Key Duke prospect Jabari Parker - BDN Premium 1271 word recruting update posted.

Duke Basketball Recruiting Update – Coaches are working the trail hard this month

Key Duke prospect Jabari Parker - BDN Premium 1271 word recruting update posted.

The Holiday season is upon us and that means Duke Basketball plays just a couple of December games, but make no mistake, it is still a busy time.  The Duke Men’s Basketball staff will put in their frequent flyer miles and burn a little rubber as they hit the recruiting trail and BDN Premium brings you an update on the latest news.

Coach Krzyzewski and assistant coach Jeff Capel will be in Dallas, Texas today to watch Julius Randle, the nations #2 ranked player in the class of 2012.  Duke will also see (1271 word update ahead for BDN Premium members) [private] Matt Jones, the shooting guard who just pledged to the Blue Devils.  There is no mistaking the fact that Duke hopes Jones will help recruit the banging horse, Randle.  And Rasheed Sulaimon may help there as well.  As I have said in past updates, the Blue Devils covet Randle and think they can get him and Jabari Parker and that would be just magical for the fan base.

Speaking of Jabari Parker, the top rated player in his class that is now being compared to Kobe Bryant by some, the staff will watch him in Fayetteville this weekend.  I have long maintained that I feel Duke is in incredibly good shape here and that they were in on Parker very early and have developed great relationships with the family.  Duke will also take in the Beach Ball Classis in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where they’ll see him again at the end of this month.  Parker will have his parents in tow this weekend and probably Myrtle Beach as well.

And speaking of the the Beach Ball Classic, one of two top recruits left for this season at this time, Tony Parker will be there.  Duke continues to get good vibes from his camp, especially his parents who I have said for a long time now favor Duke.  Parker is a stressful prospect for Duke fans in that the Blue Devils really need him and or have a place for him.  I was the first to tell you that the December date was sketchy and that you cannot really go on what Parker says he’ll do.  And that means the old line, don’t listen to what he says, but watch what he does.  Parker is enjoying the process, a bit too much for most Duke fans taste for it makes little sense he would choose any situation but Duke for numerous reasons.  Of course, they have on royal blue glasses as well but even the objective observer sees the best spot for him is in Durham.  I still think he will end upo taking this until summer – late summer, so try and keep your composure and not go bad mouthing him in forums which could possibly damage the teams efforts.

Tyus Jones is a mature PG and leader - BDN Photo

We cannot leave out the top rated player in this seasons class, Shabazz Muhammad who will also be in Myrtle Beach.  UCLA, once considered a strong leader is now third in my opinion and as I said a bit back, it will come down to Duke and Kentucky.  His decision could hinge on Austin Rivers decision to go pro or stay at Duke, so this one as I have said all along will go to the podium the last day or so of the signing period in late summer.  And it doesn’t hurt to dream and think that both Parker and Bazz might choose Duke taking all of the build up stress away and making us all five years younger in the process.  Muhammad could really flourish in the Duke system where I feel he would be more of a go-to guy than he would be at Kentucky.

Another Chicago are kid has caught the Blue Devils eye as well.  Jalhill Okafor is a bruising type in the class of 2014 and stands 6-10 and weighs in at 280.  Duke has mad in roads with him and they’ll see him this weekend along with Jabari Parker.  I am looking forward to reporting on his game as I focus in on him solely  for the first time.  He plays AAU ball for the Mac Irwin Fire and they at times have so many good players, that it is hard to focus in on one early in the circuit season.

Two players that will play at the former Glaxo event in Raleigh will be Rasheed Sulaimon, already signed with Duke and young Theo Pinson.  Sulaimon will thrill the crowd for sure with his water bug like movement.  He glides around the court with high energy and his on ball defense is much improved, making me think he can be a stopper at Duke.  Our diary session kind of imploded due to his schedule, but he has said he will pick it up soon.  Pinson is another 2014 kid that liked Duke growing up.  He is an interesting wing that still seems to be growing at 6-5 and will likely be a small forward type in college, but he has good guard skills as well and like all Duke prospects, he has great character.  Okay, I know what you are thinking about that statement, but be nice as I said up top, LOL.

