Duke Advances to Face Louisville

unnamed (6)The Duke Blue Devils took care of business against Clemson where three players scored 20 point each.  Duke will likely need more production from someone other than Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard and Frank Jackson today to defeat a better team in Louisville.

The Blue Devils hope to exact revenge on the Cardinals which handed Duke a defeat in the Yum Center earlier this season.  To do so, they will need more than the two total points they got from their bench yesterday.

It's clear at this point and time that Duke may not see a healthy Grayson Allen for some time.  The pre season player of the year put up zero points yesterday and got a controversial technical foul called on him.

Fortunately for Duke, freshman Frank Jackson has been making the most of his opportunities while Allen tries to recover from a severe ankle injury.  Make no mistake, Jackson must remain consistent for Duke to have any chance of advancing in the tournament.

unnamed (26)Luke Kennard shook off a shaky shooting start where he went 1 of 9 in the first half of the win over Clemson to star in the 2nd half. Kennard always has the green light for Duke and he shot his way out of the slump which helped Duke gain their 24th win of the season.

Jayson Tatum also came up huge for the Blue Devils.  Tatum has been the most successfully consistent freshman from a top rated class. He was recently named as a finalist for the Julius Erving Award which goes to the nation's top small forward.

Duke coach Mike Krzzyewski played three big men versus Clemson in freshman Harry Giles and Marques Bolden.  Both had less successful minutes than did little used back up Antonio Vrankovic.

The Blue Devils will take on a much better Louisville team later today.  The Cardinals are considered by many to be one of the top teams in the nation.  Former Duke graduate and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas lists the Cardinals as one of seven teams that can win it all.  He slates Duke in the second tier group as having more question marks.

Duke can show they belong in the conversation with a win over the favored Cardinals.  It's time for these Blue Devils to come together if they are going to do so.  Look for a close game today in Brooklyn and know anything other than a win for Duke will be a disappointment.

The pick here is Duke 73 Louisville 71

Noteworthy -

  • Mike Krzyzewski can pass Dean Smith for the most ACC tournament wins with a victory today.
  • Duke senior Amile Jefferson has a career high 50 blocked shots this season.
  • Jim Boeheim rants about the ACC Tournament not going back to Greensboro. N.C.   As of right now, you can purchase upper level tickets to the Duke vs Louisville and UNC vs Miami game in the first session for a mere 8 bucks.  Nuff said.
  • Luke Kennard has positioned himself to win the ACC Scoring crown with his 20 point performance.  His leading comp in Michel Young of Pitt had 14 yesterday and his season likely ended with Pitt dropping to sub .500.

Duke vs Clemson Post Game Comments courtesy of ACC Media Services -

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and players Luke Kennard and Frank Jackson talk with reporters after the Blue Devils win over Clemson in the 2017 ACC Tournament.

THE MODERATOR: Well go ahead and open up with a brief opening statement from Coach, and then well go to questions.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It was typical game for our conference. Theyre good. Were good. Theyre in kind of a desperate situation, trying to make the tournament. Brads done a heck of a job with his team. Theyve lost more close games than anybody in our league, one-possession games. So to have them up playing well like that for the whole season is terrific job on his part.

I thought we played good defense today. We fouled too much in the first half, but the second half, we held them under 40 percent for the game. And Im proud of our guys. I think their defense did it, and then when you play this second game and its your first game, you havent shot in here, and you only get a 20-minute warmup or 23 minutes and 22 seconds or whatever it is, but its tough to get acclimated. I dont know if thats part of it or whatever, but we didnt shoot well in the first half.
The second half, Luke, Jayson hit big buckets. Frank has played great for us. He gives us a strong presence out there, and he came up with 20 points. So we had three 20-point scorers, which was big.
So we beat a real good team, and now weve got to turn it around and play another really good team.

Q. Luke, you had a tough shooting night, but then toward the end of the game, you hit two big shots for your team. Talk about your psyche going into that and what it took to make those buckets.
LUKE KENNARD: For me, I think, the biggest thing I can take away from this is how much confidence my coaches, my teammates, they have in me. They continue to tell me to be aggressive. And I struggled tonight. You know, we struggled tonight shooting the ball, but we stayed aggressive. We stayed connected on the offensive end.
For me, like I said, just the confidence that they built in me to take my shots, to hunt shots, and to be aggressive, you know, I just kept looking to do that.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, he had a bad half. He was 8 for 11. If thats bad, be bad all the time, man (laughter). Thats what I think. I think thats a heck of a performance when a player, it isnt going, and then it goes. That shows like youre a different player, youre a special player when youre able to do that.

