USA holds on to defeat Spain behind Durant

The 2010 USA Men’s World Championship Team fought through adversity,  fended off a second half attack and edged host and defending world champion Spain 86-85 on Sunday night inside the Magic Box in Madrid, Spain. Playing in a raucous stadium filled to its 10,960 capacity, the USA’s charge was led by Player of the Game Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), who posted game-highs of 25 points and 10 boards, and also had a pair of key blocks in the closing seconds.

Also in double digits were Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), who scored 13 points, including the game’s final two points from the line; Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers) notched 12 points and nine boards; and Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets) tossed in 10 points.

“This is something I’m never going to forget … never,” said Rose.

“I got to hit them,” he recalled about what he was thinking during his game-clinching free throws. “As your legacy goes on or the way you want your legacy to finally end, this is something that some people are going to remember.”

The U.S., now 3-0 in its three exhibition games, will travel to Athens tomorrow to prepare for its final exhibition game against Greece on Aug. 25 at 7:00 p.m. local (12:00 p.m. EDT live on ESPN).

“Great crowd, two excellent teams playing their hearts out and we felt fortunate to win. We made one more play then they did and that’s how good the game was,” said USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “We were trying to learn about our younger players so we started a different lineup.

“Before we talk about the outside (players), Lamar Odom should be our starting center. He’s finally into shape I think to play at this level. Curry has been out so we wanted to give him a chance and we already know what Rondo and Granger can do, and Love was out. The doctor wanted to keep him out because of hitting his head and because it’s back-to-back, so that was a precaution. That was our plan tonight, just to take a better look at our team.”

Trailing since the first basket of the game, Spain took its first lead of the night, 82-80, with under two minutes to play on a Felipe Reyes layup. Durant countered to knot the score 17 seconds later and after Ricky Rubio tossed the ball away the U.S. had a shot to pull ahead again, but Odom’s 3-pointer was off the mark and Spain had the ball back.

However Reyes missed his next attempt and Odom secured the rebound. With seven seconds left on the shot clock and 32.99 seconds to play in the game, Rose nailed a driving bucket and the U.S. was back in the lead, 84-82.

Following a Spanish time out, Juan Carlos Navarro was fouled driving to the hoop. He converted on the 3-point play to give his side the lead once again with 27.82 ticks on the clock.

Rose shook off a determined defensive effort by Rubio and was fouled as he drove to the basket. Ignoring the deafening roar of the crowd, he calmly stepped to the line and swished both his attempts with 16.92 to go.

“He made two big free throws and like I told him after the game, those were really big confidence-wise for him and the rest of the team to know that we got a guy we can go to down the stretch,” said Andre Igoudala (Philadelphia 76ers).

Spain again called time, which enabled the hosts to advance the ball to half court.

“We’ve practiced a lot with the zone and we used zone on all under out of bounds which were good. Then from the timeout Jim Boeheim said let’s go orange” said Krzyzewski on what the plan was out of the final time out. “We call it orange with respect for Jim, he said he doesn’t have any buildings named after him in Syracuse so we’ll name the zone after him. I agreed with him, but it was his suggestion and the guys did a good job with it.”

After inbounding the ball, the Spaniards moved the ball around and finally Rubio found room to attempt a 3-point attempt. However, there wasn’t enoughspace as Durant partially deflected the shot. The rebound was bobbled around and Spain came up with it, but Durant was again there to block Rudy Fernandez’ 3-point attempt and the clock expired with the U.S. collecting its third victory in as many exhibition games.

“I just wanted to cover a much ground as I could and help my teammates out,” said Durant about the game’s final possession. “I saw Ricky Rubio open in the corner and I just wanted to use my length to get out there and tip the shot. I was able to get a finger on it and I had the ball and it kind of slipped out of my hand and Rubio got it back and threw it to Fernandez and I just didn’t want to jump and get a foul on a 3-point shot so I stayed down and kind of timed it pretty well and I was fortunate enough to get a block and the game was over. I just wanted to do something to help my team win.”

The USA, which opened up a 16-3 gap to start the game, held a 45-33 lead at the midway break.

Spain charged out of the locker room and in addition to hitting 6-of-7 from the line, knocked down a couple of threes and in the span of almost five minutes, to close the gap to 55-53.

The U.S. came back to life. Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) scored to start the USA on 8-1 run that was capped by consecutive baskets from Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) that left the Americas holding a 63-54 lead. After a pair of Spain baskets, the Americans closed the third quarter’s final 1:05 with a 6-0 spurt to open a double-digit, 69-58, lead with 10 minutes to play.

Plagued by fouls most of the game, the U.S. picked up three quick ones in the first 1:12 of the fourth quarter. Trying to stay out of the bonus and keep Spain off the line, the USA’s defense sagged and Spain battled its way back into the game as the hosts outscored the red, white and blue 20-11 over the opening seven minutes in the fourth and then tied the game at 80-all with  2:37 to play.

