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What The Virginia Tech Game Revealed About Duke

This team is already good - and has a lot of room to improve

NCAA Basketball: Elon at Duke
 Dec 18, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward AJ Griffin (21) shoots over Elon Phoenix guard Torrence Watson (5) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech, to its credit, forced Duke to do things it would have maybe preferred not to do. Mark Williams and Theo John, who have been very solid, played just 12 and eight minutes respectively.


Because the Hokies took advantage of Williams.

A talented and intelligent big man, Williams has struggled against smaller players. No shame in that. John is incredibly strong but not able to chase smaller guys around. He’s a post guy. No shame in that either.

But Paolo Banchero isn’t limited in the same way so Duke move him to center and surrounded him primarily with Jeremy Roach, Wendell Moore, Trevor Keels and....

...AJ Griffin.

We’re only now getting a sense of what a terrific player Griffin is. He had injury trouble in high school and sprained his knee in the pre-season this year which set him back.

Now we are starting to see who he is: he’s quick, unbelievably smart, enjoys defense, understands where the ball is going and tries to get there.

He also shoots well.

This was a tough lineup for Virginia Tech to get to grips with. Everyone on the court was a three point threat. Everyone could handle the ball. And everyone played defense.

Adding Griffin to the mix ups the talent level more than you’d think. He gives Duke tremendous flexibility. Moore has foul trouble? Call Griffin. Roach has to come out? Put Moore at point and slide Griffin in. Someone got hot? Moore, Griffin or Keels can calm them down.

He just adds so much and that doesn't even get into shooting or generally high IQ offense.

Banchero and Keels have already been revelations. Griffin is joining them.