It was an exciting night for the fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium Friday, as Duke kicked off its 2017-18 campaign with the ninth edition of Countdown to Craziness. The Blue team knocked off the White team by a score of 43-41. Here are our 10 observations from the intrasquad scrimmage and festivities:
1. The Blue Devils split their roster into the following teams:
Blue: Trevon Duval, Gary Trent Jr., Javin DeLaurier, Antonio Vrankovic and Wendell Carter Jr. with Alex O'Connell, Justin Robinson and Mike Buckmire coming off the bench.
White: Grayson Allen, Jordan Goldwire, Marques Bolden, Marvin Bagley III and Jack White with Jordan Tucker and Brennan Besser in reserve roles.
2. Play of the night: Duval's off-the-glass jam
The highlight-reel moment of the night, without a doubt, came from the freshman point guard. Duval found himself wide open headed toward the south end of the floor and lobbed one off the backboard before throwing it down himself for a thunderous one-handed jam. Coach K did not seemed too pleased, though, simply crossing his arms and shaking his head afterward.
“I’ll probably hear about it, but hey, I was having fun,” Duval said.
3. Coming up clutch
It was right down to the wire in the scrimmage, as Blue and White battled for bragging rights. With 22 seconds remaining and his team trailing 41-40, O'Connell drained a corner triple to put the Blue team up by a pair. After a White timeout, Allen looked for Bagley on a lob toward the rim, but the 6-foot-11 freshman was unable to grab the ball and put it down, giving Blue the two-point victory.
4. Player of the game: Gary Trent Jr.
Although Allen is the unquestioned leader, Trent led his Blue team quite well, posting 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting with a trio of 3-pointers and an assist. The 6-foot-6 guard sparked a solo 6-0 run with consecutive buckets from beyond the arc to bring his team from down five to up one.
“Gary is strong physically and just way ahead of a normal freshman as far as physical maturity,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He played away from home, going out to the West Coast his senior year, so that pays dividends. You’re much more ready to play.”
Allen and Trent went head-to-head on both ends of the floor and their in-practice competition should help each other develop as the Blue Devils get ready for regular-season play.
5. Trevon Duval and Jordan Goldwire run the point
As expected, Duval took control of ball-handling duties for the Blue squad, showing off his speed and natural ability to lead an offense. The 6-foot-3 freshman finished the contest with four points and three assists.
Interestingly enough, though, it was Goldwire and not Allen running the White team offense. Goldwire knocked down a pair of triples and looked comfortable running the offense, allowing plenty of space for Allen to get to open and pour in 13 points of his own.
6. Maybe the Blue Devils will be able to shoot after all
At Duke's media day, Krzyzewski said that this Blue Devil team might not be the 3-point shooting threat that it has been in past seasons. But you wouldn't have known that watching Friday's game.
“We’ve got some great shooters—Alex O’Connell, Jack White, Grayson Allen,” Trent said. “We’ve got a lot of people who can shoot threes.”
Four of the first eight made field goals were 3-pointers—one each from Carter, Goldwire, O'Connell and Tucker. Several others joined the party later on, and the teams finished a combined 14-of-32 from beyond the arc.
7. Grayson Allen looks like a man on a mission
Allen wasn't returning to Durham for his senior season without a reason. He knocked down shot after shot and looked like a leader on the court. Krzyzewski said earlier this month that Allen is not necessarily a vocal leader, but he makes his presence known on the court.
He spent much of the night going one-on-one with Trent on the defensive end, and although Trent knocked down three triples in the latter minutes, Allen responded with a nice transition takeaway as the Blue squad looked to pull away late.
8. Bringing back the dunk contest
After a couple years off, the ever-popular tradition returned to Countdown with celebrity judges Marshall Plumlee, President Vincent Price and his wife, Annette, cheerleader Sydnei Murphy and the Blue Devil himself.
Following an exciting qualifying round, Duval and Allen advanced to the finals. Duval may have wasted his best dunks in the opening round—his 98 points led the team, but he mustered a big fat 0 in the finals. Allen finished the night by lining up not one, but two Duke cheerleaders and dunking right over them for the easy win.
Allen picked up both the dunk contest title and a third straight Iron Duke award for strength and conditioning in the offseason.
9. Best and worst dancer awards
On the positive side of things, DeLaurier had by far the best moves of the night, but a surprise contender for runner-up was walk-on junior Brennan Besser. And Allen got the Cameron Crazies fired up with "Everytime We Touch," nearly knocking over every computer on press row.
“I liked the fact that [Allen’s] song was really the song of our students, of our team,” Krzyzewski said. “That sends a great message, and that’s the way he’s been practicing, playing and is approaching the year.”
At the bottom of the introduction power rankings would be Justin Robinson and White, who barely even tried to show off some moves. Also, I'm not quite sure what Vrankovic was trying to do—he showed off his muscles with some primal scream, but I don't know if that qualifies as dancing or not.
10. Zion Williamson is a freak of nature
It doesn't take much more than a quick glance to see why the South Carolinian is ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in ESPN's Class of 2018 rankings. Williamson is listed at 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds, but in person, he looks more like 6-foot-8.
Duke already has a solid 2018 class coming in with Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones, but the addition of No. 1 R.J. Barrett and Williamson would be massive—both literally and figuratively.
Also in attendance Friday were 2019 recruits Matthew Hurt, Armando Bacot and Joey Baker as well as 2020 recruits Isaiah Todd and RJ Hampton. Todd is the No. 1 player in the Class of 2020 and Hurt is No. 5 in the 2019 class.
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A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak."