Justise Winslow

Okafor Heroics Overshadowed By Poor Team Play In Win

Justise WinslowThe Duke Blue Devils shook off their holiday rust against a spirited and pesky Elon team on Monday evening. When the dust cleared, Duke came away with a 75-62 victory and are now 9-0 on the season.

Duke was led by Jahlil Okafor who tallied 25 points and 20 rebounds on his birthday. At the 11:36 mark in the second half, Okafor with 18 rebounds at that time had as many as the entire Elon team. Despite that fact, it was a lack luster performance from the rest of the team.

Duke did not share the ball like they had in previous games and seemed sluggish after the exam break. The Blue Devils also seemed to have a tough time putting their big win at Wisconsin behind them.

Duke shot just 3 of 16 from beyond the three-point stripe and went just 14 of 27 from the free throw line. During the post game press conference Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski also said that his team didn't block out well nor did they fight for loose balls.

What does all that mean? Well, for one thing there will be quite a tough practice tomorrow before the team heads to New Jersey where they will take on the defending national champion in the Connecticut Huskies

What we also learned tonight was that this team has a core of freshman who are just that. Krzyzewski pointed to his first year players experiencing things for the first time, such as the long lay off and coming off a big Duke win.

The Blue Devils dealt with a lot of intangibles on this evening and they learned that they can indeed get caught napping which could lead to an upset unless they bring consistent effort to each game.  Despite the staff having drilled that into the team earlier in the week, the lesson was furthered on the court against Elon where Duke could never pull away.

"We didn't do the hard things.  Hard things would be finishes.  Hard things would be being strong with the ball.  Hard things would be to be to talk. Hard things would be to dive for loose balls," said Krzyzewski.  And that just scratches the surface of many other comments made about his disappointment in his team's performance.

Coming into the game, Duke was averaging over 100 ppg in Cameron this season and after each win, it was a joyous locker room.  But tonight, you could hear a pin drop.  There were no celebrations and the players were not happy with their performances.

"We have to have really good practices, starting tomorrow," said Duke Captain Amile Jefferson after the win.  "Guys have to come tomorrow ready to work."

Kyrzyzewski hit the nail on the head with concern to Okafors sensational stat line.  He knew it was a great performance, but the rest of the team just didn't play up to the lofty standards it will take to continue to build on early season success.

On this night, Okafors stat line hid the stagnant offensive output and it almost seemed like a wasted effort.  Why?  Because it was overshadowed by some non Duke like play.  If it weren't bad enough that Duke struggled on the evening with consistency, they got a cheap foul in the end which cut the lead down significantly and it was just one of the many things which seemed to make Krzyzewski's  blood boil.

The victory was the 114th consecutive non conference win Cameron and Krzzyewski now stands at 992 victories.  Duke won its 159th game this decade, second in the nation during that time span.

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Duke v. Elon Game Notes

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OPENING TIP

• Duke (8-0) returns to action after an 11-day hiatus between games to host Elon (5-4) Monday, Dec. 15 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. with ESPNU televising the contest.

• Duke enters the game ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 114-18 when ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll. Elon is unranked in both polls.

• The Blue Devils have won an NCAA-best 37 consecutive games at Cameron Indoor Stadium entering Monday’s contest.

• Duke has won 26 straight games in the month of December dating back to a Dec. 2, 2009 loss at Wisconsin.

• The Blue Devils have shot 50 percent or better from the field six times this season and are second in the NCAA in field goal percentage (.539).

• Duke has won each of the first eight games by 10-or-more points, marking the first time since the 2002-03 season it has accomplished that feat. The Blue Devils opened the 2002-03 campaign with nine straight double digit wins.

• Duke is looking to open the season with nine straight wins for the 22nd time in school history. Coach K-led teams have started 9-0 15 times at Duke.

THE LAST TIME OUT

• Duke is coming off an 80-70 win at No. 2 Wisconsin Wednesday, Dec. 3. The Blue Devils shot 65.2 percent (30-of-46) to become the first visiting team to shoot over 60 percent from the field in the 18-year history of the Kohl Center.

