Duke at Virginia Tech Game Notes

• Game 22 •

[7 AP / 5 Coaches] Duke (18-3, 5-1) vs. Virginia Tech (12-9, 1-5)

Thursday, February 2, 2012 • 7:03 p.m. • ESPN

The Opening Tip

• Duke (18-3, 5-1) faces Virginia Tech (12-9, 1-5) on Thursday, Feb. 2 at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.. Tipoff is set for 7:03 p.m.

• Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Len Elmore (analyst) and Jeannine Edwards (sideline) will call the game for ESPN.

• Duke is ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll and No. 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Virginia Tech is unranked in both polls. The Blue Devils are 77-20 all-time when ranked seventh in the AP Poll.

• Duke ranks No. 1 in Strength of Schedule and No. 2 in RPI according to ESPN.com. The Blue Devils are one of four teams (Syracuse, Michigan State & Kansas) in the NCAA to rank in the top 10 of the RPI, Strength of Schedule, AP and Coaches Polls.

• The Blue Devils have won three straight ACC road contests and are 8-2 away from Cameron Indoor Stadium this season.

Duke-Virginia Tech Series

• Duke and Virginia Tech have met 45 times heading into Thursday’s game with the first meeting between the two schools coming in 1912.

• The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 37-8, including a 3-2 mark at Cassell Coliseum.

• Duke has won 15 of the last 18 in the series.

• Mike Krzyzewski is 8-3 at Duke against the Hokies. The Blue Devils are 3-2 in Blacksburg under Krzyzewski.

• Duke has won three of the last four games at Cassell Coliseum in the series.

• Six of the last 10 games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less.

• Duke won 10 straight games in the series from 1934-1948. Virginia Tech has won back-to-back games once in the series history.

• Duke has held Virginia Tech to less than 70 points in eight consecutive meetings. The Hokies are averaging 61.4 points per game in that span.

Numbers Game

l Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 87 straight weeks, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.

l The Blue Devils are one of nine teams in the NCAA with five or more players averaging 10 or more points per game. Duke has finished the year with five double-figure scorers six times under Mike Krzyzewski.

l Duke is the only school in the ACC with five players averaging over 11.0 points per game in league play. Ryan Kelly (13.7), Andre Dawkins (13.0), Austin Rivers (12.0), Mason Plumlee (11.7) and Seth Curry (11.5) each rank in the top 25 in the ACC in scoring through six league games.

l The Blue Devils rank 11th nationally in scoring at 80.3 points per game, despite facing six opponents that rank in top 50 in scoring defense. Virginia Tech is the seventh team Duke has faced that allows under 62.0 points per game.

l The Blue Devils are two wins shy of their 16th consecutive 20-win season.

l Mason Plumlee was named the USBWA National Player of the Week after averaging 19.0 points, 14.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in wins over Maryland and St. John’s.

l Austin Rivers, a five-time ACC Rookie of the Week pick, is averaging a team-high 14.1 points per game. Johnny Dawkins was the last Blue Devil freshman to lead the team in scoring in 1983.

l Mason Plumlee collected his ACC-leading ninth double-double of the season with 15 points and a career-best 17 rebounds in Saturday’s win over St. John’s. He has collected 12 or more rebounds in a game 13 times this season.

l Andre Dawkins is averaging a team-high 15.2 points per game, while shooting 46.5 percent (20-of-43) from three-point range, over the last five contests.

l Ryan Kelly ranks second in the ACC in three-point percentage among players who have attempted at least 50 threes. He is shooting 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from three-point range on the season, including 51.9 percent (14-of-27) over the last 12 games.

l Mason Plumlee and Miles Plumlee combine to average 15.8 rebounds per game. One of the Plumlees has led the team in rebounds in 19 of 21 games.

l Tyler Thornton leads the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (6.7:1) through six conference games. He has 20 assists with just three turnovers in ACC play for the Blue Devils.

l Mason Plumlee has improved his free throw shooting over the last four games, going 20-of-27 (.741) from the line during that span. He was shooting 39.8 percent (37-of-93) from the free throw line prior to that stretch. Plumlee averages 5.7 free throw attempts per game

Mason Plumlee named National Player of the Week

ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – The U.S. Basketball Writers Association has selected Duke forward Mason Plumlee as its Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week for games ending the week of Sunday, Jan. 29. The USBWA’s weekly honor is presented by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and will be handed out each Tuesday through Feb. 21 this season.

