Whether you’re a fan of the Duke Blue Devils or not, you have to admire the job coach Mike Krzyzewski does year in and year out. And even though the names on the jerseys may not be familiar, the results on the court remain the same — the Blue Devils consistently win.
On Wednesday night, it was the battle of two 7-0 teams in Madison as the Blue Devils visited the Wisconsin Badgers. And when the smoke cleared, it was the No. 4 Blue Devils who outlasted the No. 2 Badgers, 80-70.
So who are the Blue Devils in 2014? Tell me if any of these names sound familiar: Jahil Okafor (freshman center), F Amile Jefferson (junior forward), Justise Winslow (freshman forward), Tyus Jones (freshman point guard) and Quinn Cook (senior guard). Those are the names of the five starters who took the floor for Duke on Wednesday night. Not exactly household names like Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner and Grant Hill.
Photo: Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones (22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) puts up a jumper in the Blue Devils 80-70 victory over Wisconsin
Source: Twitter (@DukeBasketball c/o Brianna Siracuse – The Chronicle)
Duke shot 65 percent from the field led by Jones’ 22 points. It was a homecoming of sort for Jones who is from the Midwest. His mother attended the game after driving 4 1/2 hours from the Minneapolis suburb of Apple Valley, Minnesota.
“This is the closest game to home, so I had a lot of family and friends here,” said Jones. “You know, seeing my mom right behind the bench … helps, and she was loving it.”
In a battle of two of the country’s top big men, Badgers senior Frank Kaminsky outscored Duke’s Okafor, 17-13. But in the end, it was the freshman Jones who led the way for the Blue Devils (8-0) over the Badgers (7-1).
“When those freshmen see that the upperclassmen are setting the table for them, it helps a lot,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They didn’t look like freshmen tonight.”
“Yeah, I would say they hit some tough shots,” said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan referring to the fact that Duke shot 65 percent from the floor. “But to have that many do it, that’s just not fair. They were lights out.”
The game had the feeling of a tournament game in March and it’s not unreasonable to think that these two teams might meet again. And if it were to happen, Wisconsin will be ready for the Duke Blue Devils the second time around.
“It was a great test and a really good Duke team. Just learn from it,” said senior Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson. “And the biggest thing is just make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
And by the way, if you didn’t know the names of the five Duke starters before, then you had better get to know them now. You will surely hear a lot about them as the season continues.