The Duke Blue Devils unofficially kicked off their 2017-18 season Friday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium with the ninth annual Countdown to Craziness event that gives fans a first look at the squad trying to bring the school a sixth national championship.
Highlighting the night's event was the Blue-White scrimmage, won by the Blue squad in a 43-41 thriller when Alex O'Connell nailed a three from the corner with 20 seconds remaining.
Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. were the scoring leaders with 13 points each. Top recruit Marvin Bagley was right behind them with 12 points, and Javin DeLaurier grabbed nine rebounds.
Allen also earned bragging rights over the rest of the team by winning the post-scrimmage dunk contest, sealing the title with a jam over two Blue Devils cheerleaders.
Beyond the final score, Friday night was also the official Blue Devils' introduction for Bagley, Trevon Duval and Wendell Carter. They were all 5-star recruits and among the top seven overall prospects in the 2017 recruiting class, with Bagley ranked No. 1 overall, per 247Sports' composite rankings.
Duke will need those young players to perform because it's replacing four of its five leading scorers from last season. Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson were all 2017 NBA draft picks, and Amile Jefferson graduated. Grayson Allen is the lone returning player this season who finished in the top five.
Allen has high expectations for the Blue Devils and sees some similarities between this group and the one that won a national title in 2014-15:
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has made no secret he expects Duval to be the team's primary point guard and ball-handler this season.
"I do know that Trevon is going to have the ball, and he knows what to do with it," Krzyzewski told reporters over the summer. "Will he have it all the time? No, he shouldn’t have it all the time. Will he have it a lot? Yeah. ... Pretty much, I want [Duval] to get the ball."
Bagley made an impression on the fans when he was introduced by showing off his dance moves:
Not to be outdone, Allen came out to Cascada's "Everytime We Touch" staple from the mid-2000s:
The good news is Bagley and Allen were able to put aside their differences from the dance floor during the scrimmage:
The Devils Den believes Krzyzewski's presence on the sidelines will be the biggest key for Duke this season:
The coach had to miss seven games last January after undergoing back surgery. Duke went 4-3 in his absence before finding its footing after he returned and winning the ACC conference tournament title.
Friday was also an excellent recruiting opportunity for Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils. One week after attending Kentucky's Big Blue Madness, Zion Williamson was among the 2018 recruits who made the trip to Durham, North Carolina.
He received a warm welcome from the crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium:
Midway through the Blue-White scrimmage, Williamson made his way to the student section with the Cameron Crazies.
Barstool Blue Devils had a message for Williamson after he made the move through the crowd:
Expectations are high for the Dukies as they head into 2017-18 season, which begins Nov. 10 against Elon. Despite all of the roster turnover, the Blue Devils were bestowed with the No. 1 ranking in the preseason coaches poll for the second straight year.
Duke fell short of its lofty ranking last year, finishing 28-9 overall and fifth in the ACC standings before losing to No. 7 seed South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
With Allen as a senior leading this talented group of young Blue Devils, Duke has the potential to bring Krzyzewski his sixth national title with the program.