Duke's second Countdown to Craziness season kickoff event was held on Friday in front of a packed house of excited fans.
The 2009-10 Blue Devils were given their championship rings and celebrated the unveiling of Duke's fourth national championship banner. This season's Duke team was the focus of the night, however, and there is no question that the Blue Devils have the talent to repeat their championship run from last season.
Apart from the fun and games, fans got a chance to see their first glance at the 2010-11 Blue Devils in action.
Duke's expected stars shined in the Blue-White scrimmage, and there were a few surprises as well.
It was clear, though, why the reigning national champions will be the likely No. 1 team in the nation when the first official polls come out—they are talented, deep and experienced.
Click through to see some on-hand impressions from the night.
Irving is a special player.
He was the common denominator on both winning teams during the night. His ability to penetrate and draw the focus of defenders created several easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. Duke's post players will benefit greatly from his ability to slice through defenses.
One thing that Irving showcased during the scrimmages was his craftiness around the basket. Irving demonstrated his advanced feel for the game by making tough shots in traffic and getting the ball to a teammate when it appeared he had no options.
Interestingly, Irving spent some time playing off the ball, as well as handling the point guard duties (Nolan Smith ran the offense on a few possessions). His ability to shoot the ball, as well as drive and score, will give Duke the ability to use him as an off guard in certain lineups, but he's definitely their point guard.
Fans are already excited enough to have Irving in the back court. Their excitement is well-deserved.
While Irving showed that he's ready to be a star, Kyle Singler and Smith reminded fans why they are already stars.
Singler hit several long-range jumpers and took advantage of opportunities to post up on smaller defenders as well. Any fears that his recent knee surgery would slow him down should be put to rest. He looked fluid and comfortable.
Smith had a few eye-popping plays throughout the night including a powerful dunk in the second scrimmage that would have easily been a top play on Sportscenter. He did a little bit of everything and brought a lot of intensity to the court, especially for a scrimmage.
Singer and Smith were two of the biggest reasons Duke won it all last year—they look poised to have another big season together and give the Blue Devils another shot at the title.
Last year's Duke team took a lot of knocks early in the season for its apparent lack of athleticism at several key positions.
That won't happen this year.
This is one of the most athletic Duke teams in a long time.
Irving and Smith are as explosive as any guards in the country. Miles and Mason Plumlee might be the most athletic big men in the ACC. Bench players like Andre Dawkins and Josh Hairston allow the Blue Devils to sub out starters without taking a serious hit on the athletic front.
The Blue Devils will have weaknesses this season (every team does), but athleticism won't be one of them.
Josh Hairston doesn't have a ton of hype coming into this season. Heck, a lot of people don't even expect him to get a lot of playing time with so many older forwards on the roster.
But Hairston came out of the gates running Friday night, and he made quite an impression.
In the second scrimmage of the night, Hairston scored 18 and led the Blue team to a big win over a White team, which featured Singler and Smith.
He plays with a lot of energy, and his offensive game is very polished and fluid. He connected on several turnaround mid-range shots and made a number of difficult shots around the basket.
Hairston may or may not be a key part of the Blue Devils rotation once conference play begins. If his play on Friday was any indication of his readiness to play, he could surprise a lot of people this year.
The Blue Devils' bench could start for several teams in the ACC.
Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Ryan Kelly, Tyler Thornton and Hairston give Duke a skilled reserve at every key position.
Curry and Dawkins are prolific shooters. Both players hit some big shots and played with a lot of poise on Friday. They should get a lot of minutes and have some big games as the season progresses.
Kelly (who's bulked up significantly) looked much improved in the scrimmages. He played with confidence and asserted himself on offense several times.
Hairston will be competing with Kelly for minutes, but he has an edge when it comes to explosiveness and quickness.
Thorton is the least likely to get a lot of playing time, but he played well in the scrimmages. He took care of the ball and hit a few threes as well. His defense is highly developed and he is definitely the strongest guard on the Duke roster.
There isn't a position on the floor for which the Blue Devils don't have talented depth.