The locker room door remained closed for much longer than normal after Duke’s season-opening win against Siena. Typically long waits come after losses, but the Blue Devils had beaten the Saints 92-74. Still, though, the extended wait wasn’t because of any type of celebration.
The players were having a meeting in an attempt to learn from winning, as opposed to just learning from losing. And after Duke beat Bryant 113-75 Saturday night, capping a two-games-in-two-nights stretch, coach Mike Krzyzewski revealed that the coaches found plenty of teaching moments in the Saturday morning film review.
“We had a breakfast for the team at 10 and then we watched. After every game we give them feedback, so we had a tough feedback tape for about an hour (Saturday) morning,” Krzyzewski said. “It was a tough feedback session and they responded really well.”
Some mistakes were obvious, like freshman Brandon Ingram taking about six 3-point shots with a defender flying at him with a hand up to contest. Just because Ingram, at 6-foot-9 with a 7-3 wingspan, can shoot over nearly everyone doesn’t mean he always should. Ingram shot 5-of-16 from the floor, and 1-of-9 from 3-point range, against Siena. Roughly 24 hours later, Ingram shot 7-of-11 from the floor and 4-for-6 from deep for 21 points.
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“Nothing’s wrong with your shot, something is wrong with your shot selection,” Krzyzewski said of Ingram’s two games. “He can shoot the ball. (Saturday night) he did and he let the game come to him a little more. You learn about that. I don’t fault him for (Friday) night, you’ve got to learn. The shot fake is a good thing.”
Even Duke’s veterans have plenty to learn. Sophomore Grayson Allen, who entered this season with a grand total of zero starts but nonetheless is a veteran, is expected to help bring the freshmen along.
After every game we give them feedback, so we had a tough feedback tape for about an hour this morning. It was a tough feedback session and they responded really well.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski
To begin the second half of the Siena game, the Saints’ leading scorer, Marquis Wright, had three fouls. As soon as he was matched up on Allen, Krzyzewski relayed in a call for Allen to isolate Wright and drive at him. Allen did, and Wright picked up his fourth foul with 16 minutes to play.
“And a few plays later, we got the same thing,” Krzyzewski said. “I told Grayson the same call, and he took a jump shot.”
Wright hit three more 3s and a layup before he finally fouled out with 1 minute, 42 seconds left.
“Things like that that our team last year would have done quickly,” Krzyzewski said in reference to properly attacking a player with four fouls. “There are not as many stop-actions in our sport, so you have to be able to communicate and function better.”
The Blue Devils showed improvement from Game One to Game 2, but now they need to take a massive leap for Tuesday night against No. 2 Kentucky (2-0). The Wildcats might be the most talented team Duke plays all season, Krzyzewski said. That’s a tall task for this young Duke team this early.
“This is our first big test as a team,” Allen said. “We’re going to be on the road, and that’s another test for us. It’s just something we have to be ready for, ready to go out there and play.”
While the game technically is a neutral-site game in Chicago, it undoubtedly will be a pro-Kentucky crowd, with Lexington just about six hours away. And there is no simulating Kentucky’s talent and crowd in practice.
There’s no time like the present for a baptism by fire, getting an accurate measurement of just how many of those early-season lessons have taken.