Ryan Kelly blocks a Treveon Graham shot in Duke's win over VCU. Credit: JOHN BAZEMORE/AP
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas—Due to the compressed nature of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament—each team plays three games in three days—Duke had less than 24 hours to prepare for Virginia Commonwealth’s havoc, pressure-heavy defense.
And the Blue Devils preparation was a little unorthodox. Instead of traveling across the large resort to the designated practice facility, Duke made its own court.
“We condensed the day,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “We were in a big ballroom, and our managers actually put up an entire full court in one of the ballrooms with tape. Between breakfast and lunch, when he had our scouting report, we just went through how we were going to defend without taking a physical toll on our team.”
The makeshift court worked. Duke only turned the ball over eight times, and VCU forced just five steals. The Rams had been averaging 20 steals per game.
Curry’s status unknown
Seth Curry, who is managing a right shin injury that is expected to bother him all year, started for Duke despite playing 33 minutes yesterday. It didn’t take long, though, for him to come out, as Tyler Thornton relieved him at the 18:21 mark of the first half.
“I didn’t like how he was running,” Krzyzewski said. “He just didn’t look like he had the right gait. But he said he was ok, and then obviously he was ok.”
Curry came back on the floor and played 31 minutes. He scored 15 points, second for Duke behind Plumlee’s 17, and went 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
Whether or not he plays in Saturday’s championship game remains to be seen.
“It will be a test to see if he can play three games in a row,” Krzyzewski said.
***Neither team shot particularly well, especially early. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field in the first half, and VCU finished with a 33.3 percent clip for the game. While Duke didn’t take a ton of shots in the second—just 20—nine of them fell in (45 percent), and the Blue Devils finished with a 41.7 shooting percentage from the floor.
***Mike Krzyzewski was effusive in his praise for VCU’s Shaka Smart after the game, and he mixed in a bit of humor.
“Everyone talks about him being a terrific young coach, but he’s a terrific coach,” Krzyzewski said. “And I’m a terrific old coach. We have two terrific staffs and terrific kids, and this was a terrific game.”
***Once again, Mason Plumlee was effective from the free throw line. The senior was 7-of-8 from the line, and that followed an 8-of-10 performance against Minnesota Thursday. It’s a remarkable improvement for a player who shot Last year, he shot 52.8 percent from the line last season.
Plumlee also recorded his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds.