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Next Up - Winthrop

As Duke takes the court for the first time since the Stephen F. Austin loss

NCAA Basketball: Stephen F. Austin at Duke
Nov 26, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Tre Jones (3) reacts after a defensive stop during the second half against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Lumberjacks defeated Duke 85-83 in overtime. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

After the upset by Stephen Freakin’ Austin the other night, our guess is some fair weather fans might not turn up. That would be a mistake. This is likely to be one of the more interesting games in quite some time for Duke.

After the loss to SFA, Coach K said he was going to lick his wounds for a while, according to Jim, but in Krzyzewski time that’s not too long. Bill Foster used to drive around Durham listening to country music after a loss. K hits video and we suspect that by Wednesday morning, at the latest, he was going over stuff and has been ever since.

Which his team might not be enjoying too much.

Although that’s a simplistic, stereotypical answer. What you expect after a loss like that is for the coach - any coach - to go crazy, to punish his team. And sometimes that happens and maybe it’s the right move.

Sometimes though it’s not. A lot depends on the group dynamic and where Krzyzewski feels is his team is and we can’t possibly know that.

All we know for sure is what we’ve seen in the past. And as much as anything, communication is what is happening now. It may be loud and profane, or it may be quiet office discussions.

Whatever it is, it’ll all be intense and focused.

And who knows what buttons will be pushed? For all we know it could be a question of rest. We don't think that’s a big part of it but none of us are in the locker room.

What we do know, what we’re sure of, is that things got down to brass tacks very fast after that game.

We joke a bit about Coach K getting under the hood and that’s in normal times. We get the feeling that he enjoys tinkering and finding out what makes the engine run best.

Well, on Tuesday the engine broke down and that’s a bit more than tinkering.

So whatever Duke does on Tuesday is going to be very interesting. A very different lineup wouldn’t surprise us. A walk-on starting wouldn't surprise us. Someone who had been playing a lot sitting a lot is quite possible.

What we would expect though is that whoever plays better be in attack mode. Because if they’re not, they’ll sit and he’ll go down the bench until he finds some natural born killers.

The whole military thing with Krzyzewski is a bit overblown because while he clearly draws heavily on his West Point background, he also pushes away the rigidity of the place, most notably in his pride in having no particular rules for his program, but rather expectations and standards.

And while his mentor Bob Knight has occasionally been compared to George S. Patton, Coach K is clearly pretty different. However, there is a lesson that applies and that is that Patton moved through commanders until he found the ones who could do what he asked.

If you want to watch for something, watch for that.

As for Winthrop, the Eagles are 4-3 but that may be a bit misleading.

They’ve only played one real dog and that's Mid-Atlantic Christian. Otherwise, they went to Hartford and lost by 10, went West and lost to Fresno by three, then beat #18 Saint Mary’s by two, lost to Tennessee Tech by three and then killed Pfeiffer by 44.

Winthrop has a serious weapon in three point shooting. Counting one guy who doesn’t play much, Winthrop has eight guys who hit between 32 percent and 50 percent from behind the line. Three guys hit at least 40 percent and five hit at least 38 percent.

You’re going to have to stop that and also the way it stretches the interior open for drives.

And inside they have their own version of Vernon Carey in DJ Burns and he’s a better player than you’d expect Winthrop to have.

A four-star big man, as a senior, the 6-9 Burns was the third best player in South Carolina behind two guys you may have heard of: Zion Williamson and Ja Morant.

He signed with Tennessee originally and then transferred back (Winthrop is in his hometown of Rock Hill).

His coach, Pat Kelsey, is excited and a born promoter: “D.J. is an extremely talented young man that will be a difference maker for our program. But what strikes me most is his humility. He wants to be part of something great here at Winthrop. His smile lights up a room and his energy is infectious. Everyone talks about the football factory that Rock Hill is but DJ Burns is one of the best basketball talents our beloved city has ever produced. And he’s coming home. If there was ever a time to rally around our tradition rich program it’s now. I suggest getting your tickets soon. As always (but ESPECIALLY now), Rock The Hill.”

Interestingly, he’s averaging 12.6 ppg but only playing about 17 minutes per game.

Michael Anumba, Kyle Zunic and Josh Ferguson are their other primary offensive options.

Honestly we don't know a whole lot more about Winthrop and in a sense it doesn’t matter.

What matters is what lessons Duke takes away from the SFA game. If the team learns the right ones, they’ll pay huge dividends as the season goes on.

  • Time: 7:00
  • Date: 11/29
  • Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium
  • Video: ACCN