Category Archives: Duke Basketball

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Duke Faces a Dangerous Pack Team

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Duke faces N.C. State, who will be a dangerous team with their backs agains the wall with concern to an NCAA berth.

The Duke Blue Devils face the N.C. State Wolfpack in Cameron Indoor Stadium this evening.  Duke is coming off a win over Miami where a line up tweak sparked a stellar second half effort.  After the Blue Devils worst half of basketball this season, Jeff Capel inserted Frank Jackson and Matt Jones at the guard spots.  The team went on a 20-2 run and overcame an 11 point deficit at the break.

Tonight, the Blue Devils face an injured Wolfpack team.  No, they're not injured in the sense Duke has been where players have missed many games with ailments.  They are inured in the fact that there season is on the line with concern to a possible NCAA berth.

The Wolfpack have been an enigma.  They are 12-7 overall and 2-5 in the ACC.  They are a talented team that simply has not put it together on the court.  They will play likely, a pardon the pun, cornered animal and Duke will have to match that intensity.

Some are claiming the Pack have played their way out of the NCAA Tournament already.  However, an  upset over Duke would be something they could hang their hat on.  They also have perhaps the best freshman in the nation in Dennis Smith Jr. It is also worth noting that there are players on the roster that have hurt  Duke in the past.   In short, they match up well with the Blue Devils on paper.

Duke is seeking some momentum and consistency.  They looked just awful in the first half against Miami but great in the second half. That effort is what will be needed to win their second game in  a row. Capel recently said he is not opposed to tweaking the lineup in order for that to happen.

The Blue Devils certainly got a needed shot in the arm with the return of Amile Jefferson.  They also saw what Marques Bolden could do where he had his best game of the season.  This game will be more of a test for Bolden who will face a more talented front court and he will need the help of the aforementioned Jefferson.

Perhaps the layoff Duke had been the culprit of the slow start against Miami.  In that game, the team had zero assists and three pointers in the first half.  Duke needs to avoid such a start moving forward and play with the determination they showed late in their last win.

At some point, Duke needs to come together as a team and develop the continuity it takes to go far in March.  A win tonight would go a long ways in showing that is currently happening.

There will come a time when Mike Krzyzewski returns to coach his team.  Players will get more familiar with one another and get healthier.  As has been said, Duke is playing catch up due to the many set backs.

Many have said Duke hasn't got it this year as some fans sip their glass half full beverages.  To those fans and media alike, I ask when has Duke ever folded in the past.  This is a team that should and likely will get a lot better as the season moves along.

Duke is labeled a 16 point favorite tonight.  I personally think that is a bit much.  At the same time, I think Duke will pull this game out and a win is the key to a better outlook on the season.

Cameron Indoor Stadium was great in the last outing and the team will need a lift again tonight against a cross town rival.  The game tips at 7 and can be seen on ESPN.

Duke is the underdog at FSU

Duke is the Underdog at FSU

Duke is the underdog at FSU
Duke is the underdog at FSU

Thus far this season, Duke has been that ride in the car which hits every pothole imaginable and then some.  There has been no smooth sailing to date for the Blue Devils who have collectively been devastated with injuries and health issues.

The latest for the what can happen next bunch, is a bone bruise to the foot of Amile Jefferson.  The graduate senior, along with Luke Kennard have been the most consistent players this season.  Duke loses the ACC's top rebounder in Jefferson for what will likely be multiple games.

Of course, Duke will not have Mike Krzyzewski on the sidelines as well.  And to make matters worse, they have a short travel week with little adjustment time before taking on red-hot Florida State.

If you haven't been watching the Seminoles this season just know that they are good.  They go twelve players deep and are athletic, quick and just happen to be an impressive 15-1.

The bottom line is that Duke will face a tall order with Jeff Capel on the sidelines for his second game during his mentors absence.  The Seminoles have only a 3 point loss to Temple, have defeated Virginia on the road and pretty much thumped everyone else on their schedule.

Dwayne Bacon, Johnathan Isaac and Xavier Rathan-Mayes lead the Seminoles, but you simply cannot concentrate on just them.  They are as deep as they've been in some time and a sure fire top ten tournament bound team.

What Duke will have to do to contend and win is score the ball.  The Blue Devils must get efficient efforts on the offensive end from all of their players.  If this doesn't happen and Duke goes down double digits early, this game could look like the loss at Virginia Tech.

Duke will also have to stay out of foul trouble and learn to deal better with a hostile crowd.  When you were ranked by everyone as the number one team in the nation coming into the season, the target on your back is large and the game circled on all calendars.

