BDN takes a look at Duke Basketball’s Top Five Prospects

Shabazz Muhammad makes the list of Duke Basketball's Top 5 Prospects - BDN Photo

The Duke Men's Basketball season is in full swing but recruiting never stops for it is the life blood of any program.  Many have been asking who are the Blue Devils priorities and who are they focusing on at this time. BDN Premium clears up the picture for you by listing the top five prospects on the board.

The following prospects [private] currently top the Blue Devils recruiting board and we reluctantly rank them for you with our take on the pecking order.  These five guys are clearly at the top at this time but other names will be added as coaches take in more of their games over the Holiday's in tournaments like City of Palms and Glaxo Smith-Kline Invitational.

1-a - Shabazz Muhammad - The only reason I list Muhammad ahead of Murphy is his potential to play great defense and his overall athleticism.  Many have said that the talented wing is a long shot but the Blue Devils didn't get the message.  They will battle the heavyweights until the end for his services and they will meanwhile keep tabs on his brother.  Muhammad told BDN in our last interview that he was visiting for the Duke-Michigan State game but we've yet to confirm that now that the game is upon us. 

1-b - Alex Murphy - Over the summer Duke made  good in-roads with Murphy and they continue to stay in very close contact with the St. Mark's star.  Murphy, like Muhammad is hoping to visit Duke for a game in Cameron provided they can work it out with concerns to their busy high school basketball schedules.  Duke likes the edge Murphy brings to the court and they hope he takes them up on their offer sooner rather than later, but look for nothing to happen until after the season if current information holds up.  He is literally tied with Muhammad at the top of Duke's wish list.

3- Tony Parker - Another prospect Duke got closer to over the warm weather months was Tony Parker, the hulking inside presence from Georgia.  Duke needs to add some size and they love the space eater types like Parker.  In fact, it is vital that the Blue Devils add a solid front court player in this class, especially since they backed off of Tyler Adams.  Parker, like all recruits, hopes to visit for the UNC game if not sooner.

4- Rodney Purvis - Make no mistake that Duke has sparked Purvis interest and he has been a bit of a main stay at home games or at least attends more than the average recruit.  Of course, with him playing just down the road in Raleigh, it makes for convenience.  The Blue Devils would like Purvis to follow the likes of Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers and they'll be on top of his local tournament action over the holidays.

5 - Rasheed Sulaimon -There is a drop off from 4 to 5, but  Sulaimon has impressed Coach Krzyzewski and the staff off the court in a big way but Coach has yet to really see him in action other than film.  So, Sulaimon is in the evaluation stage and if he impresses the staff on the hardwood and he fits with future personnel he will likely become a Dukie.  The reason for this confidence is that he is a huge Duke fan.

While the aforementioned names are at the top of the interest list, there are several others on the radar and we'll discuss them at a  later date.  Again, the upcoming tournaments and high school season will determine who gets more looks.  In short, the dust will clear shorlty to reveal true prospects and then will readjust again in Spring.  As for the Michigan State game, Duke is expecting some local kids and if that changes, we'll let you know. [/private]

Snyderwine named 1st team All America, Helfet, Kromah and Vernon earn honers

DURHAM, N.C. – Four Blue Devils – Cooper Helfet, Abraham Kromah, Will Snyderwine and Conner Vernon – received All-ACC honors as the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association announced the 2010 football all-conference teams on Monday.
Snyderwine and Vernon were second team selections while Helfet and Kromah received honorable mention recognition.
Snyderwine, a 5-11, 190-pound redshirt junior kicker from Potomac, Md., made 21-of-24 field goals and all 32 of his PAT attempts for 95 total points in 2010.  He set school single-season records for field goals, consecutive field goals made (18) and field goal percentage (.875) while posting the second-highest single-season point total behind Clarkston Hines’ 104-point campaign in 1989.  His 52-yard field goal against Georgia Tech matched the ninth-longest successful kick in school history.  In the ACC, Snyderwine ranks first in field goals per game (1.75), tied for first in PAT percentage (1.000), sixth in points per game (7.9) and fourth in field goal percentage (.875).  Nationally, he ranks sixth in field goals per game.
Vernon, a 6-2, 195-pound sophomore wide receiver from Miami, Fla., currently leads the ACC in pass receptions (73), receptions per game (6.08) and 100-yard receiving games (4) while standing third in the league in both receiving yards (973) and receiving yards per game (81.1).  His 73 receptions fell one catch shy of the school’s 40-year old single-season record of 74 set by Wes Chesson in 1970.
Helfet, a 6-4, 240-pound junior tight end from Kentfield, Calif., caught 34 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns this past season.  Over the final five weeks of the year, he had 28 receptions for 339 yards and twice was the recipient of the ACC’s Player of the Week accolade for offensive linemen.
Kromah, a 6-1, 225-pound redshirt senior linebacker from Staten Island, N.Y., ranks second in the ACC with a team-best 129 tackles in 2010.  He also led the Blue Devils with 9.5 tackles for loss while reaching double figures in the tackle column eight times including a career-best 20-stop performance in the season finale versus North Carolina.


