Despite lopsided loss, Duke will come back as a better team

The #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes took it to the Duke Blue Devils last evening and in the process they exposed some areas of weakness, but to make a big fuss out of the loss would be silly.  Yes, Duke got punked against one of the most veteran teams in the nation on their home court, one where the Buckeyes have yet to leave this season.

While the margin of the loss could be alarming to some, it still counts as a single loss.  It is also important to realize that the Blue Devils have been just the opposite of the home comforted Buckeyes in that they've been road warriors and played a lot of games in a short time.  Still, there are no excuses in that Duke lost to a better team but they'll take away a valuable lesson in many ways which will in turn make them better come March.

I mean, let's face it, Ohio State would have beat anybody badly the way they played, all comers, if you will.  It was also clear to see that this game was huge for their program as Thad Motta, at times, acted as if he'd never been there before, basking in the camera's bright glare ranting up and down the sidelines from beginning to end with a look in his eyes that it was personal.

This is Motta's best team in Columbus, anchored by a player most thought would be in the league in Jared Sullinger, so they're suppose to win and be as good as they looked.  Duke took their best shot and had no counter punch and that got to Krzyzewski enough that he benched unproductive regulars for true freshman Quinn Cook and Michael Gbinije.

What was happening is that he was sending a clear message to his team, that practice would be tough this week and each player will have to earn their burn.  In the process, Hairston and the aforementioned freshman got some valuable time for down the road.  There was not a great deal of production from them in significant minutes but that was different in little way from the regulars numbers, where Thornton and Dawkins combined for 0 points.

Ryan Kelly got caught up in the dog house as well, with a zip in the box score as well after turning in an MVP performance in Maui.  Kelly had better numbers past that though but a message was being sent by Coach K and a lot of it had to do with their defense.  Still, on this night it wouldn't have mattered who was in there for Duke in that this was one of the biggest games in Buckeye's history and they showed up in a big way.

Meanwhile, Austin Rivers showed positive signs of improvement with his play and his 22 points led the Blue Devils.  He was helped by Mason Plumlee and his 16 points but past that, some Blue Devils seemed to have not packed all of their game before leaving Durham.  These two kids never gave up nor played on their heels but Rivers, despite his stellar game was still figuring it all out.

It was simply a bad game for Duke, but it was just one game.  Until this loss, Duke had played as good as one could have imagined with victories over Belmont, Davidson, Michigan State, Michigan, Kansas, all solid ball clubs.  And unlike Ohio State, Duke beat three of these teams away from the friendly and comfortable Cameron Indoor Stadium.

While this loss might sting when realizing Duke was never in the game, save early on -- it'll be a learning experience and one where the staff will have a young teams undivided attention.  The Blue Devils are a work in progress and in a sense, they are right on schedule and a loss in late November will seem a long ways off soon enough.

As a team, Duke now knows what kind of effort it will take to win in a hostile environment against as good a team that they'll face all year and this lesson might help against the likes of North Carolina in ACC play.  Personally, I will not overreact to this loss despite the fact that Duke was as much of the media is saying, got dismantled.

All that is left to do is for Krzyzewski and the team to pick up the pieces after being humbled and history shows that this will indeed happen.  In the long run, Duke will be better from taking this on on the chin and tough lessons are what makes one tougher in life and in this case on the court as well.

When Duke faces Colorado State in Cameron a week from today, fans may see a shake up or two, but even if not, Duke will be a better team and a hungry one from their experience.  Personally, I think they'll run off five straight victories, including the game with Washington in New York before heading to another hostile environment at Temple just after the New Year is over.  And at that time, we'll know for sure if the lesson learned in Columbus played a role in preparing them for the coming schedule.

