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

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

Duke 81 v. Ohio State 72 (Season 14; Issue 8; Game # 9) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. November 30, 2022)

The elite brotherhood: celebrating a stellar assist from Jeremy to Derek. Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Scheyer: “We didn’t practice on Monday, because we were getting back from Portland and had a one-day prep. Our focus was just to take what we learned against Purdue and bring it tonight.”

What did this Duke team learn in Portland?  Based on how the Blue Devils played against Ohio State, they learned how to play tough, all the time; to manage a game, and finish off a talented opponent; and learned what a pleasure it is to play in Cameron with the Crazies as a sixth man.  The team is  still a work in progress, and compared to Indiana, which handled North Carolina impressively, has further to go to become a top contender.

Coach Scheyer’s assessment: “I thought, including the Xavier game, that was the best we managed a game. We were playing games, and now we’re learning how to win games. When you have a lead, you don’t play the same way if it’s a tie game or if you’re down.  Jeremy, I thought he did a really good job, Tyrese [Proctor], Jaylen [Blakes], when he was in, just controlling our team.  And in those moments, they make a little bit of a run, we have to really execute.  And working on the offensive end, I thought we did that.  And then down the stretch, some crucial stops were really important for us.”

On Whitehead and Lively finding their rhythm after missing portions of the preseason: “I hope for all of these freshmen, not just you guys [in the media] but anybody, is patient with them. Because like Dereck and Dariq, they missed the most crucial part of any time of the year for freshmen, and that’s the preseason. Dereck missed over a month, and Dariq, almost three months. And, so for them, they’ve been working hard, and it’s gonna take them some time; for Dereck, it’s only been a few weeks.  And I just love the mindset, how he keeps working.  I felt the way he fought on defense in the Purdue game, he took a huge step.  And then tonight, he did the same thing against [Zed] Key.  And then for him, it’s just getting comfortable, developing his offensive game.  And in fairness to him, we’ve missed him.  One of the best things he does is he puts pressure on the rim in pick and roll. And our guards, Jeremy hit him on the lob.  He hit him on a couple plays tonight. That’s something we need to look for more.  And so again, he’s just gotta stick with it.  Really proud of his effort.  I thought it was a huge jump.  He’s rebounding in traffic more.  We just need to keep rolling with all of them.”

Again, Kyle Filipowski was the best player. The Blue Devils are just better with him on the floor.  Dereck Lively is indispensable defensively, and improving offensively.  Ryan Young has been a pleasant surprise at both ends.  Jeremy Roach has continued his maturation from late last year.  Procter has improved from an unimpressive start.  Only Mark Mitchell, after a good start, has disappointed as the competition has gotten better, and is probably the odd man out when Dariq Whitehead, who could take this team to another level, is ready.  Grandison and Blakes have also had their moments.

OTHER COMMENTS:

That has happened to the Tar Heels?

When was the last time North Carolina lost three basketball games in a row?

When was the last time the #1 basketball team dropped out of the poll?

Don’t get smug. Just like last year, North Carolina will get better as the season progresses—especially when they play Duke.

ALANALYSIS:

We are beginning to discern how Scheyer is developing the 2022-23 Blue Devils as a 9-player commando unit.  Each game, every strategy, who plays more and less, will be different depending on how Scheyer evaluates his team’s needs as the game flows on.  “We played nine guys, and all nine of them made some winning plays.  … When you have a lead, you don’t play the same way if it’s a tie game or if you’re down.”  Ohio State’s last lead in the game was 12-11, after less than 5 minutes had elapsed.  After that, the Blue Devils never let them take it again!

It surely was not a perfect game, but it was a good one, where Duke played a gutsy second half that secured the win.  Duke was also superb in the first half, holding the Buckeyes to 29 points, while the Blue Devils scored 39.  In the second half, the Blue Devils turned gritty and showed an admirable character by hanging tough and scoring even though Ohio State was blazing on offense. Even though the Blue Devils could not stop the Buckeye attack, the Devils never backed down, and kept the blazing Ohio State offense from ever getting  closer than 5 points (which the Buckeyes did 3 times).

The Blue Devils clung to the lead with their own blazing offense, and in the face of major adversity.  Both Kyle Filipowski  and Lively were saddled with four fouls for much of the closing period. Duke was not less than heroic, clinging to the lead even with their Bigs in foul trouble for the later portion of the game.  The heroes:  Ryan Young was fantastic; Roach was beyond stellar and gritty; Proctor did not miss a foul shot (6-6) in the clutch; and, Kyle made the play of the game with the lead down to five and the Buckeyes having  the momentum.  Filipowski dribbled behind his back on a drive to the basket, making a beautiful layup, and getting fouled.  Then, he made the foul shot, and Duke was on the road to a terrific “winning time” with just over 2 minutes to go.

Jeremy personified “hero”!  He didn’t practice at all after Portland because of the toe injury he suffered against Purdue; yet, he played all 20 minutes of this tight second half against the Buckeyes, demonstrating leadership, heart, and what a courageous winning attitude can accomplish. He had 10 of his 13 points in the second half, drew 5 Ohio State fouls with his acrobatic drives, going 6-8 from the foul line, as well as dishing out 5 second-half assists. It was yet another – maybe the most impressive so far – of his bravura performances!

THE ROTATION

Jeremy Roach (33:36) played a wonderful game on both offense and defense, especially after not having practiced since he was hurt against Purdue.  Even though he is not completely recovered, he led by example.  He scored 13 points as he drew 6 Buckeye fouls and was 7-9 from the foul line.  Jeremy was 3-6 inside the arc but 0-3 from deep. Critically, Jeremy willed Duke to victory in the second half, playing all 20 minutes, scoring 10 of his 13 points (2-5 from the field, including 0-1 from deep and a gaudy 6-8 from the stripe!) to go with a pair of important rebounds, and 5 assists (but 3 turnovers).  His driving drew 5 Ohio State fouls.  His leadership and heart were fully on display as Duke never let Ohio State get closer than 5 points.

Kyle Filipowski (30:26) led Duke in scoring with 16 points (6-11, including 4-6 from the stripe – without a 3 point attempt), to go with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.  Kyle made the winning play of the game when the Buckeyes cut Duke’s lead to 5 with 3:06 to go in the game (72-67).  From the perimeter, Kyle drove, going behind his back to get to the rim for a layup, and then a foul shot, for an 8-point Duke lead with only 2:30 left.  He committed 3 second-half fouls (he picked up his 4th foul for the game with 10:45 left and went to the bench).  However, he re-entered with 6:45 to go and played the rest of the game with winning panache (and without committing more fouls).

Tyrese Proctor (27:07) teamed with Jeremy to give Duke a reliable backcourt, penetrating the Buckeye defense.  Proctor scored 12 points (2-8 from the field, including 2-3 from deep, and a critical 6-6 from the stripe), to go with 3 rebounds and an assist.  He drew 5 Ohio State fouls.  He was also an aggressive defender and rebounder.

Jacob Grandison (25:55) played an integral role in this victory, scoring 9 points (on 3-5 from the field, including 1-2 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 4 big boards and 2 steals (against 2 turnovers).  His defense, found less than stellar  early in the season, was dramatically improved.  He played starter’s minutes.

Ryan Young (21:47) played more minutes than Dereck Lively because of Lively’s foul trouble (Dereck committed his 4th with 8:39 left in the game), and was both effective and valuable.  He scored 10 points (3-4 from the field and 4-4 from the stripe) to go with 5 rebounds and two assists.  It was in the second half that Ryan was a (and maybe the) star.  With both Lively and Filipowski playing fewer minutes because of foul trouble, Young scored 8 second-half points on perfect shooting (2-2 from the field and 4-4 from the stripe) with 3 key, tough rebounds.  Ryan, who transferred from Northwestern, thrives on the physicality of Big 10 basketball.

Dereck Lively II (17:41) had his best game at Duke so far, scoring 11 points on 4-5 from the field and 3-3 from the foul line.  He was a force on the interior, grabbing 5 rebounds, blocking a pair of shots (and altering others at the rim), with an assist, a steal, and a turnover.  Interestingly, Scheyer did not re-insert Dereck after he had committed his 4th foul, as Scheyer did with Kyle.  The result is Lively played less than 8 second-half minutes, even though he was 3-3 from the field and 1-1 from the stripe for 7 of his 11 points. Those 8 minutes may be the best Lively has played at Duke, but, unlike his trust in Kyle, Scheyer clearly didn’t think Dereck’s sophistication was up to being able to avoid the fifth foul (and so played Young instead).

Jaylen Blakes (15:21) is a defensive energizer bunny and moves the offense as well.  But he is not scoring (2 points on 1-5 from the field, including 0-2 on wide open 3-point attempts; no free throw attempts).  Jaylen played only 2:17 in the second half (which may be part of the reason Duke allowed 43 second-half Ohio State points).

Mark Mitchell (15:17) as Scheyer said, didn’t have his best stuff, but he hit a key 3 pointer and guarded Ohio State’s best player.   Mitchell scored 3 points on 1-3 from the field, including 1-2 from deep, to go with 2 boards, an assist, and a pair of turnovers.  He does seem to go from great game to invisible.

Dariq Whitehead (12:50) played an excellent first half, scoring 5 points in 10 minutes (2-3, including 1-1 from deep) and a pair of rebounds.  You can see the rust slowly coming off, but you can also see where the rust is still prominent (like in his dribble drives to the basket).  He played only 2:50 second-half minutes, missing both of his shots.  Scheyer: “Dariq took really good strides in the first half; his 3 and his offensive rebound.  How do you win?  You win by rebounding by defending and by making others better and these guys [Dariq and Dereck] did that tonight.”

SUMMING UP

The Duke women’s coach, Kara Lawson, made an insightful point about elite competitors.  Her team smashed Northwestern yesterday in the women’s ACC-Big 10 Challenge, holding Northwestern to 12 first-half points by playing amazing defense, to lead by 20 points at the half.  In the second half, Duke coasted, allowing Northwestern to score 23 fourth-quarter points (cutting the Duke lead to a, still substantial 15).  In the post-game press conference, Lawson was dramatically disappointed with her team’s second-half performance.  One of the reporters suggested it was just human nature to let up a bit when a team was in such complete control of the  game.  Lawson’s response is worth considering:

“Yes, I think it’s human nature for average people, but I don’t think it’s human nature for elite people, elite competitors.  I think when you are an elite competitor, you don’t care what the score is; you don’t care if it is practice or a game. You have a lot of pride in how you play.  We have to improve in that area.”

Kara was an elite competitor as a player.  On the men’s team, Jeremy has fully earned recognition as “an elite competitor”.  Jeremy leads a 9 man commando unit that is morphing into a gritty unselfish cohesive (almost) team.

The Blue Devil defense has been more consistent than the offense, but the offense was at its season best against Ohio State.  Duke is  heading into the ACC regular season with optimism.  Each year the Duke goals are the same: win the ACC regular season title; win the ACC tournament; win the National Championship (I am enough of a realist that making the Final Four feels like a truly great season).  The Ohio State game was a nice step toward having a team that can accomplish one or more of those goals – And, it was a whole lot more fun to watch than the Purdue game!

Next Play: Saturday, December 3 vs. Boston College in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 4:00 p.m. — ACC-regular season opener on ACCN.

A Lively Dunk.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Scheyer surveying his commando squad. 
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
To the basket! Jeremy drives.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Kyle on his way to clinch the game with a late layup.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 75 v. Boston College Eagles 59 (Season 14; Issue 9; Game # 10) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. December 3, 2022

Jacob Grandison lines up another basket his 3 pointers have been an antidote to Duke’s otherwise disappointing perimeter shooting
Photo Credit: Ethan Hyman
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

As expected, Duke utilized their size, depth, and talent to take care of business in Cameron against an undersized and shorthanded Boston College Eagles. It might be easy to say that this precocious Blue Devil team is underperforming, but I think Coach Scheyer has done an outstanding job putting this team together and is doing a fine job managing their playing time. He substitutes in waves. Certainly Ryan Young and Jacob Grandison have become surprising additional contributors of both talent and maturity to the team. For a more complete assessment, read today’s Duke Basketball Report com. [Alan’s comment; The DBR assessment just skims the surface compared to the assessment in Alanalysis and Rotation below 🙂 – The Editorial staff agrees! ]

The freshmen were the main contributors on offense, but the veteran trio of Jeremy Roach, Ryan Young and Jacob Grandison played significant roles in setting the team right. Roach was a steady hand at the lead guard spot, Young deployed his clever fundamentals early on, and Grandison provided some much-needed 3-pointers.”They’re always ready for us. Always ready.” Scheyer said of his veterans: “Any given moment, any responsibility … It’s their toughness.  It’s the winning plays. They’ve learned from their experience in their college careers what it means to win.”

Early Injuries to Lively and Whitehead have also slowed the development of the team, but both have demonstrated glimpses of having NBA skills. While I agree with Alan that the interior defense is impressive,  I feel their perimeter defense needs attention. Some teams like Carolina (late last season version) will get hot and beat them with threes. Also, Mark Mitchell must have read my commentary on his play in recent games – that he has been impressive against smaller players, but not against better, bigger competition. I also said, “I hope I am wrong, because he is a talented versatile player.” Last night, Mark seemed to be making me eat my words by leading Duke in scoring and shooting lights out (6-7 from the field). However, consistency is important at higher levels of competition.  

ALANALYSIS:

Jon Scheyer is building a team in his first season that is intriguing, and different from the Coach K method.  Duke has shown a 9-player rotation that is very flexible offensively, depending on how Scheyer and his staff determine to attack the adversary’s defense. On defense, this rotation is most often stunning, if not yet as consistent as it will be.  Against BC, the first half was a defensive gem. However, Duke women’s coach,Kara Lawson, would have criticized the lack of defensive aggression from time to time in the second half, where the Blue Devils gave up 36 points after holding the Eagles to 23 first-half points. B.C. scored more points in the second half than Duke had scored in the first half (36-35). Scheyer: “Proud of the overall effort, our defense was really good. Finally, we could string some stops together, and that translated into some good offense for us.”  Kara seems to be more of a hard truth teller than Scheyer.

Here, in a Scheyer nutshell, is his philosophy for maximizing the talent on this roster, “We can come in waves, and our first group started out; I thought we were okay. Then I thought, when we subbed, we got some more energy.  That makes the guys, when they’re coming back in, have more energy.  We have a lot of different lineups.

Really, each one of our guys have played, stepped up, and contributed. That’s going to be who we are all season. … [We’re a] versatile group, incorporating full court pressure, whether it be zone or man, and using our depth is a big thing. Using our size and length protecting our rim … We really value what we’re doing; the ability to score in different ways. We had nine guys score tonight. You’re not going to have that all the time, but with this group, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens many more times the rest of the year.”

Scheyer concludes, “Using our depth is a big thing, we have to continue to figure out who has the hot hand that day. … The ability to play differently with different lineups, I think, is really an advantage.”

