Duke travels to Purdue in ACC – Big Ten Challenge

[private]In an August 27, 2008, preview of Duke’s out-of-conference schedule I wrote the following passage on Purdue:

“The early season road game at Purdue will be a litmus test for the Blue Devils. Purdue, ranked number six in the CBS Sportsline preseason poll, returns all but one player off of last season’s 27-9 squad. Small forward Robbie Hummel was First Team All Big Ten, guard E’Twaun Moore was Second Team All Big Ten, and guard Chris Kramer was voted Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The Boilermakers are talented and experienced as they return 65.1 of the 69.6 points per game scored last season. On defense, Purdue forced their opponents to turn the ball over an average of 17.4 times per game. This will be a tough road game and should be a good indicator of Duke’s toughness.”

Let’s revisit my words now that both teams have played six games and are set to play each other on Tuesday. The game at Purdue in the Big Ten – ACC Challenge will be a tough road game and a litmus test for the Blue Devils. Purdue will enter the game with a 5 – 1 record after dropping an 87 – 82 overtime decision to Oklahoma in the championship game of Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. Oklahoma made 33 – 46 free throw attempts in the game with Purdue only going to the line for five attempts of which they made four.

The Boilermakers are a perimeter oriented team with a couple of big players providing some balance. Nemanja Calasan (6’9″ 250) is averaging 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, while JaJuan Johnson (6’10 215) is contributing 9.8 points per contest. The big guns for Purdue are E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel. The two combine to score 30.9 of the 77.7 points per game Purdue is averaging. Reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Chris Kramer is averaging 1.8 steals per contest and will be tasked to prevent Duke’s perimeter gunners such as Jon Scheyer and Greg Paulus from achieving good looks at perimeter shots.

Keys to the game:

1. Free throw shooting/foul trouble will be significant. Over their first six games, Purdue has made 78 of 103 free throw attempts, while Duke has connected on 145 of 197. Duke needs to be aggressive on offense utilizing crisp ball movement and motion to create mismatches that result in fouls. While both teams have a deep bench, neither team can afford to have starters unavailable due to foul trouble.

2. Purdue is shooting 33 percent from behind the three point arc, while Duke is connecting on 31 percent. If one team gets hot from downtown it will spell trouble for the other. Both teams are perimeter oriented so this key represents strength against strength: perimeter defense versus perimeter offense.

3. Rebounding is the next statistic to keep an eye on. Duke was out rebounded by Duquense in their last game. Purdue is a quality opponent and Duke must limit second chance points in order to beat the Boilermakers. Both teams will attempt to convert long rebounds off of missed three point attempts into transition scoring opportunities.

4. Health at the point guard position is vital for the Blue Devils. Nolan Smith has been hampered by back spasms recently and he took a hard fall in the Duquense game resulting in him spending the end of the game on the bench with an ice pack on his lower back. Purdue guard E’Twaun Moore is a 6’4″ offensive juggernaut so if Smith isn’t near 100 percent freshman Elliot Williams may have to step up to provide on-the-ball defense against Moore.

In the end, this game should come down to which team executes their game plan and forces the other team out of their comfort zone. The teams are evenly matched and play similar styles to each other. When it comes to star power, I predict versatile forward Kyle Singler will outperform Robbie Hummel to give Duke an advantage. Purdue has the home court advantage but it will not be enough as long as the Blue Devils bring their “A” game. If Duke leaves their intensity in Durham, it could be a long evening. I’m confident “intensity” will have a first class seat on the trip to West Lafayette.

Bob’s prediction: Duke 85 – Purdue 81.[/private]

Duke rips Duquense 95-72 behind Lance Thomas’ career high effort

[private]Duke finished off the month of November 7-0 with a convincing 95-72 victory over Duquesne.  It was

Thomas takes aim after intentional foul.  Copyright BDNP
Thomas takes aim after intentional foul. Copyright BDNP

perhaps Duke’s best performance of the young season in that the team played balanced team ball.  Look no further for evidence than the  box score where they had 21 assists on 35 field goals.

With the exception of the last one eighth of the game where Duquense cut the lead down 16 points, it was a complete effort.  “We’re not trying to win by 30 or 40 points.  We’re trying to develop as a team,” said Kryzyzewski.

That’s been obvious to atuned Blue Devil fans, for there have been many line ups in the early going.  Afterall, Coach doesn’t want his team peaking in 2008, but in 2009 when you’re eventually one and done.

