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Countdown To Craziness Debuts Young Duke Basketball Team

It'll take a while for the picture to come into focus, but the talent is already clear.

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Matt Jones is willing to get into anyone's face on defense, and that's going to guarantee him court time and a leadership role.
Matt Jones is willing to get into anyone's face on defense, and that's going to guarantee him court time and a leadership role.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, Duke hung the 2015 national championship banner alongside the other four and put last season in the past as the new team began to tell its own story.

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With just four returning players - Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones and Grayson Allen, and newcomers Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, Brandon Igram, Antonio Vrancovic, Luke Kennard, Justin Robinson and transfer Sean Obi, nothing will be the same.

And that's just fine.

Part of the charm of any season is seeing a team come together. And this team, with so many new players, is at the beginning of the journey, something underscored by point guard Thornton's six assists and seven turnovers, which didn't bother Coach K all that much. "The physicality of the defense s difficult for a freshman to adjust to. It just takes some time. In his case, anybody who is guarded by Matt Jones is going to have a hard time. But Derryck is really good. He’ll be fine."

Thornton got to campus a bit late due to academics (he graduated early if you weren't aware) so he isn't fully up to speed. Jones really got after him, which will help down the road. When these guys are defending together, it should be fun to watch.

Most of the offense came from the returning players, although Ingram and Kennard were effective.

"We have good scoring potential here," Krzyzewski afterwards. "Grayson, Luke and Brandon are big-time scorers."

The players who currently who are near the bottom of the rotation, based on minutes, are Vrancovic, Obi and Robinson.

Duke has a lot to figure out, including post play, or at least offense in the post. But when you have serious defensive potential, you can expect a lot of transition play. The defense is currently well ahead of the offense, but it'll improve as Thornton gets fully incorporated and as the inside players establish roles and routines.

And as usual, that should be a fun process to watch as it evolves over the course of the season.