Jon Scheyer: Molding a new era of Duke basketball success

Charlotte, NC – During the 2023 ACC Basketball Tipoff event Duke basketball coach Jon Scheyer and student-athletes Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach spoke to the media.

Duke basketball coach Jon Scheyer. (photo by Nell Redmond

With Jon Scheyer at the helm, Duke basketball is on the cusp of a new era, balancing tradition and innovation. Scheyer’s passionate and empathetic leadership style is the cornerstone of this transformation. As Duke basketball transitions into a new era, Scheyer’s coaching style and his players’ experiences take center stage.

The Heart of Coach Scheyer

Jon Scheyer’s coaching style is built on passion. Having walked in the players’ shoes during his time as a Duke standout, he understands the journey. Scheyer is deeply invested in their success, going the extra mile to ensure they reach their potential.

A Season of Lessons

The NCAA Tournament provided a platform for Duke’s players to learn essential lessons. Scheyer’s teachings emphasize the importance of maintaining focus and cohesion, no matter what challenges arise. Duke’s journey was a testament to their ability to stay tight-knit in the face of adversity.

Kyle Filipowski: The Emerging Leader

As Duke’s players evolve, emerging leaders like Kyle Filipowski come to the forefront. In his sophomore season, Kyle has developed a greater understanding of what’s expected. He’s now passing down his knowledge to younger players, preparing them for the journey ahead.

Jeremy Roach: The Unfazed Leader

Jeremy Roach, Duke’s experienced leader, feels no pressure. He embraces his role, offering his rich tapestry of experiences to fellow players. Roach’s journey from a Final Four appearance to a challenging season is an invaluable resource for Duke’s newcomers.

Challenges from Coach Scheyer

Jon Scheyer continually challenges his players, pushing them to reach their potential. He instills the values of consistency, vocal leadership, and unwavering energy. Scheyer’s expectations may be demanding, but they serve as a driving force behind Duke’s excellence.

Captains Setting the Standard

Jeremy Roach’s role as team captain sets the standard for leadership on the Duke team. As a captain, he doesn’t teach leadership but emphasizes the importance of setting the right example. Leadership styles may vary among captains, but leading by example, being vocal when necessary, and staying dedicated are the common threads.

Scheyer’s Lessons from Year One

In his inaugural season as head coach, Scheyer learned the importance of surrounding oneself with the right people. It’s about recruiting players who share the same passion and commitment. This lesson, in turn, contributes to the success of the program.

Filling the Defensive Void

Duke’s defensive identity faces a challenge in the absence of Dereck Lively, a significant interior presence. While Lively’s absence is palpable, the team’s mentality remains crucial. Duke must adapt and work collectively to maintain a strong defensive presence.

Coach vs. Player: Scheyer’s Unique Perspective

Jon Scheyer reflects on the differences between his roles as a player and a coach. He values the blessing of both positions. As a player, life was simpler, and it meant being responsible for personal performance. As a coach, there’s a broader responsibility, ensuring that the staff and players are prepared, motivated, and energized every day.

Balancing Experience and Comfort

Duke’s transition from an inexperienced team to an experienced one has brought a sense of comfort. However, Scheyer emphasizes that comfort should not lead to complacency. The team must continue to put in the hard work, never skipping steps, and focusing on the details that make the difference. As Duke basketball enters a new era under the guidance of Jon Scheyer, the team is navigating a delicate balance between tradition and innovation.

Duke basketball press conference

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by student-athletes. First question for Kyle Filipowski.

Q. Kyle, with all the success under Jon Scheyer taking over last season, what can you say about his leadership style why it resonates so well when he moved down the line on the sidelines to what he is today?

KYLE FILIPOWSKI: Yeah, I mean, I think the greatest thing about Coach Scheyer is just how much of a passionate coach he is. He’s been in our shoes before. He knows what it takes to do great things, and I mean he just wants the best for us.

And I think just him having last year, you know, still molding into that head coaching job, he still did whatever he could for us. Now going into this year, we can tell he has a lot more confidence. He knows what to do right away. He’s just taking charge with that.

Q. What did you learn in the NCAA Tournament that was a bit different for you or educational as you get ready for this year?

KYLE FILIPOWSKI: I think what I learned coming into the NCAA Tournament was just that no one really — no one feels sorry for you for whatever happens.

Everyone’s going to have their own opinions on things and such, but we just gotta keep our team as tight knit as possible, and we know what we want to go out there and accomplish. So that’s all we’ve got to do.

Q. So as a sophomore now, how are you stepping up to be more of a leader among your team?

KYLE FILIPOWSKI: I think I’m definitely trying to just — since I know what to expect now, I’m definitely trying to teach the freshmen some things of expectations and preparation to come in this year and to step up to have more of a dominant effect on my teammates as well.

Q. Jeremy, you were the leader last year; you’re the leader this year. Do you feel any pressure being the leader of a successful program like Duke, or do you just kind of take it in stride?