• Tyus Jones led four double-figure scorers with a season-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Rasheed Sulaimon (14), Quinn Cook (13) and Jahlil Okafor (13) also scored in double figures.

BY THE NUMBERS

• Duke has won each of the first eight games by 10-or-more points, marking the first time since the 2002-03 season it has accomplished that feat. The Blue Devils opened the 2002-03 campaign with nine straight double digit wins.

• The Blue Devils have trailed for just 4:54 through the first eight games of the season. Duke’s largest deficit this season has been four points.

• Duke is averaging 102.0 points per game on 58.8 percent shooting (151-of-257) at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season. The Blue Devils have scored 90-or-more points in all four home games with a pair of 100-point efforts.

• Eight different Blue Devils have scored in double figures this season with Quinn Cook and Jahlil Okafor reaching double figures in all eight contests.

• Freshmen Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow have started all eight games for the Blue Devils. Mike Krzyzewski has started three or more freshmen in a game 43 times at Duke, including 27 times during the 1982-83 season.

• Duke’s top-rated freshman class - Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow - combines to average 45.9 points per game while shooting an efficient 53.6 percent (128-of-239) from the field. The group has accounted for 18 of Duke’s 33 double figure scoring games this season.

• Quinn Cook has scored in double figures in all eight games and ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring at 15.3 ppg. He leads the ACC in three-point field goals (2.88 3pg.), while also ranking among the conference leaders in three-point percentage (.442 - 6th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.63:1 - 3rd).

• Jahlil Okafor, a three-time ACC Freshman of the Week selection, ranks second in the ACC in scoring (17.1 ppg.) and field goal percentage (.646), while also ranking among the league leaders in rebounds (12th - 7.6 rpg.), offensive rebounds (T-5th - 3.5 orpg.) and blocks (9th - 1.5 bpg.).

• Tyus Jones is averaging 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game over the last two contests. He is 11-of-19 (.579) from the field and 13-of-16 (.813) from the foul line in that span.

• Jahlil Okafor is averaging 20.3 points per game on 77.1 percent (37-of-48) shooting in four home contests.

• Amile Jefferson continues to be active on the glass, averaging a team-high 8.3 rebounds per game (9th in the ACC). He has collected 29 offensive rebounds and is tied for third in the league in that category (3.63 orpg.).

• Matt Jones is averaging 7.0 points per game, while shooting 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from three-point range. As a freshman, Jones was just 3-of-21 (.143) from behind the arc and averaged 1.8 ppg.

• Duke’s post rotation of Amile Jefferson, Jahlil Okafor and Marshall Plumlee combines to average 29.6 points and 19.0 rebounds per game while shooting 67.1 percent (100-of-149) from the field.

• Duke went 15-of-21 (.714) from the field in the second half of its road win over No. 2 Wisconsin. The Blue Devils are now shooting 55.5 percent (151-of-257) from the field in the second half of play this season.

• The Blue Devils are one of 10 remaining undefeated teams in the NCAA. Duke and Kentucky are the only teams in that group to win each game by 10-or-more points.

• Duke is 51-8 all-time against teams currently in the Colonial Athletic Association, including an active 26-game win streak.

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Duke LB David Helton Honored

SONY DSCNEW YORK – Duke University senior David Helton was named the 2014 William V. Campbell Trophy recipient on Tuesday
evening as part of the 57th annual National Football Foundation (NFF) Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The award recognizes an individual who is deemed the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.

Helton becomes the first Duke student-athlete to receive the Campbell Trophy and is awarded a 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. He was the third straight Blue Devil to be named an NFF Scholar-Athlete, joining Sean Renfree (2012) and Perry Simmons (2013).

“First and foremost, congratulations to David and his family for this incredible honor,” said head coach David Cutcliffe, who also mentored 1997 Campbell Trophy recipient Peyton Manning at the University of Tennessee. “David’s personality, work ethic and drive to be successful combine for achievements like this one, and it all starts with his parents. I couldn’t be happier for Keith and Mary to watch their son experience this great journey.”

Helton is just the second ACC student-athlete to be honored, joining Virginia’s Thomas D. Burns (1993).