The Defense

After a bit of a lackadaisical start (compared to the rest of the dynamically defensive first half), the Blue Devils played locked-down defense.  BC scored its 11th first-half point after 6:55 had elapsed in the first 6:55  to lead Duke by 3 (11-8).  Twelve minutes and 35 seconds later, the Eagles had managed only 9 more points, and trailed Duke 35-20.  Almost every Blue Devil played double-figure minutes in the opening period (except Ryan Young who appeared for a scintillating 7 minutes and Dariq Whitehead who had only a 5:20 cameo).  B.C. was held to 9-33 from the field (27%), including 1-10 from deep (Duke contested virtually every Eagle 3 point attempt).

Duke’s defense relaxed a bit in the second half where the Blue Devil lead was never less than double figures.  The Eagles were 15-31 from the field for almost 50%, and out rebounded the much taller Blue Devils 15-11, and on the offensive boards by 7-2.  This is where Kara Lawson’s admonition (in the Ohio State DBP) that elite competitors bring it every minute, regardless of the score or whether it’s a game or practice. It’s pride in how you play the game.  Scheyer might make Kara a guest lecturer in the men’s locker room.

The Offense

The offensive display was welcome after the poor shooting halves in the Purdue and Oregon State games..  Duke shot 53% from the field (28-53, including 8-20 from deep and 11-13 from the foul line) and, tellingly, had 19 assists on the 28 field goals, the mark of a cohesive unselfish offense.  Only 10 turnovers.  Very efficient.

As soon as Bill wrote that Mark Mitchell would be the odd man out of the starting lineup when Dariq Whitehead returned to his best form, Mark led Duke in scoring for the game, with one of the best offensive halves played by any Duke player this year!  He was the only double-digit scorer for Duke in the closing stanza, with 13 points in 12:13 on perfect shooting (5-5 from the field including 2-2 from deep and 1-1 from the stripe).  The entire team was lethal, shooting a dazzling 58 % (14-24, including an excellent 5-10 from behind the arc as well as a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line). 

Filipowski (nicknamed Flip) scored an efficient 7 second-half points in 10:48 on 3 shots (2-3 from the field, including 1-1 from 3land and 2-2 from the stripe).  Tyrese Proctor also scored 7 points, on 3 attempts in 11:20 (2-3 from the field, including 1-2 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe).  Dariq had a significant second half, playing 11:11 while scoring 6 points (3-5 from the field).

Only Ryan and Dereck Lively (D-Live is, of course, his nickname), who each played 6 ½ minutes, did not play double digit minutes in the second half.  Ryan didn’t score; D-Live was 1-1 for 2 points. Duke played a significant stretch with Flip as the center; that worked better on offense.

THE ROTATION

Jeremy Roach (27:45) scored 6 points (2-8, including 2-5 from behind the arc) with a rebound and 3 assists – and some suffocating defense.

Kyle Filipowski (25:28) had his fifth double-double of the season so far (10 games), scoring 13 points (4-10 from the field, including 1-3 from deep and 4-4 from the foul line) to go with 10 boards, an assist, and a steal. Scheyer has been enthusiastic about all of Flip’s developing game, but has especially  emphasized his rebounding and defending.

Jaylen Blakes (23:59) only scored 2 points (1-3, including 0-1 from 3land), but he handed out 5 assists, and made a steal.  The Coach praised Jaylen in his post game press conference, “I just want to say Jaylen Blakes, man, he’s done a big-time job for us. He’s coming in every game giving us energy.”

Tyrese Proctor (23:51) scored 9 points (3-6, including 1-4 from 3land and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 3 assists, without a turnover.  He is playing like an efficient point guard. 

Jacob Grandison (22:04) is establishing himself as Duke’s best long-range shooter.  He scored 10 points (3-6 from the field, including 2-4 from behind the arc).  Jacob had his best all-around game by adding 6 defensive rebounds, handing out 3 assists and blocking a shot; he is playing better defense than early in the season.  Grandison has scored in double figures in four games.   In four previous years – two with  Holy Cross and two with Illinois, Grandison was a scorer, but that isn’t his main concern at Duke. “What really matters is win, win, win,” Grandison said. Grandison now has double-digit point totals in 60 of his career games.

Mark Mitchell (21:51) had his best game at Duke so far.  He led the Blue Devils in scoring, with 15 points (an astounding 6-7 from the field, including 2-2 from deep, and 1-3 from the foul line), to go with 4 boards, an assist and a blocked shot.  Mark said, “I got going on the defensive end a little bit, got a block, got a couple of stops, and I think that just fueled me to play offense.” 

Dereck Lively II (19:15) had another excellent outing, as he continues his comeback from his calf injury.  He scored 8 points on 4-5 (all next to the rim) and blocked 3 shots.  He also had 2 tough rebounds. Scheyer: “Dereck Lively had three blocked shots, but he impacted way more than just the three blocks by just his being in the game. You can see his activity and confidence is growing each and every day.”

Dariq Whitehead (16:31) continues to play a bit more and a bit better as he returns from his broken foot.  He scored 6 points on 3-5 shooting close to the basket.  He also had 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He is still turning the ball over when he is aggressive on offense (3 turnovers).  Scheyer: “Dariq did some really good things. He’s still getting back in the flow.”

Ryan Young (13:44) scored 6 points on perfect shooting (2-2 near the rim and 2-2 from the stripe).  He is a great sub for Lively, grabbing 4 boards, blocking 2 shots, with an assist and a steal.

SUMMING UP

Another worth-watching test these Blue Devils will undergo will be in the World’s Most Famous Arena against the Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1 so far this season), who have already beaten ACC teams Clemson and Georgia Tech.  Iowa’s only loss was to the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University (TCU) in the finals of the Emerald Classic, before beating Georgia Tech in a regularly scheduled game.  (The Hawkeyes were ranked before their loss to TCU)  The Iowa star, Kris Murray (6’8” forward), scored 31 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against Georgia Tech!  Murray (and the Hawkeyes as a team) will challenge  the Blue Devil defense.

Next Play: Tuesday, December 6 vs. Iowa at Madison Square Garden (NYC) in the Jimmy V. Classic, at 9:30 p.m. EST, on ESPN

Mark Mitchell goes airborne.
Photo Credit: Ethan Hyman
Mark Mitchell, spurred by Bill’s criticism, was Duke’s high scorer.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Grandison struts his stuff.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 74 v. Iowa Hawkeyes 62 (Season 14; Issue 10; Game # 11) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. December 6, 2022

Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke played their best game of the year tonight in Madison Square Garden in beating Iowa (6-1) 74-62!  Jeremy Roach had the best shooting game of his career. Mark Mitchell must read the DBP; since I had written that his recent unproductive play made him the odd man out, when Darig Whitehead fully recovers from surgery and gets in game condition, Mitchell has played his best basketball.  The same is true of Proctor the last few weeks. With a nine-man rotation, Coach Scheyer has multiple options at his disposal to answer an opponent’s challenge. So, while I am on a roll, I must mention that Kyle Filipowski has cooled off somewhat in his offense; missing the front end of one- and- ones is a recipe for losing.

 The Blue Devil defense and rebounding made it difficult for the Hawkeye players to rally from a deficit for most of the game! Just regard the Mitchell and Whitehead defense on Kris Murray, who is averaging 21 points a game and was coming off a career-high 31-point game against Georgia Tech a week earlier.

Scheyer said: “I think our offense will just continue to develop through the course of the season, … but the defense is the base of who we are. The two things I always connect to Duke basketball – playing defense and sharing the ball. And we’ll continue to emphasize that, but just proud of the effort.”

So far, so good for Coach Scheyer’s start of the difficult task of replacing Coach K. Replacing a legend is a daunting task! Just look at UCLA since John Wooden retired.  And when was the last time Carolina lost four games in a row? 

ALANALYSIS:

Duke chose the World’s Most Famous Arena to play its absolutely best game of the season.  It was the team’s best game because Jeremy Roach (22 points), Mark Mitchell (17 points), and Dariq Whitehead (8 points, 3 assists, and 6 rebounds) each had a “best game of the young season”.  In addition, Kyle (Flip) Filipowski had his 6th double double in 11 games (12 points; 10 rebounds). When Dereck (D-Live) Lively II got into early foul trouble, Ryan Young picked up the interior rebounding (11 rebounds) and defense (3 blocks).  Duke had 7 blocked shots (Ryan’s 3; 2 by D-Live in his short stint; 1 by Dariq; and 1 by Mark). 

In fact, Duke looked so good  that Bill voiced to me that Iowa looked like they must be just a terrible team.  Of course, as Bill knows, the Hawkeyes are a good team, contenders in The Big 10, one of the nation’s toughest conferences.

The Blue Devils were superb defensively, and cohesive and efficient on offense. The Iowa Hawkeyes came in averaging 86.4 points per game, but could score only 62.  Duke held an opponent to under 65 points for the eighth time this season.  Both Coach K and now Coach S have a defensive philosophy of shutting down the best player on the opponent’s team. Scheyer assigned Mark and Dariq that task, which they accomplished brilliantly.  Kris Murray, Iowa’s All-American candidate, averaging over 21 points per game, was held to 8! 

Duke was efficient on offense, despite some lapses.  The Blue Devil lead was always safe, but the Hawkeyes stayed close, and frequently reduced the double-digit lead to single digits, but without ever threatening Duke’s lead.

The Defense

Scheyer: “What it comes down to in March, is you need to get stops.”  The coach praised his guards for tough on-the-ball defense making penetration by the opponent difficult, and included praise as well to Flip, D-Live, and Ryan for protecting the rim and defensive backboard.  Scheyer believes the defense is also enhanced by the size of perimeter defenders like Mark, and Dariq, who did such a dynamic defensive job on Kris Murray. Tyrese has become a worthy perimeter defender, who is 6’5”.

The Scheyer defense was to shut down Iowa’s best player, Kris Murray.  Mark provided this insight, “ We just had a gameplan to come in and try to stop him  [Murray]. We knew he’s a talented player, I tried to keep him off the glass as much as we could, I knew he averages a lot of offensive rebounds. We just tried to defend him as a team, not let him get any easy looks and just pressure him all night and make it hard for him.” Murray said after the game, “Every time I drove, they showed multiple defenders.”  Defense has been and will be the Blue Devil’s greatest challenge; they are meeting it dramatically so far.

The Offense

The Blue Devils are sharing the ball and taking care of it.  Duke had 13 assists on 28 made field goals, against only 9 turnovers, while scoring 37 points in each half.  Five players carried the offensive scoring because the other four were not scoring.  Blakes (0-2) failed to score, Young (1-2) and Lively (1-1) notched only 2 points, while Grandison scored a 3 while missing his other 2 shots.  Every one of Duke’s 9 players in the rotation has played multiple excellent games; at times, players have an off game, but the collective has been powerful. Duke’s offense against Iowa was the Blue Devils’ best offense of the year, and leaves mouthwatering potential if and when Dariq and D-Live are fully healthy.  

THE ROTATION

Jeremy Roach (36:51) gave us yet another bravura performance as a clutch scorer, as a skilled defender, but most importantly, as the leader of this young team!  Jeremy scored 22 points — 11 in each half – to lead Duke in scoring (8-18 from the field, including 3-6 from behind the arc and 3-3 from the foul line) to go with 3 assists and a pair of rebounds.  His acrobatic drives drew 4 Hawkeye fouls. One event illustrates his value as a leader – the glue that makes the Blue Devils go.  With 1:54 left in the game and Duke ahead by 12 (68-56), Scheyer felt the game was safe and took Roach out. Scheyer reversed his decision 43 seconds later as the Hawkeyes reduced the Duke lead to 8 by creating turnovers.  Jeremy re-entered the game and immediately restored order, pushing the Duke lead to 14 (74-60) with 13 seconds left.  Iowa scored a meaningless last second basket for the final 12-point margin.  Jeremy’s star is shining brightly.  We as fans get the old time pleasure of watching a young man grow from an underperforming newcomer to a formidable veteran – because he stayed in school.

Tyrese Proctor (28:55) is improving quickly as Jeremy’s backcourt mate. Tyrese scored 8 points — 7 in the first half – establishing himself not only offensively, but also as a tenacious on-the-ball defender.  Proctor was 3-6 from the field, including 1-3 from deep; he was 1-2 from the stripe, to go with 3 assists without a turnover, and a steal.  In the post-game press conference (Scheyer had Mitchell and Roach with him), Jeremy praised Tyrese, “He’s been a natural point guard his whole life. He takes pressure off me and off my legs.  I’m thankful for him.”

Mark Mitchell (28:52) played his best game (again) at both ends of the floor.  On offense, Mark scored an efficient 17 points — 13 in the second half – on 8 shots (6-8 from the field, missing his only shot 1 from deep; and 5-5 from the foul line).  He led the Blue Devils in scoring in the closing period.  Mark’s defense was superb.  He was the primary defender guarding Kris Murray.  Mitchell was the major defensive stopper that held Murray to 8 points on 3-9 shooting.  He well deserved to be at the press conference with Jeremy.

Ryan Young (25:27) played more minutes than usual because of Dereck Lively’s foul trouble.  Ryan scored only 2 points (1-2 from the field), but led Duke in rebounding with 11 (2 offensive) and blocked 3 shots in his valuable defensive effort.  Ryan proves his worth to this team almost every game.  He not only played more minutes than Lively, he also played more than Filipowski.

Kyle Filipowski (25:15) quietly achieved his 6th double-double, in only the 11th game of the season, scoring 12 points (5-15, including 1-4 from 3land and 1-3 from the stripe) on less than stellar shooting, and grabbing 10 rebounds (4 were offensive).  It seemed as if Flip is not playing as well as he had in previous games, but then you look up and he merely had a double-double.

Dariq Whitehead (20:45) played his best game so far, scoring 8 points (3-7 from the field, including 1-3 from behind the arc and 1-1 from the stripe).  The rust is coming off game by game.  Dariq guarded Kris Murray, when Mitchell was not, and was quite effective.  His passing is sharpening up as he demonstrated by handing out  3 assists and only one turnover (offensive foul on a drive).  Even better, Dariq showcased his athleticism by hauling in 6 tough rebounds.  It is recognized that he has the potential to raise the level of this team as he sheds his rust.  Very encouraging.

Dereck Lively II (13:22) committed two early first-half fouls that severely limited his playing time and impacted his aggressiveness.  He and Jeremy combined for a sweet pick and roll, where D-Live dunked impressively.  That was his only field goal attempt and his only 2 points.  He had a single rebound.  A bit disappointing.

Jacob Grandison (7:20) hit his first shot, a 3 pointer, when the Hawkeyes left him wide open for his only 3 points of the game (1-2 from the field).  He also grabbed a rebound and blocked a shot.  His limited playing time was not about Jacob playing badly, it was just that others were doing the job.  That is how Scheyer is developing his team.

Jaylen Blakes (6:01) in spite of his high energy on defense, he had another scoreless game (0-2, including 0-1, without a foul shot).  He grabbed 2 defensive rebounds and handed out an assist.

SUMMING UP

The schedule now gives the Blue Devils time to practice, which should greatly benefit both Whitehead and Lively, who have been short on practice time.  They missed the pre-season.  By the time they saw the court, Duke was already playing a string of games, without time to practice together.  Finally, they will have that needed time.  After the game against Maryland Eastern Shore this coming Saturday, Duke has 10 days before an ACC game at Wake Forest (on Tuesday, December 20), followed by an 11 day hiatus before Duke hosts Florida State on the afternoon of New Year’s eve.

With former teammates Trevor Keels and Mark Williams, NBA rookies with the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets, respectively, sitting courtside, Jeremy Roach was observed trading comments with each.  I hope the NBA rookies were suitably jealous because Jeremy is basking in the limelight  while Keels is toiling in the G-League and Williams is watching basketball from the bench.

Next Play: Saturday, December 10 vs. Maryland Eastern Shore in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 5:30 p.m. on ACCN.


Duke Blue Devils 82 v. University of Maryland Eastern Shores Hawks 55 (Season 14; Issue 11; Game # 12) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. (December 10, 2022)

Bill’s CliffsNotes

As a precautionary measure, Jeremy Roach, the team’s most essential player, sat out the game to rest his toe injured in the Purdue game. He has played, but not practiced, since then. Consequently, Coach Scheyer started five freshmen and gave Tyrese Proctor an opportunity to run the point, which he did quite well.  This game was a mismatch and, if it were a prize fight, would have been stopped at the half.  The Hawks never gave up but were no match for Duke’s size and talent differential.

The Blue Devils dominated the boards but committed 19 turnovers—an unacceptable number. They made 40% of their threes. Let’s hope that is a trend. On successive possessions, Dariq Whitehead drove the lane for a dunk, then faked a drive from top of the key and hit a three.  Once at full strength, Whitehead will make Duke a better team at both ends of the floor.  Scheyer said of Whitehead, who started in place of Roach: “I want him to just get out in transition more, attack the basket, and I don’t think he’s shown yet, I think you’ll see soon just what a defender he can be too.”

Randolph Childress, the great shooting guard for Wake Forest and the MVP for the 1995 NCAA tournament, was the color announcer for the game and made several cogent remarks. He commented that this break before the new year is a good opportunity for the young team to heal, and the players to work on their game skills.

Miscellaneous Comments:

  • Jaden Schutt, a Duke freshman shooting guard, who was the 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois, might be someone to keep an eye on. If he stays around, he might become a valuable player — if not this year, in the future. Three point shooting is not a strength of this Blue Devil squad.
  • North Carolina looked a lot better beating Georgia Tech handily Saturday than they did in their four previous losses. The Tarheels will be a tough out for any ACC team, as will Virginia, always a difficult opponent.
ALANALYSIS:

Jeremy’s Injury and Absence

The Blue Devils faced the Hawks, a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) team with a mediocre 3-6 record coming into the game.  Duke’s talent and size advantage pressaged a mismatch. However, Jeremy Roach didn’t play – which made for a different game.  Coach S explained the Jeremy situation, “He’ll be ok for our next game.  He just has been playing through pain.  He hasn’t been able to practice; he hasn’t been able to do extra work.  This is the one chance we have for him to get back to 100%.  He won’t do anything for the next couple of days.  He’s already progressing healing-wise.”

Average or Elite Competitors?

In Jeremy’s absence, the Blue Devils committed a horrendous 19 turnovers (14 were Hawk steals from careless Duke ball handling and their dramatic lack of intensity).  Scheyer saw the problem, and acknowledged that solving it was his responsibility.  “I thought tonight in the first half they brought the fight to us more than we brought the fight to them.  That’s what I wasn’t as happy with.  That’s on me. That is our preparation, and what we have to do to get ready.”  It was obvious that Duke behaved  (in Kara Lawson’s words) like average players, rather than elite competitors who don’t care about the score, who the opponent is, or whether it is a game or practice.  Elite competitors play all out because of their pride in their craft.  If our new young coach can instill the mindset of elite competitors in this (or any) team, he will be a great coach.

Scheyer’s Optimism is Justified

Duke played 12 games in 33 days to open the season, which left little time in practice to work on anything besides getting ready for the next game.  Duke does not play again until December 20, and so – after exams – the Blue Devils will finally be able to work on improving what the team has and adding to its offensive and defensive repertoires, while continuing to integrate Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead into the team.  Dariq broke out dramatically in the second half against UMES .  His return to, as Scheyer put it, “being himself” has the potential to take Duke to a higher level.

The defense has been ahead of the offense so far this season.  Duke’s length has enabled the Blue Devils to protect the rim and rebound effectively at both ends of the floor.  The perimeter defense has been outstanding.  Scheyer is eager to test his defense against conference opponents.

The coach plans to add some offensive creativity now that there is time to do so.  Coach K used to say he coached 3 things: offense, defense, and communication; Scheyer clearly heard him.  “We’re learning what it takes to win. The talent has been there, the unselfishness has been there. Now it’s the plays, the loose balls, the talking on defense, how to work to get open. All the little details; they’re embracing what they’re seeing, and I think their confidence is improving, and our confidence is growing. We have a long way to go and a lot to work on, but I do feel we’re night and day already from who we were to start the year until right now.” 

 THE ROTATION

Tyrese Proctor (26:00) ran the team in Jeremy Roach’s absence.  He (tied with Dariq Whitehead) led Duke in scoring with 15 points (5-9 from the field including 2-4 from 3land, and 3-3 from the foul line).  Four turnovers diminished an otherwise worthy performance.  Scheyer: “The thing with him is that he’s really smart, he’s really unselfish, and the next step is just taking what he knows and talking more. I want him to talk more and to use his voice, because he sees things that others don’t or can’t, and he really carried the load for us with ball handling responsibilities.  …  When Jeremy [Roach] comes back we feel like the two of those guys can play off one another very well.”

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (25:37) scored 12 in the first half, 14 points total, , (6-11, including 0-2 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 7 rebounds, 3 steals (team lead), and two  assists.  Flip committed 4 of Duke’s 19 turnovers.

Dariq Whitehead (24:56) had his longest stint on the court and his best game at Duke.  He (and Tyrese) led Duke in scoring with 15 points (6-14, including 1-5 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 2 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a blocked shot.  Dariq had a frustrating first half, scoring only 2 points on 1-6 shooting.  Then came a breakout second half.  In 12 minutes, Dariq scored 13 points (5-8, including 1-3 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe).  He was the Blue Devils’ only double-digit scorer in the closing period.  Coach S is rightfully excited, “he’s a complete player: defender, and can really pass. …With his size and athleticism, he can guard multiple positions.”

Jaylen Blakes (22:24) teamed with Tyrese in the backcourt as well as running the team by himself at times.  He is such an energetic defender, who can dazzle with his quickness.  He scored 6 points (1-2 from 3land and 3-4 from the stripe).  “Jaylen plays hard all the time, and it’s infectious. It translates to the rest of the group”, enthused his coach.

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (21:28) scored 5 points (2-5 from the field, including 1-2 from 3land) to go with 5 gaudy rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.  Scheyer linked Jacob with Jaylen in his praise, “When they go in the game, they may not make every right play, but who does? Jake, you can tell with him, he’s a really calming influence.  He’s a great passer, I’ve got to get him where he’s shooting more open shots.  He’s really unselfish, and he just plays hard all the time.”

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (20:30) played an impactful game, with 9 rebounds and 5 blocks.  He scored 8 points (3-8 from the field, including 0-2 from 3land and 2-2 from the stripe).  His size advantage wore the Hawks down.

Jaden Schutt (18:48) played his first significant minutes this year.  The freshman brought with him a reputation as a lethal perimeter shooter.  He enhanced that reputation by making all 3 of his 3-point attempts (his only field goal attempts) for 9 points.  He also grabbed 5 rebounds and handed out an assist.  Scheyer was pleased, “Jaden Schutt, he’s worked, you guys haven’t been able to see it, but he’s worked before practice, after practice, he’s been the best player on every team we scout, and that’s a role that a lot of big-time players have had here. I was in that role.” [In practice , players emulate the opponent (based on scouting reports).   Most teams have a star.  It is a special role to be the Duke player who emulates that star in practice. Jaden has been selected to do that (as Scheyer was at times when he was a player)].

Scheyer continued on to highlight Schutt’s importance beyond just scoring, “The first play he made was an offensive rebound; it wasn’t a shot, it wasn’t a three, it was an offensive rebound and that got us going.”

Mark Mitchell (16:48) disappeared again into a disappointing game.  He managed only 2 points (1-3 from the field without a 3-point attempt or a free throw).  His 3 careless turnovers limited his playing time, although he grabbed 4 boards and passed for 2 assists in his shorter-than-usual stint on the court.

Ryan Young (12:18) played a bit less than usual but was his consistently impactful self.  He scored 4 points (2-3 from the field) to go with 3 defensive rebounds.

THE CONFERENCE SEASON BEGINS!

The schedule now gives the Blue Devils time to practice, which should greatly benefit both Whitehead and Lively.  Duke has 10 days before the ACC opener at Wake Forest (on Tuesday, December 20) followed by an 11-day hiatus before Duke hosts Florida State at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Eve Day.

This young team’s first road game, against Wake in Winston-Salem, will be a dangerous test. Road games are different from neutral site games.  The freshmen will be facing a hostile crowd and a Demon Deacon team smarting from a bad loss to LSU on a last-second shot, after blowing a huge lead.  ACC road games are a whole different kettle of fish, and will be baptism by fire for the freshmen. 

 The Obvious ACC Contenders

Despite the ACC’s 8-6 win in the final “ACC-Big 10 Challenge” (Nov 2022), the ACC has been viewed as a “weak” conference.  For example, the ACC has only 2 teams in the top 25 – Virginia (8-0) at # 3 and our own Duke Blue Devils at # 15.  Virginia Tech (9-1, with wins over power conference teams Penn State and Minnesota, deserves to be ranked), Miami (10-1), and UNC (astoundingly the first pre-season # 1 to fall completely out of the top 25, resulting from 4 consecutive losses, after 5 opening wins) received votes, but not enough to be in the top 25. Only Boston College (5-6), Louisville (a shocking 0-9), and Florida State (2-9) have looked completely inept so far.  The remaining 7 teams – Clemson (8-3), NC State (8-3), Notre Dame (8-2), Wake Forest (7-3), Pittsburgh (7-4), Syracuse (6-4) and Georgia Tech (6-4) — will be ACC-tough, especially at home, but not contenders for National honors.

Before anyone counts UNC out, let us remember how much trouble Hubert Davis had with his Tarheels from November until February last year.  UNC was a major disappointment until the ‘Heels transformed, beating Duke on both Senior Night in Cameron and in the Final Four, denying Coach K the Hollywood ending that we had all hoped for.  Last night, UNC looked like a ranked team as the ‘Heels blasted Georgia Tech 75-59, with Bacot returning to form to score 21 points and grab 13 rebounds.

It will be illuminating to see how Scheyer handles his current 9-player rotation. We are used to the Coach K years, when the rotation shrunk as ACC play became more intense; the later in the season, the leaner the rotation.  Duke’s next game, on the road against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest, will give us the first inkling of how Scheyer’s early-season philosophy will succeed in ACC play.

It has the potential to be a scintillating ACC regular season! 

Next Play: Tuesday, December 20 vs. Wake Forest in Winston-Salem at 6:30 p.m. on ACCN


Duke Blue Devils 70 v. Wake Forest Demon Deacons 81 (Season 14; Issue 12; Game # 13) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (December 20, 2022)

“We have to play like Ryan and Jaylen did tonight. And I thought they set a great example. But we need everybody to play that way.”
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke played Wake Forest, which had squeaked by Appalachian State 67-66 Wednesday on a last second basket, before suffering an ugly 81-57 loss at Rutgers three days later. Duke was without both center Dereck Lively and forward Dariq Whitehead, who were left in the infirmary while recovering from the flu. The way the rest of the team, except Jaylen Blakes, played, they all should have stayed in bed. The remaining Blue Devils played as poorly as any team I can remember. They trailed the Demon Deacons by double digits most of the game. 

Johnny Tar Heel speculated that during Exam Week Carolina, losers of four straight before beating Ohio State, had a personality transplant with Duke. I thought that unlikely, because Duke players actually take their own exams, while it is well documented that Carolina players have a tawdry history of….. 

All jokes aside, it is disappointing that none of the remaining players stepped up to fill the void of the missing players. Kyle Filipowski, in particular, has been inconsistent lately, and not only failed to achieve a double-double, he scored only 9 points and retrieved only 4 rebounds.  He was 0-6 from behind the arc.  The team as a whole shot threes and free throws poorly, and without Lively protecting the rim, the Deacons dominated the paint—plus the Joel Coliseum has usually been a tough venue for the Blue Devils. 

Last night, Miami beat Virginia, so all the usual suspects now have a loss.  Time will tell whether this Duke loss to Wake was a one-off anomaly, or whether this group of freshmen is overrated.

ALANALYSIS:

Even though Scheyer had proclaimed in his Monday pre-game press conference that, “Jeremy [Roach] is in good shape. He’ll be ready to go for tomorrow night and Dariq [Whitehead], Dereck [Lively II], the same.  We’re as good health-wise as we’ve been all season.” Lively and Dariq got sick and did not even travel to Winston-Salem with the team, while Jeremy showed evidence that his toe was still adversely impacting his performance.  And a genuinely terrible performance – by the whole team – it indisputably was.  

Ryan Young put his finger on the fatal flaw, “we came out lethargic tonight, they jumped on us, and we never could dig ourselves out of the hole that we put ourselves in in the first half. It keeps on coming back to effort and not wanting it as much tonight. They were able to get in our paint pretty easily, and they were able to get to the free throw line very easily against us.”  

The Blue Devils, who have been one of the nation’s outstanding rebounding teams, were outrebounded by the Deacons.  Ryan: “It’s inexcusable. It [rebounding] is toughness and it’s effort. It’s not much else that goes into rebounding. And it was embarrassing that we couldn’t win that tonight. As Coach mentioned, they out toughed us and they came out right from the jump and they wanted it more than us.”

Scheyer acknowledged in his post-game press conference, “They were the hungrier team, and [you could tell] their sense of urgency. For us, we didn’t have that. They outrebounded us. I thought the free throws were key, you know, they got to the free throw line, they made 22 out of 26. That’s on us. They drove the ball stronger than we did, and we probably fouled a few times when we shouldn’t have. When we missed some shots, that impacted our defense and (we were) taken aback by it. Our defense has always started with guarding the ball. And they just drove us like crazy, and just got in our paint at will.” 

It looked like the first day of practice after summer vacation.  The Blue Devils lacked any semblance of cohesion on defense (gave up 81 points, 42 in the second half) and could not get a stop when one was needed. Worse, Duke committed 14 fouls just in the second half.  Jaylen Blakes fouled out, Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach each finished with 4 fouls.  

The Blue Devils simply could not shoot accurately. The best Duke-3 point shooters  were collectively 2-19 from behind the arc  Filipowski (0-6), Tyrese Proctor (1-5), Jacob Grandison (1-5) and Roach (0-3 – not counting the only one he made, which was meaningless with 22 seconds left in the game).  

