Category Archives: Duke Basketball


Duke Basketball Notebook #3

hgThe Duke Blue Devils take to Coach K Court this evening for their first exhibition game of the season against Florida Southern.  For the record FSU is the reigning Division II National Champion.  It will be interesting to see how the staff uses their personnel as we are sure to see plenty of experimenting with varying line ups.  Look for the Blue Devils to concentrate on the basics and not show their true hand before regular season contests.  This will also mark the first game that Duke will play under the newly unveiled 2015 National Championship Banner in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Ingram and Allen Earn ACC Pre Season Honors

Incoming freshman Brandon Ingram was tabbed as the ACC Rookie of the Year in the recent media voting in Charlotte this past Wednesday.  Ingram also made the 1st Team All ACC team.  Rising sophomore Grayson Allen was selected to 2nd Team All ACC just two points out of being names to the 1st team.  As a team, the Blue Devils were picked pre season third in the league by the media.

One More Go For Coach K

USA Basketball most recently announced that the coming Olympics would be the last for Mike Krzyzewski as the head coach.   He will be handing over the reigns after successfully righting the ship for the program moving forward.  During the recent media day in Charlotte, Krzyzewski said that future head coach GreggPopovich would play a role in the coming games in Rio and that he would do the same during his four year tenure.  Krzyzewski also mentioned that he thinks a college coach could again be at the helm one day in that coaching against the same guys (coached) in the NBA could be a perceived advantage for a coach in the league.  Krzyzewski also spoke to the sacrifices the likes of LeBron James had made for the program, showing his appreciation for the dedication of the NBA's best players commitment for Gold.  I bet you didn't know that Krzyzeewski has been on 14 different Team USA teams as a staff member.  He is 75-1 as the head man off USA Basketball and currently holds a 63 game winning streak against the worlds best teams.

Let's not talk about the freshman just yet ...

Krzyzewski batted away questions during media day with concern to his incoming freshman class on an individual basis.  On the other hand he did talk of them as a whole saying they had to run their own race.  And run they will do in that Duke returns just 24% of their scoring from a season ago.  One of the things to watch for Duke this season will be who takes shots for Duke.  The Duke Coach said it was hard to talk about his freshman until they had some actual games under their collective belts.

It's all about the health ...

When asked about keys to the season, Mike Kryzyzewski wasted not time saying staying healthy was the key.  Duke will likely be settling into to a seven or eight man rotation in the coming weeks and they are somewhat thin at certain spots like the point guard position.  One of the main reasons in their championship run a season ago was that the team remained healthy past the usual nagging injuries or that their players remained in the line up.

A very special visitor....

Duke will get a very special visitor in this weekend in Harry Giles.  He is quite simply a potentially dominant player in any league and he has long been recruited by the Blue Devils.  This will be Giles last official visit and a decision about his collegiate destination will be coming sooner rather than later.  While no official word on his announcement has been set as of yet, speculation is that an Oak Hill game on ESPNU could be the time.  He recently visited Kentucky who some feel are in his top two, but I feel confident that Duke may well be his choice when the dust clears.

Other tidbits ...

Duke will dress seven McDonald's All Americans, the most of any team in the nation.  The Blue Devils had 18 players on opening day NBA rosters.  There was not one mention or question about Krzyzewski having set the NCAA record for wins a season ago during ACC Media Day.  Not having the hype hanging over the team's head may help a young team this season.  Krzyzewski made it clear that his veteran players are the leaders at this time going into the season and they best understand what he wants from his players.  Duke holds an .837 winning percentage this decade which is the best in the land.  Duke has been in the A.P Top 25 for 155 consecutive weeks, the most of any program.  The home game against Louisville this season will be the 1000th game played in Cameron Indoor Stadium.


5 Q’s with Duke Captain Amile Jefferson

ht2ACC Media Day is live in Charlottes and I had the chance to catch up with Duke Captain Amile Jefferson for the following interview -

Have you learned more about yourself over the years?