Last week, Helton was named to the Atlantic Sports Media Association All-ACC first team and a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. The Chattanooga, Tenn., product owns a 3.63 grade point average as a psychology major and was a Capital One/CoSIDA First Team Academic All-America selection and is a three-time Academic All-ACC Football Team honoree.

Helton is the eighth Duke player to earn first team Academic All-America honors and the fourth to receive Academic All-America and All-ACC honors in the same season, joining Simmons (2012-13), Shawn Johnson (2002) and Bill Jones (1965).

On the field, Helton leads the ACC and ranks 15th nationally in tackles per game (10.42). In total tackles, he tops the league (125) and stands 11th nationally. He owns six games with double figure tackles in 2014 and is now tied for 10th in Duke history with 338 career tackles.

William V. Campbell Trophy Winners
2014 David Helton Duke University
2013 John Urschel Penn State University
2012 Barrett Jones University of Alabama
2011 Andrew Rodriguez United States Military Academy
2010 Sam Acho University of Texas
2009 Tim Tebow University of Florida
2008 Alex Mack University of California-Berkeley
2007 Dallas Griffin University of Texas
2006 Brian Leonard Rutgers University
2005 Rudy Niswanger Louisiana State University
2004 Michael Munoz University of Tennessee
2003 Craig Krenzel Ohio State University
2002 Brandon Roberts Washington University in St. Louis
2001 Joaquin Gonzalez University of Miami
2000 Kyle Vanden Bosch University of Nebraska
1999 Chad Pennington Marshall University
1998 Matt Stinchcomb University of Georgia
1997 Peyton Manning University of Tennessee
1996 Danny Wuerffel University of Florida
1995 Bobby Hoying Ohio State University
1994 Robert B. Zatechka University of Nebraska
1993 Thomas D. Burns University of Virginia
1992 Jim Hansen University of Colorado
1991 Brad Culpepper University of Florida
1990 Chris Howard United States Air Force Academy

Coach K

Duke Basketball – The Road Ahead

Coach KThe Duke Blue Devils currently stand 8-0 on the young college basketball season.  We covered the fast start in a previous article, now let's take a quick look at the road ahead -

The first leg of the journey ...

The Blue Devils will next take to the court against Elon in Cameron Indoor Stadium on December the 15th.  Yes, tip off for that contest is still a week off and its by design that Duke generally plays a lesser opponent to shake off the exam break blues.  The reason being that this game will serve as a tune up for their next marque match up against the defending national champion Connecticut Huskies. There will surely be a standing room only crowd in East Rutherford, New Jersey when the Blue Devils take on the Huskies in that both teams have huge alumni bases in the area.   If Duke comes out of these two games, they'll head into ....

... the final holiday break of the season where the Blue Devils hope to be 10-0.

Duke will get an eleven day break after the UConn match up where they return to action against Toledo on December 29th, followed by the Wofford  game on the 31st and or New Years Eve.    These two opponents will be the last easy games on the Blue Devils schedule before they get into the thick of their ACC slate.  That statement is not meant to be disrespectful to Toledo which is currently 4-4 or Wofford who stands at 7-2.  It's just the way Duke schedules and the ACC is shaping up at the top, makes these easier contests than most of the remaining games.  Coach Mike Krzyzewski and company will shake off the Holiday break in these match ups and could very well enter ACC play 12-0.

Nowhere to go but down ...

It's easy for the fan base to suddenly take early season success for granted.  Duke is currently ranked as the number two team in the country and they will likely keep that spot if they get past the Huskies.  The hype machine will be in full swing and that means new lessons to be learned by the freshman.  So far this season, the freshman and veterans on the Duke squad have dealt nicely with expectations.  In fact, they've been cool customers on the court in hostile environments.  The win over Wisconsin solidified Duke in the eyes of the general media.  It's not easy to beat the Badgers anywhere, much less their infamously tough home court.  And despite the loss, the Badgers dropped just four spots to sixth in the country in the polls.  While the Blue Devils are flying high, the schedule gets tougher which brings about varying amounts of possible adversity.  Duke must travel to Louisville with no return favor.  They also have tough road games at North Carolina,  N.C. State, Virginia and Syracuse as well as one more non conference road game at St. John's.  They do get an upstart Miami team at home as well as return trips from North Carolina and Syracuse.  Duke is riding high at number two in the nation and they could get to the number one spot, but realistically, there is nowhere to go but down after a loss when in early season rare air.  I might add that past a game against Louisville and a home contest against North Carolina, Kentucky which is ranked in the top spot then takes on a soft SEC slate.  That means, they'll almost assuredly remain in that spot for most of the season.

