Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Big Josh Smith talks recruiting with BDN-Premium

Josh Smith (6-9, 280, Kentwood HS, Seattle Rotary AAU) is one of the nation's most coveted players in the class of 2010.  Duke is but one of many schools in the chase for the talented front court prospects services.   We caught up with Josh and got his thoughts on the recruiting process, timeline of his decision and the schools that are in the race.  Blue Devil Members can continue to read about the latest with one of Duke's ... [private]

Josh dunked for the first time as a 6-4 seventh grader and he hasn't stopped since that time.  In fact, he had so many blocked shots, that his league changed the rules to keep him from eating up the paint.  His Dad, Josh Senior prefers to be called  "Big Josh," but he stands at just 6-3 as his son equaled his height by 12 years old.

I approached this interview as Sports Nation Network which I own, seeking honest answers instead of one slanted for the home team. 

The List - Arizona, Duke, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA,  USC, Washington and a couple of others.

Has your high school season started yet?

Yes, it started Monday.  Our first game will be December 5th.  We have one starter back other than myself.

Can you tell me which schools have been the most aggressive in their recruitment of you?

I'd say Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, UCLA and Ohio State.

There has been a lot of talk in the past that UCLA was in the drivers seat for your services or that they might lead.  Is there any truth to that?

I would say no.

Suppose somebody had never seen your game - how would you describe it to them?

Over powering, tough in the low post and aggressive.

What are some of the key factors when you think about your pending collegiate choice?

Location won't be a factor for me.  Style of play could be a factor.

Who do you pattern your game after?

Shaq!  I grew up pulling fo him.  Some have called me "Baby Shaq."

If you could meet any NBA player, who would you most like to meet?

Dwight Howard.  I like his powerful dunks and that he tries to make his team better.

What style of basketball do you like to play ... up and down ... structured half court, four out and one in ... ?

Four out and one in.

So you like the idea of being the go to guy in that type of offense.


So, there is no leader at this time ...


Is there a school you are more curious about than others?

I would say there is no leader at this time nor one that I have any stronger interest in more than others.

Are you likely to take all of your allotted official visits which the NCAA allows?

Yeah, I'd probably say I would.  I could make an earlier decision if the situation feels right.

What about the NBA ...

Yeah, I want to play in the NBA, but I also have a big desire to play ... play in the league.

You've mentioned a lot of really good schools, some of which have more success putting guys in the league than others.  Will that kind of thing have a bearing?

Yes, a little bit.  When I get into school my first goal is to be successful there and if I'm lucky or good enough to go to the league, I will start to think about that.

With the exception of Washington and WSU, most of the schools on your list are a good ways off.  So, it's no problem to go as far east as Kentucky, Duke or UNC?

I wouldn't have a problem going to the east or anything like that.  It's like, well in Texas I have family in Dallas and Mississippi down south, so I wouldn't have a problem to go down there and play, but I don't have a problem going anywhere.  UCLA is like a ten and a half hour drive or two and a half hour flight.

Who will play a big role in your decision?

Probably my Dad, my Mom, my family and older brother.

How do you like the recruiting process?  Is it tiring, a lot of calls ...

I do, but my Dad really handles most of the calls.  It's not really tiresome though.

Who are the last coaches to have called you?

Coach Matta at Ohio State, Coach Pitino at Louisville ... that's all I know of this past week.  I'm in a get to know process with all the schools.

What are you like off the court?

 I just like to chill with friends, go see movies and do stuff with a lot of other people, whatever is fun.

Josh Smith in three words as a person?

As a person I would say nice, smart and funny.

... three words as a player?

solid, powerful and understanding. [/private]

Duke climbs to 6-0 by defeating Montana in Cameron 78-58

[private]The Duke players and staff barely had time to unpack their bags after two victories in New York before taking on Montana early this afternoon in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Duke had little problem in disposing of their opponent in route to 78-58 a victory.

Once again, Duke was bolstered by its defense and balanced offensive attack.  Four players managed double figure scoring for the fourth time in five games this season.

Leading the way was Nolan Smith and Gerald Henderson with 14 points each.  Smith has been successful at taking over the point guard role this season while "G," as he is known by teammates, is starting to assert himself.