Q. I think it was Graysons fewest minutes since his freshman year. Is that related to a nagging injury or fouls or
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: A little bit well, the fouls hurt. He has not I think the injury is a huge part of it because he has not been able to really go after it in practice, and hes lost his timing, his rhythm.
Even today, what did he take? He took four shots, but the two threes he took were right on target, but they were a little bit short. We got to get him going, and these guys will help him because theyre good teammates.
It wasnt a good afternoon for him individually. Collectively, obviously, its a great afternoon for us. When you dont practice at the speed and with the reps that you normally do, it affects your performance. And it has with him.

Q. Any view on the technical from you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: The one they didnt call or the one they called?

Q. The one they called.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Okay. Well, whatever they called, they called. They saw it. Kids get technicals. Sometimes they dont get technicals either. They can slap the board, backboard, and not get a technical.

Q. Mike, Matt Jones just said, he said he had a hard time pinning down
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Did you already talk to Matt Jones?

Q. Yes.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Thats pretty good. Youre a quick son of a buck.

Q. Im faster than I look.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Youre a hell of a lot faster than you look.

Q. He said he had a hard time pinning down what this teams identity is, and he says its different every night. Do you agree with that, and can that be a positive or a negative?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Crazy as it may sound, I think were still evolving because of all the injuries and interruptions that weve had. But were getting better.
Today we found a new thing with Jayson, how to use him. So how Frank has played hes had a terrific year, but the last four or five games hes been great.
The last 13 games we were 3-4 13 games ago. Weve won 10 out of 13 and had a chance in the other three. I dont know who we are completely, but I have good kids. I have really good kids, and they play hard, and they share the ball. Maybe well develop a little bit more of an identity here. Weve got another chance, lets put it that way.

Q. Coach, great production out of the starting five, but with them playing so many minutes, is fatigue an issue with the quick turnaround in this part of the season with those guys?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yes, it is, and its a good observation. Weve told our guys, just play one game. Play one game, then play another game. Then if were fortunate enough to play another game, then well try to figure it out, but not the pace.
They didnt do they couldnt today. Thats just the way it is. We have to play again tomorrow at 2:00 or 2:15 or 2:22, whatever it is, and so well play. At least in the NCAA Tournament, you get a day in between. So playing like this might help us get better.

Q. Mike, a little bit of an offbeat broader question
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Is it a Northwestern question?

Q. No, it is not a Northwestern question. But Ive been asking other coaches this and havent gotten a chance to run into you. Youve coached for a long time. Do you ever think back like if you could give your younger self coaching advice, what youve learned, what you may have done differently in the beginning?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Get to Duke earlier. That would be the very first thing. No, I wouldnt Id say be who you are. I think I was really lucky at 28 to take over a 7-44 program at Army, my alma mater, and to have to do everything, and my wife had to do everything, and our whole family got involved. We ended up 73-59, and we learned how to win by looking at every counting pennies. Then we needed to do that to build Duke.
So I wouldnt change it. I think weve maintained that family and looking for pennies. I think weve maintained the hunger because it was ingrained for eight years in our life.

Q. 5 of 6 possessions you scored on early in the second half to take charge of the game for an extended period. The freshmen, Frank and Jayson, played sensationally, but it all started with two jumpers by the guy who went 1 for 9 in the first half. How did you see the offense coming together to take charge there?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I always see the offense coming together if Luke shoots the ball. We have four really good scorers. He and Jayson can really score the ball, but Frank can score, and so can Grayson. If we ever get all four of them going, thats the thats who I would like to be.
Because Amile can score when hes one-on-one, and Matt can knock down an open shot. So we always allow them to shoot. Thats the one thing. No ones saying dont shoot, Luke. Like shoot, Luke. Shoot, Frank. See basket, shoot ball. Its that simple.
I dont know if Luke wants to say anything about it. I dont want to put you on the spot.
LUKE KENNARD: No, not at all. What he said. Thats it. He gives us a lot of freedom to shoot the ball, and he always just tells us to hunt our shots. Thats what we do as a group, and its really, really good.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: What were learning a little bit more is that not to take a lower percentage shot if they really converge and for our guys to yell for the ball because he and Jayson can really pass, even while theyre in a move. While theyre in their own move, they can still pass. Id like to see us do that a little bit better.

