Duke vs Wake – A special night in Cameron (Game Analysis, quotes and more)

There have been many entertaining games in Cameron Indoor Stadium over the years and Duke's 101-91 win over #9 Wake Forest is now one of them.

I had the feeling going in that this game would be a bit special and my gut proved accurate from

Jon Scheyer  BDNP
Jon Scheyer BDNP

the very start.  As the Duke starting lineup was being introduced, Coach K exhorted his team unlike he had at any other time this season.

This was a critical game for Duke in the more ways than one. Duke needed to protect it's home court with a victory to stay in the ACC race for a first round bye. The Blue Devils also needed to build some momentum.

Here are several thoughts from the game and more -

Coach K's emotion was refreshing -
Coach K wasn't about to let his team lose tonight. Every time Cameron would start to wane, he would stand up and exhort the fans. This sent the Cameron Crazies into a frenzy in what was clearly the best atmosphere to date and that includes the UNC game.

And Wake lost this game? - The Demon Deacons came into Cameron and never lost their composure. Down 22 points, they clawed back into the game cutting it to two points before Duke pulled away. With two players in James Johnson and Jeff Teague scoring 28 and 27 respectively and the fact that they shot 61% from the field and drained `4 of 16 free throws, you might wonder how they lost looking at the stats alone.

An amazing performance by Gerald Henderson -
Earlier in the week, Gerald said his favorite player was Kobe Bryant. His play emulated the Laker start tonight. Henderson scored a career high 35 points on 11 of 15 shooting. He was deadly from the free throw sripe as well going

Henderson hangs a career high 35 on Wake Forest
Henderson hangs a career high 35 on Wake Forest

12 of 14. "G" put on a show and there were times in the game where he had Cameron going nuts with his moves. Those who saw the performance live will remember it for years to come. It's no wonder that his proud Father Gerald Sr. was beaming after the game.

Jon Scheyer was just as amazing -
What can be said about a kid handed the point guard postion and having a single turnover in 37 minutes of play against a guard heavy team? A lot can be said. Scheyer not only ran the point, he also scored a career high of 30 points to go with 4 rebounds 2 assists and a steal. With Smith and Paulus on the bench, Scheyer stepped up and did his thing.

Lance Thomas is getting consistent -
Early in the season Lance was inconsistent, but he has put together a solid streak of games and his work around the glass was oh-so needed.

Kyle Singler - It wasn't a great offensive performance, but the iron man played 36 minutes

Singler battled down low-BDNP
Singler battled down low-BDNP

and he made many plays that do not show up in the stat sheet.

Freshman Elliot Williams stole the show -
Okay, Henderson and Scheyer stole the show, but Williams 4 steals were at critical times. Williams played within himself scoring 11 points and he didn't turn the ball over. His play has given Duke a huge lift and it will take a crow bar to get him out of the starting lineup.

Speaking of the lineup, the new lineups that is - Well, it's working and players are adjusting. When Smith works out of a late season funk and he will, the team will just get better. Plumlee is adding more athleticism up front and seems to have taken Zoubeks minutes.

Just six turnovers - Duke had an amazingly low six turnover against Wake Forest. And the Deacs can come with some pressure when they want to.

Need more evidence Duke protected the ball?
- Not only did they not turn the ball over,

Williams came up with four key steals
Williams came up with four key steals

they had the ball stolen one single time the entire game. Now that's what I call protection.

Little time to enjoy the win - Duke now hits the road for two games against Maryland, a team which is playing their best ball of the season and coming off a huge win over UNC. Then, on Saturday, Duke faces a Virginia Tech team which will be more than a little dangerous in that they are seeking another signature win for their tournament resume.

Post Game Quotes -
Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

“Wow, that was a great game. There were so many amazing performances tonight. That was as good a game as there’s been in the ACC this year – offensively, anyway. Our kids have been practicing real hard, and they played really hard tonight. [Gerald Henderson and Jon [Scheyer] had signature games. But, Elliot [Williams] gave us a verve right off the start. In the two games he’s started, he’s really given us a spirit out there. Again, a little bit of a turning point [on Wake’s run] and we didn’t know what to do to stop them. I mean, they are so good offensively – so good. So we put, for a couple exchanges, Lance [Thomas] on [Ishmael] Smith so that hopefully Lance’s length would keep him out a little bit. I don’t know if that worked but they missed a couple. It was something a little different, we got the rebound. There were three critical exchanges – one thing is we never lost the lead. I think it was 80-78 when Jon was smart enough to get fouled on a three pointer – that was a huge play. It gave us a five-point lead. You lose the lead in a game like this and you might lose the game. Then, we had G and Jon hit threes at the end of the shot clock. Those three plays were fantastic and I thought for us were critical. It’s a big win for us. It’s a huge win.”

