College Hoops

Observations from Duke’s First Official Scrimmage

Duke released behind the scenes footage from their first official team scrimmage, featuring potential overall first round pick of next years NBA draft Paolo Banchero, who put everyone on notice…He’s about that action folks.

The 6 foot 10 inch freshman, who already has suitors and endorsements lined up at his footsteps, can certainly get you a bucket at all three phases – above the rim, from beyond the perimeter and the midrange.

During the scrimmage there were times the defense played under the pick and roll, leaving Banchero alone on an island daring him to shoot…and boy did he, lighting up the nets consistently on several occasions. Paolo and Mark Williams were a nice 1-2 combo in the paint with their high-low action and give-and-go for back door alley oops, that were led by Jeremy Roach (the second year point guard who told us during media day that he’s ready for the challenge and bounce back year). Point guard was a weak spot at times last year, which forced Atlanta Hawks’ freshman Jalen Johnson to run point-forward during possessions.

Mark Williams had easily 10 dunks during the scrimmage – some contested through contact and others caught in transition. Joey Baker was not present during the 9 minute film, as Coach K relayed he’s nursing an injury, but should be back really soon after an impressive offseason according to the coaching staff. Before Duke’s season was ended last year due to covid, Mark Williams was having his breakout party – really giving Duke an interior presence and defensive rim stopper. Freshman Trevor Keels is a pest on D and pushed the primary break every chance he got. The Blue-Squad wanted to push tempo to build that cohesiveness, something they lacked on last years team. Some was due to chemistry and some was due to lack of talent.

Theo John, A.J. Griffin and Mark Williams all brought the defensive prowess and as Theo stated during media day, “He aint having it” in regards to the softness notion on last years team.

Most impressive was Wendell Moore. He not only looked like he tacked on 15 pounds of muscle, but he looks more confident. He was poised attacking the rim, leading the break in transition and ultimately looked as if he’s on a mission. Wendell wants to lead this team, and for sure will be a captain on this squad. Wendell did not shy away from attacking the lane during multiple possessions – looking for outlet passes and wide open wings who were left open from cheating defenders playing help-side defense.

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