by Eric Tullis
“He’s like a point guard out there, because when he catches the basketball he can do a lot of things with it,” said Coach Bzdelik. “He’s smart, he’s skilled, he stretches you out, he’s a great leader.”
Kelly only played a total of 18 minutes, and fouled out with 7:20 remaining in the game, but Coach Mike Krzyzewski believed that if his senior forward had not been in foul trouble, Kelly’s game-high 22 points could have turned into a 35-40 point game. Seth Curry and Wake Forest’s Travis McKie also sank in 22 points each, but it was Kelly’s 17 first half points on on 4-6 shooting from behind the arc that gave Duke a convincing 40-31 halftime lead. The Blue Devils hadn’t looked this sharp in the first half since early December.
But not everything was pretty.
Call it "weird"—as Coach K did in the postgame conference—or call it a disaster, but Duke point guard Quinn Cook shot 0-11 from the floor today, although he dished out 14 assists and made some vigorous, key plays on the defensive end to make up for whatever hex the Demon Deacons put on his shot. Cook’s attitude also made up for whatever “it” thing that Coach K noticed was missing in Cameron this afternoon.
While some Duke students have already returned for the beginning of classes on Wednesday, Jan. 9, the campus isn’t in full swing yet—which was evident from a stale electricity buzzing from the stands. Fortunately, the pumped-up version of Quinn Cook—that was nowhere to be found during the Davidson game—generated teammates and the crowd with enough of his usual game-time grills and big-play court postures to make the environment seem normal.
But, the weirdest thing of all may have been the seven minutes of watching Marshall Plumlee trot up and down the court, playing as if he’s always been an integral part of this Duke rotation. He hasn’t, but now Coach K can throw Marshall in the game more frequently; giving his older brother, Mason, a few more minutes to re-up on the bench.
Today, Marshall scored his first career points as a Blue Devil when he made a layup after catching one the same zip-passes that Cook usually throws down-low to Mason. Pretty soon, we won’t even be able to tell the difference. Check back here on Tuesday when I’ll go further into Duke’s bench and see who else can make a great impact. For now, click here for the Duke/Wake Forest box score.