A lot of speculation  ...

Fans and media can speculate on what might transpire down the road.  It's easy to go out on a limb, but hindsight has a way of making current realities seem, well ... you know.  Right now, it looks like the Blue Devils are destined for great things, but we're more than three months removed from March when the true madness begins.  Mike Krzyzewski knows that it is what you do at that time that folks remember most and it will be fun to see how he molds his troops for the stretch run.

And all eyes will be on Coach K ...

... as he goes for an unprecedented 1000th win as a college basketball coach.  Somewhere scalpers are already speculating on when that might be, for it will be a most storied day in Duke tradition.  I will tell you that if Duke stumbles or loses on game between now and January the 19th, it will come at home to Pitt.  And if they run the table, they will be going for it  for their coach against Louisville the game before.  Okay, I'll stop looking so far ahead now.  What we will all see is how the Duke players handle the situation as it nears, for their will be hype and deservedly so for Mike Krzyzewski.  Adversity can even come in positive scenarios as well for players and watching them deal with the pressure will prove interesting.  It's been a long and wonderful ride for Duke fans with the living legend at the helm.  He's spurned he NBA on many occasions and stuck it out in Durham.  I am old enough to remember his early struggles, but I have also seen his accomplishments.  Quite frankly, it's memory overload for me when thinking back on all the wonderful seasons and players he's coached.  I'm just glad I got to see a lot of his career up close and personal and that the ride is far from over.

In closing, I will repeat myself from my last blurb on the team.  It's a fun bunch to watch and a likable team which seems to have the ability to do special things.  And with that said, enough speculation ... let's just take it one game at a time and enjoy the ride.

 

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Duke to face Arizona State in Sun Bowl

The Blue Devils are headed to a postseason bowl game for the third straight year under Head Coach David Cutcliffe. This year, Duke has accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The game will kickoff at 2:00PM ET on Saturday, December 27. The Blue Devils will face off against the Arizona State Sun Devils out of the PAC-12 conference.

Duke finished the regular season 9-3 and in 2nd place in the ACC Coastal Division. The Blue Devils have won 19 games over the past two seasons, but are still in search of the program's first bowl victory since the 1960 Cotton Bowl. This year's team is led by three senior first team All-ACC players in WR Jamison Crowder, OG Laken Tomlinson, and LB David Helton. The Blue Devils have averaged 32 points per game on the 2014 season, while allowing just 20 points per game to their opponents.

Arizona State finished 9-3 in the regular season under Head Coach Todd Graham. The Sun Devils feature one of the top offenses in the country, putting up 37 points per game. ASU is also led by 3 first team all-conference performers in redshirt senior OT Jamil Douglas, redshirt senior S Damarious Randall, and redshirt junior WR Jaelen Strong.

Tickets for the game are available through GoDuke.com.

Justise

Duke Baseketball – The Season To Date

JustiseAfter a 8-0 start to the season and most recently a victory over Wisconsin on their home court, it's clear that Duke is a national championship contender.  Since we have a break in the games, let's take a look at the Blue Devils to date.

A team that stays together, plays together

It's clear that the 2014-15 Duke Blue Devils like each other on and off the court.  So far, this season, the chemistry is solid as a rock.  Said chemistry comes in many forms but one aspect which goes unseen by most is a tight locker room.  There are no overblown egos with the talented freshman class who are mature beyond their years.  Meanwhile, the veterans know their roles and realize that winning is something which brings all notice.  One thing players must realize in the Duke system is that their day will come if they're patient.  And this years group seems to have a better grasp of that concept than some teams past.

