Blue Devils basketball notes from NYC
Post-game notes from Duke’s 74-64 win over Alabama at Madison Square Garden…
Overcoming “disrespect” – The Blue Devils were serious about improving their defense and coach Mike Krzyzewski displayed that by switching the lineup to include senior captains Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston.
“People were sending four guys to the backboard, which is kind of disrespectful,” said Duke redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, one Duke’s captains along with seniors Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton. “They were spreading us out and attacking us. We just said we’re not going to let people in our paint. We made big plays defensively.”
Duke held Alabama to 40.4 percent shooting while recording 11 steals as Alabama turned the ball over 16 times.
Hood said Duke’s performance was a “statement” in what he said Krzyzewski called a “program game” following the Blue Devils’ 91-90 win over Vermont on Sunday.
“This game was so huge for us to build on who we are going to be this season, especially coming off last game with Vermont,” Hood said. “We wanted to come in and have a big defensive effort. I think we did a great job as far as holding them out of the lane. We didn’t let them in the paint, especially in the first half. In the second half they got a little bit, but for the most part we kept them out of the lane.”
Krzyzewski again pointed out that teams, such as Vermont, play their best against Duke and Blue Devils have some growing to do as a team to counteract that.
“Teams play well against us,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s a great opportunity for the sun to shine on a program, so we have to expect that. I have a young group, so they are not accustomed to seeing a team that’s different from the team they see in tape. With Alabama, pretty much what they saw on tape is what they saw tonight because Alabama’s been playing well. I was really proud of our defensive effort because we did not play well defensively in the last two games.”
Said point guard Quinn Cook, “Guys were (ticked) off the last couple of games with our defensive communication and our lack of effort. We are a good defensive team no matter who says we are not. We made a statement tonight against a great Alabama team.”
Parker shines again – Playing in Madison Square Garden, Duke 6-8 freshman Jabari Parker matched his season high in points (27). He made 9 of 12 field goals while also hitting 9 of 10 free throws.
Parker grabbed eight rebounds but did commit five turnovers to mar an otherwise stellar night.
“I have a long way to go,” Parker said. “I need to stay sharp and be sharp at the beginning of the game. I lacked that the first couple of minutes. Nothing is ever too easy.”
Count Alabama coach Anthony Grant as another who believes Parker is among the best in the nation.
“He;s probably, in my eight years as a head coach, the most talented freshman I’ve seen just from his size, his physicality and his skill level,” Grant said. “He’s able to make tough shots and free himself for open shots and he’s able to get himself to the free throw line.”
Pressing issue – Alabama used a full-court press to come back against Duke in the second half.
The Blue Devils weren’t smooth against it as the Crimson Tide cut what had been an 18-point Duke lead to as little as five points.
Duke did finally solve it.
“They are good at it (pressing) and they were desperate,” Krzyzewski said. “And the once we got into a rhythm against it, then we scored against it. We made two huge shots against their pressure the last four minutes, layups, and then Tyler (Thornton) made an amazing play with a steam and layup.”