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X-Factor: Duke men's basketball needs a strong showing from Wendell Moore Jr. at Veteran's Day Weekend Showcase

Wendell Moore Jr. performed well in Duke's season opener against Kentucky.
Wendell Moore Jr. performed well in Duke's season opener against Kentucky.

After a thrilling win against Kentucky in the season opener at Madison Square Garden, the Blue Devils return home this weekend for a pair of matchups with Army and Campbell in the Duke Veteran's Day Weekend Showcase. Ahead of the event, the Blue Zone brings you a player from both matchups that could make an impact on the court: 

Duke: Wendell Moore Jr.

I know what you're thinking—freshmen Trevor Keels and Paolo Banchero will likely rack up the most points in Duke's contests this weekend. Yet another important factor for the Blue Devils is Wendell Moore Jr., who has already exemplified invaluable offensive and defensive play. Moore led this year's returners in points per game last season, averaging 9.7 per contest, and was second in assists with an average of 2.7. Defensively, the junior captain also led all of this year's returning players last season in rebounds at 4.8 per contest. Given the skill level of this Duke roster, it's likely that neither match this weekend will be a burdensome venture. Although Banchero and Keels will likely record the most points, using them excessively against either opponent would be impractical. Instead, expect to see more of Moore.

Already this season, Moore has been vital to keeping Duke in check. At Madison Square Garden Tuesday, the forward saw 33 minutes of action and registered 12 points, four rebounds and three assists against Kentucky. Expect this weekend to be no different, as with a pair of easier games on the horizon, Moore will likely be key to shutting down the Black Knights and Fighting Camels.

Army: Josh Caldwell

The last time we saw a Duke-Army competition, the Blue Devils had an entirely different roster. In the 2018-19 season, Duke defeated Army at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 94-72. For the Blue Devils, only the coaching staff has competed against this team, as the lone four-year player on Duke's roster, Joey Baker, was not activated until later in the season. 

However, the opposite rings true for Army, whose star player Josh Caldwell returns for his senior season. Though Caldwell is not the only returner from that year's team, he led the roster offensively last season with 12.6 points per game while also managing to seize the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year title. 

The Black Knights will need to latch onto Caldwell come Friday in what should be a crucial game for Army. With the Blue Devils likely to hold onto the ball longer than the Black Knights, Caldwell must shine. Last year, he was second in the Patriot League in steals with 1.9 per game, and in his best defensive bout, the senior guard recorded five steals in a narrow win against Buffalo. For Army to be competitive in Friday's match, Caldwell will have to be at his best. Expect him to hold up in the offensive regard, yet come Friday, he may have to register more boisterous defensive statistics than ever to lift the Black Knights.

Campbell: Cedric Henderson Jr.

Take one look at Campbell's schedule this season, and you'll notice that one school—Duke—sticks out. The Blue Devils will be the Fighting Camels' most resilient opponent this season, and with due reason, as Campbell's most recent NCAA tournament appearance was in 1992. Last year, the Fighting Camels went 17-10 with losses to the likes of Elon, N.C. State, UNC Wilmington and Winthrop. Given that information, a match against the Blue Devils will require a herculean effort for the Fighting Camels. 

For Campbell to prove competitive in Saturday's competition, Fighting Camel senior Cedric Henderson Jr. needs to step up. Last season, the guard led the team both offensively and defensively, headlining the roster in terms of points (15.0), steals (1.3) and blocks (1.1) per game. Considering the challenge Campbell faces against Duke, Henderson's versatility will be invaluable in both regards.

Ana Young | Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.


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