Category Archives: Duke Basketball

54

Duke Seeks To End Woes vs Georgia Tech

54The Duke Blue Devils take to the court tonight after a long break to face Georgia Tech in a road contest.  While the Yellow Jackets are coming off some losses of their own, don't think this game will be easy,  In fact, Duke is a slight 2 point favorite and for good reason.

Like Georgia Tech, Duke has struggled of late.  So much so, that the Blue Devils fell out of the top 25 and now have some questioning if they can get to the tournament.  A loss tonight would add credence to that question, but a win would right the ship.  And let's be honest here, Duke is a big time name and program and if they are anywhere near eligible for March Madness, they'll get in.

Duke will at some point get Amile Jefferson back from a broken foot, but it will not be tonight.  Duke will face a Georgia Tech team that has played well at home and team whose losses were very, very close.    The Yellow Jackets have beaten the likes of Virginia, Arkansas and N.C. State while losing games to top-tier conference team where they were in the contest until the end.

What makes Georgia Tech most dangerous for Duke is their depth. As a team, the Yellow Jackets, are way deeper than the Blue Devils. They play ten players and to put this into perspective, their tenth man averages 13.9 minutes per game.  Meanwhile, Duke plays six players iron man minutes, but this could be a night where the Blue Devils are forced to go seven deep.

The Yellow Jackets are led by four double figure scorers.  Charles Mitchell has been a solid inside force who averages a double-double and Marcus Georges-Hunt is their leading scorer.  Where they suffer a little bit is at the point guard spot in that, like Duke, they depend on assists by committee.

Duke has three clear leaders on the offensive end in Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard.  Anything they get from the rest of their cast of late has been a luxury on the scoring end.  In losses to Clemson, Syracuse and Miami, the offense struggled to score points.  And when the offense struggles, so does Duke.

The main reason for those struggles is that with such a short rotation, Duke has been forced to play zone defensive schemes to save their legs.  It's hard for teams to go all out on both ends of the floor when there are depth issues.  And let's not even talk about foul trouble, for that issue pretty much has doomed Duke as well in their recent losses.

Still, Duke is capable of playing good, if not better basketball than they have of late.  To do that, the offense has to get back to snapping their passes about with more certainty.  And Duke must get some sort of help defense from a player who is not Marshall Plumlee.  The player who is most capable of doing this is freshman standout Brandon Ingram.'

While just a freshman, Brandon Ingram is the one player who can cause all kinds of match up nightmares for the opposition.  He is still learning that he is as solid around the rim as he is on the perimeter. Duke needs for Ingram to take it to another level.

During the pre season media gatherings, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said that an injury could derail his team.  Nobody really listened then.  What we are seeing in the Duke failures of late are mainly due to an untimely injury.  But even with Amile Jefferson, Duke is a team that must hit on all cylinders to win in a tough and unforgiving ACC.

Duke is in need of a win, but breaking out of a slump is never easy.  It's very important for Duke to get off to a good start tonight and then show they can hang on for a much-needed victory,  But like in all games, this is one of the games opponents circle on their calender.  Let's face it, there are sharks circling the water that want their chance at what at this time seems like a vulnerable Duke team.

A win won't be as easy as the fan base might like it to be,  But a win by any margin is the only thing that will stop the bleeding and breed new confidence.  Considering the time the team has had to prepare, I think Duke gets the job done.

A short bench has been an issue for Duke,

Duke at Miami Preview

A short bench has been an issue for Duke,
A short bench has been an issue for Duke,

The Duke Blue Devils took a step in the right direction this past Saturday when they defeated N.C. State with a stellar second half effort.  Duke must now face Miami tonight mere hours after that win on the road in a hostile environment with the ticket being the hottest thing in town.

To give you an idea of what Miami is capable of, they defeated Utah by 24 earlier this season, a team that took down Duke in New York. The Hurricanes are an older team while Duke leans heavily on freshman.  Miami is an athletic, quick and are a guard heavy team.

