DURHAM — Throughout the preseason and early season, Mike Krzyzewski pledged that he would go deep into his bench, and, so far, when given an opportunity, thats exactly what hes done.
Mondays case in point was Semi Ojeleye, who logged 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field, five rebounds, an assist, block and a steal in 14 minutes as No. 6 Duke easily rolled over UNC Asheville 91-55 in the opening game of the NIT Season Tip-Off. All 12 Duke scholarship players had appeared with nine minutes to go in the game, and 11 played in the first half.
Were looking at everybody, Krzyzewski said. All the guys in these last two games, theyve had good minutes. Semi is going to be a really good player, he played very well tonight. He did a really good job tonight and had a couple two-handed rebounds that were very nice.
Ojeleye wasnt hesitant to look for his shot, which was his speciality in high school.
He played comfortably offensively, Rodney Hood said. He was a man down there defensively. We didnt miss a beat when he came in the game. Thats what we expect from him. Hes been playing like a monster and playing like he looks, which is scary.
The intensity has been the biggest adjustment so far, Ojeleye said, not surprising considering he played in a smaller classification in Ottawa, Kansas.
Its been different, a lot different, Ojeleye said of college. With Jabari and Rodney here, I dont have to score, I have to do other things to help the team, whether its rebounding of just playing defense.
The game against Bulldogs (1-3) was the best rebounding effort thus for for the Blue Devils (3-1), who grabbed 13 offensive rebounds (for 16 second-chance points) and 29 of 42 (69 percent) rebounds on the defensive end. Jabari Parker led the way with 4 boards on the offensive glass.
Parker continued his unprecedented start, becoming the first Krzyzewski-coached freshman to start his career with four 20-point games. Parker also notched his second straight double-double with a game-high 21 points and 10 total rebounds, and he also had four assists. Rodney Hood added 18 points for the Blue Devils.
If Krzyzewski had one critique for Parker, it was that he looked to pass too often, especially in the interior. The Blue Devils had a season-high 16 turnovers (six from Parker), which Krzyzewski attributed to overpassing.
Jabari is a great team player, and when we had a lead, hes trying to get everyone to be better, Krzyzewski said. A few times, he overdid it.
Our strength is on the perimeter, and our strength is Jabari having the ball and doing something with it for him. I dont fault him for trying to get his teammates more involved. Thats a good problem to have.
Parker continues to get more comfortable playing all over the floor, grabbing a rebound and finishing with a lay-up on the other end a few times. He also took a low, reverse ally-oop pass from Quinn Cook and finished with a two-handed, over-the-head slam.
UNC Asheville did present a few new looks for Duke, playing what head coach Nick McDevitt said was basically a four-corners offense (Krzyzewski called it a spread) and a match-up zone on defense.
Duke handled both just fine, shooting 57.4 percent from the field (continuing the season-long streak of hitting at least 50 percent of its shots) and totaling a season-high 21 assists and limiting the Bulldogs to 33.3 percent shooting and nine assists of their own.
The Blue Devils will face East Carolina at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Krzyzewski will once again likely have an opportunity to go deep into his bench.