shooting 3-6 from the field, including 1-2 from the stripe.  However, he collected only 2 rebounds, committing 2 fouls and 2 turnovers in the entire game.

Tyrese Proctor (28:09) scored all of his 9 points in the second half, after an 0-2 scoreless first half with 3 turnovers.  He did get (as Jay Bilas recounted) untracked with an excellent second half. Tyrese finally looked like the international star he is. He played 18:09 of the second half (3-7 from the field, including 1-3 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 3 assists, without a turnover, and 2 rebounds.

Derek Lively II (20:29) scored 4 points (2-3 from the field) to go with 5 boards (4 were offense), a block, and an assist.  He was clearly not used to the speed of such a high-level game but is slowly returning to form.  Duke needs him to live up to his high school reputation.

Ryan Young (19:37) scored 6 points on 3-4 from the field.  He grabbed 2 boards but committed 4 turnovers.  I thought he was unable to adjust to Kansas’s speed on defense, nor to defend against the Jayhawk drives and post moves.

Jaylen Blakes (18:24, but only 3:07 in the second half) scored 5 points, all in the first half (1-5 from the field including 0-2 from behind the arc and 3-3 from the stripe).  He had 3 boards but seemed almost too excited to be effective.

Jacob Grandison (10:11, all in the first half) didn’t score (0-4, including 0-3 from 3land) to go with a rebound and a turnover.  His absence on the floor in the second half was significant. Grandison obviously played so poorly in the first half that Scheyer lost confidence in him for the second half.  As a result, four starters played virtually the entire second half.  (Blakes came in at the end when Duke desperately needed steals — only for 3 minutes).  Duke’s lack of a bench in the closing period contributed to the exhaustion of the team at “winning time”.

SUMMING UP

Optimistic news: Dariq Whitehead was in uniform and in the pregame layup drill line.  He will not play against Delaware on Friday but might see his first action next Monday (November 21) against Bellarmine in Cameron.  

Duke gets another opportunity to play against elite competition in the Phil Knight Legacy in Portland, OR –  on Thanksgiving at 3 pm against Oregon State, followed by a Friday (November 25) game against the winner of the 1st round Florida v Xavier.  The tournament championship game on Sunday (should Duke win twice and qualify) could be against Gonzaga.  All good games for in-depth evaluation and for Duke to demonstrate major improvement.

Next Play:  Delaware on Friday, November 18 in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:00 p.m. on TV RSN.

Jeremy drives to the basket for either a spectacular layup or an offensive foul.
Photo Credit: ACC Network
Kyle was simply dominant on both ends of the court. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Duke 92 v. Delaware 58 (Season 14; Issue 4) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”

Tyrese settling in
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

After playing the perennial powerhouse Kansas, how do you take a game against a team named the Blue Hens seriously? Well, they are actually a well-coached team, which Duke found out in the minutes before the half when their lead was cut to 6 points. The second half the Blue Devils talent, depth, and size reasserted itself.

It was the first game Duke had all of their players available as both Lively and Whitehead were in, although not ready to display their “A” games. That’s expected, of course, given  their health. Whitehead finished with six points on 3-of-11 shooting in 15 minutes. He didn’t commit any turnovers. “I feel great,” Whitehead said. “I just feel like I need to get another game to get it back going with game speed, game repetition, stuff like that. But body wise I feel great.” Lively played just 15 minutes before fouling out. In addition, tying for the team lead with four assists, he scored five points and grabbed two rebounds. He also played a turnover-free game.

Duke fans should be prepared to be patient while the young players get healthy, mature, and get used to playing together, cohesively, against older players. They are not in high school anymore.

The success of this team will also depend on Coach Scheyer making the correct decisions regarding  which players to play—and when.

ALANALYSIS:

The most significant takeaway from Duke’s game against the Delaware Blue Hens is that Dariq Whitehead played in his first game since he broke his foot in August. He logged more than 15 minutes, and Scheyer smiled in the post game press conference noting that the team fed Dariq as if they were welcoming him back; he actually hoisted up the second most shots – 11 attempts.  His skill and physical gifts were obvious, even if he was, as expected, a bit rusty.

The second most significant takeaway was Duke’s potential backup point guards, Tyrese Proctor and Jaylen Blakes, playing terrific games, giving Coach Scheyer and Duke fans a hope that Jeremy Roach won’t have to play every minute in every game against elite competition.

Duke got some of its mojo back after the disappointing last 4:37 in the loss to Kansas!

The Defense

The last half of the opening period was not good news for the Blue Devil defense. In the last 9:30 of the first half, Delaware scored 20 points (that’s a rate of over 100 points per game) to Duke’s 13. With 5:38 left in the first half, Duke had been playing well and led by 13 (35-22). Suddenly, Duke stopped defending, and Delaware started scoring in bunches. With 3:02 left in the half, the Blue Hens trailed by only 5 points, having outscored Duke 11-3 in 2:36.  Duke led 42-36 at halftime, a too slim lead against an overmatched opponent.

In the second half, the Blue Devils limited Delaware to 22 points on 9 field goals in 26 shots, including 0-9 from deep.  The Blue Hens scored the last 4 points of the game at garbage time.  You could say Duke gave up only 18 second-half points. Duke forced 11 second-half turnovers (7 steals) and blocked a pair of shots.  Tellingly, Duke’s defensive pressure held the Blue Hens to only 2 assists on their 9 hoops.  The Blue Devils never let up on defense and simply took the Delaware hearts and spirit out of the game.

Scheyer On Duke’s defense and in-game adjustments: 

“I think the biggest thing is just the fact that we were solid in the second half. We were pretty spread out there in that first half. Probably a good amount of that’s on me, I wanted us to pick up, and I think that led to gambling and looking for steals. That’s not our defense, we need to be solid, disciplined, and with our size, protecting the paint. Give them credit, they hit some tough threes in that first half.  I thought we did a much better job of being disciplined, controlling the ball, and having an awareness for protecting our rim.” 

For the game, the Blue Devils had 8 steals (Dariq Whitehead had 2; Jeremy also had 2, while Mark, Kyle, Tyrese and Jaylen each had one) and 5 blocks (Kyle had 3; Derek and Ryan had one each)

The Offense

The Blue Devil offense was good for the first 10 and a half minutes of the first half before bogging down into missed shots, offensive fouls, and other turnovers.  Even so, Proctor had a scintillating first half, scoring 9 first-half points (3-6, including 1-2 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 7 boards and 3 assists.