One of the key reason Duke won it’s 64th consecutive non conference game in Cameron was the play of Lance Thomas.  This was a day when the junior would garner a career high 21 points with his hustling play.  There were several occasions where he ignited the home crowd with three point plays or goading the opponent into an intentional foul.

“In our offense, a lot of opponents like to stop what we’re doing on the perimeter, and Lance just plays off what we’re doing. A lot of times, our bigs are going to be open, and with his ability to run and beat his man down the court, he was able to get a few open layups. He embraces that role; he knows that’s how he’s going to score, and he does that every night,” said Gerald Henderson.

Kyle Singler was as steady as always with a stat line of 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.  Singler has scored in double figures in all seven wins.

“I think Singler is playing great. I’m not sure there’s a kid playing in the country who loves to play more than that kid. He has so much fun playing, and he made a play at the start of the second half that was one of the

Zoubs breaks to basket after stealing the ball.  BDNP
Zoubs breaks to basket after stealing the ball. BDNP

best plays I’ve seen in years. There was a scrum of a few rebounds, and all of a sudden he came in there with two hands, got the rebound and was fouled. It was a big-time play. You don’t see a play like that. And the kid loves to play. It’s such an honor to coach that kid,” said Coach K

Nolan Smith was the only other double figure scorer with 11 points, but one must consider that Duke had 46 points off the bench in a balanced offensive attack.  Duke also continued it’s nice shooting from the free throw stripe going 80%.

But the biggest difference was the Blue Devils defense, which suffocated the Duke’s early in the contest which they never trailed.  The Duke’s managed just 39% from the field and most onf those connections came in the last ten minutes of the game.

There is little doubt that the staff has let the team know it’s time to come together for December and beyond.  While there will still be a learning curve with concerns to chemistry, the early onslaught of games prepared the team for some tough road games.

That first road game will be against a Purdue team which is known for their home court edge as evidenced by the few teams that are willing to travel there.  Pardon the pun, but Purdue will be boiling after a close overtime loss to Oklahoma which sent them to 5-1.

Shortly after that Duke visits Ann Arbor to take on a Michigan team they’ve already faced once in the Coaches for Cancer Classic.  In short, December will be yet another month where Krzyzewski will gauge his team.  And if that month is as successful as November was, then Duke will be in good shape going into the meat of their ACC schedule.

“It’s a great week for us, to go to two established programs on their home courts,” said Coach K.

He continued, “Purdue is, I think, the best in the Big Ten, and probably one of the five or six top teams in the country. You know their crowd will make a great setting for us. We have such an opportunity to grow. Michigan – the same thing, John [Beilein] has his team playing comfortable in their style, so I think it’s another great chance for us to grow. Again, when we play Xavier in December, I like the schedule we have because it’s very challenging. That’s how you become a good team, by playing games like that.”

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Seniors represent Duke one more time – Akinbiyi. Roland and Riley interviews

[private]When Duke steps onto the field against UNC tomorrow, several seniors will be playing

Senior Class
Senior Class

their last game at Duke.  These players deserve your support, so I hope that all of you turn out in force and cheer hard for you know the other guys will.

In the end, this senior class fought with a new coach to see to it that Duke Football has a base for the future.  The Blue Devil Nation salutes the Duke Senior Class for 2008 and hopes they go out with a fabulous win.

Greg Akinyibi (#5 Sr., DE) -

On North Carolina -

Last year losing in overtime … you don’t want to lose to Carolina.  Now we have something we really look forward to … playing Carolina again – it doesn’t get any better than that.  There’s a whole much more adrenaline for the UNC game.  It’s a rivalry game.  If you can’t get up for this one it’s no since in coming to play for Duke.  This game carries a lot of weight.

Regardless of who starts at quarterback for them, it’s pretty much the same game plan because they are both really good.

On his final game at Duke -

We were really excited when Coach came in to have a chance to change the program and start something special here.  It’s unfortunate it took us this long to start winning, but it’s really good to see the program heading in the right direction – to see the guys behind us take what we help build to another level.

Being seniors it’s unfortunate that we can’t go to a bowl game, but we will focus on Duke and what Duke needs to do to win this weekend.

On work habits -

It feels good to see the hard work you put in in the off season in summer and camps pay off.  Coach tells us to empty our tank and go farther than we thought was possible.

On his Duke career -

My career at Duke has played a big role in my maturity.  I’ve been through a lot on and off the field.  I’m still not satisfied with who I am as a man or a player, but there has been a lot of growth.  I really appreciate what Duke has had to offer me and I’ve gained a lot from the experience.

