Duke’s win against Clemson seems like a turning point in many ways but one that has been building for a while.
There was an awful lot to like about this one, not least of all Jalen Johnson’s career highlight dunk early in the first half. That’ll be talked about for a long while. Here are some more video highlights.
There was a lot more though, starting with Mark Williams’ immensely improved performance. At 7-1, and long, you’d expect him to be a shot blocker, but he’s showing a lot more skills including a subtle understanding of the finer points of the game including passing. He’s able to make decisions far faster than your average big man. But he’s also beginning to impose himself offensively and that’s been nice too. He really changes this team.
The basic Duke thing that we liked seeing was a fighting spirit, an esprit de corps that seems to us to be based in Coach K’s military background but more akin in a sense to special services. Comparing sports to war is a ludicrous simplification but we hope you get the point. Duke’s standards are to college basketball as special services are to the military in general. It’s just different and it’s great to see it back again.
The other thing that at times just amazed us was the ball movement. It was superb at times. There are a lot of good passers on this team and they're starting to understand each other. We’re not saying this team is suddenly a juggernaut or anything, but it’s turning into a fun group to watch.