Category Archives: Duke Basketball

First things, first for Duke Basketball

Lance King Photo

The Duke Blue Devils travel to Wake Forest this evening in a game that will tip-off at 9:00 and be televised on the ACC Network.  The Demon Deacons are struggling, but as anyone knows strange things can happen when you are on the road in the modern-day Atlantic Coast Conference.

It has been quite a week for the Duke program.  The team is playing better defensively and the roles of the starters are being defined in a better way.  And there is no avoiding the verbal commitment from Zion Williamson which gives Duke the top class next year.

In a sense, it is hard not to get involved in the excitement and be caught looking ahead.  Virginia will visit Cameron Indoor Stadium this weekend in the best match up of the week.  And there will be a lot of hype for the #2 and #4 teams in the nation squaring off.

But first things, first for the Duke Basketball program.  The team finds itself poised to make a move up the ACC standing ladder but only if it takes care of business.  And that business starts with a difficult starting time against a Wake Forest team which will play loose with nothing to lose.

On paper, Duke should win the game.  Gary Trent Jr. was recently named ACC Player of the Week.  He is turning the corner as a player.  the same can be said for Wendell Carter Jr. who seems more comfortable in his role.  And then there is Marvin Bagley III who is quite simply the leagues best player.

Add to that group, Trevon Duval who leads the conference in assists and the leadership of Grayson Allen and you see why Duke is a 9 point favorite.  But these guys are young and one of the next things they must prove is their ability to handle their business when they need too.

Duke has been fortunate enough to have two games with cellar dweller Pitt of late.  Those games provided the team a chance to work on many things, including their man to man defense.  But the Deacons, even with just 8 wins on the season is a much more talented team.

Wake Forest will come to play.  That Harlely Davidson will rev up before the contest and this is their biggest game of the year at home.  Duke will certainly have some fans in the stands, but this is the game for the Deacon faithful and they always play Duke tough in Winston Salem.

You can expect Duke to play its bench in this game as well.  But the two points they got from the backups in the last outing won't cut it moving forward.  So, the next step is developing some sort of consistency from this cast of players.

So, what we are watching for tonight is whether a young team which is favored on the road at the end of January can focus on the job at hand.  And that will be a task having mentioned possible distractions.  And while we are speaking to distractions, Duke must turn around and play Notre Dame the Monday after the showdown with Virginia.

Duke has a golden opportunity to get back into the regular season race by a week from today.  The three conference games coming up will show us a lot about this teams meddle.  So, in that sense, an interesting seven-day stretch starts tonight.

The Blue Devils are also starting to position themselves for a possible bye in the fast approaching NCAA Tournament.  But before we look too far ahead, first things, first for this team.  Make no mistake if the Blue Devils want to win the regular season crown, business is at hand.

Zion Williamson – “I’m going to Duke!”

Wow.  Just, wow.  Duke just landed Zion Williamson. "  I'm going to Duke,"

"Duke stood out because the brotherhood represents a family. Coach K is just the most legendary coach that ever coached college basketball. I feel like going to Duke University, I can learn a lot from him," said Williams on ESPN.

The Blue Devils have the most loaded class in memory where he joins Cam Reddish. RJ Barrett and Tre Jones.

More to come.

Duke Defense Stymies Pitt 81-54

The Duke Blue Devils had little trouble disposing of the Pitt Panthers in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Duke rolled out to a 48-26 lead in the first half while playing nine players.  They outscored the Panthers 19-2 on points off turnovers.

Pitt rallied with a 10-0 run while Mike Krzyzewski substituted liberally.  But Duke closed the half out on a solid run of its own.

When the dust cleared, the Blue Devils finished the game with a 81- 54 win.

The Blue Devils were led in scoring by Wendell Carter Jr. who tallied 21 points to go with 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 2 steals.  Carter earned Coach Mike Krzyzewski's praise on working on his body and game.

Marvin Bagley III added 20 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, while Gary Trent with 17 and Grayson Allen with 16 rounded out double figure scorers for the Blue Devils.

Duke had been working on its defense in practices of late and that was on display against an undermanned Pitt team.  The Blue Devils scored 24 points off turnovers while forcing 15 turnovers to go with 8 steals.

The Blue Devils looked solid with their starters in the game but there was a big drop off when the bench played.  They back ups managed just 2 points despite significant minutes.

With the win Duke moves to 5-2 in the ACC while standing 17-2 overall this season.  Duke travels to Wake Forest to take on the Demon Deacons on Tuesday evening in a game that will tip at 9:00. That game will be televised on the ACC Network.

Duke to Open with Kentucky in 2018

DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s basketball team will open the 2018-19 season on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in the State Farms Champions Classic, coinciding with the new start of college basketball season.

The 2018 Classic – a neutral site doubleheader – will feature Duke battling Kentucky and Michigan State playing Kansas. The games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., on ESPN.

The NCAA Division I Council approved moving up the start of the men’s and women’s college basketball season to the Tuesday before the second Friday in November.

“We feel that there is natural connection to the start of the season and to the State Farm Champions Classic,” said Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events. “These four schools have come together to help build an exciting stage to launch the college basketball season."

The Champions Classic began in 2011 and Duke has an all-time record of 4-3 in its appearances.

“It’s incredibly exciting that they’re going to start he basketball season on such a high note and on a different date,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski “I think it’s such a great idea, and to have the Champions Classic on that date is an honor. It’s an honor for the four programs that will be participating. I’m anxious to do something for the first time, and I think it’s a positive step in the right direction for our sport."

Champions Classic History:

*  Millions of fans have tuned into the Champions Classic over the last seven years. The 2017 matchups delivered the event's second highest viewership ever, behind the 2013 Classic.

*  A combined 18 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship (since 1939): Kentucky (eight), Duke (five), Kansas (three) and Michigan State (two).

*  A total of 56 NCAA Final Four appearances (since 1939): Kentucky (17), Duke (16), Kansas (14) and Michigan State (9).

*  Since the Champions Classic began in 2011, all four teams have reached the NCAA Final Four at least once, with Kentucky and Duke winning national titles, in 2012 and 2015 respectively.

*  Over the last 14 games of the Classic, there have been 13 top-25 matchups, including two games featuring No. 1 vs. No. 2 (according to the AP poll).

*  Four Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coaches in Calipari, Izzo, Krzyzewski and Self.

*  To date, the event has taken place in four cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis and New York.