One thing which has clearly helped Duke of late is the play of Grayson Allen.  Duke has distributed the ball much better in their last two wins where he is averaging 9 assists per contest.

Duke will also seek for Harry Giles, Chase Jeter and Marques Bolden to step up their game without Jefferson in the line up.  And they will need for Frank Jackson to continue his solid play of late.

Capel will likely play more players tonight in that he knows the Seminoles will attempt to wear Duke down with runs.  We could see some important minutes from little used players.

Against Wake Forest, Florida State gained a solid lead and charge of energy with their second five in the game.  After that, they won a lopsided affair.  The bottom line is Duke is the clear underdog with all of their issues, but have enough talent to pull this one out if they play near perfect basketball.

It will not get any easier for Duke after this game for they must next travel to Louisville in is what is likely their most difficult scheduling of the year.

Sidebar - The game will be televised on the ACC Network, so check your local listings.  A win for Duke against the Seminoles would be their first true road win of the season.  Freshman Jayson Tatum leads Duke in blocked shots and steals.

Kansas versus Duke at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY on November 15, 2016. (Photo by Lance King)

Storylines Aplenty as Duke Faces Jackets

Kansas versus Duke at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY on November 15, 2016. (Photo by Lance King)
Storylines aplenty for Duke Basketball.

Thus far in the 2016-17 season, there has been no shortage of adversity for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team.  Tonight the team takes to the court against Georgia Tech in Cameron with plenty of storylines.

The Blue Devils were down by as many as 20 points to an upstart Virginia Tech team in their last outing and never made the game close at any time.   How will Duke respond to that remains to be seen.

In that dreadful loss Duke was without the services of Grayson Allen who continues to serve an unknown length of suspension after a third tripping incident.  How will the team respond if he is out again or even if he returns are questions to ponder.

Krzyzewski has back surgery on Friday and could miss four weeks.
Krzyzewski has back surgery on Friday and could miss four weeks. Storylines aplenty as Duke takes on a Georgia Tech team that last defeated UNC.

Then came the news that Duke, after an injury riddled season which has given us a brief view of what could be from freshman studs that Coach Mike Krzyzewski requires surgery.  He will miss up to four weeks with no set timeline for a return.

Even with two losses and dropping to 8th in the latest polls, Duke stays in the news. You cannot visit ESPN without seeing something in your face on Duke.  The problem is, they are not talking about wins but adversity.

There has been little stability to date for Duke this season and that kind of thing has taken a toll.  The Blue Devils have yet to throw out a fully healthy team on the court and it may be a while yet.  One cannot expect Harry Giles to suddenly be ready nor Marques Bolden to make monster strides in a few days time.

Grayson Allen's suspension was only eclipsed in the news by Coach K needing in season surgery. Questions linger on his return.
Grayson Allen's suspension was only eclipsed in the news by Coach K needing in season surgery. Questions linger on his return.

But all eyes will be on the freshman for it will take them playing well against Georgia Tech and beyond to right the ship.  It is clear that even Frank Jackson has been hobbled and then there is that freshman wall players must navigate.  Exams, first true road games and pressure is real for young players.

The most consistent thing to date for Duke has been the play of Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard.  But Krzyzewski hinted before the news that his team was not playing together and off each other.

There have been sudden problems with ball distribution and the ball simply going in and out at  the rim.  Defensive breakdowns were evident in the loss to the Hokies and Duke finds itself 0-1 in a tough conference and one they wanted to win.

The bumps can make a team grow up and the Blue Devils have to hope that happens.  Two games in Cameron Indoor Stadium this week are just what the doctor ordered.  But the road games are coming and the ACC is brutal, talented and unforgiving.

That coming stretch will also have Jeff Capel at the helm.  Capel has been a head coach is Krzyzewski's right hand man.  He knows the system.  But another story line to follow will be how his assistants react.  It is time for Nate James, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith who enters the bench to handle their roles as well.

Unlike 1995, Krzyzewski is expected to help out and be hands on as the season moves along.  But the important thing is for him to get pain-free so that he can be his usual self.  The avid film watcher that he is will allow for possibly a new perspective on his team.

Duke has the talent to get things done in his absence, but to think they won't miss Krzyzewski on the sidelines would be silly.  He knows how to work the refs and that is something that did not happen when he went out in 1995.  In short, Capel will need to exude control.

During Krzyzewski's last absence for medical tests, a season ago Duke happened to take on Georgia Tech.  The team was not in a good place at the time but they came away with a win under Capel.

Things are different tonight.  Duke is expected to win as they send Krzyzewski off in what should be an emotional Cameron.  The students have yet to return in force, but even the local ticket holders will likely give their head coach a nice welcome and send off for his planned surgery.

