Duke still rolling de­spite in­juries

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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.”

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