Duke’s quiet month – the Devils have played five times since Dec. 7 – produced five victories and one crucial development. Seems Duke’s settled on its point guard.
Well, make that point guards.
Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook now run Duke’s offense, allowing Seth Curry and Austin Rivers to assume roles that play to their strengths: scoring and shooting. All four remain the Devil’s primary ball-handlers, but the last few games have cemented Thornton and Cook as the guys coach Mike Krzyzewski wants at point.
Eventually, it may just be Cook.
Thornton, a 6-1 sophomore, was a spot starter at times last season whose best asset is defense. Cook, a 6-foot freshman, is a more natural point guard, but Coach K’s not about to just use one or the other. He likes both for now.
“We had a chance to make that change just before the Christmas holidays for Tyler,” coach Mike Krzyzewski told the media following Duke’s win Sunday over Penn “Then over the Christmas holidays we evaluated and Quinn physically is better able to do that than he was even at the start of the regular season. He’s gotten stronger. His knees are better. He’s in better shape. He’s had more reps. So we wanted in these two games to take a look at alternating them.
“When we keep a fresh guy there we can push the ball and pressure the ball. Against these two opponents it worked well and we’ll see if it continues to work well. It is a different take than we’ve had the last few years. I think what you have to do is you have to adjust to your personnel and we’re trying to learn about our personnel.
“But Quinn is playing great. Tyler is playing really well too. Quinn is a natural point guard. Tyler can play both. Tyler is just a really good leader. The guys like playing with Quinn because he passes and when he passes he sees you in places where other people have a hard time seeing you.”
That’s a crucial distinction between the two and one that’ll probably result in more playing time for Cook as the season progresses. For Duke to challenge for a national title, they’ll need their best distributor on the floor, finding all those shooters.
Not that Duke was bad before. The Devils did beat Michigan and Kansas without Cook playing a prominent role. But he could take them from a good team to a great team. That’s no small thing when March rolls around.
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