Point guard Jeremy Roach comes to Duke from Leesburg, Va., as the No. 19 overall player and No. 4 point guard in the Class of 2020. The talented freshman spoke with the media Tuesday morning, discussing what it takes to be a point guard under Coach K, the Blue Devils' half-court offense and more. Here are some key takeaways:
Taking the reins
Mike Krzyzewski has coached an extensive list of talented point guards throughout his tenure in Durham, far too many to name. And while even being recruited to Duke and having the opportunity to join that list is an honor in itself, it also comes with some added pressure for incoming freshmen such as Roach.
Nevertheless, when asked what he's learned during his few months on campus about what it takes to be a point guard under Coach K, Roach's answer was clear.
"You got to be very vocal," Roach said. "That's one of his main things—you got to lead the team, direct everybody, make sure they're in the right spots. Just be the leader on the team and basically that extra coach on the floor.... That's his biggest thing, just being vocal."
Roach does get the benefit of having a pair of former All-American Duke guards on the team's current coaching staff in Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith, which has certainly helped him ease into the role.
"All the coaches are a big help, but especially Coach Scheyer and Coach Nolan," Roach said. "Especially Coach Nolan—he's a DMV guy, so he's been telling me early what to expect in ACC, what to expect from Coach K. Just showing me the little things that Duke brings and just been working on, like I said, being vocal, ball screens, just breaking a guy down, just my whole offensive game."
Just because Roach is the new five-star recruit in town doesn't mean the point guard spot will be handed to him, with senior Jordan Goldwire returning to Durham as the most experienced member of Duke's roster.
But it won't necessarily be a competition between the two, either.
Roach discussed how "it's never gonna be a locked starting five" this season, adding how he's actually spent a lot of time on the court with Goldwire so far in practice, similar to how Krzyzewski used Goldwire and Tre Jones last year.
"We definitely got a lot of reps in together," Roach said. "It's fun playing with him. He can bring it up, I can bring it up. He can defend full court, I can defend full court. So it's really just a fast-paced game when we're in the game together. That's my type of game, so I'm ready to play with him."
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Based on what Roach and many of his teammates have said so far this preseason, playing "fast" seems to be the mantra of this year's squad. But where does that leave Duke's half-court offense?
"I think the main thing is just spacing out—we have so many guards that can break people down one-on-one," Roach said. "We can just break people down, find the open man, we can swing it one more time. It's just so much stuff that we can do in the half court because we have so many guards that can break people down. We definitely have sets, but it's really just four-out, one-in and just guards breaking people down."
Of course, a necessity in a four-out, one-in offense is 3-point shooting, something the Blue Devils have notoriously struggled with in recent years. While Goldwire's shot greatly improved last season, he's by no means a sharpshooter, making the development of Roach's outside stroke that much more important.
"Definitely something I gotta work on, just getting that consistency in my jump shot," Roach said. "But I think it's coming along and I'm ready to show everybody during the season."
'Brought me in as a brother'
Roach also discussed how Duke's team chemistry has evolved over the last couple months, especially with the Blue Devils being one of the final teams to return to campus over the summer.
"Definitely still gelling a little bit," Roach said. "It's gonna take some time. But soon enough it will be there."
The team's coaching staff has definitely helped expedite that process, with Roach talking a little bit about how his interaction with the coaches and players has reinforced what attracted him to Duke in the first place.
"You can act like how you really want to act around the coaches," Roach said. "They brought me in as a brother and the coaching staff [has] really just looked out for me. It's everything I've asked for."