The Duke Blue Devils will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in a sold out Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday afternoon and that will be the final regular season game for Krystal Thomas. BDN caught up to senior big this afternoon and chatted with her about the regular season finale. against their arch rival. In fact, Coach P makes an impromptu appearance in the video which is cool. See it for yourself and link it for all Duke Women’s Basketball fans to see. A side note, come out to the game despite the sell out for there should be a few tickets outside the arena. If Duke wins, they are the regular season champions and those who make the game will experience something really cool which I will keep quiet for now.
Game 29[1 AP / 1 Coaches] Duke (26-2, 12-1 ACC) vs. Virginia Tech (18-8, 8-5 ACC)
Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 • 9:00 p.m.
The Opening Tip• Duke (26-2, 12-1 ACC) faces Virginia Tech (18-8, 8-5 ACC) on Saturday, Feb. 26 at Cassell Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m.
• The game is being televised by ESPN with Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Dick Vitale (analyst) calling the contest. ESPN College GameDay will also be in Blacksburg for the meeting between the two schools.
• Duke is ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, while Virginia Tech is unranked in both polls.
• Duke has won 44 of the last 47 games entering Saturday’s game with Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils have won 16 of their last 17 contests against ACC opponents.
• The Blue Devils are looking for their 20th straight win in the month of February.
Duke-Virginia Tech Series History• Duke and Virginia Tech have met 43 times heading into Saturday’s game with the first meeting between the two schools coming in 1912.
• The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 36-7, including a 3-1 mark at Cassell Coliseum.
• Duke has won four consecutive games and 14 of the last 16 in the series.
• Mike Krzyzewski is 7-2 at Duke against the Hokies. The Blue Devils are 3-1 in Blacksburg under Krzyzewski.
• Duke has won three consecutive games at Cassell Coliseum in the series.
• Five of the last eight games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less.
• Duke won 10 straight games in the series from 1934-1948.
• Duke has held Virginia Tech to less than 70 points in six consecutive meetings.
Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of Duke’s first game as the No. 1 team in the AP Poll under Coach K. The Blue Devils topped Clemson, 77-69, on Feb. 26, 1986 in Krzyzewski’s first game with a top-ranked team.
Mike Krzyzewski has led Duke to a 183-25 (.880) mark as the top-ranked team in the AP Poll. He ranks second behind only John Wooden in games played, wins and winning percentage with the No. 1 team in the poll.
Duke has won five consecutive ACC road contests. The Blue Devils have a +16.2 scoring margin during the win streak.
Mike Krzyzewski is one of seven coaches in ACC history with a winning percentage above .500 in league road games. Coach K’s .612 road winning percentage ranks fourth all-time, while his 139 career road wins are an ACC record.
Nolan Smith is attempting to become the first player in ACC history to lead the league in scoring and assists. Smith is currently averaging an ACC-best 21.4 points and 5.2 assists per game.
Seth Curry is averaging 12.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals during seven games. He is 17-of-35 (.486) from three-point range and has a 3.25:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in that span.
Kyle Singler is 21 points shy of passing Juan Dixon (Maryland) for 12th on the ACC career scoring chart. Singler currently has 2,249 career points.
Mason Plumlee is averaging 9.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game over the last seven contests. He is shooting 69.8 percent (30-of-43) from the field in that span.
Nolan Smith is averaging 22.4 points in true road games this season.
Happy Friday Blue Devil Nation! It feels good to be #1 again, doesn’t it? There’s still a lot of basketball to be played before a champion is crowned and it should be a great March. We made it through another week, which means it’s time for our Football Friday column. This week, we take a comprehensive first look at Duke’s 2011 schedule.
See, the internet can be a good thing
Since I mentioned the Auburn incident briefly last week, I thought I should commend the Alabama Crimson Tide fans for their generous support of Tide for Toomers, which has now raised over $45,000. I think many Duke fans are able to appreciate the general good nature of the Crimson Tide faithful after meeting them at last fall’s game in Durham. This generous campaign is an impressive demonstration of charity and respect; hopefully, the funds will be put to good use to help restore a popular Auburn tradition. The most important characteristic of any truly great rivalry is not hatred or competitiveness, but mutual respect. Well done.
Will Duke go bowling in 2011?