The second half was a clinic, as Duke scored and defended at the highest level; Duke outscored the Blue Hens 50-22, shooting 48% (18-38, including 3-7 from behind the arc and 11-12 from the foul line.  At garbage time, the Blue Devils emptied their bench and led by 38 points (92-54) with 1:18 to go before Delaware scored their last 4 points.

Duke had 18 assists and only 10 turnovers, shooting 50 % from the field (34-68, including 6-14 from deep – Kyle was 2-5; Jaylen, 2-3; Jacob, 1-1; and Tyrese, 1-2 — and 18-21 from the foul line).  

Filipowski led the closing stanza surge with 11 second-half points (4-7 from the field, including 1-2 from deep and 2-3 from the foul line) and 5 rebounds (8 for the game; his first collegiate game without a double double.)  Mark Mitchell came alive, scoring 10 second half points (3-4 from the field and 4-4 from the foul line), while Jeremy Roach scored 7 of his 9 points in the closing period (2-5 from the field; 0-1 from 3land; and 3-3 from the stripe), but Jeremy did not have a single assist in the entire game. 

The Rotation

Jeremy Roach (28:45) scored 9 points (2-9, including 0-1 from deep and 5-5 from the foul line).  Jeremy did not have his best statistical game with 2 turnovers and 0 assists.  However, his defense on Delaware star Jameer Nelson, Jr. was superb and included 2 steals.  Coach Scheyer praised his game, “ I thought he did a really good job of running our team and making others better. For Jeremy, it’s about the little plays. I thought tonight he really was just making the winning plays…that play, the charge, which ended up [a foul] as he was in the cylinder, putting his body in the line, and then that offensive rebound. Those little plays that add up to winning! He has to set the tone for us every night with that, and I liked what he did there, especially in the second half coming out from halftime.”

Tyrese Proctor (27:49) had his best game of the young season, scoring 13 points (5-10, including 1-2 from 3land and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with an astonishing 10 rebounds (his first double double; is Kyle jealous?) and 4 assists.  After starting the season with subpar play, Tyrese has scored 22 points in his last 3 halves and is now,  therefore, solidly in the starting lineup. An ecstatic Scheyer gushed, “you could just tell pregame he was moving in a different way. He’s sped up his game; he’s worked on that. I thought he was a really determined driver, getting in the paint tonight. And then, 10 rebounds! He took a huge charge on [Jameer] Nelson for his third foul. Then, his scoring early – and did a good job of sharing and passing early, really set the tone for our team.”

Kyle Filipowski (25:14) was Duke’s highest scorer and quite possibly the Blue Devils’ best player (again).  Kyle scored 18 points (7-13, including 2-5 from behind the arc and 2-3 from the foul line) and ably defended Duke’s defensive back board (7 defensive rebounds of his 8 total) and 3 blocks.   He is so long, coordinated, and quick that he is very difficult to defend.

Mark Mitchell (23:00) scored an efficient 12 points on 6 shots (4-6 from the field, no attempts from behind the arc and 4-4 from the foul line).  He grabbed 3 boards, handed out an assist (a sweet one) and made a steal.  Two turnovers.

Jacob Grandison (19:20) had a hot shooting game after playing only 10 minutes against Kansas (he never played in the Kansas second half).  Jacob was Duke’s fourth double-figure scorer with 10 points on perfect shooting (4-4 from the field, including 1-1 from deep and 1-1 from the stripe) to go with 4 boards and a pair of assists without a turnover.  Scheyer appreciated Grandison’s maturity, “He didn’t play as much on Tuesday. … [However, Grandison] didn’t put his head down. He’s worked really hard for two days. I thought he was just absolutely terrific tonight. I’m really proud of the response and effort from our team.” 

Jaylen Blakes (17:48) demonstrated what a valuable reserve he is, injecting the Blue Devils with his special brand of high energy and disrupting defense.  He also carried his weight on offense against the Blue Hens, scoring 9 points (3-6 from the field, including 2-3 from 3land and 1-2 from the foul line) and handing out 4 assists.  He also garnered 3 boards and a steal (a beauty for an uncontested layup).

Ryan Young (16:05) scored 6 points (3-4 from the field) to go with 6 boards, 3 assists and a block.  He is very effective against this level of competition.

Dariq Whitehead (15:44) made his first appearance this year, and that might be the most important fact of this game. Dariq is not shy; he took the second most shots for Duke (11; Kyle took 13) Despite the obvious rust, Dariq scored 6 points (3-11, including 0-2 from behind the arc) to go with 2 rebounds and 2 steals.  Whitehead has an imposing body and is cat quick.  Our young coach agrees, “Dariq did well. He hasn’t even had a week of practice under his belt. We knew there will be some rust, but I think you can see his athleticism, his body, and he’s really a smart player. He’s very smart. He knows how to move without the ball and play offense… I really liked his effort. We were hoping to get him 15 minutes tonight. And we did get him 15 minutes and so happy with that result.” 

Kyle Filipowski added, “I’ve known Dariq and been playing with him since fourth grade. So, just being able to play with him again, seeing him do what he does best. It might not have been the best performance, but he’s getting there and it’s great to see him back out on the court.”

Dereck Lively II (15:02) fouled out in his brief appearance while scoring 5 points (2-3 from the field and 1-2 from the foul line).  He is very quick and defensive minded (but has to learn how the refs call college games).  A key statistic to demonstrate Dereck’s value, he had 4 assists from the post as well as 2 rebounds and a block.  You can see the rust receding.

Summing Up

Duke has one more game against unranked competition before heading to Portland OR for 3 Big games, in the Phil Knight Legacy, where they’ll be up against stiffer competition.   

Next Play:  Bellarmine on Monday, November 21 in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:00 p.m. on TV ACCN.  BTW, Bellarmine beat Louisville by a point on November 9, and lost a close game to Clemson last night; never underestimate a “lesser” team.

Great Expectations: Dariq returns from Injury
Photo credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics
Roach and Grandison consult, as each provided valuable minutes in this game.
Photo credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics

Duke 74 v. Bellarmine 57 (Season 14; Issue 5) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (November 21, 2022)


Jaylen Blakes has earned Scheyer’s praise  for anchoring Duke’s bench. Photo credit: Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Bellarmine is no cupcake opponent. Most bigtime basketball teams won’t schedule them because their “pass first” offense is too difficult to play against. The Blue Devils met the challenge by playing some of their best defense and offense of the year, with three players contributing double digits and eight players logging an assist.  Duke needed it all because the final score was deceiving. The Blue Devils had difficulty expanding a ten-point lead for most of the game. However, a combination of Duke’s athleticism and length made a challenging evening for the Knights, forcing them to rely on backdoor cuts and difficult looks to get within single digits.

