Duke Basketball: Blue Devils Make The Grade In Season Opener

Mike KlineAnalyst INovember 14, 2009

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03:  Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils guards the court against the Florida State Seminoles during the game on March 3, 2009 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Duke opened it's 2009-10 college basketball season with a 96-62 win over UNC-Greensboro Friday night.

So with the first game in the books how did the Blue Devils score on their first test of the year?

Offense- B+

As a whole the Blue Devils were efficient, shooting almost 60 percent from the floor. Lead by Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, Duke controlled the tempo for most of the game.

Aside from some sloppy second half moments and some ill advised passes in the high post from the bigs, Duke offensive unit did as you would expect in a season opener against an over matched opponent.

There appeared to be good movement without the ball as well as some good passing from the perimeter to the post.

Defense- C

Seeing Duke play zone defense will take some getting used to, but Friday night's game showed exactly why they will need to show even more zone.

While the Blue Devils are a big and athletic team they appear at first glance to lack an abundance of lateral quickness.

Teams with quicker guards will be able to beat Duke defenders off the dribble. This will be acceptable if the interior defenders can provide a shot blocking presence which they showed glimpses of against the Spartans.

There were a few occasions when the smaller and quicker UNCG guards exposed some flaws in Duke's man defense. More zone against quicker teams will almost be a requirement at this point.

Jon Scheyer- A

A solid all around performance from Scheyer. In addition to scoring 18 points he picked up where he left off last season leading the Duke offense.

While not a flashy point guard he is smart with the ball and did a nice job taking care of each possession as the floor leader.

Kyle Singler- A-

Singler came out of the gate like the preseason All-American he is, however cooled down at the end of the first half and for most of the second.

Against better competition he will not be able to go long stretches without getting some looks at the basket like he did Friday night.

Still he managed 20 points.

Overall all though he handled himself quite well in his first real game as a true perimeter player.

Lance Thomas-B

It was pretty much the same ole same ole for Thomas. He hustled, rebounded well and was opportunistic with his scoring.

He picked up some frequent flier miles with all the traveling he did though.

And while he may play the point on defense he needs to remember he isn't one on offense.

Olek Czyz- B

Czyz not only surprised me by starting, but that he actually looked like a basketball player for most of this game.

He is not a gifted creator offensively but he can sure finish around the basket.

His defensive aggressiveness was encouraging and he stands to be one hell of a rebounder if he works at making that his thing.

Miles Plumlee- C-

Mile Plumlee was the most disappointing of all the starters. It wasn't that the had an awful game, he just made too many mistakes.

Obviously with this being the first game of the season it is understandable.

He was a force on defense and on the boards which made up for a few ill advised shots and or passes on the offensive end of the floor.

Andre Dawkins-B

Dawkins shook off the jitters after a rocky start and played some solid basketball on both ends of the floor.

He certainly can earn some valuable minutes this year and Duke will need his athleticism and shooting stroke in addition to his ball handling skills.

Like most freshmen he needs to learn to avoid the silly fouls but he handled himself nicely in his first real college game.

Ryan Kelly-C

It wasn't a bad performance from Kelly. He actually showed me more than I thought I'd see from him.

From all appearances he is a heady player with a nice stroke.

As long as he can find a way to stay active when he is on the floor and avoid just hanging out on the perimeter waiting for his shot then he will see some playing time.

Brian Zoubek B-

If it wasn't for his second half performance, Zoubek would have netted the worst grade.

His first half performance was pretty much like the previous three years sloppy, clumsy, and plain painful to watch.

He really stepped things up in the second half and everything looked better. If he can contribute that type of performance off the bench Duke will be all the better for it.

Overall Performance C+

The Blue Devils did what most would have expected from them by taking care of business against an inferior opponent.

Yet there is still much work to be done. Considering one if not the most athletic player for Duke, Nolan Smith, had to sit out things could have been worse.

This years team stands to be the best rebounding Duke team that I can remember. But as was said during the broadcast they will have to work for it.

They can't just assume they will get rebounds because they have big guys. Duke's bigs will still have to work the glass on both ends of the floor.

I will be interested to see how Mason Plumlee fits in offensively and defensively when he does return from his broken wrist.

All in all not a bad performance. If they can sure up some of their defensive breakdowns, cut down on the sloppy play on the offensive end, and  avoid the silly fouls it stands to be another good year in Durham.


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