The concerns over Duke's depth got a little deeper today as Duke played
without Carlos Boozer (sick),Â Sweet (suspended), and Nick Horvath (bone
bruise that now may keep him out for another month).
Fortunately for Duke, they came up against a team which was not only not in
their class but which had even worse depth problems.Â
In the past, we have not particularly thought highly of A&T's basketball
team. They have been erratic to say the least.Â But former Tar Heel Curtis
Hunter has done a great job with the hand he has been dealt. Yes, they have a
losing record, but just like last year, his team plays with pride, heart, and
discipline.Â They lost, but they didn't back down from Duke at all.
One of the things about Carlos' absence which may be useful is the additional
minutes for Sanders, who started, and Christensen, who did a lot with his
Sanders, who is still unsure around the basket on offense, had some nice
moments on defense, and A&T did a lot towards desensitizing him about
physical play, as he was knocked around a good bit. For Casey, the more the
better, within reason.Â If we were managing his training routine, we'd be
tempted to suggest swimming, because that would in many ways strengthen him
faster than weight training (in an overall body sense).
Christensen took full advantage of his time and made some really super hustle
plays, keeping up with much quicker players, more or less, and his effort likely
made an impression.
Against A&T, though, Duke could afford to be without Boozer.Â
Nonetheless,Â other players had to step up and most everyone did,
particularly the seniors.Â James finished with 25, and Battier had 27 in
the first half.Â James shot 11-16, Battier 11-19. Nate had 8 boards,
Battier had 9.Â Williams shot 8-16, and 7 were three pointers.Â Duhon
had 13 assists off the bench, which is amazing.Â Dunleavy had 9 points on
4-9 shooting. Duke also outrebounded A&T by 40-20, which is impressive if
meaningless, given the talent gap. Duke also broke the school record for 3
pointers in a game.
The defense honestly wasn't at the level it should have been through the
entire game, but this is a post-exam game, and these are always tune-ups.Â
It came around as the game went on, and since Duke was shooting holes in
A&T's matchup, it didn't matter so much. It will, starting very soon, so the
problems need to be ironed out.Â But fortunately they were playing very
well before the break, so we assume they will continue to do so after as well.
An example of that was the performance of JJ Miller, who got loose for 34
points. This has happened over the years with K teams - think Childress, Bias,
Harrington, Rogers.Â Usually though you kind of see it coming. No one
foresaw this kid scoring 34 in Cameron.Â But the scouts did, and you can
bet they noticed it.
All things considered it was probably a useful game for both teams. For
A&T, not backing down and playing hard is a great reward for this
game.Â For Duke, being pushed is.Â
Next week ACC action kicks off with FSU.Â And so the preview season ends
and the real one begins in earnest shortly.Â Stay tuned.