Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Coach K Talks Win over Zags


Opening statement:
“It was just a really big-time game. What a great crowd. I want to thank T-Mobile and the people who’ve helped put the game on. We planned
this well over a year ago. We thought it might be a showcase game, and it was. But having this type of crowd was amazing. Obviously, we feel
great about the win. We think we beat an outstanding basketball team. Mark [Few] and I are very close friends and their team advances the
ball, pushes it up the court, faster than any team we’ve competed against for a long time – I can’t even remember. So, it put a lot of pressure
on us. Then we advanced the ball too. We had a lot of adversity with Paolo [Banchero] getting cramps and he had to get an IV. I thought Mark
[Williams] had a sensational game, but the leadership of my captain [Wendell Moore Jr.] was, I think, the key to the game. Wendell Moore was
absolutely spectacular and his leadership, especially at the timeout when they took the lead and we had turned the ball over, the things he
said and his demeanor and what he said to his team – he really led us to a victory. It was really a player’s game.”

On freshman Paolo Banchero returning in the second half after dealing with leg cramps:
“Just having him there helps with his teammates. Not only that, they’re concerned about him. These guys give each other strength. He’s not
giving us strength in the locker room. Even if he couldn’t play as much, he gave us a lot of strength.”

On junior Wendell Moore Jr., speaking to the team during a timeout:
“Sometimes when a leader says stuff, he doesn’t remember what he said. I remember what he said. He said, ‘Be strong with the ball. Let’s get
going. We can’t be giving up layups.’ He was saying the things I should’ve been saying, but when it comes from a player, it’s better. Especially
that moment – that was a critical moment. I’ve been in a lot of games. We could’ve gotten knocked out right there, and what that kid did at that
timeout was big time. It was really big time.”

On the atmosphere of the game:
“These kids are going to be playing in front of a lot of big time crowds during their lives, during their careers. We’re fortunate that in our
program, we’re able to schedule some games that can produce a high level of attendance, and same thing with Gonzaga. When we had an
opportunity to talk about this game, Mark [Few] and I wanted to play this game. It’s a showcase game. They have an amazing program and so
do we, so it’ll attract a lot of attention. It’s probably the game of the year so far. We all realized it. Las Vegas has really become an amazing
basketball town. Obviously, with Tark [Jerry Tarkanian] with UNLV, but with all the tournaments being run here – I wish they’d still bring those
AAU tournaments back at the end of July. Las Vegas is a huge sports town, so we wanted to play the game here. We played the first collegiate
game here (at T-Mobile Arena) a few years ago, so we wanted to come back.”

On sophomore Mark Williams’ development since last season:
“The COVID year hurt all those kids because they didn’t have a summer and a fall of individual preparation before their season. Mark came on
during the last month of the season. He had 23 [points] and 19 [rebounds] against Louisville, and then we got COVID. He’s just continued to
build on that. I really believe that Theo John has helped him, and he helped us today too with those two buckets when Paolo [Banchero] was
out. Theo is the best teammate and he’s tough. He started at Marquette, and for them to be able to play and work together, he’s playing
against a high-level talent every day. Theo talks to him during the game, and it’s helped him. Because we play fast, Mark, his stride – how he
runs, how he runs – has changed. Instead of a walk-up offense, we run. That’s good for him. He’s going to keep getting better. Again, he and
Chet [Holmgren] – it’s tough to get a shot off close to the bucket.”
On junior Wendell Moore Jr.’s growth as a player and leader:
“If you try to look at only one way of becoming successful, a lot of people are never going to be successful. You have to find your way, and
accept coaching, accept guidance. Wendell – he was only 18 [when he arrived at Duke]. Two of our kids, Trevor [Keels] and AJ [Griffin] are 18.
They’re not 20, they’re 18. Wendell is 20. He spent seven weeks this April and May changing how he ran, how he walked. He busted his butt with
our medical people. He’s an inch taller, he’s a better athlete, his force and how he runs has changed and he took a look at himself and said,
‘These are the things [I need to improve on], how I walk, how I run,’ and it’s worked out. But you have to be open to that, and then you have to
work. He's worked really hard. That kid is really having a hell of a year. He’s my captain. I love what my guys did. I love my team. They’re really together.