While Duke is perimeter oriented as well, the Hurricane guards are more traditional ball handling types.  Miami starts the engine with the solid duo of Shelden McClellan and Angel Rodriquez., two guards who've been through the ACC wars.  Then there is Ja'Quan Newton and Davon Reed who round out their four double-digit scorers who are also outside oriented players.

Miami is also anchored by the athletic Tonye Jekeri in the middle who will present a challenge for Marshall Plumlee with no Amile Jefferson as his sidekick.  The Hurricanes also go to their bench much more often than can Duke where they play four other players I have not mentioned double-digit minutes.  In short, they are tailored made to give the undermanned Blue Devils fits.

The Hurricanes will likely concentrate their defensive efforts on Grayson Allen who had a stellar performance at N.C. State.  Allen has become one of the clear Duke leaders this season but he will need the help of his teammates in this game if Duke is to pull an upset.

Marshall Plumlee will as always, need to stay out of foul trouble and his teammates will need to help with rebounding in a game against a team that is quick to loose balls.  Plumlee has had a solid senior season and has shouldered a lot of responsibility in the paint.  And teams are taking it to the basket on Duke after seeing others success in doing so.

This game will also be another road test for fellow freshman guards Luke Kennard and Deryck Thornton.  Kennard has been the most consistent of these two players and is depended on as one of the Blue Devils three main scoring options.  Thornton will be heavily depended on in this game due to match ups.

While Matt Jones nailed two very critical three-point shots in the win over N.C. State, his game has been a little off of late.  Jones needs to be more than jump shooter in this game and he is at his best when he mixes it up a but more.  His defense has been solid, but his offense of late has turned into simply jump shots.

The bottom line here is that this is a tough game for Duke where they have been tabbed the underdog.  Even some of the deeper Duke teams past have on occasion been defeated soundly on trips to Florida.  And this Duke team is still learning one another.

Duke is capable of coming together and winning this game but it will take mental and physical toughness and forty minutes of effort.  The Blue Devils have struggled with turnovers in ACC play and cutting down on those this evening  would work wonders.

The Blue Devils will need to get back on defense in this game while trying to push Miami off the three point stripe.  Duke will also need to hit their free throw opportunities while chasing down rebounds and loose balls.

The Blue Devils have lost some tough, close games.  Perhaps tonight they can flip the scenario.  The game tips at 7:00 on ESPN.

52

Duke Weathers Two Storms

52The Duke Blue Devils used a 2nd half blitz where they outscored the Wolfpack by 17 points  to help them mature as a team.  The Blue Devils seemed to once again be on the ropes in danger of losing a fourth straight game as the Wolfpack unleashed six consecutive three-point shots before the break.  Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski would go on to say that most teams would have folded or given up after that in his post game press conference.   But the Blue Devils, instead, adjusted throwing out varying defenses which were successfully designed to slow Antony Barber.  In the process, Krzyzewski's young team got over a hump and back on track heading to Miami for a Monday match up with an older and talented Hurricanes team.

Weathering storms

Duke literally weathered two storms.  The first was of course, the snow and ice which descended upon the Triangle.  The second, was a Wolfpack team that were hitting circus shots which helped them carry a 7 point lead into the half.  When you're a young team like Duke, facing adversity and missing a key player, nothing helps build team confidence like a road win over your neighbor with their wolf ears pinned back.  The Duke players grew up a lot as they boarded their bus in snowy conditions and then later mounting a comeback in a game they dominated down the stretch.  The Blue Devils had a 17 point swing over a team, that like all others in the ACC, had this game circled on their calendar.  In getting a win in the bag, Duke now has  a launching point to get back in the race for a decent NCAA seed.  The win may have also saved a streak that has been going since 2009.  That being that the Blue Devils have remained in the A.P.  top 25 every single week since that time.

Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard
Brandon Ingram pictured with Luke Kennard

Player(s) of the game

As some of you may know, we conduct a poll after each game on twitter asking you who your player of the game was.  Grayson Allen was the clear choice over Brandon Ingram by our followers.  Allen was sensational in scoring 28 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, all while dishing 7 assists.  He was determined and a clear leader playing captain like basketball.  But Duke could not have won without Brandon Ingram and in my opinion, they were co-players of the game. Ingram scored 25 points, pulling down 7 rebounds while dishing 4 assists.  But Ingram drew a lot of Pack defenders his way opening the court up for other teammates.  Ingram was arguably the teams best defender as well, having two key steals and a vital block at key moments in the game.

Iron Man minutes continue

Duke is a very depth shy team.  That was a Captain Obvious statement, for sure, for the Blue Devils got a single minute out of Sean Obi.  Meanwhile six players got every other minute in the game.  Duke basically has six starters and no bench at this current time, but that may change soon.

A bootless Amile Jefferson

Amile Jefferson was walking around without his walking boot.  The senior captain has been treated with injections for bone growth and his foot has seemingly healed.  Now, he must get back into the normal side of things which includes putting weight on his foot while gaining confidence that he can push off on it.  It will take Jefferson a while to get back into shape, but his return is coming and that will be a big boost for Duke and their depth issues.

A daunting task looms

Duke must travel all the way south to Miami for Monday's game against a seriously good Hurricanes team.  "They're an older team," exclaimed Krzyzewski when looking ahead after th win over N.C. State.  Miami is in a sense a match up nightmare for the depth shy Blue Devils.  While the Canes play a core contingent like Duke, they are anchored in the middle with a beastly Tonye Jekiri,.  He will present a major test for Marshall Plumlee but what makes Miami tough to guard are just that, their guards.  They have an old backcourt with Angel Rodriquez and Sheldon McClellan but they also have three other guards in their rotation who can all play.  This makes for a difficult match up for Duke who could find themselves playing from behind early and often.  Miami always brings it when Duke comes to town, just like every other ACC team.  But the Hurricanes are without a doubt one of the most difficult games on the teams schedule.  The Blue Devils will be the underdog in this game.

Happier times.

Are there answers for Duke?

Happier times.
Happier times.

Duke Basketball is not accustomed to losing to three unranked teams in a row, but a closer look shows that the last three opponents aren't that bad.  The fact of the matter is that the ACC is good this season and there is only one give me game on any teams schedule.

Still, there are no acceptable excuses when losing  as harsh as that might sound.  If the Blue Devil players tire enough of the talk surrounding said losses, they will respond by getting better and doing something about it.  The team must make it so that games do not come down to a single possession and that means taking better care of the ball with concern to decisions.

The three losses of late have come to teams with a lot of intangibles working in their favor.  Notre Dame was a pre season top 25 pick and they played a brutal schedule losing only to good teams before now winning two key games in a row.  Clemson was on a roll and playing great basketball where Duke was but one of their victims.  And Syracuse is a team that is now riding a three game win streak with their coach Jim Boeheim back at the helm.

Duke could have won all three of those games.  They were that close and the Blue Devils were right there.

A look around the nation shows that there are no clear-cut teams worthy or number one at any time.  While Duke is in no way in those talks, they are capable of being a good team.  When they defeated Indiana, the Hoosiers looked destined for a fall, but they have rebounded to enter the top 25.  What that all means, is that there are ebbs and flows to the season and there is a lot of balance in the entire nation.

The task of making better decisions is a learning curve and it's something that is not easily conquered.  Especially for a freshman laden team that is missing a key leader.  That leader, Amile Jefferson, also happens to be one of two Duke big men who are game ready in the way Mike Krzyzewski needs them to be within his system.

The Duke staff knows that a single mistake can lead to dire consequences and this is why certain players are not playing.  The cold, harsh truth is that Duke is loaded with players not quite ready to play at the level the staff or fans are accustomed to seeing,  But that doesn't mean they are giving up or not trying.

For Duke to get better moving forward they have to quickly learn the harsh reality that losing isn't fun.  It would help if Amile Jefferson was in the line up but he is not at this time.  The only way Duke gets better is for players to grow up fast and sometimes the pace is not to folks liking.

There is no sugar-coating the fact that the two freshman Duke needs the light to come on for the most are Derryck Thornton and Chase Jeter,  But they are running their own race.  They may blossom this season or it may be a year away, but it will happen.

Duke is forced to play players out of position and often out of their comfort zone due to depth issues.  Any foul trouble makes this team vulnerable.  There is now a blue print out there on how to beat Duke and the next two opponents in N.C. State and Miami want their shot. They will push it right into the paint on the offensive end hoping to overwhelm the post.

The thing about a young team and this particular team is that they must overcome beyond the normal freshman learning curve is the monster success of Duke teams past.  What that means is that there are a lot of hungry teams with wily veteran players wanting revenge for past beat downs.  It is the price of success that sometimes rears its head and it's called revenge.

Duke simply could not afford injuries this season. Mike Krzyzewski said this from day one in the pre season and we are now seeing  his worst fear play out.  When Duke had Amile Jefferson, they had a four-year player who was playing the best basketball of his career. He gave the team just enough chemistry where Duke could beat anybody in the nation on a given day.

Duke is now facing what could be called the worst possible "Perfect Storm," which is a brutal ACC slate ahead.  They are doing so with a young team that may well be in the midst of confidence issues and with a player on the bench they just could not afford to lose.

Still, there is hope for the players have not given up.  They are still working hard and trying to get out from under the dark cloud  above their collective heads,  They are building toward something, be it this season or next and paying their dues.  Those dues catch every program, some more so than others, but not usually at Duke.

It has been said that Duke is like the New York Yankees.    People love to hate them for they always seem to win and we are certainly seeing many take glee during the losing streak.  But the Yankees always seem to bounce back and so will Duke.  But as for the question of when that will happen, well, nobody really knows the answer to that.

Are there answers for Duke?  We'll just have to wait and see.  But one thing that remains consistent is player character.  Now Duke just needs that character to translate into some quick, tough lessons learned and fast for the road ahead is daunting.

The best thing Duke can do is take it one game at a time.  Sometimes, it is the small steps that lead to something grand in time.  The big picture is that Duke is learning some valuable lessons which will lead to hunger for success.  But for the immediate future or the here and now, a win is a big step and the only one that will right the ship.

 

411-300x244

Team USA Announces 30 Finalists

 411-300x244COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Kyrie Irving was among 30 finalists for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team announced Monday by USA Basketball, furthering the former Duke star’s quest to make his first Olympic appearance.

The official 12-member 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team roster will be announced later this year.

Duke’s Naismith Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski will once again lead the 2016 USA coaching staff. He will be assisted by Jim Boeheim (Syracuse University), Tom Thibodeau and Monty Williams (Oklahoma City Thunder).

Krzyzewski has coached USA National teams to a sterling 52-1 record in official FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions since 2006, while also compiling a 23-0 mark in exhibition games and leading teams to gold medal finishes at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, 2012 London Olympics, 2010 FIBA World Championship, 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship.

“This selection process was difficult from the start, and obviously it is only going to get more difficult as we look to get to the official, 12-man roster,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m excited about the possibilities this team has. Among the finalists, we have multiple players who won gold medals at the Olympic or World Cup level. The roster of finalists features incredible talent, great balance, outstanding leadership, and I believe like we had with our previous teams, this team will have a special chemistry.

“Having a deep, very talented and extremely versatile roster is of critical importance in pursuit of the Olympic gold medal in Rio. All of the players who have been part of the national team program should be recognized and commended for their commitment and contributions, acknowledged for their willingness to do whatever asked and for representing the United States in such outstanding fashion.”

Irving was named MVP of the 2014 FIBA World Cup for his role in leading the U.S. to a 9-0 record and the gold medal. He started all nine games, averaging 12.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, a team-leading 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals. For the tournament, he shot 56.3 percent from the field, 60.9 percent from beyond the arc and 83.3 percent from the free throw line.

 

The West Orange, N.J., native also owns a gold medal from the 2010 USA U18 National Team that plowed through the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship with a 5-0 record. In 20 total games for USA Basketball, Irving has averages of 12.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 56.1 percent from the floor, 51.1 percent from three-point territory and 87.2 percent from the line.

 

After averaging 17.5 points and 4.3 assists in his lone season at Duke, Irving was selected first overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. He was named 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year and has been named both an NBA All-Star and All-NBA selection in each of the last three seasons.

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Men’s basketball preliminary play will be held Aug. 6-15, with the quarterfinals scheduled for Aug. 17, semifinals on Aug. 19 and the gold and bronze medal games on Aug. 21.

2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team Finalists

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls

Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets

Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings

Paul George, Indiana Pacers

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

James Harden, Houston Rockets

Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz

Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets

Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

John Wall, Washington Wizards

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

 

Managing Director: Jerry Colangelo

Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Assistant Coach: Jim Boeheim

Assistant Coach: Tom Thibodeau

Assistant Coach: Monty Williams

1b564676-7bde-4f21-8eaa-474193f0cfa6

Syracuse vs Duke Preview

1b564676-7bde-4f21-8eaa-474193f0cfa6Before we talk about the Duke-Syracuse game, let's talk about the loss to Notre Dame.  Yes, Duke was playing matador defense allowing easy shots in the paint for the Irish and that made the basket as big as a football field from the outside.   But the Irish were a clear pre season top 25 team with their backs against the wall after some tough losses.  Those losses came to teams in the nation's top 50 teams and most of those were on the road.  What I am saying here is that the Irish are a good team as is Clemson who disposed of Miami and is the ACC's hottest team.

The ACC is a brutal league this season with teams that can beat you on any night and Duke is a team playing with one senior while  one of their captain starters is injured.  That starter, Amile Jefferson, is Duke's only returning starter.  This means Duke plays a lot of freshman and only some of those have had the light go off so to speak.  This means Duke is a very thin team who doesn't have a clear point guard and a core of six players are having to play iron man minutes with no rest. And all of this together means there is no margin of error and games can turn on a single play on offense or defense,  And that's what's happened of late where an ill-timed shot or selection of said shot or a key rebound lost creates a loss.

Syracuse comes in tonight and on the surface people will say this should be an easy win per their record.  But the Orange have blown  out their last two opponents in Boston College and Wake Forest and part of this is the return of HOF Coach Jim Boeheim.  So, don't let their record fool you for they were missing their coach and with his return they are playing tough basketball.  Syracuse depends on formerDuke player Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney and like Duke they play a key group of players which is good for the Blue Devils per depth issues.

Luke Kennard went off in his last game and he is now leaned on as one of three key scorers along with Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen.  Marshall Plumlee will once again have to man the middle pretty much alone while Matt Jones needs to find his groove again.  Duke is reeling coming off a two game losing streak and they are coming in with little rest.  They could do nothing more than have a walk though before this game in preparation.  What Duke will seek in this game are consistent efforts and the staff will look to  manage players in foul trouble better.

This game will be tough and Duke desperately needs this win as does Syracuse to continue their recent ascent under Boeheim.  Duke will need to defend the post better and hold their own on the boards.  What has hurt Duke of late is those running the point have to still find their offense and that has effected Allen and Jones.  If Thornton starts to make better decisions with the ball in his hands, he can relive that stress but it likely will not happen until later int he season.

Look for Duke to bounce back in a game they need but this is another game the Blue Devils can lose if the focus is not 100 % there from beginning to end.