DURHAM– It wasn’t all pretty, but Duke’s young, young team made it happen in a 106-64 win over Virginia Union. It was back and forth for a little while until it was 8-7 when RJ Barrett went off and before you could cheer for it it was 18-10 and the blowout had begun. There’s no need to recap it really because it was a progression of Zion being, as per usual, a walking highlight reel and an excellent all-around basketball player (some of those backdoor cuts were elite).
They forgot the collection of rims he’s going to amass after destroying, like, eight in this game alone. RJ Barrett played really well, too; this team was aided by their Canada; they had great chemistry for a team playing their first exhibition game. Other guys got in on the action: Alex O’Connell and Jack White brought some good range and both got on the board and helped the team out, Mike Buckmire got in there and made a three (at which point the bench went nuts), Brennan Besser got in, Marques got the start and showed progression between the first and second halves, and Javin DeLaurier proved his leadership as a player and a vocal leader. It was a team win, which is promising.
What’s funny about this game is that the stat sheet is through the roof. They all have crazy numbers. Duke vs. Kentucky comes November 6th in the Champions’ Classic, which will test the ability for those numbers to continue as we take on arguably the best team in the country. One thing’s for sure: we have to play better defense. The defense got much, much better in the second half, as expected, but they’re young. They have some time to assert themselves defensively, but for now, the Classic is looking like an offensive battle. But Kentucky is actually kind of (kind of) experienced this year (whaaaat?). They added a really good transfer in Reid Travis, whose decision, without the publicity, was kind of a similar X-factor to Marvin Bagley’s decision to attend Duke a year early. Anyway, #2 Preseason AP Poll- ranked Kentucky (we’re #4) is ready to take on our guys. Tonight was a good start, but there’s room to improve.
Things we learned:
- Our scorers are the real deal. Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson, and RJ Barrett combined for 65 points and the rest of the team scored well as well. But again, it’s Virginia Union and the offense needs to be tested. Oh, look, we have Kentucky in our first game. That should do the trick.
- Assisting on offense seems to be something we do really well. Tre Jones and Cam Reddish had nine dimes each.
- Defensively, there’s room to improve. The transition defense was sloppy, but the second half was a lot better than a jittery first. They have the length and potential to get big stops, but they need to use that potential to their own advantage.
- This team is for each other. None of them appear to care about their own stat lines or highlights, but instead, they’re willing to make unselfish plays and move the ball in order to help out their teammates and get the team win.
Next Up: Ferris State- Saturday, October 27 at 4pm (Exhibition)