On his energy during introductions and the game’s magnitude:
“The one thing I’ve tried not to do here is assume winning – that you assume you’re going to win. Tonight was a huge game for us. It was as big a game as we’ve had in three years, because we’re 7-4 [in the ACC] and the way the schedule is in February and March, we’re already going to end up playing a top schedule in the country and probably the toughest in the conference, and we’re away, so you have to win this game. I know that, I know that. So, whatever you can do ethically, legally, and physically you got to try to do. It wasn’t about us, it was about our kids. They responded to a lot of game pressure, hit big shots. Wake Forest is a very, very talented basketball team. We could not stop them, but they couldn’t stop us either. It was one of those old-fashioned ACC basketball games. A lot of good basketball out there tonight. I’m really proud of my guys. I’m very happy.”

On trying to stop Wake’s offense:
“Sometimes great offense just beats defense. They kept coming down on us where we’re always retreating, playing off your heels. That’s why I think Lance’s length for a couple of exchanges helped a little. They’re very talented, [James] Johnson and [Jeff] Teague are very talented and are going to play basketball for a long time in their lives. They’re going to score a lot of points in college and in the pros. They’re two really big-time players.”

On Elliot Williams’ consecutive starts:
“Since the last Wake Forest game when we had a tough loss there, our pressure on the ball kind of went out the window. Our defense starts with disciplined pressure on the ball, not stealing. Elliot’s been working really hard. [Assistant Coach] Nate [James] works with him after practice on offense and defense. He’s been really good in practice, and always had a good attitude. We just felt we need a change. He came up big at St. John’s. He hasn’t played like a freshman. He’s played at least 30 minutes in each of these games and had 11 points in both, but that’s not where he’s been the most important. He plays with a really good enthusiasm and confidence that you wouldn’t think would be there for a kid who hadn’t been playing. He’s been a huge spark for us.”

On seeing a team a second time in a season:
“This is more like what you would see in a round robin. No question about that. Like how we are going to play a Maryland team again that was at their worst here, and they’re at their best now. Each team in the league would like that opportunity for you to see them twice. If you only play them once, you never have to revisit that. That’s another reason why this game was so important.”

On Jon Scheyer playing the point:
“I think it does help him, because once he gets rid of the ball then he’s guarded by a point. That’s something we looked at to get his offense going. He had one turnover tonight and I think none at St. John’s. He’s played two games, brought the ball up and has one turnover. That’s pretty good. He doesn’t have to make plays for anybody and then his offense has gotten better.”

On tonight as a must-win game:
“Instead of saying we had to win it, I told them we’re going to win it. I think sometimes the anticipation of doing something should help more than the expectation of having to do it. It’s a little like what we did with the Olympic team. We’re going to win, not that we have to win. It’s a subtle thing, but it’s an important thing.”

Duke Junior Gerald Henderson
“It was a lot of fun. Cameron was really special today. I was just making reads. A lot of times my teammates were finding me in good spots where I could score the basketball. I shot a pretty good percentage today – I don’t want to say it was lucky, but I made a lot of my shots.”

“I was just seeing gaps in the defense. We put in a couple of new plays and I just saw some gaps. The last couple of games I’ve been shooting a lot of free throws and just trying to draw fouls. For me, that’s a big thing – if you want to have big games, you have to get to the free throw line. You have to be aggressive throughout the whole game. I kind of had the same mindset throughout the game, just to stay aggressive. But when you’re up, it’s easy to relax, so we just had to really get tough. It wasn’t just on me – Jon played a heck of a game and a lot of guys played well. So when it got to two, we just needed to get stops because we were getting what we wanted on offense. We were really in a good flow.”

“Offensively, we played a really good basketball game. They’re a good team, but we felt like on the defensive end we didn’t do as good a job on some of those guys. It’s tough – they have a lot of really good players, with [Jeff] Teague and [James] Johnson both having a really good game.”

On Coach K’s intensity:
“Even yesterday and the last couple of days leading up to the game, you could tell his intensity level had risen a little bit. We want to win this league, and we’re still fighting for first place. His intensity and his passion is something that leads us and we just followed his lead.”

“Starting the game, Elliot [Williams] was unbelievable. With his pressure he caused about three or four steals in the first 10 minutes. That’s why he’s in the lineup if anyone is wondering why we’re starting a freshman. That’s one of his strengths, really putting pressure on the ball and making opportunities for us.”

Duke Junior Jon Scheyer
On the new starting lineup:
“I don’t think [it’s a radical change]. I think it just puts us in different positions. I feel more of our strengths can be used with this lineup. We can create some mismatches and defensively we just need to stay big and stay in front of people and I think it can be a great lineup.”

“There is nobody in the country that can attack the rim like Gerald [Henderson] can. In the open court or the halfcourt, he is someone who can create his own shot or create shots for other people. I was very proud of him tonight – he was great throughout the game. It started in warmups. He was the one getting everybody going in warmups today and making sure everybody was ready. That’s just as big as all the points he scored today.”