Coach Scheyer played nine players for at least ten minutes. Once again, Kyle Filipowski led all scorers (with 18 points in 20 minutes) and Jacob Grandison (with 16 points in 27 minutes). Interestingly enough, Lively and Whitehead scored only two points each as they are clearly behind the others due to injuries. Blakely continues to impress with his high-energy play. All the other Duke players also had their moments – especially Filipowski, whose offense and feistiness are reminiscent of Christian Laettner. It remains to be seen how Kyle holds up against bigger, stronger opponents. 

The depth of this squad will come in handy as the season grinds on. Jon Scheyer and his coaching staff have had an impressive start to the season.

Other Comments:

Virginia beat Houston and North Carolina appears to be hitting their groove. The rest of the ACC has not been impressive.

ALANALYSIS:

I had and still have a good feeling about Duke’s performance against Bellarmine for several different reasons, not all of which made it to the various commentators’ accounts of the game.   Most importantly, the Blue Devils have discovered an excellent point guard to supplement Jeremy Roach while they are on the floor together, and to give Roach the necessary rest so he can be at his best when the game winds down, or ratchets up to “winning time”.  I am, of course, talking about the 6’5” young (turned 18 last April Fool’s day) Australian, Tyrese Proctor, who was to be a high school senior this year, had enough credits to graduate, and therefore was able to reclassify to play with this year’s edition – I think after Keels leaving for the NBA opened the possibility of Tyrese winning a starter’s position. It is turning out to be a great decision because he just might be Duke’s best freshman in a fabulous freshman class. (I will get to Kyle in a moment). Proctor has an infectious confidence that breeds trust from his teammates and coaches.  Tyrese has incredible athleticism to go with his spirit and determination, as proven by his rebounding ability, unusual for a guard (8 last night to tie Kyle for the most on the team) and his shot blocking (led Duke with 2 against Bellarmine).  Tyrese is a key component who will grow as the team grows.  Exciting to watch.

A second dramatic reason to feel good is the play of freshman phenom, Kyle Filipowski.  He played only half of the game against Bellarmine, and led Duke in scoring with 18 points, and tied with Proctor for the rebounding lead with 8 (the stat sheet said 8, but I thought he had more because he grabbed every rebound in the last minutes of the game at both ends).  He is an unusually good ball handler and passer, and he can score at all 3 levels – behind the arc, mid-range, or in the post, and he is an excellent offensive rebounder.  After having said all that, his commitment to growth is dramatic on the defensive end as well.  Scheyer said as much because few 7 footers apply themselves to defending the perimeter.  Kyle has done so and he can guard the opposition guards on the perimeter as well as their Bigs in the post.  So far, he has been a revelation.

Finally, there is the bench-spark combination of Jacob Grandison and Jaylen Blakes.  Grandison languished against Kansas, playing only 10 first-half minutes, without scoring.  Since then, Jacob has been on a tear.  Against Bellarmine, he led the Duke bench with 16 points on fabulous shooting (6-9 from the field, including 4-7 from 3land).  Blakes was not expected to be in the rotation, but he has demonstrated blinding speed and a larcenous streak when defending.  His improvement has been dramatic and he has now earned a spot in the rotation.

On the defensive end, Lively is earning his keep with his quickness, high basketball IQ, and length.  This edition of the Blue Devils has the potential to be an excellent defensive team.  How much of that potential will be realized is probably the most important factor in the overall success of the 2022-23 Duke team.

THE ROTATION

Jeremy Roach (33:01) had a superb floor game on offense and played excellent defense, though he was occasionally beaten on backdoor cuts.  More important than his 10 points (4-10 from the field, including 2-4 from deep) were his 5 assists, against only a single turnover.  Everyone – commentators and coaches acknowledge that Jeremy is Duke’s most important player!

Tyrese Proctor (30:56) has become a valued starter in the Blue Devil lineup.  Even on a poor shooting night (his only shot attempts were 9 from behind the arc; 2-9 for 6 points), Coach Scheyer had him in the game longer than all of his other players besides Roach.  Tyrese is a wonderful athlete as proven by his 8 rebounds (tied with 7’0” Filipowski for team lead), 2 blocked shots (to lead Duke in blocks), and 2 assists.  He runs the team when Jeremy is not on the floor.

Jacob Grandison (26:21) played the most minutes besides the two guards, even though he did not start.  Simple rule of basketball, if your shot is going in, you will be on the court longer.  Grandison was a star, scoring 16 points on dazzling shooting (6-9, including 4-7 from behind the arc).  Coach S praised Jacob and Jaylen Blakes as a great bench that might make Duke be even better than when the starters are on the floor, “Jaylen, and Jacob, they just bring a certain energy. They play the right way. They’re all about winning. Each game for Jaylen and Jacob, it can be rebound, bucket, deflection, they’re winners. And I feel good when they’re on the court. It can be when they’re in, we get better. And that’s something not a lot of teams have when you go to your bench, you can get better. For us, we have that.”

Dereck Lively (23:12) is logging more minutes than in his first few games back from injury, and his presence makes the interior defense imposing because of his length and quickness.  He is still not scoring (1-2 from the field for 2 points), but  he grabbed 5 boards, had a blocked shot, and 2 assists (one was a fabulous over the head pass out of the post to Mitchell in the corner for an open 3).  Coach is pleased even though he knows Dereck is not completely in game shape yet as he continues recovering from his injury, “Dereck every single game has taken big time strides going forward.  The next step is to when you are open, shoot it; when you have a guy closing, drive it.”

Mark Mitchell (21:15) had an excellent all-around game, though he was beaten more than once on backdoor cuts.  Mark scored 8 points (3-6 from the field, including 2-4 from deep) to go with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, a (sensational) steal, and a blocked shot.  He is an excellent one-on-one defender.

Kyle Filipowski (20:36) played only half the game (we wonder why), but led Duke in scoring with an efficient 18 points on only 8 shots (4-8, including 3-5 from behind the arc and a gaudy 7-8 from the foul line;) and grabbed a team-high 8 boards (tied with Tyrese).  He continues to be Duke’s unstoppable best player. 

