3 Keys to Watch in this Weekend’s Tune up Games

By Jack Drapkin

Look we all know Duke’s real season begins every year with the Champions Classic. It is a great measuring stick for the team to see where they are at in relation to the other great teams in the country. This year is no different, as they will go in as the #1 team against #2 Michigan State. Besides the fact I think Michigan State and Tom Izzo deserve the #1 ranking, they are a more experienced team with all of a top-5 recruiting class from last season including the electric Miles Bridges, returning. Michigan State is also one of the few teams who will be able to match Duke’s size, with their combination of Nick Ward, Jaren Jackson, and Gavin Schilling. But before getting too carried away with the excitement of this matchup I wanted to give you guys a couple of things to pay attention to in this weekend’s matchups against Elon and Utah Valley.

Shooting

I can’t seem to stress this enough, this is the first time in the last five seasons at least, where I have legitimate question marks about how the team will shoot. We know what Grayson Allen is capable of, but he will be the lone shooter who teams have to respect. Despite shooting 49 times from behind the arc in the first two games, Duke has only made 15 of those attempts or 30%. Even more concerning is the fact that Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. have accounted for 12 of those makes alone. Speaking of Gary Trent Jr., he has looked outstanding in the exhibitions, knocking down 64% of his looks on a variety of shots. If Duke is going to have success as we move deeper into the season, Marvin Bagley III and/or Wendell Carter Jr. will need to be at least respected from beyond the arc.

Defense

I have the loved the defense I have seen from the Blue Devils early on this season. They have been aggressive, active and in-sync on that end of the court. If this continues this weekend look for the bigs to continue leading the charge. The athleticism and ability to switch has been a real difference maker and could be a key for Duke in the matchup against Michigan St.

Rotation

Pay attention to the minutes distribution in the 1st half, it will be a good indicator of who will play in the Michigan State game. Since I am expecting both of these games to be under wraps by the 2nd half, who plays in the first half will be the true indicator. In particular, see how many people come off the bench in the first half and what is the order. In particular, the minutes of freshmen point guards, Trevon Duval and Jordan Goldwire will be key as the Blue Devils will want to keep Grayson Allen at the two as much as possible.

I’ll be back early next week to recap these two games and preview the Michigan State in detail. Until then check out our great content on the Youtube page, Dealing with the Devils!

Duke Basketball’s Projected 2017-18 Rotation

By Jack Drapkin

Thanks for tuning in or for those returnees coming back. For the remainder of the season, I will be primarily writing about the Dukies to go along with our new channel, “Dealing with the Devils“. So since they just played their first exhibition of the season against D2 Northwestern St., I figured it would be a great time to take a look at their rotation in this game and try to extrapolate what this means moving into the regular season and then conference play.

*Note this was written under the assumption that Duval’s suspension would not affect his playing time in the regular season.*

First off, the starters Trevon Duval, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr., Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. have a ton of suffixes in their names. Besides that, it’s four freshmen and a senior who have a ton of athleticism and length. Shooting still remains a concern for me with this team and this group as while we know Grayson is knock down, the other four while capable, still have question marks. More importantly, defensively this team has a chance to be one of the better ones Duke has had in recent years. With the size and athleticism combination as well as depth Duke should play a lot more man pressure this season and at times even full court or 3/4 court press. Then again, we said many of the same things in anticipation of last year’s injury-riddled campaign.

Now to the bench, which has been a sore spot for Duke in recent years. The first two players off the bench in the first exhibition were Marquese Bolden and Javin DeLaurier. With each man standing over 6’10” the Blue Devils are clearly going to play big this season. I thought Javin looked much improved, as he nailed a 3-pointer and looked much more comfortable out on the court. The reason the first two guys off the bench was a key to me is because Coach K rarely plays more than 7 so these could be the last two guys getting meaningful playing time.

Some last thoughts here on the rest of the roster. A surprise to me was freshman point guard Jordan Goldwire being the 8th man into the game. It appears based on his early entrance that he is inline for backup PG minutes allowing Grayson to remain at the two spot. If true, this is a big development for the Dukies as it enables everyone to remain in their natural spots when Duval goes to the bench or inevitably gets in foul trouble. Finally, I was surprised at how late 2nd-year man Jack White got into the game, I thought he could emerge as a key role player this year but may have to bide his time instead. Anyways, let me know what you thought as we move into our 2nd exhibition game today at 1:00.