Duke had no trouble with Marist and Grand Canyon through the first weekend of the season.
Those games were supposed to be used as tuneup games, specifically for a cast of talented newcomers, in preparation for arguably the most anticipated non-conference game of the season on Tuesday night, as the top-rated Blue Devils travel to New York City to take on No. 3 Kansas in the Champions Classic in Madison Square Garden.
But a series of injuries could cause three freshmen — Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden — to miss Tuesday night’s showdown.
According to C.L. Brown of ESPN, Coach K said after Friday’s night’s season opening win over Marist that he isn’t going to rush any of them back.
“We can’t go through the whole year with lingering injuries,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re not the team we thought we would be at this time, but we’re a good team. To be the team that we hope to be, we’ve got to be healthy. We’re going to really be adamant about taking a longer time than a shorter time, no matter what.”
Giles, who missed all of his senior year with torn ACL, underwent a procedure on his left knee in September. Two weeks ago, Tatum was sidelined with a sprained foot. And on Monday, the team announced that Bolden was suffering from a lower-leg injury.
The matchup between Duke and Kansas could have involved three players (Duke’s Giles and Tatum and Kansas’ Josh Jackson) who are in strong contention for the top overall pick in next summer’s NBA Draft.
The Blue Devils, with a thin rotation that has three players nearly averaging 30 minutes a game, will head into its third game in five days. The Jayhawks, coming off an overtime loss to Indiana in the Armed Forces Classic, will be racking up the frequent flyer miles this week, as they go from Honolulu to Lawrence to New York City.
The two teams tip at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night