DURHAM, N.C. – Duke redshirt junior kicker Will Snyderwine has earned first team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), the organization announced on Monday.
Snyderwine, a native of Potomac, Md., becomes the 17th player in Duke football history and the first since 1989 to receive first team All-America recognition.
In 2010, Snyderwine made 21-of-24 field goals and all 32 of his PAT attempts for 95 total points.  He set school single-season records for field goals, consecutive field goals made (18) and field goal percentage (.875) while posting the second-highest single-season point total behind Clarkston Hines’ 104-point campaign in 1989.  His 52-yard field goal against Georgia Tech matched the ninth-longest successful kick in school history.
In the ACC, Snyderwine ranks first in field goals per game (1.75), tied for first in PAT percentage (1.000), sixth in points per game (7.9) and fourth in field goal percentage (.875).  Nationally, he ranks sixth in field goals per game.
For his career, Snyderwine has made 38-of-44 field goals and all 56 of his PAT attempts for 170 points.  On Duke’s career lists, he ranks first in PAT percentage (1.000), first in field goal percentage (.864), second in field goals, tied for third in field goals of 50+ yards (2), sixth in total points, eighth in field goal attempts, tied for ninth in PAT attempts and 10th in PATs.
Snyderwine is joined on the 2010 AFCA All-America team by Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State), Alshon Jeffry (WR, South Carolina), Lance Kendricks (TE, Wisconsin), Lee Ziemba (OL, Auburn), Rodney Hudson (OL, Florida State), Stefen Wisniewski (OL, Penn State), Gabe Carimi (OL, Wisconsin), Chase Beeler (C, Stanford), Cam Newton (QB, Auburn), Kendall Hunter (RB, Oklahoma State), LaMichael James (RB, Oregon), Da’Quan Bowers (DL, Clemson), Adrian Clayborn (DL, Iowa), Jabaal Sheard (DL, Pittsburgh), Ryan Kerrigan (DL, Purdue), Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College), Greg Jones (LB, Michigan State), Tank Carder (LB, TCU), Reggie Rembert (DB, Air Force), Patrick Peterson (DB, LSU), Prince Amukamara (DB, Nebraska), Quinton Carter (DB, Oklahoma), Kyle Martens (P, Rice) and Owen Marecic (KR, Stanford).
The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945.
Other first team All-America honorees in Duke football history include Fred Crawford (1933), Ace Parker (1936), Dan Hill (1938), Eric Tipton (1938), George McAfee (1939), Steve Lach (1941), Bob Gantt (1942-43), Bill Milner (1943), Pat Preston (1943), Al DeRogatis (1948), Billy Cox (1950), Blaine Earon (1950), Red Smith (1951), Ed Meadows (1952-53), Bob Pascal (1955), Roy Hord (1957), Tom Topping (1957), Mike McGee (1959), Tee Moorman (1960), Jean Berry (1962), Jay Wilkinson (1963), Bob Matheson (1966), Ernie Jackson (1971), Billy Bryan (1976), Clarkston Hines (1988-89) and Chris Port (1989).

