Falling just two wins short of a national championship last season, Duke sought to be the best-prepared team for every game it played.
But when the team returns to the field for the first time this season, the Blue Devils will look to abandon that philosophy for one weekend, when they kick off their 2013 campaign in exhibition action against Bucknell, Navy and Limestone starting Saturday at 9 a.m.
“We don’t know anything about them, and that’s the beauty of scrimmages,” head coach John Danowski said. “There is no scouting and no preparation. They show up, they bring their guys, we show up with our guys and you really just focus on your players and what they can do.”
Danowski added that this weekend’s action will be merely for experience—no score will be kept, the games will start one after the other and Duke’s primary goal will be to get into playing shape for its season opener Feb. 9 against Denver.
“We want to see who can play. It’s really simple,” Danowski said. “We want to see who’s got some instincts. It’s early—we have two weeks until our first game, so we aren’t going to be in game shape. But we want to see some freshman in game situations and sophomores that have grown from their freshman years and seniors who can play like seniors.”
Exhibition play will still provide the Blue Devils with competitive matchups. Bucknell finished 9-7 last season and fell to Colgate—a team Duke faced in last year’s NCAA tournament quarterfinals—in the Patriot League Tournament. Navy finished 6-6 in 2012 but notched victories against Colgate and Johns Hopkins and played a close game against North Carolina. They have earned NCAA Tournament berths in six of the past 10 seasons.
Limestone and Duke actually ended their respective seasons in the same location, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Limestone, a Division II team, saw its season meet a bitter end on lacrosse’s championship weekend, falling 11-10 to Dowling in the Division II national title game.
Duke will use this weekend as an opportunity to experiment with some new personnel and develop the rotation as it enters a new season. Sophomore Kyle Turri will see increased time between the pipes this weekend after making just three starts during his freshman campaign.
Danowski also said that sophomore Will Haus, who was a stalwart at the defensive midfield position last season, will play a bigger role in the Blue Devil offense this year. He also mentioned that sophomore Brian Dailey and junior Luke Duprey will spend more time on the wing this season to replace the production of Tewaaraton Trophy Finalist CJ Costabile, Duke’s all-time leader in ground balls.
In addition to getting back into playing shape, Duke will use this weekend’s exhibition action as an opportunity to adjust to a number of new NCAA rules instituted to quicken the pace of play this season. Among these include quicker substitution patterns, an extension of the substitution box by 10 yards and a new 30-second shot clock procedure following a stall warning.
“We’re not going to spend too much time worrying about the new rules, but we also have to be aware because you want to master the subtleties of the game,” Danowski said. “But we like to play fast anyway, so we think it’s right in our wheelhouse.”