The Blue Devils could not hold onto the ball.   Duke would get a steal and then give it back through consistently careless ball handling.  The 13 second-half turnovers seemed like more.

The Defense

As both Ryan and Coach acknowledged, the Blue Devils defense was virtually non-existent. Tyree Appleby, the Wake Forest point guard, drove past Jeremy as if Jeremy were standing still – which he was. Duke committed 14 second-half fouls and put the Demon Deacons in the bonus with less than 7 minutes having elapsed in the second half.  Wake was 15-16 from the foul line in the second half, and shot almost 50% from the field (49.1% for the game; 52% in the second half when the Demon Deacons scored 42 points).

The Offense

The Blue Devils had a disappointing first half, shooting under 40% including 3-15 from behind the arc, and shooting only 5 free throws.  Duke’s offense picked up in the second half (scoring 40 points on 50% shooting (14-28, including 5-12 from deep, and 7-9 from the stripe).  Thirteen turnovers for the game – 8 in the second half –  kept Duke from mounting a wished-for comeback as the game wound down.

THE ROTATION

Jeremy Roach (35:12) scored 9 points (on 3-7 shooting, including 1-4 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the stripe).  His one successful deep shot was meaningless, coming 22 seconds from the end of the game, and reducing the Wake margin of victory from 14 to 11.  I think Jeremy is still hurt and that adversely impacts his quickness.  He could not defend, committing 4 fouls (3 of the Blue Devils’ 14 second-half fouls) as well as 5 turnovers (only 2 assists).  Duke’s offense misfired badly in the first half when Jeremy was 0-4 from the field (0-3 from deep) in almost 17 first-half minutes.  

Ryan Young (34:37) came within a rebound of a double-double.  He scored 10 points (5-6 from the field, without a foul shot or a deep shot attempt) to go with 9 boards, 3 assists without a turnover, plus a steal.  Scheyer said, “I thought he really battled. We didn’t give him the ball enough.”

Mark Mitchell (32:21) was Duke’s second leading scorer with 14 points (4-8 from the field, including 2-3 from 3land and 4-5 from the foul line) to go with 4 boards, an assist, a steal, and a turnover.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (27:12) had a subpar game for him.  He scored only 9 points on 14 shots (4-14 from the field, including a disastrous 0-6 on wide open deep shots, plus 1-3 from the stripe).  He had almost as many turnovers as rebounds (5 turnovers; 6 boards) and committed all 4 fouls of his game-fouls in the second half, where Duke’s defense consisted primarily of fouling Wake players.  

Jaylen Blakes (25:45, 15:19 in the second half before he fouled out in the last minute of the game) played his best game at Duke, leading the Blue Devils in scoring with 17 points (6-7 from the field, including 3-4 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 3 assists (1 turnover) and 3 steals.  Blakes scored 10 second-half points on perfect 3-3 shooting from the field, including 2-2 from deep, plus 2-2 from the stripe. Scheyer acknowledged Blakes’s great game, “Jaylen Blakes really guarded and gave us great energy. We have to play like those two guys  [Ryan and Jaylen] did tonight. And I thought they set a great example. But we need everybody to play that way.”

Tyrese Proctor (24:02) didn’t shoot well and played fewer minutes (9:25) in the second half after 13 minutes in the opening period.  For the game he scored 6 points (2-7 from the field, including 1-5 from 3land and 1-2 from the foul line).  His defense was spotty, some good steals, but Wake penetrated the Blue Devils’ perimeter defense at will.

Jacob Grandison (19:01) had a difficult shooting game, scoring 5 points, all in the first half, on 9 shots (2-9, including 1-5 from deep) with 2 assists and a rebound.  He made his first 2 shots early in the first half, and played only 8:22 in the second half missing both (1 from deep) of his attempted shots.  Jake started out strong and then he fizzled.

THE CONFERENCE STANDINGS

Miami is 3-0 (12-1 overall) ranked 22nd in the latest poll 

Pittsburgh is 2-0 (9-4),

Virginia Tech is 1-0 (11-1) ranked 21st in the latest poll

Clemson is 1-0 (9-3)

UVA is 1-1 (8-2) ranked 6th in the latest poll

Wake is 1-1 (9-4)

Duke is 1-1 (10-3) ranked 14th in the latest poll (will drop in next poll)

UNC is 1-1 (8-4) is unranked but was pre-season # 1.

Syracuse and Fla. State are 1-1, while Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, BC, NC State and Louisville are all winless.  Among them, only Notre Dame will be a contender by March.

SUMMING UP

Conference road games are just different.  Both UVA (6th nationally) and Duke (14th nationally) lost ACC road games on Tuesday –UVA to Miami, and Duke to Wake.  Of course, disastrous starts have been overcome before, and Duke is still developing the team that will compete for conference and National honors.  As Scheyer pointed out, Duke has not had its full team for almost half of the 13 games, and has never had this year’s squad at full (in game shape) strength yet.  The potential is still obviously there.  Whether it will be realized is the question of the season, and why we will return for the 


Next Play: Tuesday, December 31 vs. Florida State in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 1:00 p.m. on ESPN2.

Jaylen played his best game ever, leading Duke in scoring and in hustle.  
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 86 v. Florida State Seminoles 67 (Season 14; Issue 13; Game 14) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (December 31, 2022)

Ryan Young scores around the basket with both hands and uses the backboard like an artist.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke’s schedule provided a late Christmas present for the Blue Devils this year—after a disappointing loss at Wake Forest (a team they have owned recently), playing a subpar Florida State (a team they have recently  not owned), in the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium. And Duke clearly needed a break. They have played more college games this year before Christmas than any team in the country. 

The Blue Devil starters were so sluggish on offense that coach Scheyer substituted in Ryan Young (and kept former reserve Jaylen Blakes in the game) to cure the starting team’s shortcomings. They did not disappoint. Both had outstanding games. As Scheyer said: “We had a few lineups on the court, we just had a roll and went with it, but I thought our defense was back to where we needed to be. Offensively we really shared the ball well. Ryan Young obviously had a big-time night, not missing a field goal, not missing a free throw. Just his rebounding, you feel like when a shot’s taken, he’s going to come up with the ball. …

“Look, this is…for any of our guys, it’s never smooth sailing. It just isn’t, and so for Dariq Whitehead I think he’s gotten a lot tougher in this stretch. … Any of our guys, any of our freshmen have gone through ups and downs already. Any freshman who’s ever come through here has gone through that and they’re going to be better for it. Just fighting through it is the only way to do it, and that’s what Dariq is starting to do. I’m really proud of him for it.”

For my taste, Duke is a different team with Whitehead on the floor. The same goes for Blakes, who brings an attitude and energy both offensively and defensively that we have rarely seen– and this group needs to be a contender. And with Kyle Filipowski seemingly regressing and Dereck Lively not demonstrating much offense, we need more consistency and diversity in scoring.

It also is apparent that this is a deeper squad – 9 players getting significant playing time – than any recent ones, so coaching decisions of whom to play when will be crucial to its development and success. It will be an interesting season!

Next play!

ALANALYSIS:

The color announcer intoned, “the answer to every question today is Ryan Young.”  He could have added Jaylen Blakes to that sentence.  Those two players– not usually starters — scored 37 points between them.  Add to that Dariq’s 16 points off the bench and there is a substantial amount of Duke’s scoring.  Coach Scheyer is still developing cohesion and experimenting with which combination of players on the floor make the Blue Devils a nationally competitive team.  Jaylen’s last two games (Wake Forest and this one) are his effort to remain a starter.  In the first half, Duke starters Dereck Lively, Kyle Filipowski, and Mark Mitchell entirely failed to score. 0!  The Big Goose Egg! Lively didn’t even take a shot. Jeremy Roach wasn’t much better, going 1-7 (1-4 from deep) in the first half.  

As Bill has emphasized, Scheyer’s most important decisions will be who to play and when to play them.  The coach had this to say about his decision to start Blakes: “Well, I think for us as we go on in the season we may start different groups, and tonight this was, we felt, the best thing. Jaylen, his energy, his confidence, and his defense has been rock solid for us and made that switch and credit to him to make the best of that opportunity.”

The second most important challenge for the new coach is teaching his team to be consistent in their effort.  Take the Blue Devils’ defense last night for example.

The Defense

The defense was a tale of two halves.  Duke’s defense in the first half was simply superb. The Blue Devils forced at least three shot clock violations and there were several times that FSU had to chunk up a shot as the clock expired.  Duke held the Seminoles to 25 first-half points on 36% shooting and allowed Florida State only 6 free throw attempts.  

Contrast that to the Blue Devils’ shoddy second-half defense, which  allowed  42 second- half Seminole points on 50% shooting from the floor, and put Florida State on the foul line for 20 free throws (for 17 second-half points from the foul line!)  The Duke defense was as bad in the second half as it was good in the first half.  Scheyer has work to do.

The Offense

What do we make of Duke’s usual starters being so ineffective?  Roach was 2-10, to score 9 points – and he was the most successful of the starters.  Mitchell was scoreless in the first half, pouring in 8 second-half points.  Filipowski was also scoreless in the first half and finished with 6 points.  Lively II didn’t even attempt a shot in his 12 and a half scoreless minutes.

What do we make of Duke’s usual reserves being so effective?  Ryan had a night for the ages with 20 points; Jaylen in his first starting assignment scored 17 while running the team well; and Dariq continues improving dramatically.  All very effective. Among the three of them they scored 32 of Duke’s 42 first-half points.  Ryan was the embodiment of efficiency scoring 20 points on only 7 shots.  Jaylen injected needed energy as well as shooting 67% from deep.  Dariq’s development may be the most important aspect of all for Duke.  Scheyer on Whitehead, “I thought he had his best two days of practices. … You can tell he gives us a different dimension and we need to follow that up with consistency and building in practice but give him credit.” 

Both Proctor and Grandison are also contributing, in differing ways.  Grandison is still Duke’s best 3 point shooter, while Proctor is a good backcourt backup at both ends.

The potential is surely there, but without any guarantee that Duke will realize that potential enough to make a run at ACC and National honors.

THE ROTATION

Jaylen Blakes (30:06) started his first game at Duke and rewarded Scheyer’s judgment with an outstanding performance.  It was the second straight game that Blakes tied his career high, scoring 17 points (6-11 from the field, including 4-6 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe).   Jaylen also contributed 3 assists (only a single turnover) and a steal. His play is making a good argument for him to remain a starter.

Jeremy Roach (29:17) did not yet look like his pre toe injury self.  His first half was disappointing, scoring only 3 points (1-7 from the field, including 1-4 from deep).  He steadied on offense in the second half and finished the game with 9 points (2-10 from the field, including 2-5 from behind the arc and 3-4 from the foul line) to go with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and only one turnover.

Mark Mitchell (28:01) played an excellent second half, scoring 8 points, after failing to score at all in the first half (3-6 from the field, including 1-2 from 3land and 1-2 from the stripe).  Mark contributed 3 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, and 2 assists (against 3 turnovers).

Dariq Whitehead (27:58) played his longest in a game and is rounding into star form.  Dariq scored 16 points (on 5-11 from the field, including 2-6 from deep and 4-4 from the stripe) to go with a steal, a rebound, and 2 assists.  Dariq is still regaining his form from a year ago.  If he can do that, Dariq will give the Blue Devils a valuable added dimension.

Ryan Young (24:23) had what had to be the game of his life.  He made every shot he took, while leading Duke in scoring with 20 points (7-7 from the field and 6-6 from the foul line)!  Ryan grabbed 12 boards and handed out a pair of assists without a turnover.  Florida State had no answers for Ryan’s amazing game.

Tyrese Proctor (20:37) provided bench support in the backcourt for the two starters (Roach and Blakes) by handing out 3 assists without a turnover.  Tyrese scored 4 points (1-4 from the field, including 0-1 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the foul line).  

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (17:39) seems to have regressed on both ends of the floor.  After failing to score in the first half, Flip scored 6 second-half points (3-4 from the field with a miss on his only attempt from deep) to go with 5 rebounds and 2 assists.  Flip’s playing time was limited by his foul trouble; he finished the game with 4.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (12:34) had his minutes curtailed by Ryan Young’s amazing performance at center. In his brief time on the court, D-Live committed 3 personal fouls, blocked 2 shots, snared a rebound, and turned it over once.  He not only failed to score in the game, he did not even attempt a shot.

Jacob Grandison (9:25) scored 6 points going 2-4 from deep (his only shot attempts) with an assist.  Grandison is being beaten on defense, which is why he is playing as little as he is in spite of his good shooting.

THE CONFERENCE SO FAR

UNC, the nation’s #1 team in the pre-season polls, has been inconsistent.  After being the first #1 team to lose 4 games and drop out of the top 25, the Tarheels flourished and returned to the rankings at # 25 last week.   Jeff Capel’s Pitt Panthers remained undefeated in Conference play by beating UNC on Friday in Pittsburgh.  Conference road games are just different. 

There are no ACC teams ranked in the top ten. Ranked ACC teams are: Virginia 13th in the AP poll and 12th in the Coaches’ Poll; Miami 14th in AP, 16th in Coaches’; Duke 17th in AP, 14th in Coaches’; North Carolina 25th in AP and 2nd in “others receiving votes” category in Coaches’’. Virginia Tech received votes but no ranking in both polls.

Miami, Pitt, and Clemson remain unbeaten in the conference.  Wake won at home against Virginia Tech, while the UVA Cavaliers won on the road against Georgia Tech.  All games for the Blue Devils until the NCAA tournament are conference games.

Next Play: Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C. at 7:00 p.m. on ACCN.

Jaylen injects energy and athleticism into the Duke starting lineup.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Dariq is the x-factor that gives Duke an extra dimension and higher potential.
Photo credit:GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 60 v. North Carolina State Wolfpack 84 (Season 14; Issue 14; Game # 15) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 4, 2023)

Bill’s CliffsNotes:

After the Wake Forest game, I wrote that “the Blue Devils played as poorly as any Duke team I can remember.” Well, after the N.C. State game last night, I take that back – this time, THEY PLAYED WORSE, MUCH WORSE !  The margin of the loss is difficult to rationalize. It is a tossup as to whether the Blue Devils were worse offensively or defensively and whether N.C. State played better offensively or defensively. The questions are: Is this State team this good or Duke this bad? How has this Wolfpack team lost three ACC games? What happened to the Duke team which played some of the best teams in the country competitively before the exam break? Are these highly touted freshmen overrated or NBA ready and just bored with college basketball?

Some of the answers: ACC home games are difficult for visitors to win. On any given night, even an inferior team, with a hot shooter from the three point line can be a real catalyst for an upset. There are a lot of good, but unheralded players who in any given game can be the difference between winning and losing. Everyone plays their best against the highly ranked and highly publicized Duke and North Carolina. Johnny Tar Heel thinks Blue Devil women’s coach Kara Lawson (14-1; 4-0 in the ACC) should coach the men’s team.

If this embarrassing loss wasn’t a wakeup call, what will be?

