Category Archives: Duke Basketball

BDN Premium’s latest Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update

Marshall Plumlee set to return to Cameron for Coundown to Craziness this Friday - BDN Photo
Marshall Plumlee set to return to Cameron for Coundown to Craziness this Friday - BDN Photo

There are a lot of special surprises in the works for this Friday's Countdown to Craziness, so be sure to either attend or tune in to this event.  More details are forthcoming, but they want to keep some of the entertainment and activities under wraps.  The promotions for this event are listed at or the Countdown for Craziness site.

In a recent talk with an assistant coach, I was told that every single player had come back better than they were before.  As always Duke will adjust their team to the personnel at hand.   All three freshman are expected to play key roles in their first season.  Andre Dawkins will be asked to feel some big shoes which formerly belonged to Gerald Henderson.  Ryan Kelly will add versatility and Mason Plumlee will almost certainly start in the post.   Kyle Singler will be allowed more freedom which may mean we'll see what he can do at his natural position.  We've hinted that Nolan Smith could have a breakout year and they will give him more of a leadership role as well.  Jon Scheyer has them excited and there are no worries that he cannot thrive once again as a dual point with Smith.  BDN will bring members the news from Wednesday's season opening press conference with Coach Krzyzewski in a live blog and will have audio up shortly after the gathering.

Josh and Tyler will be in the house - BDN Photo
Josh and Tyler will be in the house - BDN Photo

So far, there are four visitors slated to attend Countdown for Craziness.  [private] Marshall Plumlee leads the pack of prospects and he'll be joined by Quin Cook.  Duke verbals Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston will also be there.  We will tell you if any others join the frey as the week goes on, so there is no reason to ask about this on the message board.

Now, let's talk about Kyrie Irving.  As some of you have already seen, any calls to Irving will only result in what you already know.  The date for his official announcement is October 22nd and that will be televised by ESPNU.  As we've told you, Irving will visit Kentucky's Midnight Madness, but there is little reason for worry despite anything you are apt to hear.  Irving will be a Dukie so let's just be patient and wait it out.

That said I would like to address recent issues on the message boards where some posters go into a tailspin at what they hear from other sites message boards.  Our policy has long been to deal in facts, not rumors.  Neither myself or the BDN staff will answer all of the rumors for what we tell you is factual and informed.  Please do not send me the "He said, she said," stuff for I can assure you I hear pretty much everything that goes on.  Our sources are as good as they get and our network grows daily.  If you hear something here, you can count on it and our track record speaks for itself.  If there is anything going on, I will tell you what I can, so it isn't always necessary to ask about every little whimper.  We have created a rumor forum for the purpose of containing rumors, propaganda and paranoia.  I will not answer a lot of questions in that forum.  I have also instructed moderators to take a firmer approach in an effort to keep this the best board out there.

It's a two horse race for the services of Harrison Barnes - BDN Photo
It's a two horse race for the services of Harrison Barnes - BDN Photo

Now, back to recruiting news.  Many close to the situation feel that Harrison Barnes is a two team race with Duke and North Carolina.  The Tar Heels have made up some ground and negative vibes have been sent out through various channels in the most heated battle between the two schools since Shane Battier.  No matter what cards the Heels play, Duke can counter and the relationship between Krzyzewski and Barnes has been solid from the start.  UNC is playing catch up and they have done a good job of impressing Barnes, but I cannot see them as being the leader as some suggest.  Maybe there is no leader, but that could change with Barnes official visit to Durham on October 23rd.    Expect Barnes to come in knowing that his friend Kyrie Irving committed the night before and expect Duke to be real and put their best foot forward during the visit.

Speaking of this site blowing up on October 22nd, let me set the scenario for you.  We expect Kyrie Irving to verbal to Duke on Friday and then there is the Pfeiffer exhibition game which we'll cover.  Of course, Harrison Barnes is in town and Duke plays Maryland at home in football, where we will again cover the event.  The next morning I will head to Greensboro, North Carolina for ACC Operation Basketball which kicks off the season with all of the ACC coaches and players from each team.  In short, articles, news and information will be all over the place.  You can bet I will be taking my vitamins in the coming days.  As we have said before, there are times when this site explodes so be prepared for the fireworks.