Of course, the fan in me says yes, and I’m excited to see this young team continue to develop on the field. That being said, the analyst in me says I’ve got another year to save up frequent flyer miles for our bowl trip. The Blue Devils will face 8 opponents who went to a bowl in 2010, including 3 ranked opponents. Duke will close the season with 3 of their final 4 games on the road. Coming off a 3 win season with a roster that features 57 underclassmen, the scheduling gods have not been particularly kind to the Blue Devils.
Two words should give Duke fans a ray of hope: starts with turnover, ends with margin. Put it together: turnover margin. I conveniently found two good examples to prove my point right in the ACC.
The Maryland Terrapins finished the 2010 season 9-4 after a dismal 2-9 season in 2009. Of course, the impressive turnaround earned Ralph Friedgen ACC Coach of the Year honors, but apparently was not enough to save his job. Sure, Maryland made improvements across the board and broke in a talented young quarterback in Danny O’Brien, but if you look at the statistics, most offensive and defensive improvements were pretty marginal in the ACC rankings. The big jump was in turnover margin, where they went from -6 in 2009 (11th in ACC) to +15 in 2010 (2nd in ACC).
The second example happened right down the road in Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack went from 5-7 in 2009 to 9-4 in 2010, and also simultaneously improved from -11 (12th in ACC) to +7 (4th in ACC) in turnover margin. It’s said all the time and it seems cliché, but the statistics show that winning the turnover battle is essential to winning football games.
Of course, the Blue Devils went in the opposite direction, from +2 (4th in ACC) in 2009, to -11 (12th in ACC) in 2010. If the Duke offense can do a better job of taking care of the football while the defense comes up with a few more opportunistic takeaways, maybe, just maybe, the Blue Devils can find enough wins to play in December.
2011 Duke opponents
September 3: Richmond (2010: 6-5)
Repeat after me: it’s not 2009, it’s not 2009… The Blue Devils certainly hope so; a repeat of the 2009 season opener would be devastating for the program. The Spiders took a step back in Head Coach Latrell Scott’s first year, but still posted their 6th consecutive winning season. Simply put, Richmond is a football team that expects to win, and having won their last 2 games in Wallace Wade Stadium, they will come to Durham confident. The Blue Devils will have to be ready to play on opening night and have every reason to be: they should have a full house of support, overall better athletes, and better coaching. They need to take care of business on their home field against an FCS opponent.
September 10: Stanford (2010: 12-1)
The Blue Devils had so much fun playing a top non-conference game in September last year that they decided to do it again in 2011. Jim Harbaugh may be gone, but Andrew Luck is still there; after watching the second half of the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech, it’s probably safe to say that Luck alone might be the toughest test for the Duke defense all season. But not so fast. The Cardinal are losing a lot of talent at key positions, including receiver, where Luck will have to find new targets. I also suspect he will do a lot of handing off to a talented group of running backs, led by Stepfan Taylor. There are question marks along the line of scrimmage, where the Cardinal lose 3 starters on offense and 2 on defense. Most fans and analysts won’t give Duke a chance in this game, but there’s reason to believe that it may be more competitive than expected.
September 17: at Boston College (2010: 7-6)
Last season, I circled the September matchup at Wake Forest on the schedule as a crucial game for the Blue Devils. This year, I’m circling this early season trip to Chestnut Hill. Well, not literally, since I can’t figure out how to do that on my iPhone, but you get the idea. Duke played BC down to the wire in 2010, and both teams return most of their key players. After struggling to score in 2010, the Eagles will have a new offensive coordinator, but still expect to feature a heavy dose of senior RB Montel Harris. Defensively, Mark Herzlich has graduated, but junior Luke Kuechly, who Duke fans may remember as The One-Man Defensive Highlight Reel, is likely to put up another All-ACC year. While I don’t think this is a must-win game, I think we’ll learn a lot about our young Blue Devils in their first road game in an unfamiliar stadium. Can Duke protect the football and score against an imposing, physical defense? Can the defense wrap up Montel Harris and do a better job against the run than a year ago?