Next Play!!

Editorial Board note: The editors are in such a funk after Duke’s abysmal road performance that – in Coach K-like discipline, when he took away the players’ locker room privileges – there will be no pictures of Duke players in this issue.  Rather we honor the Duke womens’ team and coach as well as Johnny Tarheel’s admiration.  We note that the Blue (She) Devils won their second consecutive ACC road game, last night, beating Wake Forest 60-50.  The team is 14-1, and 4-0 in the ACC. 
Kara Lawson, who is working miracles with the Duke women’s team Photo Credit: The News & Observer
ALANALYSIS:

The refrain still rings true; conference road games are just different.  Last week, in its first conference road game, Duke was crushed by Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.  Last night, the Blue Devils were crushed 84 to 60 in their second conference road game, by the North Carolina State Wolfpack (1-3 in the ACC coming into the Duke game) .

Despite Duke’s unbelievably bad start – Duke did not score at all in the first 7:40 of the game (15-0) and 10:10 had elapsed before Duke scored points 3 and 4 (20-4) – there was a turning point to the game.  N.C. State led by 18 with 8:37 still left in the opening period when the Blue Devils began what appeared to be a rally.  Despite turnovers by Proctor and Lively, and a missed jumper by Roach, Duke still cut the lead to 12 (26-14) with 5:11 left in the half on a pair of 3-pointers by Dariq Whitehead, a put-back by Mark Mitchell and a fast break layup by Kyle (Flip) Filipowski.  Mitchell then made a steal giving the Blue Devils possession and a chance to cut the lead to 10 or single digits.  Instead, hope plunged off the cliff!

The Wolfpack hit a deep 3.  Dariq turned it over in the backcourt when Terquavion Smith (Wolfpack star freshman guard who scored 24 for the game) deflected the inbound pass.  The ball was loose, but nobody went for it because it seemed to be rolling out of bounds.  However, Smith hustled and scooped it up before it hit the sideline. He was WIDE open, and I thought he smiled before splashing his 3.  The Wolfpack lead had grown back to 18 in just 44 seconds.  Duke was never again even in the game competitively.  When the Wolfpack hit their final 3-pointer of the first half at the buzzer, the lead was 22 points.  N.C. State scored 44 points in the first half while the Blue Devils managed only 22 points.  Ouch!

The second half provided no solace for Blue Devil fans.  Duke trailed by as many as 29 points twice, and was never closer than 20 points behind after the first minute of the second half!  Scheyer’s face on the bench told the story.  He looked like he had been hit with a knockout blow.  His press conference was somewhat rambling and yielded nothing worth quoting.  

The Defense

There is not much to say on behalf of a defense that put up very little resistance in virtually handing over 84 points, including 44 in the disastrous first half.  Duke allowed the Wolfpack 15 more first-half shots from the field (18-39, including 6-15 from deep) than the Blue Devils attempted (7-24, including 2-6 from deep by Dariq).  N.C. State out-rebounded Duke and grabbed 9 first-half offensive rebounds.  The Blue Devil defense forced only 4 first-half N.C. State turnovers (compared to 13 first-half Duke turnovers).  

Duke allowed 40 second-half points and could not get the stops necessary for Duke to cut into the Wolfpack lead, let alone mount a comeback.  Smith (24 points), Jarkel Joiner (21 points) and E.J. Burns Jr. (18 points in 16 minutes) ran roughshod over the Duke defense, scoring 53 of State’s 84 points.

The Offense

The Duke attack stalled out dramatically in the first half, with Duke scoring only 22 points.  The Blue Devils committed 13 first-half turnovers, and 21 for the game. Duke had 9 shots blocked in the game by the smaller Wolfpack. 

One result from such desultory offense is that N.C. State attempted 22 more shots than Duke during the game!  The Wolfpack shot 33-70 for the game while Duke was 19-48.

Only Flip in the second half (12 points), and Dariq from the perimeter (4-7 from deep) were bright spots for Duke.  Roach hardly played in the second half and was a liability on both ends of the court.  Blakes scored only 2 points after 17-point outbursts in his previous 2 games.  In the first half, the starters scored only 10 collective points (Mitchell and Roach 4 each; Flip scored 2; Lively and Blakes were scoreless!)  Ryan Young and Dariq each scored 6 off the bench.  Tyrese Proctor and Jacob Grandison also failed to score in the opening period.

THE ROTATION

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (27:31) scored 14 points to lead Duke in scoring.  He seemed to break out of his recent slump to come alive in the second half, where he scored 12 points in 13:14 minutes of play, half from the foul line (3-6 from the field and 6-8 from the stripe in the closing period).  For the game, Flip was 4-10 from the field, including 0-2 from deep plus 6-8 from the stripe to go with 8 boards (7 in the second half).  He committed 3 of Duke’s 21 turnovers.

Mark Mitchell (25:19) scored 6 points (3-6 from the field; 0-2 from the stripe) to complement 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 3 assists, a block, and a steal.  He also committed 2 turnovers and had 3 of his shots blocked. 

Jeremy Roach (22:44, but only 3:12 in the 2nd half) scored 4 points, all from the foul line (0-8 from the floor, including 0-2 from deep) with only one assist, a steal and a turnover.  Jeremy did not beat anyone off the dribble or defend penetrating guards.  I believe his toe is a serious problem that does not seem to be getting better.

Dariq Whitehead (22:33) scored 12 points on four 3-pointers, 2 in each half.  The freshman is playing more and with more confidence but is clearly not yet all the way back.  Dariq was 4-8 from the field, 4-7 from deep, with 3 rebounds and a steal.  His stat line was marred by 4 turnovers.

You could see that Dariq thought that he could lead Duke back all by himself when he made 2 deep shots in a row in the first half; however, his body wasn’t ready to keep up with his last year’s superstar mind.  This does suggest, though, that he still has the ability to become that force again this year. 

Tyrese Proctor (21:19, 15:17 in the second half) scored 5 points, all in the second half.  For the game, Tyrese shot 2-5, including 0-1 from behind the arc and 1-2 from the stripe.  He grabbed 3 boards and handed out a single assist, but turned it over 4 times.

Ryan Young’s (20:26) playing time was limited because he was in foul trouble throughout, ultimately fouling out in the course of trying (and failing) to guard State’s huge D.J. Burns, who lit Young and the Blue Devils up for 18 points in the post in only 16 minutes.  Interestingly, his replacement at center was not D-Live,  but rather it was Flip.  Ryan is tough, scoring 11 points (4-4 from the floor; 3-5 from the foul line) to go with 3 rebounds and 2 assists (2 turnovers).

Jaylen Blakes (17:45) came back to earth in this game scoring only 2 points (1-3, including 0-1 from 3land without a foul shot attempt) after having scored 17 points in each of his previous two games.  He had a steal and two rebounds but committed 3 turnovers without an assist.

Jacob Grandison (14:13) scored only 2 points (2-2 from the stripe; he missed his only field goal attempt, a 3-pointer.)  He grabbed a board and handed out an assist.  His inability to defend is curtailing his time on the court.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (12:28, only 3:50 in the second half) did score in the game.  One point!!  (0-1 from the field and 1-2 from the stripe) without a rebound or a blocked shot.  He is starting to remind me of Chris Burgess.

THE CONFERENCE SO FAR

On Tuesday, Virginia lost on the road at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame lost on the road to Boston College. Last night, Miami lost on the road to Georgia Tech; Wake Forest lost at UNC; while Duke was destroyed in Raleigh against the Wolfpack.  

Conference road games clearly are different.  

Unranked Clemson (who won on the road at Virginia Tech last night) and Pittsburgh are undefeated (4-0) in ACC play. Miami is 4-1, while Syracuse (who won on the road at Louisville) is 3-1.  7 teams (Duke among them) are 2-2.  N.C. State is 2-3.  The technical schools, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are 1-3.  Notre Dame and Louisville are winless at 0-4.

No seasonal goals for the Duke Blue Devils are yet foreclosed. It will be an illuminating aspect of the season how Duke responds to this truly awful loss.  This is Scheyer’s first critical test as the head coach.  

Two of Duke’s next 3 games are conference road games.

Next Play: Saturday, January 7, 2023, at Boston College in Boston, Mass. at 1:00 p.m. on ACCN


Duke Blue Devils 65 v. Boston College Eagles 64 (Season 14; Issue 15; Game # 16) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 7, 2023)

Flip finally plays winning basketball in the last seconds of this game.
Photo Credit: Goduke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Jeremy Roach watched the game from the bench with a walking cast protecting his slow-healing injured toe, but his integral value to this Duke team became apparent in this game as Duke very nearly blew an away game against an ACC bottom feeder.  The Blue Devils, who led most of the way and were up fourteen points in the second half, still almost managed to lose by, among other things, not making a shot from the floor for ten or so minutes, which included missing an uncontested fast break dunk and failing to get the ball in from out of bounds. Fortunately, Kyle Filipowski (Flip), who is emerging from a multi-game slump, made a basket and two foul shots which were the margin. But still, the immature transgressions and inconsistencies of this team are almost inexplicable.

Ty Proctor is not yet an adequate replacement for Roach.  Blakes’s activism is a positive asset on both ends of the floor.  Ryan Young is a polished offensive player, who plays above his athleticism, but his minutes keep Dereck Lively from getting the valuable experience he needs against the better big men Duke will face.  Flip needs to take some lessons from Young on low post moves.  Mark Mitchell needs to be more assertive.  Whitehead needs to be on the floor more, and the zone needs to be deployed more until this squad plays the man-to-man better.

North Carolina State said their strategy was to punch Duke in the mouth from the first tip. The ACC is a tough league. Duke needs to take on some of The Wolfpack strategy figuratively, not literally, and play smart, determined basketball for a full forty minutes!

ALANALYSIS:

Conference road games are just different.  Even a lackluster win on the road against a so-called “ACC bottom feeder” [Bill may eat those words before this season ends] is a relief.  After all, Duke was crushed by both Wake Forest in its first conference road game and truly humiliated by the North Carolina State Wolfpack in their second.  Relief was the emotion when BC’s final shot missed, and the ball went back to Duke with only .5 showing on the clock.  It was over, except for the memory of BC’s final basket of the first half – full court pass over Dereck (D-Live) Lively II’s lax defense, to Eagle 7-foot center Quentin Post for a short jump shot that cut Duke’s lead from 6 to 4.  It just wasn’t over until it was OVER!

The issue, of course, isn’t the feeling of relief; it’s the “lackluster” play.  Why is this group of heralded youngsters and experienced veterans (2 returnees and 2 grad transfers) failing to gel and develop consistency and cohesion?  The overriding assessment is “inconsistency”.  For every terrific play made, there has been a gaff.  For every assist, a turnover.  Inconsistency is the plague.

It is undeniable that the Blue Devils have regressed since Jeremy’s foot injury reduced his efficiency and curtailed his playing time.  Duke was developing and jelling until Jeremy’s injury reduced his efficiency.  Scheyer: “We need Jeremy to get well. If that means it’s a week, if that means it’s two weeks, whatever time that means. I would be shocked if he plays the next game, but we’re not ruling him out yet for that.”  It seems fair to believe that as Jeremy’s toe goes so goes Duke’s season.

Coach S’s offensive strategy was clear. Because Duke was longer and deeper (and less than deadly from 3land, so far), the Blue Devils were going to beat BC up on the interior.  Duke started 1 guard (Tyrese Proctor), 2 tall wings (Mark Mitchell and Dariq Whitehead) plus 2 Bigs (Kyle “Flip” Filipowski and Ryan Young).  The strategy played better in the first half than in the closing stanza.  

The Offense

Duke scored only 28 second-half points, 16 from the floor on 7-24 shooting, including 2-7 from behind the arc (Dariq 1-4 and Tyrese 1-3) and a game winning 12-13 from the foul line (Mark 5-6; Dariq 2-2; Ryan 2-2; and Flip 3-3 including 2-2 with 12 seconds left for the 1-point winning margin).  

Duke led by 14 (52-38), with 14:41 left in the game before an epic offensive drought surfaced.  In the next 13:31, Duke maintained its shrinking lead by making foul shots.  But the offense morphed into a frustrating disaster.  Duke was 1-11 from the floor, with 9 turnovers in that section of the second half!  It just doesn’t get any worse than that.

Scheyer explained, “I thought their three-quarter court [press] slowed us down. Give them credit for the switch, the zone really took us out of our rhythm.”  So did Duke’s terrible shot selection, sloppy ball handling, and demoralizing plays.  The most graphic of those was a great Duke steal and pass ahead to Dariq for a wide-open dunk … and …Clang! Dariq just missed it!  

Duke’s backcourt – Tyrese, Jaylen, and Jacob – collectively scored only 8 points in the game.  Tyrese (2-10, 2-5 from deep) scored 6 while Jaylen was 1-3, for 2 points.  Jacob was scoreless (0-2).  On the other hand, Dariq was successful from the perimeter in the first half, with 11 points in the first 12 minutes of the game.  But that was truly it for Duke’s offense from the perimeter.  

Nevertheless, Duke won and is 3-2 in the ACC while BC lost a home game and is 2-3.  That is still the most important takeaway from the game. Here is a bit more optimism: 

Mark Mitchell: “Not everything was going our way, but I think we just tried to fight, really. Getting offensive rebounds, that’s just pure fight, pure will. And that won us the game, and stepping up and hitting those free throws was a big thing by Flip .  I think we grew up in the last 45 seconds.” (Emphasis added).

The Defense

The plaguing inconsistency was on display by the Blue Devil defense, which was at points in this game both  effective and torched.  As the Duke lead dwindled in the second half, “torched” was prevailing.  Then the Blue Devils went to an effective 2-3 zone defense.  Scheyer: “We’re a man-to-man team, that’s what we want to play, but depending on the opponent and the swing of the game, just to have a different defense, and this game it was our 2-3 zone.  But it can be other defense as well, just be able to have a different punch. A different pitch. I thought our guys did a good job, it was pretty hectic at the end, but just being able to react. Going man, the last couple of possessions, they were starting to get a rhythm against our zone.”  Scheyer is trying to explain that even though the zone worked better than his exploited man-to-man, for the last 2 minutes, he returned to a man-to-man defense.

Mark Mitchell made the block of the game, with 38 seconds remaining, and the Blue Devils leading by a point.  BC’s scintillating 6’2” guard, Jaeden Zachery (who had already blocked 7-foot Flip’s jump shot), got free and drove the lane for what seemed a sure layup, to give BC its first lead of the game.  Mark came seemingly out of nowhere for a sensational block to (temporarily) maintain Duke’s 1 point lead.  Mark: “I saw [our bench] on the sidelines, telling me Zachary was about to drive it. I kind of went a little late. and he went, and I just tried to make the play on the ball.  And I got there.  So, I was just trying to not let him get an easy basket off.” 

THE ROTATION

Mark Mitchell (35:03) played the most minutes in a game at Duke by far, scoring 14 points (4-6 from the field, without a behind the arc shot, and 6-7 from the stripe) to go with 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, with only (by comparison) 2 turnovers.  He never stopped competing.

