The Duke Blue Devils play their last game of the season this Saturday against Wake Forest where fans have one more chance to salute some fine football players playing their last game. One of those seniors will be Vincent Rey, a young man that has become a big time play maker on the defensive side of the ball. BDN caught up with the tough senior and got his thoughts on the season, Wake Forest and his role in turning the Duke Football program around. Vinnie got his football start in New York City, a place hardly known for churning out gridiron stars. Hear Rey for yourself by simply pressing play below. And by all means, make it out to Wallace Wade this Saturday and send out guys off in fashion.
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke guard Nolan Smith was named ACC Player of the Week on Monday as announced by the conference office. Smith averaged 22.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting 56 percent (15-of-27) from the field, including 60 percent (6-of-10) from three-point range, and 100 percent (8-of-8) from the foul line in wins over Charlotte and Radford.
The Upper Marlboro, Md., native had a career-high 24 points, five rebounds and five assists in Tuesday’s 101-59 win over Charlotte. He went 9-of-15 from the field with a pair of three-point field goals against the 49ers. Smith recorded his second 20-point game of the week and the third of his career with 20 points in a 104-67 win over Radford. He knocked down a career-best four three-pointers and added three rebounds and seven assists in the contest.
Smith earned ACC POW honors for the first time in his career.
The Blue Devils return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 25 against Arizona State (9:00 pm – espn2) in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Duke (4-0) will face the Arizona State Sun Devils (4-0), on Wednesday Nov. 25, in the semi-finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off, at Madison Square Garden. The Sun Devils return three starters off of last season’s 25 -10 team: senior point guard Derek Glasser, junior forward Rihards Kuksiks, and junior shooting guard Ty Abbott.
The big challenge for fourth year coach Herb Sendek will be replacing first team All American James Harden and first team All Pac-10 Jeff Pendergraph who are both now on NBA rosters. Harden and Pendergraph combined to average 34.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game last year. That is a lot of productivity no longer available so Arizona State is a team which could struggle early this season.
Derek Glasser (6-1, 190) averaged 8.8 points with a 2.2:1 assists to turnover ratio as a junior. He does not possess blinding speed but he is a capable point guard who will execute Coach Sendek’s game plan. Significantly, in his 102 game career, he has had 19 turnover free games. Glasser was named to the 2009 Pac-10 All-Tournament team by averaging 13.7 points, shooting 45.5 percent on three-pointers, and dishing out 12 assists against four turnovers during three tournament games. Glasser has dished out 18 assists with 8 turnovers so far this season.
Rihards Kuksiks (6-6, 205) is the third best returning three-point shooter in the nation. As a sophomore, he made 44.3 percent of his shots from behind the arc. Kuksiks averaged 10.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per contest. He has started 47 games over the first two seasons of his career, including all 34 games last season. In Arizona State’s most recent outing, against San Francisco, Kuksiks scored 27 points and shot 7-13 from behind the 3-point arc.
Ty Abbott (6-3, 207) had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in the off-season and did not play in the Sun Devils opening game. However, he played in the first two games of the NIT Season Tip-Off averaging 9.5 points per game. The athletic wing started 65 of 69 games during his first two years as a Sun Devil. He averaged 7.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game last season. Abbott set an ASU freshmen record with 76 made three-point shots his first season. This season, in three games, Abbott is averaging 17.3 points per game and is 7-10 on 3-point attempts.
Additional experienced players include seniors Jerren Shipp (6-3, 220) and Eric Boateng (6-10, 245), and junior Jamelle McMillan (6-2, 180). In Arizona State’s 52 – 49 victory over TCU, in their NIT 2nd Round game, Boateng was a huge factor setting career highs with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Coach Sendek also has six freshmen on his roster and he has demonstrated a willingness to give freshmen significant playing time in previous seasons so those freshmen are a wildcard for the Sun Devils. If one or two step up with meaningful contributions, especially one of the big men, Arizona State could develop into a solid contender.
The keys to the game will be:
1. The Blue Devils must defend the three-point arc as the Sun Devils will attempt to score in bunches from the bonusphere. Kuksiks and Abbott will be looking to take over as Arizona State’s primary scoring options, and both players like to launch shots from behind the three-point line.