I have most definitely learned more each year that I have been at  I have been here.  I was a co-captain last year with Quinn Cook and I learned a lot from him during that time.  He was such a good leader with our young guys and the light just clicked for him.  I am just trying to follow in his footsteps and try to know what our team needs.  I will look to see where my teammates heads are or do they need an extra push today.   Basically I want to be an extension of coach and that's the biggest way I have grown since last year.

Can you elaborate a bit on some of the things you try to do as a team captain?

Just understanding guys.  We've been together since the summer so we've had time to learn one another.  You can tell when one of the young guys faces doesn't look the same or if their mood has changed.  So the biggest part for me is simply communicating with my teammates.  I try to learn their body language or when their face doesn't look strong.  And if there is something wrong I talk to them and try to get them out of it.

Have the freshman and newcomers been progressing well?

They've improved leaps and bounds.  Physically guys have gotten a lot stronger and a lot bigger.  They are young, so they are still growing and some have put on weight while others are stronger.  They are starting to get it and there is now an understanding that you have to bring it every day.  It's not like high school where you can go 55% and dominate.  At this level you have to give it your all and that's the biggest thing they are getting better at and learning each day.

When you have downtime, what do you guys do as a team?

The biggest thing this team likes to do is go to the movies together.  I live with Matt Jones, Grayson Allen and Marshall on campus now in a suite.  That's a really cool dynamic and it gives the young guys a place to go.  It's a cool spot for us to hang out and bond.  Last year guys were living in apartments and it was hard for everybody to be in one are, so the current situation helps which is really cool.

How did the new living situation come about?

It was a group decision.  Duke renovated the space fro us which allows for us to be together.  It was something we all wanted to do and it provided and opportunity for us to get closer together and bond.  It's been great so far.

Derryck Thornton, Marshall Plumlee, Grayson Allen

Q & A with Duke PG Derryck Thornton

Derryck Thornton, Marshall Plumlee, Grayson Allen
Derryck Thornton,

What was your first Cameron experience like playing in front of the Crazies?

It was exciting.  It was pretty overwhelming at first so I had to adjust.  It was different but I had a lot of fun with my teammates and my friends.

Coach Krzyzewski said that you were being defended well in the scrimmages and there would be an adjustment period.  What's the biggest adjustment to the college game

I feel like I am doing alright, but's it definitely an adjustment.  The guys are taller, faster and stronger but I feel like I am going to do alright.  I've watched a lot of film but getting out there makes you realize there is still some adjustments to be made.  Tonight was one of our first games in front of people so there were some jitters for the freshman.

You will soon play with a much different rotation when Duke takes on somebody other than one another.  What do you expect that difference to bring to the floor?

It is definitely going to be different, but we did a good job tonight competing, but it's going to be even more competitive when we play someone else.

You have the luxury of having some upper classmen teammates who have been through the battles before.  What do they tell you with concern to helping to bring you adjust at Duke?

They tell me to just stay confident and play hard all the time and listen to coach.  Coach was mainly positive after the game and said we did a good job at this point.

What has been the biggest adjustment for you at the college level to date?

I think the biggest adjustment is how we use our time.  We are learning how to focus on our game yet still hit the books.  So I think time management is the biggest thing.

What is the biggest challenge or some of the obstacles for Derryck Thornton to do well at the collegiate level?

My biggest obstacle is myself.  I feel like I am the only one that can stop myself if I put limits on my game or myself.

Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard

Duke Basketball Notebook #2

Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard
Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard

Duke Basketball officially got underway with Countdown to Craziness this past Saturday Evening.  Perhaps the most important thing which happened was not seeing this years team for the first time, but the unveiling of the fifth National Championship banner to a roaring crowd.  Duke must now mold a lot of youngsters with a few veterans to make another run where they are already pre season ranked number four in the nation.

A General Idea ...