Dariq Whitehead (32:51) led Duke in scoring in his best offensive output of the season, in his longest time on the court in a game.  Dariq scored 18 points on 6-12 shooting from the field, including 4-8 from behind the arc (3-4 in the first half) and 2-2 from the foul line, to go with 3 boards and 2 assists.  Dariq’s first half was so impressive – 13 points on 5-6 shooting (3-4 from deep, his first 3 attempts) with 2 boards and an assist.  Just a single turnover.  

His second half exemplified Duke’s inconsistency and showed that Dariq is not yet in game shape to play 33 minutes.  In the closing period, he logged 18 minutes, but was only 1-6 from the floor, including 1-4 from deep, plus 2-2 from the stripe, for 5 points.  He had just a single rebound and 1 assist, but 2 turnovers (both offensive fouls by hitting defenders with his shoulder when starting his drive).  However, taking the long view, Dariq is getting there fast.

Tyrese Proctor (32:29) ran the Duke offense in Jeremy Roach’s absence, with 3 assists and 2 turnovers.  The best news was Tyrese was 2-5 from behind the arc; the bad news was 0-5 from inside the arc, shooting 2-10 for the game. On defense, he was unable to stop BC guards from penetrating.  His 6 points was 75% of Duke’s backcourt scoring.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (32:09), like Dariq, was a model of inconsistency.  His stat line looks impressive. Flip scored 15 points (on an unimpressive 4-15 from the field, including 0-2 from deep, but a valuable 5-5 from the stripe including the 2 pressure-packed game winners), to go with 9 boards — 1 rebound away from a double-double — and 3 blocked shots.  But then there are those 5 turnovers, and the moment when a 6’2” guard blocked his jump shot. 

Flip carried Duke in the final period, scoring 11 of his points in the second half, including 3-3 from the stripe.  He is a talent, but Flip is also learning that some of his offensive moves that scored in high school are just turnovers at this level.

Ryan Young (28:03) played center, with Flip being the other Big on the floor.  Ryan scored 7 on 2-5 shooting, plus 3-3 from the foul line, to go with 8 tough rebounds and 5 excellent assists, without a turnover. Ryan also contributed a steal. Scheyer: “Ryan gives us a lot of poise. He didn’t score like he normally does, but to have five assists and no turnovers.”

Jaylen Blakes (18:05) played fewer minutes than expected, given Roach’s absence.  He scored only 2 points on 3 shots, without an attempt from deep or from the stripe.  He had an assist, a steal, and a rebound.  He was on the floor when BC, trailing by a point, had the ball with 12 seconds left to win the game.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (11:57) continues to confound.  Ryan Young replaced last year’s #1 recruit out of high school, in the starting lineup and in the vast majority of playing time.  Critically, D-Live had no success guarding BC’s 7-foot center, Post.  He scored 3 on a dunk plus 1-2 from the foul line.  In his 12 minutes, D-Live had a block, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers.  Surprisingly (to me), he was not on the floor in the last 12 seconds.

Jacob Grandison (9:23) has virtually disappeared from the rotation after his early season hot shooting.  Grandison failed to score (0-2 from deep), with a turnover and 2 boards.

THE CONFERENCE SO FAR

On Saturday, only Duke and Wake Forest won on the road.  Wake beat Louisville (2-14; 0-5 in the ACC), which was predictable. UVA, UNC, and Florida State won at home.

Unranked Clemson is the last undefeated (5-0) in ACC play. Miami and Pittsburgh are 4-1.  Six teams (Duke among them) are 3-2.  N.C. State is 3-3 while BC is 2-3.  The technical schools, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are 1-4.  Notre Dame and Louisville are winless at 0-5.

No seasonal goals for the Duke Blue Devils are yet foreclosed. 

Next Play: Wednesday, January 11, 2023, vs. Pittsburgh (and Jeff Capel) in Cameron Indoor Stadium. at 7:00 p.m. on ACCN.

Mark played 35 minutes of intense competition on both ends of the court.
Photo Credit: goduke.com
Dariq flaunts his potential as his playing time increases, but still lacks stamina.
Photo Credit: goduke.com

Duke Blue Devils 77 v. Pittsburgh Panthers 69 (Season 14; Issue 16; Game 17) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 11, 2023)

YOUNG GUNS Mitchell, Lively II, Filipowski and Whitehead (from left to right)
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke may have grown up tonight, against an improved and talented Pittsburgh team. After being outscored, and schooled on how to run an offense in an ugly 43-36 first half, the Blue Devils proved, for the first time since exams, that they have the maturity to ‘take a licking and keep on ticking’, by playing Real Duke Basketball and outscoring the Panthers 45-26 in the second half.  Kyle (Flip) Filipowski was not the only star—only the most consistent one (a pleasant change). It was a team effort: Flip achieved a career-high (so far) game of 28 pts and 15 rebounds. However, in the second half, substitute point guard Ty Proctor, filling in for the still unable-to-play Jeremy Roach, also performed admirably–as did Whitehead, Lively, Young, Mitchell, Blakes, and Grandison who each had their moments that Alan will explain more fully.  By the way, there is one area, foul shooting, in which this team has consistently excelled—nearly 80% for the season.

Now let’s see if this was a one-off anomaly by precocious but inconsistent teenagers—or not. The next game is at Clemson, who is leading the ACC Conference in an upside-down year. Carolina was handed its third defeat Tuesday night at Virginia.  Incidentally, home teams have won nearly 80% of the conference games this year.

Not to be overlooked is that this game was played at home in front of The Crazies, who were the sixth man. Coach Scheyer: “A vintage Cameron night. It was the first time in Cameron when the team couldn’t hear me. There have been many moments with Coach K when that has happened, where someone is two feet away and you can’t hear. We got to that level tonight.” And as Pitt Coach Capel (who ought to know since he both played and coached at Duke) explained, he knew things wouldn’t be that easy, “As someone who both played and coached in hundreds of games at Cameron Indoor Stadium, this building is never out of it. You anticipate a run at some point. They made a run, the crowd was going all game, and when they [the Crazies] got going, I think those guys [on the court] fed off it.  It gave them an extra boost to be a step quicker to get that 50-50 ball.”

The bottom line is that for twenty minutes, this young group played up to their high school reputations.  Let’s see if they really have matured and can overcome the (hopefully temporary) loss over their point guard and leader—Jeremy Roach.

ALANALYSIS:

The Duke theme this season (as we’ve been writing) has been “inconsistency”.  This theme continued against the Pitt Panthers. The Blue Devils played a simply awful first half, giving up 43 points and trailing by 12.  The first-half performance resembled the Blue Devil humiliations at the hands of N.C. State, Purdue, and Wake Forest.  Then Duke put together a second half that was its best of the season (outscoring Pitt by 45 -26… even while going only 1-11 from behind the arc).  

Scheyer said, “they made some really difficult shots that knocked us back in the first half …  we fought and competed in the second half.  Our rebounding was huge, and I thought in the second half our switching and our defense – I don’t know what the exact numbers were, but we held them to 10 or so points for a while there in the second half.” 

The second half was like a different team was playing. Duke still trailed by 12 (48-36) with 18:09 remaining in the game, when the amazing winning run began.  With 4:32 remaining in the game, the Blue Devils led by 11 (69-58), having held Pitt to scoring only 10 points in almost 14 minutes, while themselves scoring 33 points. The offense and defense came together cohesively and dramatically!  It is the type of breakout performance that can lift a team for the entire season.

D-Live (again in foul trouble), re-entering the game with 13:34 left and Duke trailing by 8 (52-44), sparked the Duke defense.  Scheyer praised his ability to switch onto guarding smaller players on the perimeter.  The Duke switching defense stopped Pitt cold. 

On offense, first Flip, then Tyrese scored to bring the Blue Devils within 2 points, before D-Live tied the score at 52 on a neat hook shot, with 10:26 left in the game.  Duke never trailed again.  D-Live then contributed a block, 2 rebounds, and an assist before committing his 4th foul and leaving the game with 7:23 left. The Blue Devils were ahead 59-52.  Astoundingly, Pitt did not score in the 6-plus minutes that D-Live was on the floor!  Duke maintained its lead as the teams traded baskets to the end of the game.  Duke 77 v. Pitt 69. 

The Offense

In the first half, Duke shot an embarrassing 10-33 from the field, including 5-16 from behind the arc (Whitehead 2-5; Filipowski 1-1; Proctor 1-3; Grandison 1-4; Blakes 0-2; and Mitchell 0-1).  Worse, Duke had only 7 assists but 12 turnovers (7 Pitt steals and 5 offensive fouls)!  Duke committed 9 first-half fouls (D-Live, Tyrese, Dariq, and Flip all had 2 fouls each in the opening half).  D-Live fouled out while Dariq and Tyrese finished the game with four fouls. It was a humiliating first half.

The second half was an offensive breakout.  Duke was 14-33 from the field, but only 1-11 from deep; thus, the Blue Devils were 13-22 from inside the arc. And that went with a spectacular 16-18 from the foul line!  Duke penetrated and drew Pitt fouls (12 in the second half).  Flip scored 16 second-half points, including 8-9 from the stripe. Tyrese ran the offense and scored the critical points to maintain Duke’s winning margin. It was a coming out party that breeds optimism for the season and postseason tournaments.

The Defense

Duke gave up 43 first-half points, looking a lot like the defensively-challenged team that was blown out by N.C. State, Wake Forest, and Purdue.  The Blue Devil turnovers put Pitt in transition without allowing Duke to set up its half court defense.   That was part of the problem.  Pitt shot well, even when the shot was contested.  Still, Duke was just discombobulated.

The contrast was palpable as Duke allowed Pitt only 26 second-half points when the Devils went to a defense switching-every-ball screen.  Scheyer: “we felt like this was actually going to be a coming out game for Dereck because we’ve envisioned switching with him, and he made some big time plays in this game. His switching, I thought, really bothered them. … Instead of them running offense, they end up playing one-on-one. Sometimes they’re going to hit, but other times, if we stay disciplined, it’s tough to make those shots over our length. …We were better when he was in the game.  He had some fun tonight.  He just went after it tonight.  It would have been even better if we could keep him out of foul trouble.” 

Indeed, it was not just Dereck in foul trouble–Duke committed 12 second-half fouls (2 each by Dariq, Ryan, Tyrese, D-Live, and Jaylen), which put the Blue Devils in danger. Duke’s foul trouble impacted the rotation late in the game.

THE ROTATION

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (34:55) had his best game of the year (7th double-double of the season) scoring a career-high 28 points (8-14, including 1-4 from behind the arc, and a gaudy 11-13 from the stripe), to go with 15 rebounds (11 in the second half).  He also contributed a pair of assists, a steal, and a block.  Flip had 4 turnovers, but 3 were in Duke’s desultory first half.   He dominated the game in the closing period.

Mark Mitchell (34:25) scored 10 points (8 in the second half) and grabbed 9 rebounds while playing tough defense in the second half.  Mark was 2-9 (0-5 in the opening half), including 0-2 from behind the arc and a perfect 6-6 from the foul line to go with a steal and an assist (but 4 awful turnovers).

Dariq Whitehead (30:36) only scored 6 points (2-11, including 2-7 from deep without a free throw attempt) while turning it over twice.  However, he played excellent defense, while grabbing 5 boards.  He was in constant foul trouble, with 2 in the first half and finishing with 4 fouls.  Dariq was scoreless in the second half; he’s not quite all the way back to full game shape.

Tyrese Proctor (27:22) also had what might be his best game at Duke, even though he picked up 2 fouls in the first 5 minutes of the game.  He finished with 4 fouls but controlled the Duke offense in the second half.  Tyrese scored 14 points (9 in the second half) on 4-9 from the floor, including 1-4 from deep and a critical 5-5 from the line to go with 5 assists without a turnover.  Scheyer: “He obviously made some big scoring plays down the stretch, but when your guard has five assists and no turnovers that’s pretty good. … He’s in control of the team, I think that’s the biggest thing that he did, and he really competed and guarded on the defensive end.” 

Jacob Grandison (20:51) played one of his best defensive games this season, with 2 critical steals as Duke made its winning move.  Jacob scored 6 on 2-6 from 3land, one in each half.   He was on the court at “winning time”, which is Scheyer’s method of high praise.

Ryan Young (20:14) helped Duke dominate the back boards with 10 rebounds (7 offensive), while scoring 7 points (all in the second half) on 3-6 from the field for the game, and 1-3 from the stripe.  He was 0-2 from the field and 0-1 from the foul line in the first half.  His play was emblematic of Duke’s terrible first half and marvelous final stanza.

Jaylen Blakes (19:19) played a valuable floor game even though he failed to score a single point in this game (0-5, including 0-4 from deep, without a free throw attempt.  He had a single assist against 3 turnovers.  He logged only 7 second-half minutes.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (12:18) fouled out, logging only minutes in each half, but it was one of his best games at Duke.  In his short stint, D-Live scored 6 points (3-6 from the field, connecting on a smooth hook shot, without a deep shot or free throw) to go with 4 boards, a block, an assist (a beautiful bounce pass to the cutting Flip), and a steal.  Dereck was inserted, with 3:07 to go and 4 fouls, to protect the rim and Duke’s lead, but he fouled out with 3:02 left. The stretch in the second half may be the harbinger of D-Live’s return to star form, which would change the trajectory of Duke’s season.

THE CONFERENCE SO FAR

On Tuesday, the home teams won – UVA topped UNC (now 0-4 on the road)  while Notre Dame won its first ACC game, nipping Georgia Tech 73-72.  Last night, all five home teams won, with Clemson (Duke’s next opponent) beating Louisville to remain unbeaten in the ACC (6-0).  Syracuse beat Va. Tech; Wake dumped Florida State; and Miami beat BC.

Clemson (6-0), though unranked in the polls, is first in the ACC.  Miami is second in the ACC at 5-1.  There are five teams (Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia,  Syracuse, Pittsburgh) that are 4-2. .  UNC,  N.C. State, and Florida State  are 3-3. BC is 2-4, while the technical schools– Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech – plus Notre Dame are 1-5.  Louisville is winless at 0-6.

No seasonal goals for the Duke Blue Devils are as yet foreclosed. The game on the road against unbeaten (in league play) Clemson, will be another cliff to climb … or plunge off of. 

Next Play: Saturday, January 14, 2023, vs. at Clemson in Death Valley at 5:00 p.m. on ACCN.