“It wasn’t like a must-win game for us but it definitely was a huge game for us because we did lose our last two ACC games. In this game we could’ve gone to sixth place or we could’ve gone to second place, and we knew how big of a game that was for us because we still want to be in the hunt for the ACC [regular season] title. We’re still in it with that win. We don’t need to worry about what everybody else is doing – just keep playing our games and keep getting wins.”

On Elliot Williams:
“If you watched the game tonight, you wouldn’t have guessed he was a freshman. He was on one of the best guards in the country [Jeff Teague] to start the game and he steals the ball from him a couple of times, gets right in his face, and that’s the toughness we need. It gives the rest of us energy. He’s been huge for us the last two games.”

Duke Freshman Elliot Williams
“We’ve been working so hard. The times I was on the bench just watching, cheering on my team, [Coach Mike Krzyzewski] told me to keep my head up and just keep playing. [And then recently] he told me, ‘You’re finally doing it, man. Just stay hungry.’”

“I’ve been working hard the whole season, but I had a lot to learn. Just watching guys like G, how he moves without the ball, and Jon, how he plays defense. I’ve always been pretty athletic, but there was a lot I had to learn on defense. Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] said he trusted me and when he played me in the St. Johns game, he liked the way I played so he kept rolling with me.”

On the pressure he applied to Jeff Teague:
“I think he was kind of relaxed at the beginning. In the last game [against Wake Forest], we didn’t do that, so I wanted to make sure that he felt my presence at all times. He was a little relaxed out there at the beginning and I got a couple of steals on him. But he’s a great player and he adjusted.”

Wake Forest Head Coach Dino Gaudio

“I thought it was a typical ACC basketball game late in the season. I will say this. If someone would have said we were going to score 91 points and we lose, I think I would have called them a liar. I thought it was really fast-paced, I thought it was really up-and-down. I thought our kids played very, very hard. They never dipped their heads one time. I think the difference in the game was in the first half we had too many turnovers. We talk a lot about no turnovers for touchdowns. The analogy I always give the kids is like a quarterback in football. He throws the ball out in the flat and he’s running for a touchdown. That’s what they did. They had several turnovers for touchdowns where we couldn’t guard them. We turned it over too much, 16 turnovers in the first half, and that was a real big difference in the game. The other thing, and we have done very well at this, but we sent them to the free throw line too many times. When we shoot more free throws than our opponents we are 19-0. That wasn’t the case tonight. I was proud of our kids. I thought they played hard and not once did they dip their heads during the game or timeouts so we just have to turn the page and move on to the next one.”

On whether they made any adjustments offensively in the second half:
“I think when you play these guys, I think if you just try to run your offense—and what I mean by that is guard the forward pass, reverse it through the post, swing it to the other side, that’s not happening. They take you out of all of your stuff. Mike [Krzyzewski] knows, we try to spread them and we try to drive them. We try to put them in ball screen situations. Our guards are quick and we want to be in attack mode and that’s what we did. I’m a little disappointed in our defense. It was lacking tonight and that’s usually been our stronghold. I think before tonight we were No. 1 in the league in field goal percentage defense, I think we were No. 1 or No. 2 in the league in three-point field goal percentage defense. We’re No.1 in the ACC in blocked shots. We’re also No. 1 in field goal percentage offense and I think we’ll stay there shooting 61 percent.”

On struggling defensively:
“You know what? They play really hard on offense. They really move well without the ball. I’ll let Mike [Krzyzewski] speak to this, he knows his team better than I, but they started in the last three or four games. They are running more motion than they did before. They were running a lot of ball screen stuff early, but he’s running a lot of motion now and they do a good job of it. They do a terrific job of it.”

On Gerald Henderson’s play:
“He was really good tonight. The one shot he made, the one three as the shot clock was winding down. We are right in his face and that’s all you can do without fouling him and big-time players make those shots. He’s a pro and he made good shots. It’s like when we went down to Miami a couple of weeks ago. Jack McClinton is just knocking them down. We watch the film after the game and I’m telling you guys are right in his face. We had three guys on the ball. If those guys do that, then they’ve done their job.”

On the difficulties of Jon Scheyer running the point:
“Jonathan [Scheyer] is good. We put L.D. [Williams] on him, so whether Jonathan played the one or the two we still put Williams on him. When Elliot [Williams] started we put Jeff Teague on him and L.D. is a really good defender.”

On going with a smaller lineup in the second half:
“I just thought the game was so incredibly fast, it wasn’t a game for our big guys. It was just really fast paced. I think early in the game [Al-Farouq Aminu] needed to adjust to the pace of the game. He took the ball out a couple times, but he’ll learn. He’s just a freshman. Everybody canonize some of those kids when they come in, but he’s a terrific player for us and I’m really glad we have him. It was a learning experience, a tough place to play of course.

Official Game Notes -

No. 9-ranked Duke defeated Wake Forest 101-91 on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. to improve to 22-5 on the season.