Matt Daniels Makes 1st Team All ACC, 3 other Blue Devils tabbed

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke senior safety Matt Daniels earned first team All-ACC honors as announced Monday afternoon by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Three other Blue Devils earned recognition with senior punter Alex King and junior wide receiver Conner Vernon garnering second team accolades while senior tight end Cooper Helfet received an honorable mention citation.
Daniels, a 6-1, 210-pound native of Fayetteville, Ga., is tops among ACC defensive backs and third overall in the league in tackles per game (10.5) after posting 126 total stops on the year. He added 4.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions , one caused fumble and 14 pass break-ups - the second-highest single-season PBU total in Duke history. Daniels, who finished his 46-game career with 324 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 27 pass break-ups, four interceptions, seven caused fumbles and three fumble recoveries, is the first Blue Devil safety to earn first team all-league honors since Ray Farmer turned the trick in back-to-back seasons in 1994-95.

King, a 6-1, 210-pound native of Winston-Salem, N.C., punted 50 times for 2,104 yards and a 42.08 yards per kick average. Currently ranked third in the conference in punting average, King placed 17 boots inside the opponent 20 yard line against just four touchbacks. His season average is the ninth-best in school history.

Vernon, a 6-1, 195-pound native of Miami, Fla., earns second team recognition for the second straight season after posting 70 receptions for 956 yards and six touchdowns - all team bests. In 2011, Vernon matched the school single-season record for most games (9) with five or more catches while becoming the first player in ACC history to post multiple seasons with 70 or more receptions. Through three seasons, he has 198 catches for 2,675 yards and 13 touchdowns to rank second on Duke's career charts in both receptions and yardage and tied for eighth in TDs.

Helfet, a 6-4, 240-pound native of Kentfield, Calif., picked up an honorable mention citation for the second year in a row after catching 43 passes for 395 yards and four touchdowns. Among Duke tight ends, his 43 grabs are the most since 1994 while matching the seventh-highest single-season total. Helfet finished his 23-game career with 77 catches for 775 yards and six touchdowns.

Duke at Ohio State Game Notes

Game 8 l ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Duke (7-0) vs. Ohio
State (6-0)
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 l 9:30 p.m. (ET) l ESPN
Opening Tip
• Duke (7-0) faces Ohio State (6-0) on Tuesday, Nov. 29
at Value City Arena in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m.
• The game will be televised by ESPN with Dan Shulman (play-by-play)
and Dick Vitale (analyst) calling the contest.
• Duke is ranked No. 3 in the
AP Poll and No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Ohio State is ranked No. 2
in both polls.
• Duke has won four straight games when both teams have been
ranked in the top 5 of the AP Poll.
• The Blue Devils are playing their third
straight game against a ranked opponent.
• Duke is 11-1 all-time in ACC/Big
Ten Challenge games, including a 3-1 mark in Challenge road games.
• Six of
Duke’s 11 ACC/Big Ten Challenge wins have been by 10 points or
less.Duke-Ohio State Series
• Duke leads the
all-time series, 3-2, including a 1-0 mark under Mike
• The two teams have met once in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
competition with Duke claiming a 91-76 win over Ohio State on Dec. 3, 2002.

Duke earned a 94-89 double-overtime victory over the Buckeyes on Dec. 30, 1964
in its only other trip to Columbus.
• Four of the five games in the series
have been decided by less than 10 points.

Duke vs. the Big

• Duke has won five straight games against Big Ten opponents.

• The Blue Devils are 67-25 all-time against teams currently in the Big Ten,
including a 49-15 mark under Coach K.
• Duke has already topped Big Ten foes
Michigan State (74-69) and Michigan (82-75) this season.