Jaylen Blakes (19:17) scored 8 points (3-6 from the field, including 1-3 from 3land and 1-1 from the foul line), while grabbing a pair of rebounds and handing out 2 assists.  Scheyer appreciates Jaylen, “Jaylen is everything that Duke basketball is about. … when we started recruiting Jaylen, I didn’t know I’d be the head coach.” [Even though he played sparingly last year], “he got better. You didn’t necessarily get to see him all the time get better, but he worked his butt off every day, had a great attitude. He competed against Jeremy Roach, Trevor Keels and Wendell Moore, every single day. And now, here he is making a big impact.”

Ryan Young (15:26) is a great backup for Lively II.  As Dereck improves, Ryan plays a bit less.  He scored 4 points (1-1 from the field and 2-2 from the stripe), to go with 7 valuable rebounds and an assist.

Dariq Whitehead (9:56) played less in his second game back than he did in his first one.  His rust is apparent but so is his unmistakable talent.  He scored 2 on a layup, but missed his other 3 shots (all of which were from behind the arc). His almost-10 minutes were divided into very short stretches.  He is not yet, but I predict he will be a genuine force before the season ends (think AJ from last year).

SUMMING UP

The trip to Portland will give us much to evaluate.  It will be the Blue Devils second road trip.  Scheyer: “We know it’s going to be three high-level games, no matter what the outcome is. I’m excited and I just want to go for it. I think we learned a lot in the Kansas game; we can’t go into it tentative or unsure, we need to go after it and then see what happens.” 

Duke has played excellent offense so far this year (except those last 4:37 against Kansas).  Against Bellarmine, the Blue Devils had 18 assists on 25 made field goals. Duke was also 10-11 from the foul line! Kyle was 7-8 for Duke’s only miss. The Coach: “We have made some really unselfish plays, sharing the ball. … the quality of shot is something we talk about consistently. And tonight …  we had great quality in our shot selection.” 

We will learn more about this 2022-23 team in Portland.   Good coaching requires creating the right way to win against different opponents.  Scheyer emphasizes that there are many ways to win, “It won’t be the same strategy on Friday.  Each game is different.” 

I said I had a good feeling about this Bellarmine game, and I admit to having a good feeling about this season’s team. Their improvement is palpable, and you can feel the good vibes from the players.

Next Play: Phil Knight Legacy Tournament in Portland Or! 

  • Thursday November 24 (Thanksgiving Day) at 3:00 p.m. vs. Oregon State on ESPN;
  • Friday, November 25, if Duke beats Oregon State, the Blue Devils will play the winner of Xavier v. Florida  at 3:00 p.m. on ESPN; or if Duke has lost to Oregon State, the Blue Devils play the loser of Xavier v. Florida at 6:00 p.m., on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. 
  • Sunday November 27 has 4 games scheduled: championship game at 3:30 on ABC; Third Place game at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. The fifth place and 7th place games will be played but no details have yet been released.

DBP edition covering the Duke games played on November 24 and 25 will be disseminated on Saturday, November 26, a post-tournament edition will cover Sunday’s game and be sent out early next week.

The freshmen are learning and improving.  They are good.  This photo depicts who everyone understands is Duke’s most important player, Jeremy Roach!!!
Photo credit: Duke Athletics
Jacob Grandison has found his shot, which makes the Duke bench efficient and dangerous.
Photo credit: Duke Athletics

Duke 54 v. Oregon State 51; Duke 71 v. Xavier 64 (Season 14; Issue 6) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. Games #6 and 7 (November 24 and 25, 2022)

Jeremy’s bravura performance was simply dazzling.  Photo credit: Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

DUKE – OREGON STATE

A disappointing effort. Duke couldn’t throw a basketball from a boat in the middle of the ocean and hit water. I thought the most interesting move was Coach Scheyer finishing the game with the two veterans,Young and Grandison, on the floor with the youngest player,Filipowski; they all delivered at winning time. Kyle also made the defensive play of the game! In a defensive switch, he ended up with the point guard, stayed in front of him on a drive, and stole the ball in the lane. In addition, he hit the go-ahead three. So far, he is the most versatile and valuable freshman.

DUKE – XAVIER

Different day, different Duke team. The Blue Devils scored 71 points hitting 50 percent from the floor, including 5-11 on threes. The big difference was the play of Duke’s point guard Jeremy Roach, who had 21 on 9-15 (2-4 from deep). More importantly, when Duke needed a play, which happened often because Xavier just didn’t quit, Roach consistently made big plays, and not just scoring plays either. He also had 4 rebounds, 5 assists & 2 steals. When Roach plays like this, Duke can compete with any team!

It was also a better balanced team effort.  Kyle Filipowski and Ryan Young didn’t carry the team this time, as they did Thursday against Oregon State. The scoring was much better distributed: Filipowski had 12, while Young had 8. Filipowski had 4 rebounds while Young added 6. And Mark Mitchell, who was essentially a non-factor Thursday, sure was excellent against Xavier. He put a lot of pressure on Xavier’s defense and finished with 16. Blakes was an energizer bunny both days. Whitehead showed more signs of improvement and finished with 5 points.  Lively was a major factor defensively. His shot-blocking skills are becoming quite formidable, but point-blank dunks are his only sure shots and his 0-4 foul shooting makes him a liability in close games. Unless Proctor starts to score more consistently, he appears to be a candidate for the odd man out.

Other comments:

North Carolina, which has been ranked first in most polls but has not been playing that way, was beaten by Iowa State. They can and will play better.

ALANALYSIS:

What an interesting and complex first two games of the tournament!  Lots of unexpected early season results across the country (UNC got a scare from the University of Portland Pilots and then lost to Iowa State).  The complexity of Duke’s offensive disaster against Oregon State, their heart and effort against Xavier, and Duke’s consistent defense, make us want to pay close attention  in the championship game on Sunday and see how Duke deals with the Purdue Boilermakers (ranked #24) and their huge (7’4” 295 lb.) center, Zach Edey, who is averaging 23 ppg. In the semi-final late on Friday night, Gonzaga (#6) clearly had no answer for Edey, the Boilermaker offense in general,  or for their defense for that matter, losing 84-66.  The post-tournament DBP will have a full analysis of what we have learned of the 2022-23 Blue Devils from their string of Phil Knight Legacy games.

This 2-game edition of the DBP will cover the defense, the Jekyll-Hyde offense against Oregon State, and the steadfast effort that beat a good Xavier team.  The “Rotation” will cover both games for each player ordered by playing time against Xavier.

