Duke plays Elon on Tuesday, and while the Blue Devils will certainly be favored, it's not like Elon plans on just showing up and rolling over.
Barring a massive upset though, Duke will win and the question becomes what to work on and how to improve.
The most exciting thing to come out of the Eastern Michigan game was that Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaimon both experienced a resurgence. Jefferson grabbed 14 boards while Sulaimon played ferocious defense and showed immense confidence, which hasn't been a strong point so far this season. We'll be curious to see if the duo continues to play well enough to start. A lineup of Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Rodney Hood, Jefferson and Jabari Parker, with Sulaimon and Jefferson really honed in, could be really exciting.
One of the weaknesses of this team to date has been the play of Jabari Parker.
No, not on offense. Offensively, Parker is a rare prodigy, a guy who alreadu understands the game the way a chessmaster understands chess. He just comes at it and if it won't let him inside he shoots outside. Deny him outside and he's inside. Double team him or miss a cutter and he passes.
Passing is perhaps the least appreciated part of his game, but the kid is a masterful passer, too, and quick! Watch how fast he sees opportunity.
We heard a swimming coach talk about Janet Evans and he said that some kids have a different relationship with water. They never have to fight it, they just get in and get it right away.
That's kind of like the traditional definition of blitzkrieg, where armored cavalry goes where the opposing army isn't. By the time the defenders figure out they've been snookered, it's too late, the battle is won.
That's kind of how Parker is attacking on offense, and it's pretty interesting to watch.
You kind of understand, maybe, what it was like in the early days in Morgantown when Jerry West came on, or Cincinnati with Oscar Robertson, or San Francisco when Bill Russell's pilot light came on.
We don't mean to put him on that level, but to compare the appreciation of seeing someone young who is who is remarkably advanced. Folks around here got that chance recently with Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving. What do you suppose the coaching staff thought in early practices when Curry was freakishly good? What about the fans after his first few games?
We had a real sense of this with Irving, who destroyed a Michigan State triple team attempt. That's when we were sure we were seeing future greatness.
It's like that with Parker now. Yet to be charitable, his defense is behind. We've seen him a couple of times when he's managed to get completely behind his man in the lane, and by that we mean that the man is heading to the basket with the ball and Parker appears mortified.
We don't want to suggest that he's just so gifted offensively that he never had to work, because that's ludicrous. Of course he worked.
But he's never had to work on defense the same way.
He would be a very productive player in the NBA today on offense, but defense is a major weakness, and he'd probably be smart to figure it out on this level before moving on.
It's really hard to get a lot of information about the Kings Of Elon in the best of times, but Duke's New Year's Eve Bowl game just sucked the attention away from the basketball team. That doesn't happen very often; in fact, this is probably a first.
The only thing we've found so far is from GoDuke.com, and even that's not on the front page.