[private]The Blue Devils take on Georgia Southern at 9:00 in Cameron Indoor Stadium to see who advances to New York in the 2K Sports Classic semi finals. Duke looked a bit sluggish in last evenings 80-49 victory over Presbyterian and they face a Georgia Southern squad that defeated Houston 65-63.
One of the key players for the Eagles will be Sandy Perry (6-7), a junior front court player who scored 12
points to go with 4 rebounds. But the main man is Trumaine Pearson (6-8) who is an experienced senior. Pearson scored 19 points and grabbed 11 boards, anchoring the post for Georgia Southern.
Willie Powers (6-0 sophomore) runs the show with Antoine Johnson (6-0 Junior). Powers had 14 points and four rebounds in the opener, while Johnson struggled from the field, but led his team in assists. Julian Allen is a (6-4 Senior) swing-man which plays a key role as well.
Georgia Southern connected on 80% of their free throws and 37% from beyond the three point stripe in their opener. Georgia Southern is 0-1 against Duke, losing 87-75 in Cameron in 19-86.
What to expect - Duke should play a bit better in tonight's contest, but the Eagles have enough talent to contend throughout the game. This is clearly the best team the Devils have played to date. Duke will need to hit the boards and keep Pearson from going off inside.
My pick is Duke 92 Georgia Southern 64
Bob Green's Pick - Duke 84 Georgia Southern 56[/private]
[private]Anytime there are 48 turnovers and 46 fouls in a game, it's going to be ugly on the eyes. Duke opened -
the new season with a sloppy 80-49 win over Presbyterian in the Coaches vs Cancer 2K Sports Classic. The Blue Devils were out of sync on the offensive end of the floor, missing open players and committing an bevy of turnovers.
"We committed 21 turnovers. That's a lot of turnovers for a team that's not pressing us. A lot of our turnovers were self inflicted wounds. We just gotta get better," said Kyzyzewski shortly after the opener concluded.
While a 32 point victory is good from an average teams standards, it is not from Duke standards. One must consider that this is the second earliest start in history for the Devils and Coach K is still experimenting with various combinations. In short, they are working out the kinks.
Kyle Singler was the clear choice for the player of the game. Singler tallied a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds to go with 2 blocks and two steals. Nolan Smith, who was the starting point guard, added 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field to go with 3 assists.
Duke started slowly, the game being tied at 2-2 with just over fifteen minutes left in the half. They rode a solid defensive effort to close out the half with a bang. The aforementioned defense accounted for 27 Blue Hose turnovers and several steals. Duke held their opponent to 30% shooting as well.
A bright spot was the play off the bench for Lance Thomas, who hustled his way to 12 points and 5 rebounds. Miles Plumlee, getting his first start as a freshman went scoreless. Jon Scheyer added 12 key points, almost all of them in the first half when Duke couldn't find their mark.
Gerald Henderson struggled to get into the flow as well, scoring just 6 points. Brian Zoubek foulded out with just two points. Paulus added 4 points and 3 assists, Czyz also had 4 points to lead the freshman in scoring. Williams and McClure had 2 points apiece.
While many fans might fret and dissect the team after a lack luster performance, you can bet that they will be ready to play tomorrow evening when they take on Georgia Southern, a winner over Houston.
It seemed as if the team didn't allow the game to come to them on offense and more passes could have been made. Several shots went halfway down and popped out and it's been awhile since Duke hit just 3 three point shots.
All of the mistakes are correctable and most of them will take care of themselves as the team moves along this season. By tomorrow evening, I expect fans will remember this game as simply a win. The reason is that it will be quickly forgotten if Duke takes care of the ball and works as a team to advance to New York.
- “You hope [the defense] is always ahead of the offense, because it can produce offense. You have a chance to win if you play good defense. It was almost as if we were trying a little too hard on the offensive end at times. It comes. It’s our first game.”