Duke is still recruiting and staying in contact with Roscoe Smith, but will only turn their attention to him after Harrison Barnes makes his decision.  Of course, Barnes to Duke would like cause Duke to move on to 2011.

Duke is still working on getting Brad Beal to visit Durham, but if Irving and Rivers fall into place, they would likely have enough players at his position.  They really like Beal though, as does most everyone who has seen him play.

The Blue Devils also stay in close contact with Quincy Miller [offered] who they feel is a Duke kid through and through, but with advisers in his ear, this one will almost assuredly go on for a while.

On a football note, recruits have responded very well to Dukes 49-28 win over NCSU and this one is already paying dividends in the class of 2011, especially in state.  Duke is expecting to be healthy for Maryland on the aforementioned super weekend and Cutcliffe will emphasize how to enjoy a win yet still know you have to work hard to earn victories.  Of course, this is new for many Blue Devils and it will be important for them to get a proper mind set for the coming ACC season.

Lastly, we'll talk of Austin Rivers.  Rivers has officially opened his recruitment up for Duke and it is Duke and Florida for his services.  Expect Rivers to concentrate on his coming high school season and then make his decision.  You all know by now that I am calling Duke in this one and yes I feel very confident about that.  I am very excited having watched Rivers adoringly on the AAU circuit in about 15 games. [/private]

ACC Basketball 2009-10 Season Preview

singler-2-152x229Official practice sessions for the 2009-10 college basketball season will commence in less than 10 days. Excitement throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference is palpable so it is time to preview the ACC. The Duke Blue Devils will win the ACC in 2009-10. Wait, wait a second…before all the Carolina fans howl with indignation, insist the Tar Heels will still rule the roost in the ACC, and label the author as a complete Duke Homer; remember that Duke won the ACC last season. That's right, the ACC Champion is the team which wins the tournament, not the team which finishes the regular season with the best record. Carolina fans, worldwide, consistently choose to ignore this small fact.

But, for the record, this article is my prediction on how the teams will be aligned at the end of the regular season. What? Howl the Carolina faithful once again, you are switching between apples and oranges, discussing last year’s ACC Tournament one paragraph, this year’s regular season the next, that's inconsistent, you can't do that. But of course I can, this is the Internet and it is my article, so I make the rules.

Anyway, on to the predictions: when March 11, 2010, arrives: Duke, Carolina, Maryland, and Clemson will have earned a first round bye at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. What's that sound? More indignant howling, but this time it is coming from Atlanta. Sorry, Yellow Jackets faithful, but Paul Hewitt will find a way to lose despite the formidable talent he has recruited to play in Atlanta. He has consistently accomplished less with more in the past so why should this season be any different?

However, the two teams best positioned to crash the first round bye party in Greensboro are Florida State and Georgia Tech.

This is how the standings will look at the end of the regular season:

1. Duke
2. North Carolina
3. Maryland
4. Clemson
5. Florida State
6. Georgia Tech
7. Wake Forest
8. Boston College
9. Virginia Tech
10. Virginia
11. Miami
12. N.C. State

Here are some thoughts on the league’s projected top six teams in 2009-10:

Duke – Coach Krzyzewski will be sending a lot of experience onto the court this season and that experience coupled with some young talent will give the Blue Devils the edge. Kyle Singler (70), Jon Scheyer (68), Lance Thomas (62), Nolan Smith (22), and Brian Zoubek (21) are all upper classmen with a combined 243 starts. Experienced teams find a way to win in the college game. The transfer of Elliot Williams due to an illness in the family is unfortunate, but highly rated freshmen Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and Andre Dawkins along with returning sophomores Miles Plumlee and Olek Czyz provide Coach K with depth to augment experience. The last time Coach Krzyzewski was able to place this much talent and experience onto the court was when J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams were seniors.

North Carolina – despite losing Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, and Bobby Frasor from last year’s National Championship team, the Tar Heels will still be a talented and dangerous team. Their frontcourt will be extremely tough with Deon Thompson, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Travis Wear. Marcus Ginyard, Dexter Strickland, and Leslie McDonald will hold their own at the shooting guard position. However, Coach Roy Williams is missing the dominant point guard that has fueled his team in recent years. It isn’t a fatal flaw, but it is enough of a flaw to keep the Tar Heels out of the top spot.