Juilus Randle is a true banger in the paint.

The City of Palms, Texas, Vegas …. the Blue Devils staff will be seeing a lot of kids this month.  Some of those will be individual visits to the likes of Tyus Jones and Austin Nichols.  The Blue Devils fell in love with Jones last year and I had already been there in that he always stood out to me.  During my last interview with Jones, I came away very impressed at his grounded maturity which is far ahead of his years.  And that kind of maturity is what you seek in a point guard.  Duke will be on this kid hard as will everybody else int he nation, but early returns are that he likes Coach K and Duke a lot.  Austin Nichols is a 6-8 slender forward approaching 200 pounds that the Devils staff will check out individually.  A lot of SEC schools are on the Tennessee native and a few from the Big East along with Butler.  Nichols caught the Blue Devils eye but it is early on this one, so we’ll call it an on going evaluation.

On the team front, Coach K is very pleased with the 9-1 start to the season and the staff will take measures to try an assure there is no burnout from the added stress of the China trip.  There are a few nagging injuries (nothing major) but I only speak of them when announced and the team rarely does this.  The staff will be watching a lot of film, so expect a few new wrinkles as the new year moves in.  As I said, the plan is to redshirt Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee and this will be a good thing down the road for these will be seasoned and mature freshman.  And yes, I played a bit of a game in mentioning lineup changes the other week and many got a chuckle out of other sites running with it in public.  It pays to know Duke Basketball, wink-wink and to be a member of Blue Devil Nation Premium.  Thanks for being a member guys and let’s go Duke!

Talk about this article on the Blue Devil Nation Premium Message Board, a part of your membership package and please do not share, copy and past this information per user agreement. There will be more news to follow in an addendum I will add to this update and we’ll be on prospect hard.  This is where you will get an idea of what Blue Devil Nation Premium is all about. [/private]

BDN Monday Musings, Duke Hoops football recruiting and fans of the week

Monday Musing's - Duke fans of the week

The Duke Men’s Basketball team pushed their record to 9-1 this past week with a wins over Colorado State and Washington while the football coaches secured three verbal commitments on the recruiting trail.  That’s a pretty solid week and thus we begin this weeks Monday Musing’s.

The win over Washington

I personally thought it was a good win and a learning experience for a young team but many found fault in the win.  Of course, we are talking message boards here and everybody, no matter who you are has an occasional melt down.  Yes, the Huskies staged a comeback late in the game but Duke built a sizable lead which didn’t allow the comeback to take hold,  I mean come on critics, a three pointer at the buzzer cut it to six for the Huskies and who actually thought in reality that Duke was going to lose that lead?  Now granted, the comeback is a lesson to a young team on how to close a game but I just find no major negatives in this win.  In fact, with Austin Rivers and Seth Curry on the bench it forced young players into action on the big stage of Madison Square Garden and that to me is a positive learning experience.  So, I don’t get the criticism unless you want to win by 20 every time out.  And no knock on my man Mason Plumlee, who struggled at the free throw stripe, but had he hit half of those the lead would have been much larger and that is a single intangible.

A work in progress

What fans need to remember is that this Duke team is a work in progress and is 9-1 against the toughest early schedule in the nation!  Coach Krzyzewski is bringing this team along just as he has others and to succeed in March it takes both improvement and luck.  The Blue Devils seem to be just below a tier of four or five teams, but there is not one of those teams that Duke could not beat on a given night, so that is something to hang your hat on.  The Blue Devils lost Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler and to some extent Kyrie Irving, so this team is developing it’s leaders and Coach has said from day one, different players will step up.  You know, I use to make fun of the UNC fan base at times for complaining when Dean Smith was there, but the Blue Devil fan base is right there now, demanding perfection when they’ve only come to expect it from mad success.  So, sit back and enjoy this years team develop and for the record they’ve pretty darn good.

