Category Archives: Monday Musings

Monday Musings – The Victory Bell Edition

Welcome to another week of Monday Musings.

Victory Bell -- it's a Duke thing.

How to Enjoy the Victory Bell

Hey Blue Devil Nation!  Yall are feeling good out there after Duke Football pushed their record to 4-0 with a win over arch rival North Carolina this past Saturday.  Of course, that means the Victory Bell will remain in Durham, so lets take a look at how and when to enjoy the moment.

Firstly, the Victory Bell is the gift that keeps on giving.  What I mean by that is it plays well all year.  There are of course bragging rights and as David Cutcliffe likes to refer as grocery store wars.  It is a known fact that one team color or another appears the following Sunday with concern to which blue wins.

But where the rivalry trophy helps most is in recruiting.  Duke Football has now won 15 of their last 18 games against opponents from the state of North Carolina.  In fact, of the Tar Heels last six games played, the Blue Devils have defeated them twice.  This means that the bell hangs around in Durham for better than a year now or longer.

The bell will be in the Bryan Center on the Duke Campus today, so go over and give it a ring while visiting the bookstore.  While at the bookstore, buy you a shiny new Duke Football shirt.  You will need that to wear at the Miami game this Friday night.

But, Monday is not only for musings.  It is about letting go at the end of the day.  Duke fans and team alike has to play it forward for we can all come back and see the bell once more work is done.  Of course, Duke fans will in no way be opposed to hearing the bell ring this Friday evening in a game nationally televised on ESPN.  Heck, maybe Duke should offer each fan a ring who buys a ticker between now and then with a promotion.

A Quick Look Back

The president, AD and Cut.

We all know that Duke ended the first half on a bad note where they could have had a mildly commanding lead. Instead, the teams were tied at the half after two long Tar Heel completions after a botched field goal.   UNC would take the lead in the 2nd half as their sideline was seen going nuts.  Heck, you can't blame them for they certainly have had injuries and such.

But when the Tar Heels were celebrating, the Duke sidelines were quiet.  No, not moping and such, but quiet in a confident way.  While the Blue Devils struggled a bit with the passing game, the running game showed up again.

Duke goes to 4-0 and owns the Victory Bell after a 27-17 win over North Carolina.

Shaun Wilson gave Duke the lead where he had to enter the end zone twice and those would be the winning points.  But the Tar Heels were driving when senior leader "Call me Mr. Fields" broke on the ball for a long heartbreaking interception for a touchdown for those in Carolina Blue.

Duke fans were seen being giddy and the cheerleaders animated in what seemed like a slow motion play.  Oh, and there were some key blocks which made the run possible as well.  After sitting in a scorching sun all day long, Blue Devil faithful were a happy bunch.

The scene on the sidelines was of course, nice.  Duke University president Vincent Price and athletic director Kevin White were on the sidelines having come down from their seats.  They were see congratulating David Cutcliffe on his milestone 100th victory as a coach.

Call me Mr. Fields or the heart breaker.

Cutcliffe would then hug on his daughter as ESPNU interviewed him in the post game.  Bryon Fields would mug for the cameras as well as the player of the game.

Some Blue Devils came over to ring the bell as they came off the field.  Injured linebacker, Ben Humphreys was one of the first where he seemingly clanged out his frustration after what looked to be an intentional chop block set up on him as time wound down.

But most of the Blue Devils went straight to the locker room and players would soon follow with the bell.  They didn't run it in the faces of their opponents but ones inside the locker room, you heard plenty of joy from a key win.

Next Play

Victory Bell

Duke will now take on a highly rated Miami team picked to win the Coastal Division.  And they are loaded with speed and talent, trust me on that.

The Blue Devils have to put the UNC win in their rear mirror for they have a short week of preparation.  Heck, Cutcliffe and his staff have just two games to watch video on the Hurricanes in that games were cancelled due to the weather.

This means Miami will be quite fresh and itchy to play more football. Duke has places 27th in the country in both polls this week and an upset win would land them in the rankings.

The Blue Devils are offering Durham residents discounted tickets and the team not only needs, but deserves your support.  This is a big time game on a Friday evening which gives fans Saturday off.

I will see you on Friday.

Monday Musings – The Duke Sportsbeat

Better than a UFC fight! Duke takes on UNC this weekend.

Welcome back to Monday Musings!  After a long layoff and per requests, I am rekindling the musings to start off each week.  I will be sharing random thoughts on Duke athletics while bringing your attention to basketball and football happenings.  You will find some informative tidbits each week from someone who has been around the athletic programs since candy bars were a nickel.

It's Duke-UNC week

Doesn't it sound weird to say that on September the 18th?  In a rare scheduling anomaly, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels open their ACC season against one another.  One thing for certain is that the stakes are plenty high in that there is a Victory Bell at stake.  A season ago Duke pulled out a squeaker and they head over to Chapel Hill as an early 2.5 favorite.  Do you think the Tar Heel Nation will be pumped up with revenge in mind?  They certainly will be and pumped up to no end.  A win would turn their season completely around and Duke will get their best shot.

