Quick hitter #9 LB Michael Tauiliili talks the UVA game

[private]I sat down with Duke Senior leader Michael Tauiliili this afternoon.  Here are his thoughts -

Do you guys talk about as a team that you haven’t won an ACC game in your career?

Definitely.  Not because we haven’t won one in awhile, but because it’s an ACC game.  When you get into the conference everybody has aspirations.  We are all aware that we haven’t won an ACC game since we’ve been here.  Looking back on it, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and we are all working to win our first ACC game.

Is it a mental barrier?

Not at all.  The past is the past and we are all focused mainly on the present and the future.  We have to go one game at a time.  Coach always says we have to prepare for Saturday and this is only Tuesday.  That’s what we are worried about, having a great day on Tuesday and then Wednesday and then Thursday.

Has coach said to treat this week like another game?

We are all aware that we haven’t won one but he doesn’t harp on it, but he has mentioned it.  What he has harped on is that we are in the conference now.

Do you think as a team you can carry over the momentum of starting 2-1 past the bye week?

Definitely.  We’ve had the taste of success and coach makes sure we know how to deal with that.  We stay hungry and prepare at full speed in practice and not take any plays off.  We are definitely taking that momentum into the ACC.  I think people know that they can’t come in here and chalk it up as a “W” anymore and we are going to prepare as hard as any other game.  I just can’t wait to go out there at 12:00 on Saturday.  Now, it’s full fledged into the game week.

If I might go back to the Navy game … you guys came out in the second half and dominated.  What was said in the locker room or what do you attribute that to?

It was definitely the coaches.  It’s amazing to see how quickly they can make the adjustments on the chalk board.  Basically what was said is this is what they are doing to us and this is what we’re going to change.

Last year’s team didn’t really make good adjustments, but so far this season Duke has outscored each opponent in the second half -

This coaching staff – we’ve got great guys on the sidelines and up in the booth.  The linebackers are always on the headphones with Coach Collins and we tell each other what we are seeing.  After the game against Navy, Coach Matt pointed out what coaches could see to change and adjust and that we are all in this together.  We are playing and they’re making adjustments and making it fit together.[/private]

2009 Verbal Lex Butler talks rehab and Duke Football

[private]Duke recruit Lex Butler suffered a season ending injury before he played in a single game.   The two way star is the brother of Duke freshman Lee Butler and is rated a three star prospect.

“I went to take off on a play and then I pushed off and it popped.  I just felt like something hit me in the heel.”  Those are the dreaded words that doctors hear when you have ruptured your Achilles tendon.

“I just sat there for a second because I didn’t know what was going on.  I tried to get up and shake it off a little bit and it was like a tingling feeling.  I tried to walk and I couldn’t and then I tried to work on what I could wiggling my toes.  My trainer did the calf muscle test and I didn’t have any contraction and they knew something was wrong.”

Trust me when I say I can relate to young Lex for this author is nine months past the same devastating injury and I am finally getting back to normal.  I know how this injury affected me mentally, so I certainly feel for Butler, who was expected to be the star for Westside HS in Anderson, South Carolina this season.

Young Lex was a bit smarter than me and immediately had surgery.  I encouraged the future Blue Devil to keep his head up for if a middle age guy could bounce back, he certainly would.  I shared tips like putting a chair in the shower and wrapping the cast with a trash bag.  This is just one of the many adjustments one has to make.

Butler is already back to working his upper body with the assistance of his high school trainer and strength coaches.  He is also keeping his sense of humor quipping, “Heck, I thought somebody threw a bowling ball and hit me,”

Lex seemed to appreciate talking to somebody who had the same injury and I told him the magic words, “Don’t rush it.”  I have heard those words from former Duke Basketball player Roshown McLeod and many others and this injury is a race but one has to look at it as a marathon and not a sprint.

There is no doubt that Butler will be back.  His youth is a benefit in the recovery process for he just turned 17 a week after he went down.  “My doctor says I should be 100% in nine months, so that will be around June,” said Butler.

“My Daddy told me like it was, that I wouldn’t play high school football this season and that he recommended surgery right away.  I was tough because the whole time I was thinking six to eight weeks.”

Butler was worried that Duke might yank his scholarship.  “I knew I had to call Duke and let them know, but my Daddy was kind of shaky about it.  I was telling my Mom if things don’t work out I have got plan B and that made her worry a little bit.  She called them for me and told me to call Coach Jones.  I called him and he was like don’t worry about it that things happen and just to get healed up.”