The USA had a much better shooting night against Spain than Saturday night’s contest against Lithuania, hitting 48.5 percent (33-68 FGs) from the field, while holding Spain to 41.8 percent (28-67 FGs). However, the U.S., which owned the glass 39-27, sent Spain to the line for 29 attempts and the hosts converted on 24 (.828). In contrast, the American men made 14-of-18 from the line (.778).

Spain was led by Navarro’s 20 points, Marc Gasol had 17, Reyes tossed in 16 off the bench.

“It was a tough game. On their home court. We just fought through adversity and came out with a win,” said Westbrook.

“First off it was a fun game, one of those games that was a learning experience for us, coming over here and playing one of the best teams in the world,” stated Durant.  “I think we made key plays down the stretch and we also played together as a team and stuck together through tough times. So it was a good test for us.”

The 2010 USA World Championship Team assistant coaches are Syracuse University’s Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan and Toronto Raptors head mentor Jay Triano.

All four of the USA’s pre-World Championship friendlies are part of the new Global Community Cup, which will include all USA Basketball exhibition games played outside of formal international competitions.  Along with the games, the Global Community Cup features a social responsibility element that will highlight USA Basketball’s commitment to giving back to communities in the U.S. and abroad.

The official 12-man USA roster that will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Turkey, must be submitted to FIBA at the technical meeting that normally is held the day prior to the start of the competition.

For photo’s and additional coverage visit USABasketball.com

As fans meet the 2010 Blue Devils, Cutcliffe exclaims “It’s personal now.”

"We are Duke!" Coach Cutcliffe to the fans who attended Meet the Devils Day in Durham. Photo Rick Crank/BDN

DURHAM – The Duke Football team held their annual Meet the Blue Devils Day Saturday afternoon in Wallace Wade Stadium as fans turned out to get an up close and personal  look at this years team.  After a two hour practice the Duke players gathered on the Wade concourse to sign 2010 posters for fans.

Despite a 4:00 start fans started arriving as early as 2:45 to catch the action possibly because last years event was canceled due to a the swine flu breakout.  Local radio stations were there for the event and as always posters ans schedule magnets were free of charge.

After Cutcliffe addressed the media below, the third year coach headed up top where he addressed the crowd calling the 2000 plus who were there family.  Cutcliffe is serious too in that all you have to do is want to be a part of football to be accepted.

The Duke Wideouts hold up this seasons poster for BDN. - pixbyric

The hardcore fans in attendance took advantage of opportunities to take photos and talk with current players who also enjoyed the event.  But is was one Cutcliffe statement top the crowd which stood out the most.  “It’s personal now,” said Cutcliffe in a serious tone meaning that his staff and team would work until they get to where they want to be, doubters be darned.

It’s clear to see that the football team is more organized than ever which is a testament to a fine staff and the Blue Devils continue to recruit better players than in years past.  And if you want to support this group of hard working young men, then come on out and join in next years festivities for you will surely be welcomed.

But most of you probably do not want to wait until then, so turn out in force for the home opener against Elon to show your support for all the hard work and dedication this group is putting forth.  Season tickets are now sold out but individual tickets remain for all but the Alabama game but keep your hopes up for there is the possibility that they may bring in additional bleachers at the top of Wallace Wade for that game.

We will have a photo gallery up shortly from Meet the Blue Devils Day and interviews with Coach Cutcliffe, Conner Vernon and Duke’s Durham Hillside connection, Corey Gattis and Desmond Scott.  Bookmark BDN now for coverage of the Duke Football beat.

Duke Defense highlights scrimmage

BDN Photo

DURHAM, N.C. – Redshirt sophomore Sean Renfree threw for 163 yards while senior linebacker Damian Thornton registered two sacks to highlight Duke’s 90-play situational scrimmage on Friday night at Wallace Wade Stadium.
 
Renfree completed 12-of-23 pass attempts for 163 yards while rushing for one touchdown.  Seven of his completions covered 10 or more yards including a 49-yard strike to junior tight end Cooper Helfet.  Freshman Brandon Connette was six-of-11 through the air for 56 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while fellow rookie Anthony Boone was six-of-eight on the night for 94 yards and one score.
 
“Offensively, I think our line did a fantastic job the entire scrimmage,” Renfree said.  “We improved overall as we went.”
 
Four receivers – Brandon Braxton (53 yards), Tony Foster (47 yards), Matt Pridemore (38 yards) and Conner Vernon (43 yards) – each caught four passes while Helfet (53 yards) and Corey Gattis (39 yards) had two receptions apiece.  Braxton had two touchdown grabs covering 19 and 14 yards, respectively. 
 
