Category Archives: Duke Basketball

SJC Pro Am gearing up for the stretch run (corrected)

[private]Elliot Williams helped his E-Net team to it’s third victory scoring 19 points in the process.  Williams had a fabulous first half where he at times seemed to be posturing for a highlight reel.  There was one sequence where he showed of his athletic ability.  He slashed to the basket finishing with an authoritative dunk which brought ooh’s and ahh’s from the crowd.  He then created a break after a turnover as he slithered through the defense only to be found with the pass where he finished by using the basket to his advantage for a reverse lay in.  IOW, he played a huge role for his team tonight and shows he is not afraid to play against anybody at this level.

He didn’t do it all by himself though.  He was aided by Brandon Costner whose presence has helped E-Net win consecutive games.  Costner was strong in the paint, an area that had plagued his team in early losses.  E-Net was down by 10 points early, but stormed back to go up by 11 and hung on for a victory over.  Former Pack player Anthony Grundy led all scorers and has showed significant improvement since his days in Raleigh.

Three Dukies took to the court for the RDU Barnstormers in a game that would prove a defensive struggle.  The more talented Barnstomrers eventually won 48-47.  This team is guard heavy and guard dominated.  In fact, there is way too much dribbling and forced shots where they try to make the big play instead of finding the open man.  Sometimes the efficient plays bode better for the team than forcing the issue.

For the first time, SIngler was able to get a breather, alternating with Czyz.  I am not too sure how effective this was for the four guard lineup hurt in my humble opinion.  Singler struggled a bit on offense, possibly because last seasons ACC Rookie of the Year got five whole shots, making a deuce and a three.  He got to the line often, going 6 of 10 for a total of 12 points.  What many missed is that he is willing to do the dirty work and little things which equate to 5 blocked shots and 8 rebounds.

Low and behold, Olek Czyz didn’t get a dunk tonight.  That’s because he was used as a hacking dummy in an effort to keep the crowd favorite grounded.  Olek was 10 for 16 from the free throw stripe and that was all of his points.  He added 3 boards to go with 2 steals.

Nolan Smith is saddled on a team with many guards and it keeps the ball out of the hands of the talented player.  Nolan tossed in 15 points going 4 of 6 from the field and 3 of 3 from the line.  You would think with that kind of efficiency his teammates might get the rock in his hands more often.  He was smooth in his movement and his first half performance kept his team in the game.  Smith had 3 steals and a couple of assists as his team went to 6-3 which is still good enough for second place.

Lance Thomas was the man tonight and had to be for there was no Jerry Stackhouse, Green nor Davis for the Regulators.  After two consecutive dunks, LT helped his team to an early 29-12 lead.  During one sequence, LT dunked, rushed back to play the passing lanes, made the steal, dished to a teammate to start the break and finished it off with a reverse dunk.  Lance is a hustle guy who goes 100%  while he  in the game.  The wheels came off for the Regulators in the second half as they went down to a one point defeat, 57-56 blowing a 20 point lead.  Thomas had 17 points and a bevy of boards in the Regulators only loss thus far.  My report from the scorers table says LT was hacked hard as time ran out, but no whistle was heard.  Hopefully, a bit more consistency will ensue with the playoffs looming.

I didn’t catch the nightcap, but got a call from the statistician who told me Gerald Henderson has 12 points with his team winning a 54-51 game over   There was no doubt that the overall play was hurt by physical foul-fests and forced shots on this evening.  Still, that’s to be expected in basketball where o n a given night many things can happen.

The tournament will continue on Tuesday night with the final regular games and they will be hard fought in that they are jockeying for play off position.  They will then start the playoffs where the team are one and done.  So, get out there and support your favorite players!  The crowds have been consistent and again, there is an accommodating atmosphere at McDougald Gymnasium.

Standings going into the last regular game – Regulators (Lance Thomas) 8-1, RDU Barnstormers (Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Olek Czyz)  6-3, Team Williams 5-4, Team KG (Gerald Henderson) 5-4, Team Noel 4-5, Black Magic 3-6, E-Net (Elliot Williams, Steve Johnson) 3-6,  Team Felton 2-7 (Duke players in parentheses)

Official Pro Am Site Link

Pictures – (1) Elliot taking a three, (2) Elliot and Steve Johnson with Ridge and Corey (two of the kids our members sent to Carrawell James Basketball Camp), (3) LT readies to dunk[/private]

General Update – Boynton, targets

Let me start with a little talk of the “coming” new site.  We should have it up and running within ten days, but it will be a work in progress.  It may look similar to this one at first, but will undergo a face lift.  The goal is to get the premium section up and running asap.  I appreciate your patience of late with concerns to this issue.

