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Duke basketball holds open practice

The Duke basketball season kicked off with the first day of practice yesterday. Today, the team held an open practice for fans to see the 2013-14 team live for the first time. Here are some notes and observations from the open practice.

  • As head coach Mike Krzyzewski alluded to in his opening press conference, there were many different lineups and different defensive assignments throughout the drills and scrimmage.
  • Andre Dawkins, who fans got to see for the first time since the 2011-2012 season, looked like the Andre Dawkins of old, flashing his signature 3-point stroke and showing impressive athleticism on the break.
  • Quinn Cook's pressure defense, which Krzyzewski also touched on in his press conference, looked as good as advertised, giving Tyler Thornton some trouble getting the ball over half-court.
  • Though Cook and Thornton got the majority of the reps at point guard, both Rasheed Sulaimon and freshman Matt Jones had opportunities to bring the ball up the court.
  • When broken into groups for drills, Jabari Parker played with the "big men", Dawkins played with the "wings" and Sulaimon played with the "guards". These designations are of note because Parker is expected to start on the wing with Rodney Hood, Dawkins played mostly guard his first three seasons at Duke and Sulaimon started on the wing last season.
  • The more unheralded freshmen—Jones and Semi Ojeleye—both impressed in drills. Jones showed strong defensive ability and Ojeleye a pretty jump shot.
  • Josh Hairston frequently attempted his signature deep jumper, but was making those shots with confidence today. On multiple occasions Hairston stepped back beyond the arc with confidence, hitting nothing but net.
  • When the team broke into squads for a scrimmage at the end of practice the white team was made up of Cook, Parker, Hood, and Jefferson—the presumed starters—as well as Sulaimon and Dawkins. Sulaimon started the scrimmage.
  • Parker and Cook showed a nice rapport in transition, resulting in more an a couple dunks for Parker, much to the pleasure of the crowd on-hand.
  • Alex Murphy looked like the best player on the blue squad, which also featured Thornton, Jones, Ojeleye, Hairston and Marshall Plumlee. Murphy looked confident attacking the rim in transition.
  • Hood left the scrimmage with what appeared to be either a left leg or lower back injury. Neither the coaching staff nor the trainer seemed overly concerned with Hood's health. Hood also was sitting out a number of drills prior to starting the scrimmage, which implies he may have been dealing with something from the previous day's practice.
  • The scrimmage ended in a 23-23 tie, thanks to shoddy officiating from the Duke coaching staff. With the score 23-22 with the blue team ahead, Cook drove to the basket, connected on a layup and drew the foul on Thornton. After missing the subsequent free throw, the made basket was taken off the board and Cook was awarded a second shot. Cook made the second free throw to tie the game. On the final possession Murphy attempted a shot in the lane to win the game, but was blocked by Parker. The reaction from both the players on the court and the fans in the crowd was that Parker should have been whistled for goaltending, which would have given the reserves the win in the scrimmage.

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