Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Duke freshman Frank Jackson take instruction from Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel.  - BDN Photo

Jeff Capel More Than Capel-ble

Duke freshman Frank Jackson take instruction from Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel. - BDN Photo
Duke freshman Frank Jackson take instruction from Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel. - BDN Photo

In 1995 Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski went to the sidelines for the remainder of the season.  His then head assistant Pete Gaudet found himself overwhelmed by his duties which were suddenly thrust upon him.  To his credit, he had never coached a division one basketball team as the main man.

We recently have news that Duke's Hall of Fame Coach, Mike Krzyzewski will again miss time.  While he is expected back this season there are some big shoes to fill during his absence.  But this time Duke is better prepared for such a situation and it was Krzyzewski himself who made sure of that.

Krzyzewski hired nothing but former Duke players of late and for a reason.  He wants his staff to know the system.  When Jeff Caple came aboard he immediately became a solid guy whom his former coach could lean on.

If you have been around the Duke program as long as I have, you realize the immense respect Jeff Capel receives.  He is the top recruiter on the staff and the man Krzyzewski goes to for alternative views.  And that is who will replace the legendary coach as he attempts to relieve his back pain and return to the helm.

Pardon the pun here, but Capel is more than Capel-ble or capable. Capel had huge success at Virginia Commonweath and he later took his talents to Oklahoma.  Capel had a trial run a season ago when he took over and helped guide Duke to a road win when Krzyzewski went through medical tests.

Duke is fortunate enough to have had a head coach on the bench sharpening his wares under Krzyzewski.  And he will certainly be helped by long time assistant, Nate James and Jon Scheyer. Together these guys, along with Nolan Smith will help Duke circle the wagons and be ready for battle.

At no other time in the Blue Devils history have they faced more adversity than this season.  If it were not bad enough that they missed three of their five freshman to open the season, they have also dealt with player suspensions.  And even some of those suspended players, like Grayson Allen have been injured as well.

Add to this a team coming off a loss at Virginia Tech where they were out of the game in the first two minutes of play and nothing but ACC games coming and you have a challenge.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for these Blue Devils and Krzyzewski himself said it's time they come together.  They'll have to do so with minimal contact from Krzyzewski, at least for the forseeable future.

Duke has yet to have a full contingent of healthy players to have the practice they desire.  Even now, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden are far from the players they can be and need to be.

While Keryzewski may not be on the sidelines the rest of January, his shadow will be.  Duke Basketball is a brand of play and he has fathered said brand.  His assistants will not be blowing in the wind as they bring this team together.

I  would expect Krzyzewski to challenge his team to come together during his absence.  Honestly, they have too much talent not to do so and no excuses worth hearing.  As he said, it is time for them to play as one and become cohesive.

That cohesiveness has always been there with the staff and now they will all be expected to take it up a notch.  The Blue Devil Nation is saddened for the temporary loss of Krzyzewski.  But at the same time, it will there should be excitement to give Jeff Capel a good look, for he could be the man on the sidelines for good one day.


Coach Mike Krzyzewski to Undergo Back Surgery

ht1DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University head men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will undergo lower back surgery on Friday, Jan. 6, to remove a fragment of a herniated disc.

The procedure will be performed by Dr. Allan Friedman at Duke University Hospital. The anticipated recovery time for Krzyzewski is up to four weeks.

After utilizing many different conservative treatment options over the last month, it was determined that a surgical procedure was necessary to resolve the problem.

“Dr. William Richardson, Dr. Friedman, and our medical team have worked tirelessly to help manage this issue for several weeks,” said Krzyzewski. “Together, we have determined that surgery is the best course of action at this time. During my recovery process, the team will be in the capable hands of Coach Capel, Coach James and Coach Scheyer. As soon as the doctors clear me to do so, I look forward to returning and giving our team 100% of my energy and attention, which is certainly something that they deserve.”

“To be sure, the entire Duke community is supportive and eager to get Mike back as soon as possible,” said Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White. “His health is paramount, and he will get the best possible care in the world by the Duke medical team. With the proper recovery time, we look forward to Mike doing what he does best – leading and teaching -- very soon.”

Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel will coach the team in Krzyzewski’s absence, starting with the Blue Devils’ game vs. Boston College on Jan. 7 in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Krzyzewski has won a Division I men’s basketball record 1,055 games in 41-plus seasons as a college head coach, owning a 1,055-323 overall record and a 982-264 mark in 36-plus seasons at Duke. He has led Duke to five NCAA championships (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015), the second-most national titles by a coach in NCAA history.

Krzyzewski guided the United States National Team to an 88-1 record and seven total medals (six gold) as head coach from 2005-16. He is a seven-time USA Basketball National Coach of the Year and the only coach – men’s or women’s – to lead a country to three consecutive Olympic basketball gold medals.

Krzyzewski was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.



A Look at Duke Basketball at the Break

54Before the season started everybody thought the Duke Blue Devils would more often than not blow by their opposition. Well, reality is different.