Fred Roland (#70 Sr., OL)-

Whatever I could do and whatever capacity that might carry to make this program better than it a was when I came in was key.  I was willing to do that.  Coach Cut tells us to leave the place better than you found it.  My biggest reward since I have been here was the character I’ve developed over the four years. 

Are you leaving the program better than it was?

We’ve already done that!  To get a victory this weekend would be the icing on the cake.  We won a total of four games before this year and we’ve already eclipsed that this season.  We’ve definitely got it going.  The program is progressing upward and that’s comforting to me.

Eron Riley (#5, Sr., WR) -

So, your last game at Duke …

It’s a bittersweet feeling.  Granted I wish we were in a bowl game but we are not.  Going our their against our rival … there will be a lot of intensity – playing for a lot of pride.

On the Carolina game -

To come out for any game is really intense, but they’re eight miles away.  It’s one where all the fans have circled the game for us.  The atmosphere and the hype of that game make it different.

We’ll go over there to a party and we’ll see some of those guys out.  For the most part we’re friendly.  Me personally, I do not have too many fans on there team, bit we say hi.  I just go about my business.

We’ve played close with them, but that’s only good for hand grenades and horseshoes (smiling), so we want to go out and get a “W” before I leave.

It was a very bad feeling last year – one I had to get out of my mouth real fast.  I really wish we’d have won, but it didn’t turn out for us.  I’ve thought about that since our last game, hopefully we can get it back this weekend.

On last season missed field goal (s) to win vs UNC -

I was on my way across the sidelines.  I got to the numbers before I saw the miss and went back to the sidelines.

On his four years at Duke -

Coming in four years ago, I really wasn’t a highly recruited player.  I just wanted to play football but played a lot due to injuries my freshman year.  After that the snowball just got rolling and I just went out there to make plays and help my team.

I feel at the end of the day, we came in here wanting to start a program and in my time here I feel like we’ve done that.  If we win our last game this weekend we’ve accomplished that goal.

I look at the plays I made on my high school team and the plays I’ve made in college and realize I’ve gotten a lot better on and off the field.

Suppose you get a shot at UNC late.  Do you feel like the team needs to go for the end zone and not depend on a field goal?

Yes.  I would love to make that play.  It doesn’t matter to me as long as we win.  This is our bowl game – I feel that way.  There is some urgency with it being our last game.  To close out with a “W” helps with so many things. 

On the big game falling on the Thanksgiving break and students gone and anticipation -

Carolina is a game you think about from the start of the season, or at least know it’s there.  At the beginning of the season, you look at the first game and the last.  I wish it didn’t fall on the break with the students gone.  I hope some are sticking around for it or come back early.

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High School Hoops Edition No. 2

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The Virginia-Pilot says anything short of a state title will be a disappointment for Shores this season. The Seahawks are led by junior guard Andre Dawkins. The 6’5″ Dawkins was second team All-Tidewater last year and has given a verbal commitment to play basketball at Duke. Senior Steven Pledger, who has signed a Letter of Intent to attend Oklahoma, is Dawkin’s back court mate. Atlantic Shores plays in the private schools league but the Virginia-Pilot ranks them as the third best team overall in South Hampton Roads.

Andre Dawkins scored 25 points as the Seahawks opened their season with a 66 – 32 victory over Wilson. Pledger chipped in 20 points. Atlantic Shores is back in action on Monday December 1st as they open up conference play at Stonebridge.

Ryan Kelly has scored 32, 31, and 28 points in three Ravenscroft victories to open the season. They defeated Northern Durham 76 – 57, Greenfield 75 – 68, and St. David’s 82 – 48. Kelly has also had double digit rebounds in each game including 14 in the St. David’s game.  A couple of key dates to look toward are January 7, and February 4, 2009, when Ravenscroft travels to Word of God, the school which features John Wall the nation’s number one rated high school prospect according to Rivals.

Ravenscroft, Word of God, and Christ School will all participate in the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational starting December 26 and running through December 30. This is an opportunity for fans to see Duke Commitments Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly plus recruiting target John Wall in action against each other. Tournament games will be played at Broughton High School’s Holliday Gymnasium.

Brandon Knight and Pine Crest High School played their first game of the season on Wednesday November 26 and Brandon Knight made five three pointers and scored 36 points as the Panthers defeated Northeast 76 – 62. Knight is a true point guard and a coveted member of the Class of 2010. Duke is one of many colleges recruiting the talented player.