Q. Mike, how possible is it at this time of year with games coming so close together to manufacture the time for Grayson to get healthy and for this team to kind of carve out its identity? How do you kind of do that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Were just trying to win and doing it that way. Look, Antonio got in the game for a couple of minutes, things like that, really we have to get seven or eight guys there. Id like to see more from either Harry, Marques or Antonio. And if we can get Grayson to be Grayson, thats how were going to get better because it puts a lot of pressure on another team having so many guys out there that can score.

Q. This question is for Frank. You had a huge night. For the last week, youve been showing how great of a freshman you can be for this team. Talk about the 20 points and perfect from the three. How big of this game is for you and your confidence going into this tournament.
FRANK JACKSON: You know, its huge. I think we can really roll off this win and keep going. For me, I always try to stay aggressive. I like to score the ball. Its what I do best. Im lucky to have a coach who allows me to be myself and players that Im surrounded by that give me all the confidence in the world. So I just try to attack early and stay aggressive, and all that carries throughout the game.

Q. Coach, youve coached in a lot of ACC Tournaments. This is the first one in New York City. Another coach suggested earlier today theres no value in having the tournament in Greensboro. I wanted to see your opinion on the value of having it in New York, and is there no value in having it in a place like Greensboro?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, obviously, theres been great value having it in Greensboro because this is the tournament that everyone copied, and if we didnt have the support of an entire city to support us and keep adding to their beautiful coliseum, this tournament and this league would not be where its at.
So if the powers to be want it to eventually go back stay in Greensboro or visit or whatever, so be it. I think they deserve that. We still look at it, and I think coming to New York is a huge thing just because weve added we have 15 teams. So a number of those teams played their tournament in New York. So their fan base was accustomed to that. So the ACC schools and then the Big East schools that went, their fan bases were accustomed to two different things.
So to try to find out what the new thing will be, thats what these guys are supposed to do. But having it here is great.

Q. Frank, you mentioned Coach letting you stay aggressive. Last four games, double digit points. What has it been in the last four that has maybe sort of had your game blossom? Or what sort of turned it around? It has also coincided with Grayson being a little banged up. Is that a coincidence?
FRANK JACKSON: Like I said, I just look to stay aggressive. For me, I try to attack earlier in the game so I get going a little bit earlier. I just try to keep attacking and look for the open shot and look for my teammates as well.

Q. Jayson Tatum scored in a variety of ways today, which was a lot of fun to watch, very impressive. Can you just describe his offensive arsenal, and have you had any other players in the past as diverse as him offensively?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yes, thats why weve won five National Championships. Well, Im not going to compare them, but I just said diverse players, whether it be Grant Hill, Justise Winslow, John Scheyer, Nolan Smith, J.J. Redick.
Look, we wouldnt have all the Ive been in a lot of big time games because Ive had a lot of big time players. Ive been in 21 Final Four games. Ive been in 18 of these championship games and 14 Elite Eight games. Thats a lot of big games. You dont get there without these guys. But you have to have these guys, give them the freedom to be themselves.
Jayson is still learning how to do that. Like today he learned a new thing today, and we got two buckets. And if Amile was ready for the pass, we would have had another one on an early post.
These guys will find out that Jayson is actually as good a passer as we have on the team, and that would add to it. But he just cant punish himself when he misses a jump shot. I still think hes too hard on himself when he misses. Thats not us, but he wants to be perfect. You cant be, but he was darn good again today.

Q. Luke, two-part question. Luke, you played 39 minutes, and as Coach alluded, there is a short turnaround. What impact do you think thats going to have on you? Secondly, how do you see the matchup with Louisville under those conditions?
LUKE KENNARD: This is a process. I mean, to play back-to-back days, it can be tough. It can be tough. But for us as a group, we take it very seriously. We try to take care of our bodies as best as we can, and for us, we just have to move on to the next one.
This is a big win for us, but we have to move on to the next one, and the next one is Louisville. We played them earlier in the season. They got a great group. Theyre really talented. They have some size and some really, really good players. So we have to stay locked in, and we have to stay together, and we have to stay tough and just be ready to move on and stay focused.

Q. Frank, Grayson said the two of you had some pretty intense pickup battles during the summer. I was curious what you remembered of those and what your motivation was going into those.
FRANK JACKSON: Id definitely say we got into a little bit in the summertime. Were both really competitive. For me, I learned so much from G. Hes been here for a couple years now, and hes played in big time games. Hes won a National Championship.
So in the summertime, to pick his brain, to work out with him, to kind of follow him around and see how you know, how he wins, its been great for me. Hes a good example to me, and Im lucky to have him and all my guys on the team this year.