BDN’s Duke Football Spring Practice Update #1 with Coach Cutcliffe

This past weekend, BDN took in the first full contact scrimmage of spring practice where the offense was very successful in pretty much everything they did.  There was a reason for that and you’ll learn the latest on spring football to date by watching our weekly Spring Football Update with Duke coach David Cutcliffe

Duke women earn top seed with 66-58 win over North Carolina [Videos]

Jasmine Thomas, photo Rick Crank for BDN

The Duke Women earned a share of the ACC Regular Season Championship with a 66-58 victory over arch rival North Carolina before a sold out crowd in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  The win pushed the Blue Devils overall record to 26-3 going into this weeks Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

While this would not be Karima Christmas, Jasmine Thomas and Krystal Thomas’s last game in Cameron due to hosting the first round in the NCAA Tournament, it was their last regular season game.  That meant senior day speeches and as always they were heart felt and emotional. 

The Blue Devils also took turns cutting down the net as they celebrated the victory but you could tell this wasn’t the net they coveted and Coach McCallie otherwise known as Coach P, alluded to that on the post game press conference.

As for the game itself, the Blue Devils found themselves trailing at the half to the pesky Tar Heels who rolled out to an early 15-8 lead.  Duke settled down after the half and their defense allowed them to take a 38-37 lead on a Karima Christmas three pointer and the Blue Devils never trailed again.

Jasmine Thomas gave Duke a commanding 56-42 lead on a three pointer of her own at the 9:42 mark and that allowed them to cruise to a 66-58 win.  Thomas led Duke with 17 points and 5 assists to go with 2 steals.

But it was Karima Christmas who posted a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds and 6 assists of her own.  Fellow senior Krystal pulled down a game high 13 rebounds and you’ll see her in the videos below.

Duke got a spark from Allison Vernerey too, where she tossed in 11 points making and grabbed 6 rebounds and swatted back 2 shots on her birthday.  Shay Selby played with an edge adding 7 points as did freshman Tricia Liston.

Chelsea Gray who is healing an ankle sprian tried to make a go of it but wasn’t successful.  She is now day to day but expected to play in the tournament.

Duke outscored North Carolina 26-16 in the paint and outrebounded their rival 52-46.  The win was the 23rd in a row in Cameron Indoor Stadium where Duke went undefeated this season.  Duke will now take on the winner of the Virginia-Wake Forest winner  having won the tie breaker and earning the number one seed.

Check out the raw but emotional videos below -

Duke Star WR Conner Vernon talks spring practice

The Duke Blue Devils took to the field at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday morning for their first full contact scrimmage of the season.  The offense was clearly ahead of the defense which is learning a new scheme and missing six key players.  As usual Conner Vernon made his presence felt as the Blue Devils pass receptions leader a year ago.  BDN caught up to Vernon to talk about spring practice, the game and more via BDN Video.

Hokies upset Blue Devils

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Terrell Bell scored 12 points, including five straight to give Virginia Tech the lead for good, and the Hokies beat No. 1 Duke 64-60 on Saturday night.

The Hokies (19-8, 9-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), badly in need of a signature victory to enhance their NCAA tournament credentials, got it thanks to 12-4 run over a span of 4½ minutes that turned a 53-47 deficit into a 62-57 lead with 2 minutes remaining.

The Blue Devils (26-3, 12-2) had chances in the closing minute to pull even when Virginia Tech struggled at the free throw line, but couldn’t capitalize. Duke had its seven-game winning streak snapped and allowed the Hokies to get a badly boost to their NCAA hopes.

Kyle Singler led Duke with 22 points and Nolan Smith had 18.

Jeff Allen led the Hokies with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Bell and Erick Green each scored 12 as the Hokies improved to 4-7 in their history against teams ranked No. 1.

The Hokies trailed 51-45 until Malcolm Delaney’s driving basket with 9:28 left. It ignited a 12-4 burst, with the last seven coming in succession to give then a 57-55 lead. Bell had the last five — a 3-pointer to tie it from the right corner and two free throws.

Bell then blocked a driving shot by Smith, and after an exchange of misses at each end, Mason Plumlee went high to block a shot by Allen and was called for goaltending, doubling the Hokies lead to 59-55 leading into a timeout with 2:39 remaining.

Singler scored for the Blue Devils, but Delaney atoned for a rough night by swishing his only 3-pointer from the top of the key, rebuilding the margin to 62-57 with 2:01 to play.

A layin by Plumlee with 1:25 left and his free throw with 23.2 seconds left was all the Blue Devils could muster the rest of the way, allowing Virginia Tech to hang on.

As the buzzer sounded, fans streamed onto the court.

