Game Preview by @RandyDunson: Duke Blue Devils vs. Marist Red Foxes

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Duke Blue Devils [0-0, 0-0] vs. Marist Red Foxes [0-0, 0-0]

November 11, 2016 • 7:00 PM • Durham, NC • Cameron Indoor Stadium

(Friday’s game will available on ESPN3 through the ACC Network Extra package)

by Randy Dunson [Note: Please direct comments, suggestions, etc. to @RandyDunson.]  


Team Overviews

Duke

Duke opens the 2016-17 regular season on Friday with its first meeting with Marist as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off. Duke has won 16 straight season openers and is 34-2 in season openers under Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils are entering its 112th season of basketball. The program ranks fourth in NCAA history in both wins (2,087) and winning percentage (.707). Duke is ranked No. 1 in both the preseason AP and USA Today Coaches polls. It marks the eighth time in program history that the Blue Devils were the AP’s preseason No. 1 and the sixth time they earned the top spot in the preseason Coaches poll.

Mike Krzyzewski owns a 1,043-321 (.765) record over 41-plus seasons as a head coach, including a 970-262 (.787) mark at Duke (36-plus seasons). The Blue Devils have won the third-most games (210) and have the fourth-best winning percentage (.817) in the nation this decade. Duke has a 489-62 (.887) record at Cameron Indoor Stadium under Coach K, placing him 11 wins shy of 500 at Duke’s storied home venue. Duke has won an NCAA-best 125 consecutive non-conference home games. Duke has won 256 of its past 259 non-conference games at home.

Grayson Allen was the leading vote getter on the 2016-17 Preseason AP All-America team, announced November 2. He has also been named Preseason ACC Player of the Year.


Probable Starters

Guard – Sophomore Grayson Allen

Guard – Junior Matt Jones

Guard –Sophomore Luke Kennard

Forward – Sophomore Chase Jeter

Forward – Grad Student Amile Jefferson


Marist

The Marist men’s basketball team will open the 2016-17 season on Friday, November 11 when the Red Foxes face top-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The contest is the first between the teams, and is the opening game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic. Tip-off is set for 7 PM.

Entering its third season under the direction of head coach Mike Maker, the Marist men’s basketball appears poised to take a step forward in the 2016-17 season.

Last year, the Red Foxes went 7-23 overall and 4-16 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) in a season in which nearly 60 percent of the team’s minutes played and points scored were accumulated by freshmen. The mixture of youth and a strong senior class of co-captains Khallid Hart and Kentrall Brooks figure to lead the Red Foxes this season.

Here is a closer look at what the Red Foxes are bringing back:

  • 90.3 percent of last year’s scoring (total of 70.9 points per game).
  • All five starters (who combined for 56.5 points per game).
  • The team’s top seven scorers.
  • he entire coaching staff.


Returning Starters

Marist returns all five members of the starting lineup that remained intact for most of the final six weeks of the regular season: Hart, Brooks, sophomore guard Brian Parker, sophomore forward Isaiah Lamb, and sophomore forward Kristinn Palsson.

Hart is a Preseason First Team All-MAAC selection who is the leading returning scorer of any player in the conference at 20.3 points per game. He finished in the MAAC’s top five in five statistical categories, and enters this season with 1,306 career points, the 11th-highest total in program history. Brooks took over as the team’s starting center in late January, and turned in several impressive performances. He led the Red Foxes in blocked shots last year, and shot .784 from the free-throw line.

Parker made the MAAC All-Rookie Team after an impressive freshman season in 2015-16. His .514 field goal percentage was the best in the country among freshman guards, and he averaged 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He led the team in both rebounds and assists. The versatile Palsson ranked third on the Red Foxes in scoring (8.7) and rebounding (4.4), and drained 67 three-pointers. Lamb showed flashes of elite athleticism, as well as the ability to shoot from outside (.354). He averaged 7.8 points per game as a freshman.