Kyle Singler chipped in 13 points and Jon Scheyer went for 12 as Duke improved to 6-0 on the young season.

Brian Zoubek continued to get his timing back after off season surgery, having a solid effort of 8 points and 7 rebounds.

Zoubek and the Devils out rebounded the Grizzlies 42-26, holding them under 60 points for the season.  For that matter, the Blue Devils have held all of their opponents, save Rhode Island to under 60 this season.

The win gave Krzyzewski his 809th career victory and Duke won 63rd consecutive game against non conference opponents at home.

Duke looks to go 7-0 on Friday versus Duquesne in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Make no mistake that the players and coaches alike, will take advantage of a much needed Thanksgiving break.

It's unusual for a team to play six games in November, so the break is coming at a much needed time.  Despite a day or two off, you can bet that Coach K will quickly gravitate toward game tape shortly after a feast during Holiday gatherings.

Duke has shown that they will be a team that thrives on defensive pressure first while letting its offensive chemistry develop.   All things considered, the team is right where it wants to be early - undefeated despite putting its best game on the court yet.

Note - This game was originally scheduled after Thanksgiving, but Montana could only play the game at this time.

Today's K-ments -

I think today we did a good job against a team that played really hard against us. To me, it capped off a great week for us. You play eight games in four days, and three of the days you’re in New York with not a lot of practice time. I thought our kids played hard for all four games, and they played hard again today. We were able to look at a few things today just in our substitution. There wasn’t a substitution pattern, there were things we were trying to look at as far as who was out there at this particular time instead of subbing en masse. We had 10 guys in double-figure minutes, and that was by design to take a look at a bunch of things. And we wanted to give Greg [Paulus] some recovery time, because he’s just been playing injured. Hopefully the three or four days we can give him will bring that injury along a little bit better. It’s just kind of staying there and that’s hard for him because he wants to play so badly. All of sudden now Jon [Scheyer] was handling the ball, Elliot [Williams] was on the ball and things like that, so it was good for us to take a look at those things.”


On Greg Paulus injury -

“He’s never recovered. He’s played the last three ball games hurt. You can see it, I can see it in his shot, in how he extends. It’s just not good yet. It’s a bad bruise and we had an MRI taken against yesterday just to make sure there wasn’t anything in there that we hadn’t seen, and everything they thought was still the right way. It’s part of your body that gets hit a lot in our game. I think it was a wise decision, and it was tough for him to make it because that kid wants to play all the time, but let’s hope it helps.”


On Nolan Smith -

“I just want him to keep developing. He’s got a tough position, and it wears on you mentally, not just physically, when you’re responsible for running a team. Last year he didn’t have to do this as the primary guy and all of a sudden this is the fourth game of the week and he’s going to have different people there, and Greg is not going to play for him or with him. I got on him a little bit saying ‘Remember what’s going on today’ and I thought he responded real well and had that burst scoring wise. In the second half, I just reminded him again. How do you get better mental toughness? You do it by not just practice, but you do it by going through these situations. I thought he did a good job today.”


On the freshmen’s development, especially Miles Plumlee and Elliot Williams -

“Elliot brings an enthusiasm to play. You can tell right away that he wants to be really good. That doesn’t mean the other guys don’t want to be really good, but you can see it. He showed that up in New York. I was really impressed with how Elliot played up in New York on that stage. He looked like he belonged. When I watch tape, I see some things that you don’t see. Sometimes things just jump off the screen, and his stance really jumped off the screen up in New York. He was so wide and moving so well. He can be really good. In Miles’ case, Miles has a lot of ability and I think when you’re a big guy, it’s such a huge difference from playing in high school to college. The physicality of the game, which distracts you, but he’s got a lot of ability. We just have to keep giving him minutes, and playing with Brian [Zoubek] in practice like that is good for him. And playing with Kyle and Lance, all of sudden the familiarity of playing that way will develop. He’s a kid that could really shoot up quickly once he gets more comfortable on the court.”


