Friday night marked the beginning of the Duke basketball season, as Cameron Crazies around the nation got their first glimpse at the 2013-14 Blue Devils. Here is a player-by-player breakdown of what we saw from Friday night's scrimmages.
"Sometimes my feet may act differently because of the pounding ... so it's going to be an adjustment," Parker said. "I don't play in orthotics so I've got to make sure the right shoe helps me."
The Chicago product will not be wearing orthotics in the future to correct this problem.
"The doctor said my alignment is a special kind so he doesn't want to shift any of my vertebrae," Parker said.
Foot problems or not, Parker put on a show for those in attendance and figures to be the go-to guy for Duke this season.
Cook was productive Friday night as well, especially on the defensive end. Picking up Tyler Thornton in the backcourt, Cook looked much improved defensively from last year. In the first scrimmage, Cook constantly flustered Thornton, leading to two steals for himself and six Thornton turnovers.
Offensively, Cook was hot and cold, scoring seven of his 15 total points on three consecutive possessions. As a distributor, Cook's first scrimmage left plenty to be desired, as he failed to hand out a single helper. He did have two assists in the second scrimmage, however, when playing alongside Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson.
Thornton didn't have an impressive showing. The six turnovers in 14 minutes were eye-opening. Though it may be unrelated, Rasheed Sulaimon handled a significant portion of the point guard duties in the second scrimmage instead of Thornton. The senior guard ended the night with nearly as many fouls (six) as points, rebounds and assists combined (seven).
With the ball in his hands Hood surely looked comfortable, scoring 17 points on 10 field goal attempts. However, when playing with Jabari Parker in the second scrimmage, Hood faded to the background, attempting just two shots compared to the eight he shot without Jabari in the first game. No one is questioning Hood's talent, but he seemed to fade to the background while Parker starred in the spotlight.
After looking capable and confident at Duke's open practice earlier this season, Murphy did not seem to have it all together Friday night. The redshirt sophomore scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in 16 minutes on the floor—the fewest played by any scholarship player. Murphy didn't get a single shot up in the first scrimmage, then took a few quick shots in the second scrimmage while playing with the second unit before vanishing again.
Jones is one of the players who has had the most hype this preseason, but offensively he just didn't have it on Friday. The freshman from DeSoto, TX shot a combined 3-for-9 from the floor—0-for-3 from beyond the arc—and 3-of-8 from the charity stripe. On the positive side, Jones continued to play strong defense and his three assists in the second scrimmage were the most by any player on either team. He, along with Rasheed Sulaimon, saw time at point guard instead of Tyler Thornton.
Fighting for a starting spot, Sulaimon took a long time to get going during the scrimmages. Sulaimon missed his first seven shots from the field before eventually ending the night with 16 points. Sulaimon looked comfortable bringing the ball up the court, but the sophomore guard looked for his own shot more than his teammate's in the second scrimmage, attempting 13 shots and failing to record an assist.
Hairston's night was relatively uneventful. The senior big man finished with five points—all from the free throw line—and five rebounds in 26 minutes. The excitement from him came on his one attempted 3-pointer and his drawn charge.
Ojeleye was arguably the biggest success story of Countdown, catching the attention of Duke fans everywhere with his unbelievable athleticism. The Ottawa, Kan., product can jump out of the gym, making him a force on the offensive glass—he had two offensive boards in the first scrimmage. Ojeleye doesn't figure to play many minutes his freshman year, but showed that he is a capable performer should injury strike this season. Playing the same position, Ojeleye outperformed the older Alex Murphy Friday.
Jefferson looked strong and confident around the basket Friday night, despite matching up with bigger, stronger Marshall Plumlee for much of the two scrimmages. Displaying a soft touch and an array of post moves, Jefferson scored 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting, adding seven rebounds. He went a long way in proving he can a successful center despite his 218-pound frame.
No one was happier to be on the court Friday than Dawkins, who made his long-awaited return to Duke basketball. After starting his night with a 3-pointer early in the first scrimmage, Dawkins finished the night with just nine points on 1-for-4 shooting. Most notably from Dawkins was the fact that he played alongside the projected first unit in the second scrimmage, though that doesn't necessarily mean he'll open the season as the starting shooting guard.
After a quiet first scrimmage, Plumlee came to life in the second game, scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds—four offensive. With a significant height advantage over Amile Jefferson, Plumlee succeeded in making his presence felt on the glass. He also added two blocks in 22 minutes of action. One has to wonder however, whether Plumlee's success has more to do with his undersized opponent or his development over the summer.
Pagliuca did not make his first appearance in front of the Cameron Crazies, but did hear a smattering of, "We want Nick," chants before the night drew to a close.
Zafirovski sat on the bench of the presumptive starters, listening to the Cameron Crazies pleading for his insertion into the game, though he never did make it onto the court Friday night.
The Blue Devils will be an extremely fun team to watch this season given their talent, fast paced offense and pressure defense. The one concern will be managing foul trouble. There were a total of 47 fouls called in 30 minutes of basketball—an absurdly high number. Parker, Sulaimon and Ojeleye committed five, while Thornton, Jefferson and Hairston each were whistled six times. The question is whether Duke committed so many fouls because of deficiencies on defense, or whether the sloppy play was a testament to the Blue Devil offense.
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