No. 7 Duke keeps the focus on Lafayette

Sports

There hasn’t been much adversity on the court for No. 7 Duke during the first 10 days of the season.

But off the court, the Blue Devils have had to navigate an off-court situation, one that they will try to continue to move to the background when they host Lafayette on Friday night in Durham, N.C.

Last weekend, Paolo Banchero, the preseason player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, was charged with aiding and abetting a DWI. He was in the vehicle driven by teammate Michael Savarino, grandson of coach Mike Krzyzewski. Savarino, 20, was charged with driving while impaired, driving after consuming while under the age of 21 and a stop-sign violation. He is temporarily off the team until the DWI charges are resolved and the school’s student disciplinary process is completed, according to The Herald-Sun in Durham.

Banchero has a Dec. 8 court appearance scheduled.

In the first game since the incident, Duke (4-0) beat Gardner-Webb 92-52 on Tuesday night.

“It was a huge relief,” Duke’s Trevor Keels said of playing a game. “There’s a lot of stuff going on outside that locker room, but we tried to focus on just the game. We did a good job preparing for the game, just focusing on the game, and we took care of business.”

That will be the quest moving forward. Banchero was in the starting lineup, though he was held to a season-low 10 points while gathering a game-high eight rebounds.

Krzyzewski said Banchero and Savarino will be treated based on their situations.

“It’s two entirely different situations,” Krzyzewski said. “Headlines might make it look like it’s the same, but it’s not. The decisions we made are in conjunction with our authorities and my superiors. We’re taking action and will continue to take action.”

Keels said the Blue Devils maintained their normal approach despite potential distractions. He praised Banchero.

“He’s always going to keep good confidence,” Keels said. “… He didn’t let the outside noise distract him too much, but we were there to help him get through. He didn’t really change at all. Coach was the same. He didn’t change at all.”

The Blue Devils had six players in double-figure scoring.

Krzyzewski said spreading out minutes will be a key to developing the roster.

“We got some good double-figure minutes for guys that haven’t had minutes,” he said. “Not just with our second team unit … They were able to play with guys that were on the first team. The extended minutes for AJ (Griffin) are so very important.”

Lafayette (0-3) will be in its third road game, and second against an Atlantic Coast Conference team. The Leopards opened the season at Syracuse.

“All these teams offer a different style,” Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “Hopefully, we’ll grow from it.”

The Leopards have been blown out by Syracuse and Penn, though they stayed close in a five-point home loss to Cornell.

“We still have some young guys we have to fit into the mix,” O’Hanlon said. “I think we’re going to get better and better as the season continues on.”

O’Hanlon is 73, so he’s nearly as old as Krzyzewski, 74. They’re two of only five active Division I men’s coaches with the same team since the start of the 1995-96 season.

–Field Level Media

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