The arena in the Bahamas is a hot stage for Duke

lkeeley@newsobserver.comNovember 22, 2012 

— Officially, the location for the Battle 4 Atlantis holiday tournament is Imperial Arena.

In reality, it’s a large ballroom that, right now, has a basketball court surrounded by temporary bleachers and is illuminated by rows of spotlights hanging from the low ceiling. The seating capacity is 3,900 – less than half the size of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“I’ve never been on a movie set, but it seems like one,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “It’s a different environment.”

Duke guard Quinn Cook said it felt like the teams were on a stage. And with the bleachers close to the edges of the court, the small space was loud at times. The most notable difference, though, was with the lights.

“It’s dim,” he said. “It’s very hot from the lights. It’s steaming up there. But it’s fun.”

Due to the extra heat generated by the lights, teams will have to watch out for cramping, Krzyzewski said.

“We have to make sure we get hydrated,” he said. “All of these games are going to be so intense. Everyone is good.”

Despite all the differences, the Blue Devils were able to settle in and shoot well – better than they have in more traditional gyms – in their 89-71 win.

“It’s different for both teams, but when you don’t handle different, sometimes you lose,” Krzyzewski said. “We handled different well, and hopefully that will get us to play even better tomorrow.”

No offense sitting on the bench

Until Amile Jefferson banked a nice pass from Quinn Cook into the basket with 6:02 remaining in the game, Duke had gotten zero points from its bench.

And at the end of the game, those two from Jefferson were it.

Duke’s starters scored 87 of Duke’s 89 points. Seth Curry set a new season high with 25, Mason Plumlee had 20, Quinn Cook scored 17, Ryan Kelly contributed 14 and Rasheed Sulaimon had 11.

The combination of Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston, Jefferson and Alex Murphy – which played 44 minutes – had two points.

Krzyzewski wasn’t concerned.

“We’re not going to score that much from the bench,” he said. “First, our bench isn’t that deep. We don’t have a deep bench. The guys coming off the bench are not coming off as scorers. Amile, Josh, Tyler. Alex could hopefully eventually become that. The scoring is going to come from the guys who scored. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Murphy, who was a preseason starter, entered the game for the only time with 52.3 seconds left in the game. He pulled down one defensive rebound.

Krzyzewski was asked after the game what Murphy had to do to increase his playing time.

“There are 200 minutes in a game,” Krzyzewski said. “If someone is playing worse than you ahead of you, then you should get some of those minutes. But if people are playing better than you, those minutes are eaten up. He’s just a freshman. We have confidence that he is going to be a good player.

“It’s really much more important to develop Ryan, his role. He’s really played well in these last three ball games, so where does that take us. We have growth potential, and Alex is part of that growth potential.

At this point, both Hairston and Jefferson come in ahead of Murphy.

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