A Winning Tradition
• Duke has now won 1,869 games all-time, the fourth-highest victory total in NCAA history. The Blue Devils have an all-time record of 1,869-814, including 752-213 under Coach K.
• The Blue Devils have won 283 games this decade, the most wins in a decade by the program. The win total is the second most by a team in NCAA history behind Kansas (286-60 from 1990-99).
• Duke is now 928-237 all-time as a ranked team, including 786-180 as a Top 10 team. The Blue Devils are 77-58 when playing a game where both teams are ranked in the top 10, including a 58-42 record under Coach K.
• The Blue Devils have won 20 or more games 44 times in school history with 24 of those coming under Coach K. Duke has won at least 22 of the first 27 games a total of 25 times.
• Duke claimed its eighth ACC win of the year. They have an 844-478 all-time record against current ACC schools, including a 402-127 mark at home. They have now won at least eight games in conference play in 14 straight seasons and in 24 of the 29 years under Coach K.

Duke vs. Wake Forest Series
• Duke and Wake Forest met for the 233rd time on Sunday with the Blue Devils now holding a 156-77 lead in the all-time series. The two meetings this season were split between the two schools with each team winning at home.
• The Blue Devils are now 54-16 when playing Wake Forest in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke has won the last 11 games played in Cameron.
• Coach K is 37-23 all-time against Wake Forest. He has a 13-12 ledger in the month of February.
• Duke has been ranked in each of the last 27 games they have played against Wake Forest and 93 times overall in the series. They have been ranked in the top 10 in 80 games.

Duke In The ACC
• Duke now owns a 517-277 all-time record in ACC regular season games since the inception of the league in 1953-54.
• Duke has an 844-478 record against schools currently in the Atlantic Coast Conference, including a 403-128 record at home.
• Coach K owns a 342-147 record against schools currently in the ACC.

Duke At Home
• The Blue Devils now have an all-time record of 737-150 (.831) when playing in Cameron Indoor Stadium, including a 377-55 (.873) mark under Coach K.
• The Blue Devils have a streak of 64 straight seasons with a winning record at home heading into this year and are now 15-1 thus far at Cameron in 2008-09. The last time Duke had a losing record at home was in the 1943-44 campaign when they went 7-8.
• Duke has now won 15 home games in a season for the third straight year and eighth time in school history.
• The Blue Devils have sold out 290 consecutive games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke In February
• Duke improves to 4-3 in the month of February in 2008-09. Under Coach K, the Blue Devils have a 169-66 all-time record in the month of February.
• When playing on Feb. 22, Duke is now 18-4 all-time, including a 9-0 record under Coach K. The Blue Devils are 3-1 on this date against Wake Forest.

Krzyzewski Climbs Victory Ladder
• Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski earned his 825th victory as a head coach on Saturday. He ranks fifth all-time in NCAA Division I history for career victories and is first among active coaches.
• Krzyzewski is now five victories shy of Jim Phelan for fourth all-time.
• Coach K now has 752 wins as the head coach at Duke, ranking him sixth in NCAA Division I history for victories at one school and second among active coaches (Jim Boeheim, Syracuse – 790). Krzyzewski is seven wins shy of Western Kentucky’s Ed Diddle for fifth all-time.
• Krzyzewski’s 825 victories are the second most by a head coach through 34 years of coaching. Only Dean Smith of North Carolina won more games with 830 victories.

1,000 Career Points
• Duke has 58 players in school history who have scored over 1,000 career points, giving the Blue Devils the third most 1,000-point scorers of any school in Division I behind North Carolina (62) and Louisville (59).
• Duke has three current players who have scored at least 1,000 points in their career. Jon Scheyer ranks 39th all-time with 1,174 career points. Greg Paulus currently ranks 41st on the school’s all-time list with 1,165 career points. Gerald Henderson ranks 50th with 1,092 career points.
• Sophomore Kyle Singler is also chasing 1,000 career points this season. He currently has 881 career points.

Offensive Notes
• The Blue Devils scored over 100 points for the first time this season. The last time they scored over 100 was against Albany last year in a 111-70 win. The last time Duke did it in an ACC game was against Wake Forest (102-92) on Feb. 20, 2005. Duke now has scored 100 points 171 times with a 166-5 record in those contests.
• Duke scored at least 50 points in each half, marking the 44th time under Coach K that has happened. It is the ninth time it has happened under Coach K against an ACC opponent, the last was against Virginia on Jan. 15, 2003.
• The Blue Devils have scored at least 50 points in a half nine times this season, accomplishing it five times in the first half and four times in the second. They have had four halves of 50 or more in ACC play.
• Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer combined for a Cameron Indoor Stadium record 65 points. It is the most two players have ever combined for at home and during the Coach K era. It is the fourth highest combined total of the top two scorers in school history. The record is 75 by Danny Ferry (58) and Alaa Abdelnaby (17) at Miami on Dec. 10, 1988.
• It is the first time under Coach K and ninth time in school history that two players scored 30 or more in the same game. The last duo to each score 30 points in a game was Gene Banks (31) and Mike Gminski (30) did it against Clemson on Jan. 9, 1980.
• The Blue Devils shot .541 (33-of-61) from the field, the second straight game they shot over 50 percent. It is the seventh time this season they have shot over 50 percent from the floor with a 7-0 record in those contests. Coach K owns a 419-30 all-time record when his teams shoot 50 percent or better.
• The 33 made field goals give Duke 30 or more made field goals in 11 games this year.
• Duke has made more free throws than its opponent has attempted in 14 contests this season. They have made 25 or more free throws a total of five times.

