Through a rugged stretch, players and coaches for No. 15 Duke saw how good the Blue Devils might become.
Now comes another chance to work on a few details before the bulk of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.
Duke plays its final nonconference game Saturday when Maryland-Eastern Shore visits Durham, N.C.
It’s normal for Duke to count on freshmen, but one of the team’s veteran players said this year’s squad possesses an ideal group of youngsters.
“They’ve got to go through trials and tribulations, but I feel like they’re right on,” Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach said. “Like Coach (Jon Scheyer) says, he wants us to transform, and I think they’re doing just that.”
Duke (9-2) has rattled off three consecutive victories, defeating Ohio State, Boston College and Iowa.
Maryland-Eastern Shore (3-6) has lost two straight, most recently Tuesday night at George Mason. That 67-54 result wasn’t without encouraging moments for the Hawks.
“We got out to a slow start, but we showed incredible fight in coming back and actually taking the lead,” coach Jason Crafton said.
For Duke, Scheyer said there has been a good blend of developing sound defensive habits along with continuing to progress on offense.
“You need to get stops,” Scheyer said. “I think our offense will continue to develop through the course of the season. We’ve had not much practice time, so there’s some possessions we’re giving away the ball, whether it be a tough shot we take or turnovers.”
Duke is more than one-third of the way through its regular season. After Saturday, the Blue Devils won’t play again until visiting Wake Forest on Dec. 20.
“Duke Basketball is playing defense and sharing the ball,” Scheyer said, “and we’ll continue to emphasize that. But just proud of our effort. Proud of the buy-in our guys have had, and I think we still have a lot of room to grow.”
For Maryland-Eastern Shore, this is a coveted opportunity to showcase its team. The Hawks will take on a nationally ranked foe for the second time this season, as they lost 72-45 last month at Virginia.
“When you play a team (like those in the ACC), they have the potential to put 110 points on you,” Crafton said.
The top point producers for Maryland-Eastern Shore on the season are Zion Styles and Da’Shawn Phillip — and they also are responsible for a combined 23 baskets from 3-point range among the team’s 63 successful 3-pointers.
Duke has held nine opponents to fewer than 70 points so far this season. Maryland-Eastern Shore has reached the 60-point mark only four times against Division I foes.
Roach, a junior, matched his career-high total with 22 points in the Iowa game Tuesday night in New York. Duke is 7-0 in Roach’s career when he makes three or more 3-pointers.
“When you see your first couple of shots go in, you know you’re kind of in a rhythm,” Roach said.
Duke forward Kyle Filipowski has six double-doubles, the top total in the country among freshmen and tied for third overall.
–Field Level Media