The Defense

Duke’s calling card this season will be defense.  Duke has held each of their seven opponents this season to less than 70 points, and five to less than 60. The Blue Devils held Xavier to a season-low 64 points – the Musketeers were averaging 85.8 points entering the game. Moreover, Duke held Xavier’s leading scorer, Jack Nunge (a 7’1” bruiser of a center, who can efficiently score the 3), to a season-low five points (1-of-13 shooting). Nunge’s previous scoring low this season was 14 points, vs. Indiana. 

Mark Mitchell in the post Xavier game press conference: “I think yesterday we didn’t have our best performance. I think today we tried to come in and lock in on the scouting report. We knew [Nunge] was their most important player, we just tried to come in and shut him down and do everything we could to stop him.” And they did!

Against Oregon State, the defense gave up only 51 points in the game – 27 in the first half and 24 in the closing period.  Duke allowed 5 (of 13) from deep in the first half, but only 1-8 in the second half.  The Blue Devils forced 11 turnovers (but could not really disrupt the Beaver offense).

The defense has been simply outstanding at “winning time”.look at this stat!:  After Duke holding Oregon State without a field goal for the final 5:03 of regulation, the Blue Devils did not give up a point to Xavier in the game’s final 5:51!  As Scheyer pointed out, scoring the crucial hoop is not sufficient by itself because, “you, of course, have to follow it up with a stop, and we did that enough times to get some separation and never let them really get the lead, which was a big deal.”  It was a profound contrast to the Kansas game. 

Good overall defense; maybe even very good, but not yet great. Duke gave up points in the paint, mostly on drives.  While the defense is still a work in progress, the potential for Duke to be outstanding defensively this season is palpable. As Scheyer exulted after the Xavier win, “And the last huddle, I think there was 3:30 on the clock, they were the ones talking. Our guys were, ‘Hey we’ve been here before, we know what to do’. And they came out, all five guys were locked in, and I thought we came up with some big-time rebounds.”

The Offense

Jeremy Roach played both a brilliant Dr. Jekyll (against Xavier) and a despicable Edward Hyde (versus Oregon State).  Consequently, Duke was a disaster on offense against the Beavers, and an efficient commando unit against Xavier.  Let us note that Scheyer has been a brilliant bench coach, getting the most out of his somewhat inconsistent team to reach the championship game of the Legacy tournament.

Oregon State

Duke shot 26.7% from the field (17% from behind the arc) for the game – which constitutes a flat disaster.  It is the lowest percentage of shooting in Duke basketball history for a game won by the Blue Devils.  Duke outscored the Beavers 29-27 in the first half, when Jeremy Roach hit his only 3 pointer with 15 seconds left in the first half.  While the Blue Devils achieved just minimal production in the opening period, the second half was even worse.  Duke only scored 25 second-half points (6 – 29 from the field, including a clanking 1-14 from 3land.  The “one” of the 1-14 was Kyle Filipowski’s to tie the score at 45 with 8:22 left in the game).

    The Good

By some stroke of luck, Duke found a way to win while playing terribly.  In the final 7:35, the Blue Devils outscored the Beavers 9-4.  Roach broke the tie with a jump shot (47-45 with 7:32 to go); Kyle Filipowski made 1-2 from the line, and after a flurry of Duke and Beaver misses, also made 2-2 from the stripe (Duke led by 50-47 with 3:23 remaining). After the Beavers made 2 free throws (foul by Tyrese Proctor), Kyle scored on a splendid offensive rebound (52-49 with 34 seconds left in the game); The Beavers made 2 more foul shots with 16 seconds left (foul, again by Tyrese – Duke still led 52-51).  Jacob Grandison had been 0-4 from the field when he was fouled with 11 seconds remaining.  He made them both for the final score – 54-51. The defense forced the Beavers into a difficult shot that missed, which preserved  Duke’s win.

In the second half, Ryan Young and Kyle kept Duke in the game when literally no other Blue Devil was scoring.  Filipowski played 16:43 second-half minutes, scoring 13 points (3-7, including 1-3 from behind the arc and 6-7 from the stripe) to go with 8 rebounds, an assist and a steal.  The steal was a highlight!  Kyle was switched onto guarding Jordan Pope, Oregon State’s star freshman point guard on the perimeter.  Pope drove and Kyle not only stayed in front of him, but stole Pope’s dribble!  And Kyle may not have been Duke’s best player in the second half.  Ryan Young logged 17:38 in the closing period (Dereck Lively played only 2:22 in the second half) scoring 7 points (2-3 from the field and 3-4 from the stripe) to go with an eye-opening 11 second-half rebounds (7 offensive !!!) and a block.  He dominated the glass.

    The Worse than Merely Bad

An in-depth dive into that frustrating but hard-fought second half is illuminating. Duke’s second-half offense had the worst outside shooting since I started watching as a freshman in 1956.  Jeremy played all 20 second-half minutes, scoring only the go-ahead basket (2 points on 1-8 shooting, including 0-4 from behind the arc).  Worse, Roach failed to record a single second-half assist, all while committing 3 turnovers.  Tyrese Proctor was even less productive in his 15:03 – 0-5 from the field, including 0-4 from 3land, without getting to the foul line.  And, Tyrese committed 3 fouls and a turnover!  Blessedly, both Tyrese and Jeremy played excellent defense. Jaylen Blakes replaced Tyrese, logging 6:48 (valuable for his disruptive defense, but also without a statistic).  To add to Duke’s shooting woes, Mark Mitchell was 0-3, including 0-2 from deep in his 3:51 of second-half playing time, while Jacob Grandison was 0-2 in his 13:04 of second-half playing time. In 4:31, Dariq Whitehead was 0-1. Omitting inside shooters Ryan, Kyle, and Dereck, the other 6 Duke players were a combined 1-19, including 0-11 from deep. Moreover, Duke’s transition game, based on disruptive defense, was non-existent because there was no disruption. — It left this commentator speechless.

Xavier

Jeremy set the tone, re-establishing himself with a bravura performance, after his dismal Oregon State game.  When Jeremy is bravura, Duke is bravura.  Mark Mitchell came alive, and Kyle was a stalwart.  It was a very good performance, but it is troubling that  there are still so many in the rotation who are not living up to their offensive potential, or who are inconsistent.  Tyrese has struggled, but occasionally has broken out.  Grandison has vacillated between sensational and irrelevant.  Blakes has energy, but not a high shooting percentage, whether it is on his drives or his deep shots.  But you can see his potential. 

