Coming off of a closer-than-expected victory against Siena, the Blue Devils will return home to take on Bryant from the Northeast Conference. No. 5 Duke will look to use their second game in the 2K Classic to continue mixing rotations and blending as a cohesive unit. Here are three keys to a Duke victory:
Find the best defensive scheme to contain Dan Garvin
The Bulldogs are led by sophomore forward Dan Garvin, who will look to exploit the Blue Devils work-in-progress defense by getting hot and staying hot Saturday night. The preseason All-NEC second-team selection finished second on his team with an average of 10.9 points per game last season and led the team with 7.9 rebounds per game. With a handful of double-doubles last season, Garvin is a multifaceted threat that the Duke defense will need to bottle up. The veteran trio of Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee and Matt Jones will need to control movement inside the paint and ensure that Garvin gets no easy shots within the arc.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will look to establish a defensive scheme that works best in containing Garvin. The Blue Devils have switched between playing man and zone early this season and will need to determine the best system to neutralize the Bulldogs' leader on the floor.
Take advantage of talent
Bryant graduated two senior leaders this past spring when all-conference selections Joe O’Shea and Dyami Starks left due to graduation. The Bulldogs' lineup has big shoes to fill in terms of matching up with the more athletic Blue Devil swingmen. Despite their inexperience, freshmen Chase Jeter and Brandon Ingram will make life tough on Bryant. At 6-foot-9, Ingram will need to use his superior height advantage to get good looks above defenders and dominate in the low block.
Fellow freshman Derryck Thornton will need to distribute the ball and make good decisions, as he matches up against the Bulldogs' senior captain Shane McLaughlin. After struggling in his season opener Friday, there would be no better time for the point guard to breakout than against Bryant.
Although Duke has far superior talent to its opponent, taking advantage of mismatches and capitalizing on talent will be key to getting another victory in the 2K Classic.
Rotate well and stay fresh
The Blue Devils play a demanding schedule in the first two weeks of the season, playing five games in the first ten days, including a matchup with No. 2 Kentucky. The matchup against Bryant will be the second game in two nights for Duke, thus presenting the need for a longer rotation to keep guys fresh.
After sitting out last season after transferring from Rice, sophomore Sean Obi gives the Duke front court much-needed depth against the Bulldogs. The big man will look to provide rest for senior Amile Jefferson and graduate student Marshall Plumlee and make plays when called upon.
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