September 24: Tulane (2010: 4-8)
Without a doubt, this is a game Duke should win, but it won’t be the cupcake most expect. Tulane went up to Piscataway and beat Rutgers a year ago, so they’re capable of beating BCS conference teams on the road. Also, the Green Wave are 2-0 all-time against the Blue Devils, but the last meeting was in 1973. Somewhat similar to Duke, Tulane was able to put up points fairly consistently in 2010, but struggled to slow opposing offenses. That being said, much like the Richmond game, Duke needs to take care of business against a lesser opponent in Wallace Wade Stadium.
October 1: @ Florida International (2010: 7-6)
Not that Duke football should be overlooking any opponent at this point, especially on the road, but prior to last year, most would have considered Duke a clear favorite in this matchup. The Golden Panthers played their first year in the FBS in 2005 (their football program played its first game in 2002), had never had a winning season at any level, and had a cumulative record of 24-68. This was all before their magical 2010 run to the Sun Belt Championship and a Little Caesars Pizza Bowl title over Toledo. The good news is that FIU is 0-4 all-time against ACC opponents, including a loss a year ago at Maryland. If the Blue Devils hope to continue that trend, they will need to contain dynamic senior T.Y. Hilton, the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year. Heading into the open date, this is a crucial road game for Duke.
October 8: Open date
The open date falls near the middle of the schedule, which is where the coaching staff prefers, but I think it comes a week too early this year, as you’ll see below. I expect Duke to enter the bye at 3-2, with an outside chance of a great 4-1 start (and of course the possibility of things going in the other direction, but we won’t think about that for now, it’s February!). Their first opponent out of the bye will be the preseason favorite to win the ACC championship, and the Blue Devils will need all the extra preparation they can get.
October 15: Florida State (2010: 10-4)
There’s not much to say to the preview of this matchup. Jimbo Fisher has done a great job of turning the Seminoles back into perennial ACC contenders, and I expect the momentum from his first year as head coach to continue in 2011. To put it simply, Duke will be overmatched at most positions on the field. That being said, Duke is capable of competing with the Seminoles; if they take care of the football, execute, and get some help from the football gods, there is no reason to think an upset isn’t a possibility.
October 22: Wake Forest (2010: 3-9)
I’m getting really tired of saying that we have to beat Wake Forest, but guess what? We have to beat Wake Forest. After several years of success, Wake Forest has struggled the past two seasons, and the Blue Devils have failed to take advantage. As I’ve said already, Duke has to take care of business in Wallace Wade Stadium against “beatable” opponents if they want to take the next step as a program. The outcome of this game is likely to be predictive of how Duke finishes the 2011 season, which is why I would have preferred the open date come a week later. I expect both teams to be improved from a year ago, and this should be another game that will come down to the wire between the Tobacco Road rivals.
October 29: Virginia Tech (2010: 11-3)
It’s conceivable that Duke could play very good football during this 3-game October homestand and end up without a win to show for it. The defending ACC champions beat the Blue Devils handily in Blacksburg a year ago, but lose ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor, along with running backs Darren Evans and Ryan Williams. As always, under the guidance of Bud Foster, the Hokies’ defense will present another stiff challenge for the Duke offense, but I expect the Virginia Tech offense to experience some growing pains in 2011. I’m not going to predict an upset here, but I have to admit I like Duke’s chances if they are able to take care of the football and if they have momentum from a win over Wake Forest.
November 5: at Miami (2010: 7-6)
The Al Golden era begins in Miami, and the Blue Devils will make their second trip to sunny Florida in week 10, the first of three November ACC road games. It’s hard to predict how the Hurricanes’ season will go under their new head coach, especially with a big question mark under center. A great athlete, Jacory Harris has struggled to cut down on turnovers, which makes it tough to win. Stephen Morris showed flashes of potential last year, but is far from a sure thing at this point. Miami should have the better athletes, but with the program in transition, it’s not unreasonable to think that Duke could win two games in the state of Florida in 2011, though unlikely.
November 12: at Virginia (2010: 4-8)
Duke is 3-0 against Virginia under David Cutcliffe, but it has gotten more difficult every year. After a convincing victory in Durham in 2008, the Blue Devils pulled out a 4th quarter victory in Charlottesville in 2009, and a last minute victory in Durham in 2010 (cementing Desmond Scott’s place in Duke fans’ hearts). It won’t be any easier in 2011, as Mike London has done an impressive job turning things around for the Cavaliers. Virginia will be breaking in a new quarterback and running back, losing Marc Verica and Keith Payne to graduation. The Wahoos are likely to experience some youthful growing pains, but they will be hungry for a win against the Blue Devils in Charlottesville. This is a very tough road test for the Blue Devils and it comes during a difficult stretch in November.