Austin Rivers named rookie of the week

Austin Rivers averaged a team-high 17.5 points per game in leading seventh-ranked Duke to wins over Colorado State and Washington. The Winter Park, Fla., freshman guard was 11-of-22 from the field, including 5-of-10 from three-point range, and 8-of-10 from the foul line for the week, while also adding 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He scored a team-high 17 points in Duke’s 87-64 win over Colorado State Wednesday. In Saturday’s 86-80 victory over Washington, Rivers tallied a team-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes of action.

So, you think December will  be slow with just two games, huh?

Duke does not play again until  a week from today against UNC-Greensboro at home and then Western Michigan on the day before new years eve.  Yep just two games, but it is December and that means high school basketball tournaments fro Raleigh to Myrtle Beach and we’ll certainly bring you some coverage.  We’ll discuss this further shortly, but you can bet you will hear from the likes of Rasheed Sulaimon and other targets.

Football Recruiting has a big day

Coach Cutcliffe hit the road the day after the loss to UNC as did his whole staff.  And that’s not just speak on our part, they are beating the road hard trying to improve the talent base.  As BDN’s football guru reported yesterday, the Blue Devils have three new verbals and one in particularly excites me.  Check out this link – Football gains three verbals

RB Shaquille Powell committed to Duke over the weekend.

Duke Football Secures 3 Commitments

Head Coach David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils had a productive weekend, hosting 13 prospects on official visits and securing three verbal commitments. The commitments bring Duke’s class of 2012 to a total of 18 verbal commitments and help to solidify key areas of need for the program. Here’s a quick look at the newest Blue Devils. Check back in to BDN for the latest from the players themselves. Welcome to Duke!

RB Shaquille Powell committed to Duke over the weekend.

RB Shaquille Powell
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 200 pounds
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
High School: Bishop Gorman
Statistics: 2,427 yards and 40 touchdowns
Scholarship offers: Arizona State, Vanderbilt, Fresno State, San Diego State, Illinois, UNLV, Northern Arizona
BDN Scouting Report: Powell is an excellent between the tackles runner and brings an added dimension to the Duke backfield. He does not have elite speed, but is elusive and was a workhorse in high school for Bishop Gorman. He should be an excellent short-yardage and goal-line threat from day one. He will need to continue to improve his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and block to become an every down back at the college level. Overall, however, Duke fans should be excited about this pick-up. The coaching staff worked hard to land an elite back in this class and Powell is a great fit. The addition of a blazer like Jela Duncan could be the perfect complement to finish off the Blue Devil class of 2012.

Highlights:

DT Terrell Jackson
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 270 pounds
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
High School: Marion-Franklin
Statistics: 75 tackles and 20 sacks
Scholarship offers: Akron, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (OH), Toledo
BDN Scouting Report: Jackson is an under the radar lineman who impressed the staff at camp this summer. He will have to add some size and strength to play DT at the next level, but has the instincts and technique to be a solid ACC lineman in Durham. He’s shown flashes of ability as a run-stopper and was an elite pass-rusher in high school, earning 1st Team All-State honors. An intelligent player, he should be a quick study at the college level. Overall, Jackson is another player who fits the athletic mold Duke has been recruiting on the defensive line over the past few classes. Under Rick Petri’s tutelage, this group should continue to outperform expectations.

Highlights:

SAF Corbin McCarthy
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 205 pounds
Hometown: Norco, California
High School: Norco High School
Statistics: 50 tackles, 25 passes defended
Scholarship offers: Cal Poly
BDN Scouting Report: McCarthy joins several other lightly-recruited Californians in Durham. The hard-hitting safety has had aspirations of playing ACC football and the Blue Devils were the first to offer him that opportunity. McCarthy will have work to do to become an ACC caliber defender, primarily in the weight room where he needs to get stronger and faster. He’s another intelligent football player with good instincts, and that should help him adjust to the college game. Coach Cutcliffe has focused on bringing in better athletes to Durham, and though undersized, McCarthy fits that bill. Coach Knowles has developed a group of outstanding safeties in Durham, and McCarthy has the tools to continue that tradition.