• Duke has won 35 consecutive games in November, dating back to
a 73-62 loss to Marquette in the championship game of the 2006 CBE Classic. The
Blue Devils are 115-10 all-time in the month of November under Coach K.
• The
Blue Devils have won 30 of their last 32 non-conference contests. Duke is 58-6
in non-league games since the start of the 2008-09 season.
• Duke is playing
its third straight ranked opponent marking the fourth time the Blue Devils have
played three consecutive ranked foes in the last 10 seasons.
• The Blue
Devils will play three ranked teams in November for the second time in school
history. Duke also played three November games against ranked opponents in the
1999-00 season.
• Duke has played in front of a sellout crowd in each of its
first seven games of the season.
• The Blue Devils are 16-5 against teams
ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll since the start of the 2009-10 season. Duke
is 5-1 against top 10 teams in that span.
• With 11 victories in ACC/Big Ten
Challenge games, Duke has five more wins than any Big Ten team in the 12-year
history of the event.
• Five Blue Devils (Seth
, Ryan
, Mason
and Andre
) are averaging over 10.0 points per game. Duke is one of eight teams
in the NCAA with at least five double-figures scorers.
Seth Curry
has made two or more three-point field goals in six of Duke’s seven games. He
has shot 50.0 percent or better from long range in five of the team’s seven
contests and is shooting 57.1 percent from three-point range on the year.

Ryan Kelly
has scored in double figures in six of Duke’s seven games this season. Duke is
15-0 when Kelly scores 10 or more points in a contest.
ranks third on the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game and has
led the Blue Devils in scoring a team-best four times.
• Duke’s post rotation
of Ryan
, Mason
and Miles
combine to average 31.6 points and 19.9 rebounds per game. The trio
is also shooting 56.1 percent (74-of-132) from the field on the year.
• Duke
is averaging 28.4 free throw attempts per game. Mason
(5.9), Austin
(5.7) and Ryan Kelly
(5.6) are each averaging over 5.0 free throws per game.
• Duke is shooting an
ACC-best 45.9 percent (61-of-133) from three-point distance. The Blue Devils
have 30 more made three-point field goals than their opposition this
• Duke has started the season 7-0 for the second straight season and
the 16th time under Coach K.
is one of two players in the ACC (Virginia’s Mike Scott is the
other) averaging a double-double on the year.

Matt Jones talks of his decision to choose Duke

One of the top shooters in the class of 2013, Matt Jones, will play his college basketball career at Duke University.  Jones is a 6-5 shooting guard out of the state of Texas where he plays for DeSota High School.  Jones soared up the rankings while playing with his AAU team, the Texas Titans over the summer.  Jones is a flat-out dangerous outside shooter who nails the three ball on a regular basis.  The Blue Devils offered Jones after Coach K and his staff took a look at him during the Peach Jam this past summer.

"Duke is great, a great school. Coach K is just a really great person on and off the court, a great mentor and he’s really cool," Jones told Blue Devil Nation.  Jones picked Duke over Arizona, Baylor, Florida, Kansas and North Carolina and others.

When asked why he chose Duke, Jones stated, "I mean, I just felt confident in the coaches to take me to the next level both on and off the court."

His parents and AAU and high school coaches also helped him to make his decision to head to Durham after his high school career. Jones is also the teammate of another key Duke prospect, Julius Randle who plays on his Texas Titans AAU team.
I followed Jones on the AAU circuit and he is a complete player on the court who can penetrate and pass the ball well.  He is also a solid defender and of course a superb shooter. "Duke has always had great guards and shooters. Obviously, Coach K is a legend. Just a great coach. It’s a great school with a winning tradition and history. Great players and everything," said an elated Jones.
He continued by saying, "My family were as excited about this as I was, so that definitely made me feel more confident about the decision to go ahead and pick Duke."Jones also points to his faith as playing a big role in his life, stating,  "In life it helps me to make the right decision and gives me more confidence in that I am doing what God wants me to do.  It gives me more things to play for and I want to give God all my glory.  It just makes me work harder and gets me through things people don’t want to do."

Jones is in the midst of his high school basketball season and he is still working on areas of his game.  "I’m trying to get a little stronger, but mostly I want to work on my flexibility. I think I need to keep improving that area. I need to get more flexible."

Many thought the Texas shooting guard would choose Duke after his visit to Countdown to Craziness but Jones wanted time to make sure his decision was right for him; as time passed, Duke remained at the forefront and he felt it the was the right time to commit.  Jones is the first prospect in the class of 2013 to cast his lot with the Blue Devils and Duke continues to recruit other great players in the class, including Jabari Parker - the consensus top-rated player. With Jones, Duke continues to have good shooters on their roster and he will certainly feel the role as a specialist in that area.