Plumlee, a 6-10 junior from Warsaw, Ind., averaged 19.0 points, 14.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in leading the Blue Devils to wins over Maryland and St. John’s. He opened the week with a 23-point, 12-rebound, four-assist performance in a 74-61 win at Maryland. He was 9-of-13 from the field and knocked down all five free throws in the contest.

In Saturday’s 83-76 win over Big East foe St. John’s, Plumlee recorded his ACC-leading ninth double-double of the season with 15 points and a career-best 17 rebounds. For the week, Plumlee shot 66.7 percent (14-of-21) from the field and 71.4 percent (10-fo-14) from the foul line.

This is the third season that the USBWA has selected a national player of the week. The weekly Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week is added to the Oscar Robertson Trophy watch list, which will be released at mid-season.

Since the 1958-59 season, the USBWA has named a National Player of the Year. In 1998, the award was named in honor of the University of Cincinnati Hall of Famer and two-time USBWA Player of the Year Oscar Robertson. It is the nation’s oldest award and the only one named after a former player.

Duke would love for Keilin Rayner to join Deion Williams at LB in the class of 2012

Duke is a finalist for 2 top uncommitted North Carolina prospects

Historically, National Signing Day has been a lackluster affair for Blue Devil fans, as Coach Cutcliffe and his staff typically work hard to secure verbal commitments during the summer and fall recruiting seasons. Last year, Duke fans were pleasantly surprised by the Signing Day commitment of Alabama TE David Reeves. This year, however, Duke Football fans will finally get to experience some authentic Signing Day drama. Duke is a finalist for two of the top uncommitted prospects in North Carolina, Jela Duncan and Keilin Rayner. [private]

 

Mallard Creek RB Jela Duncan will choose between Duke, ECU, and Wake Forest

RB Jela Duncan

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 190 pounds

High School: Mallard Creek

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

BDN Scouting Report:  With Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley heading to UGA, Duncan will be the top running back to remain in the state of North Carolina. After an outstanding high school season at Mallard Creek, Duncan capped off his career with 112 yards on only 7 carries in the 75th Annual Shrine Bowl. Duncan is an outstanding runner; he’s physical for his size, has great hands and good vision. There is no question that he has the tools to be successful at the college level and the ability to make an immediate impact for a program like Duke.

BDN Analysis:

Duke: Ever since he blew away the Duke coaching staff with his performance at camp last June, Duncan has been at the top of the Blue Devils’ recruiting board. Duke was the early leader, but seemed to fade slightly as other schools became involved. To those who have followed his recruitment and spoken with Jela throughout the process, it has always seemed like there’s something missing at Duke for him. The Blue Devils were fortunate to be able to take a commitment from Shaquille Powell in December, and a backfield of Powell and Duncan could become one of the ACC’s best. That being said, relative to their competition, Duke does have a crowded backfield, and Duncan will have to earn early playing time. Duke put forth their best on his official visit to Durham, and Duncan remains closest with Coach Cutcliffe, who followed up with an in-home visit last week.

ECU: Seemingly on the outside looking in for much of his recruitment, ECU has surged of late. After an official visit to in early January, Duncan seemed to find what he was looking for, and declared ECU his new leader. The Pirates offer a great social scene, immediate playing time, and perhaps most importantly, an NFL RB legacy. Football is king as ECU, and a star RB could quickly find himself crowned BMOC. With the upcoming conference realignments, ECU will face a relatively weak C-USA schedule and their national exposure may not match that of their ACC brethren. ECU, however, does not have a current RB commitment in the class of 2012.

Wake Forest: For those handicapping this recruitment, Wake Forest was a natural dark horse candidate: closest to home, recent success in the ACC, a run-heavy offense, and a solid academic reputation. It should be no surprise, then, that the Demon Deacons’ hit a home run with their recent official visit and have become a major player in Duncan’s decision. The Deacs’ already have an under-the-radar RB committed in the class of 2012 in Texan Joshua Wilhite. Still, Coach Grobe likely was able to sell Duncan on being the understudy and heir apparent to breakout star Josh Harris.