Defensive Notes
• Duke forced 20 turnovers in the game, the sixth time this season they have caused 20 or more turnovers in a game. The 20 turnovers led to a 26-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
• The Blue Devils had 10 steals to give them 10 games with 10 or more steals in a game.
• Wake Forest shot 61 percent (36-of-59) from the floor, the highest percentage by a Duke opponent this season. The previous high was 58.5 percent by Boston College. The last team to shoot over 60 percent against Duke was N.C. State (.608) on March 8, 2007. The Blue Devils are now 14-33 when its opponent shoots at least 60 percent from the floor.

Duke Player Notes:

Gerald Henderson
• Junior Gerald Henderson scored a career-high 35 points on 11-of-15 from the field, 1-of-4 from the three-point line and 12-of-14 from the foul line. The 35 points is tied for the 37th highest single game total in school history. The last player to score 30 points in a game was J.J. Redick (30) against Florida State on March 1, 2006.
• Henderson recorded his first career 30-point game and has now scored 20 or more in seven games this year and 11 times in his career. He has reached double figures in scoring in 23 contests this season.
• Henderson scored 18 points in the first half on 6-of-9 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. It was two points off his single half high of 20 points in the second half against Southern Illinois.
• With his 35 points Henderson moves past Associate Head Coach Chris Collins into 50th on Duke’s all-time scoring list.
• The 11 field goals and 12 made free throws were both career highs for Henderson. He has now made 10 or more free throws in back-to-back games. The last player to do so was J.J. Redick who made 10 or more in three straight games from Jan. 14-21 in 2006.
• Henderson has now made 10 or more field goals three times in his career, all coming this season.

Jon Scheyer
• Junior Jon Scheyer scored a career-high 30 points on 8-of-16 from the field, 5-of-10 from the three-point line and 9-of-11 from the foul line. His previous career high was 27 points at Miami last season.
• Scheyer has now scored 20 or more points in a game seven times this season and 13 times in his career. He has scored in double figures in 20 games this year.
• Scheyer made five three-point field goals to match a career high. It is the third time in his career he has made five treys. He has made three or more treys in eight games this season and 24 times in his career.
• With nine made free throws, Scheyer has six games this season with eight or more made foul shots. He has attempted 10 or more on six occasions this season.
• Scheyer tallied three assists to lead the team. He has led the team in assists in 13 games this year with 16 games of three or more.
• The two steals give Scheyer 13 games with two or more steals on the year.

Kyle Singler
• Sophomore Kyle Singler reached double figures in scoring for the 24th time this season and 49th career game with 11 points on Sunday.
• Singler recorded at least one point, rebound, assist, blocked shot and steal in a game 13 times this season.
• With six rebounds Singler now has five or more boards in 25 of the 27 games this season.
• Singler had two steals to give him two or more steals in 13 games on the year.

Lance Thomas
• Junior Lance Thomas had six rebounds to give him eight games this year with at least five boards. He has 26 career games with five or more rebounds.
• Thomas blocked a shot for the eighth game this season.
• The 33 minutes played were a season-high for Thomas. His previous high was 28 against Rhode Island.

Elliot Williams
• Freshman Elliot Williams reached double figures in scoring for the second straight game after not reaching 10 points in the first 25 games of the season. His 11 points matched his season high against St. John’s on Thursday.
• The five made field goals also match a season high which he set at St. John’s.
• Williams tallied a season-high four steals. He has two or more steals in three games this season. His previous high was three steals against Loyola on Dec. 31.

BDN talks to Jon Scheyer about running the point

I wasted little time in asking Jon about starting at the PG spot. Scheyer was patient as always answering questions.

So, let’s get right to the point, pardon the pun. What’s it like to run the point?

You know, I feel comfortable with it. It’s something I have done in practice a lot and through out the year. I think that it gives some advantages to the offense on our team and I feel comfortable doing it. I jsthink some of it has to do with match ups. Also a big thing is guarding the ball and Elliot has been doing a good job of that of late, guarding a point guard. And Nolan is really our best guy doing that. In practice recently he’s done a better job in trying to get back to where he was guarding the ball. I think for myself I can create mismatches bring the ball up. I can work off the ball … it’s not like I need to bring the ball up.