The young man was even more relieved when Coach Cutcliffe got on the phone.  “He said don’t worry about it and that they would take care of me.  He said when I got up there he would make sure I got the right rehab.  I felt a lot better after that and it gave me something to look forward to.”

One has to like how Coach Cutcliffe stayed faithful and how the staff let him know that he is a part of the Duke family and that they take care of their own.

“Lee told me he loves it up there.  He said he had put on weight and was up to 180 and I just said, yeah right to him.  He said they were taking care of him feeding him steak and everything.”

The two brothers stay in touch and Lee gives his younger brother some tips on what to expect.  “He says practices are real tough.”  He was able to go to the home opener against James Madison.  “When I went into the locker room I saw how big the defensive playbook was for one game and Lee said it’s all business when you get here.”

I’m sure the entire Blue Devil Nation joins me in wishing Lex a speedy recovery and we look forward to one day seeing him competing for a spot in the defensive backfield.[/private]

Future Dukie Josh Hairston opens up about his visit in an in depth interview with BDN

Congrats on your decision to become a Blue Devil!  What did Coach K have to say to you on your recent visit?

The main thing was that Coach K said was that Duke was the place for me.  I kind of felt that way before.  When i went down on my first visit it felt like home.  Coach said he would take care of me down there and that’s really what made it happen.

Did you have a feeling you were going to sign with Duke all along?

At first I really didn’t, but after talking to Tyler and Andre and seeing how everything was playing out, I realized that was the place I would probably end up.  I kind of kept it to myself, but for the past two weeks I have known where I was going to go. [private]

Did it bother you that word was circulating on the Internet that you were destined to Duke a month or so ago?

It didn’t bother me.  I had never had a leader out there … it’s over now, so it doesn’t matter what was said.

What did you do on the Duke visit?

We arrived a round 9:30 on Saturday morning.  My parents, sister and myself went to eat with Coach K and his staff.  They talked to us for about an hour.  Then we caught up with everybody else.  Tyler arrived around 11:00 and we had a little bit of a tailgate.  We then went down and played five or six pick up games with the guys on the team.  Then Andre, Tyler, Mason and myself went out to the football game for the second half.  After that we went back over to the practice facility and shot around a little bit.  We then met with Coach K individually.  I went in first – that’s when I committed then Tyler talked to him and he committed.

When you came out did you tell the guys you had committed?

I was actually last to come out.  Coach Wojo and my parents got there first and they were all smiling, so I think everybody kind of figured out what happened.  Andre kind of knew it all along and he was happy about it and Tyler was too.

What was the reaction of fellow students and faculty at your school this past week?

You know, it was crazy.  It was spread all over the school and around town real fast.  Everywhere I go there is somebody saying congratulations.  My school has been my biggest supporters.  They were like on top of me when I got back to school on Monday. 

Did you hear from a lot of relatives?

I did.  I’m  close with my family so a lot of my aunts and uncles.  My grand parents call to congratulate me, my cousins – everybody.

Andre told me that you guys actually called Harrison Barnes.  Andre is obviously trying to recruit a lot.  Are you going to take on a similar role?

I am.  In fact, I talked to him a couple of days ago,  Harrison is a tremendous player and a great kid.  Basically he’s not in any rush and I wasn’t trying to put Duke on him too hard.  But he let it be known that Duke is in his top schools, but he’s not in any rush and taking it day by day, so we’ll see what happens.

What did Andre and yourself actually talk to him about when you were in EWills room?

We were just messing with him.  We told him he needed to quit playing around with these other schools because he’s coming to Duke.  He was laughing about that and it was kind of a joke.  We were really just telling him that he if joined me, Tyler and Andre and we get Brandon Knight that we could be one heck of a lineup.  We weren’t trying to put things on him too hard, but just let him know what could be.

Duke has offered Josh Smith as well, any talk of him?

I met Josh a couple of years ago in some of the teen conferences I went to.  Josh is a tremendous player, but he is on the west coast.  We’re still going to try and pull him over here to the east coast.

I think you played against Harrison Barnes in the NBA Developmental Camp …

I did!  Our teams played each other.  We were actually together at the Nike Jamboree the week before that.  So we had two consecutive weeks together.  He’s a great athlete and playing against him was fun.

