The Duke Men’s Basketball team has been ranked as the number three team in the nation in the newly released Coaches poll. The Blue Devils will blend a solid returning cast of players with the nations top rated freshman class this coming season. http://sportspolls.usatoday.com/ncaa/basketball-men/polls/coaches-poll/2014/1/
Duke Assistant Coach, Jeff Capel, returned from his duties with USA Basketball. Capel spoke to his recent experiences in helping Team USA bring back the Gold Medal in the FIBA Championships this past week. He also addressed this years talented Duke team just before they hit the court for the first practices of the season –
On what he leaned while helping out with USA Basketball …
For me personally, I felt like I was at a coaching clinic every day. It was really see to see coach (Mike Krzyzewski) in that environment. I had never seen him with the NBA guys and seeing how they responded to him and the respect they had for him was great. Coach Boeheim (Jim) is a genius. He doesn’t say much but when he does it’s right on point. He has tremendous insights into the game. You get to see what NBA guys do and it was an incredible learning experience.
On his thoughts are glimpsing the current Duke team upon his return …
When we got back, the very first thing that jumped out was how much better our guys have gotten. That was encouraging because I knew they had been working. Our guys (staff) have done a great job and when we were around them a little bit more you see the closeness. And the new guys aren’t really looked at like freshman. That is a testament to the upper class working with them as well. We have a group that works hard and really likes one another.
His thoughts on the talented freshman class …
College basketball is a lot different now in that college basketball is really young. If you look at the teams projected to be really good, the majority of them are young. It is a big adjustment from high school to college with the speed of the game and the demands and the biggest area of adjustment is on the defensive end. In high school kids are not always asked to play defense, so that is the biggest area of adjustment. Three of the four freshman have had a chance to play for USA Basketball and their maturity level is better than when say, I came in as a freshman. They are very close and have a feel for each other (Jones, Okafor, Winslow) and they embraced Grayson Allen immediately. All four of those guys have become really close.
On the guard situation and Quinn Cook …
We feel like we have a team of six really good guards and all of them are capable of playing. How they practice and how they play will determine who plays. Quinn Cook has had a great summer. He’s gotten stronger, he’s in great shape. One of the things Quinn and I have talked about is when you go on the court in Cameron, your play there is how you will be remembered. You have to be willing to do anything. Out program has always been older guys teaching younger guys, so there will be a role. There was a concern with the Jones family and something we had to talk about. The relationship (Jones and Cook) has been great. We told them to trust us. You guys can play together and we want to win. We tell them to listen to us. Listen to us and not the outside voices and to just run your own race. The biggest thing for Quinn is try to come consistently good. Last year he was good, but he got knocked back a little bit, but he’s embraced everything we’ve talked with him about this spring. Quinn should be one of our best shooters and at times he will be off the ball. When Tyus and Quinn are in together, if Quinn gets a rebound, he should push it. Guys roles can change with concern to what is going on.
His thoughts on Jahlil Okafor …
Not many guys are put together like Okafor. Size, skill set, all those things make him unique, He has a lot to work on but we’re excited to work with him/ He has a chance to be dominant and we need him to be dominant and we’re going to push him to be dominant. Jai is such a great kid, a beautiful and great kid, but he’s different on the court.
Duke freshman Tyus Jones is about to embark on his first collegiate basketball season. The top rated point guard in his class a season ago brings a unique skill set to the table. Jones has been a winner at every level during his career to date and is considered a true point guard by those who have followed his exploits. In short, Jones knows how to win. Jones took the time to answer a couple of questions for Blue Devil Nation –
DURHAM, N.C. – Senior Quinn Cook and junior Amile Jefferson have been named team captains for the 2014-15 season, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Tuesday. Cook and Jefferson are both first-time team captains for the Blue Devils, who will hold their first practice of the season Friday afternoon.
“As a team and as a staff, we could not be happier to have Quinn [Cook] and Amile [Jefferson] as our co-captains,” said Krzyzewski. “They’re two veterans, returning starters. They know us, they know what we want to accomplish and their personalities just fit in so perfectly with the development of teamwork on our team. We’re very excited about having them as captains.”
Cook, a third team All-ACC selection in 2013, enters the year averaging 9.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for his career. The Washington, D.C., native is 27 points shy of becoming the 64th player in Duke history to score 1,000 career points. Last season, Cook averaged 11.6 points and 4.4 assists per game while making a career-best 65 three-point field goals.
“The first word that comes to mind is – blessing,” said Cook of being named a team captain. “It’s an honor to have that title. It means you have earned the respect of the staff and your teammates. There’s been a lot of great players who have had that title here and they have done some tremendous things. I’ve been fortunate to be on some teams where I have had great captains, so I want to set the example for the younger guys and the whole team. I want to leave my mark as being another great captain here at Duke.”
Jefferson is one of the leading returning rebounders in the ACC after corralling 6.9 rebounds per game a year ago. He also averaged 6.5 points per game on an efficient 64.4 percent (94-of-146) shooting from the field.
“It’s the ultimate honor to be named a team captain,” said Jefferson “To think about guys like [Shane] Battier and [Jon] Scheyer, those captains who led the team — Mason [Plumlee], Ryan [Kelly]. Just guys who knew how to set the ship and how to make the team go the way they wanted it to go. So for me and Quinn [Cook], it’s a big honor and it’s time for us to be leaders. It’s time for us to demonstrate our leadership on and off the court. It’s something that I’m going to cherish forever.”
Duke will play the annual Blue-White Scrimmage Saturday, Oct. 25 as part of Countdown to Craziness as well as exhibition contests against Livingstone (Nov. 4) and Central Missouri (Nov. 8) before opening the season Nov. 14 at home against Presbyterian in the opening round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.