November 19: Georgia Tech (2010: 6-7)
At first glance, this may be the most winnable game on Duke’s November schedule, which says a lot. Georgia Tech defeated the Blue Devils in 2010 without start QB Josh Nesbitt, so there’s no reason to think that Tevin Washington isn’t capable of leading them to victory again. That being said, Duke played one of their best games of the year in Atlanta last year, and may have pulled off the upset without a crucial second half red zone turnover. As has been my theme throughout this preview, if Duke wins the turnover battle in this game, they have a good chance of taking down the Yellow Jackets, which would be a good win on the program’s resume.
November 26: at North Carolina (2010: 8-5)
With all that’s gone on at UNC over the past year, the fact remains that they’ve dominated the Blue Devils on the field and remain an imposing opponent. Things could change in Chapel Hill before this game, but the Tar Heels showed an impressive toughness in 2010 by playing well through adversity. With key losses on both offense and defense, the Tar Heels have question marks heading into the season, but most should be answered by the final game of the season. This is another game that Duke simply must win to truly take the next step forward as a program.
The bottom line
Predictions when most teams haven’t even begun spring practice are generally meaningless, but you want me to make one, so I will. I already said that Duke enters the bye week at 3-2, but I expect Duke to play some of its best football during the second half of the season. Unfortunately, that coincides with some of Duke’s toughest matchups on paper. My gut really doesn’t like the way the schedule plays out for the Blue Devils, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended with 4 wins. However, I am optimistic that Duke has the athletes and the coaches to take a big step forward by pulling off an important upset late in the season over a team like Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, or even Miami, giving them 5 wins on the season.
Don’t worry, we’ll be back next week and we’ll talk some more recruiting and recap the headlines from Duke’s spring practice. Thanks for reading and don’t forget WE ARE DUKE.
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DURHAM -Duke senior guard Nolan Smith helped lead Duke to a win over Temple last evening, scoring 15 points in the process. BDN has some post game comments from Smith via video.
BDN’s Andrew Slater caught up with prospect Kyle Anderson [6-8, 218, SF, St. Anthony’s]. Anderson is considered a versatile talent who needs to add strength. He ranks 18th in his class by ESPN and is higher in others rankings. Anderson is capable of playing 3-4 positions at this level and next, Anderson’s style and combination of skills is very unique.
Can you talk about playing for Coach Hurley and what, if any adjustments that you’ve had to make in transferring to St. Anthony’s? I’m sure you get asked this a lot, but I just wanted to hear it directly from you.
Yeah, yeah, it’s great playing for Coach Hurley. He always shows that he cares a lot, you know. Everyday, he goes out there and gives one hundred percent and so it pushes players to go out there and just play every possession. It helps us, you know, be ready and play hard against our opponents. He’s always been a passionate man.
Another [private] person was waiting outside the locker room and thought you guys lost.
No, no, a loss would’ve been much, much worse.
Yeah, I know. God forbid, if you guys lost, I would’ve been running upstairs. (laughing)
No, I wouldn’t have blamed you. What was the other part of the question?
I was wondering what adjustments did you have to make when you entered this program.
Oh, sure, adjustments were like running the floor a lot more, you know, playing both ends more effectively.
It probably helped you also adjust by having Myles (Mack) come over as well.
Yeah, it made me feel more comfortable…having him come over here too.
Have you seen St. Pat’s yet this year and how do you think that you guys match-up? I think it’s going to be a good game. I haven’t got a chance to see St. Pat’s in person yet, but..
Yeah, I didn’t know if you caught one of their games or saw them on television.
Yeah, actually, the only game I’ve caught of theirs was the one on ESPN against Winter Park. I think it’s going to be a good game. I think we match-up perfectly against them, you know, frankly.
People are always interested in recruiting. What’s the latest in your recruitment?
Sure, I’m not really thinking about it too much right now, especially at this point in the season. I’ve got a lot of good programs interested in me. I’ve got a lot of the ACC and Big East programs, like Georgetown, Villanova… a couple of Pac-Ten schools, UCLA and Arizona, you know.
