Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Duke vs Presbyterian College preview and prediction

[private]The 2008 - 09 basketball season gets underway for real on Monday when Duke hosts Presbyterian College in the first round of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches versus Cancer. Presbyterian is led by Coach Gregg Nibert who is entering his 20th season as coach of the Blue Hose.

Presbyterian returns six players who saw significant minutes on last season's 5 - 25 squad. Center Al'Lonzo Coleman (6'7" 230) provides the Blue Hose inside presence. He averaged 11.2 points and five rebounds a game last season. Forward Bryan Bostic (6'3" 200) chipped in 10 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Josh Johnson (6'3" 185), Pierre Miller (5'10" 160), Travis Sligh (6'4" 210), and Walt Allen (6'4" 220) are the other significant returnees.

Turnovers and free throw shooting will be key points in the game. With Duke being the bigger and more athletic team, Presbyterian cannot afford to give Duke extra offensive possessions, and the Blue Hose must take advantage of scoring opportunities, from the charity stripe, that result from the Blue Devils' aggressiveness.

Taking care of the basketball is not Presbyterian's strong suit as last season they averaged more turnovers per game (14.9) than assists (12.5). Exploiting this weakness will be a primary objective for a Duke team traditionally known for its high intensity defense. In a 70 - 60 exhibition game loss to Division II Augusta State, on November 6th, the Blue Hose turned the ball over eight times, while recording seven assists.

Presbyterian also struggled from the free throw line last season as they made 65.4 percent of their free throw attempts. However, against Augusta State they knocked down 11 of 15 attempts (73.3%). Duke only knocked down 69.7 percent of their free throw attempts last season, but has converted a very respectful 78.3 percent of opportunities so far this season in two exhibition games.

Look for Duke to press relentlessly on defense creating easy scoring opportunities in transition, while taking advantage of their size by pounding the ball inside when in their half-court set. Duke is deep with 12 scholarship players healthy and ready to earn a spot in the rotation, so Coach Krzyzewski will have fresh players available at all times. The Blue Hose do not have the talent, size, or depth to give the Blue Devils a challenge so this game should be well in hand by half-time.

My prediction: Duke 93 - Presbyterian 50.

Watzone's pick:  Duke 97 Presbyterian 46[/private]

Gerald Henderson Interview – New look, new responsibilities, new season

[private]Gerald Henderson enters his junior year as one of the team's co-captains and he seems ready to do whatever it takes to lead the Blue Devils to a successful season.  Henderson is coming off surgery and is coming along as scheduled.  Those close to the program are looking for "G" to take it to another level this season. 

So, is the shaved head a new look for this season?

It was just a summer look, but if we start winning, I might stay with it.

There are those close to the program expecting you to have a breakout season ...

In between my freshman and sophomore year I worked on a lot of things the coaches wanted me to be better at.  It was a big summer for me.  I did the same thing this summer as well.  I dealt with the surgery through half the summer, but when I got back I was able to work on a lot of things to get better for this season.  Even with the hand injury I was able to run, so I worked on my conditioning.

So, what was the injury to your hand?

I had a torn ligament here (showing the scar from surgery), I'm not to sure what it's called.  It was something I could play with last season, but I needed to get it fixed in the off season.  It took about three and a half months and it got to a point where I couldn't play with it after surgery.  I still rehab two or three times a week to build the strength.

How did the injury occur?

It was the first Carolina game.  It was on an out of bounds play.  I forget who I was pushing against, but it just went back and I felt a really sharp pain.

You seemed to be fine towards the end of the season, willing your team to a win over an upset minded Belmont team ...

It took me a while to figure things out.  I had to learn to shoot a different way.  There were some games there where I played kind of bad.  After a while, with a brace and ended up shooting pretty well.

Why do you feel the team hit the so called "wall" against West Virginia?

It's hard to even think about now.

This team hasn't enjoyed the traditional high standards of Duke success in the NCAA's.  Do you have any thoughts on that?

I think my freshman year, we were really inconsistent.  We had a 22-11 record which isn't awful, but it wasn't up to our standards.  We had so many ups and downs that there wasn't a guaranteed win for us.  Last year, our loss in the second round was disappointing because we felt we could have gone further.  A lot of things went into that game ... it was real disappointing.  We are a different team now and we act like that.

In your opinion, what is this season's team looking like?

Nolan and Elliot have worked hard and I really feel like they will help us.  When it comes down to it, we have a lot of guys that can play and that's how you get time on the court.  If you are productive when you're out there, all takes care of itself.