The Hokies led 42-37 until Andre Dawkins’s 3-pointer for Duke with 16:45 to go sparked a 14-3 burst for the Blue Devils. Singler had seven points in the run, and capped it with a 3-pointer that gave Duke a 51-45 advantage with 11:08 to play.

When Delaney made a layup, just his third field goal, with 9:28 left, it pulled Virginia Tech to 51-47 — and ended a scoring drought of 4 1/2 minutes for the home team.

But with Singler repeatedly missing open 3s for the Blue Devils — he finished 1 for 7 from behind the 3-point line — the Hokies failed to capitalize right away. Victor Davila missed a pair of free throws badly, and Delaney air-balled a 3-pointer to groans.

But then the Hokies caught fire again, and everything changed.

The game also was the first appearance at Cassell Coliseum for Seth Curry, whose father, Dell, is the second-leading scorer in Hokies history. Seth Curry was recruited by the Hokies, but wound up at Liberty and transferred to Duke after one season seeking a bigger challenge.

He was jeered in introductions, whistled for two quick fouls at the start of the game and again early in the second half, and played little. He came in for the final sequence, but threw the ball away when double teamed at the top of the key, capping a scoreless night.

The Hokies led 33-31 at halftime, and for most of the first half even though scoring leader Malcolm Delaney didn’t scratch until he hit a layup just 4:39 before halftime.

Delaney managed only four shots in the half, and was blanketed on defense by Smith, who also hit 6 of 10 shots and led all scorers with 12 points. Green had 10 for the Hokies.

The Blue Devils led just twice in the half, the last at 18-16, but Green’s 3-pointer from the right corner launched a 13-4 run that gave the Hokies a 29-22 advantage, their largest.

QB Casey Cochran was the 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year in CT

Coach Cutcliffe and Duke are evaluating CT QB Casey Cochran

QB Casey Cochran was the 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year in CT

Head Coach David Cutcliffe is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks, thanks to his work with Thad Lewis and Sean Renfree at Duke, and Peyton and Eli Manning at Tennessee and Ole Miss. In the class of 2012, Duke has already been in contact with many of the top quarterback prospects around the country, including Casey Cochran of Connecticut. Cochran is a 6’1” 205 pound pro-style quarterback from Masuk High School in Monroe, CT. As a junior, Cochran led the top offense in the state to a championship, earning himself the state Gatorade Player of the Year award. Highlights of his junior season, during which he threw 2,670 yards and 36 touchdowns, can be viewed here.

BDN: Can you start off by describing your strengths as a quarterback?

Some of my strengths are, I think, are accuracy in all throws, moving in the pocket, arm strength, and reading coverages.

BDN: What are some of the things you have been working on this offseason?

I’ve been working on depth and quickness of my drops, footwork.  Every day I’ve been working on footwork.  Throwing on the run was a big thing to work on; I didn’t do it much this year, but work on that a lot.

BDN: Are there any quarterbacks in the NFL or college game that you have studied or modeled your game after?

Definitely, I’ve been watching a lot of Aaron Rodgers this year, he has like impeccable form.  It’s perfect.  Same thing with Tom Brady.  He holds the ball a little low, but I love watching him.  They’re 2 great quarterbacks I love watching, as well as Peyton Manning, just how he runs offense is awesome.

BDN: What are your goals for your senior season?

Definitely want to win the championship again, go undefeated, we did that this year, and I definitely want to repeat, go out with a bang.  I want to be the number one offense in the state, and just do better than last year.

BDN: What are the most important factors you’re considering when looking at colleges?

First of all, academics.  Academics are the strongest thing I’m looking for.  Also facilities and academic support, as well as the type of offense run there.

BDN: Is there a specific academic field you think you would like to study in college?

Yes, sports medicine, I’d like to get into physical therapy or personal training.

BDN: Do you have a preference for a particular offensive style?

Yeah, I’m looking for pro-style, with a mix-up of spread too.

BDN: What schools have you had the most contact with so far and who were the first schools to contact you?

Cochran has an early offer from Boston College

The first – I have an offer from BC, and they were the strongest at first.  I have – I went to the UConn and Rutgers Junior Day, and I am scheduled to go to Virginia, Duke, and NC State Junior Days, as well as Penn State this spring.

BDN: Have any schools stood out to you at this point in the process, either on your visits or through your contact with coaches?

Not necessarily yet, no, it’s still pretty early.

BDN: Do you know what camps you plan on attending this summer?

Not yet, but I’m definitely going to UConn and Rutgers.  We haven’t planned every camp out yet, but definitely UConn and Rutgers and BC.

BDN: At this point in the process, do you have an idea when you would like to make your college decision?

No, I’m taking my time now, but I am scheduled to graduate January of my senior year, so I’m trying to take my time, but before then I would definitely make my decision.