Jeremy Roach worked hard to get ready for his moment even though he was constantly in the Duke starting line-up, which was full of NBA talent.
The Blue Devils’ smallest player keeps scoring big in their quest to retire Mike Krzyzewski from the Hall of Fame with one last championship run.
With his 6-foot-2, 172-pound stature, the sophomore has taken a key role in the team’s success. This includes Sunday’s NCAA Tournament victory against Michigan State, which secured a spot this week in the Sweet 16. Roach ended with 15 points as well as a crucial late 3-pointer in a comeback win.
Roach stated that the most important thing to Roach was keeping the same level of confidence, consistency and hard work. “That’s the most important thing: Don’t lose sight of the fact that you can’t be too proud when things are going your way. But don’t let yourself get discouraged when things don’t go your way.
“Keep your consistency. I have the trust of all the players and coaches. That’s it.”
Duke (30-6), West Region’s No. 1 seed, has been a star talent. 2 seed. It begins with Paolo Banchero (6-10), a third-team Associated Press All-American who can play inside or outside, and A.J. 6-6. Griffin is a popular choice for the NBA draft, even though they are freshmen.
Mark Williams (7-1), a sophomore from the Atlantic Coast Conference, is the defensive player of year. He’s also an elite rim protector and ranked 10th in blocked shots (2.89). Wendell Moore Jr., a versatile forward, can play the point and compete in top defensive matchups.
The Blue Devils will face Texas Tech, third-seeded, on Thursday in San Francisco. Roach is also providing a significant boost down the stretch.
After scoring 7.5 points per 30 games on 38% shooting, Roach now averages 13.2 points per 60 games on 53% shooting. He is also more precise at the line (82%, up 73%) as well as behind the arc (39% up compared to 33%).
Moore stated that Moore was in a great headspace the past four games. This was before his win against Cal State Fullerton. He’s done an excellent job leading our offensive team. His defensive pressure is tremendous. We notice his energy every time he steps on the ground. We feel his energy.
Roach played in the 14 first games. In mid-January, the team shuffled their lineup and moved Roach from the bench to the bench. This made Griffin available. After missing the majority of his high school seasons because of injuries, Griffin was a steady 3-point markman.
But that was only for three games, as freshman Trevor Keels (another NBA prospect), suffered a calf strain. Roach was able to return to the front for eight more games, before he returned to the bench when Keels returned to form.
Krzyzewski is now back to Roach, but this time it’s for a boost.
The Blue Devils spent the days before their NCAA Tournament games in South Carolina trying to figure out their defensive edge.
Roach combines that focus with his ability pressure ballhandlers. Roach’s offense was critical and not just complementary against the Spartans.
Krzyzewski said that he was 6 for 10. He scored on several tough drives, which Krzyzewski described to be sheer will in a game with high pressure. His lone 3 was the highlight. He caught a feed from Moore, took one dribble, and then he jumped over A.J. Hoggard as the shot clock winds down.
With 1:06 left, the ball fell through for a lead of 78-74. This was part of Duke’s 20-6 win. They had trailed by five at the five-minute mark and were in serious danger.
These plays stood out to Tom Izzo, Michigan State Hall of Famer.
Izzo stated, “You talk about the guys.” I thought it was crazy, but they had two of my favorite players. Moore and Roach.
Roach will keep this going, making it even more difficult to stop Krzyzewski’s last run.
Krzyzewski stated, “We have never stopped believing in his character because he is believable.” “He deserves it.”