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Minutes Are Precious At Duke

You have to earn them and then keep them too.

Duke v Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, INDIANA - JANUARY 06: Jeremy Roach #3 of the Duke Blue Devils looks to pass in the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Joyce Center on January 06, 2024 in South Bend, Indiana.
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Without consulting stats, we can project several characteristics shared by any ACC leader in average minutes played per game. The first is that he will not be an interior player. The second is that he will not lose playing time to silly fouls. The third is that his presence on the floor is a comfort to his coach. The last is that he will not be at Duke.

Among the few enduring criticisms of Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching was that, talk of depth and extended defensive pressure notwithstanding, he usually limited effective personnel to six or seven players. Few coaches exceed that range of usage. (Wake’s estimable Dave Odom likewise rhapsodized about the pace a prospective squad would embrace in the late 90s, only to stray little from past practice.)

This despite, in Coach K’s case, recruiting talented prospects almost annually, thereby creating internal pressure for playing time among both newcomers and veterans (such as they are these days). Krzyzewski used to speak of the fierce nature of intra-squad competition, likening it to regular game pressure. Now it’s largely assumed at Duke.

Long-term it’s uncertain how Jon Scheyer will address doling out playing time to members of a gifted roster. Last season, Scheyer’s first piloting the Devils, 8 players averaged at least 15.9 minutes. Jeremy Roach – seasoned, reliable, and tough on-ball defender — led Duke with 33.2 minutes per game. His minutes played in 2024 were identical after 13 outings and stood sixth-most in the ACC.

This year, through early January, Duke is using 6 players for at least 25 minutes, 8 for 11-plus minutes. You can see why his coach considers Roach indispensible, as reflected by his PT (playing time). The senior’s value was further clarified when backcourt mate Tyrese Proctor missed 3 games with an ankle injury, and part of a fourth, and Duke won each outing.

Roach, who can attack the basket via dribble or punch in a 3, is hitting .520 from the floor (10th in the ACC through Jan.3), .488 on threes (second), .822 at the foul line (11th ACC). He averages 14.54 points, second on the team and 20th in the conference. Roach also has three assists for every turnover, a ratio tied for fourth in the ACC.

All easily redeemable in playing time.

Highest Average Minutes Played Per Game Since 2010
(2024 Through Games of January 3)
Year MPG Duke Leader (ACC Rank) MPG ACC Leader, School
2024 33.2 Jeremy Roach (6) 35.1 Hunter Sallis, WF
2023 33.2 Jeremy Roach 36.7 Tyree Appleby, WF*
2022 None in top 10 38.0 Buddy Boeheim, SU*
2021 None in top 10 37.6 Carlik Jones, UL
2020 None in top 10 37.1 Kihei Clark, V
2019 35.3 RJ Barrett (9)* 39.3 Ky Bowman, BC
2018 35.6 Grayson Allen 39.0 Tyus Battle, SU
2017 35.5 Luke Kennard (3) 37.2 Andrew White III, SU
2016 36.6 Grayson Allen (3) 38.7 Anthony (Cat) Barber, NS*
2015 35.8 Quinn Cook (5) 37.8 Olivier Hanlon, BC*
2014 None in top 10 37.8 Eric Atkins, ND
2013 34.7 Mason Plumlee (4) 36.6 Erick Green, VT*
2012 33.2 Austin Rivers (7) 35.1 CJ Harris, Jr., WF
2011 34.8 Kyle Singler (2) 38.2 Malcolm Delaney, WF
2010 36.77 Jon Scheyer (2) 36.78 Ishmael Smith, WF
* Led ACC in scoring.