There are some interesting story lines in Wednesday’s Duke-Indiana game.
Obviously Mike Krzyzewski has history at Indiana, having been a Bob Knight player at Army and assistant at IU.
Then there’s Zach McRoberts, brother of Josh, who was at Duke for two years before bolting to the NBA.
And there’s Archie Miller, who cut his collegiate teeth in the Triangle. He’s become an outstanding coach but on one level, he’s still the point guard who played for Herb Sendek and was usually frustrated by Krzyzewski’s Duke.
To an extent it’s a case of the student meeting the master and seeing how he measures up.
Archie’s problem is two-fold: he’s had a limited amount of time to install his system and his talent is significantly down.
After Tom Crean was fired last spring, a lot of players went with him or made plans for the NBA.
And to start the season, Miller’s team lost badly to Indiana State - at home.
IU isn’t supposed to lose to Indiana State.
The Hoosiers beat Howard 86-77, which is no big deal really, then lost to Seton Hall 84-68.
Arkansas State was a 17 point win and Indiana beat Eastern Michigan 87-67.
All of those games were at home except for Seton Hall, so it’s a bit hard to get a full measure of how far along this team is.
We do know they no longer have Og Anunoby, Thomas Bryant or James Blackmon Jr.
Incidentally, his father, James Sr., played for Kentucky and now coaches at renowned Marion High in Indiana.
So who does IU start now?
Against Eastern Michigan, Miller started 6-8 SR Juwan Morgan, 6-10 sophomore De’Ron Davis, 6-3 sophomore Devonte Green, 6-1 senior and Raleigh native Josh Newkirk and 6-3 Robert Johnson.
On a size basis IU matches up with Duke fairly well, at least with the starters.
The most interesting player Miller has though may come off the bench and he has the ironic last name of Durham.
Aljami Durham was a lightly regarded point guard last year as a high school senior. He’s just one of those guys who is born to the position. Like Steve Kerr or Sidney Lowe, he takes great care of the ball and distributes it well. He’s a guy to keep an eye on, not just Wednesday but as his career develops.
Miller did a terrific job at Dayton and he will do a great job at Indiana too. He’s one of those guys that everyone understood would eventually be a coach. And there’s no doubt he’s gunning for Duke with everything he has.
We remember watching him play AAU ball in the Triangle and just destroying Baron Davis. Miller is about 5-7 and not wildly gifted. What he is is tough, smart and resourceful. He’ll get the most out of his guys and Duke has to take any team he coaches seriously.
The other factor, and this is one Coach K can help his very young team prepare for, is that Assembly Hall is a tremendous home court.
It has as much tradition as anywhere in the game and spiritually, in many ways, Indiana is the home of basketball.
Yes it was created in Kansas but the state of Indiana turned it into something else. The ACC owes a lot to it because Everett Case laid the foundations for ACC basketball and he was a Hoosier native.
As it turns out, it’s no longer strictly Assembly Hall: it’s now Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall after a donor gave IU $40 million to renovate the arena.
You have to admit they did a beautiful job. Take a look.
We also have to say that our trip to Indianapolis for the 1991 Final Four was one of the greatest experiences imaginable and a lot of that was because the people were so damn nice. We love Indiana people. They’re right up there with people from New Jersey, who are also, in our experience, extraordinarily friendly and unprententious.
To borrow from the late Rick Majerus, who hilariously said it about the Mormons, they’re “the best god damn people in the world.”
Indiana people are great.
Well, not in a gym. They’re pretty relentless in a gym, as Purdue fans reminded us Tuesday night (Duke would do well to review that game to get the kids ready).
For an experienced team, it’s just one more thing. For a team with a lot of critical freshmen, it’s a potential nightmare.
Will they get rattled? Will the Indiana fans get to them? What happens if Duke goes down double digits again in one of the great pits of all time?
It won’t be easy to come back there.
Yes, Duke has Marvin Bagley, who is already flirting with greatness, Wendell Carter, who is quieter on this team but tough as nails, Gary Trent, who looks smarter and smarter every game and Trevon Duval, who is learning how to run his team now that he has the keys firmly in his hands. And as you’ve probably realized, Alex O’ Connell has quickly emerged as a key reserve.
All those guys will have to handle a brutal atmosphere.
Duke will need all it can get from senior Grayson Allen and sophomores Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden.
The Blue Devils are certainly going to be favored but this is a whole different level of crazy they’re going into and for a young team, it’s a lot to deal with. At a minimum, we expect it’ll be bumpier than expected.
- Duke's men's basketball freshmen set for first true road game in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
- Duke Travels to Indiana for ACC/Big Ten Challenge
- MEN'S BASKETBALL: Durham has been a bright spot as Hoosiers prepare to play #1 Duke
- IU could be looking for Moore vs. Duke
- No. 1 Duke to showcase Bagley against Indiana
- Indiana Looks Forward to Wednesday's Matchup Against #1 Duke
- IU will wear alternate 'ice' uniforms against Duke
- Indiana basketball reveals alternate uniforms for Duke game
- Archie Miller: You can't do what Duke's done without tremendous effort
- Archie Miller's trust in IU freshman Al Durham building rapidly
- Expectations for Marvin Bagley III were high at Duke. So far, he has exceeded them.
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