But then, the questions and storylines begin.  Will Krzyzewski leave his team with some wise words or will he reinstate many questions.

It will be a while yet before Duke is at one hundred percent in a season that many felt could be magical.  The end goal of winning it all can still be achieved but the road will be an unusually rocky one.

One thing for certain is that Duke is in no way short of questions surrounding the team.  The storylines are aplenty as we await tip-off tonight.

Duke freshman Frank Jackson take instruction from Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel.  - BDN Photo

Jeff Capel More Than Capel-ble

Duke freshman Frank Jackson take instruction from Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel. - BDN Photo
Duke freshman Frank Jackson take instruction from Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel. - BDN Photo

In 1995 Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski went to the sidelines for the remainder of the season.  His then head assistant Pete Gaudet found himself overwhelmed by his duties which were suddenly thrust upon him.  To his credit, he had never coached a division one basketball team as the main man.

We recently have news that Duke's Hall of Fame Coach, Mike Krzyzewski will again miss time.  While he is expected back this season there are some big shoes to fill during his absence.  But this time Duke is better prepared for such a situation and it was Krzyzewski himself who made sure of that.

Krzyzewski hired nothing but former Duke players of late and for a reason.  He wants his staff to know the system.  When Jeff Caple came aboard he immediately became a solid guy whom his former coach could lean on.

If you have been around the Duke program as long as I have, you realize the immense respect Jeff Capel receives.  He is the top recruiter on the staff and the man Krzyzewski goes to for alternative views.  And that is who will replace the legendary coach as he attempts to relieve his back pain and return to the helm.

Pardon the pun here, but Capel is more than Capel-ble or capable. Capel had huge success at Virginia Commonweath and he later took his talents to Oklahoma.  Capel had a trial run a season ago when he took over and helped guide Duke to a road win when Krzyzewski went through medical tests.

Duke is fortunate enough to have had a head coach on the bench sharpening his wares under Krzyzewski.  And he will certainly be helped by long time assistant, Nate James and Jon Scheyer. Together these guys, along with Nolan Smith will help Duke circle the wagons and be ready for battle.

At no other time in the Blue Devils history have they faced more adversity than this season.  If it were not bad enough that they missed three of their five freshman to open the season, they have also dealt with player suspensions.  And even some of those suspended players, like Grayson Allen have been injured as well.

Add to this a team coming off a loss at Virginia Tech where they were out of the game in the first two minutes of play and nothing but ACC games coming and you have a challenge.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for these Blue Devils and Krzyzewski himself said it's time they come together.  They'll have to do so with minimal contact from Krzyzewski, at least for the forseeable future.

Duke has yet to have a full contingent of healthy players to have the practice they desire.  Even now, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden are far from the players they can be and need to be.

While Keryzewski may not be on the sidelines the rest of January, his shadow will be.  Duke Basketball is a brand of play and he has fathered said brand.  His assistants will not be blowing in the wind as they bring this team together.

I  would expect Krzyzewski to challenge his team to come together during his absence.  Honestly, they have too much talent not to do so and no excuses worth hearing.  As he said, it is time for them to play as one and become cohesive.

That cohesiveness has always been there with the staff and now they will all be expected to take it up a notch.  The Blue Devil Nation is saddened for the temporary loss of Krzyzewski.  But at the same time, it will there should be excitement to give Jeff Capel a good look, for he could be the man on the sidelines for good one day.


Coach Mike Krzyzewski to Undergo Back Surgery

ht1DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University head men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will undergo lower back surgery on Friday, Jan. 6, to remove a fragment of a herniated disc.

The procedure will be performed by Dr. Allan Friedman at Duke University Hospital. The anticipated recovery time for Krzyzewski is up to four weeks.

After utilizing many different conservative treatment options over the last month, it was determined that a surgical procedure was necessary to resolve the problem.

“Dr. William Richardson, Dr. Friedman, and our medical team have worked tirelessly to help manage this issue for several weeks,” said Krzyzewski. “Together, we have determined that surgery is the best course of action at this time. During my recovery process, the team will be in the capable hands of Coach Capel, Coach James and Coach Scheyer. As soon as the doctors clear me to do so, I look forward to returning and giving our team 100% of my energy and attention, which is certainly something that they deserve.”

“To be sure, the entire Duke community is supportive and eager to get Mike back as soon as possible,” said Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White. “His health is paramount, and he will get the best possible care in the world by the Duke medical team. With the proper recovery time, we look forward to Mike doing what he does best – leading and teaching -- very soon.”

Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel will coach the team in Krzyzewski’s absence, starting with the Blue Devils’ game vs. Boston College on Jan. 7 in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Krzyzewski has won a Division I men’s basketball record 1,055 games in 41-plus seasons as a college head coach, owning a 1,055-323 overall record and a 982-264 mark in 36-plus seasons at Duke. He has led Duke to five NCAA championships (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015), the second-most national titles by a coach in NCAA history.

Krzyzewski guided the United States National Team to an 88-1 record and seven total medals (six gold) as head coach from 2005-16. He is a seven-time USA Basketball National Coach of the Year and the only coach – men’s or women’s – to lead a country to three consecutive Olympic basketball gold medals.

Krzyzewski was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.



A Look at Duke Basketball at the Break

54Before the season started everybody thought the Duke Blue Devils would more often than not blow by their opposition. Well, reality is different.

Duke has already faced plenty of adversity with injuries to key freshman Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden.  Tatum has returned and before the Holiday break is looking like an All ACC candidate, not to mention possible Rookie of the Year honors.

Bolden has been in the midst of getting back into shape and one hundred percent healthy.  Over the break, the Texan big man went home with Matt Jones to DeSoto where he will certainly take time to reflect.

The aforementioned Jones has been a solid leader for this seasons team as a captain.  His defense has been steady and he might have had his best offensive output against Elon.  More importantly, he briefly met with Grayson Allen to discuss a third trip in said game.

That brings us to Allen, who has also battled many ailments in the early season.  His unfortunate play against Elon where he had a run in with his opponent was not what the Blue Devils needed going into the Christmas break.

Instead of concentrating on the team as a whole, Duke has had to weather an intense media storm directed at Allen.  And that takes the emphasis off the team and on an individual.

That adds up to the early season adversity, where Duke has in all reasoning had more than their fair share.  Once again, or until recently, Mike Krzyzewski has not been able to have full practices and that kind of thing plays on achieving team chemistry.

That brings us to Harry Giles, who has now played in two games after a 14 month lay off.  Giles will continue to get into shape but he has a way to go and that means even more patience will be needed.

Giles blocked shot against Elon has been his highlight to date, but the freshman big man told Blue Devil Nation that just getting some time in the games behind him has been vital for his psych.

When you talk of steadiness, two players come to mind thus far for Duke.  One is a captain in Amile Jefferson and the other is Luke Kennard.

Jefferson looked great before his injury a season ago and his time off left little rust.  The graduate student captain has been the Blue Devils top guy on the glass where he regularly has flirted with double-doubles.

As for Kennard, no player in the nation has improved more. Whether he starts a game fast or slow, Kennard can always be counted on to score.  His play has perhaps been the most pleasant surprise of the pre-ACC season.

Another freshman Frank Jackson, has also shown flashed of brilliance.  It is clear Jackson continues to adjust to the college game, but his play at times has won games for the 12-1 Dukies.

As the ACC season starts, Duke is still a shadow of what they hope to look like come March.  Missing from their game with a good Virginia Tech team on the road will be Grayson Allen.

It is an unfortunate reality that the staff has to deal with the issue with Allen, but deal with it they will.  That means, yet another different set of players Krzyzewski has at his disposal for maybe the next few games.

The hope for the staff is likely to bring injured players along quicker in some cases.  Krzyzewski said that he would push Giles harder after the break.

It's a bit trickier with Bolden, but he too should come along in time. While that is happening, Jayson Tatum will be asked to continue his aggressive play of late for he is one hard player to guard.

Duke has the luxury of having two great captains in Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson who've been national champions.  They will continue to help the young guys blend in, but it may come down to whether Allen can get past personal demons and return to the player that helped Duke win their last title.

While Allen gets undue attention in some cases, at other times it is justified.  And one of those times was against Elon where he lost his cool.  It was an unfortunate moment that hurt Duke in many ways.

In Allen's defense, I can tell you he is a good kid having known him since his junior season in high school.  I think he's fully capable of overcoming this but it will take time.  And when he returns there must be a smooth transition into more consistent play.

The ACC slate is a tough one this season.  No team will be running the table against a bevy of talented teams.  And for what it is worth, Duke plays the ACC's upper teams on the road more often that at home in Cameron.

Krzyzewski said he wants to see his team play as one.  In all honesty, despite just a two point loss to Kansas which keeps the team from being undefeated, they have yet to play as one.  But that is a good sign of sorts in that they have been pretty good without doing so.

There are four months of basketball to go in the season if Duke is to reach the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.  Twists and turns lie ahead, for sure.  But there is plenty of time for Krzyzewski to mold his team into what he wants them to be.  And his staff which features three title ring holders and one who knows of Final Fours will do their best to see that pre season expectations are met.