Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Brian Zoubek talks about the freshmen, his healing process and the coming season

[private]Brian Zoubek shares his thoughts on the freshmen and more importantly the status of his health after off season surgery.

How much have you been playing since the injury?

I haven't played in terms of organized basketball in a long time because I had surgery after the season.  We've been going at it as a team in pick ups since mid summer.

Can you give me a synopsis on how the healing process has or is going?

I feel great right now, I got an x-ray the other day and it's perfectly healed and I'm ready to go.  I feel strong and I hope I don't have any problems this year, it doesn't look like I'm going to.  So, if I'm smart about it all will work out. 

Being smart - can you elaborate a bit more on that?

I have some customized plans for workouts - agility and all that kind of stuff.  It's a little different when you are 7-1.  You can't always do what the guards do, especially with that injury.

You have been having a lot of fun in the Quad before football games with Jon.  You guys battle a bit in the various events -

Me and Jon are great friends and we just have to have fun.  That's what the whole attitude is with the team, we just try to have fun.

So, you are going at it pretty hard?

Yeah!  I've been doing everything.   My leg strength and conditioning isn't 100% back yet, but it's coming.

Might Coach play you with, say a Miles Plumlee?

It's possible.  We'll have to see what works.  I feel like I can work with anybody on the team.  We'll see what we see in the first couple of games.

What are your thoughts on Plumlee and Czyz thus far?

I think Miles is doing a great job.  He's really going to be able to come in and give us a lot of strength and a lot of size.  He knows how to play.  I think Olek is doing well and we  will have a lot more depth.

Can you tell me the differences in Miles and Olek?

What is Miles is obviously a little bit more of a five.  He protects the basket and plays off people really well.  Olek plays more outside, but he's really explosive and can get to the rim and rebound.  So, they both do very different things.

Is having a guy close to your height in Plumlee a good thing?

Yeah!  It's a great thing.  We can sub for each other in the game and help each other out.  Playing against each other in practice every day is huge.

Any personal goals for the coming season?

Most of it's team, but we all have some personal things we'd like to do, so I will have to see where I am.

Thanks for your time and good luck!

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Singler is rested and ready for the upcoming season

[private]What more can a coach want than a player who can pretty much do it all?  That versatility is what rising sophomore Kyle Singler brought to the table last season on his way to being named the ACC Rookie of the Year.

It's no secret that Kyle wore down a bit last year, so he took the off season to reflect and address what he could do to prevent that from happening again.  "I took some time off and rested a bit, spending a lot of my time in the weight room and playing a lot with the guys too," said Singler.

A lot of the rest and relaxation time was spent at his home in Medford, Oregon.  "It's always good to go back home but some things change.  There were times when I just wanted to be back here, but it allowed me to get fresh and finally eat some good food."  Kyle looks bigger and certainly more defined, currently weighing 235 pounds which is a 20 pound gain.

When Singler mentioned good food, he was referring to his Mom's home cooking.  "I just packed it (weight) on but I didn't work out as much.  When I got back to campus I started lifting," said Singler, who then quickly said that he monitored the process closely in order to not lose any speed or agility.

When I asked how he might keep himself fresh during the season, he replied, "Last season was just really different for me.  Playing college is just totally different than what you would expect.  A lot of things I did last year were new to me, but now I have that experience and know what to expect.  I'm excited for this season.   You get a fresh start and I know what to expect.

There were occasions when Singler had to take on the big man for the opposing team.  If that is the case again this season, he will be up for the challenge but he does expect some help.  "I will be playing the same position as I did last year, but I won't have to be guarding the "five" as much as did last year.  We are deeper and have a lot of guys that can play down low this year if we stay healthy."

If Singler continues to improve upon his already solid game, the NBA questions will become more frequent.  "It's not something I think about day in and day out and I have to leave this year or something like that.  It's been one of my goals and one of my dreams.  I've just got to keep working hard and I'm in college right now and I'm here to win a Nation Championship," said Singler.

Much speculation has centered around the fact that the top of his class of 2008 has already moved on and that this might pressure the budding star to do the same, but Kyle seems to be running his own race for preparation.  "I would definitely look into it, but right now I'm here in college and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Side Bar - Singler played a few games in the NC Prom Am at NCCU over the summer.  The game reports can be found in our archives.  Singler is very actice in the "Read with the Blue Devils" program which serves the Durham Community.  Singler's three blocks in last season's opener tied him with the most in a collegiate debut with Mike Gminski, Cherokee Parks and Cameron Hall.[/private]

50 Minutes to Success

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The success of the 2008 - 2009 Duke basketball season will be dependent upon 50 minutes. That is 50 minutes per game as in 40 minutes per game at the Center position and 10 minutes per game at the Power Forward position. Duke is solid on the perimeter and perimeter players will pace the team with an emphasis on pressure defense, transition basketball, and 3-point shooting. If the front court can consistently contribute with points, solid interior defense, rebounding, and shot blocking, this Duke team has the potential to be special.

