Category Archives: Duke Basketball


Utah State at Duke Preview

54The Duke Blue Devils return to the court tomorrow to take on undefeated Utah State in Cameron Indoor Stadium.   The 4-0 Aggies will come in well rested where their last outing was five days ago.

Utah State is a veteran team which returns all five starters from a year ago .  They are picked third in the competitive Mountain West Conference.

The Aggies are led by wing man Chris Smith who is averaging 16,6 ppg and he leads his team on the boards with 7,8 rebounds a contest.

The Aggies are bolstered in their front court by Jalen Moore is knocking down 13 ppg to go with 7 boards.  A newcomer, transfer Lew Evans has been a pleasant surprise as well and  helps to fill out the front court where he has been a double figures scorer to date.

The Aggies have struggled a bit unexpectedly in the backcourt where they haven't had a lot of scoring, but they make up for that with depth.  The Aggies play nine players 13 minutes or better per contest in their opening four games, all victories.

The Blue Devils have faced a lot of different playing styles to date and fought through being a little tired in their last win over a pesky Yale team.  Duke succeeded in getting more players going on the offensive end not named Grayson Allen in that game.

Duke will likely continue to try to figure out their line ups and combinations with a young team.  It is worth mentioning that even though Duke has veterans, all of them are playing in new roles.  What this all means is that there is still a long road ahead before this team realize their potential as a team.

It will be important that Duke is not caught looking ahead to Indiana and for the team to continue to establish their defensive sets.  It will also be important for Derryck Thornton to continue to show growth and get better at ball distribution.

If Duke shows focus they will pull away with a nice win  after some adjustments. If not, it could be closer than many might think.   The pick - Duke 84 Utah State 68


Yale at Duke

52There may be some who think tonight's game with Yale will be an easy win.  Think again.  Yale has been picked by many to win the Ivy League and for good reason.  The Bulldogs are pretty good and they are led by players who have been in big game before.

A season ago, Yale tied Harvard during the regular season which forced a one game play off they barely lost.  That bitter pill has the Bulldogs ears pinned back and ready for battle tonight in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

It all starts with Justin Sears for the Bulldogs, a senior forward who is the projected to be the Ivy League Player of the Year.  He is currently averaging 16 ppg.  But the play of guard Makai Mason has been the big story where he is dropping 20 ppg which leads the team in scoring.  It is worth noting that both of these players can pass as evidenced by both being tied for team leader in assists.

There is more.  Joe Montague and Brandon Sherrod are both averaging double figures scoring and these four players make up strong base.  Much like Duke, Yale goes about eight players deep in double figure minute players.

The Bulldogs started the season with three blow out wins before losing a 2 point game to a solid SMU team on the road.  Vegas has made Duke a 13 point favorite in tonight's game.  And no we do not advocate gambling, this is only shared for entertainment purposes.

Meanwhile the Blue Devils are coming off two wins in New York where the team had lessons a plenty.  The game with Georgetown was close but winning a game like that can do wonders for a teams confidence.

What to look for now?  That will be for players other than Grayson Allen to step up on offense.  During his post game press conference in New York, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski alluded to this.

Allen has been stellar in his first few games, save one, but he is the clear leader on offense.  But another bright spot was the play of freshman point guard Derryck Thornton who now seems solidified as a starter the rest of the way.

Thornton has scored well but the next step in the process is to make his teammates better.  He does that by distribution and raising his assist totals.  Should this happen, Duke takes another step towards being a better team.

Another thing to look for is Duke playing better defense.  To date, the Blue Devils have used a lot of experimentation in trying to find the right mix.

That said, tonight will provide a good test for a young team coming into their own.  How many teams can lose a game and move up a spot in the Coaches poll?  Not many and that is more a testament to the program rather than the teams play.

Honestly, that ranking may be too high for this time of the season and a young team and Krzzyewski likely knows this.  That makes for a challenge in keeping his youth on the roster grounded while the upper classmen continue to groom them.

I think Duke wins tonight but it could be more of a grinder than some think.  On the other hand, lessons may have forged a better team already and we could see the other end.

Tip off is at 7:00 in Cameron Indoor Stadium in a game televised on ESPNU.


Duke Drops VCU to Advance

vdIt took the Duke Blue Devils a while to get it together in their 79-71 win over Virginia Commonwealth in the opening round of the 2K Classic in New York.  Duke was coming off a loss to Kentucky where certain players struggled.  That didn't happen again, at least as far as Grayson Allen is concerned.

Allen actually came off the bench to score his 30 points which was the most player in a long, long time.  But he also played a good floor game and his second half defense keyed a Duke run.

In fact, the Duke defense was much better in the second half after adjustments.  That and an emphasis on better rebounding seemed to be the message Mike Krzyzewski conveyed in the locker room.  The Blue Devil returned to a little man to man and that helped prevent the fast break which had been hurting the team of late.

The win certainly wasn't pretty at times but it was effective in that Duke overcame some controversy and a team which pressures the ball.  The Blue Devils had a lot of opportunities to put the game completely away in the final minutes but poor free throw shooting and some ill advised shots kept that from happening.

The contest prepared Duke for future games with guard heavy teams who also have an athletic big man.  Therefore this win was a good November win for a team still finding it's identity an nowhere near as good as they can be,

The game was also a coming out party of sorts for Derryck Thornton.  While his 19 points was impressive to the eyes, his four assists and less turnovers than previous games were big as well.

