Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Staying healthy is step one

The health and skill set development of 7-1 260 pound Brian Zoubek have the potential to impact the 2008-09 Duke Blue Devils. If Zoubek overcomes the roadblocks experienced his first two seasons in Durham, he has the potential to breakout and have a very good season. The rap on Duke last year was the lack of a serious post presence. Zoubek has the size to develop into a solid post player, but he needs to stay healthy in order to develop the skills necessary to accomplish the job.

As a freshman, Zoubek struggled with turnovers. He turned the ball over 37 times in 235 minutes of action. At times, it seemed as if the refs blew the whistle and indicated traveling before Zoubek even caught the ball. Injuries derailed his sophomore season as he incurred a fifth metatarsal fracture in his left foot, during a pick-up game, on July 9, 2007, and then re-injured it in early January 2008. Zoubek underwent surgery on the foot twice and is currently finishing rehabilitation.

Being outrebounded 45 - 19 in the season ending loss to West Virginia lends credibility to the "lack of a serious post presence" rap. The single most important skill Zoubek needs to develop is the ability to control the boards. He grabbed 13 rebounds against St. John's on February 23, 2008, and nine rebounds against NCCU on November 9, 2007. As a junior, Duke needs him to consistently pull down rebounds, especially offensive rebounds that can be converted into points. Zoubek's career high for offensive rebounds is five, which is a respectable number. A couple of stick backs a game could be vital.

Another required skill development is knocking down free throws. Zoubek must improve on his career FT average of 58.4 percent. As a big guy, battling inside, he is going to get fouled and it is imperative that Zoubek develop the ability to go to the line and knock down the free ones. Two or three extra points a game can make a big difference. Zoubek's best game from the free throw line was against Columbia on November 12, 2006, when he went 10 - 13 from the charity stripe.

Duke does not need Brian Zoubek to develop into a dominating post player, but of course that would be nice. The Blue Devils need Zoubek to develop into a consistent player who can average 20 minutes a game and produce eight points and eight rebounds per contest. Maintaining a clean bill of health is the first and most important step for Brian Zoubek to develop into the anchor in the middle.

Our infamous General Update #17 is up! (Get the real scoop on recruting)

Coach K addressed the media today and mentioned that he would hit the road with his staff in early July.  The exact date is July the 6th, which is Sunday.  Former Coach Johnny Dawkins will serve with Team USA.  Coach also mentioned that they try to recruit certain one and done type of kids and that he favored allowing talented kids go straight to the pros.  He mentioned he preferred a two and one or two year commitment as well.

[private]Duke kicks it off at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio where Coach K and Wojo will cover Jamil Wilson who we interviewed just days ago, Harrison Barnes whose interview will be up tomorrow and Jason Morris, our latest premium offering.   They will of course check out Andre Dawkins our first commitment in the class of 2010.

Coach Collins will be solo at the Adidas Tournament in Cincy.  There he will see Josh Hairston who BDN has made it clear we think will be a Dukie and Nate Lubick who we interviewed last week.  He will also see Josh Smith, 2010 PG Tyler Thornton who visited Duke unofficially just a short time ago and Ray McCallum.

Around July the 8th, Coach K will go to the Reebok event where he will watch Kenny Boynton, Brandon Knight, Terrell Vinson and Nick Russell.

Before Adidas, Collins will be solo at the Adidas event in Cincy.  There he will watch Josh Hairston, who I have told you will commit to Duke unless something goes really wrong.  Add Nate Lubick who I interviewed recently for BDN Premium, Tyler Thornton who visited Duke last week unofficially, Josh Smith and Ray McCallam.

Nate James will make his first splash at the Peach Jam (we will be at this event) where Wojo will show him the ropes.  Jamil Wilson, Andre Dawkins who we are waiting to talk to in person and several youngsters will be at this event as well.

Meanwhile, Chris Collins will head to Miami with Coach K where they will take in Team Breakdown's Annual Tournament.  He will of course be watching Kenny Boynton and Brandon Knight.  Oh, and don't pay too much attention to how Kenny responded to the Duke question in the link I provided.  I want it out there that Duke is not the leader from his mouth.  The reason being, the media can pick at Duke by asking him this question.  That's the same thing that happened in the Monroe recruitment.  He may well have gotten tired of the Duke leads questions.  If the media gets wind of this statement, then this constant question will be defused.  I mean Kendall Marshall's unscrupulous Father used this to annoy Kenny during the NBAPA Camp.

Then Duke will be represented at the Triple S Harley Jamfest- in West Virginia.  Hairston and Thornton will participate in this event.  The open period for coaches ends on this weekend and then they return to duties in Vegas with Team USA.

