Anthony Boone 11-15-14

Mistakes cost Blue Devils in loss to Virginia Tech

DURHAM – All season long, the Blue Devils have prided themselves on taking care of the football and protecting their quarterback. With an extra week to prepare, Bud Foster and the Virginia Tech defense were able to turn the tables on Anthony Boone and the Duke offense. The Hokies forced three Blue Devil turnovers and sacked Boone three times on Saturday en route to a 17-16 win. Boone finished the day just 18/40 for 181 yards with 2 interceptions.

Anthony Boone post-game

Turnovers weren’t the only miscues for the Blue Devils on Saturday, as Ross Martin missed on two field goals, from 51 and 40 yards. The second miss, with 2:26 left to play, essentially sealed the win for the Hokies. Duke’s junior kicker had been perfect on the season entering the game.

Ross Martin post-game

The Blue Devils (8-2, 4-2 ACC) face a quick turnaround as they host rival North Carolina in a Thursday night matchup on ESPN. As has been the case in recent meetings, more than just the Victory Bell will be at stake for both teams. The Tar Heels are fighting for bowl eligibility and the Blue Devils will need a win to stay in the ACC Coastal Division race. Tickets are still available at GoDuke.com.

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Jahlil Okafor Debuts In Cameron

imagesJahlil Okafor played his first official game in Cameron Indoor Stadium and he did not disappoint the fans.  Okafor went 9 of 10 from the field to score 19 points to go with 4 rebounds.  “He’s an outstanding player.  He has great poise to him,” said Coach Mike Krzyzewski in the post game.  “His most impressive stat line was his 4 assists and no turnovers,” said the HOF coach.  Here is what Jahlil had to say post game –

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Preview: Duke vs. Virginia Tech

DSC_0098Preview: Duke vs. Virginia Tech
12:00 PM ET
Saturday, November 15
Durham, NC
TV: ESPNU
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 92 and XM Ch 194

Duke in 2014: 8-1
Virginia Tech in 2014: 4-5

DUKE INJURIES

OUT – Alonzo Saxton II (CB)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Taariq Shabazz (DE)

VIRGINIA TECH INJURIES

DOUBTFUL – Brandon Facyson (CB), Trey Edmunds (RB), Chase Williams (LB)
OUT FOR SEASON – Luther Maddy (DT), Shai McKenzie (RB), Jonathan McLaughlin (OT)

Duke and Virginia Tech last faced each other on October 26, 2013 in a game Duke won 13-10 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg. In their last game out, Duke beat Syracuse 27-10, while Virginia Tech lost to Boston College 33-31 on November 1. Virginia Tech is coming off a bye week.

HOW DUKE CAN WIN

On offense, look for Duke to pass to set-up the run. Achieving balance remains vital to success, but this week Duke must first achieve success in the passing game, then run the ball. Why? Virginia Tech has talented cornerbacks who can lock up wide receivers one-on-one. Kendall Fuller’s 47 yard Pick Six against North Carolina and Donovan Riley’s 63 yard Pick Six against Ohio State are examples. This strategy allows them to stack the box with eight men to stop the run and pressure the quarterback. Duke must force Virginia Tech to reduce the number of defenders in the box. With Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney lining up wide for the Blue Devils, it is imperative Duke wins the one-on-one wide receiver/cornerback match-ups. Blakeney and Crowder had great games against Syracuse and this weekend would be a great time to see encore performances.

On defense, Duke must force the Hokies to be one dimensional on offense by stopping the run. Virginia Tech has struggled to run the ball so the Blue Devils must ensure those struggles continue on Saturday afternoon in Wallace Wade Stadium. Once Virginia Tech is forced to rely on the pass, they are playing to Duke’s defensive strength a ball hawking secondary.

The Blue Devil special teams have been special this season so against the Hokies the special teams must perform to win the field position battle and force Virginia Tech to face a long field all afternoon. It sounds simple and at times this season Duke has made it look simple, but a lot of hard work and effort go into executing those exciting returns and great coverage. Historically, the Hokies have excelled on special teams earning the moniker Beamer Ball. This Saturday afternoon Duke special teams need to flip the script and outperform Virginia Tech.

HOW DUKE CAN LOSE

If Duke fails to protect quarterback Anthony Boone, they will lose. Virginia Tech defensive ends have combined for 10.5 sacks this season with the defense combining for 31 sacks total, which is third best in the conference. As stated above, this is a game where the Blue Devils need to successfully pass the ball in order to set-up the run so Anthony Boone must have time to go through his progressions, locate open receivers and accurately deliver the ball. Duke’s offensive line has been superb so far this season and it will need to be superb again against the Hokies who will certainly blitz, blitz and then blitz some more.

If Duke fails to value the ball, they will lose. Duke is ranked first in the ACC in Turnover Margin at +9, while Virginia Tech is number 13 at -4. Duke cannot afford empty possessions so they must not turnover the ball to the Hokies. Moreover, turning the ball over forces the Blue Devils defense back on the field. In what by all acounts should be a closely contested game, the team that is freshest in the pivotal 4th quarter will have an advantage. Turnovers lead to fatigue.

WHY DUKE WILL WIN

Duke and Virginia Tech are programs on opposite trajectories. Duke is on the rise while the once vaunted Virginia Tech Hokies are falling as evidenced by their position in the ACC Coastal Division basement. Duke will beat Virginia Tech because the Blue Devils will be the better coached team, the more disciplined team and the more talented team.

