Duke's depth still being tested, with William & Mary next

ESPN logo
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

DURHAM, N.C. -- All of Duke's depth that was trumpeted prior to the season has been mostly an afterthought through the first couple of weeks of the season.

The Blue Devils have been limited by injuries and at times nearly alarmed by the volume of ailments.

But they've mostly kept winning -- as they have been expected to do since beginning the season as the country's top-ranked team.

Even with a smaller rotation of players, the Blue Devils have made it work.

"It's more of an ironman, five-man game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said during the weekend's Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off.

The sixth-ranked Blue Devils (4-1) are back in action Wednesday night when William & Mary (2-1) visits for a nonconference game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. This is the start of a four-game homestand for Duke.

It's unclear whether any of the three injured freshmen -- Marques Bolden, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum -- who have yet to make their collegiate debuts will play.

"We're trying to win with the hand that's dealt us," Krzyzewski said.

In Sunday's tournament final against Rhode Island, guards Matt Jones and Luke Kennard played all 40 minutes and guard Grayson Allen, who has been bothered by toe and leg ailments, logged 39 minutes.

"I'm just proud of everybody the way we responded to that," Kennard said of the reduced available roster.

Duke has won 27 of the 30 previous meetings with the Tribe.

Across an eight-season period, William & Mary has knocked off three Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. That includes last fall's season-opening upset at North Carolina State.

However, last week's outing at ACC member Louisville didn't go well for the Tribe -- a 91-58 loss.

William & Mary coach Tony Shaver said he wasn't pleased with the team's competitiveness in the second half. He expects more from his team against another high-level opponent.

"It's a big challenge, obviously," Shaver said. "They're pretty good last time I checked. ... I think it's a neat opportunity for this club right now because we played so poorly at Louisville. (This comes) in a hostile environment against an extremely talented team."

While Shaver said Louisville dictated the game, he was happier with how the Tribe responded in defeating Presbyterian. Now, it's another test against a national power.

"I want to see us go down there and play hard," Shaver said. "I want to see us go down there and execute at the level we're capable of. It's not going to be perfect. It's not going to be pretty at times."

William & Mary's Daniel Dixon, a guard coming off a 20-point outing against Presbyterian, said: "I think we're definitely excited and ready to show we can compete. I don't think we executed well against Louisville and I think that's a big key."

This is the third season in a row that the Tribe has a road game against a Top 10 opponent.

The Tribe has connected on double-figure 3-pointers in two of its games this season. Senior swingman Omar Prewitt will appear in his 100th career game for William & Mary.