Highlights:

Hackley LB/DE A.J. Wolf committed to Duke in June

BDN Commitment Profile: A.J. Wolf

The 2011 Duke Football season is behind us. It’s time to look forward to the future, and that begins with the class of 2012. Duke has already secured 15 verbal commitments in this class, and BDN will profile each of the newest Blue Devils as we head toward Signing Day 2012.

Hackley LB/DE A.J. Wolf committed to Duke in June

A.J. WOLF

Height: 6’4″
Weight: 245 pounds
Position: Defensive end
Hometown: Tarrytown, New York
High School: Hackley School – NEPSAC Class C

Senior season recap: It was a dissapointing season for the team, losing many close games, and ending up 1-6 (1 game cancelled due to snow storm.) However, I personally think I had a great season and did the best I could to help the team win 100% of the time.

Senior season stats: From the MLB position in only 7 games – 98 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 blocked FG, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 Rush TD

Scholarship offers: Duke

Commitment to Duke: I get to play ACC football and get a fantastic education. Also, the coaches all seemed very wise and competitive. On my unofficial visit over the summer, it seemed like everyone was part of one big family, and everyone was close. Another bonus is the weather (compared to NY). In my eyes, it seemed like the perfect school to play football at. I committed on site during my visit for those reasons. 

Considering other schools: No

Academic interests: Business/Finance

Pro or College Role Models: I don’t compare myself to, but strive to be like DeMarcus Ware and Clay Matthews. No one can block them. 

College goals: Win an ACC Championship and be 1st Team All-ACC.

Planned enrollmentSummer 2012

Message to Duke fans: I am also a State Champion Track & Field Athlete, and am trying to be an All-American this year.

BDN Scouting Report: Wolf is clearly one of the most intriguing sleeper prospects in Duke’s class of 2012. He’s a tremendous athlete and comes from an extremely gifted family. A.J. has a good frame and will be able to add strength in a college weight program. In high school, he played all over the field for Hackley, a testament to his athleticism at 6’4″ and 245 pounds. He was recruited to play defensive end at Duke, though has the skill set to potentially slide inside to defensive tackle. Wolf didn’t see a very high level of competition in high school, so it remains to be seen how he will fare against college competition. Being able to focus on one position will allow him to perfect his techniques, but he already possesses good instincts and tackling ability.  In all likelihood, A.J. will benefit from a redshirt year under Coach Petri in Durham, but his athleticism and intelligence may make it hard to keep him off the field for long.

Highlights:

RCP_6460

Duke defeats Washington to go 9-1 on the season

The Duke Blue Devils held  off a late second half comeback for a 86-80 win over Washington pushing their season record to 9-1 with just two games remaining on their December schedule.  Three starters were on the bench as Duke held off the Huskies — Curry and Rivers due to fouls and Mason Plumlee from struggling at the free throw line.

The Blue Devils staff had their team come out of the gate with a great game plan and that allowed for the Dukies to gain another key vicory for their NCAA Tournament resume.

Rough start for Kelly, but …

Ryan Kelly opened the game 0-7 from the field but then went 6 for 8 the rest of the way to score 16 points to go with 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Lesser players would have kept shooting, good thing for Duke fans Ryan did not.

Miles tough off the bench

Mile Plumlee was very efficient off the bench for Duke grabbing 9 boards and making 3 critical blocks, most during the Huskies comeback.  Miles also went 75% from both the field and free throw stripe.

Duke defended well for most of the game

I thought the Blue Devils had a nice game plan on defense but it was a young team on a learning curve which allowed the Huskies to make the game closer towards the end.  But make no mistake, it was the Duke frontcourt which was the difference in that they altered a lot of shots, having 7 blocks on the game and 6 steals.

