Tipsheet: College basketball season gets off to an encouraging start | Jeff Gordon

Gary Parrish, “Coach K has basically spent every week since announcing his plan to retire at the end of this season explaining how he wouldn’t waste a lot of time focusing on the end of his storied career. And I’m sure that’s his intention. But it’s been clear for months, and it was undeniable on Tuesday night that (Mike) Krzyzewski’s so-called ‘Farewell Tour’ will be the dominant storyline of this season, whether he likes it or not. It’s inevitable and in your face – so much so that during the halftime of Duke’s eventual 79-71 season win over Kentucky, MSG’s internal televisions broadcast what amounted to a pre-recorded Zoom call from John Calipari, Tom Izzo and Bill Self casually discuss Krzyzewski’s impact on sport. It seemed to go on forever. When it was finally over, Duke took over. Opening the second half with a 30-19 run, the Blue Devils built a 15-point lead that they never completely relinquished, in part because their most talked-about freshman, Paolo Banchero, looked just like someone akin to the leading candidate to be the first overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft. The 1.80m, 250lbs forward did things that guys his size don’t normally do (because they can’t). He took 11 shots, made seven and finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and two steals.”

Myron Medcalf, “That was a dominant effort for the Blue Devils. The way they fought through adversity was probably the most important development. On various stretches, Wendell Moore Jr, Trevor Keels and Paolo Banchero were all sidelined with cramping problems. Then Duke showed a depth that helped the team maintain momentum with some of its top players on the bench. But with Banchero on the floor, Duke just looks like a team that can win the national title and run through any team in the country. A six-foot athlete and a projected No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft should not be able to handle or move the ball the way it does. It just adds a dynamism that makes Duke a unique challenge. And Keels didn’t look like a freshman. His strength was an important factor in the game. We knew what Duke was on paper. We understood how much talent the Blue Devils had signed. It was impressive to see it all work together on Tuesday night. Duke may not be the team to beat in college basketball. But the Blue Devils are definitely one of them.”


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