Duke has already faced plenty of adversity with injuries to key freshman Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden.  Tatum has returned and before the Holiday break is looking like an All ACC candidate, not to mention possible Rookie of the Year honors.

Bolden has been in the midst of getting back into shape and one hundred percent healthy.  Over the break, the Texan big man went home with Matt Jones to DeSoto where he will certainly take time to reflect.

The aforementioned Jones has been a solid leader for this seasons team as a captain.  His defense has been steady and he might have had his best offensive output against Elon.  More importantly, he briefly met with Grayson Allen to discuss a third trip in said game.

That brings us to Allen, who has also battled many ailments in the early season.  His unfortunate play against Elon where he had a run in with his opponent was not what the Blue Devils needed going into the Christmas break.

Instead of concentrating on the team as a whole, Duke has had to weather an intense media storm directed at Allen.  And that takes the emphasis off the team and on an individual.

That adds up to the early season adversity, where Duke has in all reasoning had more than their fair share.  Once again, or until recently, Mike Krzyzewski has not been able to have full practices and that kind of thing plays on achieving team chemistry.

That brings us to Harry Giles, who has now played in two games after a 14 month lay off.  Giles will continue to get into shape but he has a way to go and that means even more patience will be needed.

Giles blocked shot against Elon has been his highlight to date, but the freshman big man told Blue Devil Nation that just getting some time in the games behind him has been vital for his psych.

When you talk of steadiness, two players come to mind thus far for Duke.  One is a captain in Amile Jefferson and the other is Luke Kennard.

Jefferson looked great before his injury a season ago and his time off left little rust.  The graduate student captain has been the Blue Devils top guy on the glass where he regularly has flirted with double-doubles.

As for Kennard, no player in the nation has improved more. Whether he starts a game fast or slow, Kennard can always be counted on to score.  His play has perhaps been the most pleasant surprise of the pre-ACC season.

Another freshman Frank Jackson, has also shown flashed of brilliance.  It is clear Jackson continues to adjust to the college game, but his play at times has won games for the 12-1 Dukies.

As the ACC season starts, Duke is still a shadow of what they hope to look like come March.  Missing from their game with a good Virginia Tech team on the road will be Grayson Allen.

It is an unfortunate reality that the staff has to deal with the issue with Allen, but deal with it they will.  That means, yet another different set of players Krzyzewski has at his disposal for maybe the next few games.

The hope for the staff is likely to bring injured players along quicker in some cases.  Krzyzewski said that he would push Giles harder after the break.

It's a bit trickier with Bolden, but he too should come along in time. While that is happening, Jayson Tatum will be asked to continue his aggressive play of late for he is one hard player to guard.

Duke has the luxury of having two great captains in Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson who've been national champions.  They will continue to help the young guys blend in, but it may come down to whether Allen can get past personal demons and return to the player that helped Duke win their last title.

While Allen gets undue attention in some cases, at other times it is justified.  And one of those times was against Elon where he lost his cool.  It was an unfortunate moment that hurt Duke in many ways.

In Allen's defense, I can tell you he is a good kid having known him since his junior season in high school.  I think he's fully capable of overcoming this but it will take time.  And when he returns there must be a smooth transition into more consistent play.

The ACC slate is a tough one this season.  No team will be running the table against a bevy of talented teams.  And for what it is worth, Duke plays the ACC's upper teams on the road more often that at home in Cameron.

Krzyzewski said he wants to see his team play as one.  In all honesty, despite just a two point loss to Kansas which keeps the team from being undefeated, they have yet to play as one.  But that is a good sign of sorts in that they have been pretty good without doing so.

There are four months of basketball to go in the season if Duke is to reach the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.  Twists and turns lie ahead, for sure.  But there is plenty of time for Krzyzewski to mold his team into what he wants them to be.  And his staff which features three title ring holders and one who knows of Final Fours will do their best to see that pre season expectations are met.

Grayson Allen's suspension was only eclipsed in the news by Coach K needing in season surgery.  Questions linger on his return.

Duke Suspends Grayson Allen

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has suspended junior guard Grayson Allen per a statement just released.  Allen was involved in a third incident in last evenings win over Elon where he got entangled with am Elon player.

Unknown suspension for Grayson Allen.
Unknown suspension for Grayson Allen.

Statement from Mike Krzyzewski - “We have had the opportunity to thoroughly review the incident involving Grayson Allen from last night’s game against Elon. As I stated last night, the incident was unacceptable and inexcusable. He took an important step last night by apologizing in person to Steven Santa Ana and Coach Matt Matheny. As a program, we needed to take further steps regarding his actions that do not meet the standards of Duke Basketball. To that end, we have determined that Grayson will be suspended from competition for an indefinite amount of time.”

After the game, a visibly upset Allen tearfully made the following quote, “I made a really bad play. I’m sorry to him, Santa Ana. I’m sorry to the officials who have to call that. I’m sorry to my team because it’s selfish and it took away from them. I’m not proud of it at all.”