For full site access and more on Jones and recruiting, join Blue Devil Nation Premium, our subscription service, and get all the inside information and discuss it with other members.  Here are previous BDN Videos with now Duke-bound Matt Jones


BDN’s Monday Musings – Prime Time Hoops, Football Talk and Cheerleader of the Week


Duke Cheerleader of the Week

This week BDN Monday Musings discusses the Duke Football and the huge game tomorrow evening for the Duke Men's Basketball team at Ohio State in Columbus.  And of course, we have our cheerleader of the week as well and other tidbits.

Duke at Ohio State, ACC-Big Ten Challenge

I can't remember a season in recent memory where the Blue Devils have played a NCAA tournament like schedule early on.  Tomorrow evening Duke heads to Columbus to face the #2 ranked team in the nation in the Ohio State Buckeyes.  We are talking Jared Sullinger here, a dominant big man and first team All American who spurned the NBA to play for a loaded team.  This may well be a 2 versus 3 match up once the polls come out later today for Duke could leap Syracuse with their big wins and of course #1 North Carolina takes a quick exit from the top spot.  The Blue Devils will have to bring their "A" game to defeat the buckeyes and this will be a big time test for a young team.  During yesterdays press conference, it was clear that the Duke players look forward to the challenge.  The game tips at 9:30 tomorrow and I am sure the entire Blue Devil Nation will be tuned in.

Next year, it's the Bahama's for the Blue Devils

Next Thanksgiving the Duke Men's Basketball team will head to the Bahama's, Paradise Island to be exact for the Battle in Atlantis.  Other teams slated for the affair are Stanford led by Johnny Dawkins, Memphis, Minnesota,  Missouri, Louisville, Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth.  Here is the link for the field.

A November to remember

What a whirlwind of a month it has been for Duke Basketball.  Coach Krzyzewski broke the all time NCAA wins record and he 's still going.  The team itself is an outstanding 7-0 and they'll next face Ohio State in a monster prime time match up.  The only thing missing is a commitment from key prospect Tony Parker.  Well, let's save that for a December to remember.  Seriously, Mr. Parker ... what more could you want than to play for the prime time Duke Blue Devils?

Goodbye Matt Daniels

Of all the seniors on this team, a couple stand out for me.  One is Donovan Varner, the other is Matt Daniels.  It's fun watching Daniels lay down so hits where the opponent gets up with a tatted chest and the senior had a career high 18 tackles against North Carolina.  Duke will sorely miss his leadership and upbeat nature and BDN wishes this young man the best of luck at the next level.  There will never be another Matt Daniels in that he was that unique.

The season is over for Duke Football

If you've been a long time Duke Football fan or even short term for that matter, you are used to disappointment.  Despite being use to that unwanted feeling, it still stings when the team struggles.  At the beginning of the season, I said anything less than 4-8 would be a disappointment and I stick by that as the team finished 3-9.  Losing to Richmond in the opener with a good crowd in the stands set the table early on and this game was a must win in so many ways.  The Blue Devils never recovered from that loss and the Spiders turned out to be a horrible football team.  That game just flat out left a taste in fan's mouths that was hard to get rid of and it still does to this day for me. But Duke did come close in many games and had the ball bounced their way a few times, this team would be going bowling for the first time in over a decade.  Being close to the situation, I can tell you that these kids are all class acts with great character so that is something to be proud of but this is a program where the players need to expect to win and until they do it'll be tough sailing.  The Blue Devils lose some key seniors but return a whole lot of their team next season and add more redshirts.  This past year was the first season with all of Coach Cut's players, so next year Duke will be expected to be better and the schedule will not make that easy where I count, again, 3 games Duke should win.  The other 9, they'll be underdogs in.  Look for a lot of off season talk about Anthony Boone getting more of a shot to compete with senior Sean Renfree and much more.  Duke will be picked last in their division again, so here is to hoping they sneak up on the league and start to round the corner