This excellent article from the Miami Herald discusses Brandon Knight and Kenny Boynton and is a must read for anyone interested in high school basketball. Knight and Boynton are two of the best players in the nation and AAU teammates, but during the high school season they go against each other head-to-head multiple times. Brandon Knight led Pine Crest to victory in three of four meetings against Kenny Boynton and American Heritage last season.[/private]

Duquesne at Duke Game Notes

[private]•  Game 7  •
[7 AP/5 Coaches] Duke (6-0) vs. Duquesne (4-0)
Friday, November 28, 2008  •  3:05 PM ET  •  ESPN
Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314)  •  Durham, N.C.
 
 
Game Quick Facts
TV: ESPN; Bob Picozzi (play-by-play), Jimmy Dykes (analyst).
 
Radio: Duke Radio Network (flagship WDNC 620 AM in Durham); Bob Harris (play-by-play), John Roth (analyst) and Matthew Laurance (sideline).
 
All-time Series: Duke leads the all-time series 4-1, including a 3-0 mark for the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
 
Coaches:
                                       Mike Krzyzewski
   Overall Record: 809-267 (34th year)
      Duke Record: 736-208 (29th year)
                                   vs. Duquesne: 0-0
 
                                            Ron Everhart
   Overall Record: 205-204 (15th year)
Duquesne Record: 31-32 (third year)
 
 
Blue Devil Bits
l Duke is 6-0 on the year, marking the 31st time in school history and the second straight year it has opened the season with six straight wins. The Blue Devils have started the season with at least six straight wins in six of the last eight years.
l The Blue Devils are ranked seventh in the AP poll and fifth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Duquesne is unranked in both polls

l The Blue Devils have been ranked in 23 consecutive AP polls.

l Duke is coming off a stretch of four games in eight days. The Blue Devils capped off the eight-day run with a 78-58 win over Montana on Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

l The Blue Devils outrebounded Montana, 42-26, on Sunday. Lance Thomas led the way with eight rebounds, while Brian Zoubek and Gerald Henderson each had seven boards.

l Four Blue Devils scored in double figures against Montana, marking the fifth time in six games Duke has had four double-figure scorers. Gerald Henderson and Nolan Smith led the way with 14 points apiece, while Kyle Singler added 13 and Jon Scheyer had 12 points in the win.

l Sophomores Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are combining to average 29.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.2 steals per game. Singler has scored in double figures in all six games, while Smith has scored 10 or more points in five of six contests.
 
Numbers Game

l Duke has won 63 straight non-conference home games.

l Duke is 74-27 all-time against teams currently in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Blue Devils have won 12 straight contests
against A10 opponents (last loss was 59-58 versus Temple on Jan. 25, 1996), including an 82-79 win over Rhode Island on Nov. 16. Duke is also scheduled to play Xavier (12/20) this season.

l Duke is 109-16 all-time in the month of November, including a 95-10 mark under Coach K.

l The Blue Devils have won 15 straight games in November and are 46-2 in the month since 1997-98.

l The Blue Devils have won 48 straight home games in November, dating back to a 76-75 double-overtime loss to Vanderbilt on Nov. 28, 1981. Duke is 49-1 under Coach K in November home games.

l Duke is 267-52 this decade, more wins than any other team in the NCAA. The win total already ranks as the ninth-most in any decade by a team in NCAA history.

l Junior Gerald Henderson has scored in double figures in three straight games and is now fourth on the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game. The Merion, Pa., native has led the team in scoring twice this season and nine times in his career.

l Sophomore Nolan Smith is averaging 12.7 points per game, an increase of 6.8 ppg. from last season. Smith has scored in double figures in five of six games and led the team in scoring in two straight contests.

l Sophomore Kyle Singler is averaging 7.7 free throw attempts per game this season. He is 34-of-46 (.739) from the foul line. Last year, Singler averaged just 3.1 free throw attempts per game.

l The Blue Devils have limited five of its six opponents under 60 points. Duke is allowing just 59.0 points per game this season (fifth-best in the ACC).

l The Blue Devils have been efficient inside the three-point line this season, shooting .527 (128-of-243) from inside the arc. They have scored 228 of their 491 total points in the paint and are outscoring the opposition by 17.0 points in the paint per game.

