Duke still rolling despite injuries
This isn’t the Duke team that was picked No. 1 in the preseason.
That’s no slight to these current Blue Devils, who in their present composition have been plenty strong enough to win seven of eight, take down Michigan State and earn a No. 5 ranking.
But beneath the surface, one question lingers: How much better will this team be once three injured freshman big men — Harry Giles, Marques Bolden and Jayson Tatum — are finally healthy enough to play?
Coach Mike Krzyzewski says it’s still not quite time to find out.
“We’re getting there, but it’ll be a while,” Krzyzewski said Tuesday after the 78-69 win over the Spartans. “We just have to keep playing our butts off and keep trying to win. Every team’s season is a little bit different. We just have to run our race the way we’re running it, and eventually, hopefully, we’ll get all those guys.”
Those three were major reasons why Duke (7-1) was the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference and voted to the top spot in the preseason polls.
But the Blue Devils insist they’re not content to merely tread water until those three are ready to go.
“We know how good we are — we’re still improving, and we know when we incorporate these guys back in, we’re going to be that much better,” All-America guard Grayson Allen said.
Giles had his left knee scoped in early October to clean up scar tissue after he tore ligaments three years ago. Tatum sprained his foot during a practice in front of NBA scouts later that month, and Bolden suffered a lower leg injury during the team’s first exhibition game. Sign language: Michigan State and Duke condemned a sign displayed by a Blue Devils fan Tuesday.
The sign read, “The water tastes better in North Carolina,” a reference to the water crisis in Flint, Mich.
In a statement to ESPN, Michigan State said the sign was “disgusting and a slam to those who are suffering in our state.”
Also speaking to ESPN, a Duke spokesman said the sign was “reprehensible” and “100 percent not in line with the values of our program.”