Kyle Singler will play 30 minutes per game at Power Forward, but the other 10 minutes per game will be up for grabs. All 40 minutes of playing time at Center are available. There are five players competing for those 50 minutes: Lance Thomas (6-8, 220), Brian Zoubek (7-1, 260), Dave McClure (6-6, 200), Olek Czyz (6-7 240), and Miles Plumlee (6-10, 230). The competition for playing time should be fierce.

Last season, front court players, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, Taylor King, and Dave McClure combined to contribute 14.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 47.6 minutes per game. Starting Power Forward Kyle Singler averaged 13.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and .7 blocks in 28.6 minutes per game.  All together, Duke's front court contributed 27.9 points, 16.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 76.2 minutes per game.

In contrast, out in Lawrence, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, and Cole Aldrich combined for 33.9 points, 19.9 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks in 75 minutes per game for national champion Kansas.  Over in Chapel Hill, Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson, and Alex Stepheson combined for 35.3 points, 19.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 68.9 minutes per game.

This season's team must achieve more production, from those approximately 50 minutes of playing time, to complement Kyle Singler's efforts. The key to success is having consistent production across all five positions. For the last two years, Duke has at times played four on five on the offensive end of the court. For the first two years of their careers, Lance Thomas (63 games) has averaged 4.15 points and 2.9 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game, while Brian Zoubek (57 games) has averaged 3.45 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game. Rising Senior Dave McClure's numbers are 2.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game over 88 games.

The efforts of the aforementioned three players have been hampered by injury and sickness. Brian Zoubek has had surgery on his foot twice, Dave McClure has undergone surgery on both knees, and Lance Thomas has suffered from severe ankle sprains and a respiratory infection. If they can achieve and maintain good health, these three veterans have the potential to be much improved this season.

Two new front court players will suit up for the Blue Devils this season. Miles Plumlee and Olek Czyz are arriving in Durham as the # 40 and # 92 ranked players, respectively, in the Class of 2008, according to Scout.com. Plumlee, at 6-10 230, is noted to be a skilled player on both ends of the court, while Olek Czyz, 6-7 240, is a raw talent with very good athleticism including a 40" vertical. Adjusting to Duke's defensive scheme will be the major obstacle to playing time for these two freshmen. If they can learn to play Duke Defense, they should challenge their upper class teammates for playing time.  Unquestionably, they will add depth to Duke's front court.

With five players competing for those 50 minutes of available playing time, Duke is in good shape to see more points, rebounds, and blocked shots produced. With added production to a team that averaged 83.2 points per game and achieved a 28-6 record last season, the Duke Blue Devils will achieve much more success in the 2008 - 2009 season.[/private]

General Recruiting Update – Commitments and prospects news

Harrison Barnes is still on scheduled to visit next weekend.  This is one of two trips in which his family is taking before his junior season.  That means [private] they have paid for this visit (and Kansas) out of pocket.  I take that as meaning Duke is in good "early" shape for this talented young man's services.

The Duke staff awaits their shot at Kenny Boynton when he is scheduled to take his visit in November.

Look for Duke to turn up their efforts for Brandon Knight after the Boynton sweepstakes come to an end.  Duke wants more backcourt help and it will become a priority should they miss on Boynton.

It's pretty much status quo with Josh Smith.  Michael Parker may be in for a game soon.  The North Carolina native is being evaluated, but there is no room with the offers currently at hand.  Duke is also keeping an eye on Morris and will evaluate more players as time goes on.

Current commitments Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton will attend the Blue-White game.  They will be joined by Mason Plumlee and he may be joined by younger brother, Marshall.

Ryan Kelly will be taking his official visit this weekend as well.  Kelly joins Mason Plumlee in the 2009 class and Boynton is the only other offer.  While another prospect could come to light if they miss Boynton, at this time it is unlikely.

The Football team will take the Blue Devil Walk through Cameron Indoor Stadium during the Men's Blue-White game.  Coaches Colllins and Wojo will lead thier inter-squad teams.

Duke Football has eight players they are looking at for the final few spots in the class of 2009.  We will be covering each of those guys in the next several weeks. [/private]

BDNP talks to Ryan Kelly and gets his thoughts on his commitment to Duke

I had an extensive interview with Ryan Kelly in A.E. Finley gym this morning about the recruiting process -

What was it about Duke you liked?

Duke academically and sports wise for basketball can't be beat.  The two of them together ... I felt very comfortable when I was at Duke with all the players which made it easier and I went with my gut feeling.

You have taken several visits to Duke of late ...

[private] Really, I haven't visited Duke that much.  I wanted to make the visits as equal as possible.  Going into this past weekend when I sat down and put it all out, all of the schools were even.  My parents and Coach Billerman told me to take my time and to let them know when I was ready to make a decision.

When did Duke get back involved with you?

It got a little sporadic.  Coach K was there to see my 1000th point at Durham Academy and then they came on pretty heavy this summer.  Especially with me being involved with Team USA in Vegas.

You have gone up against a future teammate several time in Mason Plumlee.  Are you looking forward to the match up this season?

