This past Saturday, I attended the Duke Basketball practice that was open for fans. The timing of the open practice was perfect in that it was held at Cameron Indoor Stadium prior to the Virginia vs. Duke football game at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Many fans showed up and packed the upper level of Cameron Indoor Stadium and concession stands gave out the 2016-2017 Duke basketball roster sheet.
From the the roster sheet, as well as watching the practice, even the casual fan can pick up on that this Duke team has depth. Coach K talked to the crowd briefly at the beginning to explain how he ran a practice.
Here are a few of my takeaways from being in attendance and seeing the team in action.
Coach K was very vocal. To see a Duke practice is to see a well-oiled machine. Everything is structured, has a purpose and is run smoothly.
Coach K would often blow his whistle to stop practice to break down a play or drill. I remember one stoppage where Coach K slung the ball backwards toward the goal to enforce a point on passing the ball. Another time, he blew the whistle and himself passed the ball to an open Amile charging the net.
Grayson Allen and Harry Giles did not participate. Allen looked to be fine and was walking around during practice. My personal opinion is that he was being rested.
Jayson Tatum is the real deal and opposing teams will have a very tough time guarding him. In one play, Tatum had a quick first step and shook Javin DeLaurier – a move that got him to the foul line.
Tatum also showed his 3-point range during practice. He’s a threat to score anywhere on the court and will be a valuable weapon for Duke in that he will score and draw multiple defenders, which will lead to openings for his teammates.
Amile Jefferson looked healthy, strong, and had a strong showing. I believe Amile will be a great leader for this team.
Marques Bolden is able to play with his back to the basket and had some monster dunks that excited the crowd. He will be another valuable weapon for Duke in that I could see him being able to draw multiple defenders to the paint, which will free up teammates for open looks from the perimeter.
Luke Kennard looks to have put on more muscle and continues to play all out. There was one play where Luke dived to the ground for a loose ball, which drew cheers from the crowd.
Frank Jackson looked great. His on-ball defense is very solid and he’ll be a valuable weapon who can help manage the point guard responsibilities for this year’s team. He also has a smooth stroke at the free throw line.
Coach K ended the session with a four minute drill where the players run back and forth across the entire court trying to make 120 points in four minutes.
The players started the drill by missing shots, and you’d have to think the team was tired from an already intense practice. With one minute to go in the drill, I thought to myself, “no way they will make it to 120 points.”
Ten seconds left and it still looked like they wouldn’t make it to 120 made shots. With one second left and the buzzer going off, this Duke team made it to 120 points. The crowd erupted into a roar as well. Hopefully it’s a sign this Duke team will be able to perform under pressure this season.
I know it’s only the second practice but I left Cameron Indoor Stadium excited about the possibilities of this Duke team. If everybody is healthy, the sky is the limit.
As fans, we have a lot to look forward to this upcoming Duke basketball season. See you all at Countdown to Craziness on October 22nd.