A Big Time Visit

To be fair, the Duke football team had a lot of key future prospects visiting this past weekend and everybody knows David Cutcliffe is having mad success on that front.  But the basketball team entertained the top ranked player in the nation in Canadian born  R.J. Barrett.  The sleek scoring machine led the Caucks to Gold over Team USA.  He is a legit talent who was able to tour the Duke campus, practice with the current team and talk with the staff which includes Mike Krzyzewski.

Cutcliffe Seeks Milestone

I took this picture of Cut holding a "Dawn of a New Day" poster during his first season at Duke.

I have been around Duke Coach David Cutcliffe from his introduction to now.  I can tell you that he keeps some footballs in his office from big time wins.  I remember the first one he put up with a win over James Madison which was his first win in Durham to the teams first win over UNC in many years.  He has brought the program from a laughing-stock to the respected group they are today.

This Saturday, Cutcliffe will seek his 100th win as a coach versus the Blue Devils visit arch rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill. A win would certainly be special in more ways than one for the coach who likely wishes he would not field too many questions about this until after it happens.  Forget that. The media will wake up to this possible feat and you will hear about it starting Tuesday during the weekly press conference.

Do you think the Tar Heels when hearing about this will want it to happen on their watch?  No.  But if this doesn't pump up #DukeGang and give the team incentive, then nothing will.  Like I said above, there is plenty at stake in this rivalry game this weekend.

Can You Hear the Buzz?

If you cannot hear the buzz around the Duke Basketball program, then you need to visit an Audiologist.  Hey, I should know in that my hearing has been lost for last month in my right ear of late.  Okay, back to the subject.  Firstly, Duke Basketball is going to be good this year.  And they are going to be good next year and have always been good under Mike Krzyzewski.  Okay, not good but great.

Duke will be young this season, but they will also be crazy talented. They may well have the best front court in program history with newly acquired Marvin Bagley III joining Wendell Carter Jr., veterans Marques Bolden, Antonio Vrankovic and Javin DeLaurier.  For the life of me, I have no idea how they will ever get a rebound!  As for my ear, the hearing is coming back after some good old antibiotics in what turned out to be a viral infection.  But despite the issue, I could still not only hear, but see the warranted hype.

 

I Like to Get Ahead of Myself or About Miami

I am one of those people who likes to analyze things in advance.  Yes, one of those scribbling on a pad about what is to come.  When looking at the Duke basketball schedule I have already labeled the trip to Miami as the trap game of the season.

Firstly, Miami is going to be good.  But the Blue Devils travel far south after one days rest where they will leave the cool weather in Durham behind for the body shock temperatures of Coral Gables on a Monday night in January.  Wait, I am not finished talking of Miami!

The football team faces a challenge as well.  They will take on Miami in Wallace Wade Stadium in a Friday night game after playing their rival North Carolina this week.  That is just five days to put a game with your arch rival behind you and be ready to play.  To make matters worse, the football staff will have just two games of tape to scout this years Canes team in that they had contests cancelled due to the recent Hurricane.

Did I mention this game will be televised on ESPN and kickoff is at 7:00?  So, you will have a chance to come out to Brooks Field to cheer the Blue Devils on while having all day Saturday to recover.  So, get off thine hind end and be there to support the team against a highly ranked team!

 

Monday Musings – More Duke Stuff

Welcoming to Monday Musings where there is nothing but Duke stuff to absorb. k2It is currently a good time to be a Duke Blue Devil fan with Mike Krzyewski in the heat of battle with Team USA in Rio to football being in full gear.

A bit of a thankless position for Krzyzewski 

Mike Krzyzewski took over Team USA when it was at a low point and has since righted the ship.  That's what leaders do.  The Duke Basketball coach is in the midst of going for his third Gold Medal for the country which is more than a little impressive.  It's a thankless position in a sense these days, especially if Team USA should lose.

There have been some close calls to date and as we enter the medal round;  some critics or haters are sharpening their teeth to gnash away from their armchair seat is there is a stumble.  The reality that is not recognized is that this team has been together for a month. And there is no appreciation for how good the world is at a sport with teams who play together much more often, having strived to get better over time.  No excuses, just facts.  let's not forget players backing out at pretty much the last-minute not allowing for strategic planning.

Coach K as he is known by most of us, has never lost in the Olympics. In my opinion, the players will rise to the occasion under his leadership in the coming days and the mission will be accomplished.  Hopefully by then, people will realize the immense expectations the team has which in fairness comes with the territory.  The man is closing in on his legacy where he helped those expectations come back to life, for before he took over, said expectation had been tarnished.

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Hoops is creating a lot of hype,

Meanwhile, back in Durham

Far away from the happening in Rio, the Duke Men's Basketball team is at work preparing for the upcoming season.  Much like the situation above, Coach Mike Krzyzewski will be expected to win it all this season with a deservedly hyped team.

