6th ranked Duke prepares to bounce back Friday night against Bellarmine University inside Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7 P.M. for the Mako Medical Classic honoring the late Dr. Onye E. Akwari. This will be the first game of the season for the Knights of Bellarmine.
Duke, which suffered its first loss of the season against Michigan State Tuesday, looks to revamp its identity. Shooting just 5 of 23 from downtown and 32 percent overall from the field, the Devils are searching for consistency from its veterans.
Wendell Moore shot 0-9 from the field, including 3 turnovers and 0-6 from downtown. Playing with confidence and composure will help the sophomore evolve his game. Duke needs Wendell more than ever. Relying so heavily on freshman Jalen Johnson will not cut it. Yes Johnson is “that” good, but once teams start focusing their game plan on the one vital threat to score on every possession, Wendell will be needed.
Jalen Johnson picked up two quick fouls Tuesday night versus the Spartans and the offense lost its groove during his absence. Starters Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward, and Moore combined for 2 of 20 from the field. That will not get you in the win column regardless of who you’re playing. Will we see a more stagnant offense with limited ball movement, or the infamous Duke motion set getting to the bread butter of moving the basketball and getting the next man involved?
As for Bellarmine, this isn’t foreign territory for the Knights. They last faced the Blue Devils during the 2011-12 campaign for an exhibition – losing 87-62. For the Knights, this will officially begin their journey as a Division 1 program after joining the Atlantic Sun conference. Returning three starters from last season’s 20-8 team, the Knights run a 3-guard rotation that features Eastern Kentucky transfer Pedro Bradshaw, who shot 42 percent from 3 point range a year ago.
As expected, this group of freshmen will go through their growing pains. Michigan State revealed a few flaws on this Duke team that won’t go unnoticed. Who has the “dog mentality” outside of Jalen to get a certified bucket in crunch time? Will Duke continue playing Matthew Hurt at the stretch-5 against more physical teams? Will Coach K play his bench more against Bellarmine?
Duke should come out guns blazing and erase any thought of a consecutive set back inside Cameron. Expect the Blue Devils to win big tonight 84-57.