Monday Musings – Duke Basketball and Football, Coach K and the Cheerleader of the Week

Monday Musings continues it's tradition of presenting the Cheerleader of the Week - BDN Photo, Rick Crank

The Duke Blue Devils football team closed out the season with a 24-19 loss to North Carolina while the men's basketball team headed to Singler-ville bringing home a win over Oregon this past week.  This week the football staff starts concentrating on recruiting while the men's team prepares for Michigan State in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and we discuss all of this and more in our latest Monday Musings offering.

Good homecoming for Kyle Singler

Duke took care of business in Portland after spending time with Team Singler, aka, his family.   Singler dropped 30 points, his career high in the win over Oregon but the feeling here is that he will break that tally again.  Unless you've been sleeping under a rock you know that Singlers family is very athletic and competitive and Kyle who grew up watching film on Celtic great Larry Bird could be at the top of the list. 

Another test awaits the Blue Devils

Okay, it's no secret that this years edition of the Duke Men's Basketball team is loaded with talent and each game is a lesson for the long season to come.  On Wednesday evening Michigan State the consensus pre season #2 rated team comes into Cameron in a game that will have the place rocking.  The fact that the Spartan's dropped an early season game will only make them tougher and they're getting healthy after some nagging injuries.  Duke will face a team deep enough to challenge their depth and present some pressure on the defensive end.  The bottom line is that Michigan State is the best team Duke will have played to date andwill be one of the best teams they play all season long.  Many feel the two will eventually run into each other for a second time come March Madness.

As I said, it's a long season ahead

The media will continue to build Duke up after every win eventually claiming them to be unbeatable should they continue their winning ways.  I feel Duke is the nations best team in November but the season has four solid months to go and lots of things can happen along the way.  We are also hearing  chirping of the team going undefeated and all I can say to that is temper your expectations for it will not happen.  Still, Duke should develop along the way and it is frightening to think of what they'll look like come seasons end should their chemistry be intact.

Meanwhile Coach K keeps knocking down wins

Count from one to eight hundred and one and tell me how ridiculous that is when you think each number that rolls off your tongue is a victory for Mike Krzyzewski.  We'll drop you a hint that the UNC-Greensboro game could be one for the record books for if all goes as planned that will be the one where a huge milestone is set.  Can you figure out what that milestone will be?  And for what it's worth Coach K is so far ahead of other active coaches in weeks he's spent as the nations top ranked team that it's not even worth mentioning how far Roy Williams is behind him and the Heels coach is in 2nd.

Football season comes to an end

Duke finishes the season at 3-9 but they lost four ACC games by a touchdown or less.  I don't think Cutcliffe and company will worry with that more than getting the team physically stronger.  The goal is to realy hit the weight room hard at certain positions, reevaluate team personnel and acclimate newcomers into a solid group of returning players.  Next season will be the first year Cutcliffe has all of his players on the roster for the first time.

Sean Renfree

After a season of learning, look for Duke quarterback Sean Renfree to come back with a vengeance.  Renfree is the kind of kid that'll work his butt off in the off season and don't look now, but he will be one of the most experienced signal callers in the league as other schools break in new players at his position.

Let's take a peek at next seasons schedule

It's never to early to look towards next season, so here is the 2011 football schedule - Duke will play Richmond, Tulane, Stanford, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest at home and will visit Florida International, Boston College, Miami, Virginia and North Carolina on the road.  Duke will liklely be favored to win five of those games in the pre season, so a six win season of bowl eligibility could come to fruition.
Talk about rebuilding
My girls, the Duke Cheerleaders, will lose seven senior members after this season!  That has to be a record.  Anyhow, congrats to them and thanks for cheering your last football game at Duke on Saturday. 
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Observations from the Rose Garden

Final Score: Duke 98, Oregon 71
Watching basketball live at the arena provides a different perspective than the television experience. I was fortunate to be able to travel to the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon and watch Duke defeat Oregon 98-71, from a very good courtside location in Section 111, Row B, Seat 16. In this article, I will share and discuss my observations from the Rose Garden.

The crowd was enthusiastic and cheered on both the Blue Devils and the Ducks; however, when Kyle Singler was introduced the arena exploded with roaring applause from everyone in attendance, which was only upstaged by the standing ovation Singler received when Coach Krzyzewski removed him from the game with five minutes left to play. Obviously, this was Kyle’s game. And he did not disappoint.

