College Basketball: Duke 80, Presbyterian 49
By Bret Strelow
DURHAM ó With Duke facing a quick turnaround, coach Mike Krzyzewski oversaw a short film session as soon as the Blue Devils entered their locker room following an 80-49 victory against Presbyterian.
Krzyzewski focused on a handful of offensive plays from Monday’s season opener.
“We just didn’t make the extra pass,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m a big basketball gods guy, and I think sometimes you get punished and you miss layups when you don’t see that open guy.”
Duke, which will face Georgia Southern tonight at home in a second-round game of the 2K Sports Classic, forced 28 turnovers against Presbyterian. The Blue Hose, which finished with four assists on 16 field goals, shot 30.2 percent.
The Blue Devils weren’t crisp on the offensive end either. They struggled in the halfcourt and committed 21 turnovers.
“You have a chance to win if you play good defense,” Krzyzewski said. “It was almost as if we were trying too hard on the offensive end at times.”
Sophomore forward Kyle Singler led the eighth-ranked Blue Devils with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Backcourt starters Nolan Smith, who had 15 points, and Jon Scheyer, who scored all 12 of his points in the first half, performed well in new roles.
Scheyer made five of his first six shots and outscored Presbyterian by a 12-11 count in the first 15 minutes, 22 seconds. His no-look feed to Lance Thomas (12 points) set up a layup that pushed Duke ahead 32-11.
The Blue Devils added four free throws to complete a 19-0 run, but they weren’t sharp during the stretch that followed Thomas’ basket.
“There were like four of the next five plays where we had a guy wide open that we didn’t make a bad play, but it wasn’t the right one,” Krzyzewski said.
David McClure, who registered a steal 15 seconds after Thomas scored, triggered a fastbreak with a pass to guard Greg Paulus.
Scheyer sprinted ahead and spotted up in the right corner, but Paulus dished left to a streaking Thomas. He missed a contested layup.
Paulus missed a 3-pointer on Duke’s next possession, and McClure missed a layup after Gerald Henderson made a steal.
“Defense, I think we’re on the same page,” Smith said. “Offense needs to get on the same page and we’ll be rolling.
“As a team, we knew before (Krzyzewski) even said it what we needed to do. We always try to handle things while it’s happening, and we addressed it on the court. He just had to show us now so that we’ve seen those plays and (Tuesday) when we come out it will be easier to make them.”
Paulus, a senior captain who started 95 of 103 games in his first three seasons, was the third player to come off Duke’s bench. Smith, a sophomore, started for only the second time in his career.
Scheyer, who also started only once last year, joined Smith in a lineup that included Singler, Henderson and freshman Miles Plumlee.
Plumlee picked up two fouls in six first-half minutes and didn’t score in the contest. Fellow post player Brian Zoubek fouled out in seven minutes.
The debuts of Plumlee, Elliot Williams and Olek Czyz were quiet until the late stages. Plumlee made an emphatic block, Paulus fed Czyz for a baseline dunk and Williams turned a steal into a spinning slam in the final 2:14.
The exhilarating ending capped Duke’s admittedly uneven performance.
“We had a lot of plays where we’d throw the ball to nobody, and we weren’t hitting the extra man,” Scheyer said. “They’re just thoughtless plays, plays we haven’t really been making. We’re better than that, we’re more mature than that and hopefully it was just the jitters of the first real game.”