You have to love the way David Cutcliffe and staff are recruiting.  We will cover football more once the dust clears.  In fact, I will be at the Duke kickoff lunch this Sunday and will give you the skinny. FWIW, there are two more names which should surface or commit by next week, making it 21.  They will save a few offers, like other schools do for the big guns which commit at the last minute.  That is unless they get who they want now and move on to 2010.  A new scoreboard is about to go up in the closed end of the horseshoe.  We’ll show you a pic soon.

[private]I have been informed that the Duke Basketball Staff has turned their focus to the class of 2010.  That, of course, does not include Kenny Boynton.  They stay in contact with the Boyntons and will do so throughout the Olympic Games.  Terrell Vincent is out at this point which should free him to go to Villanova.  If Duke misses on Boynton, they will see who is still out there, meaning maybe Nick Russell.  They are still evaluating Jamil Wilson and he is the only kid which could get an offer at this time.

Kenny Boynton hit a go ahead three pointer with 38 seconds remaining to give defending champ Team Breakdown (6-0) a 61-59 victory against the Richmond Squires in U-17 play.Team Breakdown will play Philly Pride in a quarterfinal today at 11:30 a.m. The semifinals will be today at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.  There will be 2:30 p.m. final Friday should they advance  This ends the AAU season for Boynton and Knight.  I will keep you informed and should have a final from his last game shortly.  Nate James is keeping tabs on Boynton and Knight.

Despite the questioning at DBR, I can assure you that Brandon Knight does have an official offer.

The scoreboard is here!  The new scoreboard is going up in Cameron Indoor Stadium as I type.  It will be finished next week.  It of course will have video screens.  Also, there are planners about talking of Wallace Wade changes.

And then there is 09’s Thomas Robinson … Duke is evaluating him, b ut the genral feeling is that they could be late.  There could also be other issues which would make it so Duke could not offer.

As for Tyler Thorton and Josh Hairston, well, Duke hope to get them both soon.  If one commits, look for the other one shortly behind.  Georgetown is the team which came hard after both players once Duke offered.[/private]

Devils, Heels participate in Pro Am – “G” makes his debut

The NC Pro Am once again threw the ball into play on Tuesday evening and there were some interesting performances along the way.  The night was highlighted by the appearance of Dr. LeRoy Walker, a former NCCU coach who is an iconic figure in Track and Field and the local community.  Walker was the first black president of the US Olympic Committee and is 90 years old.  He is a former member of Omega Psi Phi and is a graduate of Benedict. 

The evenings first game pitted the RDU Barnstormers minus Kyle Singler and Team Williams.  Williams wore them down inside down the stretch.  That coupled with turnovers sent them to a third loss, the final score being 75-71.

Olek Czyz threw down four dunks which brought cheers from the crowd.  In fact, he pretty much entertains the crowd every night whether they are a Duke fan or not.  OC as he is called, finished with 14 points.  He was pitted against Vasil Evtimov, an experienced former Wolfpack player and held his own.

Evtimov reached into his bag of tricks on occasion and would out fox  the incoming freshman.  Olek didn’t back down, pinning one of his shots and taking it right two the taller Bulgarian.  For every play Evtimov made, Olek frustrated him with his ability to get to the hole on offensive.   If it were scored as a fight it was a draw or Olek by a slim decision.  For further scouting analogies on Czyz and other players become a member of Blue Devil Nation Premium which is our subscription service.

Nolan Smith looked smooth and in control and had a nice game despite not handling the ball that often.  He made some sweet passes and tallied 15 points.   His guard heavy team kept him from truly showing off his skills in that he was almost a “3” guard if you will, meaning he almost took on a small forward or a second shooting guard role at times.

Miles Plumlee failed to show for the next game and our understanding is that he is hampered by a minor knee problem.  For all the disappointment from no shows, there was one huge surprise on the evening.  That being the first appearance of Gerald Henderson since his wrist surgery.

“G” started off slow, possibly due to his teammates getting use to him.  The cold hard truth is that they didn’t seem to get him the ball so he could show his skill set and he had to make his own plays.  This led to a couple of forced shots, many rimming in and out early.  By games end, he was acclimating himself and showing his renowned ability to flush dunks.  Henderson ended the game with a quiet 19 points, but there was no doubt he will pick up where he left off last year and in my opinion will blow up this year, not that he will have a breakout season for he already has, but that he’ll take the next step.

I watched him battle Lance Thomas who played alongside Jerry Stackhouse, the two having good chemistry together.  Thomas had a successful game on both ends of the floor and hustled his butt off.  In the second half, Hendo switched on him and did manage to slow him down a draw a couple of fouls.  Still, it was a solid showing from LT who tallied 12 on the official box score, but on this evening it seemed to me like he had 19 and G had 12.

