The introduction of a new batch of Duke basketball players went well on a national stage.
Now it’s a home game for the No. 9 Blue Devils when Army visits Friday night in Durham, N.C.
Duke picked up enough good feelings to start the season that could carry it for quite some time, but by nature coach Mike Krzyzewski will be looking toward the next task. There’s lots to look forward to, particularly after what the Blue Devils experienced to open the season.
“We’re a great team. We’re going to play together,” Duke freshman Paolo Banchero said. “We’re going to play hard all 40 minutes.”
That was the sentiment based on Duke upending No. 10 Kentucky 79-71 in Tuesday night’s showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Freshman Trevor Keels posted 25 points and Banchero had 22 points in their Duke debuts.
“I just have ultimate trust in my teammates, so I don’t have to overthink,” Banchero said. “I don’t have to try and do too much because I know I got a lot of trust in them, so it makes it easy for me, makes it easy on all of us.”
The efforts from Keels and Banchero marked the second time in Duke history that two freshmen scored at least 20 points in their debut. The other time also came against Kentucky when RJ Barrett (33 points), Zion Williamson (28) and Cam Reddish (22) poured it on in November 2018, also against Kentucky.
The Blue Devils will aim to upgrade their perimeter shooting after going 1-for-13 from long range in the opener.
“I think we are a very versatile team and we’re going to still develop,” Krzyzewski said.
Duke’s depth was tested right away because four players experienced cramping of various degrees in the second half of the Kentucky game.
Army got off to a good start as well, defeating visiting SUNY New Paltz 83-52 on Tuesday. Charlie Peterson had 17 points to lead the Black Knights, who shot 6-for-22 from 3-point range.
“We did a lot of good things, and I’m really excited about what this team has to offer,” Peterson said.
While there probably aren’t many similarities in terms of roster makeup for Duke and Army, the Black Knights are also putting together pieces that involve newcomers.
“We got a lot of young guys, who haven’t played very much,” Army coach Jimmy Allen said, noting the importance of game experience.
The Army game will mark the home debut for Duke freshmen AJ Griffin, Jaylen Blakes, Stanley Borden, Keels and Banchero plus graduate transfer Theo John.
“We don’t know our team completely,” Krzyzewski said, figuring that will be an evolution as it is every season.
The matchup with Army will be Duke’s first game in 616 days with fans in attendance at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Because of Army’s reduced schedule last season, this will be the team’s first true road game outside of a Patriot League venue since Dec. 21, 2019, at Wagner.
Army is Krzyzewski’s alma mater.
The game is part of what’s dubbed the Duke Veterans Day Weekend Showcase. Army will stay in Durham to face Hartford on Saturday afternoon, while the Blue Devils will oppose Campbell on Saturday night.
Friday’s game begins a stretch of five consecutive home games for the Blue Devils.
–Field Level Media