Firstly, Happy Thanksgiving to the Blue Devil Nation! Here are several Duke Football player videos going into this weekends matchup with Miami in Wallace Wade Stadium. A reminder, there is a Black Friday Sale at GoDuke.com where you can purchase tickets for ten bucks each. Support the Blue Devils on Senior Day.
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White announced on Wednesday that the school and head football coach David Cutcliffe have agreed to a contract extension through June 30, 2019.
“Without question, we have already made great discernible progress since David’s arrival,” White stated. “However, as we assess our future – based on prospect evaluations, ongoing recruitment activity and player development – we are extremely excited, if not euphoric! To be sure, ‘Coach Cut’ represents just a great fit at Duke. David and the staff have done an exemplary job of leading the program, while subscribing to the highest intuitional ideals, both academically and athletically.”
Hired on December 15, 2007, Cutcliffe has directed the Blue Devils to six victories this season as Duke has achieved bowl eligibility for the first time since the 1994 season. This year’s accomplishments include a 5-1 record at home, the 33-30 victory over rival North Carolina that included a game-winning 14-play, 87-yard drive ending with Sean Renfree’s five-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder with 13 seconds left in the contest, and Conner Vernon becoming the ACC’s all-time leader in both pass receptions and receiving yardage.
“This business is about people, and Karen and I could not be happier with the people we’ve associated ourselves with here at Duke,” Cutcliffe said. “President Brodhead and Kevin White are the best of the best, and we are grateful for their support as we continue to build Duke’s football program. We’ve accomplished some of the goals we laid out five years ago, but are nowhere close to where we want to be.”
In four-plus seasons in Durham, the Birmingham, Ala., native has guided Duke to 21 wins – 11 more than the program’s total in the previous eight years.
In 2011, Duke landed a conference-record 19 selections to the Academic All-ACC team and, during the previous season, established a school record for home attendance with 201,248 total spectators visiting Wallace Wade Stadium. Four Blue Devils – linebacker Michael Tauiliili (2008), defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase (2009), placekicker Will Snyderwine (2010) and safety Matt Daniels (2011) – have earned All-America honors during the Cutcliffe Era.
Cutcliffe is a 1976 graduate of the University of Alabama. After coaching at his alma mater, Banks High School, he served 19 seasons (1982-98; 2006-07) on the staff at Tennessee and six years (1999-04) as the head coach at Ole Miss. Cutcliffe has participated in 22 bowl games, and owns a 4-1 record in bowl contests as a head coach.
For the Blue Devils, the scene now shifts to The Bahamas, of all places, for the inaugural Battle of Atlantis. First up is a matchup on Thursday with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, coached by Tubby Smith, who is now in his sixth year with the school.
The Gophers are coming off a 23 win season, though they did lose 15 games as well, a campaign that saw them make a run all the way to the finals of the NIT, where they were trounced by Stanford at Madison Square Garden. Along the way to New York, Minnesota handled both Miami and Washington, so the run was no fluke. The 23 wins was the most for a Minnesota team since 1990, and it resulted in a contract extension for Smith.
This season has started off smoothly for Minnesota. They opened with three easy wins, against American, Toledo, and Tennessee State, and followed those up with a 15 point decision over the always tough Richmond Spiders. So at 4-0 the Gophers have to be feeling pretty good about themselves heading into the matchup with Duke.
Minnesota lost big man Ralph Sampson III off of last year's squad, but brings back plenty of experience. Senior forward Rodney Williams Jr. and junior guard Austin Hollins are the Gophers' leading scorers at 14.5 ppg. The 6'7" Williams, who led Gopher scorers with 12 ppg last season, is shooting an absurd 73% from the field, while the 6'4" Hollins is very solid at 55%, including 44% from three-point land. Williams is also the leading rebounder on the squad with 6.5 per game, backed up by 6'8" 245 pound forward Trevor Mbakwe, who is grabbing six boards per game. Mbakwe, who missed all but seven games last year after tearing an ACL, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. The leading assist man for the Gophers is Andre Hollins, who is dishing out five per game, with a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. His 14 points and 7 assists in 32 minutes were key in the win over Richmond. Sophomore shooting guard Joe Coleman, who is the third double digit scorer at 10 ppg, and 6'11" 260 pound sophomore center Elliot Eliason round out the starting five.