Duke will install their new scoreboard in Cameron Indoor Stadium in August.  All of the men's team is currently on campus and playing pick up together with the exception of Henderson and Zoubs.  Their injuries are healing as expected and they are on schedule.  Our next interview is with the hot prospect, Harrison Barnes.  Keep the names here, folks!  No hints out there please.[/private]

Unbridled passion for Duke Basketball

This article is courtesy of Blue Devil Nation Premium member John Hayne.

When considering the overall context and timing of his commitment, perhaps no Duke recruit has meant more in recent years than that of McDonald's All-American Elliot Williams. When news broke on Halloween night that the Collierville, Tenn. (a Memphis suburb) native had committed to Duke, a collective sigh of relief from the Duke Blue Devil fan base could be heard around the nation. Less than a year removed from a disappointing season by Duke Standards and having missed on some top recruits, the naysayers were starting to question whether the aura and mystique surrounding the Duke program that traditionally attracted the nation's top talent had disappeared. Coach K and his staff responded by securing a commitment from top 15 prospect Elliot Williams despite intense recruiting efforts to keep him in the Volunteer State by Memphis coach John Calipari and Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl.

Elliot is a slender 6'4" left-handed combo guard with all the tools necessary to contribute immediately at Duke. Elliot's scoring ability has led several recruiting gurus to project him as a "big time" ACC scorer. While there is no way of knowing at this point whether Elliot is going to instantly step in and fill the void left by departing senior DeMarcus Nelson, we do know that Elliot will certainly challenge Duke's veterans for a starting role. As is the case with all of Coach K's recruits, however, we do know for sure that Elliot is a great young man with a solid focus on academics. Woodie Jackson, coach of Elliot's McDonald's team, had the following to say about Elliot, "Outstanding young man, great attitude, real humble, works real hard. He does what he has to do, and doesn't moan and groan."

After watching online videos of Elliot, you will quickly realize why so many Duke fans find it hard to contain their excitement when thinking about Elliot donning the Duke uniform. The scouting report on Elliot is that he has explosive leaping ability and a smooth perimeter shot. He can play multiple guard positions and scores the ball the best when using dribble penetration. Elliot seemingly gets to the rim with ease and is an excellent finisher in traffic. Amazingly, Elliot is just as good, if not better, on the defensive end of the court. He has been described as having an intense competitive fire and really sets the tone for his teams on defense. Elliot is said to have exceptional lateral quickness that leads to several steals and easy transition baskets. While some question whether Elliot is physically ready for the nightly rigors of the ACC, over the past year he has become stronger and shown that he can handle the bumps and bruises along the way.

Despite a knee injury forcing him to miss a month of his senior season, Elliot averaged 22ppg, 7rbs and 5asts and he was named Tennessee Mr. Basketball for Division 2-A. During the McDonald's All-American festivities, Elliot finished second in the slam-dunk contest and the next night he scored 10 points in 13 minutes of play for the East team. During practices for the McDonald's games, Elliot is reported to have done an excellent job defending the sensational Tyreke Evans. Elliot garnered further praise for his intensity and athletic ability.

Aside from his dynamic scoring ability, forceful dunks and defensive intensity, Elliot will be welcomed by the Duke community with arms wide open because of the unbridled passion he has already developed for Duke Basketball. When asked about how last season ended and the overall state of the Duke program, Elliot responded, "I couldn't watch the last two minutes of it," he said. "I walked out. They'll be OK. Next year, we'll get it done...(Duke Basketball) is not sliding. We'll get it together next year, I promise you that."

Duke is checking out Jason Morris, 2010 SG

 Jason Morris, 6-4, 177, Class of 2010 Lakeville HS, Conn.  AAU - Atlanta Celtics

Jason holds several offers and was one of a handful of 2010 kids invited to the NBAPA Camp.  He left that camp early for the Nike Paul Pierce Skills Academy. 

He averaged 17.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.8 spg last season.  He is often listen at 6-5, but is just under 6-4.  He weighs in between 170 and 180.

He plays for the powerful Atlanta Celtics AAU cluband holds over ten offers.  He is originally from Georgia.  Scouting Report to come.

Tell me about yourself as a person ...

I really like working out and trying to improve my game.  I'm always open to criticism to get an idea of what I don't see and try to correct that and work on the things I need too.

How did you get into hoops, your Dad?

Yes.  Basketball is big with my family.  My Grandfather played, my Uncle played and my Father.  My Grandfather died when I was pretty young and he blew out his knee before signing with the New York Knicks.

A lot of schools are looking at you these days.  You've become a hot commodity.  Who is the most aggressive in their recruitment at this point?

The most aggressive are the teams around where I live.  The Georgia Tech's, the Clemson's and UGA.  That's just because I'm the hometown kid, so they've had more time to get to know me and can see me play.

There is a general consensus that Georgia Tech is a leader, is that true?

Uhh, I'm not sure at this point.  I do have a close relationship with the coaching staff.  Coach Hayes is the main contact.

How long have they been recruiting you?

About four years now.

