The following are a series of observations from Friday's Countdown to Craziness
Austin Rivers put on a clinic out of the gate in the scrimmage, draining four of his first five shots, including all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. But Rivers became increasingly erratic, missing his next seven shots to finish 4-for-11 and committing six turnovers. River’s electric talent could spark the Duke offense, but he will need to polish his game for the college level.
Quinn Cook stole the show during player introductions as he danced down Runway 903, a tribute to Mike Krzyzewski’s pursuit of the NCAA Division-I coaching wins record. Cook’s energetic entrance was by far the most theatrical of the 13 players, and he also exhibited some moves on the floor during the scrimmage, showing good vision as he dished out two assists and scored seven points in 13 minutes of play. He wore a brace on his previously-injured right knee, but he looked sharp and well on the way to a full recovery. His presence as a true distributing point guard could help free up Seth Curry.
Seth Curry quickly filled the vacated spotlight, though, flashing a sweet shooting stroke en route to an 8-for-13 shooting performance and a 90-percent tally in 10 tries from the free-throw line. He finished with 28 points in just 24 minutes of play, and added four assists and two steals for good measure. Curry’s continued emergence will prove critical for a team with plenty of backcourt talent but no clear leader.
The Plumlee Brothers
The Blue and White scrimmage saw the debut of Duke’s trio of related big men, the Plumlee brothers Miles, Mason and Marshall. Miles and Mason started the game on opposite teams, and battled one another from the start. Mason fouled Miles hard on the game’s first possession, and the pair fought for rebounds throughout. Youngest brother Marshall joined the party late, but after being substituted in, he contributed four points and two rebounds. Veterans Miles and Mason each went 3-for-4 from the line, but they combined for nine fouls. Miles finished with 15 points and eight rebounds before fouling out, and Mason added nine points and five boards.
Andre Dawkins will be counted on to mature and take on a bigger role in Duke’s offense, and Countdown to Craziness was not an auspicious start. He shot just 3-for-10 from the floor, making just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Dawkins’ spot-up shooting ability will be valuable off the ball, and it will make a big difference if he can begin to create his own shots.
The biggest storyline of the early season for Duke will be head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s march toward 903 career wins and the all-time record. He needs three more victories, and the third of those could come as soon as November 15 against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden. He did not have to do any coaching at Countdown to Craziness, however, as he delegated responsibilities to a pair of assistants who both have NCAA head coaching pedigree, Chris Collins and Jeff Capel.