As a captain, what advice can you give to the freshman class?

If you want to play you've got to make something happen.  My freshman year, I had some good games, but I really didn't make anything happen for the team when I was in there.  You have to influence the game.  That's what Coach wants and needs, so if you can do that you are going to play.

What do you bring to the table as a captain?

As a captain I think I bring more leadership by what I do and action.  Greg is more of a vocal leader and Jon Scheyer has come a long ways and taken the role.

Are you ready to get the season rolling?

Oh yeah.  I've been ready ... we've been ready since last season ended.[/private]

Duke rolls to easy 95-42 win over Lenoir-Rhyne

[private]Duke cruised to a 95-42 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne in their last exhibition game before the season starts this coming Monday.  Kyle Singler dropped 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting from the field.  Singler also grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 3 assists to lead the Blue Devils. 

He was helped by Nolan Smith who tallied 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting.  Brian Zoubek joined in the field goal accuracy party as well, going 6 of 8 from the field, totaling 15 points to go with 8 rebounds.

Duke started slowly, but manhandled Lenoir-Rhyne the rest of the way.  Thirteen Blue Devils saw action in the lopsided win. 

Duke will take to the court for real against Presbyterian at 7:00 in Cameron on Monday.  This is the opening round of the 2K Sports Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches for Cancer.  Duke will then turn around and play the winner of the Georgia Southern-Houston game on Tuesday.  Both games will be televised on ESPNU.

Should Duke win out, they will participate in the semifinals on 11-20 in Madison Square Garden.[/private]

Behind the scenes practice update and John Wall tidbits

K-ments - During some recent practices, Coach K shared some thoughts about his team.  He stated that Marty Pocius was one of the teams better three point shooters and that they would try to get him the ball in good position when he entered the game.  Marty has been playing surprisingly well, especially on the offensive end of the court.  He's still not the best defensive player, but he should provide some good depth in the back court.  The biggest plus is that Pocius has learned the system and knows where to be on the court.  [private] Now, if he can only drop Olek some hints.

He said that he hoped Elliot Williams could fill some of the roles that DeMarcus Nelson did this past season.  He likes Williams versatility and his ability to play good on ball defense on the perimeter.  He also mentioned that Williams was a good spot up shooter.  Williams played very well against Virginia Union and we'll see how he does this evening against Lenoir Rhyne.  However, in my views, he has a ways to go to get use to the size and speed of the college game.  When I talk of speed, in Williams case he needs to slow down a bit and let the game come to him.  This will come in time as will his strength, but expect K to bring him along at well, K's pace.

Coach also said that Duke would get out and run.  With their depth, he plans on pushing the ball and he seems as if he will go to the bench early and often.  He once again mentioned how important it was to keep Kyle Singler fresh and how having a deeper front line wold help.

He also said his team was healthy overall and that he hoped that would carry through the season.  "We have 14 healthy guys ready to go," said Krzyzewski.

"Do it, hear it, see it!"  K barked that out as he stopped practice on several occasions.  He meant for his team to talk a play through, see it later on film or at a half speed walk through and to then "do it."

K worked his team very hard with ACC Officials last week.  He then carried that over into more work, knowing and saying his team was tired.  He had a no contact practice after that, wanting to see how his team responded the next day when they went through two full practices in one day.   He was pleased with the results.

The Big Three- "Gerald, Kyle and Jon are the guys we will build around.  They are our best players.  That doesn't mean a Nolan Smith or Greg Paulus couldn't lead the team in scoring.  It simply means that these are the guys we feel comfortable building around, much like what we did in the Olympic.  We feel if the rest of the team can fit in around them, then we'll have a chance to be really good.  Don't get me wrong, we have some good players, but these three are our best." - Coach K

Jon Scheyer has played wonderfully in practice and worked his butt off all summer.  When prospects came to visit, they all mentioned Scheyer.  When teams are picked by individuals, he goes first or to the next guy with the second and third picks.  He has shown more leadership and his defense on the ball has vastly improved.

Kyle Singler is the smartest player on the court when he's out there and that is often.  Expect a fresh Singler to really blossom as the season progresses.  He has worked with Miles Plumlee to make him a better player and the two get along on and off the court.

Gerald Henderson is becoming a man among boys.  He is physically better than he's ever been and he looks like a future NBA player with his ability to go inside and out.  He is capable of making the jump to All American.