The Duke ground attack was paced by freshman Juwan Thompson, who picked up 39 yards on nine carries.  Redshirt sophomore Patrick Kurunwune and freshman Josh Snead scored touchdowns on runs of five and one yards, respectively.
 
Thornton added a third tackle for loss with his pair of sacks while redshirt freshman defensive end Justin Foxx chipped in two sacks.  A pair of redshirt freshmen cornerbacks – Ross Cockrell and Garett Patterson – carded one interception each.
 
The Blue Devils will host Fan Day on Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium.  Following an open practice from 4-6 p.m., the players and coaches will sign autographs on the stadium concourse.  Complimentary posters and schedule cards will be available while concession stands will be open.  In addition, the popular Coca-Cola Kids’ Zone featuring inflatable games will be set up on the stadium concourse.
 
Duke opens the 2010 season at home against Elon on September 4 at 7 p.m.  Tickets are available and may be purchased online at GoDuke.com/tickets or by calling the Duke Athletic Ticket Office at 1-877-375-DUKE (3853).

Breaking down the off season for Duke Basketball players

Several of the 2010-11 Duke Blue Devils participated in summer basketball events including the N.C. Pro Am and BDN breaks them down after multiple live views.  There is no doubt that this coming season will be more than just a little entertaining as Duke will almost certainly be tabbed number one in the nation in the pre season basketball polls.  While we realize you can tell but so much from summer basketball, after years of following the off season exploits of our players I have an idea of what to look for.  BDN had representatives at all the N.C Pro Am games and off season camps, so our take is from in person accounts.  Be sure to bookmark BDN for year round coverage of the Duke Beat and follow us on twitter and facebook for future updates.

Mason Plumlee flexes after a rebound at the N.C. Pro Am - Photo pixbyric and BDN

Mason Plumlee -Mason spent time in Chicago as a camp counselor in two events this summer.  The first event allowed Plumlee to train with Tim Grover of Attack Athletes, who is infamous for tutoring Michael Jordan.  Recently, Plumlee attended the Adidas Nations event where he was able to watch his brother Marshall who is Duke’s most recent commitment.  Mason also participated in the N.C. Pro Am where BDN took in all of his games.  Plumlee showed off his athletic abilities and when talking with his teammates, they loved playing with him in that he often hit the open man with passes most big men cannot make.  Plumlee is physically more mature and he’s stretching his outside shot to the three point stripe, but he will be counted on more in the middle for Duke this season.  Plumlee seems to be in great condition and had to play the whole game more often than not at the Pro Am.  Players use the tournament to work on certain things and while Plumlee will have his back to the basket more often than not this season, he chose to work on his face up game.  In short, he worked on the things he doesn’t have a chance to as much in the system.  A key for Mason this season will be his defensive footwork and positioning on post defense and you have to love the fact that he has a little nastiness in his game.

Collins instructs Miles in practice - Mark Watson BDN Photo

Miles Plumlee- Like Mason, Miles attended Adidas Nations as a camp counselor.  This is an honor for they normally select the top college players for this role.  Plumlee showed of a one handed push hook and worked on his outside shot during the Pro Am more-so than his post game.  Still, Plumlee was depended upon for rebounding and there were several plays where he brought the crowd to their feet with his athleticism.  Plumlee had a nice perimeter shot in high school and he is trying to get that back on a more consistent basis.  He is most effective from twelve feet in and he doesn’t have but maybe two pounds of body fat on his physique.  Like Mason, Miles will benefit by Duke pushing the ball in an up temp style this coming season and pressure is sure to come the brothers Plumlee’s way for they will be depended upon to anchor the middle all season long.  The one thing which stood out to me in the Pro Am was the fact he never gave up despite having to play major minutes for a middle of the pack team.  The key for Miles will be to bring consistent intensity and for him to realize he can do things few other players can.

Dre heads up the court - pixbyric/BDN PhotoAndre Dawkins- It’s almost as if you can count on Andre Dawkins to erupt every five games or so and he had one of those performances where he tossed in 36 points during the Pro Am.  A shooter keeps shooting and that fits Andre perfectly.  He still is dependent on the three ball to score more-so than moves to the basket and he has worked on his handle during the off season.  Ball handling is vital for Andre to have the ability to take players off the dribble which will loosen up the outside for him.  Dawkins role for the Blue Devils will again, a shooter but he has improved his footwork defensively and is capable of back side help.  He is also a good finisher when in the open court and a solid free throw shooter but his passing skills need more development.  He will be the recipient of a lot of kick out passes when Duke’s deep backcourt drives to the lane.

