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Duke’s McGee thriving within smaller system

Watching Duke High School play basketball last year was like watching film from another era. A year later the Tigers have moved into the future. 

After experiencing this time travel, Orin McGee isn't complaining. 

The senior guard is critical to Duke's success using smaller lineups after the Tigers graduated Tatum Crouch (6-foot-8) and Jon Darby (6-foot-4) from last year's state tournament team. 

McGee, the school's only returning starter, has lifted his scoring average from 9.7 points per game to more than 26 a night for the Class B No. 8-ranked Tigers (9-1). 

"I'm enjoying it a lot," McGee said. "We get to play faster; it's more fun." 

McGee's game has improved, but the shifting style of play has had a huge effect as well. 

"We were just so different (last year)," Duke coach Kevin Brown said. "It probably limited his touches." 

It didn't take long for those touches to turn into buckets. McGee tallied a season-high 38 points on Nov. 19 against Snyder, one of the year's top individual totals reported to The Constitution; Brown thought his lead guard had reached the 40-point mark or else he wouldn't have pulled him so soon. 

"His coach is an idiot," Brown quipped. 

Not necessarily. 

Brown had the knowledge to recognize that the scorer he had in McGee  and the quality shooting possessed by the supporting cast of Noah Claussen, Tommy McGee (Orin's brother) and Hayden Brown  was enough to keep Duke winning after the twin towers of Crouch and Darby graduated. 

But the Tigers had to change some. They'd be more 2015 Golden State Warriors, less 2003 San Antonio Spurs. 

Brown installed a full-court press, and the Tigers began forcing the tempo and playing with as many as five guards on the floor at once. Orin McGee is a dangerous outside shooter, but he's getting handfuls of points plucking steals off the top of the press, helping Duke average 67 points per game at the holiday break. 

It would be nice to have a couple big guys around, McGee admitted, but the little guys enjoy the opportunity they have.

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