Quite frankly, it's hard to tell but so much from the two scrimmages held at Countdown to Craziness with concern of what to expect the team will look like during the 2015-16 season.  It will be the coming exhibition games before we have  better idea of how Mike Krzyzewski will utilize his lineups and likely a few more games into the season.  While it is obvious that Derryck Thornton will run the team due to him being the only true point guard on the roster, we will likely  see a starting rotation from five more roster players.  My guess is that we'll see Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, Grayson Allen as starting lineup mainstays along with freshman Luke Kennard, Brandon Ingram and a focused Marshall Plumlee.  What we still need to learn is who will play behind the six aforementioned players.  Look for the staff to emphasize finding their rotation of eight to nine bodies in the coming weeks. In fact, Krzyzewski said as much in his post scrimmage press conference where he hinted toward looking for a core eight or so players.

Big and Defensive

"Our defense is ahead of our offense and we're very big," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.  "We've been concentrating a lot on defense in the first twelve practices."  The Blue Devils have been working on defending the ball screen.  Duke has plenty of length this season due to the teams size which is the third tallest roster per man during his Krzyzewski's tenure in Durham.  But being big means the Blue Devils will see picks a plenty and they are focusing on defensive rotation.  While there were just four recorded blocks in the scrimmages, two by Marshall Plumlee and two by Chase Jeter, there were a lot of contested shots around the rim.  A side note is that Krzyzewski mentioned how good Matt Jones defense was on freshman Derryck Thornton.  "Anybody guarded by Matt Jones is going to have a hard time.  Matt Jones is a great defender and not just a good one," said Krzyzewski.  Thornton had six total assists but was also forced into seven turnovers.

Krzyzewski Praised His Vets

"I thought Marshall (Plumlee) and Amile (Jefferson) sat a really good tone.  They were men," said Krzyzewski of his seniors.  He went on to say that Matt Jones and Grayson Allen helped there as well.  "The four upperclassmen set a tone and that helped the freshman get their feet wet," said the five time title holding coach.  After the game Amile Jefferson told Blue Devil Nation that he relished his role as a captain and helping bring along the newcomers.  While some of the four players Krzyzewski mentioned have been role players on previous teams, it is clear that they will take on larger roles this season.

DSC_0374Future Dukies and Prospects

Duke entertained a bevy of future Duke players and hopeful prospects during Countdown to Craziness.  Among them were Gary Trent Jr. and Jayson Tatum pictured left.  Trent is the son of Ohio standout Gary Trent Sr. and Jayson Tatum is already a fan favorite after committing to Duke as one  of the top two players in  a talented class.  Also in attendance was recent verbal Javin DeLaurier, Wendell Carter, Tre Jones and Immanuel Quickly.  There were some others as well, but the guys listed above all stood with the Cameron Crazies after being called out one by one.  Duke Basketball recruiting is on solid footing and while this wasn't a true game atmosphere in Cameron, there was plenty of fan love displayed for the team.    With concern to Harry Giles, a monster target of the staff, he attended Kentucky for their season opening event.  His last visit will be to Duke on October the 30th weekend as he has cancelled a visit to North Carolina.

Next Play

The Blue Devils take on Florida Southern in an exhibition game on October the 30th,  The game can be seen at BDN+ which is a part of  The game tips at 7:00 and the following day the nationally ranked football team plays a key Coastal Division game versus Miami at Wallace Wade Stadium where game time has yet to be announced.


Duke Basketball Notebook #1

n6Welcome to the first edition of the Duke Basketball Notebook for the 2015-16 season.  In the coming weeks we will talk of all things Duke Hoops as the season unfolds.  Last year, the Blue Devils won the National Championship behind the best freshman class in the programs history.  But it's time to put that memory behind us for we all know Duke Basketball never stops.

Let's take a look at Duke Basketball by the numbers this week.

2 - Only two players on this seasons roster led the team in scoring a year ago.  The first of those two players would be  Senior Amile Jefferson who tallied 19 points in the Blue Devils big win over Louisville.  The second is Grayson Allen who tallied 27 points in a win over Wake Forest at home.  What does this number say?  It's pretty obvious that Duke must find new players to put the ball in the hoop this season.  Both of the aforementioned players should see their opportunities increase and are likely to be in the starting lineup.