Well he's a great player and it's going to be really fun playing with him.  We are different players and we do different things.  It will be neat going up against each other.  Hopefully, we will see each other in the state championships and then at Duke.  It'll be something we can look back on.  I had a great time with him in Argentina - he's a really great guy.

When did you actually make the call to Coach K telling him you wanted to be a Blue Devil?

It was Wednesday night.  He was excited for me and glad I made the decision.  He said he thought I made the best decision.  I told him I was certain and had no remorse and he was really proud I felt that way - feeling very comfortable with it, he was happy and looking forward to being my coach.  Coach K had basically told me to hold off and not make any decisions before he left for China, just so he could have the chance to sit down with me.  I was going to wait anyway.  It wasn't time to make a decision for me and once he came back we had a chance to sit down.

Has Coach already talked you about what he would like for you to work on?

Oh certainly.  The main thing is strength and just getting stronger.  He doesn't want me to build up too much.  He doesn't want me to be 250 pounds, just to be lean and strong.  Hips are very important  when it comes to talking defense - staying in a defensive stance, exploding, rebounding, exploding up for dunks.

Did your family help with the decison making process?

It was my decision.  I'm sure if he hadn't sold my parents it would have been different, but they're happy.

Now that you are part of the Duke family, will you hang on campus, play in the practice facility, etc.?

Oh yeah.  I'm sure I will go over there to play in an open gym - to talk to the guys and get more comfortable.

Have you heard from any players since last night?

Elliot called to congratulate me ... Gerald Henderson.  I'm sure I will hear from more of them.

I know you have played with Kenny Boynton and he's at the top of Duke's list.  What are your thoughts on him?

I would love to play with him.  He's a great kid and a great player.  We played twice out in Vegas and we split.  I would love to play with him and see him come on out to Duke?

How did the games pick up games go?

They were really intense ... just more intense than anyone else to be honest.  They wanted to win more than anything and I saw that.  When guys are trying that hard in a pick up game you are going to get better quicker than anywhere else.  I can see myself becoming the best player I can be over there.

Do you have a go to move?

When I really want to score a basket, I go inside and go with a baby hook.  When I go outside, the move that I use the most is a pull up jump shot or a spin move.  I have a decent array of moves ... I work on different shots in different spots, like with the gun (passing machine) I do a lot of off the dribble, go to moves ...

Is there a sense of relief?

You know, it's relief, but it is also excitement.  I have laid a pretty good path out for myself and it's exciting.

So, your family is okay with the decision?

I did and my family was excited.  They would have been happy wherever I went.  My friends are excited that they will be able to watch me.  I'm sure there are some fans out there who won't like me ...

Carolina fans?

Well, they will stick to Ryan two games of the year. (laughing)

What three words would best describe Ryan Kelly as a person?

Nouns or adjectives, here? (laughing)  What I said to ESPN, was my integrity, my drive to excel and my faith.  I bring those to the table and they won't go away.

Tell me a little about what faith means to you?

For me it's a belief in God.  He's going to put me in the right place.  When I come into the gym or into a game, I pick out two seats.  One for where Jesus is watching me and one for where my Grandpa is watching me.  No matter how good or how bad I will do they will always be there.  I prayed for it was the most important decision I have made in my life so far.  The next is my wife ... (laughing).  It was important for me to pray and people prayed with me about my decision and I was led to the right place.

Did this translate at Duke?

Um, I know there will be some different beliefs or religions.  But moral character is important as well and Coach K certainly had that.

Why make the decision on ESPNU?

It just kind of worked out.  Amazingly it was good timing.  They had wanted to get the notice for it was their first show.

What three words or phrases describe you on the basketball court?

Hard working, a good teammate and I hope I can say a good player.

There was a lot of surprise when you announced Duke as the sixth team on the list when they haven't been there for awhile ...

They had been talking to me for a long time.  There was a renewed interest.  They saw I had developed quite a bit and my ability to play the 4-3 spot like Mike Dunleavy.  When they got to see me in an open gym, Coach K just saw a different player and it moved from there.

What are your team's prospects for the coming season?

I am looking forward to this season.  We're going to be really good.  We have Matt Wilson, a 6-11 center who just committed to UNC-W.  We have some more guys including Billerman's son, a shooter.  We also have a Broughton transfer Luke Davis who will play the point and anchor us a little bit.  We are trying to win a state championship.

Describe Coach K for me?

For me I'm still getting to know him.  I think he is very truthful and honest and very Father like.  He runs around and does a lot of stuff, but he still takes the time to show you everything.  I've dealt with some really great coaches, but he's the best coach.  It was hard to tell the other coaches but they all handled it really well.  Once the decision was made, it was a real relief.

Did getting to know the Duke players play a big role?

It was very big, but I thought it was going to be a lot bigger.  I learned a lot about myself in that I can get along with a lot of different people.  When you go on visits, they all act like they like you.  In the end it comes down to getting that feeling of being comfortable and I felt that with Duke.

You were able to attend some classes.  Were you comfortable in that environment?

It's very similar to Ravenscroft.  I knew how great everybodies academics were in the final six, so it really came down to feeling comfortable. [/private]