Joey Baker played just 18 minutes in his freshman season, hitting one of four shots.
In the first exhibition game, it looked like this year might be more of the same. Baker got in for four minutes and didn’t get a shot off.
Things certainly changed when Fort Valley State came to town. Baker played 19 minutes, one more than all of last year, and he was the team’s high scorer with 22 points. Most of those came on three pointers, something the team needed desperately after going 2-of-16 from long range in the first exhibition.
Baker hit six of eight three-pointers on the night.
“My teammates were finding me,” he said afterward, when he was greeted by a crowd of media around his locker for the first time since he’s been at Duke. “We were doing what Coach was talking about all week leading up to the game. Just what we practiced all week carried over to the game.”
Duke certainly seemed to be a different team from the one that beat Northwest Missouri by six, scoring just 69 points. The Blue Devils nearly matched that in the first half, blowing out Fort Valley State, 126-57.
“It really started on defense,” Baker said. “We didn’t think we played good enough—the way we wanted to on defense—the last time out. Over the last couple days, that’s really what we were working on—playing harder, playing together. We knew it would bleed over into the offense. It’s great having everybody contribute. We were having fun. Hopefully, we can build off of this going into next week.”