Did you sense Elliot was a little bit more under control?

He was. That’s as strong of moves he’s made all year in a game. He’s done it in practice, but in games … for being a freshman in that situation starting a pretty big game, he had a lot of poise in that game.

Can you talk of the defense which was so good all season? What has been going in in the last few games?

I think the biggest thing is us determining what the offense is going to do. They just played their offense and we just followed them around the court. We’re at our best when we are attacking people offensively and defensively. I think that’s what we lost during that stretch. Even though we had some losses, those games were learning experiences for us.

After the Boston College loss Duke seemed to pull close together and little was heard until now. Was that K’s way of saying …

I think he … the main thing was we need to have toughness on the court, we need to play defense and whatever the lineup was going to be, Coach wanted to put a line up out there that could do that. Going into the St. John’s game we were to be tough, play defense and not be scared. Moving forward that’s the things we have to do.

When did you first know you be starting at point?

The day after the game he told me. That’s something I was excited about because for me I felt it would be kind of a way to play a new position a little bit. Just trying to think of the season from the St. John’s game on is kind of like a new season in a way.

Do you feel like the line-up will stay in place?

I don’t know. Coach seems really serious. All the guys like the way it’s going right now. So we are probably going to stay with it, but I can’t really predict how long or if the next game we’ll switch it up. But right now, I feel like this is something that can help our team. The season is so long that it’s almost like a fresh feel to it, especially for me, but the team in general sometimes needs something different in the middle of the year. Also, someone like Elliot - he’s having some great minutes for us in practice and that’s exciting.

How about Gerald Henderson, whats he like at home?

Aw, he just like sleeps on the couch all day. (smiling) I’ll say one nice thing about him and that’s it. He really loves basketball and he really studies the game as well as anybody I know. As much as I make fun of him for watching Kobe Bryant all the time. He studies Kobe and tries to do some of his moves and gets yelled at in practice for doing them. He’s always watching our games and opposing teams plays. Pretty much anytime he hears Kobe, he just stops everything and switches the TV.

Do you have anybody you watch?

You know, I like a bunch of players, but I’m not (laughing) obsessed with one person like he is with Kobe. God forbid what would happen if he played him in a year or two. I don’t what would happen if he was guarding him, he might ask him for his autograph on the court.

In the last couple of seasons there has been a late year slide. Is that what’s sort of going on here?

I think we got into the same thing. This is the point in the season where we can either change it or have it be the same thing. In my freshman year I didn’t have too much control. The upperclassmen that are going through it … it’s up to us. That’s something we feel we’re in control and we can change it. We just have to take it game by game and not put too much pressure on ourselves.

High School Hoops Edition No. 11

kelly-iiiRyan Kelly and Mason Plumlee are on a collision course as high school basketball play-offs are underway.  The two Duke commitments are the favorites to compete for the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association championship.  The Championship game is on Saturday February 28, 2009.

Ravenscroft defeated Cary Academy 70-46 to win the TISAC Conference Championship.  Ryan Kelly posted a double-double of 31 points and 10 rebounds.  He was named the TISAC Conference Player-of-the-Year for the second straight season.

Mason Plumlee scored 13 points and had a team high seven assists as Christ School defeated Spartanburg Day School 76-68 to advance to the CAA Conference Championship game.  On Saturday afternoon, Christ School won the championship with a 63-49 victory over Asheville Christian Academy.  Plumlee scored 11 points and blocked five shots.

Eric Bledsoe is a Class of 2009 point guard, from Birmingham, Alabama, whose name has recently surfaced as a Duke recruiting target.  Bledsoe scored 11 points and had five steals as Parker HS defeated Woodlawn 49-33.  Bledsoe was named the 5A Northeast Regional Most Valuable Player.

DeMatha defeated Gonzaga 68-65 on Friday night in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference play.  Quinn Cook scored 25 points in the victory.  Cook is a Class of 2011 point guard that is starting to draw rave reviews.  Duke commitment Tyler Thornton scored four points for Gonzaga.  In a game earlier in the week, Cook dropped 25 points on O'Connell in a 64-53 win.

Out in Iowa, the Ames Little Cyclones finished the regular season undefeated at 21-0.  Harrison Barnes scored 28 points as Ames defeated Des Moines Hoover 65-59 on Friday night.  Barnes recently visited Duke and took in the game against Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

BDN Premium Recruiting Update, Eric Bledsoe, Darius Smith new names to watch – Team Update going into the Wake Forest game

Duke is looking at two more 2009 Point Guards - If you have been reading our premium message board you already know this, but the Blue Devils decided to look into two more point guards in the class of 2009.  Duke Assistant Coach Nate James will take in Eric Bledsoe's game at Parker High School today.  James has been in ... for an extensive report on this situation and a team update from today's interviews, join BDN Premium! [private]contact with Bledsoe and Coach Krzyzewski has also talked to the 6-0, 162 Birmingham, Alabama product.  Bledsoe played his AAU ball for

Eric Bledsoe Courtesy of Birmingham News, Mark Almond
Eric Bledsoe Courtesy of Birmingham News, Mark Almond

Birmingham Ice this past summer.  With concerns to questions on the message board of whether I have seen him play, the answer is yes, but I was not focusing on him at that time.  Bledsoe will not back down as a defender and takes the ball aggressively into the teeth of the defense in an effort to find teammates.  He is a pass first PG who many praise for his toughness.    He holds offers from Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, South Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss in a list which is growing.  Bledsoe really likes that Duke has entered the picture.