Rivers continues his solid play

Austin Rivers is still on a leanring curve but how impressive does that make his team high 18 points.  Rivers is letting the game come to him more and more and he is getting better with each outing and tha bodes well for March.

Dre all day!

IMO, Andre Dawkins played his best floor game of the season. The Blue Devils really needed his mae free throws down the stretch which hepled hold off the Huskies run, especially when the team shot a terrible 27 of 44 from the stripe, including Mason going just 2 of 111.  But Dawkins added 5 rebounds and hit 2 of 5 of the Duke three pointers.

The bottom line

Duke got a good win and despite having to hang on at the end, the game was never really in doubt from the opening tip.  Had Duke connected on their free throws, that gaem would never have gotten closer that double figures, so make no mistake, this was as solid win.

Team Notes:

• The Blue Devils improved to 27-15 all-time in Madison Square Garden and 22-7 under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The win came in Duke’s second appearance of the season in Madison Square Garden. Duke also beat Michigan State 74-69 on November 15 in MSG for Coach K’s record-breaking 903rd career victory.
• The game was Duke’s fifth neutral site game of the year. The Blue Devils are 5-0 this season at neutral sites with two wins in Madison Square Garden and three at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui. Duke is 35-2 in neutral site contests since the start of the 2008-09 season.
• Duke started 9-1 for the 18th time in school history and the 10th time under Krzyzewski.
• In December, Duke is now 52-3 under Coach K. Duke has won 13 straight December games with 10 of those wins coming by double digits.
• Seven Blue Devils played at least 10 minutes in the game. Duke has had at least seven players with 10 or more minutes in nine of 10 games this year. Seven Blue Devils average 10 or more minutes per game.
• Duke held Washington scoreless during stretches of 5:40 and 2:55 in the first half. The Blue Devils held the Huskies without a field goal for 5:25 in the first half as Washington netted only two free throws from the 9:24 mark to the 3:59 mark in the first half.
• Duke held Washington to just two points over the first 5:40 of the game. The Huskies missed their first eight field goal attempts of the game.
• Duke staked a 10-point lead at the 10:07 mark in the first half and led by no less than 10 points until the 2:49 mark in the second half.
• Austin Rivers (18 points), Andre Dawkins (17), Ryan Kelly (16) and Mason Plumlee (12) all scored in double figures. Duke has 39 double-figure scoring games this season and five players averaging 10 or more points per game. Eight different players have scored 10 or more points in a game this season.
• Duke pulled in 27 rebounds in the first half, which was a season high. Ryan Kelly (6 rebounds), Mason Plumlee (6) and Miles Plumlee (5) all had at least five rebounds in the first half. Duke’s 13 offensive rebounds in the game tied a season high.
• Both Seth Curry and Austin Rivers fouled out, marking the first time since Jan. 19, 2011, that two Blue Devils fouled out in the same game.
• Mason Plumlee went just 2-for-11 from the free throw line, but the rest of Duke’s team went 75.8 percent from the line.
• Duke allowed two 20-point scorers for the first time this season as Tony Wroten (23 points) and C.J. Wilcox (22 points) both reached that mark. Only four players have scored 20 points against Duke this season.

Player Notes:

Quinn Cook
• Played four minutes, including the final 2:19 of the game after both Austin Rivers and Seth Curry fouled out.
• During his final 2:19, sank 4-of-6 free throws and did not commit a turnover to help Duke hold off a late Washington rally.
• Has committed just four turnovers in his 87 minutes this year, averaging a team-high 22 minutes between turnovers. Only Andre Dawkins (five turnovers in 263 minutes) averages more time between turnovers for Duke this season.

Seth Curry
• Made his 23rd consecutive start.
• Hit all four free throw attempts, extending his made free throw streak to 19.
• Dished out three assists, giving him at least three assists in eight of Duke’s 10 games.
• Fouled out of a game for the first time since Feb. 26, 2011.