Maryland - Greivis Vasquez is a legitimate preseason candidate for ACC Player-of-the-Year and Coach Gary Williams, who consistently accomplishes more with less, has an experienced supporting cast surrounding his star. Seniors Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne are both double digit scorers, while freshmen James Padgett and Jordan Williams will provide the Terps size in the paint. The freshmen will have a learning curve at the beginning of the season, but Coach Williams will have the Terps hitting on all eight cylinders by the time ACC action commences in January. Vasquez and Hayes are arguable the best backcourt duo in the league.

Clemson – Trevor Booker suffered a minor foot injury over the summer and that is troubling, but I still like the Tigers to finish fourth to secure the last bye. Coach Oliver Purnell is building a solid program at Clemson and the best recruiting class in Clemson basketball history will provide Coach Purnell the pieces to execute his high tempo full court press defense. McDonald’s All-American power forward Milton Jennings is the most high profile recruit in the Purnell era, with shooting guard Noel Johnson and forward Devon Booker also being Top 75 recruits. Junior Demontez Stitt is a steady player at the critical point guard position, but he will be challenged for the starting role by sophomore Andre Young. Having two quality point guards on their roster is definitely an advantage for the Tigers.

Florida State – the Seminoles are young and their youth will probably keep them out of the league’s top four, however, Coach Leonard Hamilton does have talent, size and depth on his roster. Some projected starting line-ups indicate the Seminoles could start one junior, three sophomores and a freshman. Sophomores Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton are solid frontcourt players, while freshman guard Michael Snaer is highly rated and expected to break into the starting line-up. Derwin Kitchen, Ryan Reid and Xavier Gibson all contribute to FSU’s depth. The Seminoles will definitely miss Toney Douglas, but they will still be a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.

Georgia Tech - the buzz in Atlanta is all about incoming freshman Derrick Favors. Georgia Tech has great expectations for the McDonald’s All-American and #1 rated player in the nation. Add in 3rd Team All-ACC player, Gani Lawal, ACC All-Freshman Team player Iman Shumpert, and senior Zach Peabody, and the Ramblin’ Wreck are loaded with talent. The question is can Paul Hewitt mesh the young talent into a cohesive team? The outlook isn’t positive based on previous performance in Atlanta. Georgia Tech has underachieved over past five seasons and went 0-8 on the road in the ACC last year. Add in the loss of seniors Lewis Clinch and Alade Aminu and this season looks to be a steep uphill battle for the Yellow Jackets.

Wake Forest, Boston College, and Virginia Tech make up the rest of the ACC’s muddy middle, while Virginia, Miami, and N.C. State are projected to reside in the cellar. It’ll be a long season (actually basketball season always seems to fly by) with many hotly contested games, but in the end this season should play out similar to many past seasons over the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference with Duke and North Carolina fighting it out for the top spot in the standings and another year of bragging rights. Figuratively speaking, my money is on the Blue Devils.

2009-10 Duke Basketball Player Profile – Brian Zoubek

Zoubek - Rick Crank Photography
Zoubek and Mason Plumlee - Rick Crank Photography

During the 2008-09 season, Brian Zoubek stepped up during several games and demonstrated he could be a key contributor for the Blue Devils. When Duke defeated Texas, 74-69, in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Coach Krzyzewski stated, in his post game comments, "I thought Zoubek did a great job on Pittman when he came in, which neutralized him."

One of Zoubek's best performances was during the ACC Championship game against Florida State, when the Blue Devils defeated the Seminoles 79-69. Coach Krzyzewski said, "...the last time we played Florida State, Brian did a great job on Alabi. We just told him to be ready. We're going to use you, and he came through." The last time Coach K was referring to was 12 days earlier when Duke defeated Florida State 84-81. Zoubek played 19 minutes in the game. "I thought Brian had his best game. He was a physical presence - I thought he played like a veteran tonight."

In an early season win over Xavier, Zoubek scored nine points, grabbed five rebounds, and blocked four shots in 18 minutes of action. He recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds against Loyola, and was impressive in Duke’s 85-44 dismantling of Maryland by scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds in 18 minutes.