Summary: First and foremost, whichever school ends up with a commitment from Jela on National Signing day, they’re getting a good kid and a great running back. When recruiting battles get heated, players often are vilified, and that shouldn’t happen here. Duncan has been polite and conscientious throughout this process. He took his time, focused on his senior season, and then evaluated all of his options. This is not a decision he nor his family takes lightly, and in the end, he will select the school he feels offers him the best opportunity of fulfilling his dreams.

 

Duke would love for Keilin Rayner to join Deion Williams at LB in the class of 2012

Keilin Rayner

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 215 pounds

High School: North Brunswick

Hometown: Leland, North Carolina

 

BDN Scouting Report: Rayner is a prolific run-stopper from either the LB or DE position. His size and speed likely translate best as an outside linebacker at the college level, but his versatility is one of his strengths. A tackling-machine, Rayner has a great nose for the football and the strength to wrap up ball-carriers. He has the instincts and athleticism to be a playmaker in the ACC, but must improve his coverage skills to earn early playing time on defense. His tackling ability and motor make him an excellent candidate to see early action on special teams.

BDN Analysis:

Duke: Duke was also an early leader for Rayner, as the Blue Devils were among the first to offer the in-state defensive star. By the fall, however, it appeared that Duke has fallen back to the pack, though the staff continued to communicate with Keilin. From Duke’s perspective, Rayner is the prototypical linebacker for their 4-2-5 defensive scheme. He has the tackling ability and frame that is reminiscent of current Bengals’ LB Vincent Rey, a former Duke star. Rayner would have the ability to earn immediate playing time, while also setting himself up for life after football, something important to his family.

ECU: The Pirates are the hometown school for Rayner, and that proximity to home is always tough to beat. Rayner shared his official visit to Greenville with Duncan, and all reports are that the staff hit a home run that weekend. ECU offers the same things as above: social scene, passion for football, and immediate playing time.

Summary: Rayner has played things incredibly close to the vest over the past week, making this a tough one to call. Reports are that the Blue Devils’ are the favorite among his family, but that the official visit to ECU is still looming large in Keilin’s mind. As with Duncan, it’s important to note that Rayner will be an excellent representative of whichever program he chooses. He’s been great to interview and will be a great addition to any football program.

 

While it’s seemingly easy for fans to make these decisions, each prospect has his own priorities, pressures, likes, and dislikes. Duke has done a good job in recruiting both players and has remained in both recruitments from day 1. The Blue Devils have earned a hat on each table and we’ll all have our fingers crossed on Signing Day. The addition of either Duncan or Rayner would be a perfect ending to what appears to be one of Duke’s strongest recruiting classes in recent years. The addition of both could just be the turning point this program has been looking for.

Be sure to check in with BDN for all the latest Duke Signing Day coverage. [/private]

Valor Christian DE Michael Mann committed to Duke over the weekend.

Valor Christian DE Michael Mann commits to Duke

Valor Christian DE Michael Mann committed to Duke over the weekend.

Duke secured a commitment from the 18th member of their class of 2012 over the weekend, as DE Michael Mann committed to the program. Mann will join Valor Christian teammate and close friend Max McCaffrey in Durham this fall. Rated a 3-star prospect by ESPN, the defensive end picked up an official scholarship offer from the Blue Devils on Thursday and made his decision over the weekend. He spoke with Duke’s Coach Knowles and Coach Lubick on Sunday to inform them of his decision. Mann is Duke’s 4th commitment on the defensive line in the class of 2012, joining Allen Jackson, Carlos Wray, and A.J. Wolf. Originally committed to Arizona State, Mann opted to re-open his recruitment after the coaching staff change in Tempe. It was a recent official visit to Durham that sold him on the Blue Devils, however. Mann selected the Blue Devils over offers from Air Force, Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado State, Connecticut, and Iowa.

BDN Scouting Report: While not a freak athlete, Mann is physical and tenacious at the line of scrimmage. He’s shown ability to be dominant both against the run and against the pass. A three-time Colorado HS state champion, his intangibles are off the charts. He has lots of room to grow as a pass rusher at the college level, but has the work ethic and the ability to become a solid ACC lineman. At 6’4″ and 220 pounds, Mann has room to grow into his frame, and will likely benefit from a year in the weight room before he’s ready to contribute on the field. The Blue Devils are getting a good football player and a great addition to their program with the commitment from Mann.