Singler is smooth as silk. When he curls off a screen, catches a pass, and knocks down a 3-point basket, it appears to be one continuous fluid action. The running, catching, and shooting the ball are not three separate events they are a single entity connected by Singler's smoothness of effort. He is an artist and the basketball court is his canvass.

Kyrie Irving seems to be unstoppable when he decides to attack the rim. He is quick, splits defenders with ease, and takes the ball to the basket in multiple ways. Moreover, his accuracy from the perimeter makes it impossible for defenders to back off and focus on cutting off his opportunity to drive. Irving is a special talent.

One of Coach John Wooden’s famous sayings is, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” This saying describes Irving’s on court performance perfectly.

The improvement in Andre Dawkins’ game really stands out when you are watching from courtside. His comfort level is obvious as you can see he is not pressing but allowing the game to come to him. Yesterday he scored 14 points with ease on 4-7 shooting on 3-point baskets. On defense, he was in control of his assignments with solid positioning, fighting through screens, or seamless switches.

Dawkins is always prepared to shoot before the ball is passed to him. He caught a pass, in the second half, on the right wing in front of my seat, and let the ball fly with perfect spin. Watching Dawkins’ sweet stroke up close was worth the three hour drive to Portland.

On court communication between the Duke players really stood out. The guys were constantly talking and pointing, directing each other into position on defense or encouraging a shot on offense. The difference between the levels of communication by Duke compared to Oregon cannot be overstated. Television coverage does not pick up this aspect of the game (though I must admit for full disclosure I often times mute the TV as certain broadcasters who will not be named talk too much while saying too little).

Duke fans were driven into frenzy last season and early this season by seemingly endless unnecessary fouls committed by Mason Plumlee. The last three games his silly fouls have vanished. Yesterday Mason played 29 minutes with two fouls; over two games in Kansas City, he played 65 minutes with five fouls. To utilize the oft heard description, I believe the game has slowed down for Mason Plumlee.

Mason Plumlee still has much to improve on, free throw shooting for starters, but he appears to have taken a major step in the right direction. Duke is a much better team with Mason on the court as he is both a legitimate scoring option in the post and Duke’s leading rebounder averaging 8.5 per game, which is a full three more per game than Kyle Singler’s 5.2 per game.

Yesterday, Mason, along with his older brother Miles, dominated the glass pulling in 12 and 10 rebounds respectively as Duke out rebounded Oregon 48-33. Moreover, the brothers are an intimidating force in the low post as evidenced by Mason blocking four shots with Miles adding a fifth block.

Turning to an area which caused me a slight frown from time to time, Oregon’s press bothered Duke, especially at the start of the second half, resulting in an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers by the Blue Devils. While Duke obviously struggled due to some poor passes, and the decision making which led to those passes, credit must be given to the Ducks for playing hard and beating the Blue Devils to the ball with speed.

The speed at which the game is played isn’t clearly evident when one is kicked back in a recliner with a beer in his hand taking advantage of perfect angles on a big screen television. Watching courtside you can see how fast the players must make decisions and execute those decisions.

Nolan Smith had a bit of an off game with six turnovers. It is really a testament to how great of a player Smith is when in a game where he scores 18 points, grabs six rebounds and dishes out five assists, us sideline pundits choose to talk about his six turnovers. I’m confident yesterday’s turnovers will prove to be a statistical outlier.

Oregon’s press allowed Ryan Kelly the opportunity to display his ball handling skills. It is quite impressive to see the 6’ 11” Kelly dribbling and passing the ball up the court against a high tempo defense. Kelly only attempted one field goal yesterday, but it was a beautiful 3-point basket from the top of the key. Kelly is going to bring lots of smiles to the faces of Duke fans before his career in Durham is over.

This was the first time I had watched Duke live since the Pfeiffer exhibition game last season in Cameron Indoor Stadium and overall it was a wonderful day. The Rose Garden is a wonderful venue and I hope the Blue Devils schedule another game there at some point in the future. The opportunity to watch this extremely talented team in person made this Duke fan’s season.

Kyle Singler warming up for the second half