Allen has been averaging just under 18 ppg for the 11-1 Blue Devils and was named as a pre season All American and Player of the Year Candidate.

Harry Giles will play for Duke this season.  Krzyzewski expands on his recent medical procedure with Blue Devil Nation.

Here Comes Harry Giles…

It was not that long ago that Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski found himself in a similar position as a season ago.  Due to injuries, this years team has only recently been able to hold the kind of practices the staff desires.giles

Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden and Harry Giles have all missed significant time due to injuries.  Of course, Tatum and Bolden have recently returned, while Giles has been out since a major procedure to repair a torn ACL, the second of his young career.

The last time anyone saw Giles play was in November of 2015. Those who followed him during his high school career know what he can potentially bring to a team.  Giles is a force inside and out where he stretches the floor and makes his presence known.

It was during an early Nike EYBL event when I ventured to one of the far gyms at the  Boo Williams facility in Hampton, Virginia.  Giles was playing with the 16 year olds coming back from his first ACL surgery.  The only coach on that court as I watched was Mike Krzyzewski.

It is worth noting that Krzyzewski has had an already long relationship with Giles.  He put in the work early and often. Everywhere you go Duke fans want to see Giles playing, but nobody anymore so than the Duke coach.

giles-3Giles knew when Krzyzewski was in the gym.  He recognized how much the Blue Devils head man wanted to coach him.  He entered the gym during a game at the Nike Peach Jam in a packed out house, but he quickly pointed out Krzyzewski to his friend.

The last time I saw Harry Gile splay was during the Peach Jam, a prestigious Nike event in North Augusta, South Carolina.  He was a beast on the court at that time leading his CP3 team to a win.

The gym was standing room only, where security was turning people away and they were all there to see the nation's top prospect.  Giles did not disappoint and after the game varying degrees of media sought his attention for interviews.

While Giles was always gracious with his answers, on this day he stopped to sign every autograph request from adoring fans.  It took Giles a good twenty minutes to make his way to an exit, finally aided by security.

teamOnce outside the facility, it was clear that Giles had enjoyed the moment.  He assembled with family that I dubbed Team Giles in the crowed corridor.  It was as if he knew this was his swan song moment on the AAU circuit and he was sponging every second of it.  Little did he know that another set back was to come.

Giles elected to play his final season at famed Oak Hill Academy under Steve Smith,  Before his season even got started, Giles went down to his second ACL injury.

It was shortly after that time when he would announce his collegiate decision.  He chose Duke University on national television to the joy of Blue Devil fans, but that pick was no surprise to some who had followed his story.

Now, the work began, again.  Giles would move to Durham to be close to the universities rehab facilities.  It was a bonus that Duke offered a perfect situation for his recovery.

As the season began, many would speculate on his return.  Some said he would not play at all, others said it would help his stock in the draft to compete.

One thing Duke has proven to its recruits is that it will be careful with injuries.  This happened with current NBA standout Kyrie Irving.  I suppose in that sense, you cannot blame Duke fans for wanting to see the fruits of the teams recruiting efforts in that Irving would play in just ten or so games.

Take a moment to think how Giles must feel about all this.  In his young career, he has dealt with two major injuries.  It has been more than a year since he has played in an organized game.

Trust me when I say, Giles has the itch.  Watching him warm up in recent Duke games shows a player that wants to compete.  There is a look in Giles eyes, a knowing if you will of a player who is ready for the limelight he has been in before.

It is unknown if Giles will return for sure against Tennessee State or perhaps later in the week versus Elon.  But make no mistake, his time is coming and sooner rather than later.

Expect a huge sigh of relief when Giles comes into a game with the royal blue Duke letters across his chest.  It will be a relief to his Krzzyewski and his staff, his family, the fans, NBA scouts, media and more.  But most of all, it will be  relief for the talented young man himself, Harry Giles.




Jayson Tatum National Freshman of the Week

dsc_0131DURHAM, N.C. – Duke forward Jayson Tatum earned another accolade for his breakthrough performances in last week’s wins over Florida and UNLV on Tuesday, garnering National Freshman of the Week honors from the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

CBS Sports has once again teamed up with the USBWA and the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year Award to name a National Freshman of the Week each week this season. The winner of the Tisdale Award will be announced in March.

In his first full week of competition this season after recovering from a foot injury, Tatum averaged 17.5 points on .522 (12-of-23) shooting from the floor while chipping in 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks per game in Duke’s two wins. He was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line on the week.

Tatum’s coming out party took place on a national stage against No. 21 Florida on Tuesdaynight at the Jimmy V Classic as he reeled off 22 points on 7-of-12 (.583) shooting, including 16 points in the second half. He also added eight rebounds and a pair of steals. The effort marked the first 20-point game of his career.

On Saturday, Tatum came off the bench for 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks as Duke dismantled UNLV.

The St. Louis native has scored in double figures in each of the three games he’s played since returning from injury.