Duke's Dawkins has the 'O' game, developing the 'D' game
His final run around the ACC begins in a new place this weekend.
And while it’s the same old Andre Dawkins the league’s coaches know on offense, he’s showing signs of being a more complete player in his final Duke basketball season.
Heading into the No. 7 Blue Devils’ first league game at ACC newcomer Notre Dame on Saturday (4 p.m., WRAL), Dawkins has made 11 3-pointers over the last two games.
A redshirt senior guard, Dawkins knows teams respect his offense but didn’t have the same feeling about his play on defense. He seeks to change that.
“There we times people would go at me and test me to see if I could get stops,” Dawkins said. “As far as this year, I’m just trying to focus on it in practice and in games. The offense is always going to be there. Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) is confident in me enough that he will go to me to look for shots. But the main thing I have to do is try to get stops.”
Dawkins has scored in double figures in six of Duke’s 13 games this season. He’s made an ACC-best 50.8 percent of his 3-pointers. His scoring average is 9.6 points per game, higher than any of his three full seasons at Duke (11-2).
After sitting out last season while receiving treatment for depression that set in due to the 2009 death of his sister, Dawkins returned this season with work to do to become a complete player.
He didn’t practice with the Blue Devils last season but worked out on his own. He said Thursday that it has taken him some time to get back accustomed to the speed of Division I games. But he’s improved over the season’s two months, both mentally and physically.
“It’s taken some time to do that. I think I’ll be better at that,” Dawkins said. “The main thing is just the attention to detail and taking care of that. Knowing where I need to be. If I’m in the right spot I can do what I need to do on defense.”
Dawkins is noticeably stronger in his upper body, the result of strenuous workouts last summer while he was prepping to return to the Blue Devils.
As the oldest player on Duke’s roster, Dawkins is taking a leadership role even though he’s not a team captain. The Blue Devils practiced Thursday without Krzyzewski, who was in Chicago for the visitation for his older brother, William Krzyzewski. Coach Krzyzewski’s brother died last week at age 71.
Duke assistant coaches Jeff Capel, Steve Wojciechowski and Nate James are left to run the team in Krzyzewski’s absence.
Dawkins said the older players felt the responsibility to keep the team together until Krzyzewski rejoins the team in South Bend, Ind., tonight.
“Obviously it’s different not having him here,” Dawkins said, “but at the same time I think we did a good job, us older guys to the younger guys, making sure we did what we needed to do.”
The preparation is particularly important this week as the Blue Devils get ready to open the ACC schedule. Notre Dame (9-4) is still reeling from the loss of leading scorer Jerian Grant, who was suspended by the school for an academic issue.
That doesn’t mean Dawkins and Duke are taking their new ACC rival lightly.
“It’s a different kind of focus,” Dawkins said. “Right now we’re 0-0. Starting at Notre Dame is going to be a tough game. We know they are a tough team and we know its going to be a hostile environment. This is the first true road game. We kind of played at Elon (at the off-campus Greensboro Coliseum) but we had more fans there. First true road game for the freshmen. But we’ll be prepared.”