On Brian Zoubek's confidence -

“Brian’s primary thing was his injury. Brian’s a good basketball player. All of sudden he doesn’t have that [injury], he’s lost some weight and he’s running better. Brian runs well for a guy his size. He wears down a little bit, because you’re running a pretty big body. I’m really proud of the way Brian’s working at this thing.”


On the break -

“They’ll have Monday off and we’ll come back Tuesday to practice. I didn’t know it because we were in Maui last year that school ends on Tuesday here, so Wednesday becomes a really good day for us. Then it’s Thanksgiving, and then we play and we start another stretch until Michigan and then it’s exams. When we come back we have to look at that period from Tuesday’s practice until when we get back from Michigan as another segment. We’ve ended this segment pretty well and then we go into another one.”


High School Hoops Edition No. 1

[private]Blue Devil Nation is the place for updated information on high school games involving Duke Commitments and recruiting targets. This season we will track the progress of, and post weekly updates on, future Blue Devils: Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Andre Dawkins, Josh Hairston, and Tyler Thornton; plus targets Harrison Barnes, Josh Smith, Brandon Knight, and John Wall.

Mason Plumlee and Christ School have opened their season with four victories. The Greenies defeated Veritas Sports Academy 87 – 58, Asheville High School 89 – 46, Blue Ridge School 76 – 61, and Porter-Gaud 73 - 50.

In the season opener, on November 15, Plumlee’s stat line against Veritas was seven points, six rebounds, four assists and three blocks. On November 18, he exploded for 28 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over Asheville.

Christ School played back-to-back games on Friday, November 21, and Saturday, November 22. Against Blue Ridge School, Plumlee scored 13 points and blocked four shots. He put up a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds against Porter-Gaud Saturday afternoon.

Christ School will return to action on December 2, against Spartanburg Day School.[/private]

Duke (5-0) vs Montana (2-1) Game Notes


•  Game 6  •

[10 AP/5 Coaches] Duke (5-0) vs. Montana (2-1)

Sunday, November 23, 2008  •  1:06 PM ET  •  FSNS/NESN

Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314)  •  Durham, N.C.


Game Quick Facts

TV: FSNS/NESN; Mike Hogewood (play-by-play), Mike Gminski (analyst).

Radio: Duke Radio Network (flagship WDNC 620 AM in Durham); Bob Harris (play-by-play), John Roth (analyst) and Matthew Laurance (sideline).

All-time Series: Sunday’s game marks the first meeting between the two schools.


                                       Mike Krzyzewski

   Overall Record: 808-267 (34th year)

      Duke Record: 735-208 (29th year)

                                      vs. Montana: 0-0


                                            Wayne Tinkle

        Overall Record: 31-31 (third year)

     Montana Record: 31-31 (third year)


Blue Devil Bits

l Duke is 5-0 on the year, marking the 34th time in school history and the fourth straight year it has opened the season with five straight wins.

l The Blue Devils are ranked 10th in the AP poll and fifth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.

l The Blue Devils have been ranked in 22 consecutive AP polls.

l Duke posted wins over Presbyterian (80-49), Georgia Southern (97-54), Southern Illinois (83-58) and Michigan (71-56) en route to winning the 2008 2K Sports Classic. The Blue Devils have now won 10 of the 18 major in-season tournaments they have played in.

l Sophomore Kyle Singler was named the 2K Sports Classic Most Valuable Player after averaging 16.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. Singler was also named the tournament MVP at the Maui Invitational last season.

l Junior Gerald Henderson was named to the 2K Sports All-Tournament team after averaging 12.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in four contests. He scored a season-high 20 points (all in the second half) in Duke’s semifinal win over Southern Illinois.

l Nolan Smith scored a season-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line against Michigan. He made all six field goal attempts inside the three-point arc and added five rebounds and four assists in the championship game.