Scheyer and Jeff Capel – Two coaches from the Coach K tree, who played for him and coached with each other under Coach K . Photo credit: Goduke.com
Flip eats up the plaudits of The Crazies for his 28 point, 15 rebound performance against Pittsburgh
Photo credit: Goduke.com



Duke Blue Devils 64 v. Clemson Tigers 72 (Season 14; Issue 17; Game # 18) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 14, 2023)

Come on back” (we need you!)
Photo credit: Lance King
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

While Duke’s young team competed well for most of both halves, Clemson’s young men closed both halves with the maturity of an experienced team in the friendly confines of Littlejohn Coliseum. Chalk up another one for staying more than one year and learning tough lessons!  Laettner and Hurley were different players in their last two years than they were in their first two at Duke. Two players who are not named, Jordan and Bird, can’t take over fifty per cent of the shots for a team and consistently win; Duke attempted 63 field goals, 37 of them by Flip and Tyrese combined.  Kyle Filipowski took 22 shots to score his 18 points while Tyrese Proctor scored his 17 points on 15 shots. Whitehead has an NBA body and skills, but 2 points in 28 minutes in a close game does not validate that assessment. Proctoor has improved significantly each game that Roach has missed,, but he should not be the one creating a shot with the game on the line. Young vs. Lively is a tough call. Young is an experienced, heady player who produces above his athletic level against all exceptexcept elite big men. Lively brings another level of athleticism to rim and lane protection against all competition, but he needs playing time to mature. Mitchell needs to be more assertive offensively. And on and on!

It is easy to second guess coaching decisions –  – rather I am trying to understand why Duke gets the cream of the recruiting crop, but then only does very good not great. Even Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett and Co. blasted a talented Kentucky team early in their freshman year, but lost to an experienced Michigan State and did not make the Final Four at the end of that same year. And speaking of Kentucky, the only team who attracts as many one-and-done talents as Duke, is reportedly unhappy* with their Coach Calipari–and vice versa.

Welcome to the new era of College Basketball. The bottom line is that with the transfer portal and college athletes getting compensated (paid for image & likeness) coaching is a tough profession and getting tougher all the time.   

*A college basketball fan sent this message to John Calipari: “Please go to Texas.” 

ALANALYSIS:

On December 8, 2022, the Blue Devils played what this DBP said was their best game of the season, beating Iowa in Madison Square Garden.  Not coincidentally, Jeremy Roach had his best game of the season against Iowa against Iowa, scoring 22 points and looking as if he was having a season for the ages.  But, Jeremy’s toe kept him from playing well, and now from playing at all. kept him from playing well, and now from playing at all.  His injury has not yet healed, and the Duke season has simply unraveled since then.  Duke has great difficulty playing well for both halves.  Inconsistency has been a theme of our analysis.  After the last game against Pittsburgh, we wrote: 

“The Duke seasonal theme of “inconsistency” continued against the Pitt Panthers by playing a first half (giving up 43 points and trailing by 12) that resembled the Blue Devil humiliations at the hands of N.C. State, Purdue and Wake Forest, while playing a second half that was its best of the season (outscoring Pitt by 45 -26 – while going only 1-11 from behind the arc).”

While Duke trailed the Clemson Tigers by only a single point with 3:57 left in the game, it photographed that the Blue Devils’ scoring drought, from that point to the final buzzer, was the Achilles heel.  However, scrutiny of the entire second half reveals that the Tigers disemboweled the Devils in the second half the way the Panthers previously had in their first half.  Duke scored only 30 points in the second half (0-12 from behind the arc), just 20 from the field (10-33) while adding 10 points from the foul line where they shot 10-13 (5-8 from the foul line were Duke’s only points in the final minutes). The Blue Devils managed only 3 assists in the closing stanza.  

The Duke defense was no better than the Blue Devil offense, allowing the Tigers to score 42 second-half points on 50% shooting (15-30).  Being outscored by 12 was precisely what had happened in the first half against Pitt.   The second half against Clemson sadly resembled the full game humiliations that Scheyer’s team has suffered against Wake Forest and N.C. State (on the road), and Purdue (on a neutral court).

Duke is now 1-3 in ACC road games – with 2 of the next 3 games on the road.  After a home game against Miami, Duke travels to Blacksburg (Va. Tech) and Atlanta (Ga. Tech).  Wins on the road are required for Duke to have a good season. [The Editorial Staff implores Coach S and his team “so, get on it!!”]

This loss is actually much worse than it appears.  Jeremy, how does your toe feel???

The Offense

Duke led 34-30 at the end of the first half (by 7 with 1:43 left in the half), shooting 46% (14-30, including 3-8 from deep and 3-5 from the stripe), with 6 assists and 6 turnovers.  Not great, but so much better than the desultory second half would turn out to be. 

The closing minutes of the second half are a terrible tale.  With 5:07 left in the game, the Blue Devils pulled to within 2 points when Mitchell made a put back (after he missed at the rim and got his own rebound), 58-56.  From that point, Flip missed a 3, Tyrese missed a jumper, Flip went 1-2 from the stripe, Tyrese turned it over and then missed a free throw before Flip had his shot blocked.  60-57 with 2:43 left.  Dariq committed a foul, Mitchell turned it over, before each team made about the same number of foul shots to complete Duke’s disastrous 8 point loss.

The Defense

The theme for the Duke defense since ACC play began has been Scheyer’s post-game lament in his press conference, “I think it came down to them getting in our paint too easily!”  We have heard that lament frequently.  The Blue Devils not only miss Jeremy’s leadership on offense, but because Jeremy is their best on-the-ball defender, he was also Duke’s leader in preventing penetration by quick driving guards.  

Scheyer added, “[Clemson is] physical, their pick-and-roll defense is good as anybody that we’ve played. And it’s, for us, learning how to play through that. You’re going to play really good defenses, and down the stretch, knowing how to manufacture points for each other, it’s not going to be as much on your own getting one. And we’re still learning that.”

THE ROTATION

Tyrese Proctor (36:59) was only out of the game for 3 minutes (all in the first half), as he was the point guard for all 20 minutes of a flawed second half.  In just two first-half minutes (from 5:37 left in the first half to 3:58), Proctor scored 9 straight points (2 shots from deep and a traditional 3 point play on a drive) to take Duke from a point behind to a 4 point lead (26-22), but then didn’t score for the rest of the half.  For the game, Tyrese scored 17 points (5-15 from the field, including 2-9 from behind the arc and 5-6 from the line) to go with only a single assist against 3 turnovers.  He grabbed 5 boards.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (35:11) notched yet another double-double, scoring 18 points on 22 shots (8-22, including 1-5 from deep and 1-3 from the foul line), while hauling in 14 rebounds (5 offensive) plus a blocked shot.  He turned it over 4 times.    

Mark Mitchell (28:18) was 4-8 from the field to score 8 points (without a free throw attempt and 0-1 from behind the arc).  He had 2 rebounds, a steal, and a turnover.  He played very solid defense on Clemson’s star, Hunter Tyson, holding him to 7 points.

Ryan Young (24:39) is still starting ahead of, and playing more minutes than, D-Live, who was last year’s #1 rated recruit.  Ryan scored 10 points on 3-4 from the floor and 4-4 from the stripe, blocked a pair of Clemson shots, but grabbed only 2 rebounds (1 offensive).  He contributed an assist, a steal, but also committed a turnover.

Dariq Whitehead (24:06) did not turn the ball over, which was his best statistic of the game, even though he had 2 assists and a steal.  What Dariq didn’t do was score the ball as Duke needed him to do.  He scored only 2 points (1-6, including 0-3 from 3land without a foul shot attempt).

Jaylen Blakes (18:51) scored 5 points (1-4, without a shot from behind the arc and 3-5 from the stripe) to go with 5 boards and 2 assists without a turnover.

Jacob Grandison (17:08), Duke’s most accurate long-distance shooter this year, failed to score a point! (0-2 from deep), but grabbed 3 boards and distributed an assist.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (14:48) was improved from recent outings in his 8:38 first-half minutes, where he scored his 4 points (2-2), with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal.  Still, committing 2 fouls and 2 turnovers in that short stretch will keep him behind Young in the rotation.  In the second half, D-Live retrieved 2 more rebounds, without committing another foul.  It is hard to believe he will be yet another one-and-done while his play continues to be this disappointing.

SUMMING UP

The stretch from December 8 against Iowa at Madison Square Garden to now has been… disappointing.  Jeremy’s injured toe brings back memories of Kyrie’s lost season in 2010-11, when Duke was favored to repeat as NCAA champions, s until Kyrie’s injured toe kept him on the bench. The anticipated return to form of Dariq Whitehead and D-Live from injuries is happening only slowly with Whitehead and not at all, it appears, with Lively II.  All 3 of these circumstances are contributing to the current pessimistic state of affairs.

We offer some insight from Kara Lawson, the Duke women’s coach who so far has been producing amazing results, while expressing disappointment in her team’s play despite their almost miraculous run to National prominence.  Give a listen to Kara after her team beat Clemson, to remain undefeated in ACC play (and 15-1 overall):

“I didn’t feel like we played well, but I’m proud of them for fighting in the second half. I was more proud of their second half than I was their first half; I think we were noncompetitive in the first half and that was very frustrating to see, but in the second half  I thought we played with a little more fire. … our defense was poor, and we need to be better on that end, and so we’ve just got a lot to work on that end. We had some breakdowns and thankfully Kennedy [Brown] and Mia [Heide} were back there to save layups after guard after guard was getting beat off the dribble. We just have to be better one on one defensively if we expect to win more games in this league.”  

Clemson scored only 56 points – not exactly a shoddy defensive performance.

“When I say that, please understand me, I’m not saying that we were awful. I’m just saying that there are so many correctibles and that we could be better. What you’re trying to do as a coach is you’re trying to, through a win, still have them be sharp and understand that there are correctibles, because winning is like taking like an Aleve or a Tylenol. It dulls the pain that you have but it doesn’t fix the problem. Winning will do that; you think everything’s okay and we’re doing good enough, and then you start to slip. And so that’s my job, to keep us sharp!”

The Duke men have not been sharp since Jeremy’s injury.

Next Play: Saturday, January 21, 2023, vs. Miami in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN.

Back to the drawing board!
Photo credit: Grant Halverson

Duke Blue Devils 68 v. Miami Hurricanes 66 (Season 14; Issue 18; Game #19) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”(January 21, 2023)

Jeremy demonstrates what team leadership is all about as the freshmen concentrate intently.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke had almost everything going for them today: playing a formidable, well-coached, but relatively small, Miami team in Cameron (where Duke is undefeated this year); Isaiah Wong, best player for the Hurricanes, weakened by an illness; a week of rest; and Jeremy Roach, their veteran point guard and leader, playing for the first time since January 4. The Blue Devils needed all of that plus a miracle three-point shot from mid court by Whitehead as the shot clock expired for the margin of victory. Still, a win is a win. But it’s getting a little late in the season for these highly rated freshmen not to be playing well enough to win more comfortably at home. Duke fans expect more, even though these are predominately precocious teenagers masquerading as grown men.  And if you ever raised teenagers, just remember how frustrating that was.

Unlike good Duke teams of the past, this team rarely makes those patented runs that separated the Blue Devil score from that of their opponent. This group has not demonstrated the killer instinct to put an opponent away. Today was a good example – they would go up five or six points, then not execute either the offense or defense effectively and lose their opportunity.  It’s a simple game: make shots and make stops!  Otherwise, the game can be determined by a lucky shot or play. Finally the entire team –  not just  Filipowski or Young – appeared to understand how to play Duke Basketball by rebounding, diving for loose balls, not getting discouraged when the shots don’t fall–and playing hard for a full forty minutes. They aren’t in high school anymore but wear a Duke uniform with a target on their back.

Young is an admirable, mature player who plays above his athletic level and is a good role model for Filipowski and Lively, both of whom appear to be fulfilling their potential — albeit at different rates.  Whitehead is too skilled not to be a first or second option offensively.  Mitchell is a lock-down defender who needs to be more assertive offensively.  Procter, who skipped his senior year of high school (and sometimes plays like it), has demonstrated genuine potential, and has benefited from Roach’s absence, but is not yet the starting point guard for a championship contender.  Blakes brings a needed energy and enthusiasm to the floor.  Grandison, a  25 year old grad student, is a valuable spot player and scorer.

It is easy to forget that as a freshman, and for the first part of his second year, Jeremy Roach was not yet the player that he is today.  It took time. It always takes time! That is the frustrating crux of the One-and-Done culture. Schools like Duke and Kentucky are reduced to finishing schools for precocious high school basketball players waiting to become millionaires. Some make it, others don’t. 

ALANALYSIS:

Duke made one more winning play than the Hurricanes did; the game was that close. It was tied 38-38 at the half.  There was only one lead change in the second half when the Hurricanes hit 2 shots in a row to lead the Blue Devils 47-45. Even though Duke led for almost the entire second half, they couldn’t get the separation needed to make it a comfortable lead. The Blue Devils led by as much as 8 during the closing half, and, critically, by 7 (64-57) with 5:19 left in the game after Tyrese made a 3 from the corner on a pretty assist from Jeremy. What a difference Jeremy is starting to make in just his first minutes (more than 27 of them) back! 

Isaiah Wong, Miami’s star, countered with a deep 3 (64-60).  In the next Duke possessions, Jeremy missed a jumper and Grandison threw a bad pass.  Norshad Omier, Miami’s high-scoring Big, cashed an offensive rebound, which became a three-point play when he converted the foul shot (64-63 with 2:54 left in the game).  Roach had his shot blocked ……but then he stole the ball back! and got it to Flip, who was fouled and made both free throws (66-63 with 2:05 left).  Roach fouled Omier, who made 1 of 2 (66-64 with 1:45 to go).  Grandison missed a jumper, which the Hurricanes rebounded, and fired up the jump shot to try and tie the game with 54 seconds left.  The game turned on the results of that Hurricane miss.  

Setting the scene for the play of the game: first, the Hurricanes retrieved the offensive rebound but missed a second jump shot; Omier got that offensive rebound too, but missed the layup. The game turned on the rebound of that Hurricane miss at 66-64.  Ryan Young finally corralled the rebound of the game with 40 seconds left; it was not only the rebound of the game, it was the play of the game!

Flip then hit 2 clutch free throws to put Duke ahead by 4 (68-64) with only 19 seconds left, lifting Duke to an almost-secure position.  But, the Blue Devil back court then missed crucial foul-shot-opportunities to ice the game.  With 10 seconds to go, and Duke leading by 4, Jeremy missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  The Hurricanes rebounded the miss and scored immediately to have one more chance (68-66).  Proctor, fouled with 3 seconds left, also missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  If the Miami desperation 3 point shot had gone in, Duke would have lost.  Your guards must close out the game at the foul line when the opportunity is there.

The Defense

While the Blue Devil defense struggled in the first half, giving up 38 points, Duke held the usually high-scoring Hurricanes to only 28 second-half points by mixing it up on defense.  Duke went to its zone often, interspersing the 2-3 zone it had shown in other games with a new 1-3-1 (used sparingly, but to good effect).  After the first two minutes of the second half (when D-Live and Ryan each picked up their third foul), Duke only committed 4 fouls for the rest of the game.  That’s a sign of excellent defense.

Scheyer: “I thought we had to change our defenses up. Miami is an explosive team. You never relax when you’re playing against them and hold them to 66 points.… but our defense has been our backbone and I think we are the type of team we have to gut it out and scrap and crawl and we did that. 

“They’re a tough team to control the ball one-on-one. They have literally four guys that can create at all times. Omier is a load in the post. So just being able to switch it up and give different looks — when Ryan’s on the floor it’s different than when Dereck’s on the floor.  In the second half, to hold them to 28 points, that’s a big deal. That’s not an easy thing to do.

