Category Archives: Duke Basketball


Your Twitter Questions Answered

23Here is my answers to your twitter questions about the Duke Basketball team after their loss to Syracuse.

Unlike football ACC teams do not have to share injury information on a player's status.  Duke is especially plays it  close to the vest on these kind of issues.  What I can share is that Chase Jeter is dressing out for games and warming up and looks as if he could play if needed.  Coach Kyryzewski is known to play a shorter bench towards the end of the season.  Whether Jeter is actually available to play or not is only known by the player himself who has not shared information on his recovery and or the staff.

What many miss is the fact that Matt Jones is a great defender and being that has earned him immense trust from the staff.  Duke has three players on the roster with National Championship rings with Jones being one og them.  While he is streaky with his three-point shot, he knows the Duke system and where to be on the court,  That allows for less easy buckets.  If one single player had a breakdown on defense an easy basket generally happens.

As for Tatum, part of his lack of touches was that Syracuse was defending him with much more attention.  Still, I get that anyone would want the ball in his hands more as hot as he has been of late. Duke had a really bad final few seconds with concern to execution versus the Orange which cost them the game.

Not at all.  Some of the reasons for certain easy lineups are matchups. We all want to see the Bolden that played against Miami, especially going down south in short time after being far north at Syracuse.  The short rotation has more to do with trust and injuries,  One must also realize Syracuse played just seven players in their win with four players playing almost the whole game.  We tend to reach for things that are happening elsewhere after losses in that it is in our nature.  I do think Duke will need one of those players to step up really soon or they could be going home earlier than wanted come March.  It is critical that Duke has a second big man in place if something should happen with Amile Jefferson be it a dreaded injury or foul trouble.

Many fans feel your pain with those easy drives to the hoop.  The way Duke plays defense they depend on some help defense or rotating players and that has not been a smooth transition for much of the season.  The problem with playing two bigs is staying in front of their man.  On the other hand, having two in could help in a zone at times. It wilzonel be interesting to see if Duke starts to play a little more junk zone the rest of the way just to change things up.  Another reason for not playing two bigs is a combination of health and readiness.  The bottom line is it takes freshman the most time to adjust on defense.  And Bolden and Giles are indeed freshman.

Win.  For what it's worth ESPN currently has Duke playing in Greenville.  Duke must close out the regular season strong, maybe 2-1 or better.  Or they will have to win the ACC Tournament.  If Duke fails to get a two game bye with a top four finish the odds go down.  I think they have a pretty good shot still, but they need on the court success.  The one game that haunts Duke the most is their loss at home to N.C. State.  That made for a situation where Duke had to win some difficult road games to finish atop the ACC this season. They have also been hampered by having to play at Louisville, Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech. Syracuse, Miami, Notre Dame and North Carolina.  Not many ACC teams have to go to all those places.  Duke also got most of the cellar teams one time with the leagues unbalanced schedule.

We will be periodically taking random questions from twitter at times for the rest of the season.  Thanks to our followers.

Tatum has now been named ACC Freshman of the Week twice in a row.

Tatum ACC Freshman of the Week — Again.

Tatum has now been named ACC Freshman of the Week twice in a row.
Tatum has now been named ACC Freshman of the Week twice in a row.

GREENSBORO, N.C. – For the second consecutive week, Duke forward Jayson Tatum was rewarded for his stellar play in a pair of Blue Devil wins with ACC Freshman of the Week honors.

In addition to garnering the award for the second time in as many weeks, Tatum has now collected ACC Freshman of the Week honors three times on the season.

The St. Louis native was the catalyst for wins at No. 14 Virginia and at home over Wake Forest last week, averaging 23.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 35.5 minutes per contest. He was lights out as a shooter in both games, shooting .609 (14-of-23) from the floor, .750 (9-of-12) from three-point range and 1.000 (10-of-10) from the line.

Tatum put Duke on his back on Wednesday with a career-high 28 points and a team-high eight rebounds as the Blue Devils handed Virginia just its third home ACC loss in the last three seasons. He was 6-of-7 (.857) from outside the arc against UVA, tying the Duke single-game freshman records for three-pointers made and three-point percentage. Twenty-one of Tatum’s game-high 28 came in the second half as Duke erased a four-point halftime deficit to win by 10.