2. On offense, the Blue Devils will need to execute their high-low offense so the big men can attack the basket aggressively. Duke has an advantage in experience and size and must force Arizona State to focus on post defense in order to take advantage of three-point shooters Scheyer, Singler, Smith, and Dawkins. Those four Blue Devils are shooting a combined 48.1 percent (39 – 81) from behind the 3-point line in Duke’s first four games.
3. Who guards Kyle Singler? This will be the ubiquitous question all season for Duke’s opponents. Singler is a sensational player who should be able to score from the outside and the inside from his natural small forward position. If the Sun Devils opt to play a lot of zone defense, look for the Blue Devils to attempt to shoot them out of it via a 3-point barrage.
Herb Sendek is experienced coaching against Duke from his days at the N.C. State helm so he will keep it interesting, but in the end, Duke has too much talent and experience for Arizona State to handle. Duke should advance to the Championship game without undue difficulty. Of course, in the sports world, nothing is guaranteed, which is why we play the game.
Miles Plumlee recorded his second straight double-double versus Radford this past Saturday. BDN was there to get his thoughts on his performance Duke travels to New York to face Arizona State in an NIT semi final match up.
Game 5 • NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal
Duke (4-0) vs. Arizona State (4-0)
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 • 9:00 p.m. • espn2
Madison Square Garden (19,763) • New York, N.Y.
The Opening Tip
Duke (4-0), ranked ninth in the AP poll and eighth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, faces Arizona State (4-0) on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 9:00 p.m in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Wednesday’s contest will be aired by espn2 with Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale and Doris Burke calling the action.
The Last Time Out
Duke is coming off a 104-67 win over Radford on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Junior Nolan Smith and freshman Andre Dawkins each scored 20 points to pace the offense.
The Blue Devils knocked down 18 three-point field goals, including six by Dawkins, to match a school record. Duke drained 13 three-pointers in the opening half to jump out to a 59-34 advantage.
Senior Jon Scheyer added 18 points and seven assists, while Kyle Singler (13) and Miles Plumlee (12) also reached double figures in scoring. Plumlee added a team-high 11 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. Singler added seven rebounds and seven assists for his third career game with seven or more points, rebounds and assists. He is just the 10th Blue Devil to accomplish that feat three times in a career.
NIT Season Tip-Off History
Duke is 20-2 all-time in the NIT Season Tip-Off, including an 8-2 mark at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils have won 10 straight games in the tournament. Duke won NIT Season Tip-Off championships in 1985, 2000 and 2005.
l Duke is 25-2 in in-season tournaments over the past nine seasons. The Blue Devils have won nine straight in-season tournament games.
l Duke is 23-14 all-time, including an 18-6 mark under Mike Krzyzewski, at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils have won three straight and 10 of their last 11 games at MSG.
l The Blue Devils have won four straight games and are 23-16 all-time against Pac-10 opponents. Duke’s last game against a Pac-10 foe was a 84-73 win over UCLA on Nov. 30, 2002.
l The Blue Devils are 100-10 in the month of November under Coach K. Duke has won 20 straight games in the month, dating back to a Nov. 21, 2006 loss to Marquette.
l Dating back to the final game of last season, Jon Scheyer has played 149 minutes without committing a turnover.
l Junior Nolan Smith has opened his season with back-to-back 20-point scoring games, after recording just one 20-point game during his first two seasons at Duke. Smith leads the team in scoring (22.0 ppg.), assists (6.0 apg.) and three-point percentage (.600, 6-of-10).
l Jon Scheyer has 21 assists and zero turnovers in 131 minutes of action on the year. The Northbrook, Ill., native is the first Duke starting point guard to record over 20 assists before registering a turnover to open a season.
l Sophomore Miles Plumlee is averaging 11.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game after recording 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game a year ago. He has scored in double figures in all four games this season and has recorded double-doubles in each of the last two games.
l Kyle Singler has scored in double figures in 19 straight games and in 63 of 75 career contests.
l Duke has combined to make 30 three-point field goals in its last two games. The Blue Devils are 30-of-53 (.566) from three-point distance in that span. Senior Jon Scheyer has a team-high eight three-pointers, while freshman Andre Dawkins has seven in the last two games.
l The Blue Devils are averaging 23.0 assists over their last two contests. Duke has recorded an assist on 63.9 percent (72 field goals, 46 assists) of its field goals in that span. Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith each have 12 assists in the last two games.
l Duke scored 104 points and had just eight turnovers in Saturday’s win over Radford, marking the 13th time in school history that Duke has scored over 100 points, while turning the ball over fewer than 10 times.
l The Blue Devils have had less than 10 turnovers in each of the last two games and are averaging just 10.5 turnover per game on the season. Duke leads the ACC in turnover margin at +4.5 turnovers per game.