Tell me how much knowing Andre and Tyler helped with your decision to become a Blue Devil ..

It played a big role.  I played with Andre my freshman year with Boo Williams.  We know everything that each other can do.  He’s a player who knows where I am going to be.  Playing with Tyler now, you know he’s my point guard on my AAU team DC Assault.  We have a great relationship and playing with him will be fun.

What did Tyler say when he came out after his decision?

He didn’t really say anything.  He walked out and was finishing his talk with Coach K and he was just smiling … just smiling real hard and we knew he had done it.  I mean, he couldn’t wait to get down here.

What was the atmosphere on the ride home like?

Excitement!  Everybody was excited … me, my mom and dad, my sister … everybody’s phone was ringing off the hook.  People were calling and congratulating us.  It was just good, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  I felt like I could relax now and when I went back to school, I felt like a different kid.  I felt like I could finally relax and be myself now and not have to worry about anything.

You know guys are going to come at you now.  They’ll envision those four letters on your chest …

It’ll make me a better player.  I know I can’t have nights where I slack off now.  I am in the weight room everyday.  I am shooting everyday.  I have had people coming at me since my freshman year.  I’m not new to it, but I definitely know thay will be comong at me harder.  I told my teammates I was going to do whatever I have to for them to take us to where we want to go which is the state championship.  So, I know I have to be on the top of my game every night.

Did Coach K tell you what to work on?

He actually told me to work on getting stronger.  He just said to work on every part of my game and that I could be a tremendous rebounder.  He just said to keep working that I can always improve my game and become a versatile player.

What was Coach K like during the visit?

You know, I was telling all my friends that to look on him on TV, he looks like the meanest guy in the world.  But if you get around him or sit around him at the table, he’s probably the funniest guy in the room.  He’s got a great sense of humor … he’s a great guy, he lightens the mood.  Coach K … he’s a tremendous guy and I can’t wait to get down there.

If you had a message for Duke fans, what would that be?

Fasten your seat belts and get ready, because when we get down there, you’ll have a ball.  I really can’t wait to get down there.  I don’t want to really rush my last two years of high school, but I can’t wait to get down there.

Plumlee talks of his official visit, brother Miles and the future

Blue Devil Nation Premium had a chat with Mason Plumlee about his official visit to Duke this past weekend.  He speaks of his brother Miles, his play over the summer with Team USA, his chat with Coach K and his upcoming high school season.

As a member, you have full access and much more awaits you inside.  You will read the very latest from Josh Hairston, Andre Dawkins, and Tyler Thornton.  Be one of the first to read Thornton’s thoughts on his commitment.  Get vital updates on Boynton, Kelly, Smith and Knight and find out who else the Devils are looking at.

You can count on accurate information and and timely tips that are ahead of the curve.  Our member retention rate is the best in the business in that we stay a couple of steps ahead of the corporates.  So, why not join in on the fun and discuss the latest happenings with other members on our premium only message board. On to the article –

One could certainly make the argument that when Mason Plumlee committed to Duke, it was like a shot in the arm to the program.  Before his verbal, two top rated prospects never made it on campus, choosing to play elsewhere.   While some fans worried with the usual message board doom and gloom, Plumlee became a cornerstone of sorts and the future of Duke Basketball is shining bright.

When Mason visited the Duke campus during the courting process, his brother Miles (Duke 08) tagged along.  Nobody knew at that time Stanford would lose their coach and gain former Duke Assistant Johnny Dawkins.  It ended up working out well for Duke in that Miles had seen Mason’s recruitment up close and personal.  This prompted him to sign once he was released.

Mason Plumlee has become an important recruit for other reasons besides the later addition of his brother.  He’s the prototypical Duke big man in that he is versatile.  I have been able to view about 12 of his games since Duke first showed interest.   His strengths include the ability to pass and put the ball on the floor extremely well for an player with a 6-10 frame.  With his ability to hit the boards, take up room in the lane, a nice and still developing offensive game and you have a player that is sure to contribute.

Plumlee finally made his official visit to Durham in a weekend that became a recruiting bonanza. “The official went real well.  Just to get over to Duke again was nice,” said Plumlee.

“It was the first time I got to see [private] my family – everybody but my sister.”  His little sister had to stay home for school.  Education is a big thing in the Plumlee family as is evidenced by their sons solid work in the classroom.