No secret anymore- Miles Plumlee has proved that he has a very well rounded game.  He plays smart, runs the floor well, has good hands and nice ball handling to go with a mid range offense game.  He also finishes nicley and has good hops.  His Dad told me he was under appreciated and you know what?  That won't last much longer.  I do expect he will struggle at times with veteran big men, but this kid has earned the starting nod as a freshman and that's a heck of an accomplishment.

The latest on John Wall- Wall will get together sometime soon with Coach K and the Duke staff.  At that time both will figure out how they will proceed.  Wall canceled his weekend visit with Memphis and I expect we will know whether Duke has offered no later than Monday.

Sorry for the delays in reporting of late due to computer attack.  It happens.  I lost two informative articles, but some of the info is a bit old now.  I will still go back over some practice notes and dig up the pertinent information in the coming week.  It looks like the Josh Smith interview will come next week, due to and overload in covering Duke vs NCSU in football, tonight's game, preparing player profiles and Monday and Tuesday's opener.  Thanks for your patience during this time.[/private]

Krzyzewski talks of “Duke Standards”

[private]"When I talk to our team, I tell them these are our standards."  Those are the words that came out of Coach K's mouth during a recent practice.  He then referred to a very good team meeting where he asked the players to participate intalking of a practice tape from the previous day and adding their take.   "We record all of our practices," stated Coach.  And they do, there are six state of the art cameras along the walls in the new practice facility.

The "Duke Standards," mean communication, togetherness and all out effort among the many.  Coach demands that his players look coaches and each other in the eye when talking.  "I asked them to contribute in the meeting and no fooling around."  This discipline afforded Duke another opportunity to grow as a team and when Coach K instructs or suggests, you can hear a pin drop and echo through Cameron.

The HOF coach will talk to the media about last seasons tournament ending game versus West Virginia, but it's clear that he's ready to put that game to bed and move on as is his team.  During the off season his staff discussed the reasons for that loss and adjustments have been made in order for Duke to make a deeper run in March and quite likely April.

"It's obvious that we have a deep team.  Anybody wh has had the opportunity to watch this team in the pre season knows that," stated Krzyzewski.  He then went on to hintt of a plan which willkeep his team fresher down the stretch.  Just one of those reasons is the pleasant play of incoming freshman Miles Plumlee, who

Coach K instructs Singler and Plumlee
Coach K instructs Singler and Plumlee

has enabled Kyle Singler to play a more natural position where he's able to showcase his immense skills set.  But it doesn't stop there.

Players like Marty Pocius have picked up the system better and as of right now Nolan Smith has been running with the first team ahead of senior co captain Greg Paulus.  Anytime, you can bring a hard nosed competitor like Paulus off the bench, well, it's the sign of a team with depth.

It remains to be seen if Krzyzewski will play more than the seven or eight players he usually does, but he certainly hinted he would and that having their legs late in the season is a priority.  After several views of the 08-09 Blue Devils, I feel certain that they will go nine deep, even ten when necessary.

You can also look for some of the Gold Medal Team USA experience to rub off on their style of play.  "Fans will see an exciting style of play this season," said Krzyzewski.  He went on to say it would be similar to the Olympic team, especially concerning spacing in the motion offense and break.

All in all the table is being set for an outstanding season and fans are getting excited about what they are hearing.  Duke plays it's last tune up game versus Lenoir Rhine this evening, before tipping off the season for real on Monday night against Presbyterian only to come back against the winner of the Georgia Southern-Houston game the following evening.

Stay tuned to Blue Devil Nation for coverage of all things Duke Basketball and individual breakdowns.[/private]

Communication plays a key role for Duke Basketball

[private]Communication plays a big role for Duke Basketball.  During last weeks Coaches Clinic, Coach K told the audience that his team is instructed to talk to the ball, and see the ball.  He expects his team to look him in the eyes, and that goes for their interactions with the other coaches and teammates as well.  "There is no fooling around," said Coach K when telling of a recent team meeting where he asked his troops to contribute in a meeting after a film session. 

During practice, all of the players are vocal and if they do not call for the ball or the switch, they will be told to do so.  In my years of coaching, I can attest that the tight knit team which plays together via communication is almost always in the game even when less talented.  Fortunately, Duke is supremely talented, so the learned skills could make the difference in making the Sweet 16 or the Final Four.   Check back for a complete report on the Coach K Coaches Basketball Clinic tomorrow.[/private]