By Jack Drapkin
The Blue Devils led by Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval looked fantastic in the Champions Classic matchup against Michigan State on Tuesday night. Much of the talk prior to the game had been about the frontcourts of the two teams but the Duke backcourt stole the show. Between Grayson’s 37 points and Duval’s 10 assists, the Blue Devils backcourt was dominant.
Let’s talk about just how great Grayson Allen was in this game. He may have finished with 37, but he led all scorers with the quietest 14 points in the first half as well. He connected on SEVEN three-pointers, not even including the two times he was fouled beyond the line and connected on all six free throws. He hit huge shots, namely the big threes at the end of the first half and the pull-up from the top of the key. Most importantly like Duval, he remained composed throughout the game.
Speaking of Trevon Duval he was absolutely tremendous. The fact that he can’t shoot *yet* speaks volumes to how good he is right now. His ability to explode and get to the basket is reminiscent of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. But how many freshman point guards can put up 30 assists and 4 turnovers?!? He has exceeded expectations early on in the 2017-18 season and with his poise I fully expect it to continue.
Lastly, and this is mostly for myself, but I figure some of you will enjoy this..get you a teammate like Jordan Goldwire. Goldwire is somehow consistently more excited than the person who makes the given play.
The Blue Devil backcourt is going to be a ton of fun to watch this season.
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.
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.
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.
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!