Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett scored in bunches.
A fifth freshman showed he’s making strides toward contributing for No. 4 Duke this season.
And Mike Krzyzewski offered a clarification to his thoughts on the college basketball corruption trial that’s now in the hands of a New York jury.
Duke played an exhibition against the reigning CIAA champions, Division II Virginia Union, Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium and the resulting 106-64 blowout was unsurprising.
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Williamson and Barrett, two key pieces of Duke’s stellar recruiting class, scored 29 and 23 points to spearhead the runaway Blue Devils win.
There’s plenty to be said about that, but first there’s Krzyzewski’s new comments on the sport as a whole.
Earlier this month, Krzyzewski called the NCAA violations that were unearthed by a FBI investigation into the recruitment of players by Kansas, N.C. State and Louisville, among others,
“minute” and “a blip” in the grand world of the sport.
“I haven’t followed it that much,” Krzyzewski said on Oct. 5. “It’s not what’s happening.”
That drew criticism from several media outlets, who said Krzyzewski was ignoring obvious issues within the sport.
After discussing his team’s play against Virginia Union for 10 minutes on Tuesday night, Krzyzewski offered unprompted follow-up comments.
“I said blip and I got into trouble,” Krzyzewski said. “By the way do you know what a blip is? You know what a radar is? There’s a blip. My feeling. I’m in the military. What’s happening there is a blip on the total radar of 353 schools. It doesn’t mean it’s an inconsequential blip. If I don’t know other things on the radar, why is it wrong to say that? Why is it demeaning to say that? I don’t understand that.
“It’s not meant in disrespect to our game to say that what might be going on, until everything is proven and gone through, is a small part of our sport. I believe that. I believe it because I have not encountered that type of activity against us in recruiting. So why would I tell you it’s rampant when I don’t know it is?”
When questioned further, Krzyzewski did allow that he is concerned with the tales of recruit’s families receiving tens of thousands of dollars to commit to certain schools. Those tales were part of testimony in the corruption trial of three men, two of whom worked for Adidas, that’s been going on this month in a New York federal court.
“Yes,” Krzyzewski said. “It could be a bomb. It’s a blip. But it’s only happening there. Of course it concerns me. But also the truth concerns me. What is the truth? There are a lot of people who will say they lost somebody because somebody cheated. We haven’t lost a guy that way. So why is that minimizing it? I’m not trying to minimize it. That’s not good. But neither is something in other aspects of our society in certain areas.”
Back on the court, as for Duke’s play as a whole, here are the other notable items from the first of two exhibitions on the schedule this week:
The fifth starter
In Duke’s first game against another team with all its players healthy and available, junior Marques Bolden was in the starting lineup along with freshmen Tre Jones, Zion Williamson, Cameron Reddish and R.J. Barrett.
“It felt good,” Bolden said of the start. “Obviously everybody knows those guys are super talented and can do many different things on the court.”
Earlier this month, Krzyzewski said junior Javin DeLaurier would have been in the lineup with the freshmen. But DeLaurier missed two weeks with a stress reaction in his foot and Bolden took advantage in practice.
Duke’s 5-out motion offense is a little different with Bolden in the game. It actually is more of a 4-out, 1-in set as Bolden is never far from the painted zone. When DeLaurier replaces Bolden, the offense is a true 5-out set since DeLaurier is an effective perimeter shooter.
Bolden played 27 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds and blocking one shot while committing three fouls and four turnovers.
DeLaurier played 10 minutes, scoring one point, blocking two shots and grabbing two rebounds. He was called for two fouls and had no turnovers.
Krzyzewski said DeLaurier is still getting back into playing shape after being out with the foot injury.
The starting assignment only served to give Bolden more confidence.
“It comes from repetition and all the work that I put in,” Bolden said. “I feel better about my game and about myself.”
Joey Baker’s rise in the rotation
Duke’s third reserve off the bench -- behind DeLaurier and junior Jack White, was a fifth freshman, Joey Baker. The 6-7 forward from Fayetteville graduated high school a year early to enroll at Duke this summer. Thought of as a redshirt possibility, Baker has instead impressed Krzyzewski with his toughness.
In nine minutes of play against Virginia Union, Baker scored two points and was credited with three assists while no turning the ball over. He also grabbed three rebounds.
“He can definitely help us,” Krzyzewski said.
Reddish suffered a nondisplaced broken rib during an Oct. 16 practice. Krzyzewski said Justise Winslow suffered a similar injury during Duke’s 2014-15 season and, while playing through the injury, was slowed for two weeks.
But Reddish hasn’t missed a practice. He started and played 25 minutes against Virginia Union, scoring 13 points with nine assists and just one turnover. He hit four of 11 shots overall, including just three of nine on 3-pointers. Krzyzewski said Reddish was concerned he was shooting too much.
But Krzyzewski had just the opposite reaction.
“I always want good shooters to shoot,” Krzyzewski said.
Duke’s 2015 NCAA championship team had such firepower it could score in bursts at any time to either quickly turn a close game in to a blowout or erase a deficit.
This Blue Devils team has the scoring options to do the same thing.
In the first eight minutes of the win over Virginia Union, Duke made nine of 13 shots, including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers, to score 25 points. Duke didn’t score its first points until the 18:22 mark, so those 25 points were actually scored over a six-minute stretch.
Barrett scored 17 quick points over the game’s first eight minutes, hitting three early 3-pointers.
The Blue Devils shared the ball exceptionally well. In the first half alone, they recorded 17 assists on 19 made baskets while making 51.4 percent of their shots. Six different Duke players had assists over the first 20 minutes as the Blue Devils built a 52-36 lead.
Duke finished with 33 assists on 40 made baskets. Reddish and Jones had nine assists each. The Blue Devils shot 58 percent, including 42 percent (13 of 31) on 3-pointers.