- “I thought we played really hard, but it’s like when you watch any game that has good defense and the offense isn’t that good, you don’t think it’s that good of a game. But if the defense stinks and the offense is good, you think you went to a hell of a game. It’s like 9-8 in baseball, 33-30 in football – and that 10-7 game just stunk. And so I think that’s part of it. I thought we did have spark. We played really hard, or else we wouldn’t force 28 turnovers, but that didn’t translate to being fluid on the offensive end. We had 35 points off turnovers, and that’s when we had a numerical advantage. When their defense was set, I still thought we were trying to force things.”
- “I’d like to see some made lay-ups and the extra pass and to take better care of the ball. I don’t fault any kid. They’re playing hard. But in order to get better, you have to take responsibility and be accountable – we can play better offensively and that’s the only way you get to be really good. We want to be really good.”
- “I’m a big basketball-gods guy. I think sometimes you get punished – you miss layups and when you don’t see that open guy. We had that run in the first half, we were up 32-11, and four of the next five plays we had a guy wide open. We didn’t make a bad play, but it wasn’t the right play, and that just comes from playing. Hopefully we’ll make those plays.”
Kyle Singler -
- “This team is very competitive. I think that’s one of our strengths – we just love to play and compete. But tonight it just wasn’t there. That’s on us. Our standards weren’t met tonight and we’ve just got to come back tomorrow with a different mindset and attitude.”
- “I did miss a lot of opportunities, but I’m not going to dwell on it. It’s a team game, and we just have to move on.”[/private]
[private]How will the three point line being moved back play into this season?
The guys who really shoot the three can hit them, so it won't bother us that much. It could become a little bit more of a specialty because teams will not have as many players who can shoot the three. So, that can change how our game plan works. Knowing the three is a little further will have us scouting team and looking for the changes.
As a team, how will you deal with the last two seasons early outs in the NCAA's?
You are going to be judged on what you do in March and we haven't done much. All of us were anxious last year to get back after the loss in our freshman year. This past year we learned you have to take the games one step at a time and when it comes March we'll worry about that.
How does it feel to be a captain for the Duke Basketball team?
It's something I dreamed about, wanting to be a captain and it's an honor to be named one at Duke University. I'll do whatever it takes to lead the team. I'm glad Coach and my teammates have confidence in me and I don't want to let them down.[/private]
[private]The 2008 - 09 basketball season gets underway for real on Monday when Duke hosts Presbyterian College in the first round of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches versus Cancer. Presbyterian is led by Coach Gregg Nibert who is entering his 20th season as coach of the Blue Hose.
Presbyterian returns six players who saw significant minutes on last season's 5 - 25 squad. Center Al'Lonzo Coleman (6'7" 230) provides the Blue Hose inside presence. He averaged 11.2 points and five rebounds a game last season. Forward Bryan Bostic (6'3" 200) chipped in 10 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Josh Johnson (6'3" 185), Pierre Miller (5'10" 160), Travis Sligh (6'4" 210), and Walt Allen (6'4" 220) are the other significant returnees.
Turnovers and free throw shooting will be key points in the game. With Duke being the bigger and more athletic team, Presbyterian cannot afford to give Duke extra offensive possessions, and the Blue Hose must take advantage of scoring opportunities, from the charity stripe, that result from the Blue Devils' aggressiveness.
Taking care of the basketball is not Presbyterian's strong suit as last season they averaged more turnovers per game (14.9) than assists (12.5). Exploiting this weakness will be a primary objective for a Duke team traditionally known for its high intensity defense. In a 70 - 60 exhibition game loss to Division II Augusta State, on November 6th, the Blue Hose turned the ball over eight times, while recording seven assists.
Presbyterian also struggled from the free throw line last season as they made 65.4 percent of their free throw attempts. However, against Augusta State they knocked down 11 of 15 attempts (73.3%). Duke only knocked down 69.7 percent of their free throw attempts last season, but has converted a very respectful 78.3 percent of opportunities so far this season in two exhibition games.
