Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thornton Gives Duke Another Backcourt Option

   Something figured to change after Duke's ugly loss Sunday to St. John's and it did.

   Freshman Tyler Thornton made his first career start Wednesday night against Maryland and played 28 minutes in the Blue Devils' 80-62 victory, earning praise from his teammates and his coach.

    Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said two factors played into the decision to start Thornton in the hostile environment of Maryland's Comcast Center. One was Duke's lackluster defensive effort against St. John's and the other was Thornton's solid play against Maryland in the Blue Devils' win over the Terps in Durham last month.

   "He's been so tough. I thought in the first Maryland game, he was the difference maker," Krzyzewski said of Thornton.

    By starting Thornton, it allowed Nolan Smith to play off the ball on defense, giving him more freedom and making it less likely he would wear down against Maryland's rotating point guards. It doesn't mean Thornton will stay in the starting lineup, Krzyzewski said it was based largely on the match-up against Maryland, but it another step in the freshman's development.

   It's important, Krzyzewski said, for his team to continue to develop individual confidence. It helped that Miles Plumlee started the second half and that Thornton got his first start.

   "We're trying to build our players' egos. They're still young guys," Krzyzewski said.


Anonymous said...

It was a necessary move for the development of this team. Thornton has to be able to start and play well for Duke to advance in March, or Kyrie will have to come back. Nolan Smith is having a great year, but he's even less of a Point Guard than Jon Scheyer was. If Tyler Thornton can just be consistent and capable Duke will be alright.