Tatum put together a 19-point afternoon against Wake Forest on Saturday, knocking down 3-of-5 from long distance. He shared the team high with seven rebounds and added two assists against the Demon Deacons. With Wake making a push late in the game, Tatum came up with two huge free throws in a one-and-one situation to help Duke seal the victory.

For the year, Tatum is averaging 16.4 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting .453 from the floor, .389 from three-point range and a team-high .870 from the line. He is a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.

Blue Decvils take out Wake Forest

Streaking Blue Devils Down Wake Forest

Blue Decvils take out Wake Forest
Blue Decvils take out Wake Forest

The Duke Blue Devils won their 7th consecutive game with a 99-94 win over pesky Wake Forest.  The Blue Devils put six players in double figure scoring led by Luke Kennard who dropped 23 points. Jayson Tatum added 19. Amile Jefferson 16, Frank Jackson 12, Grayson Allen 11 and Matt Jones 10 points to round things out.

Duke would also go 13 of 27 from beyond the three-point stripe and knock down 14 of 16 free throw attempts in their win.  And it took this kind of effort to hold of a tournament hungry Wake Forest team who got 31 point, 10 rebound effort from John Collins.

The win pushes the Blue Devils ACC record to 10-4 and they now own a 22-5 overall mark.  Duke is in a heated race for the regular season title and a top four finish which earns a two-day bye in the ACC Tournament.

Duke changed up their defense at the half, going smaller and allowing for Wake to get easy buckets at times inside.  But the defense also kept the Deacons from going off from the three-point stripe.  It was a trade-off or sorts and the reason Harry Giles and Marques Bolden saw little action after the break.

After the win, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said he hoped his team could get healthy.  Allen is nursing a bad ankle and other Blue Devils have undisclosed ailments.  He has to adjust on the fly this week in that Duke travel north to Syracuse and then as far south is there is in the league at Miami.  And they do this in three-day stretch.

Duke is currently tied with Louisville for second.  But there is a three-way tie if Florida State wins today.  It is worth noting that Notre Dame at 10-5 is nipping at their heels hoping for a stumble.  And the Virginia versus North Carolina game result tonight will have further implications.

The bottom line is every game is a major battle from now until the season ends.  It is almost as if we are seeing tournament basketball in the regular season.  Duke will battle two more teams in Syracuse and Miami on the road with both seeking to solidify their resume.  All the games are tough with just four games left.

It is also worth noting that Duke was visited by former players and National Champions Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Mason Plumlee today.  The first three mentioned played on the 2015 National Championship team while Plumlee played on the 2010 team.  All were here during the NBA All Star weekend break.

Jeff Capel Senior was also able to sit on the bench with his son, Jeff Capel who is Krzyzewskis' right hand man.

Duke welcomes Wake to Cameron

Duke Welcomes Wake Forest to Cameron

Duke welcomes Wake to Cameron
Duke welcomes Wake Forest to Cameron

The Duke Blue Devils have good reason to feel good about their play of late.  The team is riding a six game winning streak which has propelled them back in the the regular season race.  The top four seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference receive a two game bye in the tournament.

Duke used solid man to man defense, sharp free throw shooting and the play of Jayson Tatum to defeat Virginia in their last game.  The key for the Blue Devils will be to focus forward and put that game behind them in that Wake Forest offers a different style of play.

Where the Cavaliers want to get you into a grind it out slugfest, the Deacons are content to run with anyone.  The Deacons average slightly more points per game than the Blue Devils in that they are one of the better offensive teams in the league.

Ironically, a comeback win over this same Wake Forest team started the turnaround for the Blue Devils.  In that game, late heroics from Luke Kennard helped Duke escape.  The hope is for this game not to come down to the buzzer.

In order for that to happen, Duke must score the ball well.  This will be the teams second to last outing in Cameron for the 2017 season. Duke will seek to protect their home court and stay atop of the ACC standings with a win.

Make no mistake, Wake Forest will be a dangerous team on Saturday.  The Deacons currently stand 6-8 in the league and 15-11 overall.  In short, they're currently a bubble team fighting for their tournament life.