When asked about the highlights of his visit, he said, “Just seeing Miles and Coach K of course.”  I then asked him what Miles had to say.  “He just really likes it in all ways.  He said there is a lot of work to it.  He just told me how glad he was that he decided to go there.  It was fun just hanging out with him and other (Elliot Williams) freshman.”

I asked him if K and company was showing their usual love of family during his visit.  “Yes, definitely.  My parents were there and Miles and I were able to spend time with them.”  In a recent talk with his parents, both told me how hard their sons would work and it was obvious of their love for each of them.

“We played a lot of pick up games on Friday and Saturday.  They mixed up the teams pretty well.  On Saturday, the three 2010 kids came and we played a lot.  Jon Scheyer impressed me the most of the current players – I was able to play with him.”

Plumlee mentioned that he talked to Coach K on Friday.  “We talked about how I didn’t play so good the second half of the summer and some things to work on and some minor goals for this year.  We talked a lot about Miles too.”

Mason started off playing well for the USA U-17 team this summer, but he admitted he was disheartened that his playing time suddenly diminished during the last couple of games.

“This summer was both good and bad and that made me realize there were a lot of things I wanted to work on.  There was definitely a difference in my play during the early spring and Vegas.  I just felt like I didn’t play as hard as I needed to at times.”

In talking to his Dad I found out that Mason had flown into the United States from South America and then hopped on a flight to Vegas for the final AAU tournaments.  Perhaps this had something to do with fatigue, but when I asked him of it,  Mason would in no way make any excuses, stating there were none.

Mason is very excited about his upcoming high school season where he will lead the defending state champions Christ School for another run.  “I think we have a really good chance at defending our title,” said Plumlee.

After our chat I pondered young Plumlee’s answers and I can tell you that he was very frustrated at his lack of time on Team USA.  I then took the time to look at the box scores and it made even less sense to me why his time diminished in that his numbers were solid early on.  Then something dawned on me.

Davidson Coach Bob McKillop was in charge and a player Duke has recently offered, Ryan Kelly, was starting while Mason was coming off the bench.  As recruitniks, many of you might remember that McKillop was going hard after Kelly at that time.  While it may be nothing more than happenstance, I still found it a bit interesting that Kelly ended up starting after the first couple of games.

Mason did talk of Kelly, mentioning that he realized that Duke needed more than a couple of bigs, and stated he hopes Kelly comes to Duke.  The two played against each other several times in the AAU circuit and there was one match up during the TOC which was classic.  Kelly had a great first half, while Plumlee struggled.  Things changed in the second half where Plumlee led his team to a comeback win, thoroughly controlling the game.  (report from that game will be place on the message board)

In closing, I see a young man that has been a bit riled and he wants to constantly get better.  He is going through daily drills and working hard in the weight room.   He seems determined to prove that the late season swoon was an anomaly.  The most impressive thing about Mason is his desire to do the right thing and not complain in some tough situations. [/private]

Tyler Thornton on his visit – “By the time we got there, I knew I wanted to be a Blue Devil”

Tyler Thornton took the time to chat with Blue Devil Nation Premium last evening.  Thornton talked about his big weekend visit sharing his thoughts on his trip to Durham and verbal commitment to play for Coach K’s Blue Devils.   In our previous talk, Thornton said that he had every intention of returning home to think over his choices.  In the end, far too many factors fell into  place, so he made his collegiate choice on the spot and he’s glad he did.

When Thornton answered the phone, it didn’t take long for me to tell there was a wide grin on the other end.  His Mom, who I talked to first said,  “I saw a comfort level in his body language during the visit and that led me to believe he was very excited and definitive with his choice.  [private] Tyler has an infectious smile and he was wearing that smile on our visit.”

“By the time we got there I knew I wanted to be a Blue Devil,” said Thornton.  It was just so much fun.  I loved being around the guys and the coaches on campus and I had a great time the whole weekend.  I can’t wait to go back!”

As it turned out, Thornton spent most of his free time with Josh Hairston, Andre Dawkins and Elliot Williams.  He mentioned that the brothers Plumlee, Mason and Miles also stopped by the room on Saturday evening as well – all talking of one day playing together.

“Andre and I have always been cool with each other.  Getting a chance to hang out with Josh who I consider one of my best friends and him was really nice.  We hung all day with each other and we can’t wait to go back down.”