Look for Duke to press relentlessly on defense creating easy scoring opportunities in transition, while taking advantage of their size by pounding the ball inside when in their half-court set. Duke is deep with 12 scholarship players healthy and ready to earn a spot in the rotation, so Coach Krzyzewski will have fresh players available at all times. The Blue Hose do not have the talent, size, or depth to give the Blue Devils a challenge so this game should be well in hand by half-time.
[private]Gerald Henderson enters his junior year as one of the team's co-captains and he seems ready to do whatever it takes to lead the Blue Devils to a successful season. Henderson is coming off surgery and is coming along as scheduled. Those close to the program are looking for "G" to take it to another level this season.
So, is the shaved head a new look for this season?
It was just a summer look, but if we start winning, I might stay with it.
There are those close to the program expecting you to have a breakout season ...
In between my freshman and sophomore year I worked on a lot of things the coaches wanted me to be better at. It was a big summer for me. I did the same thing this summer as well. I dealt with the surgery through half the summer, but when I got back I was able to work on a lot of things to get better for this season. Even with the hand injury I was able to run, so I worked on my conditioning.
So, what was the injury to your hand?
I had a torn ligament here (showing the scar from surgery), I'm not to sure what it's called. It was something I could play with last season, but I needed to get it fixed in the off season. It took about three and a half months and it got to a point where I couldn't play with it after surgery. I still rehab two or three times a week to build the strength.
How did the injury occur?
It was the first Carolina game. It was on an out of bounds play. I forget who I was pushing against, but it just went back and I felt a really sharp pain.
You seemed to be fine towards the end of the season, willing your team to a win over an upset minded Belmont team ...
It took me a while to figure things out. I had to learn to shoot a different way. There were some games there where I played kind of bad. After a while, with a brace and ended up shooting pretty well.
Why do you feel the team hit the so called "wall" against West Virginia?
It's hard to even think about now.
This team hasn't enjoyed the traditional high standards of Duke success in the NCAA's. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I think my freshman year, we were really inconsistent. We had a 22-11 record which isn't awful, but it wasn't up to our standards. We had so many ups and downs that there wasn't a guaranteed win for us. Last year, our loss in the second round was disappointing because we felt we could have gone further. A lot of things went into that game ... it was real disappointing. We are a different team now and we act like that.
In your opinion, what is this season's team looking like?
Nolan and Elliot have worked hard and I really feel like they will help us. When it comes down to it, we have a lot of guys that can play and that's how you get time on the court. If you are productive when you're out there, all takes care of itself.
As a captain, what advice can you give to the freshman class?
If you want to play you've got to make something happen. My freshman year, I had some good games, but I really didn't make anything happen for the team when I was in there. You have to influence the game. That's what Coach wants and needs, so if you can do that you are going to play.
What do you bring to the table as a captain?
As a captain I think I bring more leadership by what I do and action. Greg is more of a vocal leader and Jon Scheyer has come a long ways and taken the role.
Are you ready to get the season rolling?
Oh yeah. I've been ready ... we've been ready since last season ended.[/private]
[private]Duke cruised to a 95-42 victory over Lenoir-Rhyne in their last exhibition game before the season starts this coming Monday. Kyle Singler dropped 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting from the field. Singler also grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 3 assists to lead the Blue Devils.
He was helped by Nolan Smith who tallied 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Brian Zoubek joined in the field goal accuracy party as well, going 6 of 8 from the field, totaling 15 points to go with 8 rebounds.
Duke started slowly, but manhandled Lenoir-Rhyne the rest of the way. Thirteen Blue Devils saw action in the lopsided win.
Duke will take to the court for real against Presbyterian at 7:00 in Cameron on Monday. This is the opening round of the 2K Sports Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches for Cancer. Duke will then turn around and play the winner of the Georgia Southern-Houston game on Tuesday. Both games will be televised on ESPNU.
Should Duke win out, they will participate in the semifinals on 11-20 in Madison Square Garden.[/private]