Returners

Marist returns its top seven scorers from last season. Sophomore Ryan Funk averaged 6.1 points per game, and has terrific athleticism and the ability to shoot from deep. Sophomore David Knudsen has a good feel for the game, and the versatility to contribute in the backcourt and frontcourt. Juniors Connor McClenaghan and Obi Momah will both compete for minutes at the center position. Sophomore walk-on Kyle Daugherty, who’s also a quarterback on the Marist football team, is a threat from three-point range.


Newcomers

Marist has three newcomers on this year’s roster: Tobias Sjoberg, Richie Mitchell, and Aleksandar Dozic. Sjoberg, a true freshman, will compete for minutes at the center position. Mitchell is a sophomore who has three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2016-17, and will contribute in the backcourt. The 6-foot-9 Dozic will spend this season in residency after transferring in from Marshall. He will have three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2017-18.


Coaching Staff

Maker is heading into his third season, and his staff remains intact for the third straight season with assistant coaches Paul Lee, Andy Johnston, and C.J. Lee, along with director of basketball operations Scott Day. Johnston, C.J. Lee, and Day are in their third season at Marist. Paul Lee is in his ninth year at Marist, and has served under three different head coaches.


Probable Starters

Guard – Sophomore Brian Parker

Guard – RS Senior Khallid Hart

Forward/Guard – Sophomore Kristinn Palsson

Forward – Sophomore Isaiah Lamb

Center – Senior Kentrall Brooks


Last Time Out

Duke

In Duke’s last game, Duke wrapped up exhibition play with a 98-45 victory over reigning Division II national champion Augustana last Friday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium. For the second straight game, sophomore guard Luke Kennard led all scorers, dropping 17 on 7-of-13 shooting. Junior guard Grayson Allen (16), freshman guard Frank Jackson (16) and sophomore forward Chase Jeter (15) also posted double-digit points. Jeter shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor, helping the Blue Devils shoot 31-of-66 from the field in the contest.

Duke opened the game on a 13-0 run, holding Augustana scoreless over the first 4:08 of the contest. The Blue Devils spread the points around over the stretch, with Jeter scoring five, Kennard netting four, and Jackson contributing two of his own.

Duke’s offense was locked in to open the contest, as the Blue Devils shot 47.1 percent from the field in the first half. Eight of the nine Blue Devils that saw action in the opening 20 minutes netted at least two points, with Allen leading the offensive charge with a game-high 14 first-half points.

The Blue Devils showcased their defensive prowess in the opening stanza as well, forcing the Vikings into committing 16 turnovers and scoring 22 points off Augustana’s miscues. Senior guard Matt Jones led Duke’s defensive efforts to open the game, posting a team-best four first-half steals. He would end the game with six steals.

At the midway point of the first half, Amile Jefferson showcased his versatility, hauling in a defensive rebound, taking the ball coast-to-coast, and finishing at the other end for two of his nine points in the contest. Duke’s second-half play mirrored that of the first, with a mix of tenacious defense and efficient offense.

Jackson caught his rhythm following the break, netting 12 points to go along with his four first-half points. Jackson displayed his range, draining a three for his first points of the second half before Jefferson dished the ball to him in the corner later in the contest for his second three of the game.

Jones brought the house down after forcing an Augustana turnover at the top of the key and throwing it down for a thunderous jam at the other end with 10:32 remaining.


Marist

None (Did not play Exhibition; last game played March 2016)

 

Head-to-Head

This is the first time that these two teams have played.

[NB: Full statistical parameters will not be displayed until after the fifth game is played. Some statistics will be noted in other sections though.]

 

Duke 2015-16 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison Marist
PPG (Scoring Margin)
Opponents PPG
Effective FG%
FG%
Opponent FG%
3PT FG%
Opponent 3PT FG%
RPG (Rebound Margin)
Opponent RPG
FT%
APG
SPG (%)
Turnovers Per Game (Margin)
Opponent TOPG
BPG
Fouls Per Game

 


Four Factors to Winning

[NB: Same applies here as for statistics] [If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here, http://www.dukeblogger.com/four-factors-winning/.]

 

Key Points to Consider

[NB: Same applies here as for statistics]

First, a few points regarding both team’s overall profile at this point:


Expectations for Duke (Marist included in Team Overview)

Frontcourt

Twice in the last three seasons, Duke has found itself, for various reasons, with a crippling dearth of options in the post. That shouldn’t be a problem this season.