4 - Duke will take on four opponents for the first time in the programs history.  Those four teams are Sienna, Bryant, Yale and Utah State.  But a more interesting note on the number four is the fact that Duke will play said total of  Saturday-Monday turnarounds.  One of the more challenging slots on ACC teams schedules is the quick turnabout.  The first go round will be when Duke takes on Utah in Madison Square Garden only to play Elon shortly thereafter on Monday in Cameron.  Next comes Notre Dame followed by Syracuse, but at least both games are played at home.  The third time is a week later on January 23rd and 25th when Duke plays N.C. State in Raleigh and then goes south to Miami which basically gives the team mere hours of rest in between the contests.  The last go round will be home games versus N.C. State and Louisville.  The reason I mention this is that quick turnarounds can be challenging, especially so for a young team and Duke is a very young team this season.  What some may not realize is that Duke doesn't just go straight to restful periods  once  a game ends.  There is a wind down time, school work and normal life challenges which takes a toll even on youngsters.  This will make for a challenge where the staff must find ways to keep their players fresh.

CBTWz0SUQAA7iiN5 - Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski became the NCAA's all time wins leader a season ago which was somewhat lost in that the team won the title.  The Duke Coach now owns five National Championship rings to go along with five Gold Medals where he has helped to resurrect USA Basketball.  Perhaps this fact should have come under the number ten?  Either way, the numbers are impressive and Duke fans are present for history in the making.

8 - Perhaps no number reflects better on the fact that this years edition of Duke Basketball will not look anything like they did a season ago.  Freshman newcomers Antonio Vrankovic, Brandon Ingram, Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, Justin Robinson and Luke Kennard join transfer Sean Obi and new walk on Brennan Besser give the Devils eight new players on this seasons roster.  While I expect we could see a possible redshirt or two, the turnover is significant for a team while talented, could need time to come together as a cohesive unit.

9 - Speaking of departed players for the NBA, Duke fans will pay close attention to the exploits of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones.  The aforementioned give Duke nine one and done players under Mike Krzyzewski, who seems to have mastered the art of a trend that will not soon go away.

11 - Last seasons 35-4 finish gives Duke it's eleventh thirty win season under Mike Krzyzewski.

31 - That is the gaudy number for the amount of first round NBA draft picks under Krzyzewski, the most of any active coach in the game today. The Blue Devils sport twenty lottery picks within said number as well.

98 - Duke is about much more than just one and done players.  The Blue Devils hold an impressive 98% graduation rate during the Coach K era.

In closing we take a look at another interesting numbers fact.  Three of this seasons players on the Duke roster will wear the former numbers of the three assistant coaches on staff.  Brandon Ingram will rock #14 also worn by Nate James.  Antonio Vrankovic will don #30 which also belonged to Jon Scheyer and lastly, Luke Kennard will be draped with #5 worn by Jeff Capel.  I wonder is he has one of those almost half court shots that will rattle the rafters of Cameron as did Capel against UNC?  We'll find out soon for the 2015-16 season is upon us.



Jayson Tatum is a Blue Devil

3One of the nations top players will play his collegiate basketball career at Duke University.

Jayson Tatum, a versatile big time prospect knew where he wanted to go to school and his made his choice today on ESPNU during the Nike EYBL Finals.

The St.Louis Eagles shocked CP3 on a buzzer beating three point shot to advance to the EYBL title game.  Tatum scored 28 points and displayed a wide array of moves to help his team win.

Tatum stands 6-8, 195 pounds and he plays his high school basketball at Chaminade Prep School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Tatum has been a part of three gold medals with USA Basketball and he was one of the top scorers on the EYBL circuit.

Tatum chose Duke over Kentucky, North Carolina and St. Louis while the entire Duke Coaching Staff sat in the stands.

"I knew where I wanted to go to school and want to make my parents proud," said Tatum as he held up a Duke shirt.