Category Archives: Duke Basketball


Duke Basketball Notebook #1

n6Welcome to the first edition of the Duke Basketball Notebook for the 2015-16 season.  In the coming weeks we will talk of all things Duke Hoops as the season unfolds.  Last year, the Blue Devils won the National Championship behind the best freshman class in the programs history.  But it's time to put that memory behind us for we all know Duke Basketball never stops.

Let's take a look at Duke Basketball by the numbers this week.

2 - Only two players on this seasons roster led the team in scoring a year ago.  The first of those two players would be  Senior Amile Jefferson who tallied 19 points in the Blue Devils big win over Louisville.  The second is Grayson Allen who tallied 27 points in a win over Wake Forest at home.  What does this number say?  It's pretty obvious that Duke must find new players to put the ball in the hoop this season.  Both of the aforementioned players should see their opportunities increase and are likely to be in the starting lineup.

4 - Duke will take on four opponents for the first time in the programs history.  Those four teams are Sienna, Bryant, Yale and Utah State.  But a more interesting note on the number four is the fact that Duke will play said total of  Saturday-Monday turnarounds.  One of the more challenging slots on ACC teams schedules is the quick turnabout.  The first go round will be when Duke takes on Utah in Madison Square Garden only to play Elon shortly thereafter on Monday in Cameron.  Next comes Notre Dame followed by Syracuse, but at least both games are played at home.  The third time is a week later on January 23rd and 25th when Duke plays N.C. State in Raleigh and then goes south to Miami which basically gives the team mere hours of rest in between the contests.  The last go round will be home games versus N.C. State and Louisville.  The reason I mention this is that quick turnarounds can be challenging, especially so for a young team and Duke is a very young team this season.  What some may not realize is that Duke doesn't just go straight to restful periods  once  a game ends.  There is a wind down time, school work and normal life challenges which takes a toll even on youngsters.  This will make for a challenge where the staff must find ways to keep their players fresh.

CBTWz0SUQAA7iiN5 - Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski became the NCAA's all time wins leader a season ago which was somewhat lost in that the team won the title.  The Duke Coach now owns five National Championship rings to go along with five Gold Medals where he has helped to resurrect USA Basketball.  Perhaps this fact should have come under the number ten?  Either way, the numbers are impressive and Duke fans are present for history in the making.

8 - Perhaps no number reflects better on the fact that this years edition of Duke Basketball will not look anything like they did a season ago.  Freshman newcomers Antonio Vrankovic, Brandon Ingram, Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, Justin Robinson and Luke Kennard join transfer Sean Obi and new walk on Brennan Besser give the Devils eight new players on this seasons roster.  While I expect we could see a possible redshirt or two, the turnover is significant for a team while talented, could need time to come together as a cohesive unit.

9 - Speaking of departed players for the NBA, Duke fans will pay close attention to the exploits of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones.  The aforementioned give Duke nine one and done players under Mike Krzyzewski, who seems to have mastered the art of a trend that will not soon go away.

11 - Last seasons 35-4 finish gives Duke it's eleventh thirty win season under Mike Krzyzewski.

31 - That is the gaudy number for the amount of first round NBA draft picks under Krzyzewski, the most of any active coach in the game today. The Blue Devils sport twenty lottery picks within said number as well.

98 - Duke is about much more than just one and done players.  The Blue Devils hold an impressive 98% graduation rate during the Coach K era.

In closing we take a look at another interesting numbers fact.  Three of this seasons players on the Duke roster will wear the former numbers of the three assistant coaches on staff.  Brandon Ingram will rock #14 also worn by Nate James.  Antonio Vrankovic will don #30 which also belonged to Jon Scheyer and lastly, Luke Kennard will be draped with #5 worn by Jeff Capel.  I wonder is he has one of those almost half court shots that will rattle the rafters of Cameron as did Capel against UNC?  We'll find out soon for the 2015-16 season is upon us.



Jayson Tatum is a Blue Devil

3One of the nations top players will play his collegiate basketball career at Duke University.

Jayson Tatum, a versatile big time prospect knew where he wanted to go to school and his made his choice today on ESPNU during the Nike EYBL Finals.