Andre Dawkins
• Scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half for his second straight double-figure scoring game.
• Hit a pair of three-pointers, giving him multiple treys in six games.

Ryan Kelly
• Recorded his seventh double-figure scoring game of the season with 16 points.
• Pulled down a season-high eight rebounds, finishing one board shy of tying his career high.
• Added two blocks and two steals.

Mason Plumlee
• Made his 31st consecutive start.
• Scored in double figures for the seventh time this season and for the fifth straight game. Missed a double-double by one rebound.
• Continued his strong defensive play with two blocks and three steals. Plumlee had five blocks and four steals in his last outing, an 87-64 win over Colorado State.
• Hit his first three field goal attempts, including a pair of dunks. He now has 88 dunks in his three-year career which ranks ninth on Duke’s all-time list.
• Plumlee is now shooting a team-leading 66.2 percent from the floor.

Miles Plumlee
• Shot 75.0 percent or better for the fifth straight game. Plumlee is 13-for-14 (.929) from the floor during that span.
• Pulled in seven rebounds, giving him at least five boards in five games this year.

Austin Rivers
• Scored in double figures for the ninth time this season. Rivers led Duke in scoring for the sixth straight game.
• Hit multiple treys for the sixth consecutive game. Rivers is 13-for-28 (.464) from three-point range during that span.
• Matched a career high with four rebounds.
• Fouled out for the first time in his career.

 

 

Washington Huskies Preview with Guest Question and Answer

Duke (8-1) tips-off against Washington (4-3) Saturday at 12 noon in a nationally televised game being carried by CBS. Blue Devil Nation enlists the help of Dick Fain from Seattle Sports Radio KJRAM 950 and FM 102.9 to preview the game.  Duke is coming off an 87-64 home win over Colorado State, while Washington lost a 79-77 heart breaker to #11 Marquette on Tuesday.

Dick is host of the “Live @ 5” radio program and has been the voice of the WNBA Seattle Storm for the past three seasons. He also serves as the assistant basketball coach at Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, a Seattle suburb.

We will start the preview with thoughts from Blue Devil Nation.

Washington is a team, which resembles teams that have given Duke fits in years past. Like St. John’s in 2011 and Georgetown in 2010; Washington, or UDub as they’re referred to in the great Pacific Northwest, has a roster full of 6’5” to 6’9” athletic players. The difference between Washington and those aforementioned Big East teams is the Huskies are a young team. And that is a huge difference.

Washington is a strong shooting perimeter oriented team with an excellent point guard in Abdul Gaddy (6’3”) so Coach Lorenzo Romar likes to play an up tempo game. The Huskies average 81 points per game. Additional perimeter starters, Terrence Ross (6’6”) and C.J. Wilcox (6’5”) are talented players with the ability to get into the lane via dribble penetration.  The size and talent of Washington’s perimeter will be a factor in this game.

The Huskies interior offense is limited with Aziz N’Diaye (7’1”) and Darnell Gant (6’8”), but Gant does have the ability to knock down the 3-point shot if left open so Duke must be prepared to follow him out to the perimeter.

Like Duke with Austin Rivers, Washington features a super freshman in Tony Wroten (6’5”). Wroten is the Huskies Sixth Man and when he enters the game Washington has two big point guards on the floor in Gaddy and Wroten, which allows both to switch between handling the ball and playing off the ball.

Needless to say, having multiple primary ball handlers on the floor provides Coach Romar versatility in running his offense.

The possibility of seeing super freshmen Rivers and Wroten matched up on each other is an exciting sub content of this early season non-conference game.

The key individual match-up in this game for Duke will be Terrence Ross who is a tremendously talented player and Washington’s leading scorer. Ross is a solid perimeter shooter who has the ability to drive by his defender and finish at the rim. The Blue Devils must know where Ross is at all times and have a man in his face.

For Duke fans who are not familiar with Ross, think Harrison Barnes. Ross is that good. Checking Ross will be a huge defensive assignment for Andre Dawkins and Austin Rivers. It would not surprise me to see Coach Krzyzewski insert Michael Gbinije into the rotation to steal some minutes by having the freshman guard Ross.  The health of Andre Dawkins is a concern re defending Ross as Dawkins left the Colorado State game in the first half with back spasms and did not return.

While Gbinije lacks experience, his size and athleticism could bother Ross.

For Washington, Coach Romar must figure out how to contain Mason Plumlee and Duke’s interior strength. N’Diaye has a tendency to be foul prone so look for freshman Shawn Kemp, Jr. (6’9”) to see some minutes in the rotation guarding Plumlee as a preventive measure.

Final analysis: Due to Washington’s youth, Duke will look to disrupt the Huskies offense by pressuring the perimeter and forcing Washington to start their offense further away from the basket than they are accustomed to which will lead to blown opportunities, turnovers and bad shots.

On offense, this is a game where Duke will focus on running things inside-out. The Blue Devils have a big advantage with their post players so they must look inside first and then kick the ball out for open jump shots. Look for Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly to receive lots of touches in the game.

In order for Washington to beat Duke, they must prevent the entry pass, limit interior scoring opportunities and force Duke to become a jump shooting team. Based on Duke’s team 3PT FG percentage of 43.2%, it would help the Huskies immensely to catch the Blue Devils on a cold shooting day.

Okay, to learn more about the Washington Huskies let’s move on to the Question and Answer session with subject matter expert Dick Fain:

BDN: Can you give Duke fans an overview of Washington’s strengths and weaknesses?

Dick Fain: Washington has very clear strengths and equally as clear weaknesses. The strengths are all in the backcourt. The Huskies are as athletic as any team in the conference and arguably boast the best shooters as well.

Abdul Gaddy is an improvement over Isaiah Thomas at point guard because he sees the floor much better and is a pass-first guard who makes very good decisions. His 6-3 size also gives him a decided edge over the 5-8 Thomas.

Lorenzo Romar told me two years ago that CJ Wilcox would have been the Pac 10’s best three point shooter had he played instead of redshirted that year. Romar’s words have proven prophetic as Wilcox hit a respectable 40% from three last year and is a blazing hot 16/29 55% this season.

Terrence Ross is a lottery pick with tremendous penetration and shooting abilities and will undoubtedly get Duke’s best perimeter defender. He is still raw and would benefit from staying in school for his sophomore and junior seasons but the Lottery may be too much for him to pass up after this season.

Scott Suggs is a solid shooter and leader that the Dawgs have missed this year due to a training camp injury but should have him back in some capacity by the Duke game.

The Dawgs weaknesses lie in their bigs. Darnell Gant and Desmond Simmons are skilled, athletic, undersized 4 men but have little to no back to the basket ability and are sketchy rebounders at best. Aziz N’diaye is an interesting 7-1 center that is very good a blocking shots and filling the paint but has very little offensive skill. If he stays four years he should be a 1st rounder as he is improving and some NBA team will take a shot on a 7-1 shotblocker.

BDN: We know Washington is a young team with seven freshmen on the squad, which of these freshmen are ready to contribute right away?

Dick Fain: The only freshman that is ready to compete against top 25 competition is Tony Wroten who has been on recruiters radars since he was a 5th grader. Seattle is a city that has produced the likes of Brandon Roy, Jason Terry, Aaron Brooks, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and many other NBA guards but none had the hype out of high school of Wroten. Before blowing out his knee before his junior year, he was ranked the #1 overall player in America, because of the knee injury he fell into the teens.

BDN: Terrence Ross is an outstanding talent, perhaps Washington’s best player, what are his top skill sets and where does he still need improvement?

Dick Fain: Terrence Ross is an interesting story. He was the “other” Terrence that the Huskies got from the Portland area. The Terrence they really wanted (and had) was Terrence Jones who is now at Kentucky. Jones held a televised press conference, put on a Washington hat and then came on my show 10 minutes later to tell me how happy he was that the recruiting process was over and how excited he was to be a Dawg. 10 minutes after that he had a phone conversation with John Calipari and I’m sure you Duke fans are savvy enough to figure out what happened next.

Back to Ross, he has been a very pleasant surprise since he wasn’t nearly as highly regarded as the All-American Jones. He is a tremendous scorer both on the perimeter and on the drive. He has shown the ability to hit the big shot as his three pointer from the corner in the waning seconds of regulation sent last year’s Pac 10 championship game to overtime allowing for Isaiah Thomas’ buzzer beating heroics in a win over Arizona. He has the potential and athleticism to be a defensive stopper but is not there yet. As I mentioned before, the Lottery is waiting for Ross, the only question is whether it will be the 2012 or 2013 Lottery.

BDN: Speaking of freshmen, how special is Tony Wroten?

Dick Fain: I talked about Wroten’s pedigree, now I’ll talk about his game. Wroten has the best vision of any point guard I’ve ever seen at Washington. He will throw no look passes through 4 defenders and it will find its mark. The rest of his game is good but not great at this point. He is an adequate shooter and can attack the rim. His biggest area to work on is maturity as at times he will wear his frustration on his sleeve. The sky is the limit for him and the Lottery should be in his future especially if he buys in to LoRo’s system and stays at least 3 years.

BDN: Can you expound on Coach Lorenzo Romar and his philosophy for playing the game of basketball?

Dick Fain: Lorenzo Romar is maybe the most underrated coach in the nation. While he is a household name on the west coast, I doubt he is well known in ACC country but he should be. Romar took program that had one trip to the NCAA tournament over the prior 15 years and takes them to the dance nearly every season including three sweet 16’s and a #1 seed in 2005. The Huskies have won the Pac 10 tournament title the last two years and won the outright regular season title the year prior. The only thing eluding his resume is a final four appearance and while this isn’t the year that will happen, next year could be. Duke fans would love Romar because he is a quality human being who does things the right way just like Coach K. In this era of rampant cheating in college basketball, Duke and Washington both steer clear of such shenanigans.

BDN: I’ve heard Abdul Gaddy, in interviews on Seattle Sports Radio KJRAM950, discuss how much he grew last year, observing the game from the bench, after his season ending injury. How important is Gaddy’s leadership to this year’s team?

Dick Fain: I absolutely love Abdul Gaddy’s game. He is a local product from Tacoma who torn his knee up in December of last year (his sophomore year). His freshman year was a learning process with quite a few bumps in the road, but by last year he had earned the starting point guard spot and was running the show until the injury forced Isaiah Thomas out of position to the one spot. During his recovery, he has gotten stronger and has become an adept shooter from behind the arc. His lack of great athleticism will likely keep him out of the lottery but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was a first rounder in 2013.

BDN: Okay, it is time to put you on the spot. What is your prediction for the outcome of the game?

Dick Fain: Prediction time! Duke is one of the few teams that have a better backcourt that UW but the margin isn’t great. Where this game is a mismatch is in the interior. The Plumlees and Ryan Kelly should have there way with the Husky bigs and beat Washington on the boards. The Dawgs are one year away from being an elite top 10 team, Duke is there right now. UW makes it a game for 35 minutes but Duke wins 81-72.

Blue Devil Nation offers a big thank you to Dick for agreeing to assist us with the game preview and we encourage all Duke fans to give Dick Fain’s “Live @ 5″ show a listen on the iheartradio app or on SportsradioKJR.com from 8a-9a ET Monday thru Friday and you can follow him on twitter @dickfain.

I listen to Dick every morning during my morning commute to work and can ensure everyone, while his radio show is Seattle sports centric, he is also on the cutting edge for covering national sports events and breaking news.