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So Who Covers For The Injured Tre Jones?

Duke has an interesting dilemma

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Wake Forest Demon Deacons v Duke Blue Devils
Duke has to replace a key starter but as Reggie Love memorably demonstrated in 2001, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is capable of unorthodox solutions.

With Tre Jones out, Duke has a bit of a dilemma: who takes the point? It’s an interesting question but there are at least three options.

1) RJ Barrett. Barrett showed, in Canada this summer and in the second half at Duke, that he can handle the point. He’s a complete player as he showed against Syracuse with 20 points, 16 boards and nine assists. Unfortunately playing point probably repressed his scoring a bit (as did Syracuse’s zone).

2) Cam Reddish. Reddish is in some ways the logical candidate. He’s 6-9, fluid with the ball and a solid ball handler. He’s made some bad decisions with the ball though and that could be problematic. Also we’r presuming that he has recovered from the illness that kept him out of the Syracuse game.

3) Jordan Goldwire. Goldwire is physically capable and can be a solid on-ball defender. Like Jones, scoring is secondary to distribution. He’s certainly quick enough to handle the position but has not yet shown that he is ready to do it consistently so he’ll more than likely remain the backup point.

We’re tempted to list Zion Williamson as the fourth option but that would take him away from the basket where he’s most effective. However, he is skilled and talented enough to do it.

The real fourth option is by committee. With Barrett, Reddish and Williamson all outstanding ball handlers and passers, Duke might have a strategic advantage to let them rotate through the position as the possession develops. So Williamson might rebound a basket and start the break, only to hand off to Barrett or Reddish and then flow into the offense.

Like all of us, only more so, Jones’ injury was a gut punch to coach Mike Krzyzewski, but he doesn’t have the luxury of complaining about it; he has to find a solution somehow.

In a way, this is the most exciting and interesting part of the season. Yes Jones is out, but Coach K has a brilliance for solving problems like this. He manages to put the pieces back together in the best possible way far more often than not and he’s seeing things that most of us can’t hope to see partly because he’s seeing it every day and partly because, well, he’s Mike Krzyzewski and we’re not.

Virginia is obviously not the ideal opponent to experiment with. Virginia’s defense is no joke. The Cavaliers swarm you and get you deep into the clock and force bad shots which are nearly always contested.

Then again, the Cavaliers were preparing for Tre Jones and now they really don’t know what will come out of the lab on Sunday. They have the obvious advantage but not the advantage of surprise. That favors Duke.

For instance, what happens if Duke opts to run Reddish and Barrett at guards, move Bolden into the starting lineup and make the bench Goldwire, Alex O’ Connell, Jack White and Justin Robinson?

There are some obvious problems there but Duke would have a very tall and powerful lineup that could present some real matchup problems.

Or we could see Duke go with O’Connell, keeping Bolden in reserve since he and Javin DeLaurier tend to pick up fouls, and use O’ Connell to address the poor outside shooting we saw against Syracuse.

Then again, Reddish might have changed that storyline against the Orange.

We’re sure by Saturday, Coach K will have run through dozens of possibilities and may have arrived at some unusual solution.

Remember in 2001 when Carlos Boozer got hurt late? We’re pretty sure we read this in his book about the season, but Coach K was watching film when his daughter came in. He turned to her and said “what do you think about Reggie Love at center?”

Love was a 6-4 football walk-on. He was a talented athlete but basketball was his second sport and no one saw it coming.

Yet it opened up Duke’s offense and Love did a solid job on defense. He helped lead Duke to the 2001 national championship.

Never underestimate the creativity that Mike Krzyzewski brings to his job.

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