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DeLaurier, Jones Say Duke Is Ready For The Start Of The 2019 NCAA Tournament

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ACC Basketball Tournament - Championship
 CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 16: Tre Jones #3 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket against Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles during the championship game of the 2019 Men’s ACC Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 16, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Javin DeLaurier and Tre Jones met with the local media Tuesday prior to the opening of the NCAA Tournament.

If you’re looking for bulletin-board material, you’ll be disappointed. These guys are coached up in ways other than shooting and defending.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t enough information shared to stoke the enthusiasm for Friday’s Duke opener.

Duke will be heading to South Carolina, of course, and there are some superficial similarities to the last time Duke did this, all of two years ago. Duke was coming off an ACC Tournament title that included a semifinal win over North Carolina. Duke went to Greenville after the NCAA moved the first weekend from Greensboro due to North Carolina’s HB-2 legislation.

It didn’t end well. Duke lost to South Carolina in their second game, the third time in the decade that Duke failed to make it past the first weekend.

Javin DeLaurier was a freshman on that team. He barely played against South Carolina but the loss still lingers.

“My freshman year we lost in the first weekend . . . so really just telling everyone you have to take it one game at a time. It’s got to be for the full 40 minutes and you can’t look ahead to the next opponent, because if you do that, you can slip up and lose. It’s March Madness for a reason and teams you never thought would lose go down all the time and we don’t want to be one of them. I just remember the shock after the game, just looking around the locker room and just the disbelief and sadness on everybody’s faces.”

This is the message DeLaurier is sending to the younger players. You do not want that feeling.

Of course, this year Duke isn’t coming off four-games-in-four days and isn’t facing a de facto road game as a two-seed against a seven-seed.

In fact, we won’t know Duke’s opponent until North Carolina Central and North Dakota State square off Wednesday night. Assuming Duke doesn’t pull a Virginia, the Blue Devils will match up two days later against either Central Florida or Virginia Commonwealth.

Not much time to prepare.

DeLaurier says not to worry.

“That happens all the time in the ACC all the time with the Saturday-Monday games or Saturday-Tuesday. You play and then you have two days to get ready, so we will find out who we play Wednesday and play on Friday. You have to move on to the next opponent quick.”

DeLaurier had a solid week in Charlotte and says he’s learned to manage his minutes in the absence of Marques Bolden.

“It’s a part of playing basketball and isn’t anything completely foreign to me. Playing three games in a row, back-to-back- to-back, was a little bit different in that sense just because fatigue does come into the equation, but it does for everyone so you can’t really complain.”

There’s no official word on Bolden but he’s practicing and DeLaurier did let slip a “with ‘Ques coming back.” So, fingers crossed on Bolden but the trend lines are positive.

And Jack White seems back to normal after being sidelined with leg cramps in the second half of the title game.

Tre Jones’ more assertive offensive game was a big reason for Duke’s 21st ACC-Tournament title and he says it’s here to stay.

“When Zion went out, we definitely needed that. I wasn’t able to step up, and Coach was on me about that for sure and my teammates definitely needed that from me. I could feel that. So going into the tournament and us getting Zion back, teams were helping even more off on me and I know I really needed to step up and it was just the matter of time before I was able to do that. I think I’m just looking for it more. Before, I was really focused on setting up my teammates but now I’m seeing things more like my teammates are. If the lanes are there, I’m looking for them more often and taking advantage.”

Jones also spoke positively about the Jones-Jordan Goldwire lineup that enables Duke to shut down opposing perimeters.

“We’re both point guards and we see the game as point guards, so we’re able to feed off each other on the defensive end.”

DeLaurier says Duke is in a good place after last week.

“From losing our second game to Carolina at the end of the season to winning the ACC Tournament is a pretty big turnaround in a week. But obviously having Zion back is great as well so I would say it is a really positive turnaround from coming off a loss to winning the tournament.”

“We have a pretty good feeling of what’s coming,” Jones adds. “All the [older] guys have said that the energy is crazy and the atmosphere is a lot of fun but it’s win or go home and we know that so we all have the same goal in mind.”

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