Wake Forest goes about eight players deep.  They are led by John Collins, one the best frontcourt players in the league.  Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods round out their top three scorers.

Duke is still getting healthy.  While the team has been led of late by star freshman Jayson Tatum and the steady Luke Kennard, they still have players hobbled.  Among those is Grayson Allen who is nursing a sore ankle which showed up in the last game via his shooting stats.

One of the bright spots for Duke is late has been the play of Harry Giles Jr.  He had some good minutes against Virginia and should continue to see more time as the season winds down.  In fact, Giles is an X-Factor in tomorrows game in that he is from Winston Salem. He will have some people keenly interested in this game and there is reason to think he will play well.

But it is not about one player for Duke and Krzyzewski has been sure to get that across.  The Blue Devils are just starting to scratch the surface of how good they can be.  If the team continues to trust one another and play unselfish, active basketball good things will happen.

Duke needs a win here as much as they do any of their remaining games,  But Wake Forest in is a similar position and that makes for a competitive game.  I like where Duke is at this time.  They seem like a team that is hungry for more and they had better be.

I am picking Duke to win by double digits.


Breaking down the Duke win over UVA

Breaking Down the Big Duke Win Over UVA

Breaking down the Duke win over UVA
Breaking down the Duke win over UVA

They're back!  Well, not really.  Everybody will start to talk more about Duke Basketball  in that they garnered their sixth consecutive win over Virginia.   Duke has struggled a bit at times this season but that was mainly due to injuries.  In short, Duke has been here all along and the program is simply adjusting their strategy and getting healthier.

It took a sensational second half performance from Jayson Tatum and some lock down man to man defense for their latest win.  And what an impressive win it was on the road against a hostile crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Tatum would end the game with a Duke career high of 28 points to go with 8 rebounds.  He launched some dagger three-point shots that took the life out of the offensively challenged opponent.  He finished the game knocking down 6 of 7 shots from beyond the stripe.

The reason Virginia struggled on the offensive end was the Blue Devils man to man defense.  Duke held Virginia to a season low 36.8 percent from the field.  When the Cavaliers got some open looks it appeared they were so surprised to be open that they missed some easy shots.  Duke took a page out of the Virginia playbook and turned back the clock to the days of their program staple.

Going into the half, a turnover from steady senior Amile Jefferson set off a Virginia run.  That was the Blue Devils 8th turnover in the half where they had chances disappear with careless errors.  But they adjusted well in the second half.  None of us are privy to what Mike Krzyzewski and his staff said but the results were enough to propel a 14 point turnaround.

Duke came out on fire and knocked Virginia back after the break. They would protect the ball and commit just 3 more turnovers against the nations best defensive team.  They would hang 44 points in the Cavaliers and in the end that meant a 65-55 win.

The Blue Devils also took advantage of the aggressive Virginia defensive play.  In a game where they blanketed two of the Blue Devils in Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard.  But Kennard would adjust and get to the line to connect on 9 of 10 attempts.  He ended the game with 16 points and an impressive 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He proved why he is a lock for the coming All ACC team by adjusting his game.

It wasn't just Kennard who benefitted from getting to the line.  The Blue Devils would knock down 18 of 20 from the charity stripe. That was a key element in that Virginia would not miss from the line.  But Duke only allowed them 8 attempts in that they made it hard to get into the lane.

In a night when their captain Amile Jefferson battled some foul trouble, a freshman would step up.  Harry Giles saw his minutes increase as he seems to be adjusting much quicker now after his injury.  Giles made some good hustle plays and that is critical in the Blue Devils attempt to develop his game.  Giles led the Blue Devils with 2 steals and showed flashes of the kind of player he will become with more time.

Another thing that cannot be understated or overlooked was the Blue Devils toughness.  In fact, add concentration to the mix as well. The team made clear strides in the focus department winning on the road against a solid Virginia squad.  Duke is a bit leathered up after all the adversity they have faced.  They are a tough bunch riding a six game winning streak going into their next game with Wake Forest.