Zags-Blue Devils Thoughts

The number one ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs have played consecutive games in Las Vegas on the same court where they'll meet #5 Duke tonight. This is a team that will also be playing in their natural time zone, so those intangibles are perhaps why the oddsmakers have them labeled a 7.5 point favorite over the Blue Devils.

If I am Duke, that spread adds to the many reasons why I think this edition of the Blue Devils will compete hard tonight and why they can win outright. As of now, Gonzaga is deemed near unbeatable, and for good reason. They have looked nothing less than awesomely efficient during their first six games.

I could go down their list of players one by one, for their core group is stellar. But so is Duke's. In fact, I think the Blue Devils match up about as good as anybody could against the nation's top-ranked team.

Yes, Gonzaga is a different beast. They space the floor better than any team I have seen on offense and they defend. They are loaded with confident players playing with immense swagger and they are really, really deep although they have not had to depend on their bench just yet in their wins.

But these Blue Devils can make life a little harder for they are not amused being the underdog. While both programs are elite, big games like this are something the program from Durham has been accustomed to. This is not their first rodeo and they will not be intimidated.

If the Blue Devils can keep this one close in the early stages they can create some game pressure Gonzaga has yet to see. To do that, it will take a complete team effort where everyone who plays does so without hesitation for the bench could get short tonight.

You may notice that I have yet to mention a single player by name on either team. The reason for that is while the game may be won by one of the household names in college basketball to date this is a program game.

This is a matchup of styles, pride and program passion and the side which plays the best as a team will win.

The Zags have been the talk of the town in college hoops but so has Duke with it being the last year at the helm for the GOAT. Win or lose, both these teams win in that this game will provide a lot of answers and or what to work on as a team moving forward.

Should Duke give it their all and lose, the pain of said loss will propel them while providing lessons of what needs to be adjusted to get it right the next time. The same goes for Gonzaga.

There is no reason not to expect some haymakers to be thrown in this game. I fully feel that this game to go back and forth right down to the wire.

In one corner we have the Gonzaga Bulldogs wanting to let the nation know they are indeed the best as they take on all comers. The opposite corner features a Duke Blue Devils team really wanting to erase last season's dip while announcing they are 100% back.

And, yes I just wrote my two cents without mentioning a name on either side coaches or players. That is because this game is more about the name on the front of the jersey and not individuals.

Duke, now an 8.5 point underdog will show up.

Scheyer Inks 1st Duke Class

DURHAM – Duke men’s basketball associate head coach Jon Scheyer has announced the first four members of the Blue Devils’ 2022 freshman class with the signing of Kyle FilipowskiDereck Lively IIJaden Schutt and Dariq Whitehead during the NCAA’s early signing period. The Blue Devils’ incoming class is ranked No. 1 currently by ESPN in its 2022 class rankings.

With Scheyer tapped as the successor to head coach Mike Krzyzewski following Coach K’s retirement at the end of this season, Duke is one of just two schools with four signees rated in the top 50 of ESPN 100’s class of 2022 rankings alongside Kentucky. Duke has finished in the top four in each of ESPN’s class rankings since 2014, including a streak of seven consecutive seasons (2014-20) in which the Blue Devils inked a top-two class.

The NCAA’s early signing period is open until Nov. 17, 2021, with the regular signing period April 13, 2022 through May 18, 2022.

Kyle Filipowski – 6-11 – 220 – Center – Westtown, N.Y. – Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Mass.)

·         Coach Scheyer: “I’m really excited to have Kyle and his family in our family. Kyle was the first in this class to announce he was coming to Duke, and his trust and belief really meant a lot to me and our staff. Kyle is 6-foot-11 but he has guard skills. He’s really versatile, is a big-time passer and playmaker and he’s one of the best rebounders in high school basketball. Kyle is someone that can play inside and out, can score in the post and can also shoot well beyond the three-point line. His toughness and versatility will make him a terrific player at Duke.”

