One of Duke’s aims against Ohio State was to kick-start the offense, which has often been erratic so far this young season.
The defense has been really, really good, which obviously speaks well of Scheyer and his staff. They’ve brought in an almost entirely new team and have them defending at a really high level.
Offense has been the bigger problem.
As Steve Wiseman points out here, Kyle Filipowski and Dereck Lively have both been starting, though Filipowski is ahead of Lively, who missed time with a calf injury, so far.
Lively is coming on though and that gives Duke a pair of quality big guys. And Scheyer wants to build the offense inside-out around them.
What people are missing is that Dariq Whitehead, who is probably further behind than Lively due to his own injury, will also change the equation.
Whitehead is capable of scoring from anywhere on the court. When Lively and Filipowski are demanding defensive attention - or moving the ball since both are excellent passers - his game will open up too. We’ve seen him shoot some threes and attempt some drives, but the Whitehead we see now is not the Whitehead we saw this summer. He’s a powerful athlete and if you guard the three, he can blow by you. If you play off, he can hit the midrange shot or the three.
In short, he’s an NBA talent.
When his offense hits his normal stasis, Whitehead is going to be a force. And that means that he can’t be ignored, just as Filipowski can’t.
Speaking of Filipowski, we have said on a couple of occasions that while he clearly has moves and can handle the ball, he wasn’t using those moves at the right time.
Did you notice his killer move near the end of the Ohio State game? He faked, spun - and got to the basket.
The thing was, there was only one guy to stop him. When there are multiple defenders, especially small, quick ones, he can run into trouble. But on that play, he really announced himself. Yes, he can shoot threes. Yes, he can post up. And yes, he’s intensely competitive.
And now it’s clear that, when he has room to operate, the guy is nearly impossible to contain.