Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Core Players And A Lot Of Possibilities For 2020-21 Duke Basketball

When trying to come up with which players will be in the court in crunch time for Duke next season, I keep coming up with four players. My current feeling is that Duke will want true freshman Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, and returnees Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore Jr. on the court most of the time.

We should see a vast improvement from Hurt and Moore, both of whom will be depended upon to lead via knowing the Blue Devils system of doing things. Ideally, you want some older players in the lineup but Duke will be a pretty young team, save two key backups, if you can call them that, in Jordan Goldwire and Joey Baker.

Jalen Johnson is a sure bet one and done talent and Duke will allow him plenty of freedom to grow his game while in Durham. Jeremy Roach will be handed the keys to point guard duties early on as well.

So, I see these four as starters for most of the season which begs the question, who will the fifth starter be? Well, to start, Duke will have a lot of players fill that role and it will come down to how players are working in practice and matchups.

When Duke goes big, they can look to freshman Mark Williams and to a lesser degree Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman. The staff will also have incoming Columbia transfer Patrick Tape in the mix in the frontcourt. I can see all of these players getting a start and when practice resumes, we will have an idea of who is adjusting to perceived roles.

As for the freshman, Brakefield and Coleman each bring their skillset to the mix. Brakefield is a solid offensive player who can stretch the floor and Coleman is a versatile hard worker around the paint. Williams can be a basket protector and a force in the paint and has continuously improved in the past two years.

But Duke can go smaller as well and this is where I enter another freshman D.J. Steward into the mix. He is a potentially prolific scorer and talented enough to fill that fifth spot. In fact, when I took a poll of the few people I trust, he seemed to be what most considered the best bet for the fifth starting spot.

But, hold on a minute. This is where we talk about Jordan Goldwire. Talk about a hard worker that will get after you defensively. And then there is Joey Baker who is always a three-point threat and a player who can do much more than that.

This is where I tell you that while I have penciled in some perceived starters, it does not mean they will have to play ironman minutes. In fact, there are many lineup possibilities.

Duke can go small and pressure the heck out of teams with Roach, Steward, Goldwire, Moore, and a big. Or they can try and match up with the likes of bigger teams with Williams, Johnson, and Hurt with some help from Tape.

The Blue Devils have tweeners as well to insert into the mix, so at least early in the season, Duke will be able to go as deep as they did a season ago with concern to their lineups. I will go out on a limb and predict up to ten players will get a start at some point in the coming season.

While Duke will be young, they will be deep again this season. The key will be to get back on campus and get accustomed to one another as we all await positive news on the virus which has yet to clear.

Also, keep in mind this is my early take on Duke hoops in 2020-21 and it will change as we get closer to the season. But for now, this is a gauge on what we might expect.

I will be discussing other aspects and possibilities concerning Duke Basketball as we tie several articles in as an early bird preview in the coming days where we'll answer a lot of team questions. And speaking of questions, send any into our bluedevilnation@twitter feed with the hashtag #AskBDN and we will address the best of them.

What Could Have Been and What Was for Duke Basketball

The dust has finally settled on the 2019-20 basketball season and it is now time to reflect on what could have been. As some in the media, I took the trip up to Greensboro for the ACC Tournament and took my seat at courtside as I watched the unusual situation unfold.

It was surreal seeing just the bands from Clemson and Florida State making noise where no fans were in the stands. There were cheerleaders, essential coliseum personnel, some media members, and television crews as Clemson and Florida State took to the court to warm up.

Duke and N.C. State was to have played next, so I was dug in with my laptop ready to cover something like we had never witnessed. I was wondering which parent might make a name for themselves in support of their team for those who stood out would be getting plenty of camera time.

For a brief moment, it appeared the games would go on, but there was a problem, you see. That being something called the Coronavirus and it was at the forefront of everyone's mind, even fanatical fanbases desperate for life to go on as normal.

I could not help but think Duke did not get a good draw in the tournament. The Blue Devils would have likely gotten past the Wolfpack, but it would not have been easy. The draw came from finishing fourth in the standings and it was hard not to think about the collapse in Winston Salem, for a win against a so-so Wake Forest team would have put the Duke in the top spot.

There was also a late-season loss by a two points at Virginia which was costly as well, These two games kept Duke from winning the regular season.

So, when it became evident that the long-awaited ACC Tournament return to Greensboro was about to be canceled there was still not ample enough evidence that the season would end. I mean, no season had since the inception of the NCAA Tournament.

