Duke men's basketball rings in new year with Countdown to Craziness
Students and fans got their first look at the 2013-2014 Duke men's basketball team at the annual Countdown to Craziness rally. The event included a 30-minute scrimmage between the Blue and White and a dunk contest.
Redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon, redshirt sophomore Marshall Plumlee, junior Quinn Cook and senior Josh Hairston started for the White team. The Blue team's starters were freshmen Matt Jones and Jabari Parker, senior Tyler Thornton, sophomore Amile Jefferson and graduate student Andre Dawkins.
The freshmen were quick to make an impact. Parker slashed through the lane for his first two points and scored several buckets on offensive rebounds, finishing the first half with 16 points and six rebounds, both of which led the Blue team. He was just as good in the second half, recording eight points and eight rebounds.
Jones finished the night with nine points, but the 3-point specialist could not convert from long range all night. He also struggled from the free-throw line, going 3-for-8.
Semi Ojeleye, subbing in for the White team, made his presence felt immediately with an acrobatic rebound tip-in, and snagged four more rebounds in 11 minutes of first-half action.
Dawkins, who received one of the loudest welcomes from the crowd during player introductions, also wasted no time getting back into the swing of things after sitting out last season. He drilled a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game, but that proved to be his only field goal of the night. Dawkins converted all six of his free-throw opportunities to finish with nine points.
Hood showcased his versatility, hitting a three-pointer for his first bucket of the night. He also dribbled the ball coast-to-coast for a lay-up, blowing by several Blue defenders on his way to the rim, but was very quiet in the second half, attempting only two shots.
Both teams applied token full-court man-to-man pressure on made baskets and dead balls in the first half. Cook picked Thornton's pocket for an easy lay-up and disrupted another pass that led to a pair of Ojeleye free throw attempts.
After a cold start, the White team clawed back into the contest late in the first half, led by Cook. The Washington, D.C. product hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, then made a floater and two free throws, A layup by Ojeleye tied the score at 34-34 with under a minute remaining in the period, before two Dawkins free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining gave the Blue team a 36-34 lead.
At halftime, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the crowd, and acknowledged that the team is learning a more up-tempo style of play.
"We've always tried to adopt the style that fits the team we have," Krzyzewski said, "It's a new year, and you have to prove yourself again."
Lineups were juggled at the start of the second half. Sulaimon, Plumlee and Hairston switched to the Blue team, while Parker, Jefferson and Dawkins joined the White team. The second half also wiped out the halftime score, starting a new game.
The game was consistently interrupted by fouls—the teams combined for 23 fouls in the first half, and 24 more in the second period. Although it was a scrimmage, several Blue Devils were knocked to the court.
The highlight play of the second half was a total individual effort on the part of Parker. After corralling an offensive rebound along the right baseline, he spun by three bodies and elevated to dunk the ball on the other side of the basket in heavy traffic.
Jefferson did not allow Parker to have the spotlight all to himself. The Philadelphia native, who has added 19 pounds of muscle since arriving in Durham last fall, was active all night long, using his speed to navigate around the basket with a flurry of post moves. He also utilized his newfound strength to bang bodies with Plumlee and Hairston on both ends of the court. He finished the night with 10 first-half points for the Blue team, and six second-half points for the White team.
With 7:19 remaining in the second half, Sulaimon made his first field goal of the night, after starting 0-7 from the floor. Following that bucket, the sophomore guard heated up quickly for the Blue team, making three of his next four field goals, including a break-away dunk.
The White team appeared to be pulling away in the second half, but Sulaimon's hot streak brought the Blue squad back into the game. The White team ultimately prevailed 33-30.
Highlights of the dunk contest included Parker jumping over three young fans, and Ojeleye converting a 360-degree one-handed dunk.
Duke faces Bowie State in the first of two exhibition games at home Oct. 26.