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Duke’s Canada trip is done. Here’s what we learned about the Blue Devils

Duke freshman R.J. Barrett takes a jump shot during the Blue Devils’ college basketball exhibition game against McGill at Place Bell, in Laval, Quebec, Canada on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018.
Duke freshman R.J. Barrett takes a jump shot during the Blue Devils’ college basketball exhibition game against McGill at Place Bell, in Laval, Quebec, Canada on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. Duke Athletics

As expected, Duke swept through its three-game series of exhibition basketball games in Canada with ease.

On Sunday, the Blue Devils routed McGill, 103-58 in Laval, Quebec, a Montreal suburb. That blowout win meant Duke beat its three Canadian university foes -- Ryerson, Toronto and McGill -- by an average margin of 33.3 points.

But this trip wasn’t simply about winning, of course. It was about Duke’s new players getting playing experience with the few veterans who will be in the team’s playing rotation this week. It was about bonding.

Even though freshman Tre Jones (hip) and Cameron Reddish (groin) didn’t play in the games due to injuries and sophomore guard Alex O’Connell only played three minutes after suffering a broken eye socket against Ryerson, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski declared the trip an overwhelming success.

“The guys loved it,” Krzyzewski said following Sunday’s game. “My players loved it, they didn’t like it, they loved it. We’re going to go out to eat tonight with the families and take off tomorrow. As good as we thought we’d feel about the whole experience, it’s exponentially better. Thank you for that. The three coaches and their teams, they were fabulous in preparing and testing us. The score really wasn’t indicative because in the second half, we just kind of pulled away.”

The Blue Devils will take the next two weeks off from team activities. The freshmen have orientation on campus Tuesday and the fall semester begins for all Duke students on Aug. 27.

Duke’s players resume their individual workouts on Labor Day with plenty of important experience behind them.

Here’s a look at what Duke learned during its time in Canada:

Williamson and Barrett are dominant

Even taking into account Duke had superior athletes, it’s impossible to ignore how good freshman Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett played.

The smooth 6-7, 202-pound Barrett averaged 30.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. He capped the trip with 23 points and 10 assists on Sunday against McGill. Though he made just 6 of 21 3-pointers (28.6 percent), Barrett made 48.6 of his shots overall.

“He’s great in all aspects,” Krzyzewski told the reporters in Canada on Sunday. “When we recruit a kid, we look for talent, a good student and character. He’s off the charts in all three. He comes from a family that has amazing character. He’s represented your country at different every level and he’s done that with class, dignity and talent. He’s way ahead. I’ve found him to be more of a competitor. He does not like to lose. He’s an outstanding defender and he can lock you up. He’s a leader and a great kid to be around. I love him. I loved him before this trip, but now that we’ve had nine practices and three games, we know our guys a little bit better. He’s a stud in every way.”

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski jokes with Canadian reporters about freshman phenom R.J. Barrett's NBA prospects.

Speaking of stud performances, Williamson also had a double-double on Sunday, scoring 36 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He’s production for the trip included 29.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. He made 40 of 62 shots (64.5 percent) and even hit 3 of 9 3-pointers.

“Zion and R.J. are a cut above everyone who’s on the court,” Krzyzewski said. “We have two really special players.”

Duke freshman phenom R.J. Barrett talks about fellow freshman phenom and roommate Zion Williamson.

White, Goldwire take advantage of opportunities

Because three ball-handlers in Jones, Reddish and O’Connell were injured, junior Jack White and sophomore Jordan Goldwire received extended playing time.

Both were in the starting lineup against McGill with White contributing seven points, seven rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes. For the trip, the 6-7 junior forward played 85 minutes (only Williamson and Barrett, with 94, played more). The Australian averaged 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds while committing just four turnovers.

“Jack White in particular, has had a great tour,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s played like a junior and has been solid. I think he’s probably averaged like 28 minutes a game, which is invaluable for us.”

Goldwire played 75 minutes, fourth-most on the team in Canada, and Krzyzewski called his experience “invaluable.” He only made four of 14 shots but played solid in other areas with eight assists and seven steals over the three games. He’s not in position to take minutes away from Jones or anything. But, if needed, Goldwire can fill in for stretches and contribute positively.

DeLaurier up, Bolden down

A 6-10 junior forward, DeLaurier started two of Duke’s three games and played 24 minutes per game. He made 10 of 13 shots, a sterling 76.9 percent, averaging 7.3 points with 5.7 rebounds.

Duke needs a veteran interior player to join fabulous freshmen Williamson, Barrett, Jones and Reddish. DeLaurier showed he’s more than capable of filling that role.

“Javin has solidified what we thought he would be,” Krzyzewski said.

Fellow junior Marques Bolden, though, struggled. The 6-11, 250-pound center took three shots in Canada and missed all three. He started the first two games, but was a reserve against McGill.

Senior center Antonio Vrankovic started and DeLaurier and 6-10 junior Justin Robinson came off the bench before Bolden did. He only played 39 minutes on the trip.

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