With season averages of 11.9 minutes, 4.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and .6 blocks per game, Zoubek obviously wasn't a stat stuffer, but he was a zealous player who relished his role and took advantage of every opportunity to contribute on the court. As a senior, Zoubek will attempt to build on last season’s key performances and be a consistent physical presence. He has proven he can provide quality minutes now he needs to prove he can be a factor in every game.

Delivering passes out of the high post and altering opponent’s shots with his physical presence were two strengths last season. While Zoubek only blocked shots at a rate of just over one every two games, he caused many more shots to be altered. He also excelled at the free throw line by making 82.8 percent of his attempts. One key to Zoubek increasing his scoring average will be to increase the number of trips he takes to the line. While 82.8 percent is very solid, Zoubek only attempted 29 free throws.

Zoubek arrived at Duke as the #25 ranked player in the high school class of 2006, according to RSCI compiled rankings, however his development into an ACC quality post player has been hampered by injuries. On July 9, 2009, between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Zoubek suffered a fifth metatarsal fracture in his left foot that required surgery. He re-injured the foot in early January 2008, which resulted in a second surgery at the end of the season that required extensive rehabilitation over the summer and prevented Brian from focusing on basketball specific workouts prior to his junior season.

This past summer Zoubek has been healthy so it is a realistic assumption he has been focusing on improving specific skill sets and will enter his senior season in the best shape, from a basketball skills perspective, of his career. At the Greater North Carolina Pro-Am event this summer, Zoubek participated in a couple of games scoring 15 and 16 points.

With only three recruited guards on this season’s roster, Duke will be playing a larger line-up out of necessity. Kyle Singler will be playing on the wing after spending his first two seasons as a post player. Brian Zoubek will be competing with Lance Thomas, Miles and Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly, for frontcourt playing time. The competition should be fierce but a now healthy and experienced Zoubek is expected to be a factor in the post for the Blue Devils. He will see an increase in minutes on the court and Duke fans will see Box Scores with bigger numbers in Zoubek’s row.

The 2009-10 season will be Zoubek’s last as a Blue Devil and everyone can be assured the 7 footer is going to make the most out of every opportunity to influence the outcome of games and contribute to Duke advancing deep into the NCAA tournament.

2009-10 Duke Basketball Player Profile – Jon Scheyer

Jon S relaxedSenior co-captain, and 2009-10 preseason candidate for the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team, Jon Scheyer brings consistency onto the court for the Duke Blue Devils. In discussing Jon's selection as one of this year’s team captains, Coach Mike Krzyzewski stated, "Jon has a great approach to the game and is one of the most consistent performers in practice and during games."

Scheyer enters his senior season with 1349 career points, which places him in 32nd place all-time at Duke. He was named the MVP at last year's ACC Tournament when he averaged 21.6 points over three games, while leading Duke to the tournament championship. For the season, Scheyer averaged 14.9 points per game and led Duke in minutes played at 32.8 per contest.

Last season, Coach Krzyzewski handed Scheyer the reigns after an 80-74 loss at Boston College on February 15, 2009 and Scheyer responded by averaging 18.6 points over the next 12 games. Moreover, he distributed 28 assists while committing only 14 turnovers for a solid 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. After the ACC tournament, Kyle Singler talked about Scheyer's performance running the point, "He makes plays for himself and others," Singler said. "That spot for us, when Jon has been there, has been huge for us." Coach Krzyzewski’s confidence in Scheyer paid dividends as Duke won ten of those twelve games with the two losses coming against eventual Final Four teams North Carolina and Villanova.

Scheyer is a versatile player but his greatest strength is as a scorer when he attacks defenses. As a career 37.9 percent 3-point shooter, he can punish defenses which rotate late by knocking down the long ball. Off the dribble, Scheyer has a knack for drawing contact and converting at the free throw line. He has scored 414 of his 1349 career points, from the charity stripe, by converting on 85.4 percent of his opportunities. Defenses must respect Scheyer's scoring ability, which facilitates his ability to distribute the basketball to his teammates.