Numbers Game

l Sunday’s contest marks the 800th game Duke will play as a ranked team under Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils are 655-144 when ranked under Coach K.

l Duke has won 62 straight non-conference home games.

l Duke is 1-0 against teams currently in the Big Sky. The Blue Devils topped Portland State 89-39 on Dec. 30, 1997.

l The Blue Devils have won 47 straight home games in November, dating back to a 76-75 double-overtime loss to Vanderbilt on Nov. 28, 1981. Duke is 48-1 under Coach K in November home games.

l Duke is 108-16 all-time in the month of November, including a 94-10 mark under Coach K.

l The Blue Devils have won 14 straight games in November and are 45-2 in the month since 1997-98.

l Duke is 266-52 this decade, more wins than any other team in the NCAA.

l Duke has outrebounded four of its first five opponents. The Blue Devils have outrebounded the opposition by 12.2 rebounds per game, including a +3.2 edge on the offensive glass.

l Sophomore Kyle Singler is averaging 8.2 free throw attempts per game this season. He is 32-of-41 (.780) from the foul line. Last year, Singler averaged just 3.1 free throw attempts per game.

l Four Blue Devils are averaging in double figures. Kyle Singler (17.4 ppg.), Jon Scheyer (12.8), Nolan Smith (12.4) and Gerald Henderson (11.8) are each scoring 10 or more points per game.

l Duke is averaging 25.8 made free throws per game this season. The Blue Devils have made 38 more free throws than their opponents have attempted.

l The Blue Devils scored 54 points in the second half against Southern Illinois for their largest scoring output in a half this season. Duke was 12-of-23 (.522) from the field, including 5-of-9 (.556) from three-point range, over the final 20 minutes of play.

l Lance Thomas has made nine of his last 10 free throws after opening the season 3-of-13 (.231) from the foul line.

l Kyle Singler has led Duke in assists in each of the last three games. During that stretch he has 12 of his team-high 16 assists.

l Duke has outrebounded the opposition in four of five games this season. The Blue Devils have grabbed 40 or more rebounds in a game four times.

l The Blue Devils have limited four of its first five opponents under 60 points. Duke is allowing just 59.2 points per game this season.


Blue Devils go to 5-0 by defeating Michigan

[private]The Duke Men's Basketball team went to 5-0 on the young season defeating Michigan 71-56 to win the 2K Coaches for Cancer Classic.  Michigan an upstart winner over #4 UCLA struggled against the Devils vaunted man to man defense.

Duke held the Wolverines to 35% from the field and shut down the majority of their scorers in the process.  Duke travels to Ann Arbor on December 6th for a rematch.

Duke was led in scoring by Nolan Smith (16 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds) and Kyle Singler (15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists). 

Singler was named the tournaments Most Valuable Player after his well rounded performances. 

“Kyle is one of the best players in the country and knows how and wants to play defense. With his length, throughout his career when he is a pro player, he will be playing out in the perimeter all of the time.  We like to use our guys in that manner," stated Krzyzewski.

Duke was once  aided by free throw shooting, going to the line 25 times while making 19 of them.

While the victory wasn't always a pretty win on the eyes, the defensive efforts was text book.  One must remember that the ideal time for a team to blossom is March and not November.

Duke is still a team searching for the right chemistry and in doing so they will play several lineups and styles.  Last evening it appeared that Duke chose not to push the ball up the floor and worked more on their half court sets.

There were several positives coming from New York besides the victory.  The continued improvement of Brian Zoubek was huge and if this continues it will no doubt make Duke a stronger team this season.

The two games also allowed talented junior Gerald Henderson to assert himself.  His play landed him on the all tournament team.

Duke has a brief moment of rest before rolling back into Cameron Indoor Stadium for a 1:00 game with Montana.  The game as always will be televised - this time on FSN-South or NESN.[/private]

Get well soon, Mike!

[private]I was saddened to hear that Mike Cragg had triple by pass surgery at Duke Medical Center this week. 

Cragg (right) has many duties including the coordination of the Coach K Academy
Cragg (right) has many duties including the coordination of the Coach K Academy

Cragg is in charge of the Legacy Fund at Duke University and also serves as the Associate Athletic Director.  He's a class act individual who bleeds Duke Blue.  The Blue Devil Nation and myself wish Mike a speedy recovery.

Cragg is an 86 graduate of Washington University.  He's spent 21 years of his career at Duke where he was the former SID.

I will be sure to let the Blue Devil Nation know how he's doing.[/private]