With Mbakwe back from the ACL, the Gophers feel like they finally have some depth on their roster that they can count on, unlike in recent years. They're going to need it, as the Duke team they face down in the Bahamas has been developing quality depth of its own. The perimeter rotation of Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon, Quinn Cook, andTyler Thornton is going to put a lot of pressure on Minnesota at both ends, and it seems unlikely that the bulky Eliason is going to be able to handle the ultra-athletic Mason Plumlee underneath, especially when Mason plays with the kind of confidence he has been displaying thus far this season. In fact, I would expect to see Duke keep Mason on the move against Eliason or Mbakwe, as neither is likely able to keep up with him. Minnesota is a quality team, and they're well-coached of course by Tubby Smith, but they don't appear to have the type of breakout scorer or enough quality athletes to be able to actually beat a team like Duke. What would be nice would be to see Plumlee to continue to dominate the floor at both ends, Quinn Cook to continue to find guys in the halfcourt and on the break, Ryan Kelly find his shooting stroke -- and his shot should be available against the interior-oriented Mbakwe, unless the Gophers use Mbakwe to try to contend with Plumlee -- and to try to get Amile Jefferson and even Alex Murphy more involved as well. I see no reason why any of those things can't happen in this game. That's not to say they all will, but several of them should, and the result should likely be a Duke victory.
The Duke Blue Devils play their final home game of the 2012-13 season versus Miami this Saturday at 12:30 in Wallace Wade Stadium. Check out what Duke running back Josh Snead and defensive back Ross Cockrell had to say today about the match up via BDN Video -
Mason Plumlee was praised by Coach Krzyzewski in the post game in that he scored a career high 28 points in a most efficient manner in the Blue Devils 88-67 win over Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday evening. Plumlee went 9 of 11 from the field and 10 of 11 from the free throw stripe in one of his better games in Durham. Blue Devil Nation Video caught up to the star Blue Devil after the game, so check out what he had to say -
The Blue Devils, down a point with 5:23 to go in the first half, went on a 23-0 run to take a commanding 52-30 lead into the locker room. Mason Plumlee and Rasheed Sulaimon led the charge with 14 and 13 points, respectively, in the stellar half. The Blue Devils were 13 of 14 from the free throw stripe. In the second half, the run would resume, and grow to 30-0, making it the largest since a 27-0 run over Clemson in 1999.
Career High 28 for Mason Plumlee
Mason Plumlee was a picture of efficiency tonight, scoring 28 points on 9 of 11 shooting from the field and 10 of 11 from the free throw line. Plumlee added 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, and earned the praise of Coach Krzzyewski after the game -- including about his defense. The coach mentioned that Mason stayed away from fouls tonight, contrasting it to the foul against Kentucky where he strayed too far from the basket defensively. "Guys got me easy shots - I wasn't shooting jumpers," said a smiling Plumlee after the contest. "A lot of credit goes to Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton for getting me the ball in the right situations." Krzyzewski had mentioned in the pre-season that if Mason was to eliminate some of his misses from the stripe, he'd be a 20-10 guy, and tonight he showed that potential ...
... but it was Quinn Cook who got him the ball in position
The sophomore PG earned a start and he played well, dishing out a team and season-high 9 assists, tying his career high, set in January against Penn. Cook also scored 8 points in the game, including nailing consecutive three-pointers in the first half at a crucial time, and seemed very comfortable on the floor. He was humble in the post-game locker room. Check out our interview with him which will be up shortly. Cook had consecutive three pointers in the first half at a crucial time for Duke.
Kelly solid again
Ryan Kelly has struggled a bit with his shot early this season and went just 1 of 5 from the three-point stripe tonight, but he handled the boards early on for Duke and ended the game tied with Plumee with 9 caroms. But the most impressive improvement he's had in the off-season in my view is his development of better passing skills; he had 3 assists this evening, and that was his lowest total of the season. Any time you get a big who can dish to a scorer, he will present matchup problems. "We really locked in on the defensive end and didn't give them anything easy and really controlled the boards," said Kelly in the post-game locker room.
Duke will next take on Minnesota, ranked 27th in the country as I type this, on Thanksgiving Day at 3:30 EST on AXS TV. The team will leave on Tuesday for their journey to the Bahamas, and, win or lose, will play two games in the Battle for Atlantis.
Rasheed Sulaimon had a career high 19 points tonight for Duke.
The Blue Devils won their 96th consecutive game in Cameron against non-conference opponents.
Five Blue Devils hit three-pointers in the game.
Tyler Thornton ended a streak of 15 consecutive starts.