Perhaps no player was as leather tough last evening than seasoned veteran Matt Jones.  His defense on London Perrantes has to be mentioned.  He held the All ACC candidate to 4-of-11, two assists and three turnovers

Yes, this was a huge win for Duke who now stands 21-5 overall this season.  But the win enabled the Blue Devils to vault into the top four spots in the ACC.  The importance there is to gain a two game bye in the fast approaching league tournament.

On a night when the Cavaliers held Duke to a season low in points, they found a way to win.  Now the team has to take the next step against a more talented offensive team in Wake Forest.  But the way things are going, Krzyzewski and company have to feel good about the future.

(Photo by Lance King for Blue Devil Nation)

Duke-Virginia Set for War

(Photo by Lance King for Blue Devil Nation)
Duke and Virginia will fo to war tonight in a key game in the ACC race. (Photo by Lance King for Blue Devil Nation)

Another great ACC battle is on tap when Duke takes on Virginia in Charlottesville just after nine o'clock this evening on ESPN2.  The Blue Devils are coming into the game riding a five game winning streak while the Cavaliers are smarting from a close road  loss to Virginia Tech.

The Cavaliers have been solid at home and the Blue Devils come into the game as a six point underdog.  Virginia is in need of a win in that they have dropped  three out of their last five games.  One of those losses came on the road to top ranked Villanova in a game many though they should have won.  In short, their losses have been close.

One gets the impression that Duke will see the Cavaliers best effort. In order for this to happen, Virginia will force Duke into a grinder of a game they want to keep in the sixties.  Virginia has a way of literally getting into your chest on defense which frustrates their opponents.

The player who makes the Cavaliers tick is London Perrantes, an All ACC candidate and the teams leading scorer.  Oddly, the Cavaliers do not have a single player averaging over 13 ppg.  But what that says is they are very team oriented and that you must guard all positions.

Virginia plays eleven players 10 plus minutes a game.  This balance allows them to really get after you on the defensive end.  They will ride the hot hand, be it Marial Shayok or Kyle Guy.  They rebound from every position on the court, so keeping a body on them is critical.

Virginia often goes small with their line ups, so expect Duke to be forced to do the same.  In their win over Clemson, Duke played small almost the entire second half.  It will be interesting to see how Mike Krzyzewski plays his bench which consists of freshman big men Harry Giles and Marques Bolden.  It will be a challenge to keep his team fresh for crunch time versus a deep team.

Duke has been hot of late, but there are still many doubters.  The close win over Clemson reminded many that the team is still not quite there yet.  When I say there, I mean consistent effort nightly. However, one only has to look to the NBA where Golden State and Cleveland had shocking losses after big wins.  In short, don't make too much out of the close win over Clemson hours after the Blue Devils emotional win over North Carolina.

With all the injuries and missed time from Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils have toughened up.   By nights end, we'll learn even more about this team.  With a win, everybody is talking about them again. With a loss, the doubters will say they told all that the Blue Devils are still not ready for a spot in the top ten.

The bottom line is that Duke and Virginia will go to war tonight. Both teams will leave it all on the court and if not, we know who the loser will be.  This is a must win game to remain in the race for the ACC regular season title.  This is also a must win game to stay in the top four of the league where teams get a double bye in the tournament.

Duke must keep it's key players out of foul trouble.
Duke must keep it's key players out of foul trouble.

Duke will lean on its big three once again for scoring.  Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard would be wise to get to the free throw line when possible.  And this will be the toughest test to date offensively for freshman Jayson Tatum.  It will be very important for freshman such as Tatum and Frank Jackson to not force things on offense against a pesky defense.

Despite the Blue Devils being labeled the underdog, I like where the team is at this time.  Duke controls its destiny and each of their remaining games are oh-so important in a heated race.  I think Duke is the more talented team when fully healthy, but this game will come down to heart, effort and playing until the end.

You can expect a close game where both teams should be emotionally drained when the buzzer sounds.  The key for Duke is to play with discipline,  The key for Virginia is to keep their crowd into the game.

It should be a fun and tense game.  Duke will have to play good team ball and trust one another to win. They will have to overcome a hostile crowd and what will likely be the Cavaliers best shot.  The game is equally important to both teams.  It will be a war.  I look for Duke to keep it going in a hard-fought effort.

Duke 74 Virginia 73