 Lively has not yet come close to finding his offense.  I saw him twice last year, and he was a deadly accurate shooter from the foul line region. In two all-star games, he was 8-8. When he is a scoring threat from the high post, his passing gets even better.  He will get back there, but he may have a long path.  Dariq could be Duke’s best player, but he is coming back slowly.  He is shooting from deep but has not yet reestablished his handle and ability to drive efficiently.  

THE ROTATION

Jeremy Roach vs Xavier (35:22) had his best game since coming to Duke!  It is significant that it came after one of his worst,  in the tournament opener against Oregon State. He backed up that poor effort with one for the ages!   He scored 21 points (9-15, including 2-4 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe) to go with 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.   Scheyer understood how Jeremy’s great game is so important for this team’s development: “I thought just the poise in key moments, Jeremy put us on his back and said ‘alright’. Whether it’s for him or for somebody else, he got some really good looks, really good quality looks. … We need him, what did he play today — 35 minutes? We need him to score, to create, to defend the other team’s best player. . … And the thing that I loved for him today was that he was just him. And when he’s that way, to me, he’s the best guard in the country! He controlled the whole game, created for others. He had five assists, I actually thought he could’ve had eight, nine assists, we missed a couple bunnies that he dumped off. … I think this is what we’ll see going forward from Jeremy.” 

Jeremy Roach vs Oregon State (35:34) did not have his usual stellar game, scoring 7 points (3-14, including 1-7 from behind the arc, without attempting a free throw) while handing out 4 assists and making 2 steals.  However, Jeremy committed 4 turnovers and 3 personal fouls, while snaring only a single rebound.

Kyle Filipowski vs Xavier (32:59) had a good scoring first half (10 points) and a good rebounding second half (only 2 points but 4 key defensive boards). He scored a total 12 points (4-10 from the field including 1-3 from 3land and 1-2 from the stripe) to go with an overall floor game on both offense and defense – 4 rebounds, 4 steals, an assist and a block.  Kyle was less of a scoring factor, but still a major force.

Kyle Filipowski vs Oregon State (31:11) has his 4th double double in 6 games, scoring 19 points (5-13, including 1-5 from behind the arc, and 8-9 from the foul line) to go with 14 rebounds (5 offensive), an assist and a truly fantastic steal.

Mark Mitchell vs Xavier (31:00) dramatically returned to his early season form after a couple of games where he was not impactful.  Against Xavier, Mark scored 16 points (6-11 from the field, including 1-2 from behind the arc – the one was crucial – and 3-4 from the foul line) to go with 5 impressive rebounds and a blocked shot.  Mark was Duke’s savior and high scorer in the second half (12 points) on offense, a crucial defender of Duke’s defensive backboard, and dedicated perimeter defender.  What a great game Mitchell played!

Mark Mitchell (11:14) vs Oregon State had his least productive game as a Blue Devil, scoring only a single point (0-4 from the field, including 0-2 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe) with 0 rebounds, assists or steals.  He played very little in the second half.

Jaylen Blakes vs Xavier (24:30) played starter’s minutes in the second half (15:34), while Tyrese Proctor, the starter, played only 5:50  in the closing stanza.  Blakes was inserted for his legendary disruptive and aggressive defense, which basically won the game for the Blue Devils.  Blakes scored 5 points (1-5 from the field, including 0-1 from deep and a crucial 3-3 from the stripe at “winning time”).  He notched 2 rebounds, an assist, and a steal.  However, statistics do not tell all about Jaylen’s game.  His energy was his gift to the defense. Jaylen’s high school coach told Scheyer during Blakes’ recruitment, “Hey man, I’ve got a special kid here. I know you’re going to have a bunch of one-and-done guys, but you may want to look at him as a future Duke basketball captain. He’s a four-year guy. A culture carrier.”  What a great predication.

Jaylen Blakes (16:40) vs Oregon State failed to score (0-3 from the field, including 0-2 from deep) but was a defensive spark plug.  He had an assist and a steal (and a couple of almost steals).

Ryan Young (21:15) vs Xavier was a major contributor to Duke’s interior play on both offense and defense. He rebounded, and scored in the post.  He was Duke’s “other Big” (with Kyle) in the second half (playing 12:39 while scoring 4 points and grabbing 4 boards.  This contrasted to Dereck’s 7:21 without scoring and kept Dereck on the bench while Ryan played center.  Ryan has been valuable all year, but his work in the first two games of the Phil Knight Legacy has been his best work of the year!  Ryan scored 8 (3-5 from the field and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 6 rebounds (5 offensive).  For the season, Ryan is 24-33 from the field for a 73% shooting average.

Ryan Young vs Oregon State (29:37) played his best game as a Blue Devil, scoring 11 points (4-5 from the field, including 3-4 from the foul line) to go with an astounding 15 boards! (8 offensive), plus a blocked shot and an assist.  MVP.

Tyrese Proctor vs Xavier (18:09) had another scoreless game (0-2 from the field, including 0-1 from deep) with 2 assists and 2 turnovers.  He continues to defend efficiently on the perimeter.  Tellingly, he spent more time on the bench in the second half and was not on the floor in the last 7 minutes of the game.

Tyrese Proctor vs Oregon State (29:37) had an excruciating game right after his best game (against Bellarmine).  Ok, we know – freshmen are notoriously inconsistent.  Tyrese scored only 5 points (1-7 from the field, including 1-6 from deep plus 2-2 from the stripe) to  go with a pair of rebounds and a turnover.  Blakes replaced him at “winning time”.

Dereck Lively II vs Xavier (15:59) regressed a bit against the size and strength of Xavier’s front line.  Disastrously, Lively picked up four fouls in his short stint trying to defend. Lively scored 2 points (a dunk; he missed a short hook shot to go 1-2 from the field and a disappointing 0-4 from the foul line).  The only reason he saw the court at all in the second half is that Ryan Young also had 4 fouls.  For the game, Dereck grabbed 4 tough rebounds, blocked 2 shots, and had a steal.  He is improving, but slowly.

Dereck Lively II vs Oregon State (10:23 but only 2:22 in the second half) regressed in this game, scoring only 2 on a dunk (his only shot of the game).  He had a steal and a block but spent time on the bench because of Ryan Young’s breakout game.

