Who says youth is wasted on the young? The Duke Freshman players certainly did not get that memo.
The team was led all season by who many believe is the consensus number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones, who was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. Tonight was no different. Tyus led the team late and though he was thoroughly outplayed all night by the Naismith Player of the Year, Frank Kaminsky, Okafor came up with key offensive rebounds and scores. The X factor and one of the main reasons the Blue Devils took home the hardware was freshman Grayson Allen, who finished with sixteen points. Duke was down by nine midway through the second half, and the freshman, who was a high school All-American, went on his own 8-0 run to get the Blue Devils momentum back into the game.
Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky was outstanding throughout the game, collecting twenty one points to go alongside twelve rebounds. He played great defense on Okafor and even got the big man into foul trouble early and often with his crafty footwork down in the paint. But the story of the game for both Kaminsky and the Badgers was the fact that they often passed on great shots, and for the most part, came up empty. Granted, that’s the style of play that got them to the dance, but Duke’s defense was too stifling all night for them to leave money on the table.
Duke’s defense early and late were essential for their success. They led the tournament in defensive efficiency and it showed tonight. They made Wisconsin, who are notorious for not turning the ball over, play their brand of offense early, which caused the Badgers to cough up the ball on three straight possessions. They ran the ball on transition off of those turnovers and got easy baskets. They made Wisconsin play even more conservatively than they would have liked late, bringing that aggressive ball pressure and jumping the passing lanes.
Coach K made sure to give Wisconsin their props in his post-game interview, stating that they beat a great team who was headed by a great coach. Tyus gave praise to his teammates and coaching staff for giving him the confidence to take over late, not just in this game but over the course of the season.
It will be very interesting to see how Duke is structured next season, with four of their starters projected to either go in the lottery or first round.
Article by Jalen Perry