Coach Jon Scheyer is stressing improvement with his No. 9 Duke team, even if that means some challenging discussions with the Blue Devils.
This is the time for them to make notable upgrades, and there’s another chance for that when La Salle visits Tuesday night in Durham, N.C.
“We have good guys that want to be coached, that want to be pushed,” Scheyer said. “And so, it’s up to us to challenge them and to do that every day. And so, they’ve responded in every game, because I haven’t been necessarily the most positive after these games. I’ve been very honest.”
Duke (3-1) won twice last week by defeating Michigan State and Bucknell.
La Salle (4-0) has won its first four games for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
“It’s nice to be where we are going into just a great opportunity for us going to Duke,” La Salle coach Fran Dunphy said. “We don’t have that much margin for error.”
Scheyer continues to assess different player combinations with the Blue Devils.
“There’s the chemistry,” he said. “There’s the continuity that we’re trying to develop.”
Jared McCain turned in Duke’s first double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in Friday’s 90-60 victory against Bucknell. That was combined with sophomore forward Mark Mitchell’s career-high 20 points.
“We have a lot of different players on this team, a lot of different scoring power,” Mitchell said. “We can hit you different ways on different nights.”
Duke preseason All-American forward Kyle Filipowski exited late in the first half with an ankle injury. He returned briefly in the second half but wasn’t needed and totaled just 17 minutes of playing time. Scheyer said he will monitor how Filipowski’s ankle responds leading up to the La Salle game.
The Explorers survived Saturday’s 79-78 home triumph against Southern Indiana, boosted by Khalil Brantley’s career-high 30 points.
“I don’t think it was artistic success, but a real good win,” Dunphy said. “Our defense has to get better. We’re just out of position too many times. We’ll need to continue to work at that.”
Brantley said he liked how the Explorers realized he was capable of being in good scoring positions.
“My teammates knew I was hot, so they (were) feeding me the ball and putting all the confidence in me,” he said. “We trust each other in different situations.”
Dunphy has been to Cameron Indoor Stadium in the past, bringing his Temple team to the storied venue, and he has had a long relationship with former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. A Dunphy-coached Temple team defeated a top-10 Duke team in Philadelphia in the 2011-12 season.
Dunphy, a 1970 La Salle graduate in his second year as head coach of the Explorers, has 599 career victories as a head coach at Penn, Temple and La Salle.
This could be a special experience for La Salle players.
“We’ll certainly appreciate what we have in store for us,” Dunphy said. “We had better be very, very tough mentally every possession. We’re going down there to play our best basketball. We have a lot of work to do.”
–Field Level Media
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