Defensively, Scheyer led Duke in steals last season averaging 1.6 per contest. He had a season high four steals in the game at North Carolina. His defensive rebounding is also strong as Scheyer averaged 2.48 defensive rebounds per game as a junior. He recorded five defensive rebounds three times last season with his career high being ten defensive rebounds against Pittsburgh in December 2007. Defensive rebounds by guards typically result in fast break opportunities.

Over the summer, Scheyer participated in the Greater North Carolina Pro-Am league, sponsored by Jerry Stackhouse, and hosted by North Carolina Central University, by playing several games for Team Duhon. Not surprisingly, throughout the games in which he participated, Scheyer demonstrated his ability to knockdown 3-pointers and distribute the ball to his teammates.

Scheyer also worked to improve his point guard skills by attending the Deron Williams Skills Academy June 23-26 in Dallas. At the skills academy, he had the opportunity to test himself by guarding some of the nation’s quickest guards.

What should Duke Fans expect from Jon Scheyer in this upcoming season? For starters, more of the same, Scheyer will be consistent and versatile, as he has been for the past three seasons. As a senior, it is expected that he will step up his leadership presence. Scheyer will handle the ball and initiate Duke’s offense as the point guard, a position he expects to share alongside Nolan Smith. With Scheyer being a senior and initiating the offense, he will be an extension of Coach Krzyzewski on the court.

Duke fans can expect for Jon Scheyer to consistently turn in All-ACC Team quality performances throughout his senior season in Durham.

2009-10 Duke Basketball Player Profile – Mason Plumlee

Photo special to BDN from  Rick Crank Photography - copyright Visit
Photo special to BDN from Rick Crank Photography - copyright Visit

It wasn't that long ago when Mason Plumlee committed to Duke during his junior season at Christ School Arden.  At that time, his brother Miles was slated to go to Stanford but a coaching change allowed him to open his recruitment back up and he too decided Duke was the school for him.  The brothers who have played together during their basketball careers will reunite this season in Durham.

Mason quickly became the talk of many a Duke fan and his ranking soared as did his confidence on the hardwood.  He teamed with his brother to win the state championship and when Miles entered Duke, Mason still led Christ School to another state title.  In following Mason on the AAU circuit it was clear that this blooming big man possessed great skills.  He possess a great handle and is way ahead of the curve as a passer, a trait rare for a kid his size.

According to his Father, Perky Plumlee, Mason and his sons are late bloomers physically, but one look at the incoming freshman's legs lets one know that this is going to be a solidly built young man as he develops.

During the summer, Mason participated in the N.C. Pro Am where he went up against the triangle areas best players and several NBA players.  Mason was a hit with the crowd for he finished strong around the basket and seemed to mesh with his teammates to make a few showboat plays along the way.

Mason saved his best game for last during the Pro Am where he nailed 28 points to go with 13 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 4 assists.  The young freshman has a good inside out game but he is expected to man the paint in his first season which will allow for Kyle Singler to float out and play his natural position.

Having a center who can do multiple things on the court will certainly give Coach K a lot of options in 2009-10.  You can still expect Mason to have the ball in his hands despite his position in that he has a knack for getting the ball to the right player at the right time due to his unselfish play.

His addition should also benefit his brother Miles, in that the two know where one another wants the ball.  But the thing which stands out to the casual observer is his tenacity, something that comes natural for Mason.

During last seasons Glaxo Invitational, Plumlee led his team back into one game single handedly as Coach K and his assistants Wojo and Chris Collins watched.  One one play, Mason threw the ball of the backboard caught it and dunked all in the same motion.  While Krzyzewski will not allow those kind of plays it showed his athletic prowess.

Much is expected from Mason this season and the lofty expectations could be hard to reach, but rest assured that the middle of three Plumlee brothers will be up to the challenge.  The one thing Mason will need to watch is his aggressiveness sometimes gets him into foul trouble and it will be important for him to be on the court in critical and or close games.

Despite that minor quibble, Duke has enough depth to protect it's front court players.  Duke fans will soon get their first look at Mason and they'll then see what all the talk has been about on this site and in the Duke community.

Like all freshman, Mason will have to learn the Duke system and adjust to the speed of the college game and the rigors of a long season, but in my opinion, Duke got their next front court star and it'll be fun watch his development throughout his career.