The St.Louis Eagles shocked CP3 on a buzzer beating three point shot to advance to the EYBL title game.  Tatum scored 28 points and displayed a wide array of moves to help his team win.

Tatum stands 6-8, 195 pounds and he plays his high school basketball at Chaminade Prep School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Tatum has been a part of three gold medals with USA Basketball and he was one of the top scorers on the EYBL circuit.

Tatum chose Duke over Kentucky, North Carolina and St. Louis while the entire Duke Coaching Staff sat in the stands.

"I knew where I wanted to go to school and want to make my parents proud," said Tatum as he held up a Duke shirt.


Porter-Young –The Next Package Deal?

ty2Could there be another package deal in the works for Duke Basketball?  Mokan Elite features two of the nation's top rising juniors in Trae Young and  Michael Porter.  The duo combined for a sweet play where Young hit Porter for the winning basket late in the game during the Nike EYBL Peach Jam Finals last evening.

You don't have to have a long memory to remember Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, a package deal that helped lead Duke to a National title.  While the Blue Devils are not necessarily always going to go the package deal route, the aforementioned duo is a another intriguing high-low combo they are certainly keen on.  In fact, Duke Head Coach Mike Kryzewski and his assistant Jon Scheyer took in every minute of the Mokan Elite duo last night.  And they were later joined by Jeff Capel, putting three-fourths of the Duke staff in attendance.

I caught up to Michael Porter after his game winning play and asked him if his chemistry with Trae Young was the reason for the win.   "Yeah, our chemistry came quick,  Most point guards won't see that pass when they are triple teamed, but he found me," said Porter.

"I could believe they left him open, so I made the play,' said Young.

The duo has only played together for a year but it is clear they have a budding relationship on and off the court.  "Seeing the chemistry and how we play together now, I feel it's something that will take us to the next level.   So, yeah we want to play together if it works out, said Porter.

Duke, Virginia, Washington, Syracuse, Baylor, Louisville, Arizona and Kentucky have all reached out to Parker.  And most of the schools on that list have interest in Young as well.

"It speaks volumes that they came to see me play," stated Porter when asked what he thought of the Duke staff that had gathered for his game.  The Blue Devil staff certainly stands out among the throng of coaches with their recent title fresh in prospects memory.

"We've only been playing together since this summer but we're building a relationship.  it's a ways off but we feel we can take that to the next level and win national championships," said Young when asked of the rising junior duo's bond.

Duke recently offered Young on his unofficial visit.  "I just visited Duke and Coach K offered me a scholarship.  They don't offer very many kids, so it's a blessing.

I liked hanging out with the coaches.  We walked around and visited Cameron and then went to his office to talk about it all.  It was a lot of fun," said Young of his visit.

The two young, but talented prospects are likely to experience some growing pains while playing against older players as the EYBL Final progress.  But make no mistake, that this duo is starting to serve notice that they have work to do and the focus to get it done.




Q & A with Duke Assistant Jeff Capel

8Duke Basketball is coming of another Championship season and their success has a far reaching effect. Duke Basketball truly never stops and the staff hit the road running after the title game.  I caught up recently with Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel who shared his thoughts on the title game, recruiting and more.

One of the big late season signings was the addition of Brandon Ingram.  Can you talk about his game?

He's really a 6-10 guard.  He has to get stronger, obviously, but he's been able to have success and is a big time worker who can pass, handle the ball and shoot,  He'll be an instrumental part of this team but we're not sure just how he'll fit.

Talk about the staff you work with.  The chemistry helped Duke win a National Championship and you join a rare club by gaining that honor.

I think our staff is great.  Obviously Coach (Kryzyzewski) is the leader of it.  Jon (Scheyer) brought  a new energy and he's going to be  a really good head coach one day.  I didn't know Jon as a player because I was coaching at Oklahoma.  I knew he was a really good player and I imagine he had a good feel for the game because he does as a coach.  Nate is a big time worker who has energy and passion.  There is no one more loyal and he's always there for our guys.  I think we all bring something unique and work well together. We all have ego's but we don;t have ego problem.  We just fit well together.

What did you guys do to help this team achieve the ultimate goal?