Luke Kennard continues to struggle with his shot but Krzyzewski allowed him time on the court showing confidence in his freshman sharp shooter to be.  Kennard is going through a time of adjustment and is important for the Blue Devils future in ACC play.

Duke got solid effort from their upper classmen.  Especially Amile Jefferson who has provided early season glue for a team that has needed it.  Meanwhile, Matt Jones showed toughness as well while struggling some with open looks.

Krzyzewski is playing just seven players and this means a lot of minutes for the core group.  While Chase Jeter did not play against the Rams, he seems to be the clear choice as the eight man in the plans.

In the end, Duke worked through the Rams adrenaline plus play for a win, but they left a lot of points on the floor.  They will face Georgetown this Sunday at 1:00 on ESPN for the 2K Championship crown


AMile vs Kentucky

2K Classic Duke vs VCU Preview

AMile vs KentuckyComing off their first loss of the season against Kentucky, Duke will seek to right the ship against a tough Virginia Commonwealth team in New York.  While some may think this program has taken a step back, be warned that there is plenty of talent on hand .

The Rams have started their season 2-0 with two solid victories and it would seem that this team has a chip on its shoulder and something to prove.  Gone is Shaka Smart to Texas, entering is Will Wade who likes for his teams to mix it up in the paint and play physical basketball.

The Rams are led by Melvin Johnson, their backcourt ace.  Johnson has been accepting of his role of the Rams leader, thus the aforementioned 2-0 mark.  The Rams strength this season is their guards but they are solid up front as well where they play four experienced players, all of which bring different skill sets to the court.

Mo Allie Cox is quite the shot blocker.  A pair of versatile sophomores Mike Gilmore and Justin Tilman are slender yet talented.  But there is plenty of girth amongst the freshman newcomers.

It still starts on the perimeter for the Rams.  Points come from senior guard Korey Billbury and JeQuan Lewis who is dishing out 7.5 assists per game.  And don't overlook Doug Brooks who is averaging  just under 10 ppg.

Duke will face a pesky team that throws a lot of different looks and players their way.  What Blue Devils fans will look for is to see whether the freshman class can establish themselves collectively after a non productive effort versus Kentucky.

Once again, the veterans, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee and Matt Jones will anchor the Blue Devils attack.  But we are sure to see further experimentation with the line up from Mike Krzyzewski.

Grayson Allen had a learning experience in his last outing after leading Duke in scoring the first two games.  There is still a shot blocker in the lane in Cox for Virginia Commonwealth and adjustments will likely be made in the way he attacks.

For Duke to come away with a win and play the winner of Wisconsin and Georgetown, they will need to move ball better in their half court sets.  There wasn't zip on the ball or certainty of what they were doing at times in the loss to the Wildcats.

The two games in New York will provide Duke with a good barometer for what they need to work on.  The Blue Devils will have three days rest after the event before playing three games in seven days.

Both games the Blue Devils play will be hard fought affairs in the 2K Classic.  The teams in this tournament while not currently ranked are all probable NCAA Tournament teams come March.

plum3 vs Kentucky

Quick Take on Duke Loss to Kentucky

plum3 vs KentuckyDuke Captains Lead by Example

Marshall Plumlee played the best basketball of his career in the opening minutes of the game, That helped Duke keep the game close going into the half.  Plumlee ended the game with a double-double of 12 points and 10 boards.  Amile Jefferson was more consistent over the course of the game with numbers of 16 points and 15 rebounds.  Matt Jones finished the game with 16 points and was the best three point threat for Duke where he hit three of them.

Not Ready for Prime Time

There were immense growing pains for the Duke freshman class in last evenings loss to Kentucky.  Luke Kennard struggled to get into the flow of the game with his minutes.  Derryck Thornton showed some positive flashes and some carless plays which is why he has likely not started to date.  But the real surprise was Brandon Ingram picked pre season All ACC.  He seemed uncertain of his role and likely needs to mix it up down low a bit more despite his size to get into a proper game flow.  The aforementioned three players and Chase Jeter scored 13 total points together.  The Blue Devils youth was quite evident in every aspect of the game.

Fast Break Points from Kentucky

Duke was simply not ready to get back on defense and the Wildcats took major advantage of that fact.  Kentucky had an 17 to 4 advantage aided by 16 Duke turnovers.  This will likely be a concern for the staff this week as they prep for games in New York.  Allen, Ingram and Thornton combined for 12 of the turnovers with 4 apiece.  That stat is telling.

3 for 23

Three players Duke will depend on scoring went a combined 3 of 23 from the floor which is in a word - terrible.  After staring in his first two games, Grayson Allen struggled mightily.  Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard added to the Blue Devils inability to get offense from players who weren't upper classmen.

It's Early

Duke learned about itself as a team last evening.  They have plenty to work on and that's the way it should be in November.  The Blue Devils will be a much different team by March and with youth depended upon, more struggles will come.  On the other hand, there are enough pieces in place for Duke to be a good team this season.  Keep in mind that this was the first road game for the freshman and by the time they look at some film, they will come away knowing what is needed moving forward.

The Bottom Line

Duke got outplayed by Kentucky last evening and at times they didn't seem ready for the challenge.  The speed of the game was likely shocking to some of the players which was evidenced by allowing easy buckets.  Duke has plenty of time to right the ship but they will need to take lessons to heart fast.  The Blue Devils will face hungry teams in New York this week who are playing the four letters on their chest.   It will be a different kind of challenge.  Also, you don't want a team to peak this time of year when they're young, but you do want them to remember come March should teams meet again.  If a team wants revenge bad enough for a loss, they will do what it takes to gain that match up again.