l Kyle Singler leads the Blue Devils in scoring (16.7 ppg.), rebounding (6.8 rpg.) and assists (19). Danny Ferry was the last Blue Devil to lead the team in all three categories during the 1986-87 season.

l Duke has made 40 more free throws than its opponents have attempted this season. The Blue Devils have made more free throws than its opponents have attempted in five of the six games and are outscoring their opponents by 12.9 points per game at the foul line.

l The Blue Devils are fourth in the ACC in scoring margin at +22.8 points per game. Duke has won four of its first six games by 20 or more points.

l Duke has nine players averaging at least 10 minutes played per game. Junior Jon Scheyer is playing a team-high 28.5 mpg., while Kyle Singler is second at 27.7 mpg.

l The Blue Devils have won 115 of its last 117 games vs. unranked non-conference teams in Cameron Indoor Stadium entering Friday’s game with Duquesne.[/private]

Big Josh Smith talks recruiting with BDN-Premium

Josh Smith (6-9, 280, Kentwood HS, Seattle Rotary AAU) is one of the nation’s most coveted players in the class of 2010.  Duke is but one of many schools in the chase for the talented front court prospects services.   We caught up with Josh and got his thoughts on the recruiting process, timeline of his decision and the schools that are in the race.  Blue Devil Members can continue to read about the latest with one of Duke’s … [private]

Josh dunked for the first time as a 6-4 seventh grader and he hasn’t stopped since that time.  In fact, he had so many blocked shots, that his league changed the rules to keep him from eating up the paint.  His Dad, Josh Senior prefers to be called  “Big Josh,” but he stands at just 6-3 as his son equaled his height by 12 years old.

I approached this interview as Sports Nation Network which I own, seeking honest answers instead of one slanted for the home team. 

The List – Arizona, Duke, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA,  USC, Washington and a couple of others.

Has your high school season started yet?

Yes, it started Monday.  Our first game will be December 5th.  We have one starter back other than myself.

Can you tell me which schools have been the most aggressive in their recruitment of you?

I’d say Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA and Ohio State.

There has been a lot of talk in the past that UCLA was in the drivers seat for your services or that they might lead.  Is there any truth to that?

I would say no.

Suppose somebody had never seen your game – how would you describe it to them?

Over powering, tough in the low post and aggressive.

What are some of the key factors when you think about your pending collegiate choice?

Location won’t be a factor for me.  Style of play could be a factor.

Who do you pattern your game after?

Shaq!  I grew up pulling fo him.  Some have called me “Baby Shaq.”

If you could meet any NBA player, who would you most like to meet?

Dwight Howard.  I like his powerful dunks and that he tries to make his team better.

What style of basketball do you like to play … up and down … structured half court, four out and one in … ?

Four out and one in.

So you like the idea of being the go to guy in that type of offense.

Yes.

So, there is no leader at this time …

No.

Is there a school you are more curious about than others?

I would say there is no leader at this time nor one that I have any stronger interest in more than others.

Are you likely to take all of your allotted official visits which the NCAA allows?

Yeah, I’d probably say I would.  I could make an earlier decision if the situation feels right.

What about the NBA …

Yeah, I want to play in the NBA, but I also have a big desire to play … play in the league.

You’ve mentioned a lot of really good schools, some of which have more success putting guys in the league than others.  Will that kind of thing have a bearing?

Yes, a little bit.  When I get into school my first goal is to be successful there and if I’m lucky or good enough to go to the league, I will start to think about that.

With the exception of Washington and WSU, most of the schools on your list are a good ways off.  So, it’s no problem to go as far east as Kentucky, Duke or UNC?

I wouldn’t have a problem going to the east or anything like that.  It’s like, well in Texas I have family in Dallas and Mississippi down south, so I wouldn’t have a problem to go down there and play, but I don’t have a problem going anywhere.  UCLA is like a ten and a half hour drive or two and a half hour flight.

Who will play a big role in your decision?

Probably my Dad, my Mom, my family and older brother.

How do you like the recruiting process?  Is it tiring, a lot of calls …

I do, but my Dad really handles most of the calls.  It’s not really tiresome though.

Who are the last coaches to have called you?

Coach Matta at Ohio State, Coach Pitino at Louisville … that’s all I know of this past week.  I’m in a get to know process with all the schools.

What are you like off the court?

 I just like to chill with friends, go see movies and do stuff with a lot of other people, whatever is fun.

Josh Smith in three words as a person?

As a person I would say nice, smart and funny.

… three words as a player?

solid, powerful and understanding. [/private]