JEREMY ROACH: I don’t feel any pressure. I just take it in stride and give all my experiences to either the freshmen, even the returning guys. I’ve been to a Final Four, won the ACC. I’ve had a losing season here. I kind of have all different types of experiences I can share on with the freshmen, sophomores coming back, and even some of the juniors.

Q. How has Coach Scheyer challenged you to go into this season just leading the squad, leading the team back to a title threshold?

JEREMY ROACH: He’s challenged me every day. Making sure I’m on point. Obviously I’m the leader. I’ve got to be consistent. I’ve got to be vocal. I’ve got to come and bring that energy, that edge every day. He’s challenged me that some days where I’m not having it, he’s going to be on me.

I might not like it too much, but I mean it’s for the best. It’s for the best for me and it’s for the best of the team. What I’m going on, the whole team’s going on.

Q. You’re a team captain for the second straight year. Ryan Young and Tyrese Proctor, also team captains this year. Do you have to teach how to be a captain?

JEREMY ROACH: Not really. I mean, you kind of just — everybody has a different leading style. Some people lead by example. Some are more vocal than others. I think it’s kind of setting that example every day, being the leader, being someone that everyone looks to because all the freshmen all the younger guys are going to look up to the captains. So you’ve got to make sure we have a strong face.

Gotta make sure we’re doing everything right, not cutting corners. So I think that’s the biggest thing about being a captain.

Q. A lot of success, obviously, in that first season as a head coach for you last year. What were the biggest lessons learned through your point of view at Duke?

JON SCHEYER: Well, one, I apologize for being a little bit late. I was held up. Mike DeGeorge, I blame Mike for that one. That’s not the first time today.

I would just say, look, I learned a lot about the people that were and are in our program. We went through a lot of adversity.

And the fact that these guys behind me, the rest of our team, just stuck with it, continued to work, continued to believe, to see that turn into an ACC Tournament championship. The team that we were by the end of the year, that’s what I’m most proud of. And the thing that I’ve learned the most is how to keep the group together.

But it’s really the job that they did. It’s a lesson for me. You have to recruit the right people. You’ve got to get the right people. If you do that, you have a chance to do something special.

Q. I want to focus defensively on the team. You don’t have Lively this year, but you have a lot of supporting cast members to help fill that void. A lot of last year coaches mentioned they were afraid to attack Duke in the interior, and due to Lively having the ability to affect shots, if not blocking them. What can we see from the Duke team to fill that void, if not fill the void at all?

JON SCHEYER: One, we’re going to miss Dereck, there’s no question. He was a great player, and what he did for us protecting the rim and his defensive versatility was huge.

With that said, we were really good defensively when he wasn’t in the game, too.

So for us, we have to do it a different way. It’s not going to be the same exact way, but it still comes down to your mentality, the toughness guarding the ball, the awareness, five guys moving together as the ball moves and having collective effort, protecting the paint and gaining rebounding and pushing from there.

But it’s a mentality. It’s a mentality not only you mentioned Dereck, who was a game-changer, but also these two guys behind me, the five guys that were on the floor. By the end of the season they were busting their butts trying to prevent another team from scoring. We did that. It’s no different from this year and what we need to do.

Q. Obviously you were a great player at Duke; now you’re the head coach at Duke. What’s one thing you enjoyed more about being a player and what’s one thing you enjoyed more about being the head coach?

JON SCHEYER: Not dealing with players who think they know everything. I’m just kidding. I try to give them a shot.

No, you know, as a player life is a little bit more simple, right? You need to make sure you show up for practice and that’s it.

As a coach, you need to make sure staff is prepared, coaches, players, they all feel good and energized and ready to go. So I think that’s probably the biggest difference. It’s also fun shooting the ball as opposed to having somebody else shoot the ball.

But both is a big blessing. I really go into every day, regardless, playing, when I was at Duke, but especially now as a coach. I don’t go into any day feeling it’s a burden. I go in feeling it’s a blessing. That’s really how I feel.

Q. Last year, you coached probably the most inexperienced team in Duke history. This year you return, maybe most experienced team since you played. How is your approach to that been different this year? Is it easier on you to have all these guys back?

JON SCHEYER: Yeah, it’s funny because both years, you mentioned, we did have the least experience of any team I’ve coached last year.

This year, collectively, with the eight guys returning, Jeremy, Flip, Mark, and Tyrese starting and coming back, there’s great experience. There’s three sophomores still. It’s not like we have the most games ever played or four upperclassmen, but it’s not easier.

There’s a comfort there, which is really good. But comfort can make you soft. And so for us, we’ve doubled down on the work we’ve put in every single day and not assuming anything.

But it is great — these two guys are right here, and they’ve done amazing job for us. But being able to point back to Flip, I remember last year how you felt at certain times or Jeremy, coaching him for three years. It’s better when you have that. It just is.

So for us — I should say for me, as the head coach, we have the group that we want. These are the two guys I want, the rest of our team. Now it’s a matter of making sure we don’t skip steps working every single day and knowing you still have to do the dirty work; you still have to do the little things. And that’s what’s most important to me.