Photo Courtesy of USA Basketball

Seth Curry- Silky smooth best defines Curry’s game from my vantage.  He moves in a very paced way which makes it look like an altered speed or slow on the surface.  Or maybe I should say he weaves through defenders picking and choosing his spots?  Anyhow, Curry is a scorer and his three point shot is solid as is his mid range game.  He is a capable ball handler and he lulls his man to sleep as a defender allowing him to get in the passing lanes for steals.  While not physically intimidating, he is a player you have to be aware of when he is on the court.  Curry will not get as many shots as he did with Liberty with a talented Duke team and with that said, he could improve upon his passing skills in the open court.  Everybody sees that his offense is solid, but major minutes will depend upon how well he does when playing off ball.  The same can be said for the aforementioned Dawkins.  Curry is capable of knocking down double digits this season for Duke and his game will thrive in the running style Duke will employ.

 
 
Kelly improved in the off season - Photo-pixbyric/BDN

Ryan Kelly -No player gained more off season hype than did Ryan Kelly who at 6-11 is now Dukes tallest player.  What a difference a year can make with a young mans physical maturity and what you’ve heard about his weight gain is spot on accurate.  The additional strength is helping Kelly where he often got pushed off the blocks in his freshman campaign.  Kelly was named the winner of the Spirit Award given out by Rodney Rodgers.  Kelly is not a big rah-rah guy and I was told the award went to him for his consummate team play and the fact his teammates loved playing with him.  A more confident Kelly showed signs of a baby hook and he has a nice inside-out game going now and that will earn him significant minutes.  No player appears to have worked harder than Kelly in the off season and he is certainly Duke’s most improved player, or is he?

 
BDN caufghtNolan funning about with the media during his sophomore season - BDN Photo

Nolan Smith-While Kelly has improved, Nolan Smith seems to have found a whole other level for his game.  Smith trained with the U.S. Select Team and that experience seems to have helped.  Smith seems to be wanting a leadership role for Duke and he could not be stopped during his games at the N.C. Pro Am.  He erupted for 43 points one evening and was essentially a human highlight reel when he was on the court.  He left a lot of empty sneakers when slashing through defenders as if they were standing still and his shot was good.  Really good.  This led to him being named the events most outstanding player despite the fact he missed the last three games. Smith epitomizes how a player can improve each year in the Duke system to achieve their goals and remember where you heard it if Kyle Singler is the choice for Player of the Year, then Smith should be listed as 1-A.   Quite simply, Smith is an All American in 2010-11.

 
High stepping Kyrie Irving - BDN/Rick Crank Photo

Kyrie Irving- It’s as if we got a sneak peek at Kyrie during the Pro Am where he created quite the buzz with his effortless moves which dazzled the audience.  It was no surprise to me for I have seen him do some amazing things on the AAU trail where I witnessed at least 20 games he played in.  Go down the checklist … ball handling, shooting, penetrating, playing the passing lanes, finishing and KI draws a straight A report card.  What he can get better at is defense and once K works on that a bit more there will be no stopping him from achieving his goals.  No if’s ands or but’s about the fact that a backcourt of Smith and Irving will be the nations best and Irving brings mad skills to the table.  He will make everybody on a talented team better with his ability to break people down off the dribble and he should dish for a lot of dunks to his teammates.  Irving didn’t play down the stretch in the Pro Am and that is probably all by design but his 30 plus point efforts had Duke fans grinning and opposing fans looking forward to hearing his name be called one day by the NBA commish in New York.

 
Hairston flushes a dunk - Rick Crank/BDN Photo

Josh Hairston -During the opening night of the Pro Am, Hairston struggled against veterans Josh Powell and Courtney Fells but that is the kind of learning experience these games provide.  Some guys would have crawled in the corner but Hairston turned it around and averaged 14-15 ppg the rest of the way.  Hairston loves the drop step and the turn around fade away jumper.  He is not a real physical banger type but he is a well rounded front court player who could be depended upon in his first season with certain match ups Duke will face.  Hairston showed steady improvement during the N.C. Pro Am event and he adds depth to the roster.

 
 
Freshman Tyler Thornton is flying under the radar - Rick Crank BDN Photo

Tyler Thornton -It seems Thorntons play surprised everybody during the Pro Am, but not me.  I have known all along that Thornton is underrated and he plays completely within his own skill set making him a steady player who will not hurt his team with turnovers or forced shots.  The knock on Thornton was his outside shot but he improved upon that and showed it hitting three consecutive three pointers to open the event.  Thornton is a confident player who is a nice addition to the team.

 
BDN was in the middle of the celebration when Mark Watson shot Kyle cutting down the nets at the ACC Tournament

Kyle Singler -He was held out of the N.C. Pro Am and who could blame Duke in that he was the Final Four MVP and the odds on favorite to win national player of the year going into next season.  Singler attended several camps including the LeBron James skills academies and most recently practiced with the US Select Team coached by Krzyzewski.