Good coaching

During the off-season, Coach Mike Krzyzewski represented his country by once again leading Team USA to Gold.  During his absence, the Blue Devils assistants meshed together well, meeting the challenges of losing Chris Collins to Northwestern and more recently, Steve Wojciechowski to Marquette.  Jeff Capel, who has been a head coach at Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth has really stepped into the role as the second man in charge.  Nate James  and Jon Scheyer add to a mature, no non sense Duke staff on game day as well.  But this group has been working hard off the court as well and they blended the team wonderfully in the off-season.  While certainly leaving instructions, Krzyzweski simply had to make his tweaks upon his return and we are seeing the results.  Those results are a better defensive team, a smooth looking offense and the ability to accomplish the mission at hand.  Duke shook things up in the off-season and the staff pushed the right buttons to make sure each and every player came back better.

marshallThe vets have all improved

It's easy to focus in on the talented freshman class for many and for good reason.  But the veteran Duke players all made significant off season strides.  Let's start with Quinn Cook, who has matured into his role of being a leader and captain.  Over the summer, Cook made an effort to get in tip-top shape and it shows.  He's been the rock on this team to date in many ways and his outside shot will continue to open other opportunities for Duke.  Amile Jefferson has been oh-so solid on the boards.  His improved rebounding and spacing on defense is most noticeable.  Jefferson is taking his role of captain seriously and doing what it takes no matter what comes the Blue Devils way on the court.  Marshall Plumlee has been backing up Jahlil Okafor with good minutes as well.  And one of the stories of the new season is how consistent his free throws shooting has become where he is now efficient.  Matt Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon have made huge strides in the area of maturity and understanding their roles.  In the case of Jones, he moves much better off ball this season and has played some hard-nosed minutes where he defends well.  Sulaimon learned to deal with adversity and to let his time come when it presents himself.  Scoring points in bunches are what can happen when you buy into "the game will come to you when the time is right," scenario.  Let me also add, that both Jones and Sulaimon have been capable and active defenders to date.

And then there are the freshman

It's clear now just how good this years Duke class is on the court.  Having seen all of these kids while on the AAU circuit gave me an idea of what they can do.  But watching them mesh together has yielded better results  than anyone could have envisioned.  We all knew they were good and mature beyond their years, but nobody knew they'd look like a well oiled machine together this early.  Jahlil Okafor is the best big man in the country already.  He's as solid as one can get in the post and has the skill set to do it all.  Yes, he is one and done, so enjoy him while you can Duke fans.  Okafor is moving better than ever and his short-range use of the glass on the offensive end makes him one tough match up.  Krzyzewski has been masterful in keeping him fresh and Okafor is ridiculously efficient when he's on the court.  Tyus Jones has won at every level he's played on.  Now he's doing it again at the highest level of college hoops.  Jones is silky smooth and savvy and has an extra competitive gear which showed in the Blue Devils win over the Badgers.  The combination of Cook and Jones has been as good as it gets to date and that was a question going into the season.  Justise Winslow is a fan favorite for many in that he is versatile, hard nosed and tough.  Just plug Winslow into the line up and watch him produce in every aspect of the game.  These three have been rock solid and fun to watch and more importantly good teammates.  Before you think Grayson Allen is the odd man out let me speak to the big picture.  Allen will for sure be a huge contributor at Duke in the future, but don't count him out this season just yet.  Krzyzewski has a way of pushing buttons at the right time and Allen has a way of stat stuffing on the offensive end.

Resume building wins

Okay, here is a reality check for all Duke fans.  It's been an incredible season to date, but it's what you do in March and hopefully April that is most remembered.  Still, Duke has had a nice November and December with some NCAA Tournament resume building wins.  The best win was the last outing versus Wisconsin in one of the toughest places to play in America.  Duke also has wins over Stanford and Michigan State, two teams sure to be in the field of teams come March.

In closing, Duke looks as good and better than most teams in the nation in early December.  The team has been fun to watch and has likable players who seem to be having fun.  Thus far in this early college basketball season, Duke fans have little to complain about and plenty to crow about.

Next up:  We'll take a look at the road ahead for the Duke Basketball team.