Thomas and Stack’s team proved too much for Team KG and they cruised to a 77-59 win and remaining the only undefeated team.  Stackhouse ended the game with 13.  Danny Green and Ed Davis of UNC were no shows for this game and Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington have yet to play despite being on rosters.

Elliot Williams and Steve Johnson suited up for E-Net in the nightcap and the result was a defensive game early on where both teams had 40 combined at the half.  EWill wasn’t that effective in the first half, but warmed up in the second half when his team scored just under fifty cruising to their second victory and an easy win.

Olek Czyz: Athletic and Aggressive


For someone who has yet to even break a sweat in a Duke practice jersey, Olek Czyz has amassed quite a following among those in the Blue Devil fan base. Whether it is the traditional excitement and intrigue associated with a new recruit or the tales of internet lore spawned from his breath-taking dunks, Olek’s fandom expands more and more each day. The message board scuttlebutt regarding Olek’s recent aerial assaults during and after a particular game in the Greater N.C. Pro-Am has helped fuel the Olek hysteria. While Olek’s actual in-game contributions as a Blue Devil remains to be seen, Duke fans are understandably excited.

For the majority of Duke fans, Olek Czyz was considered somewhat of an enigma during his recruitment. While Duke fans collectively knew little about the Poland native, we all shared Coach K’s hope that Olek would commit to Duke. Although Olek is not highly ranked in the class of 2009, there was an intense recruiting battle for his services between Duke, Florida and Louisville. Despite standing at roughly 6’7”, supremely athletic and said to have a 40” vertical, Olek is considered to be unpolished and a developing prospect. What is not a mystery, however, is what college basketball’s coaching heavyweights saw in Olek: a tremendous upside and potential to explode at the collegiate level.

After formally committing to Duke on Nov. 14, 2007, Olek’s struggles in his game against Luke Babbitt were well-documented and discussed ad nauseam. His play on the court since that game, however, has been anything but a struggle: Olek scored 25 points in a state tournament semifinal win, scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds leading his team to the state 4A championship title, and then won the MVP award in the Capital Classic all-star game. While Olek has continued to progress each day, he remains relatively new to the game of basketball and far from refined. That is not to say that he cannot contribute immediately but just don’t expect an All-ACC Freshman Team campaign. Duke fans, therefore, should be cautioned to temper their expectations accordingly. Being a combo-forward in the Duke system, Olek’s minutes will be limited as Duke’s veterans will occupy the majority of the playing time at the small forward and power forward positions.

Olek’s recent performances in the summer league games against tougher competition demonstrate some of the shortcomings and deficiencies in his overall game. Fans that have attended the games routinely state that while Olek relentlessly attacks the basket when he has the ball in his hands, at times he appears to get lost in the offense. While he can explode vertically, Olek’s overall skill set needs to be improved upon: positioning, shooting, defense, footwork and rebounding.

As with any Coach K recruit, the fantastic part about Olek is that he recognizes his weaknesses and is more than willing to put forth the necessary effort to maximize his potential. While many players with Olek’s physical prowess choose to ignore their limitations and try to mask them by relying on innate athleticism to get by, Olek recognizes he needs to work on his overall skill set. In a recent Reno Gazette-Journal article Olek stated, “Different people develop differently and, you know, I never reached my top notch yet. I have more up in my sleeve than I showed in my senior year. I have a lot of things to work on still, and once I get those things right I can turn out to be a really good player. Duke is a program that can do that for me. They have the best training in the nation; that’s what I think.”

With his size and athleticism coupled with his desire improve, Olek will only get better and better every year he is at Duke. Just remember that while Olek may not set the ACC on fire his first year, there is a bright future ahead at Duke for him. As fellow BDN premium member HWAC42DEVIL told me, “At the end of the day, OC will be a solid contributor who will have a high FG %, can shoot FTs (he had some very clutch makes) and will get the crazies on their feet will his amazing repertoire of power dunks. I fully expect that OC will only get better practicing against, Hendo, LT, Singler, Zoubek, and Plumlee in practice. With a little polishing, the Polish Thunder will be a very special Duke player.”

By the time Olek is a veteran of the Duke system and earning All-ACC honors along the way hopefully we will all recognize what Coach K, Pitino and Billy Donovan envisioned when they were recruiting Olek.

This article is courtesy of Blue Devil Nation Premium member John Hayne.

Boynton, Knight lead Team Breakdown to Reebok Title

Kenny Boynton Jr. (2009) scored 26 points leading his team to a win in the open division championship game of the Reebok Summer Championships just outside of Las Vegas.

Breakdown lost the second game of the tournament to D-One Sports, but this game was never in doubt as indicated by the 81-64 score.

Brandon Knight (2010) chipped in 24 points.  Team Breakdown (Florida) avenged an earlier loss to D-One Sports which features John Wall who averaged 23.6 for the tournament and Ryan Kelly (16.6).

