Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas
By LAUREN BROWNLOW  |  Last updated 11/18/13
DURHAM, N.C. -- No. 6 Duke (3-1) dominated UNC-Asheville 91-55 to advance in the Preseason NIT, a game away from getting to New York City for the final rounds. That's all but a foregone conclusion at this point, but score aside, it was far from a perfect game for the Blue Devils as they had a season-high 16 turnovers. Obviously, that's nitpicking at this point, but there were still some interesting takeaways. 1. Duke's defense was excellent. Yes, the caliber of competition is not what it was, say, in Chicago against Kansas. But what Duke wants to do defensively starts up front with point guard Quinn Cook, who was guarding UNC-Asheville's leading scorer, Andrew Rowsey. In the past, Cook has struggled to contain even mid-major level point guards, but he's also shown when he's on and pressuring the ball, he's as good as it gets defensively. And he was all over Rowsey, who came in averaging 19.7 points on 52.4 percent shooting and finished with two points (on a late Duke goal tend) on 1-of-7 shooting. "I thought Quinn did a heck of a job on Rowsey, their leading scorer," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He's really a good player. He only got the one bucket on the goal tend and showed a lot of discipline by Quinn and a lot of energy, just to try to keep the ball away from him and never leave him." Cook also used to have a problem with reaching in and picking up cheap fouls. With the way the game is being officiated this year -- an adjustment Krzyzewski correctly called not a rule change, but a change in interpretation -- that can't happen. And so Cook has adjusted accordingly. The one foul he was whistled for, he indicated to the official that he had his hands up. The official motioned to Cook that he had bumped the dribbler with his body, and Cook nodded knowingly. He didn't commit another foul. "He's playing defense with his feet, which is what you should be doing," Krzyzewski said. "A long time ago, we used to do a drill on the ball and you'd have to put your hands behind your back. You'd just keep your head on the ball, zig-zag without hands. He'd be really good at it. He's moving his feet very, very well." 2. Defensive rebounding has been a problem at times, but it's usually something Duke fixes quickly. Against this level of competition, anyway. UNC-Asheville had seven offensive rebounds in the first 6:57 of game action, but would have just six more the rest of the way as Duke adjusted. The Blue Devils are having trouble on the defensive glass against almost anyone they have faced this year, at least for stretches, but with Duke being so perimeter-oriented, that's going to happen. Duke has made so many shots this year against most teams that the defensive boards haven't mattered as much. At some point, though, it might. It did against Kansas, certainly, and bigger, athletic, physical teams might be able to sneak past the Blue Devils on a night their shots aren't falling. "We're working on it. I don't think we're a great rebounding team, but we need to be a better rebounding team and we were that tonight," Krzyzewski said. "The kids are trying. We're looking at every play and trying to make a play on every play. We'll keep working at it." Those nights will likely be relatively few and far between, though. But the interesting thing about what UNC-Asheville -- a well-coached team under Nick McDevitt -- did was their spacing offensively led to more second chances. It's something Duke could see again. "They were spacing us out. We made them shoot jumpers, which was the game plan, and there were long rebounds and their two bigs were in the corner so they had a running start to the lane," Duke's Rodney Hood said. "So we switched up the defense. At first, we were kind of zoning up, trying to take them out of their offense. They hit a couple three's in the corner and got some offensive rebounds, so we went straight man." 3. Jabari Parker became the first Duke freshman to hit 20 points in his first four games, and he still has plenty of room to grow. When Duke cruises to an easy win and Parker has 20 or more points in each game, it's hard to find something to criticize. He had 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in just 19 minutes (to go with ten rebounds), but he did have six turnovers. And a lot of them came from trying to attempt just a few too many high-risk passes to his teammates, wanting to get them involved, especially later in the game. "I thought he tried to do it too much, especially with interior passing," Krzyzewski said. "When we got a lead, he's trying to get everybody to be better. I think he a few times overdid it instead of making a play to another guy on the perimeter. That's the most turnovers we had and a number of them were interior passes. "The interior's not a strength of our team. It's part of our team, but our strength is on the perimeter. And our strength is Jabari having the ball and doing something with it for him. But I don't fault him for trying to get his teammates more involved. It's a good problem to have." It certainly is. And it's an even better problem for Krzyzewski and Duke to have a superstar freshman that is as unselfish as Parker is. "A really good player is not concerned about his points. He's looking for his teammates to maybe have a better night and give him some confidence," Krzyzewski said. "I think for a freshman to do that is very good. Look, he's exceptional. And what he tried to do tonight was okay. I'd rather have him shoot it, to be quite frank with you."
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