Duke unveiled its 2023-24 team Wednesday in a 109-64 exhibition win against UNC Pembroke, and the Blue Devils showed lots of potential.
It’s a very different team from last year. Jon Scheyer opted to start Kyle Filipowski, Mark Mitchell, Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor, all back from last season, and the fifth starter was freshman Jared McCain.
First, hats off to Pembroke. Duke clearly had much more talent, but the Braves kept battling and played with a lot of confidence. They were outmanned, but clearly, this is a well coached team.
Duke just had more, and they are well coached too.
Remember last season when we all said, Tyrese Proctor is a great player but too bad he doesn’t shoot that well?
That may be over.
Proctor hit four threes in the opening minutes to start the rout. He was really, really impressive, and his shooting helped Duke to get out to a 25-5 lead.
Kyle Filipowski struggled a bit near the rim but he was fine in the paint last year and with his surgically improved hips, he’s more mobile. He’ll be fine. Keep in mind that he might still be getting back into game shape. He finished with 17 points and six rebounds.
Mitchell looked solid, as you might expect. He’s clearly bigger and that’s going to help him a lot.
Roach - it was his birthday, by the way - had 13, while Proctor and McCain both had 15. Sean Stewart had 12.
McCain is a really intriguing player. He’s a good but not necessarily great athlete. He is 6-3 and seems shorter. But he’s a really smart player and he is a dogged defender, and you know Scheyer likes those two qualities. If you can play the game back, look at his first steal. He read that play way ahead of time and got there before anyone knew he was on to it. You can have all the talent in the world and end up like Harold Minor or you can have moderate talent and end up like Jose Alvarado. He’d be a great role model for McCain.
Ryan Young showed his typically heady game and in particular made some really smart passes. This is just his second (and final) season at Duke, but he seems like he’s been here forever.
It’s the first public performance for the freshmen, so you have to factor in nerves. Gene Banks shot an airball the first time he touched it when he was a freshman. The only cure is time and experience.
Caleb Foster looked great in spots but he was also uncertain at times and, like just about everyone else, he made some erratic passes. That’ll be fine when people know each other better.
Sean Stewart really impressed us. In some of the summer videos, he seemed raw. He still looked a bit raw in spots, but he showed some serious potential too, particularly in the open court. It wouldn't surprise us a bit if he were the most improved member of the team by the end of the year.
TJ Power played like a freshman but he fits the Scheyer profile: intelligent passer, hard worker, shoots well.
Again, it’s an exhibition and Pembroke is a D-II team. It’s a chance to work some bugs out and to look at different things. We’ll see what Scheyer and his staff worked on on Monday, when Dartmouth comes to town and we’ll start to get a better idea of where things are going with this group.
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