DURHAM, N.C. — Duke's basketball team has started full practices for the new season, one that is expected to end in Arizona for the Final Four and, perhaps, another NCAA championship come April.
With that long journey in mind, the Blue Devils held a public practice on Saturday morning at Cameron Indoor Stadium with two important players not participating.Junior guard Grayson Allen and freshman center Harry Giles were both present for the two-hour practice in front of around 5,000 fans. Both were held out for precautionary reasons after they practiced on Friday with the team.
The 6-foot-5, Allen, Duke's leading scorer last season (21.6 points per game) and a pick for national preseason player of the year this season, had hernia surgery in the offseason and has fully recovered. But his hard-charging style, as intense in practices as in games, led the coaching staff to strategically give him days off to minimize exposure to injuries.
Giles, a powerful 6-foot-10 post player, didn't play last season as a high school senior after injuring his left knee and needing surgery one year ago. He's spent the last year rehabilitating the injury, most of the time at Duke.
With the entire team not practicing on Sunday, that gives Allen and Giles — along with reserve forward Sean Obi — two entire days off. The team will practice again Monday and Tuesday.
The rest of the Blue Devils went through a practice that thrilled the crowd that descended on Cameron for the team's rare public practice.
Freshmen Marques Bolden, Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson rotated on and off of the team with the white jerseys. Seniors Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson were regulars in the white jerseys which normally represent the top team.
The 6-foot-3 Jackson played some point guard while sophomore guard Luke Kennard also saw some time at point. Both are better known for their perimeter scoring abilities.
Allen is expected to handle plenty of point guard duties for Duke when he's participating.
Tatum, a 6-foot-9 small forward wearing No. 0, thrilled the fans with his ability to score from the perimeter or maneuver inside for points.
The 6-foot-11, 245-pound Bolden teamed with 6-foot-8 freshman forward Javin DeLaurier and 6-foot-10 sophomore Chase Jeter to give Duke plenty of options in the post in addition to the 6-foot-9 Jefferson.
That's different than last season when, after Jefferson suffered a season-ending foot injury in December, Duke was thin in the post as Jeter adjusted to the college game. Marshall Plumlee, a 7-foot senior last season, started all 36 games and averaged 30.5 minutes per game.
This season, Duke should be able to use Giles and Jefferson together as starters with Bolden, Jeter and the athletic DeLaurier in reserve.
The Blue Devils will next hold a public event at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Oct. 22 with the annual Countdown to Craziness event. That will include a Blue-White scrimmage.
Duke opens exhibition play on Oct. 28 against Virginia State at 7 p.m. and will also face reigning NCAA Division II champion Augustana (S.D.) in an exhibition game on Nov. 4 at 8 p.m.
Duke opens the season at home against Marist on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.
This article was written by Steve Wiseman from The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.