As it became clear that we had seen the last dribble of the ball this past season, you could not help but wonder many things. As Florida State was awarded the ACC Tournament Championship trophy in a way that was highly awkward, it just felt like Duke should have been there.

Yes, one could argue they stole a win at Chapel Hill over North Carolina but had Mike Krzyzewski known the season would end as it did, perhaps he would have coached a little differently.

While this may seem a controversial statement, some coaches are looking to teach lessons during the season. I am not saying Duke did not want to win those close or critical losses, but I am saying the staff never thought the win over North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium would be the last game the team would play.

Some may have seen Duke collapsing a bit after the losses to Virginia and Wake Forest in the regular season, but I saw it as ongoing lessons for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. And I think this team was better built for the tournament than some think.

We will never know for sure how things may have fared, but the team had a solid year with some memorable wins. They owned a win over Kansas the nation's top-ranked team and they had a veteran point guard in Tre Jones ready to go for what would have been the sixth national championship.

Perhaps the Blue Devils would have hoisted the ACC Championship Trophy had the games been played, but the Seminoles had a much easier road to do so. So I am thinking the team was better built for the NCAA's and like many, I wanted to see how it played out.

Duke showed they could be caught off guard in some losses this past season, but the Blue Devils could have beaten any team on a given day. Trust me, it is all about matchups in the big tournament and so we will never know how things would fare, but the feeling here is that Duke would have gained some more wins and been a tough out for anyone they faced.

Duke had a good locker room this past season. Their players represented the brotherhood well. They were a likable bunch of young men where each brought something to the table.

Since my last article, Duke has seen Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., and Cassius Stanley all enter the NBA Draft. It was fun watching those players.

Tre Jones returned to Duke to win a title. It is painful for many he never got that chance. But people will fondly remember what he and his brother Tyus, did for the program.

Vernon Carey Jr. was evidence that Duke does develop big men and he had a stellar season. He is a very underrated player going into the draft and will likely land with a winning team per source.

Cassius Stanley showed off some serious athleticism which will help him achieve his goals at the next level. Duke proved they do as well with west coast talent as any other part of the country.

Duke also says goodbye to Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, and Justin Robinson. These three young men as all destined for some great things in life.

So, if you haven't guessed yet, this is me closing the door on the 2019-20 season. It was not easy to do so for many reasons, but anyone reading this article likely lives for the basketball season and when it is cut short, there is a part of us seemingly missing,

While many are still dealing with the outbreak which has forever changed our lives, we still covet the constant success that has defined Duke Basketball.

A popular tagline is that "Duke Basketball Never Stops." While that statement has been challenged, it is clear to see via social media that the Brotherhood is still active.

I am a glass half full type. So, I think we will see the Blue Devils soon enough and the staff is hard at work even from home preparing for another season. Heck, they are recruiting for much more than next season, so it is time to start talking about that and in the coming days, Blue Devil Nation will start to cover what is to come next in our own way,

So, let us remember that amazing putback by Wendell Moore Jr. one last time But it is time to make some new memories and move on.

Patrick Tape Officially a Blue Devil

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke men's basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski has announced the signing of graduate transfer Patrick Tapé, who will enroll at Duke University and play for the Blue Devils in 2020-21.

Tapé (pronounced tap-ay), a Charlotte, N.C., native and graduate of Queens Grant High School, comes to Duke following an All-Ivy League career at Columbia University. The 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward averaged 6.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and shot .613 from the field in his 69-game career for the Lions. He leaves Columbia as the program's career leader in field goal percentage.

"We are very excited to welcome Patrick into our program," said Krzyzewski. "He was an All-Ivy League player at Columbia and should bring a veteran presence to our team as a graduate transfer. He's a strong, skilled and physical player that has a wealth of experience with his back to the basket. We're lucky to have a young man from Charlotte back in the state and look forward to getting him on campus and enrolled in class as soon as we can."

He made 21 starts as a junior and averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and shot .667 (126-of-189) from the field on his way to honorable mention All-Ivy League honors. He was named the Ivy League Player of the Week after closing the season strong with a pair of 16-point efforts against Brown and Yale. In a three-game stretch early in the season against Power 5 opponents Boston College, Rutgers, and Northwestern, Tapé totaled 50 points (16.7 per game) and shot .710 (22-of-31) from the field.

The Urban Studies major will earn his degree from Columbia and enroll in graduate school at Duke with one year of eligibility remaining. He did not play as a senior while recovering from a foot injury.

Vernon Carey Enters NBA Draft

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke freshman Vernon Carey Jr., has announced that he will enter his name in the 2020 NBA Draft.

The National Freshman of the Year selection by both the USBWA and NABC, a consensus second-team All-American, the ACC Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-ACC pick, Carey finished his impressive rookie campaign as the only player ranked in the ACC's top 10 in scoring (third, 17.8), rebounding (fourth, 8.8), field goal percentage (first, .577) and blocked shots (sixth, 1.6).

"We were honored to have Vernon and his family in our program this season," said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "He had an incredible year, being named one of our team's Most Valuable Players, the National Freshman of the Year and a consensus All-American. I'm am so proud to have had the opportunity to coach such a tremendous young man. He came every day looking to get better, and I know the best is yet to come for him. I want to congratulate Vernon and his family on this decision and wish him nothing but the best as he begins what will be a special NBA career."

The Miami, Fla., native posted 15 double-doubles on the season, which ranked second among NCAA freshmen and second in the ACC. Ten of his double-doubles were 20-10 performances, while 14 came as 15-10 games. Carey was ranked second nationally among freshmen in scoring, third in field goal percentage and fourth in rebounds. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2K Empire Classic after scoring 51 points and pulling down 22 rebounds in a pair of wins over Cal and Georgetown at Madison Square Garden.

"I am very thankful for the opportunities I've had my whole life to put on a basketball jersey and play at the highest level every step of the way," said Carey. "I've been able to do that because of the amazing support of my family, coaches and teammates. I'm lucky to have parents who have always encouraged me to dream big, and motivated me to compete with and challenge the best. We did that at Duke every day. I loved competing with my teammates on the biggest stage in college basketball. We created memories that I will cherish forever. I grew as a player and person, and feel prepared to take that next step. After an incredible season, I am excited to enter the 2020 NBA Draft. I will always appreciate everyone at Duke who invested their time and energy to make me better -- Coach K and our coaches, our entire support staff, our managers, the Cameron Crazies and so many others across campus. Duke is a special place and you already know I will be back soon to catch a game and support my brothers."

Carey, who started 30 of Duke's 31 games in the abbreviated season, attempted more free throws (218) than any freshman in college basketball. His 28.7 points per 40 minutes were topped by only Marquette's Markus Howard and Iowa's Luka Garza among major conference players.

Carey helped lead the Blue Devils to a 25-6 overall record and 15-5 mark in the ACC.

Cassius Stanley Enters NBA Draft

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke freshman guard Cassius Stanley has announced that he will enter his name in the 2020 NBA Draft.

An ACC All-Freshman selection, Stanley completed his freshman season at Duke averaging 12.6 points and 4.9 rebounds, while shooting .474 from the field and .733 at the free throw line in 29 starts.

"It was an absolute joy to coach Cassius this season," said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "I want to congratulate him and his great family on this decision. I've seen Cassius grow both as a player and person here at Duke, and I can't wait to see how his career develops at the next level. Any NBA team will be very fortunate to get such a mature young man who is not only an incredibly-gifted athlete, but a leader that wants nothing but the best for himself and his teammates."

Stanley opened and closed his freshman season in style, scoring 13 points in the win over Kansas at Madison Square Garden in his debut and pouring in 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the win over North Carolina on March 7, which proved to be Duke's final game of the shortened 2019-20 season.

"I feel blessed to have worn the Duke jersey and choosing Duke was the best decision of my life," said Stanley. "I have grown physically, emotionally, as a person, and as a basketball player. Since I was a young teen, my dream was to play in the NBA and have a great career. Upon joining The Brotherhood, my immediate goal became helping our team reach the Final Four and contend for a national title. I truly believe that is exactly what would have happened if our season wasn't interrupted.

"As much as I feel a burning desire to make another run at the Final Four, I feel compelled to make the best decision for my professional success, and therefore, I have decided to enter the 2020 NBA Draft. I want to thank Coach K, the entire Duke coaching staff and my teammates for all their support. I also want to thank our trainers, strength coaches, managers, administrative staff, and academic support staff. Last but not least, thanks to the Crazies and Duke fans all over the world for helping to make this past year the most fun I've ever had playing the sport we all love."

Both a high-flying dunker and accurate three-point shooter, Stanley dazzled with his ability to finish at the rim. The Los Angeles native threw down four highlight-reel dunks in a win at Georgia Tech on his way to 14 points. He went 5-of-7 from three-point range and scored 21 points in the home win over Virginia Tech, while his career-high of 24 points came against Louisville.

The Blue Devils have had at least one player selected in 32 of 39 drafts under Krzyzewski. Coach K has tutored a total of 64 draft picks since taking over the Duke program, including a Draft-record 41 first-round selections.