Really it was what all of us did.  Some of the things coach did this year, I know going forward when I become a head coach again that I will benefit from all the mental work in practice,  Just the little buttons he pushed to make us better as a team and to watch each player get better from his coaching played a such a big role.  When we went to Louisville, all of a sudden we switched to zone and won a big game there.  The things coach did in those meetings like keeping everything positive was huge for us. The main reason for success is that our guys just bought in.  There was no jealousy and everyone was about winning.  When you have that and talent, you have a chance to do something special and we did.

Well, you will be able to practice with eleven players next season.   What will it be like to have a full practice roster again?

(Laughs)  It will be like the beginning of the season.  Our practices at the beginning of the season were great.  They were competitive in that we had ten really good players who got after each other.  And then we went to that lull and were down to eight players.  We adjust to what we have.  That is what coach does.  We don't really have a system going into each season.  But what we do is develop our teams strengths with who we have on the roster at that time.

When do you put last season behind you and move forward with next seasons team?

It will start when they get here and they will get here during the second session of summer school in late June.  When you have a young team it's always evolving and that is what will happen with them.  Look at us the last six weeks of the season.  Justise Winslow was arguably our best player and that changed the dynamic of our team and as he got better, out team got better.  Going into the Final Four we added new things for Justise  Throughout the season we kept adding things for Jah.  As players develop we';ll add more to their role,.

Talk  a bit about the returning players.

Amile, Marshall, Matt and Grayson were a part of a championship.  Hopefully, they can instill the work ethic it takes to get there to the younger players we have coming in.

You win a National Championship, get back to Durham and have to hit the recruiting trail in the same week.  Did you ever want to hit the pause button and stop and enjoy the moment a bit?

Would you like to hit the pause button?  Yes.  We were up all night Monday watching the game again.  Then we get back Tuesday for the celebration at Cameron and we're exhausted.  By the time you get your bags are unpacked, it's Wednesday and we are meeting with the team and then Thursday we are out recruiting.  So, yes, it would have been nice to have had more time, but that's the way it is.  It was necessary and I think we've done a good job out on the road. It's tough but necessary.  We have to do it.  We enjoy doing it and have a zeal for it and we like the results.

At what point does the staff put the title game behind them and move forward to next season?

You never put it behind you but you have to move forward.  Every now and then we talk about it.  Every now and then Coach will say to us, hey, just in case you don;t remember, we won the National Championship. We knew we had to get to work.  We knew we had to get these guys,  We knew we had to recruit.  And that's what happened with Brandon Ingram and Derryck Thornton.  We had been working on them for a while.  We had a three-year relationship with Ingram and a year with Thornton, so it wasn't like we were getting to know that, but we did close them.

It was kind of like the perfect storm.  You win the title and then parlayed that into successful recruiting. Duke Basketball never stops, huh?




Duke Speak – Marshall Plumlee

marshallDuring last season championship run many of the Duke players grew from winning.  This season, Captain Marshall Plumlee hopes to show the newcomers the Duke way and the work that it takes to make a champion.  I recently caught up to the third of three Plumlees to wear a Duke uniform during the Coach K Academy.  Here is what he had to say about the following subjects -
What has your summer been like to date coming off a National Championship?

It's been awesome.  It's wonderful to be around the Duke program coming off a championship but it's exciting to get back to work.  Now we know what it takes to win, we'll just try to implement that into success this summer.

You will be a leader of this seasons team and a captain.  What can you share with the incoming freshman that will help their transition at Duke?
I think the captains need to set an example through our work ethic and show them how we handle every day things as a Duke Basketball player.  If we show them that we are going to get better every day, we can expect the same from them.  That's what other guys did for us and it is only natural that we will now do the same.
This season will be different.  Gone are some stalwarts but at the same time, you have a chance to build something new.  How excited are you to have that opportunity?
It's exciting.  Duke Basketball is always exciting.  We've got so many people who are hungry for more.  We have guys like Amile, Matt and Grayson and they all want to win as much as ever and there is a good possibility with the freshman we have coming in.
When will the team get their National Championship Rings?
We'll get our rings this Fall.  We just have to take the lessons learned and apply them to this season for continued success.
You most recently chose to go down a military path where you will enter West Point after graduation.  How did that come about and what does it do for you as a person?
It helps me be more disciplined and a better leader on and off the floor.  I'm proud of the military experiences I have had and look forward for more to come.  It helps me as a basketball player and a person.  I've always had interest in the military and it started my junior year of high school when I played for the USA team in Germany.  General Robert Brown who actually played for Coach K at West Point spoke to my passions and wanting to be something more than myself.  I attribute heading down this road in part to him, Coach K and Pat Thompson, our former Director of Basketball Operations here.
What would be the ideal situation for Marshall Plumlee five years from now?
To be a special player in the NBA who is also in the Army reserves.

