Duke going back to classic point-guard offense in 2017-18

Coach K setting aside the "positionless" concept from last season

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (Christine T. Nguyen/North State Journal file photo)

Last season, positionless basketball was all the rage at Duke.The Blue Devils’ roster was filled with versatile players who were capable of playing multiple roles on the floor.Prior to the season, coach Mike Krzyzewski said that everyone from guard Grayson Allen to power forward Amile Jefferson was capable of bringing the ball up the court and running the offense. As soon as Duke took possession, the team could be off to the races, without needing to find the point guard to set things up.At the time, Duke seemed to be the prototype of the future, a position-free game. That future has been put on hold, for at least one season, however.Injuries to key players, including freshmen Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum — two of the best potential positionless stars — as well as Jefferson, slowed the Blue Devils’ ability to run. And, when the game slowed down, particularly in conference play, the lack of a true point guard occasionally came back to haunt Duke.So this year, Duke is ready to go back to the more traditional offensive model. Of course, signing a five-star point guard like Trevon Duval helps make that decision a bit easier.”I do know that Trevon is going to have the ball, and he knows what to do with it,” Krzyzewski said last week.That doesn’t mean last year’s positionless experiment was a failure. It’s just a matter of finding the scheme that fits best with the roster.”What we try to do with our offense is personalize it to the people we have,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ve done that since 1986. When someone says ‘Their offense’ or whatever … I don’t know what our offense will be. I do want to look at our talent.”Right now, however, Krzyzewski knows that his freshman point guard will most likely be one of the team’s strengths.”Will he have it all the time? No,” Krzyzewski said. “He shouldn’t have it all the time. Will he have it a lot? Yeah.”That doesn’t mean Duke will be a step slow in transition. In fact, Krzyzewski thinks having a well-defined playmaker role will help speed things up.”One difference you’re going to see is (last year) we would have multiple guys bring the ball up,” Coach K said. “Get a rebound and go. That type of thing. Pretty much, I want (Duval) to get the ball. Then we’re going to be able to have more guys being ready to shoot. We’ll run early post, stuff like that.”The new look will also benefit Grayson Allen. The lone senior on Duke’s roster and the only returning player who had a significant role last year, Allen will have one less thing to worry about with Duval running the show on offense.”I don’t think (leadership) is as much a burden as it is an opportunity,” Krzyzewski said of Allen. “I think a burden would be if he had that and then all the ball-handling and running of the team. I like for him to do that at times, but (I’d rather) him be more of who he naturally is.”He can score the ball. I think he can be one of the leading scorers in the country.”Duke will experiment with various offensive looks on its exhibition trip to the Dominican Republic, but the classic point guard look seems to have the Hall of Fame coach excited.”That’s going to be interesting to put that together,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s interesting if you have talent, and we have talent. A lot of it is young, but physically, it’s mature.”