It was Knight that helped his team in the two prior games where he scored 25 and 22 which was a key to advancing.  Team Breakdown finished the event 8-1.

Boynton and Knight told the Blue Devil Nation at an earlier event that their goal was to win the title and both mentioned coming close wasn’t the way they wanted to close out the summer.  Their team lost in the final to Belmont Shores last year.  Kenny Boynton, of course is being heavily recruited by the Blue Devils and has long been their top target in the class of 2009.

Weekend scoring totals -

Kenny Boynton - 33, 21, 26, 26, 25, 17, 12, 14, 26 – 22.2

Brandon Knight – 26, 24, 2, 19, 22, 20, 25, 22, 24 - 20.4

Blue Devils continue play in the NC Pro Am

As I stated in my last Pro Am report, more stars would start to come out during the final weeks.  The mere addition of JJ Hickson, gave winless E-Net another force down low to go with Josh Powell which carried them to a 71-46 win over the RDU Barnstormers.

The Barnstormers feature three Dukies in Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and incoming freshman Olek Czyz.  Singler got little help from Czyz in defending Powell and Hickson, which shows that work lies ahead for one of the most popular players in the tournament.  Czyz did drain a three and positioned himself better on the court than on Tuesday.  And he of course had a sweeping one handed dunk which brought about many looking at one another as if to say, did you see that?

Still, for all the tremendous athleticism Czyz possesses, his defense is a work in progress.  Czyz plays hard all the time and is in excellent game shape and Coach K will certainly tweak his game to a desired effect.  Czyz finished the evening with 15 points.

Kyle Singler (12 points) was steady, but tired after working overtime on the glass which took a toll on his shot.  I mean, he never comes out of the game and I have yet to see any other player not get a little rest in the event.  Unfortunately, some sloppy guard play which accounted for four straight turnovers at one point, helped send the Barnstormers to their second loss.

Nolan Smith came off the bench for the Barnstormers and had a stretch in the first half which I have yet to see anyone recognize.  I mean all he did was wreck havoc in the passing lanes, slash to the rim on his ways to 13 consecutive points.  That’s right, 13 straight points!  The second half was a different story for Smith who scored but 2 points giving him a total of 15.  Smith struggled from the free throw stripe and this was a classic case of a tale of two half’s.

Another Duke freshman, Elliot Williams played on the winning team and he would on some occasions match up with Nolan.  Williams cored just 11 points tonight but continued to show the ability to make his team better with his passing.  The fact that he can take his man off the dribble, allowed him to draw multiple defenders which allowed him to make the pass to a teammate for the open shot, if not a dunk.  One thing is certain, that being Williams has the ability to contribute in a big way as a freshman.

One thing about sitting as close as I do to the action is that you see a lot more than just the game.  Nolan is still not 100% and favored his knee down the stretch.  While I normally do not talk of how the games are called, I must admit that this one was sloppy.  Hey, no homer-ism though!  The entire body of games on this night were called in an inconsistent manner, in my opinion.

In fact, the first game had a controversial foul on tournament sponsor Jerry Stackhouse (11 points) as less than second was left on the clock.  Miles Plumlee would later be called for an iffy foul with 3.2 seconds on the clock with his team up a single digit.  Ironically, he fouled a soon to be teammate that he was playing against on this night.  Lance Thomas missed hit one of two and the game went to overtime.

Thomas played a bigger role in the extra period, flushing a hard dunk and connecting on two free throws at a critical juncture of the game.  Thomas moved well and played good position defense scoring his tournament high of 17 points. 

This was the first time I got to see Miles Plumlee (10 points) and he showed me that he is pretty good with his decision making and that he plays hard.  He drew UNC freshman Ed Davis (16 points) and had to play a lot of help defense which would leave a man open where teammate’s didn’t shift.  He plays smart and has indeed gained some weight to a body that is still a work in progress.  I look forward to seeing him more.

In the end Stacks Regulators  team remained undefeated, but they got help from two obvious makeup calls which somewhat tainted the game for this fan.  It was a really tight game that was full of intensity down the stretch and it should have been decided by the players and not the whistle.

Despite the lackluster officiating on this night, there was still great entertainment value in that the event is absolutely free and the crowd was the the biggest yet.  They will throw the rock up again this coming Tuesday and if you are a Triangle resident, there is little reason not to go.  Read other reviews and in depth analysis on the BDN Premium Message Board by becoming a member.

Standings Link

Photos – (1) Miles Plumlee and Ed Davis, (2) Kyle Singler*, (3) Elliot Williams*, Olek Czyz*

*Rick Crank (All Photos on BDN are original unless otherwise marked and they are copyrighted.  IOW, no reproductions without prior permission)