·         A five-star center

·         Ranked as the No. 10 overall player and No. 2 at his position (center, behind Duke signee Dereck Lively II) in ESPN 100’s class of 2022 rankings

·         The second-highest rated player from the state of New York in his class

·         Named the Massachusetts Boys Basketball Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior in 2020-21

·         Averaged 21.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game in junior season

·         Competed for NY Renaissance on Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 13.0 points and 8.2 rebounds in eight games

·         Named to the 2021 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 World Cup, where he led the Americans to the gold medal

·         Led Wilbraham & Monson to the 2020 New England Prep School Athletic Council Class AA championship and was named tournament MVP

·         Committed to Duke on July 29, 2021

·         Chose the Blue Devils over Syracuse and Ohio State, among others

Dereck Lively II – 7-1 – 215 – Center – Chester, Pa. – Westtown School

·         Coach Scheyer: “We’re excited to welcome Dereck and his family to Duke University. Dereck is coming off a terrific summer where his Team Final won the Peach Jam championship and he’s played at a high level at Westtown. Dereck fits the profile of a modern-day big man. He can run the floor, he can finish above the rim and he’s a great pick-and-roll player that can either pop or he can rim run and be a threat. The thing he does that is unique is he can really space behind the three-point line. On the defensive end, he’s elite. He’s the best shot blocker and rim protector in high school basketball and he can switch and guard one through five.”

·         A five-star center

·         Rated as the No. 2 overall player in ESPN 100’s rankings for the class of 2022

·         Ranked No. 1 at his position (center) and No. 1 in the state of Pennsylvania by ESPN

·         Competed for Team Final on the Nike EYBL circuit during the summer of 2021, leading them to a Peach Jam title

·         Led the EYBL with 3.7 blocked shots per game in 15 contests while adding 8.4 points and 6.7 rebounds

·         Recorded 13 points, 10 boards and three blocks in the EYBL Peach Jam championship game on July 25

·         Former Blue Devil and current Atlanta Hawks forward Cam Reddish also attended Westtown School

·         Committed to Duke on Sept. 20, 2021

·         Chose the Blue Devils over Kentucky and North Carolina

Jaden Schutt (pronounced “shoot”) – 6-4 – 175 – Shooting Guard – Yorkville, Ill. – Yorkville Christian High School

·         Coach Scheyer: “Jaden is someone who has dedicated a lot of time and energy to his craft. He’s a terrific player and a premier shooter in this class. Jaden has great feel for the game and moves incredibly well without the ball, which not only opens up things for him but his teammates. He has championship pedigree on the AAU circuit, has played at a high level and is excited to play in this spotlight and on this stage at Duke. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Jaden and his family with us and we can’t wait for him to get on campus.”

·         A four-star shooting guard

·         Rated as the No. 47 overall player in ESPN 100’s rankings for the class of 2022

·         Ranked as the No. 8 player at his position (shooting guard) by ESPN

·         Averaged 26.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals as a junior in 2020-21

·         Has made 217 three-point field goals through three seasons at Yorkville Christian

·         Competed for the Illinois Wolves on the AAU circuit, helping lead the team to the Under Armour Association 17U title in the summer of 2021

·         Committed to Duke on Sept. 2, 2021

·         Chose the Blue Devils over Michigan State and Florida, among others

Dariq Whitehead (pronounced “DA-reek”) – 6-6 – 190 – Small Forward – Newark, N.J. – Montverde Academy (Fla.)

·         Coach Scheyer: “Dariq is a big-time player who’s been battle tested during his time in high school. He’s played for Montverde since his eighth grade year with a lot of other special players and has played in big-time environments. That will really help prepare him for the transition to Duke. Dariq is someone that can guard multiple positions on the perimeter. He’s a great defender and athlete with great skill and feel for the game. Dariq really had a trust in us during the recruiting process. It’s an honor to welcome him and his family to Duke and we couldn’t be more excited to coach him.”

·         A five-star small forward

·         Ranked as the No. 5 overall player in ESPN 100’s rankings for the class of 2022

·         Rated the No. 1 player at his position (small forward) by ESPN

·         Helped Montverde Academy win the GEICO High School National Championship as a junior in 2020-21

·         Averaged 9.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals during junior season

·         Netted 16.5 points per game on .510 field goal shooting in 11 games with Team Durant on the Nike EYBL circuit in 2021

·         Participated in the 2019 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team October minicamp

·         Left hometown of Newark, N.J., to attend Montverde Academy at age 13

·         Former Blue Devil and current New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett also attended Montverde Academy

·         Committed to Duke on Aug. 1, 2021

·         Chose the Blue Devils over Kansas and Florida State, among others

·         His older brother, Tahir Whitehead, played linebacker in the NFL from 2012-20.