CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM—If you were at all bothered to watch Florida Atlantic University head coach Mike Jarvis tromp up and down the sideline during the Owl’s 33-point Friday night loss to the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils, you might have also noticed that his team and staff were joined on their bench by a mysterious woman in a red neckerchief. Not a team manager, not Jarvis’ wife, but a well-dressed lady in her mid-to-late 40s, who followed every bounce of the game with witch-like concentration.
There’s only one explanation for her being on FAU’s bench—she’s The Evil Owl Lady who travels with the team and uses her telekinetic gaze to misdirect opposing players’ shots away from from the bucket. Her evil scheme failed miserably.
A few hours before the game, a few dozen Duke students huddled around a laptop in Krzyzewskiville and erupted with excitement when it was announced that two of the country’s premier prep stars, No. 1 Jahlil Okafor and No. 5 Tyus Jones, would be headed to Duke for the 2014–15 school year. The good news was enough to erase the bad memories of Tuesday night’s 11-point loss to KU. In that game, the hyped matchup between college basketball’s most touted freshmen—Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins—didn’t quite play out like the battle it was advertised as, but Parker’s game-high 27 points reinforced the ACC Rookie of the Week honor he received the previous day.
One urban myth about the Great Horned Owl is that it’s such a menacing bird that it occasionally swoops down from the sky and snatches up basketball-sized babies. That myth wasn’t verified on Friday night, as Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, and Andre Dawkins combined for 66 points on 21-33 shooting. Prior to Friday night’s game, Dawkins—who returned to Duke’s roster after taking a year off—had only played a total of two minutes this season. Five minutes into the game, Coach K subbed him in. A minute and a half later, Dawkins made the most of his welcoming party with a 17-point, three-point shooting spree—his best performance since a 22-point game against FSU in February of 2012. Dawkins’ return frees up wingman Rasheed Sulaimon, allowing him to focus more on his defensive specialties. This is exactly what happened in the second half when Sulaimon kept FAU point guard Pablo Bertone from weaving through Duke’s defense.
Hood, who also sat out last season, was Duke’s score de force, dropping a game-high 28 points, which included a nasty, one-handed put-back dunk off of one of his own missed shots. Hood’s subdued play against KU left Parker in charge for that game, but this time, Parker seemed to force Hood to lead the Blue Devils’ offense, oftentimes deferring to Hood on the wing instead of taking open shots or penetrating.
Still, all eyes were on Parker, whose crafty no-look passes, multi-position play, and 20-plus point games still cause some to wonder how Parker can make this Duke team as great as it could be.
The Blue Devils improve to 2-1 on the season and face UNC-Asheville on Monday for the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Click here for the official Duke/FAU box score.