BOTTOM LINE

This game will be won by the team which can dictate their will upon the opponent. Can Duke force Virginia Tech out of their man-on-man pass coverage on the outside? Will Virginia Tech successfully stack eight men in the box for all four quarters? The answer to those two questions will dictate the game outcome.

Duke 23, Virginia Tech 19

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Communication Is The Key to Duke Success

tyusWhat do you think is the key for success for the 2014-15 Duke Basketball team?  Most who are chiming in before tip-off are pointing towards the freshmen maturing.  I buy into that to a small degree for there will be moments when they eventually hit a wall.  But these young men are already quite mature and I feel the challenge lies in another key area.

The reason I say that is because college basketball is younger than ever.  Add to that, the freshman coming in are older than ever.  The type of freshman that come into Duke are far from green and this seasons class bares witness to that more so than most.

Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow all played on the Nike EYBL circuit and that means they’ve played a heck of a lot of basketball.  These three also played for USA Basketball where they travelled afar leading their team to a Gold Medal.   Make no mistake, travelling quickly broadens ones self  and most 18 year olds have never put in so many miles.  And then there is Grayson Allen.  While he didn’t play in the Nike circuit until late, nobody doubts his lack of shyness after winning the McDonald’s All American Dunk Contest while rocking a Duke jersey.  In the pre season Allen has shown the ability to come off the bench adjust quickly and score in bunches.

The bottom line is that while these young men have yet to play a regular season college basketball game, they are already seasoned.  That’s quite evident in the fact that three of the aforementioned will be in the starting lineup from day one for Duke.  This group is the most mature class I have seen in some time.  And for what it’s worth I am talking since Mike Krzyzewski’s breakthrough class which included current Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie and David Henderson to the modern-day.

The aforementioned eighties class was young in basketball years because the AAU circuit and USA Basketball was a shadow of what it is today.  Heck, coaches have been unable to truly play the “young,” card since the now trendy “snark” journalism was born with the likes of Jim Rome and that was a long time ago now.

That said,  don’t expect to see Coach Mike Krzyzewski play the “young,” card this season.  And if he does?  Well, that would spell trouble and means things aren’t going well on the court.   Now, before you say he has already played the young card, let me clarify by saying he’s said on a few occasions that his team played “young,” but he hasn’t in recent memory called his team young.

What the Duke Coach knows is one of the main keys to the season is developing communication which leads to chemistry.

That said, communication is “the key,” to the coming season more-so than anything else.  What is communication within the Duke Basketball system?  Well, its many things, but it starts with talk.  Behind every championship team at Duke has been vocal leadership and players who talk it up while they’re on the court.

A lot of times, talking on the court doesn’t come naturally to players, even the best ones and it has to be coached into them.  Many a player has had a great skill set, yet failed to reach their potential due to simple communication issues. Most recently, current Duke Coach Jim Scheyer and Nolan Smith led Duke to a national championship four years ago.  Neither of those guys were big talkers coming into Duke by nature but they developed that skill set.

While watching many games on the Nike AAU Circuit involving Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, I saw extremely talented players.  But none of them were especially vocal.

Tyus Jones was the ultimate point guard who operated in a most smooth  and efficient manner, but led more by example with his play.  Justise Winslow was just a cool customer, finding ways to do it all, but he too, was basically a quiet player on the court.  Even Jahlil Okafor was much more of a “Just do it,” guy than he was vocal .  Lastly, Grayson Allen let his dunks and athleticism speak, but he was more apt to give off a smile than he was to chat it up.

Coming into the season, seeing whether this talented quartet advanced in the area of communication was one of the things I wanted to keep an eye on.  The mere fact that Duke named the outgoing Amile Jefferson and the quick to always have something to say Quinn Cook as captains further cemented in my mind that this too may have been an area of concern for the staff.

In witnessing the first practice of the season one thing stood out to me the most.  As I was making verbal notes on my recorder I began to wonder if I could decipher them later, for there was plenty of background noise in Cameron.  As it turned out the recordings were inaudible due to practice chatter in the backdrop and that was a sign that my concern had been addressed.

During the practices and pre season games I witnessed, it became clear to me that at this time, the message that you had to talk on the court had taken root.  It’s obvious that this had been an emphasis from the staff while Kryzweski was bringing home another Gold this past summer with USA Basketball duties.

Talking on the court of things like calling out picks and switches and the rest doesn’t come easy for some but it is one of the cornerstones of success at this level.  Every Duke team that has done special things and brought home championships talked it up along the way,

So far, so good in the pre season.  The freshman are talking more than I’ve  seen them do before and the veteran players are helping them to understand the Duke way.  Talking the game up leads to chemistry and communication leads to good things.  If the team continues to take this part of the game seriously it will bode well for the 2014-15 season.  Communication is the one thing which could be the key to playing in Indianapolis come April as one of the last four teams standing.

 

Anthony Boone 8-30-14

Duke QB Anthony Boone talks Hokies

Anthony-Boone-10-6-12The one thing Anthony Boone does consistently is win.  The Duke quarterback faces another stiff challenge this weekend from a notoriously tough Hokie defense.  Make no mistake that the Duke versus Virginia Tech match up is the key game left on the schedule.  With a win, Duke can split their remaining two regular season games and earn no less than a tie for the Coastal Division crown.  If Duke can get past the Hokies and Florida State takes out Miami this weekend, a split moving forward would clinch the division title.