Thornton made his commitment official during an afternoon meeting with Coach K.  “We talked about the guys visiting and this years team.  He told us stories about Team USA in Beijing and how much fun he had coaching them,” said Thornton.

“It’s a blessing being a part of the Duke Family.  Not everybody gets to go even see things like the new practice facility.  To have it at my disposal  and to be able to go whenever I want or need to is great.  I can’t say a lot more about … it’s great to be a part of the family.

Family is a recurring theme when one talks of Duke Basketball and all three of the 2010 verbals seem to realize they are part of something really big.  However, the prospects aren’t the only ones impressed by the homey togetherness.

“One of the common themes that came out is that everything just felt right,” said Thornton’s Mom.  She continued, “Tyler has been in private setting since the seventh grade.  It’s a setting we feel most comfortable in and Duke had a lot to offer off the court.  What’s impressed me the most since the beginning was the family feeling and how welcome and at ease we were.  As a mother or a parent, you want to know that your child is going to be taken care of.”

The weekend also included several rounds of pickup ball.  “My team had Jon Scheyer, McClure, Mason and Josh.  We won most of the games – it was fun.”  It was later confirmed in a talk with Andre Dawkins that Tyler’s team indeed was tough to beat last weekend.

“The highlight of my visit was when I actually made the decision that I was going to commit,” stated the future Dukie.  “All the coaches were excited.  I did go down with the mindset that wasn’t going to commit, but once I got there, I couldn’t resist – I couldn’t wait any longer, so I made my choice and I’m happy about it.” [/private]

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September 27th is a big day for Duke Football

[private]The Duke Blue Devils have the opportunity to build on their early season success when they host the Virginia Cavaliers on September 27th, at 12 noon, in Wallace Wade stadium. Specifically, the following opportunities exist:

– Duke has dropped eight straight games to Virginia with the last Duke victory being a 24-17 overtime decision on October 9, 1999, in Charlottesville. So the Blue Devils have the opportunity to stop an eight game losing streak to the Cavaliers.

– Duke has not won an ACC game since defeating Clemson, 16 – 13, on November 13, 2004. Since that victory, the Blue Devils have dropped 25 straight conference games. So the Blue Devils have the opportunity to stop a 25 game conference losing streak.

– Finally, Duke has the opportunity to improve their overall record to 3 – 1, which would be the best start to a season since Duke opened the 1994 season 7 – 0.

It is not an exaggeration to state a win over Virginia is critical for Duke’s season. This is an important game for Coach David Cutcliffe in his expedition to change the culture of Duke football in that a win over an ACC opponent will validate the legitimacy of wins over a FCS team and a service academy.

The 1 – 2 Virginia Cavaliers have struggled to put points on the board so far this season. They are averaging 11 points per game, while giving up 32 points per contest. Duke’s defense has held opponents to less than 21 points per game, while the Blue Devil offense has averaged just over 30 points per contest. It is important to note that one of Virginia’s losses came against USC the number one team in the country. A game against USC has the potential to ruin a team’s statistics, just ask Ohio State.

Statistics can be misleading this early in the season with the two teams not having played any common opponents but, a quick look at the teams in the ACC shows Duke ranked second in total offense and passing offense, while Virginia is last in total defense, last in rushing defense, and seventh in passing defense. The Blue Devils are ranked sixth in total defense, while the Cavaliers are last in total offense.

In the area of individual performances, Thaddeus Lewis is leading the ACC in total offense at 273.7 yards per game; Eron Riley is tied for second in receptions per game (6.3) and fourth in receiving yards per game (77.3), and Clifford Harris is tied for fifth in rushing with 67.7 yards per game. On the defensive side of the ball, Michael Tauiliili is tied for second in tackles with 10 per game, while Vincent Rey’s nine per game has him tied for ninth place. Kevin Jones’ 45.7 yards per punt has him in second place in the ACC.

Internet fan sites and message boards are buzzing with discussion of a resurgent Duke football program, and even though Duke has a ton of work and multiple steps ahead of them, a win over Virginia will be a big step toward achieving success. Success breeds success so winning games in 2008 will assist Coach Cutcliffe in recruiting top notch talent to Durham, which will result in more victorious Saturdays in the years ahead.

The next step in the resurgence of Duke football is to snap the 25 game ACC and eight game Virginia losing streaks with a victory over the Cavaliers on September 27th. The game will be telecast on ESPNU.[/private]