Dariq Whitehead vs Xavier (10:26) is also using his playing time to regain his pre-broken foot form. Dariq’s shot seems to be back as is his rebounding.  What has yet to return is his ball handling and driving ability.  He is not yet getting past his defender, and he is also having trouble on the defensive end (2 fouls in his short stint, one was on a 3-point shooter).  When – or if – Dariq and Dereck reach the form each exhibited in high school, the Blue Devils will morph into a juggernaut.

Dariq Whitehead (17:08) vs Oregon State continued to look both rusty, yet improved from his first game back.   He scored 7 points (2-9 from the field including 2-6 from behind the arc and 1-3 from the foul line) and garnered 3 rebounds.  When he starts scoring like he did when he was healthy, Duke’s offense will frighten opponents. 

Jacob Grandison vs Xavier (10:20) scored only 2 points (1-1) in his brief appearances in each half.  He was a star in earlier games, but played sparingly against Xavier.  This may be Duke’s strength, the deep roster that can find the winning combination regardless of what the adversary throws at them.

Jacob Grandison vs Oregon State (18:36) – super sub did not have a super sub night, even though he made 2 very crucial foul shots at game’s end.  Those two foul shots were Jacob’s only 2 points of the game (0-4 from the floor, including 0-1 from 3land).  Jacob contributed 5 critical rebounds and 2 assists.

SUMMING UP

Too soon.  A more complete assessment will be in the post-tournament issue early next week.  What we can say is that this team has heart and appears to be developing chemistry.  The highest grades for consistency may go to Jon Scheyer and his coaching staff.  He has met almost every issue that arose with a creative answer using all of his players.  In short, the team has been better than merely the sum of its parts.  Purdue and Zach Edey will be a test for these young Blue Devils.  More after that game.


Next Play: Sunday, November 27 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.  The Championship Game of the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament when Duke faces Purdue (who flattened Gonzaga 84-66 (GULP!) late Friday night in the other semi-final)

Scheyer (and everyone else) understands that Jeremy is Duke’s most important player.
Photo credit: Duke Athletics
Mark  Mitchell had a hot hand for the Blue Devils, sparking them in the second half.
Photo Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

MOST RECENT GAME

Duke 56 v. Purdue 75 (Season 14; Issue 7) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. Game # 8 (November 27, 2022)

Duke players cheer on their teammates, all to no avail.  Will this team grow into its potential? 
Photo credit: Nat LeDonne, Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Purdue’s talented, well coached team taught Duke’s young players a painful lesson about hustle, spacing, ball movement, rebounding, relaxing, and making shots– even free throws. Of course, center 7’4” Zach Edey made a lot of it easier for the Boilermakers but, just the same, it was a lesson nonetheless, and we will know after Wednesday’s game against Ohio State whether it was a lesson well learned or an incapacitating one.  Also, Roach’s ankle injury is of concern, but it gave Proctor an opportunity to show his skills at the point. 

If you haven’t noticed, Duke’s football team, which had fallen to less than an afterthought (over the last two seasons, Duke has lost 17 of its 18 ACC games. The Blue Devils haven’t finished with a winning record in league play since 2014) in a less than stellar ACC Conference, beat Wake Forest.  Duke’s new Head Coach Mike Elko and his assistants have taken basically the same group from last season and done an almost unimaginable job in going 8-4 and discovering a quarterback, red shirt sophomore Riley Leonard, who is playing sensational football.

ALANALYSIS:

Duke is about to enter the heart of its season with games against Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge on November 30 and the ACC season opener against Boston College on December 3, before playing highly ranked Iowa in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6.  Then, after the Christmas break, the Blue Devils compete exclusively in ACC league games.  So, coaches, players and fans were hoping for a game against Purdue in which the Blue Devils demonstrated their readiness to compete in the heart of their season.

The disappointment from watching Purdue’s complete destruction of every aspect of the Blue Devil game is profound.  But, before taking drastic action, let us remember Duke has suffered some astoundingly embarrassing defeats in seasons that ended up wonderfully successful.  For example, Scheyer will remember his 2010 National Championship team getting pounded by Georgetown on National TV with President Obama in attendance.  Still, it is hard to temper the negative feeling from the shellacking Purdue handed the Blue Devils last night.

The Offense

While the Blue Devils played a mediocre first half on offense (scoring 35 points), the defense was so porous that Purdue scored 46 first-half points so that Duke trailed by 11 points. With 2:28 to go in the opening period, the Blue Devils had scored only 28 points and were 18 points behind.  Kyle Filipowski  (11 first-half points on 4-7 from the field including 2-3 from deep and 1-1 from the line), Jeremy Roach (10 points on 4-5 from the floor and 2-3 from the stripe), and Tyrese Proctor (8 points on 3-6 from the field, including 0-2 from deep, and 2-2 from the stripe) were the three Duke players that kept the Blue Devils within 11 of Purdue at half.  Young, Whitehead, and Mitchell each scored 2 points while Grandison, Blakes, and Lively did not score. That is 6 of the 9 players in the rotation scored collectively only 6 points! No team can win with ⅔ of the roster virtually absent from scoring.  Duke had only 8 assists in the entire game.  Mediocre may actually be a bridge too far.

The second half was much worse – it was actually worse than the disastrous second half against Oregon State (where Duke scored only 25 points, but held the Beavers scoreless for over 5 minutes to outscore Oregon State by 9-4 for the win).  Here is a stat to make one’s hair stand up straight: only one Duke player had more than a single field goal in the closing period!!  

When Jeremy limped off to the locker room with a toe or ankle injury at the end of the first half, the announcers flashed back to Kyrie’s serious injury in 2011.  Duke fans were relieved when Jeremy was able to play the second half (all 20 minutes).  However, Jeremy  was not himself – he scored 4 points (but was only 1-8 from the field, including 0-3 from deep and 2-3 from the foul line.  Tyrese Proctor was heroic, also playing all 20 second-half minutes, while scoring a team high (for the closing half) of 8 points on 4-7 from the field, including 0-2 from 3land.  He had 5 rebounds, and an assist.  Most importantly, he took over Roach’s point guard duties for most of the second half. Between Tyrese and Jeremy, they accounted for 12 of Duke’s 21 second-half points. The remaining 9 points came from Kyle (3 points on 1-4 from the field and 1-2 from the stripe), Dariq (4 points in his 10:13 of second-half playing time, 1-3, including 0-1 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the stripe), and Ryan (2 points on 2-2 from the stripe, but 0-2 from the field).  Duke had only 2 assists in the final period, and missed every single 3 point attempt (0-11; Jeremy 0-3, Mark 0-2, Tyrese 0-2, Dereck 0-1, Kyle 0-1, and Jaylen 0-1).

