Category Archives: Duke Basketball

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Duke Captains Bring Plenty to the Table

yThe Duke Blue Devils 2016-17 Basketball team is generating a tremendous amount of anticipation and for good reason. The team will be loaded and deep and coached by what many consider the best staff in the country.  Add to that three veteran captains and the expectations should be through the roof.

A ridiculously talented recruiting class will join some veteran holdovers to form a team that will likely be the pre season number one pick.  Three or four first year Blue Devils will play huge roles on the team, but as history often shows us, you are only as good as your veterans at crunch time.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski recently name his team captains for the coming season. There was really no mystery on which players would get the call. There will always be seniors involved and this means Texas native, Matt Jones  is one,  And then Philly product in Amile Jefferson was another natural choice.

Both Jones and Jefferson are very mature and each brings their own form of leadership to the table. Matt Jones is a young man of faith and that has allowed him to exude patience. That patience was needed after his freshman season where like many before him he hit a wall in mid-season. Jones would end up spending more time in his home state of Texas that off-season.  His soul-searching and hard work landed him a key role with the teams system moving forward.

Ask any coach and they will tell you how much they covet low maintenance player and that is what you have in Matt Jones. He caught Mike Krzyzewski's eye when Duke was recruiting his teammate Julius Randle who ultimately chose Kentucky and is now with the Los Angeles Lakers. It didn't take long for Jones to commit to Duke and his journey has led him to a leadership role in his final season wearing the royal blue.

10644586_10205578347492091_4093529158834014343_nA season ago, Amile Jefferson was having a breakout year. He went down with an early season foot injury that ended his campaign. While that was certainly disturbing at the time for the program his return to help break in new big men from the incoming class.  Talk about a luxury for the staff, his leadership will be vital to the teams effortd.

Jefferson was a double-double machine when he went down to injury and while those numbers could fall off a bit, it shows he can consistently produce. Duke won over Jefferson after a late battle with N.C. State on the recruiting trail. Like many on the team, he actually always favored the Blue Devils and that  makes for spirited leaders.

23With an extra year of added maturity both physically and mentally, Jefferson could be the best leader of the bunch. He is a bit more animated or emotional than some players but it is controlled. Krzyzewski and his staff love on court communication and Jefferson has never been short for words in the locker room.

The third captain is a polarizing figure and his talent is undeniable. Grayson Allen has always wanted to play for Duke and he has that rare determination to achieve goals no matter the cost. Players with a can-do attitude are vital when it comes to winning championships and Allen has that drive.

A year ago, Allen had to pretty much do it all on a team that noticeably thin and inexperienced after the loss of Jefferson. A couple of incidents seemed to overshadow the sophomores gutsy play at times but Allen managed to grow from it even more. Allen's decision to return was partly based on wanting to lead and win another championship. He will garner plenty of deserved attention and magazine covers but he wants to leave Duke two-time champion more than anything else.

All three captains have their strengths but collectively, they pretty much check all the boxes for leadership. It's a real luxury for the staff to have these three kids who are not only good basketball but are strong in character. I've been privy to know each of these young men from their days in AAU ball to now. That said, I am objectively impressed by each of these young men's character first and foremost.

But what will be their key role or form of leadership with the many newcomers.

In Matt Jones I see a player who can share the story of patience and applying yourself to the system. Jones can also preach defense and rounding out through hard work on your game out to find a role.

Amile Jefferson will likely represent team spirit. And like Jones, that patience will present a role in time. Jefferson also has a mental toughness to his game which showed in the 2015 National Championship game.

Meanwhile, Allen is the steward of drive and effort and giving it his all. There is no loose ball that does not deserve a dive and tumble in his eyes. Always remember that Allen did not play a lot during his freshman campaign.  He would later enter the title game and help Duke win their fifth National Championship by being ready to play.

Together, these three captains display for all the epitome of the Duke Basketball system and how it works. Each has developed relationships to go with their skill sets and been in past battles that will benefit them moving forward. The Duke newcomers will have some good teachers and captains who all own a championship ring. The one most important thing that each of them will stress to the likes of Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson and the rest of the freshman is what it takes to become a part of the club of champions.

Grayson Allen will be set to take on the schedule in 2016-17 for Duke.

Duke Non Conference Schedule Set

Grayson Allen will be set to take on the schedule in 2016-17 for Duke.
Grayson Allen will be set to take on the schedule in 2016-17 for Duke.

DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s basketball program has finalized its 2016-17 non-conference schedule, which features eight regular-season home games, a pair of contests at Madison Square Garden and the first college basketball game at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

Of the 14 known and potential opponents on Duke’s 2016-17 non-conference schedule, six made postseason appearances in 2016, including three NCAA Tournament participants (Cincinnati, Kansas and Michigan State). Those 14 teams combined to post a .574 winning percentage in 2015-16.

The Blue Devils will open the regular season with a pair of home games as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off, hosting Grand Canyon on Nov. 11 and Marist on Nov. 12. Duke has never faced either school in men’s basketball.

Duke will square off with Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Nov. 15. The Blue Devils own a 7-3 advantage in the all-time series and last met KU in Chicago in the 2013 Champions Classic.

Duke will remain away from home for its next two games, taking on Penn State at Mohegan Sun Arena on Nov. 19 to open the championship portion of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off. The game will start at 12:30 p.m. ET and be broadcast on ESPN3.

The following day, the Blue Devils will face either Cincinnati or Rhode Island depending on the results of the semifinal games. The tournament championship game will be held at 1 p.m. and broadcast on ESPN, while the consolation game is set for approximately 3:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

On Nov. 23, Duke will kick off a stretch of four consecutive home games when it hosts William & Mary. The Blue Devils will host Appalachian State on Nov. 26 before their ACC/Big Ten Challenge showdown with Michigan State on Nov. 29. Duke is 10-2 all-time against MSU, including a 3-0 mark in the Challenge, and has won the last five meetings between the programs.

Duke’s homestand will conclude when it plays host to Maine on Dec. 3.

The Blue Devils will make a return trip to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 6 to take on Florida in the Jimmy V Classic. Duke owns a 12-4 advantage in the all-time series with UF, though the programs haven’t met since the 2000 NCAA Tournament.

“Duke is honored to participate in the Jimmy V Classic, one of the prominent events in college basketball each season,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said when the event was announced in April. “Certainly, Florida represents a significant challenge. Facing this level of competition, played in one of the world’s premier sporting venues at Madison Square Garden, will provide us with invaluable experience as we develop our team. Personally, the Jimmy V Classic means so much to me as Jim and I became brothers toward the end of his life. He recruited me to be a part of his vision for the V Foundation, and I am very proud to be associated with that team’s tireless efforts to find a cure for cancer.”

Duke is making its third appearance in the Jimmy V Classic, having earned wins over Kentucky in East Rutherford, N.J., in both 1998 and 2001. Florida is led by second-year head coach Mike White, the son of Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White.

The Blue Devils will travel to Las Vegas for a matchup with UNLV on Dec. 10, marking the first meeting between the programs since the 1991 national semifinals. The contest will also represent the first college basketball game played at the new T-Mobile Arena, a multi-purpose venue that opened in April 2016.

Duke’s non-conference home finale will occur on Dec. 19 when the Blue Devils host Tennessee State, and Duke will conclude regular-season non-conference play on Dec. 21 when it squares off with Elon at the Greensboro Coliseum.

As previously announced, Duke’s ACC schedule will include home-and-homes with Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and Wake Forest. Duke will only host Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, NC State and Pitt, while only visiting Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Prior to the start of the regular season, Duke will tip off the 2016-17 campaign with Countdown to Craziness presented by Delta Air Lines on Oct. 22. The Blue Devils will also host exhibition games against Virginia State on Oct. 28 and Augustana (S.D.) on Nov. 4.

Jayson Tatum was right at home with the Cameron Crazies during his recent visit.

Jayson Tatum set for ESPY’s

Jayson Tatum was right at home with the Cameron Crazies during his recent visit.
Jayson Tatum was right at home with the Cameron Crazies during his HS official visit.

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke freshman and 2016 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year Jayson Tatum will be in Hollywood, Calif., this week to attend both the 14th annual Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year ceremony and the 2016 ESPY Awards.

As National Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Tatum is in the running for the 2016 Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. The winner will be named at a ceremony in Hollywood on Tuesday, July 12. ESPN NBA personality Sage Steele will host the event, and awards will be presented by the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton and 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion Abby Wambach, among others.

Tatum is vying to become the second Duke men’s basketball player to earn the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, as Greg Paulus was the award’s recipient in 2005. Tatum is already the second member of the Duke men’s basketball program to be named Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year, alongside Jabari Parker (2012).

A three-time Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year honoree, Tatum averaged 29.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a senior at Chaminade College Prep. He led the school to the 2016 Class 5 state championship, pouring in 40 points in the title game against Kickapoo High School. He topped the 40-point mark in six games as a senior.

Tatum was a 2016 McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic selection. He was named a first-team Naismith Trophy All-American and one of five finalists for the Naismith Trophy Player of the Year award, as well as a first-team All-USA honoree by USA Today.

The St. Louis native has extensive experience in the USA Basketball program, having earned three gold medals and averaged 11.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 19 games for his country.

Tatum helped lead the U.S. to gold at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Heraklion, Greece, with averages of 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds. He captured his first international gold medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and followed it up the next summer with another gold at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship.

A student ambassador at Chaminade College Prep, Tatum has volunteered locally by helping to provide meals for the underprivileged. He has also volunteered as a speaker with at-risk youth and as an instructor at youth basketball clinics.

As part of his nomination for Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year, Tatum and his fellow nominees will walk the red carpet at the 2016 ESPY Awards on Wednesday, July 13.

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Coach K Praises Lakers Ingram

ClrI4XhWkAAfDRSDuke landed another player in the lottery this evening, when Brandon Ingram was the second pick in the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers,

Ingram, a Kinston native, joins one of the NBA's storied franchises where he will get an instant dose of the limelight.

“The Los Angeles Lakers are getting both a great player and a great person in Brandon Ingram. Brandon was a special player this year at Duke, and his best basketball is still ahead of him,' said Duke Coach Mike Kryzewski.

Ingram started slowly last season at Duke before steadily improving and showing off his immense skill set.  Ingram will join another Duke alumnus in Ryan Kelly on the Lakers roster.

''I have absolutely loved coaching Brandon because he is a no-maintenance player who loves and respects the game. He is also a creative and thoughtful young man who comes from a beautiful family,'' said Kryzyewski.

Ingram has already scored endorsement deals after attending Duke this past season.  Ingram was always a Duke fan despite growing up in Kinston, North Carolina in a place many consider Tar Heel country.

I’m excited to watch his promising career with the Lakers get under way. Brandon will continue to get better and better. I’m proud that he’ll always be a member of the Duke basketball family,'' said Krzyzewski,

Ingram was the 21st lottery pick, a record in the NBA Draft.

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2016-17 Duke Schedule Preview – Update

Kennard drivesThere is a lot of anticipation with concern to the 2016-17 Duke Blue Devils Basketball team and here is an early look at what their schedule will look like.

While I don't know who the season opening opponent will be, I do know that Duke will play two games in Hall of Fame Classic where they will face Penn State and then the winner of Rhode Island and Cincinnati.  The games will take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena, adjacent to the casino in Connecticut.

There will be two preliminary games as well, one of those games will be Duke taking on Grand Canyon.  There will be another game for a total of two contests in Cameron  Indoor Stadium to open the season.  So, for clarity, Duke will play four games in this tournament .

Sandwiched in between these games will be the Champions Classic where Duke draws Kansas this season while Kentucky takes on Michigan State.  These games will be played in the famed Madison Square Garden on November the 15th.  Kansas will be ranked among the nations best teams and tabbed highly in the pre season top ten.

Duke will face Michigan State in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday, November the 29th.  This will be the fourth time the teams have met in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, with Duke winning three of those contests.  The Spartans defeated Louisville a season ago and Mike Krzyzewski owns an impressive 8-1 record against Tom Izzo.

Moving on to December, Duke will play the Florida Gators in the Jimmy V Classic and the game will be in Madison Square Garden in New York.  This will be a part of a double-header and Arizona State and Purdue could make up the other game but I am not sure of that at this time.  The Gators are coached by Mike White, who is the son of Duke Athletic Director Kevin White.

Grayson Allen will be set to take on the schedule in 2016-17 for Duke.
Grayson Allen will be set to take on the schedule in 2016-17 for Duke.

Duke will also head to Las Vegas to take on UNLV on December the 10th.  This game will be held at the MGM Resort Arena.

Duke will face a brutal ACC road schedule that consists of games at North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Florida State, Miami and Wake Forest.

Duke will take on the following teams in Cameron Indoor Stadium - North Carolina, NC State, Miami, Pitt, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida State and Boston College.

That leaves about six games, many of which will be in Cameron. Here is where the guess-work begins.  Duke may play games in the state of Pennsylvania and Texas as homecoming games for seniors Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones.  They might also play another game against a stellar opponent in New Jersey.  There are sure to be a couple of mid major type of opponents as well.

This is what we can put together at this time and some things can change but most of what I have mentioned here is etched in stone.

The road games in the ACC will certainly test a talented Duke squad, so for those over zealous fans expecting perfection, think again.  The Blue Devils return three starters and add to that one of the nations best recruiting classes. With that said, now all fans can do is wait for tip off for what is sure to be an exciting season.

Duke will be announcing their schedule through the Atlantic Coast Conference in the coming months.