Harry Giles, a 6’10” power forward who has the potential to wow on both ends of the floor, was ranked as one of the top players in the class of 2016 and is likely to be Duke’s next one-and-done big man. However, a torn ACL in his right knee last fall and a similar injury to his left knee two years earlier raise questions about when he’ll be ready to play.

Through nine games of what was supposed to be his senior season, team co-captain Amile Jefferson, a hard-working 6’9″ forward, was averaging a double-double. However, a broken bone in his right foot in December ended his season, leading to a medical redshirt. He figures to pick up where he left last year and be a powerhouse on the boards.

Like Giles, indications are that Jefferson should be at full speed when the season begins. If either one isn’t, the Blue Devils still have options as Chase Jeter is back after playing a reserve role last season, and is showing sparks of contributing early on. Then, of course, there is Marques Bolden, one of the top centers in the class of 2016, chose Duke over Kentucky late in the recruiting cycle. Unfortunately, he has suffered a lower leg injury that will keep out at least 1-2 weeks.


Backcourt

When asked recently about the challenge of getting a team loaded with high-level individual talents to shelve egos and work toward a collective goal, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski expressed a positive outlook.

“There’s chemistry danger on any team, but there’s also chemistry opportunity,” he says. “I’d rather have a lot of good players rather than a limited number of good players.”

That’s precisely the situation Duke has along the perimeter, where an abundance of high-level performers will have to compete for minutes and touches.

The headliners are junior guard Grayson Allen and 6’8″ freshman swingman Jayson Tatum. Allen, who etched his name into Duke lore with a clutch 16-point performance in the 2015 title game, made his way onto several All-America teams last season after averaging a team-best 21.6 points. He also became a magnet for controversy after a series of much-discussed tripping incidents.

Allen’s status as one of the faces of college basketball means Tatum will enter with a relatively small amount of fanfare. Projected by many to join Giles near the top of the 2017 NBA Draft, Tatum possesses size, athleticism and a mid-range game that will spell trouble for Duke foes.

In addition to being elite scorers, both Allen and Tatum can bring the ball up if needed, which will come in handy since Frank Jackson, the co-MVP of last spring’s McDonald’s All-American Game, is the team’s lone true point guard.

What makes the guard situation potentially complicated — or uncommonly rosy — is that the other two players in the mix don’t fit the profile of reserves.

A solid defender and team leader, Matt Jones was a starter during Duke’s 2015 title run and a co-captain last season. On a team filled with players who will demand touches, Jones’ selfless attitude and versatile game will make him hard to keep off the floor. Likewise, sophomore shooting guard Luke Kennard flashed enough of his explosive scoring ability last season — he averaged 12.4 points in league play — to earn a meaningful spot in the rotation.


Newcomers

As longtime USA Basketball teammates, power forward Harry Giles and swingman Jayson Tatum should be comfortable playing together. Point guard Frank Jackson combines solid court vision with sublime athleticism. At 6’11”, 245 pounds, center Marques Bolden gives the Blue Devils needed muscle. Given Duke’s loaded roster, power forward Javin DeLaurier, a two-time all-state selection from Virginia, and Australian small forward Jack White will likely make their contributions in future seasons.


Final Analysis

The stars are aligned for Duke to once again do something special. The Blue Devils have size, shooting and experience. They’re deep enough to weather injuries and have enough high-end talent to match up well with any team in the country.


Endgame

Marist comes into this game with nothing to lose so expect them to be scrappy and hungry. Coach K will want to see his team not only match energy but play the game and not the score. Continued intensity even if the score should get out of hand is exactly what this Duke team needs to do. These games are tune-ups in a sense but they do count.

Duke will be without Marques Bolden but should welcome back Jayson Tatum, this game, as well as the next are going to be great chances for Jeter and Javin DeLaurier and to a lesser extent perhaps Antonio Vrankovic and Justin Robinson to get minutes and experience that could serve Duke well later on. For Jeter in particular it’s a chance to earn minutes and open eyes for future consideration and to build off of his performance in Duke’s last scrimmage.