That's a long time ... how old are you now?


So you were like twelve ...

More like 13.  Since I was in the area, my Father contacted them to sort of see if I could come out and see if their guys are running.  I was able to play against some bigger and stronger guys at another level which helped my game.

Has anybody else come into the picture of late?

Duke just came in the picture recently.  UNC has said they will take a look at me and try to come to a couple of games.  Other than that the main schools have been consistent over the past year and a half.

So, are you willing to add a Duke or UNC to your list?

(smiles) Yeah, definitely.  I haven't really seen UNC's campus, but because of who they are I will listen.  And Duke, their facilities are awesome.

Who is talking to you from those schools?

I haven't talked to anyone, but my Father has.  I haven't had a chance to be home since school was out yet, so I don't know of any letters.  I have been trying to pick and choose my time to put in the extra work.  I am always willing to put in extra work, but sometimes you have to hang it up for a little while and rest.

Any time line on your decision?  Will you take your five official visits?

At this time, I plan on taking the visits, but by the end of Summer or early Fall I will have a list together.  I will then figure out what I want to do, watch their style of play.  So, there will be a list of five by that time.

Speaking of style of play, what best fits you on the college level?

A lot of cutting, fast paced ... something where you are not restricted to one particular role.

... so, interchangeable positions?

Yeah, yeah.  I mean everyone has a role within the team, but when it comes to a half court setting I'd like to operate from multiple positions.

How important is immediate playing time to you?

Um, well it's fairly important, but if my team is winning and that's all that counts.

What are you looking for in a coach?

A coach that goes after it and gets into everybody to be their best.

So, you want to be pushed to be all you can be, so to speak?

Yeah, that's how it was when I was growing up.  My Dad would tell me like it was, I thrive on competition.

What are you like off the court?  What do you do in your spare time?

I don't really turn on the TV too much.  I watch ESPN, but other than that ... I listen to music, mellow out and relax.  When I have the time I might call up a friend and go out to dinner andd stuff like that.

Three words that best describes you as a person?

Let's see ... quiet, humble and energetic.

Three as a basketball player ...

Explosive, team player and a leader.

How important is the education aspect for you in college?

You know, that's extremely important for there is always life after basketball.  When it's time to hang it up, there are plenty of years left in life.  I will consider what I want to take in school over the next year and a half.

Private school, public school?  Large or small?

My whole life I went to sort of a small school until the seventh grade.  At the start of the eigth grade, I went to a fairly large public school and then I went back up to the small private school which I am at now.  I really don't have a preference, maybe around 10,000 or above but the numbers aren't really important to me.

Are you willing to get out of the state of Georgia?

Yeah.  I travel all the time, so getting homesick is a phase I passed a while back.

Do you have a GPA score?

I don't know the exact numbers, but I just got my report card back and have a B+ average. [/private]


Gerald Henderson: athleticism and unlimited potential

Throughout his sophomore season Gerald Henderson was a smoother more confident player than during his first season at Duke. This really isn't suprising as players routinely achieve significant improvement between their first and second seasons. In Henderson's case the improvement was more than significant. It was immense.

As a freshman, Henderson was diagnosed as sufferring from exercise induced asthma and his playing time was limited to less than 20 minutes per game. It was later determined that Henderson didn't have asthma but was simply out of shape due to being injured over the summer before the start of his freshman year. In the off-season, he solved his fitness issue and exploded as a sophomore almost doubling his points per game from 6.8 to 12.7. Significant improvement in other key statistics such as rebounding and steals was also accomplished.

Attacking the rim or pulling up and knocking down a midrange jumper is Gerald Henderson's forte. The 6-4 210 pound guard also possesses strength, which facilitates battling for rebounds. On the defensive end of the court, Henderson's ability to elevate allows him to alter opponent's shots. Athleticism defines his performance on the basketball court.

As his junior season approaches, Duke fans are optimistic that Henderson will once again demonstrate improved play. While it is unrealistic to expect his points per game to almost double again, there are areas for improvement. Henderson has dished out 91 assists over 66 games but he has turned the ball over 111 times. Improvement in his ball handling and passing skills would round out Henderson's game.

Another factor that must be taken into account is health. While it is true Henderson turned the ball over too frequently, it is also true that he played the later part of the season with a hurt wrist that eventually required surgery. Henderson injured his wrist on February 6th in the victory over Carolina in Chapel Hill. Just like several other Duke players, Gerald Henderson is in need of some good luck in regard to playing a full season in good health.

As one of four returning starters, and last season's third leading scorer, Henderson will be looked upon as a core player this coming season. As an upperclassman, he will also be expected to provide leadership to the younger players. Gerald Henderson will rise to the expectations of Duke fans and excell as a junior. Everyone should be looking for his name when All-ACC honors are dished out next March. It is not a matter of if he will be honored, it is a matter of how high he will be honored.