The other kid garnering the Blue Devils attention is Darius Smith, a 6-2 athletic senior who plays in Krzyewski's hometown of Chicago.  Smith is more of a tweener, but most project him as a point.  He is very aggressive on the offensive end.  Duke has been in contact with Smith.  Duke has yet to see Smith but they have set a visit date to check him out next week.

Despite what you are hearing on other sites, Duke is still optimistic of getting John Wall over.  Of course, it would help if he was allowed more access by his entourage of controlling figures.  It remains to be seen if John can or will break free and make his own decision.  N.C. State and Baylor are IMO the two favorites.  Final developments should occur with this situation sooner rather than later.

Duke does not consider Bledsoe and Smith backups to Wall at this point.  Duke is in the beginning stages of getting to

Darrius Smith
Darrius Smith

know them, but they'll waste little time.  As always, Coach K has to see a player play in person before an offer is put on the table.

So, the bottom line is that Duke is looking for an athletic, quick point guard.  If they feel one of these kids can help them next year, they will offer them.  Duke is not looking just to fill a scholarship.  And yes, there is a possibility two offers may go out.  Duke will evaluate them and if the kids are good enough and they like them as people, there are spots available.

Kyle Singler is  ready to go-  Kyle Singler particpated hard in today's afternoon practice and is showing no effects from a late game injury.

Dave McClure - Is starting to feel better and should be available against Wake as well.

No starting lineup set yet - Coach K has not told his team who is starting against Wake yet.

Nate James getting acclimated - Duke is breaking in Nate James who will be doing a lot of work on the AAU circuit this spring and summer.  James will remain active throughout the season.

Expect Duke to - Come out with a similar lineup against Wake but then substitute freely.  I think nine players or more will see some action.  Look for Duke to defend their home floor with a fervor for they are well aware that they have just two more home games and some tough road contests coming up.

Elliot Williams - There is no doubt that Elliot has been a bit frustrated, but he seems to understand the process was for the best.  Williams talked with several family members after the game.  Williams was lauded by his teammates, especially Gerald Henderson who said he really shuts down some of the lanes going to the basket.  Henderson seems to have taken him under his wing.  All of the freshman room together. [/private]

BDN Premium Interview – Duke Freshman Elliot Williams

Here is a sample of what you will find in addition to recruiting news on Blue Devil Nation Premium.  I was able to sit down with Elliot Williams earlier this evening and spoke with the player everyone wants to hear from.   I hope you enjoy the

Krzyzewski instructs Elliot Williams in practice - photo copyright BDNP
Krzyzewski instructs Elliot Williams in practice - photo copyright BDNP

interview, where all but three questions were our own.  Williams seemed happy to have been in the spotlight and his teammates Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson had nice things to say about him.   Williams stated that Coach K had not been to the team with concerns as to who will start against Wake Forest.  Up next - Jon Scheyer, so be sure to check back.  Don't you think it's time to join the best Duke subscription site on the Internet?  Our members will tell you that you are missing the best recruiting news and more.  Give us a try - you'll be glad you did.  We will be adding yet another update on recruiting shortly.

Well, let's get right to it.  What was it like to start last evening?

It was fun!  It was my second start of the season.  Being able to start in Madison Square Garden, giving my teammates an edge,  I came out and played good on ball defense.  It was fun for me out there.

When did you first know you were going to start?

Two practices ago, I had a good practice.  He flipped me over to the white team.  I had a couple of more good practices and coach gave me a starting spot.

Was it tough sitting on the bench for much of the season?

Yeah, it was tough.  That's the toughest part as a freshman.  Coming into a situation where there are a lot of good players in front of you.  You have a lot of moves that you can do in high school that you can't do in college (smiling).  The things I had to do were watch how Jon (Scheyer) moves.  Watch how he moves off the ball.  I watched "G" and how he used his athleticism to get into mid range - things like that.   Coach is coach!  Whatever he says, I'm going to believe in.

So, you felt like you learned a lot in practice regardless?

Yeah.  Learning things in practice, watching on the sideline - things I needed to learn.

A.P. writer- Talk about why you think you played ...

