Duke will kick off the season Tuesday night against No. 3 Kansas in the Champions Classic. The Blue Zone breaks down three aspects of the game that could help the Blue Devils start off the year strong in New York:
Figure out the starting lineup
Right now, head coach Mike Krzyzewski's “go-to” lineup is still up in the air, and this is no time to be experimenting with different combinations. Whatever lineup Kansas walks out on the floor with, Duke has to be ready to counter. The Jayhawks have weapons at every position, and so do the Blue Devils, but it is a matter of being able to put out the right frontcourt-backcourt pairings to win this game. Krzyzewski used two different starting lineups in the exhibition games, first going with Tre ones, Wendell Moore Jr., Jack White, Matthew Hurt and Vernon Carey Jr. in the opener followed by Jones, Jordan Goldwire, Cassius Stanley, Hurt and Carey in the second contest. Across all scenarios, Jones, Hurt and Carey seem to be givens, but the remaining two spots are still up for grabs.
Find Carey in the post
This year’s Duke team is undoubtably filled with talent from head to toe, but most of the scoring may need to go through one man. Carey rarely played on the interior throughout high school, which is odd for a 6-foot-10 center, and learned nearly all of his post game here at Duke. But his size and athleticism cannot go to waste in this key matchup. The Blue Devils as a whole have not proved to be excellent 3-point shooters, so if that aspect of their game does not show up it is crucial that the team finds Carey inside and for the freshman big man to dominate in those post plays. If Carey, who only scored 15 points through the two exhibition games, can get going down low, he will put the team in a good position to succeed.
Hit open shots
As previously mentioned, Duke has not proven itself to be a knockdown 3-point shooting team, but now is the time to change that. Between the size of Carey and Hurt and the driving abilities of Stanley, Jones and Moore, a lot of Kansas' defensive focus will be centered near the basket. This will leave the perimeter vacant for guys like Joey Baker and Alex O’Connell to hit those open shots. Baker shot 6-of-8 from 3-point range in the Blue Devils' win over Fort Valley State, and if he is able to light it up like that again Tuesday, the Blue Devils could run away with it in Madison Square Garden.