 

Mason Plumlee and Duke strive to go dancing in March

BDN Monday Musings – Big week ahead for Duke Athletics

Mason Plumlee and Duke strive to go dancing in March

A busy week lies ahead for Duke Athletics and BDN Monday Musings takes a look at the many events that will take place starting with tonight’s UConn at Duke Women’s game.  The Blue Devils have two men’s games as well one on the road and one at home and national signing day for football.

UConn at Duke – the ultimate measuring stick for the progrm on “Big Monday”

In a nationally televised game, the 5th Duke women (17-2) host the traditionally strong and 3rd ranked UConn women (19-2) led by their enigmatic coach Gino Auriemma.  The Huskies lost to the top two rated teams in the country Baylor and Notre Dame before going on a monster roll, where they demolished the Blue Devils arch rival, North Carolina by a score of 86-35 and all other comers as well.  The key to the game for the Blue Devils will be for their guards, Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston to slow the Huskies backcourt of Tiffany Hayes and Bria Hartley.    As we’ve said in a past column, Duke freshman Elizabeth Williams is as advertised and tonight she’ll be on the big stage with the rest of this young Blue Devil squad.  There are still a few tickets left for the game and they’re very reasonably priced, so turn out tonight for this heavyweight bout and cheer the young Blue Devils to victory.

Rest for the men’s team

The Duke Men’s team returned to the practice courts today after taking off time to rest after their lack luster victory over St. John’s.  The Blue Devils will travel to Blacksburg on Thursday to take on a wounded in wait Hokies team that would love to make their season with an upset win.  One of the things happening is this years squad is getting accustomed to taking other teams best shot as some of the players grow into their roles.

Speaking of roles … who will step up?

Before the season Coach Krzyzewski said that different players would step up on different evenings on this years team.  And that’s what has happened to date and the Blue Devils are a not too shabby 18-3 from it.  But will any of the players have that light go off down the stretch and take over their roles in a consistent manner?  Mason Plumlee has pretty much been the star of this team and or the most consistent player.  Austin Rivers is on a learning curve, but his numbers are decent as well.  I mean, the kid will likely be named the ACC’s Top Rookie.  But are juniors Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins ready to break out?  Duke needs more consistency from the group, but make no mistake, each of them have already played key roles in major victories as has sophomore Tyler Thornton in Maui.  This is also the final go round for senior Miles Plumlee and can he become a force as the season enters it’s grind?  And this folks, this is why we watch the games, to see how it all will unfold.

Just a reminder … March 16th and 18th NCAA Tournament in the ‘Boro

Get your tickets for Greensboro now Blue Devil fans!  Duke will almost assuredly be in Greensboro for two games and the kicker is that North Carolina will share that pod.  That said, get your tickets to the event as soon as possible.

The last ten games

It’s hard to believe that there are just ten regular season basketball games left this season and just five of them home games in Cameron.  Breaking it down for you, there are two games each with Virginia Tech and North Carolina, Miles senior day being the last regular season and home game.  Then road trips to Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest and home games with Miami, Maryland and N.C. State.   So, how do you think the Blue Devils will fare?  I have heard 6-4 to 8-2 most often from those who cover the team.

National Signing Day for Football

On Wednesday, BDN will be on hand at Duke to hear the latest on the new group of Blue Devils from Coach Cutcliffe and staff.  We’re talking national signing day here and it is a big deal around the nation.  Several prospects are taking their decision to the midnight hour and in our premium section, Patrick Cacchio talks of that and how things are shaking out with the likes of RB hopeful, Jela Duncan.  Also, mark down March 31st on your calendar, for it is the date of the annual spring game where Duke returns 17 starters from a season ago.

 Just do it!

I am not going to open the can of worms known at the decline in attendance for the Cameron Crazies at this time.  There are five home games left and this is a team that needs the support in a big way, so no lecture or speculation from me other than this suggestion – Just do it!  Sorry for the overuse of that Nike trademark, but it’s what I’d tell them to do down the stretch if asked what should be done.  Prove the critics wrong and show them you are not the weak bunch many think you to be.  Man, was that a challenge or what?  Crazies means getting crazy, so let go of yourselves, have fun and all will play out.  I have faith that the many who follow this site can get it done.  And for what it is worth many of the ones there are the best and if their leadership spreads, you will hear few complaints by seasons end.