I guess Coach sees I can be a really good defender, an on ball defender and that I can slow down some of the guys who has hurt us in the past.   Being 6-5 and an athletic guy out there I can help.  I'm somebody who can make some strong

Williams said he had learned a lot in practice
Williams said he had learned a lot in practice

moves, get into the lane and finish around the rim and just bring energy to the team.

Talk about your defense ...

When I first got here, I was moving my feet a lot.  One of the things I have learned is to lock into the man and not move my feet as much because I was getting wore out early.  That's one of the main things I have learned.

You seemed comfortable out there last night.  Were you letting the game come to you?  Is that pretty much what was going on?

Yeah, that's pretty much what was going on.  If you come out too antsy you'll make dumb turnovers and not get better.  One of the main things I wanted to do was just be calm and know I've been in this situation before.  I just wanted to play like I knew I could play.

I talked to my Mom after the game. I didn't  tell them I was going to start.   She said she was proud of me and to not get settled with that and stay hungry.

Do you feel like you will build on that performance?

Exactly.  That's hopefully what I'm going to do.  Look back on this game and see that's how I want to play and build on that.  Be more aggressive and pick my spots, play off the veteran guys and play good on ball defense.

Do you see know how Duke might use you?

Yeah.  Oh yeah.  That's one of the things I saw yesterday.  They can use me a lot of places defensively, on ball, off ball ... and just attacking the rim and things like that.   I can handle the ball pretty well so sometimes they have me help

Krzyzewski told Williams he earend the start in practice - BDNP Photo
Krzyzewski told Williams he earned the start in practice - BDNP Photo

and bring the ball up.  I can play the two position - I'm a good slasher.  Also, I can use my athleticism to rebound and that's what they want me to do.

You were known for some great dunks in high school.  Do you look for those moments?

(smiling) When you look for them, you're probably not going to get them.  You just have to let the game come to you and if it happens it happens.  That's something I've learned.

I hope you don't spend too much time on the Internet reading various things, but there are some who feel you are not happy.  Are you happy at Duke?

(shaking his head)  Um-hum.  I'm happy at Duke.

(A.P. writer) How has the transition to offense and defense been for you out there?

It was tough for me to transition from offense to defense early in the year.    Because I was so excited to be out there as a freshman I used a lot of energy on defense.  As I was telling him (nodding towards me) one of the things I do is try to lock into my man and be poised out there.

Can you talk a little bit about the adjustments you have had to make in college and which ones have been the most difficult?

The first thing is some of the moves I was able to make in high school, you can't do in college.  You need to be strong with the ball and not so loose, being able to move without the ball.  In high school I would just catch it and go ... there was no help defense, no charging ... so (laughing)

(N & O)  Who had a big influence on you growing up?

My brother and my Father basketball-wise kept me going.  There was a time in the seventh and eighth grade where I almost quit playing ball.  To be real with you, in the seventh and eighth grade I really wasn't that good.  But in the ninth grade I had a big growth spurt of about four inches.  I always played guard and when I grew having guard skills helped me.

Are you looking forward to the Wake Forest game?

Oh yeah.  Yeah.  It should be a good game.  We played pretty well out there but a few things went wrong.  They're a great team - a very athletic team.  Hopefully we can come away with a win.

Thanks for your time!

Freshmen help Duke in their 76-69 win over St. John’s

Duke gained its 21st win of the season by disposing of St. John's in Madison Square Garden.  In the process, they found a couple of new pieces to fit into the puzzle in freshmen Elliot Williams and Miles Plumlee.

Both players made positive plays, but Williams showed flashes that he could be a huge contributor as Duke readies for the season's stretch run.  Williams played

Elliot Williams had his best game of the season against St. John's
Elliot Williams had his best game of the season against St. John's

good on ball defense and switched up with overall precision in Duke's man to man defense.

Williams also showed off his athleticism by making most of his offensive touches count leading his team in scoring at the half.  More importantly, he looked more comfortable within the team concept than any other time this season.

Earlier in the season, Williams seemed to be seeking his shot first and foremost, but he played well within the team concept against the Johnnies.  In not seeking his shot right away points came to him allowing him to show off other abilities beyond his scoring prowess.

Plumlee also had nice ups on a block, some good boards and was more relaxed on the offensive end which resulted in some key points.  The emergence of the two freshmen also allowed Duke to experiment with new lineups.

But the most important thing the two newcomers brought to the table were fresh legs.  Those fresh legs meshed well with team leaders Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer.

Duke also got some great play from Lance Thomas who is showing consistency and the team survived the loss of David McClure due to a flu bug.

Paulus and Smith continued to struggle and that's part of what led to lineup changes.   But the important thing on this evening was a win and this win cannot necessarily be measured by normal standards.

Duke will now try to build off this victory when Wake Forest comes into Cameron for the second to last home game of the season.  Needless to say Duke needs a victory over a team ranked just ahead of them, but more importantly to stay in a crowded ACC race for the top four spots which earns a bye in the fast approaching conference tournament.

Go Duke-AP. Article