At the Blue Devils ACC kick-off in Notre Dame on Wednesday, this trio came in the form of DJ Steward, Jeremy Roach and Jaemyn Brakefield.The three newbies scored 40 points in a 15-of-25 shooting from the field and were responsible for all but one of the eight three-point points made by the Blue Devils

“I’m just showing balance just let the game come to us,” said Steward about her performance. “We’re newbies, so let’s go out, we look forward to playing, we just have to be calm and ready to play”

After a 2-2 start to the season and an injury to his most prolific freshman in Jalen Johnson, Duke needed something to build his team and this trio could be the answer

While striker Mattew Hurt led the Blue Devils on Wednesday with 18 points, the ACC – and the rest of college basketball – is too deep for a player to carry his team for an entire season

Fortunately for Duke, it doesn’t look like Hurt will have to carry the burden any longer

Steward led the rookies with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Roach and Brakefield with 14 and 7 rebounds respectively 10 points followed right behind him. The double-digit score is good, but the combined clip of 60% off the field is the most promising

Roach was a leader in efficiency, shooting 5-on-6 from the ground, with Steward sank 6-of-11 shots and Brakefield hit 4-of-8

“All three bring their own different skills and have improved since day one, including to Illinois,” Hurt said, “To see them grow, how they get better on the pitch – if it’s a movie whether it’s a collaboration with the coaches – it’s just a great sight ”

Steward is the group’s most free shooter which helps explain his three 3-pointers on Wednesday.He is more of a new age guard and that shows in the type of shots he takes against Notre Queen surrendered – his six field goals came exclusively from 3-pointers and layups. The Chicago native also flashed some off-ball movements that this team obviously lacked during the non-conference game

Late in the second half, Steward made a nice off-ball cut for a layup, with the passerby being none other than Brakefield, the latter using his size to draw attention to the color and giving Steward a chance to stand up Sneaking past a simple cut in the back Brakefield will be all the more important to the Blue Devils in the absence of Johnson thanks to his 6-foot-8 frame and shooting ability – he has both of his 3-point attempts on Wednesday depleted – having a disproportionate walking

Roach is the most selective shooter in the group and relies far more on the midfielder than on his backcourt colleague Steward Pulling up from the elbow is a dying art form in today’s basketball So when you have a man like Roach on the roster, Duke can play a little differently than most of his opponents

While their defensive performances don’t jump off the TV screen like their hits, these three have the chance to be a leading group of defenders, too,

Steward scored two steals on Wednesday while Roach and Brakefield each added their own Duke already has Jordan Goldwire on the verge, and if Mark Williams can stay out of bad trouble he can be a problem for teams in The Improved Game of Steward, Brakefield and Roach would only increase the team’s defensive potential

The success of this freshman trio answers some of the questions surrounding the team, but also opens the door to several others

If Roach and Steward continue to score at this level, what will Goldwire’s playing time be like?

If Brakefield emerges as a star and Johnson is back soon, will head coach Mike Krzyzewski put all his balls in the little ball basket and roll Roach, Steward, Hurt, Brakefield and Johnson as his top five?

So it’s by no means time to prep for a celebration parade in Durham, but for the first time this season, the Blue Devils have finally shown something to build around

“This is a big win for [the team]. We’re not juggernauts,” said Krzyzewski. “We can be a good team, but to be a very good team it takes time because it’s not like that the teams we’ve had over the past few years””

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