By: Andy Katz
LONDON — Coach K picked up his first technical of the season Sunday. In London, no less, from British official Richard Stokes.
An exhibition tour? Not exactly.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was in mid-season form when it came to a call that wasn’t made on a loose ball and foul that could have been interpreted as an intentional foul on Duke’s Daniel Ewing. He was animated at his post players for failing to offer some weak-side help; not thrilled with their inability to stop dribble penetration; and the overall late fouls his players were committing after they got beat certainly bothered the Hall of Famer.
But his angst was directed on the play of his players, not in the outcome of the game.
OK, so Duke got beat Sunday night 94-84 by the London Towers, which had grizzled American pros Kendrick Warren, formerly of VCU, and Terrell Myers, a one-time Saint Joseph’s player.
“This is mid-October and I’m not going to analyze this game like it was an ACC game,” said Krzyzewski after his Blue Devils split two games Sunday. Duke beat a scaled down Racing Basket Antwerpen 96-71 in its first game action of the season. “This was a really good day for us. We’ll use everything, the foul situations, the different lineups, playing with a lead, losing a lead and coming back, and adjusting to a different environment.”
Krzyzewski wasn’t about to take a walk from Big Ben to the Tower of London to cool off Sunday night. This is and was all part of the plan of developing this team, his youngest in years, but one that ultimately could end up being just as talented when at least a few of these players exit.
“I’m on them,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m going to get on them and use it like a practice. I want them to play with a passion because that’s what we’re feeling as coaches. It’s about teaching them passion. There are lot of things to be taught with this team.”
The day-night doubleheader Sunday, after a five-quarter scrimmage Saturday, followed a red-eye flight from Durham. Got that? They split the doubleheader, beating Antwerpen without its best player, Pieter Loridon, a 6-8 shooter who lit up another Belgian team for 46 points Friday night, and guard Vincent Krieger, who sustained a deep cut above his eye during the Duke scrimmage Saturday.
Duke ate lunch at Lorenzo’s Italian restaurant between games, which may or may not have been the smartest move. The team ate pasta and chose juice and water over soda. But after an 11:30 a.m. tipoff, the time in between games was only three hours and that included lunch and not a lot of time for digesting. Duke usually has its pregame meal some four to five hours before tipoff.
London Towers coach David Lindstroem said he might want his assistant to coach Monday night’s rematch so he can take out his wife for dinner and not blemish his 1-0 record against coach K. That’s how much the game meant to him, an American who can now say he’s unbeaten against Duke as a coach. The game was also important to Duke, but not in the result or stats. But, let the record show, freshman Shavlik Randolph scored 15 points and fouled out; Dahntay Jones led the Blue Devils with 21 after doing the same in the first game, while Randolph had 19 in the opener. “He played really well the whole day,” Krzyzewski said of Randolph. “He’s going to be a good player.”
But no one to date has taken the leadership role more on this team as much as Jones. His parents, Larry and Joanne, said Jones changed his attitude this summer, working with New Jersey native and NBA player Al Harrington as well as shooting coach Dave Hopla. They said he cut out the Burger King and McDonald’s, re-committed himself to the game and matured off the court. They said Harrington told their son to be a pro, and that he has to carry himself like a pro.
Throughout the trip, Jones has been the most vocal Blue Devil, the one who is standing out offensively because he’s more willing to take shots, follows offensive rebounds and attacks the basket. “You’re seeing more of Dahntay because he’s in more of a scoring position,” Krzyzewski said. “His assertiveness is easier to see when he’s putting points in the basket. Dahntay played well in all our practice sessions and overall was our best player after 10 practices. He has carried that on and should as a fifth-year senior. He’s giving us that type of consistency and someone to go to in tough situations.”
Jones was the only player who talked after the loss to the Towers on Sunday night, saying the competitive side of the Blue Devils makes them jacked to play them again in a rematch Monday night. He wouldn’t give any excuses for the loss, but did say the defeat will only strengthen this team. He really did look like someone who was bitter he had lost, even if it was an exhibition game against the London Towers on Oct. 13.
Freshman J.J. Redick snapped in 13 with three 3s and junior point Chris Duhon continued to be more of a playmaker than a scorer with a combined seven points and nine assists in two games.
But again, these first two games were more about experimenting with lineups; seeing that freshman point Sean Dockery is more than a capable backup to Duhon, but might actually push him at times once he learns the system; Randolph is going to be nearly impossible to get off the court; freshman forward Shelden Williams can get lost defensively, but has such a wonderful upside offensively that he will log major minutes; and players like Ewing and forward Nick Horvath will be factors because of their perimeter shooting (a combined 3 of 6 on 3s).
“Chris played better today than yesterday,” Krzyzewski said. “He was more verbal and need him to be even more. Sean gives us a huge lift. He comes in and plays defense and comes in for Chris fresh.”
Duke plays the Brighton Bears in the Monday daytime game, while the rematch with the Towers serves as the tour’s finale. The game, however, may become a mismatch if Lindstroem does what he said he would and sit his stars the second half so they won’t get tired for their next league game.
“Of course we’ll be tired, we’re tired tonight because we played a hard game this afternoon,” Krzyzewski said. “I told my team that we’re putting them in tougher game situations by playing two games tomorrow after playing two games today. That’s tougher than playing one game after one game (in a tournament) and that’s tough. I’m really pleased where we’re at, in the conditions we’ve had, playing twice in eight hours.
“We’ll go back and watch tape,” Krzyzewski added, instead of hanging out in Central London Sunday night. “We’re on a business trip. This is like a training camp for us, not a tournament.”