In the ACC, Virginia and Virginia Tech have been pushing and several others have shown some interest.
Actually, Pittsburgh has come on a lot lately.
Do you a time frame for when you’d like to cut down on your list or choose your program?
Yeah, I’d like to decide before the next high school season.
What position are most schools recruiting you for? I know this is another issue, if you will, that seems to be discussed about you a lot more than most players.
(laughs) Yeah, yeah, yeah. Some schools are recruiting me for their point guard. Some schools are recruiting me for kinda like a forward Like a 3?
Yeah, or a step-out 4. Do you like that? What do you prefer to play?
I haven’t decided what I’d like to play in college, but, whatever position I decide, that’s going to be based on which school I decide to go to.
Let’s talk about visits. I’m always hearing about you visiting some school or seeing you at a game. Which ones have you made and which ones do you have planned?
(laughs) Yeah, sure, Villanova, Xavier, UCLA, Seton Hall..that’s it really.
Any upcoming ones?
No, not really. Oh, yeah, and I’ve been to St. John’s too. That’s it.
What are going to be the important factors in your decision?
That’s a tough one.
What are some of them, not necessarily all?
A good history with the coach, you know… like what type of players he’s developed.
So the guy’s got to have a track record?
Yeah, yeah, definitely
What about distance? Is that an issue for you? Some have said you wanted to stay local, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal for you any more.
Yeah, exactly, distance, at first, was a problem. I didn’t want to go too far, but now I’m thinking distance wouldn’t be a problem.
Who are some players that you feel you’re really close with?
In high school, you know, Rodney Purvis, Quinn Cook, Quincy Miller, LJ Rose, Tony Wroten, a lot of people. What’s the connection? Just running into the same faces in the relatively small circle of AAU. Those guys, outside of maybe Rose, are all pretty outgoing guys.
Yeah, you know, just being on trips with them. We’ve developed a good bond with them. Just practically doing everything in life together, from playing basketball to hanging out to eating. On the college level, (USC point guard) Jio Fontan. Sure. I looked up to him forever ’cause I’ve known since we were very little.
Would you say he’s one of your role models?
Yeah, that’s probably like my biggest role model.
How does he like it out there?
He likes Cali, but I’m sure there are times when he wants to come home. (laughs)
Who do you turn to for guidance these days? Your dad’s always been a big part of your life and now Coach Hurley.
Yeah, I’d say my father and my mother are the number one people that I turn to for guidance.
In terms of a decision like selecting a college, will they be the two people that you’ll be turning to?
Yeah, pretty much my immediate family. My two brothers, my two sisters, and my mother and father.
I know your two brothers are older.
Yeah, I’m the youngest of all. So, you’re the 6’8″ baby of the family. (laughs) Yeah, and I look up to all of them..so to speak.
Now, I know your dad coached with St. Peter’s and the Playaz. Did anyone else play in your family?
Well, one of my brothers played football for UConn.
Oh, really. By the way, does that help give them an insider’s edge? (laughs)
No, no, no. He’s always telling me to go up there, but, no, it definitely doesn’t give them an edge. Not at all.
There’s been a lot written locally, mostly by (Adam) Zagoria, that you want to play locally. We touched on it before, in terms of distance being a factor, but you indicated that wasn’t necessarily the case. Can you touch on the appeal of playing locally and how much of a factor that might be?
It would be great to still play locally because I’m a big “home” guy, but, in the end, I really don’t think it’s going to play much of a factor in my decision.
Thanks, I just wanted to know directly from you on that one because he’s seemingly always writing about that angle.
Now, with friends and teammates like Myles Mack (a Rutgers commitment and his HS teammate at both St. Anthony’s and Patterson Catholic) or Fuquan (Edwin) and Jordan (Theodore), do those give you any pressure or encourage you to play for Rutgers or Seton Hall?
No, they don’t really pressure me too much.
Just low pressure?
(laughs) Yeah, yeah, they don’t really pressure me, but it’d be cool to play with them. Sidebar – A fight almost broke out near by during the interview, that’s what you may miss when readin a couple of questions which could seem odd.[/private]
DURHAM - Just after the Duke Blue Devils defeated the Temple Owls by a 78-61 margin, BDN caught up with senior leader Kyle Singler in the locker room. Singler led the Blue Devils with 28 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.