Thaddeus Lewis is now the all time leading passer in the history of Duke Football. He broke the record in his penultimate college game by throwing for 303 yards against the Miami Hurricanes to bring his career total to 9,678 yards. The record was previously held by Ben Bennett with 9,614 yards.
As a senior, Lewis has excelled by breaking multiple career passing records. In addition to becoming the all time leader at Duke in career passing yards, Lewis set records for touchdown passes thrown, career pass attempts, career pass completions, and career total offense. Lewis has thrown for 64 touchdowns during his career, attempted 1462 passes, completed 849 passes, and rolled up 9,599 yards of total offense eclipsing Spence Fisher’s previous mark of 9,110 yards.
The 303 yard performance against Miami was Lewis’ 10th career 300 yard game, which ties him with Anthony Dilweg for the school record.
After completing 40-50 passes for 459 yards and five touchdowns, against North Carolina State, Coach Cutcliffe stated, “I believe that was the finest game I’ve had a quarterback have in college.” That is high praise coming from a coach who previously coached Peyton and Eli Manning.
But Lewis wasn’t finished; he went out and completed 30-43 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns in leading Duke to a 17-13 victory over Maryland. Then he led Duke to their third consecutive ACC victory, 28-17 over Virginia, by completing 24-40 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown.
Lewis, and the entire offense, has benefited from playing in the same offensive system under the same coaching staff for a second consecutive season, for the first time in their careers. Lewis knows the offense, which allows him to be comfortable and confident on the field. Duke heads into the final game of the season with a 5-6 (3-4 ACC) record in a season that has kept fans in Durham excited about football into late November for the first time in many years.
Lewis’ career at Duke started on September 2, 2006, when the true freshman was inserted during the first game of the season against Richmond and completed 15-24 passes for 148 yards in the 13-0 loss to the Spiders. Lewis started the next 11 games and threw for 2134 and 11 touchdowns on the season. However, he was sacked 38 times and threw 16 interceptions.
The Sporting News named Lewis honorable mention Freshman All America as his 2134 yards passing set a Duke record for passing yards by a freshman. Lewis threw four touchdown passes against North Carolina, which was the most thrown by a Duke freshman since Dave Brown threw four against Wake Forest in 1989.
As a freshman, Lewis had his two best games against in-state rivals Wake Forest and North Carolina. On September 9, 2006, Lewis completed 21-32 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest. Against North Carolina, on November 25, 2006, Lewis completed 20-35 passes for 285 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, Duke lost both games as part of a 0-11 season.
As a sophomore, Lewis would have to learn a new offensive system as Duke brought in Peter Vaas, from Notre Dame, to serve as passing game coordinator. Lewis responded by completing 199-360 passes for 2430 yards with 21 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. However, Lewis was sacked 44 times during his sophomore season.
Against Navy, on September 22, 2007, Lewis had the best game of his sophomore season throwing for 428 yards and four touchdowns to wide receiver Eron Riley. However, Duke lost the game 46-43 as the Midshipman scored the games final 14 points.
The arrival of Coach David Cutcliffe in Lewis’s junior season meant Lewis would have to learn another offensive system. His third system in three years as the starting quarterback at Duke, and Lewis quickly proved he was up to the challenge and proceeded to earn Second Team All ACC honors by completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 2171 yards and 15 touchdowns. Moreover, Duke won four games with Lewis decreasing his interceptions to six and only being sacked 16 times. Those numbers suggested real success for Duke Football was just around the corner.
As a junior, Lewis enjoyed his greatest success in a 41-31 defeat of Navy on September 13, 2008. Lewis completed 25-35 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns to wide receiver Eron Riley.
Duke hosts Wake Forest at Wallace Wade Stadium next Saturday November 28th in the final regular season contest of the 2009 campaign. Blue Devil Nation encourages all Duke Fans to come out, join in the festivities, and cheer on Lewis and the entire Blue Devil squad.