And still, the Blue Devils had their second-half moments before completely falling apart.  With 15:31 left in the game, Purdue led by 17 (58-41) when the Blue Devils made a move. Duke reduced the Boilermaker lead to 7 twice – once with 9:00 remaining, and once with 7:01 (63-56) left, before the wheels completely fell off.  The Blue Devils did not score in the final 7 minutes of the game, while Purdue scored 12, making the final margin.  

In those 7 minutes, Mitchell missed; Whitehead turned it over; Proctor committed an offensive foul; Roach missed from 3; Filipowski missed from 3; Mitchell turned it over; Filipowski missed a jumper;  Roach committed a foul; Filipowski fouled out; Roach missed a jumper; Young committed a foul; Roach missed a free throw; Proctor missed a jumper; Mitchell missed a jumper and Roach missed a 3 pointer! That was Duke’s desultory offense in the last 7 minutes (“winning time”). Purdue did to Duke what the Blue Devils did to both Oregon State and Xavier.  Yuck!

The Defense

Duke’s hard-switching man-to-man defense was simply dissected. Purdue’s sharp passing, accurate shooting of wide-open shots, and an absolute domination of the paint by Boilermaker center, the 7’4”, 295 lb. Zack Edey (21 points on 7-13 from the field and a critical 7-8 from the stripe), who controlled both rims (12 rebounds, 5 offensive) while drawing 8 Duke fouls.  Lively and Filpowski each fouled out.  

Purdue shot 58 % in the first half, including 3-3 from deep. The Blue Devils had defensive success for a brief 8-minute period in the second half, when Duke switched to a zone defense with some full court pressure.  But Purdue hit a few perimeter shots against the zone that Duke could not answer. Scheyer “It’s something we have to be ready to go to. We spend a lot of time building our habits with our man-to-man defense, so we’ve practiced it [the zone defense] a couple of times. We’ve had it in our back pocket just in case and I thought our guys did a good job on the fly to pick it up. The thing with them [Purdue] is they move so much … they get really good movement, and they screen hard and cut hard. I thought it helped slow them down and our press was good for us also.”

The Purdue game is the first game this season where Duke gave up at least 70 points; Purdue’s offense was far superior to Duke’s defense.

THE ROTATION

Jeremy Roach (37:10) scored 14 points (5-13, including 0-3 from behind the arc, and 4-6 from the stripe) to go with 3 boards, 2 steals, 2 assists and 2 turnovers.  He had 10 points in an effective first half, before he was injured.  While he did return, he was not the same star as he had been in the first half and against Xavier.  The injury impacted his second half play.

Tyrese Proctor (36:20) had his best game at Duke so far, scoring 16 points (7-13 from the field, but 0-4 from deep, plus 2-2 from the foul line).  He handled the  point guard duties (3 assists w only 1 turnover) nearly as well as Jeremy  He was the only Duke player to score more than one field goal in the second half (he  scored 4 buckets for 8 second-half points).

Kyle Filipowski (30:53) scored 14 points (5-11, including 2-4 from deep, and 2-3 from the stripe) to go with 5 boards, a steal and a block.  However, Kyle scored only 2 points in the second half.  He turned it over twice before fouling out.

Mark Mitchell (25:03) was not effective, scoring only 2 points (1-6, including 0-2 from deep without getting to the stripe).  He had 3 boards and an assist with a pair of turnovers.

Dereck Lively II (21:46) failed to score (0-3, including 0-2 from deep that did not even draw iron!  What!).  Dereck grabbed 5 rebounds, blocked a pair of shots, and had 2 steals before he fouled out trying to guard the Purdue big guy, Zach Edey.

Dariq Whitehead (16:11) was Duke’s 4th leading scorer –  with only 6 points (2-7, including 0-2 from 3land, and 2-2 from the foul line) with a rebound and a turnover.  He’s only been back with the team for 9 days from his broken foot. 

Ryan Young (14:53) picked up 2 quick fouls in the first half guarding the Purdue “Hulk”, but he adjusted, and  committed only one more foul.  He scored 4 points (1-3, and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 4 rebounds,  All of the Blue Devil Bigs were totally dominated in the paint.

Jaylen Blakes (8:42) failed to score (0-2 from behind the arc, as well as 0-2 from the stripe) with 2 rebounds and an assist.

Jacob Grandison (8:38) also failed to score, without even taking a shot.  He had an assist and a turnover.

SUMMING UP

The two players who made this year’s freshmen class so special are Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II.  Neither of those two (expected to be superstars) are contributing to Duke’s trajectory… yet.  It’s time for each to remove the Clark Kent disguise and become the Superman  that Duke recruited.

Dereck Lively II was everyone’s pick as the #1 player in this year’s incoming college class.  While he had a calf injury that delayed his development,  Derecke has been back playing for a substantial time now.  He is defending better as he plays more (he even had his moments against the Purdue behemoth, Zack Edey, but was no real match for him).  To put the point dramatically, Lively played more than 20 minutes without scoring, and fouled out trying to defend Edey.  Lively has 9 baskets for the year, each one a dunk.  Against Purdue, Dereck took two 3-point attempts without drawing iron. When I watched Dereck last year in all-star games, he was an excellent mid-range shooter.  For Duke to be an ACC contender, let alone a National contender, Lively will have to morph into the player he was last year.

Dariq has only been back for 9 days, and the team has not been able to practice much during that time.  While Whitehead has demonstrated lots of rust, he is also making palpable progress.  His perimeter shot (devastating in high school) is returning, and he is slowly rounding into rebounding form.  However, his handle, quickness, and coordination are not back yet.  He is fouling on defense more than he will later in the year.  Last year, he was a great driver and passer (he was so good, I thought he might end up as Roach’s backup at the point), but he cannot yet get to the rim, and he is still turning it over.  I predict he will be one of Duke’s best players by mid-season.

However, until these two who were expected to be Duke’s best two players, start  consistently playing like college superstars (like Kyle has done), this year’s Duke team will struggle. But if they grow it will be a rewarding season.

Next Play: Wednesday, November 30 vs. Ohio State in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:15 p.m. —  ACC-Big 10 Challenge on ESPN.

Dariq Whitehead, returning from injury to stardom? 
Photo credit: Nat LeDonne, Duke Athletics

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