Coach K Talks Hoops

5Coach Mike Krzyzewski is in the midst of conducting  his 13th Coach K Academy in Durham, North Carolina .  Coming off his fifth National Championship season he took time to address the media.  Here are some of the highlights of what he had to say.

- Coach immediately said he had less time this spring in that his team won the Nation Championship.  That meant less meeting with his staff.  He also mentioned that Duke had to hit the recruiting trail the Friday after Monday's title game.  "We're moving on and have three of our guys in summer school in Matt Jones, Sean Obi and Amile Jefferson," said Krzyzewski.

- Coach said he likes all the new NCAA rules joking they changed more in one session that they had done in thirty years.  "I think every thing they did was right on but think the lane should be wider and the three point line should be moved back to the international stripe.   Krzyzewski said he might be in favor of going to a 24 second shot clock as well which would give the refs less to work with in the way of counts, meaning five second calls, ten seconds to get the ball over mid court, etc.

- "We really haven't gotten away yet as a family," said Krzzyzewsi when asked whether he had rested since the season.  He mentioned that his family would be making a trip to the North Carolina coast after the camp.

- Coach mentioned that it was time for his three stars to go pro.  He said he asked them to finish up the school year and that Tyus, Jahlil and Justise did so,  He said this years team would not have the same dynamic that Jah and Jones had.

- Coach Krzyzewski mentioned that all the players would be on campus during the second summer school session,

- "We won't have that big guys inside like Jah this year, said Krzyzewski, but he did say they would have some good bigs.  "We should be able to score the ball, said Krzyzewski.  He immediately went into a spill on Grayson Allen, saying he would attack and get to the line.  He said that Luke Kennard was a shooter as well.  Kennard and Allen give Duke two guys who are scorers this coming season on the wings.  He called Derryck Thornton who will be the new point guard, a pass first point guard.  "We're just going to be young," said Krzyzewski.  He said he has had few talks with next years team as a group but wanted to share things about the championship .

- Krzyzewski mentioned how they used small line ups in the title game, saying it just happened that way at season's end.  He mentioned that his players played big, singling out Justise Winslow and Matt Jones.

- On Derryck Thornton - "He's talented.  He's mature.  He's the same age as Tyus," said Krzyzewski.  He mentioned that he played at Findlay Prep and the talented schedule they face.  He said he played 40 game schedules with  outstanding players.  "We just have to show these guys the same amount of confidence we did this past years team.  it will be interesting to see how we mesh together."

- Briefly mentioned Rasheed Sulaimon saying he thought he would graduate this summer and that he had fulfilled his requirements and that the school had theirs as well.  He said he though it was great he was going to Maryland for his last season of eligibility.

- Krzyzewski said it was terrific that Kyrie Irving would play in the NBA Finals and then said "Our whole perimeter  from the World Championships are in," meaning James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Stephan Curry in the playoffs.

- Coach Krzyzewski said Team USA would have a mini camp in August the 11th through the 14th.  It will be an All Star like gathering with no contact with an All Star Game like exhibition taking place per the Gold Medal wining coach.

- Coach said he texted Kevin Durrant over the weekend to see how he was doing.  He responded that he was doing well and that he wants to be a part of USA Basketball.

- "The young guys are better.  The younger guys today are better guys than ten years ago," said Krzyzewski.  He said that the USA Basketball program was being funded well at the grass-roots level and propped Jerry Colangelo for that.  He said that players were will to give up AAU ball for the Team USA experience and that it was tough for his players because of summer school.