The Duke Blue Devils took on Fayetteville State on Wednesday night in their final warm-up before the regular season officially kicks off on Monday. As expected the Devils had their way with the Broncos, winning easily by a score of 82-45.
Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively were both in street clothes at the end of the Devils' bench for the game. In his postgame presser, John Scheyer was asked about both players' status but kept things close to the vest.
"I still don’t know what their [Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively] status is. Dariq definitely won’t play Monday. He’s still a couple of weeks away. Dereck is still day-to-day. He’s been really ramping up..."
Tyrese Proctor was very impressive throughout and cast off doubts (for now anyway) about whether or not he was prepared for this level of hoops after reclassifying in July. While the results were mixed, the form on his jumper looked fantastic and I would expect his shooting to improve consistently throughout the season. I was most impressed with Proctor on the defensive end, however. From a physical standpoint (6'5, long arms) Proctor is the prototypical lead backcourt defender but what is most impressive is the intensity he brings on the defensive end. He stays up on his man, keeps his hands active, and is just a pest on the ball.
Mark Mitchell was the best player on the floor tonight, scoring 15 points to go along with 6 boards in just 23 minutes. He was able to take advantage of multiple trips to the line as well, going 5-5. Mitchell brings some sorely needed (particularly with the absence of Lively and Whitehead) athleticism and physicality to this Devil team.
Kyle Filipowski showed flashes of the 5* talent we expected with a three-pointer to open the scoring for Duke and later a thunderous dunk. But there were also moments of frustration. Filipowski pulled off one of the best spin moves in traffic you will ever see, showing off excellent footwork, but then blew the wide-open layup. Later in the game, Filipowksi attempted to break down his defender in isolation before settling for a contested mid-range jumper that didn't come close to the mark, seemingly drawing the ire of Scheyer.
Jeremy Roach showed off his floor general skills with 8 assists to only 1 turnover but shot just 2-6 from the field. With Whitehead and Lively out, Roach will have to be more aggressive offensively in the opening weeks of the season.
An unexpected bright spot for the Devils was Sophomore Guard Jaylen Blakes. Blakes didn't see much time last year, averaging just 4.5 minutes a game but looked ready to step into a bigger role this season. Blakes had 12 points, 3 boards, and 3 assists and also showed off his ability as an on-ball defender with 2 steals.
Jacob Grandison was exactly as advertised, leading the Blue Devils in scoring with 17 and knocking down 3 three-pointers. Grandison is a perfect fit for this squad because he can step up and have big scoring games such as last night but is a guy who doesn't mind taking a backseat and doing the little things it takes to win.
The Blue Devils weren't great in their halfcourt offense and they struggled at times on the boards but it's hard to judge a team off of just one game and an exhibition game without their (potentially) two best players at that.
With the additions of Whitehead and Lively to the lineup at some point in November and the continued growth of Tyrese Proctor throughout the year, not to mention the steady hand of Jeremy Roach, the Blue Devils are a solid bet to be among the 5-10 best teams in the nation come February/March.