“Dereck Lively, he’s been working his butt off every day with Coach [Amile] Jefferson. He keeps getting better, and for him to have six offensive rebounds, 10 rebounds overall, five blocked shots.” 

Men's basketball vs. Miami
Flip earned his 9th double-double of the season and his third in a row with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

THE ROTATION

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (34:27) was Duke’s best and most valuable player, notching another double-double with 14 boards and 17 points (5-12, including 1-3 from behind the arc and 6-8 from the stripe – the last two being the winning shots).  Flip played solid defense, with a pair of steals and a blocked shot.  On offense, he had 2 assists without a turnover.  Game ball!

Tyrese Proctor (Ty) (29:49) played an excellent game, especially in the second half, where he logged almost 18 minutes.  Tyrese scored 11 points (4-9 from the field, including 3-7 from deep, and 0 for 1 from the foul line).  In the second half, Tyrese handed out a pair of assists without a turnover.

Jeremy Roach (27:24) played in his first game since January 4.  His presence provided an emotional revival for  his teammates and coaches –  not to mention us – readers  and  fans.  Jeremy scored 14 points in his return, on 6-10 from the field, including 1-3 from deep, plus 1-3 from the stripe.  He had 4 assists, 2 steals and a rebound.  Two turnovers. Jeremy will be even better when the rust from not playing dissolves.  He looked less rusty than could have been expected.  A big whew – Welcome back, Jeremy!

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (24:14) played his most minutes yet while at Duke, displaying deft passing skills (6! assists) to go with making a pair of  3-pointers for his 6 points (2-7, including 2-5 from deep).  His defense is improving and he was on the court when the game was on the line at the end.  Scheyer praised him, “Jake is just a calming force. He makes really easy plays. Ball doesn’t stick with him. He’s the best post passer that we have.  He’s always a threat.  He shot 40 [percent] from three today still, but he’s a guy you have to guard.  He’s capable of having a five, six three game which I believe he’s got in him still.  And he battles, he knows how to compete. He’s battle tested. He’s been in big-time environments, and I just thought when he was in there, he made us better today.” 

Dariq Whitehead (23:40) scored 10 points (3-9 from the field, including 2-3 from deep, and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 3 boards, 2 assists, and a blocked shot.  However, Coach Scheyer played him for fewer than 9 minutes in the second half, where his only points came on a wild desperation fling from very deep as the shot clock expired.  It hit the backboard and went in to bring Duke from behind 47-45 to a 48-47 lead.  To consider how slim Duke’s margin of victory was: if that heave had missed, Duke would have had only 65 points and lost the game.

Mark Mitchell (20:10) had one of his intermittent, low-scoring games, only 2 points (1-4 from the field, including 0-1 from the foul line), with a steal.  Mark played some excellent defense and grabbed 5 rebounds.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (18:16) played his best game at Duke so far, with 10 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.  He scored 6 points on 3-9 shooting.  It’s worth looking closer.  D-Live played only 4 minutes in the first half, but scored 4 points (2-5) and grabbed 4 boards.  However, he picked up 2 fouls (again) and added the 3rd foul before 2 second-half minutes had passed.  It seemed like the story we have been seeing all season.   But Dereck played the rest of his 14 second-half minutes without fouling, while blocking 5 Miami shots and securing 6 rebounds.   He played twice as many minutes as Ryan Young in the second half because of his dramatic contributions. This feels like a breakthrough development both for D-Live and for Duke’s offense and defense – a positive for the Blue Devils’s future this season.

Ryan Young (16:43) was in early foul trouble – 2 in the first half and his 3rd in the first minute of the second half.  He scored only 2 points on 2 attempts but was a stout rebounder (5) and defender (a blocked shot), and steady on offense (2 assists, but 2 turnovers).

Jaylen Blakes (5:17) broke his nose in practice last week and tried to play with a mask.  He failed to score in his short time on the floor in the first half and did not play in the closing period.

SUMMING UP

Four positives: 

  1. Jeremy’s return and relative effectiveness;
  2. Dereck Lively’s second half – 14 minutes on the court, playing with 3 fouls and not fouling again, while blocking 5 shots and grabbing 6 boards; 
  3. Kyle Filipowski’s overall play, especially in the clutch; and
  4. Duke won and is now 14-5 on the season and 5-3 in ACC play.

Beating Miami was critical for Duke after the Clemson loss.  However, Monday’s game at Virginia Tech may be even more critical.  Duke has had three very bad road losses, and Blacksburg has been a horror show for the Blue Devils over the years.  Another road loss would be seriously deflating.  

Va. Tech barely lost last night at Clemson.  The Hokies led by a point and were shooting 2 free throws with 9 seconds left.  When the Tech player missed his second free throw, Va. Tech led by 2 points instead of 3.  Clemson then hit a 3, literally at the buzzer, to win.  Heartbreaking loss for Va. Tech.  Tech will be fired up from that heartbreak when Duke meets them on the court in Blacksburg. 

In the ACC, Clemson, (8-1) leads the league, with UVA (7-2) in second.  There are 5 teams at 6-3 (Miami, UNC, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Pittsburgh), while Duke is 5-3.  Florida State and NC State are each 5-4.

None of Duke’s goals for the season have been foreclosed, but Clemson leads Duke by 2 ½ games for the regular season ACC title, and holds the tiebreaker by virtue of the Tiger win over the Blue Devils last weekend (if teams are tied, the first tie breaker is who won the head-to-head games. As Duke only plays Clemson once this season, Clemson holds the tie-breaker as a result of the win in Death Valley).

Next Play: Very quick turnaround to Monday, January 23, 2023, at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

“I’m back! Let’s go!” Photo credit: GoDuke.com

Men's basketball vs. Miami

Men's basketball vs. Miami
It was a welcome sight for all Duke fans to see Jeremy again running the team. Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

MOST RECENT GAME

Duke Blue Devils 75 v. Virginia Tech Hokies 78 (Season 14; Issue 19; Game # 20) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 23, 2023)

Flip continues dazzling play with his 9th Double-double (4th in a row)!
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

If there is such a thing as a pyrrhic loss, Duke had one tonight in Blacksburg. They not only lost a winnable game but, more importantly, they lost Dariq Whitehead just as he appeared to be emerging as a functioning, crucial component of the Blue Devil team. Dariq watched the end of the game from the breezeway to the dressing rooms on crutches, which is not a good sign.

Filipowski had another double-double (29 points & 10 rebounds) plus a punch in the neck and/or mouth and was brought to his knees by a Hokie player celebrating too vigorously in the last minute of the game. Referees stopped play and went to the monitors. No foul. They determined it was not intentional. No matter, it added insult to injury and negated a possible fast break opportunity in the last minute of a close game.

The only thing consistent about this Duke team is their inconsistency: up seven at the start, down seven at the break. Flip had another career game, but the supporting cast did not support him for a full forty minutes. Tech outshot Duke 57-43% from the floor; 53-39% for threes: 67-63% from the line–not numbers of a good defensive or offensive team.

Bottom Line: Prospects for the rest of the season are not what they were at the beginning of the season.

ALANALYSIS:

Coach Scheyer’s post game analysis: “Our guys really competed, really battled, put ourselves in a position to win that game coming back from down 13. And really, at halftime, just for us to dig down and get some stops, trust the pass, work together, I thought we had some beautiful connecting passes. But ultimately, just really one play short.”  

The Blue Devils trailed for almost all of the latter part of the second half despite Kyle (Flip) Filipowski’s spectacular performance (29 points, 15 in the second half).  With 38 seconds left in the game and the Blue Devils trailing by 3 (75-72), Flip drove, drawing the Hokie defense to him and setting up a superb pass to Tyrese (Ty) Proctor, who drained a 3 pointer to tie the score at 75.  

The Hokies then made their one play to win the game, when M.J. Collins (6 points in the game) got loose in the lane to sink an open 12-foot jumper giving the Hokies a 2-point lead.  But, Duke still had a chance.

As the Hokies’ celebrated Collins basket, a Hokie fist bump of triumph turned into a solid punch to Flip’s face.  Scheyer: “he got hit so hard that he was throwing up in the huddle. He was full-out throwing up, but he wasn’t about to be out for a second. He was ready to come back in, and we ended up drawing up the play, and put the ball in his hands.  He’s a big-time warrior, man.  He’s a competitor.  He hates to lose.  I thought you could see that tonight.  He really put us on his back and willed us to put us in a position to win that game.”

The one play that would have won the game, that Duke didn’t make, as Scheyer described it: “We wanted the ball in Flip’s hands, good things happen, really almost every time he touched it — we get either a wide-open shot, or he got a great look himself.  And he made a read, made a really good pass to Tyrese. They happened to get caught up on that initial action, and Tyrese is wide open. It hits the back rim, but it’s right there. Sometimes it goes in, and sometimes it doesn’t.” 

Good teams win close games, while bad teams lose close games.  Mediocre teams tend to win at home, lose on the road, ending up in the middle of the pack.  The Blue Devils have now lost 4 ACC road games while winning only at Boston College.  One of Duke’s pre-season goals was to win the Regular Season ACC title.  Given that Clemson has a 3-game lead and holds the tiebreaker, not to mention UVA’s 2-game lead and high national ranking, the Blue Devils seem out of contention for the ACC regular season championship.  There are 5 teams at 6-3 and 2 others tied with Duke at 5-4.

The Blue Devils’ season going forward needs to  focus on the effort to gel, and to become formidable for their other pre-season goals — namely, post-season championships.

The Offense

Duke scored 38 first-half points and 37 in the closing stanza.  The distribution of Blue Devil scoring in the second half illustrates a problem with the offense when two players are scoring ⅔ of Duke’s points. Flip (15) and Ty (10) scored 25 of Duke’s 37 points.  Ryan Young and Mark Mitchell each tallied 4, while Dereck (D-Live) Lively II, and Jeremy Roach scored 2 points each, in the second half.  The Blue Devils need significant scoring from the roster outside of Flip and whoever else is hot that day.

Jeremy Roach’s return has not been as impactful as expected.  He is not yet in game shape, and his shot is off (0-4 from deep on uncontested 3s).  Duke’s offense will get better (even without Dariq) if Jeremy can return to the form he showed before his injury.

Dariq’s shooting has returned, even if his handle and ability to finish consistently on his drives has not yet.  If he is badly injured and misses substantial time or the remainder of the season, the Duke offense cannot help but suffer.

The Defense

What can you say about a defense that gives up 45 first-half points?  Duke has allowed a series of 40-point halves against good ACC teams on the road – sometimes 2 in the same game – (Wake Forest, N.C. State, Clemson, and now Virginia Tech have scored 40 or more against Duke in one or both halves).

The Hokies shot over 50% for the game, both from the field and from behind the arc.  They torched the Blue Devils in the first half before the Duke defense adjusted.   Scheyer: “They’re 7-of-10 in the first half [from 3land]. So, you have to adjust. And we ended up switching, probably a little bit more than we would’ve liked to, and [Grant Basile, the Hokies’s star Big] took advantage of those switches. He’s a really good player. … Too many times we got caught without talking. You have to talk really well on switches, when they screen, and they get all of these zoom actions. But I thought in the second half, we really dug down, held them to 33 points and did a better job. And they still, they almost shot 50 [percent] from the field.” 

Duke always emphasizes on-the-court-communication among the players, especially when playing defense. But that communication seems to fade when the game tightens. Maybe the players get too hyperfocused on their individual effort. For a team claiming its calling card is Defense, it is indisputable that the Blue Devil defense has been disappointing, to say the least, in ACC road games. 

THE ROTATION

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (33:53) was Duke’s best and most valuable player, notching yet another double-double! with 10 boards and 29 points (9-17, including 4-8 from behind the arc, and 7-9 from the stripe).  Flip played solid defense with a pair of steals and a blocked shot.  On offense he had 2 assists with a turnover.  Game ball! Again!  He just put the team on his back and gave it his all.

Mark Mitchell (31:59) scored 8 points (1-3 from the field, including 1-2 from behind the arc and 1-2 from the foul line).  Mark played some excellent defense, probably logging more minutes than he would have if Dariq had not been severely injured early in the second half.   

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (31:27) played an excellent game, especially in the second half where he was on the court every second and scored all 10 of his points (4-12 from the field, including 2-6 from deep) to go with 6 assists, a steal, and a blocked shot, with only a single turnover.  In the first half, Tyrese was 0-2, including 0-1 from deep, while handing out 3 assists. Only one turnover. With 38 seconds left in the game, Ty made a wide open 3 on a superb pass from Flip to tie the game at 38. But with 13 seconds left, and Duke trailing 77-75, he missed yet another wide open 3 on yet another wonderful pass from Flip.

Jeremy Roach (31:18) is not yet back in game shape but was forced to play almost 18 second-half minutes as a result of Dariq’s injury.  His rust was apparent because Jeremy scored only 6 points (3-9 from the field including 0-4 from deep, on uncontested shots).  Worse, he missed his only free throw, the front end of a 1-and-1 with Duke trailing by 3 points late in the game.  He had 3 assists (all in the first half) and 2 rebounds.  Jeremy tried to lead, but kept missing open shots and that crucial front end foul shot.  Jeremy is there, but not yet there.

Ryan Young (26:30) played the majority of his minutes with respectable offense statistics.  He scored 8 points (4-6 from the field), to go with 8 boards, 2 assists, and a steal.  But on defense, Ryan had the primary task to guard the star Hokie Big, Grant Basile, who nevertheless flourished in the paint on offense, scoring 24 points.

Dariq Whitehead (17:34) scored 10 points – all in his 14:33 first-half minutes before he suffered what may be a serious injury early in the second half.  Dariq hit both of his 3-point attempts and was 2-4 from inside the arc.  An assist and 2 turnovers.  Dariq’s injury is troubling, if not downright scary for Duke’s future this season.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (13:30) after playing well for substantial minutes against Miami, D-Live played only sparingly against Va Tech.  He scored  4 points on 2-3 shooting and  grabbed 2 boards, but committed 2 fouls.  The announcers offered no explanation for D-Live’s reduced minutes, but it may have had to do with match-ups. He had no success slowing the Hokies and Basile’s offense. 

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (9:07) after earning Scheyer’s praise for his 24 minutes played against Miami, Jake played little, failing to score (0-1 from deep).  He had an assist and a rebound.   

Jaylen Blakes (4:52) is still not recovered from his broken nose.  He failed to score in his short time on the floor in the first half and did not play in the closing period.

SUMMING UP

Duke must start winning ACC road games in order to save the season! No other way exists.  There are 11 ACC games remaining, 5 on the road (Georgia Tech, Miami, UVA, Syracuse and UNC).  All those teams, except for Georgia Tech, are ahead of Duke in the ACC standings.

Next Play: Saturday, January 28, 2023, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga. At 3:00 p.m. on ACCN.

A terrible sight for Duke fans to behold.  We are all hoping Dariq will be able to play again this season.  Photo credit: USATSI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: