Category Archives: Duke Basketball

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North Carolina at Duke Notebook

The Duke versus North Carolina rivalry continues this week when the Blue Devils entertain the Tar Heels in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels come into the game atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, while Duke seeks to play their way into the top four teams by years end.  The reason for the importance of being a top four seeds is a doubl- bye in the fast approaching conference tournament.

Nothing would be sweeter than 501

When Duke defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers in their last outing there was not one question about Mike Krzyzewski's 500th win in Cameron.  When you think about it, it seems odd that it dawned on most people later that this was another Krzyzewski milestone.  Anyhow, nothing would be sweeter than his 501st win in that it would come against North Carolina.

ESPN Gameday

ESPN Gameday will be hosting a rare weekday event.  The deal is that only ticket holders can attend and the students will be in their seats before the start of the event.  You can count on plenty of antics if not veiled shots at the media who still brings along a Grayson Cam to every event.   Doors for regular season ticket holders will open just one hour prior to game time.  As usual, the event features Duke alums in Jay Bilas and Jay Williams.

A new role for Tatum

Duke has to like that Jayson Tatum is playing a different and better role on the team.  Tatum has been asked to hit the boards more and he has been a key rebounder for the team.  Tatum is a lock for the All ACC Rookie team and has at times played like a veteran.  He will face his stiffest challenge to date against an aggressive Tar Heels team on the glass.

unnamed (22)Harry Giles is closing in on prime time

Giles is still getting back into game shape, but his minutes have been productive overall this season.  Like any freshman, he wrestles with consistency.  Duke needs for Giles to become aggressive around the rim, especially against a veteran front court that the Tar Heels employ.  Giles seems close to being ready for another step and his first game in the rivalry will be a good measuring stick.

UNC success comes from knowing their roles

Roy Williams has a veteran bunch where many of his starters were key components in playing for a national championship.  He has a tight bunch that knows their roles.  Duke is still in the process of defining team roles, mainly due to slowly but steadily budding chemistry.

On thing to watch for with concern to UNC

This team can rebound and they're emphatic about emphasis ocrashing the boards.  The Tar Heels hold a 13.5 rebound edge in league games.  Duke has to keep a body in front of Kennedy Meeks in that he averages just under 4 offensive rebounds in games.

Another thing...

Duke needs to get back on defense and fast.  The Tar Heels love to push the ball after rebounding.  There have been times this season where Duke has been out of position defensively which have created easy drives to the rim for the opposition.

Luke Kennard, turn him loose

Kennard is having a great season to date.  He has been the best shooter in the league and look for Krzyzewski to give him the green light.  Kennard is currently a lock for All ACC and has started to trickle into to first round talk for the NBA Draft.

 

Veterans are always the key

Amile Jefferson has been as steady as they come for two seasons.  Yes, he got hurt last year, but his numbers have picked up where he left off.  His leadership in the rivalry game will be a key as will staying out of foul trouble.  You never know what crew of officials you will draw in a game but Duke has played in some almost comically hyper called foul type games this season.  Then there is the question of Matt Jones health.  Krzyzewski will speak with the media tomorrow and we should find out more about the situation at that time.

Key visitors coming in

Duke hopes to make an impression on Trevon Duval, considered one of the nations two best point guard prospects.  He has a little bit of shake to his game like Kyrie Irving.  You can bet that Wendell Carter and Gary Trent will be working Duvall for they'll be visiting as well.

Coming tomorrow...Coach K speaks.

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Duke to Host ESPN College Gameday vs UNC

DURHAM, N.C. – Cameron Indoor Stadium will host College GameDay on Thursday, Feb. 9, when ESPN broadcasts an edition of k 500 cisits flagship college basketball show prior to Duke’s 8 p.m. matchup with North Carolina.

Host Rece Davis and analysts Jay Bilas, Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg will broadcast from Coach K Court beginning at 7 p.m. ET as part of ESPN’s Rivalry Week.

Duke has hosted College GameDay once already this season, as the show originated from Durham prior to the Blue Devils’ victory over Miami on Jan. 21.

Doors to Cameron Indoor Stadium will open at 7 p.m. ET on Feb. 9. There will be no admittance without a game ticket to view the College GameDay broadcast.

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

Duke-Pitt Preview – Krzyzewski Returns

Kansas versus Duke at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY on November 15, 2016. (Photo by Lance King)
Duke takes on Pitt in Cameron as Krzyzewski returns to the sideline.

You can expect a raucous crowd in Cameron Indoor Stadium today as Duke hosts Pitt.  There are multiple reasons for this.  The first, of course is the return of Mike Krzyzewski to the sidelines after in season back surgery.

The legendary coach will take over for his Jeff Capel who has the Blue Devils coming off consecutive ACC road victories over Wake Forest and Notre Dame.  With the Blue Devils starting to show consistency the Cameron Crazies will be primed to greet their team and will be hungry for more success.

The team has started to play together in a more cohesive way.  Their outing against Notre Dame was perhaps their best road performance of the season.  But make no mistake, there is plenty of work and improvement needed.

Krzyzewski is returning during a key home stretch of games against Pitt, North Carolina and Clemson .  Winning these games is possible and critical with four of their last six ACC games coming on the road.

Duke will have to take things one game at a time.  They will first have to focus on today's game with Pitt without looking ahead to the game with their arch rival.

Pitt showed against North Carolina that they can be dangerous even as a last place team in a loaded lead.  They hung in there with the more talented Tar Heels and had a chance to win down the stretch,.

The Panthers have a solid one-two punch of two All ACC hopefuls in Jamel Artis and Michael Young.  Both of these players can go off on offense.  But Duke got a warning in the close Pitt loss to the Tar Heels.  That being that other players can have big games if you focus on the teams big two.  Pitt has wins over Marquette and Maryland .

In a sense, this would normally be a classic trap game, but the return of Krzyewski to the bench could trump that.  Duke in no way wants to take anything other than a step forward with their play.  They seek continued momentum and it is important to team psych to see consistency.

Duke seems to be turning a corner after a season of unrivaled adversity.  At this point, they want to be playing their best basketball in March.  To do that, anything other than a good effort against Pitt today would still bring about questions.

The Pick - Duke 88 Pitt 67

(Photo by Lance King for Blue Devil Nation)

Duke Seeks Momentum, Consistency vs Irish

(Photo by Lance King for Blue Devil Nation)
(Photo by Lance King for Blue Devil Nation)

The Duke Blue Devils travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tonight.  Coming off a comeback win over Wake Forest on Saturday, the Blue Devils hope to build momentum and consistency.

Consistency is something that has eluded this team to date.  But often times it takes adversity to come together.  Against Wake Forest, Duke battled through a ridiculous amount of fouls called and at times not great play to get a win.  The key though, is that when a team in a hole digging out is hard to do.

With the win over Wake, Duke can flip its season around with a win tonight.  But to do so they'll have to defeat another ranked ACC foe on the road.  It will also be a challenge in that Mike Brey has had the Blue Devils number where his team always plays with immense confidence.

There has at times been uncertainty on both ends of the court for Duke.  The defense has lost shooters and allowed easy lay ins far too often.  The offense has looked uncertain as well, but this is a team built to score with the talent on hand.

Duke must play with the intensity they showed against Wake Forest in the final minutes.  They knew who there go to guys were on offense, namely Luke Kennard and they got some key defensive stops.

Notre Dame is currently on a slide, but that means their backs are against the wall and thus makes them dangerous.  Add to that there eyes seem to light up when Duke comes to town, add a hostile crowd to boot and it will be a daunting challenge.

With a win, Duke can show that they can win on the road in the league.  The team needs this win and they need to play better each time out,  It is highly unlikely that Mike Krzyzewski will return to the court and take a long flight, so it will be up to Jeff Capel to keep his team fresh off a quick turnaround and in the game.

A timeout by Capel helped set up Luke Kennard for the game winning points.  A similar strategy to stay in the game until late will likely be employed.  But make no mistake, Notre Dame presents an uptick in talent than did a game Wake Forest team.

I am a believer in that it takes something good to happen to flip the script.  Duke, however, needs to win this game to prove that theory more accurate for it does not always work out that way.  Normally getting over the hump when in a slump provides for looser play and that is what fans and the staff alike hopes for this evening.

The game will tip at just after seven o'clock on ESPN.  The game is considered a toss-up and is sure to provide intense play for two teams in need of a win.

During the absence of Mike Krzyzewski, Jeff Capel is 2-3.  This would be his biggest win if the Blue Devils can pull through as a slight road underdog.

The prediction here is the Blue Devils by a bucket, Duke 75 Notre Dame 73

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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.