Videos are coming out of Durham and Duke at breakneck speed building hype on this seasons talented bunch.  The team has been under the watchful eyes of assistants Nate James and Jon Scheyer who are leading the team through varying drills.

Pretty soon, you will see Grayson Allen adorning preseason magazine covers per my sources.  Duke will be good this year - very good, if not nasty good.  With key veterans like Allen., Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard returning, you have a solid nucleus to teach the talented newcomers.

And those newcomers can play.  Already showing off their skill set in drills are Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson,, Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, Jack White and company.  Oh, and Harry Gile is coming along as well.

Anyhow, the official schedule will release by the ACC in the next week or so.  And for what it is worth you will see that the team has plenty of challenges.  In fact, the ACC road schedule is brutal and if you have been paying attention, the league  will be loaded.

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Duke stuff is us.

Duke Football

Oh how times have changed.  Duke Football recruiting is currently ranked 18th in the country by ESPN with concern to next seasons class.  The health of the program is on solid footing for the future as changes are being worked on a breakneck speed in Wallace Wade Stadium for the coming season.

From my understanding, some of the renovations are a little behind or have had to be altered, bit fans will get the gist of what is to come when Duke kicks off the season in 18 days versus NCCU.  But when you see some possible delays in the finished product, remember that the foundation is solid under Coach David Cutcliffe's watch.

This off-season, Duke worked hard on what they called ''The Year of the Beast,'' in an effort to get stronger as a team.  This consisted of some serious weight training which will help many younger players as they enter the season.

Duke is one of the most inexperienced teams in the league this year with concern to returnees, but this is a team that has been recruiting well.  The schedule is brutally tough, but a fifth consecutive bowl bid is within reach and it will be fun to see how the team responds to the challenge.

Early in preseason drills, we see Thomas Sirk rehabbing his Achilles tendon injury in as fast a way ever.  His leadership is evident in practices despite him not being at full strength just yet.  It is also worth noting that the run game looks solid with veterans Jela Duncan and Shaun Wilson, not to mention some talented newcomers.

The key for Duke this season will be the play up front on both offense and defense.  New coaches are working with the players in this area where several new guys will be expected to contribute and start right away.

 

Monday Musings – Duke Athletics Thoughts

2It's time to rekindle Monday Musings and this week we'll share some idle thoughts on  Duke Football and Basketball.  The football team was the victim of an officiating snafu that has the nation talking.  Meanwhile, Duke Basketball played their first game under their 2015 National Championship banner.

The aftermath is bitter

As we all know by now, the Atlantic Coast Conference suspended the officiating crew that called the Duke-Miami game this past Saturday.  That's not much of a consolation to the Duke Football program in that they have an undeserved blemish in the loss column which in turn caused the team to fall out oft he national rankings.  There are quite simply no adequate apologies for not getting this game right from league officials in that the outcome may well prevent the team from winning their division.  Duke is also forced to deal with unnecessary bitterness from the loss and must deal with the psychological aspects from the fiasco.  All in all, they have been forced fed a bitter pill they are expected to swallow and move on.  There is no sugar coating the fact that this falls far to the left of the fairness meter and it will take a while to shake the result off.  And if that is not bad enough, the program will be expected to endure the replays for years to come in that their will not be an accompanying asterisk beside the play or their 6-2 record.  What is even more disturbing is that the team is a loss away from falling deep into the division pack should other teams win.

No choice but to move forward

The Blue Devils have no choice other than to move on and with North Carolina looming, they'd better do so and soon.  Coach David Cutcliffe knows he has to get back to work and soon.  In fact, he said that he would let the university continue to look into the situation as he did just that in his Sunday call in show with members of the media.  Duke cannot lay all the blame on one play, meaning they must improve in certain areas on the field as a team and a staff.  The Blue Devils should have won consecutive thrillers to be sure, but had the margin been more manageable the games would not come down to a single play.

UNC will present quite the challenge

A season ago, North Carolina came into Wallace Wade pumped up and prepared.  The Tar Heels put their collective knees in the Blue Devils chest on their way to a convincing victory.  This seasons version of North Carolina football is even better where their offense can score on practically any defensive scheme in bunches.  Their defense also rose to the occasion by playing perhaps their best game of the season.  The Blue Devils will have to focus in and soon for all indications are that the Tar Heels have as expected circled this game on their calendar.  This would have been a game against two 7-1 teams, but now Duke finds themselves in a dreaded must win situation due to the tainted loss to Miami.

Scrimmage shows little insight on the season to come

The Duke Basketball team rolled over Florida Southern, scoring in bunches in Cameron Indoor Stadium this past Friday.  Quite frankly, it was more of a first view for the fan base than an accurate barometer on what to expect this coming season.  We are likely to see Mike Krzyzzewski and his staff settle in on a core group of players sooner than one might expect.   The lack of size of their opponent dictated smaller lineups at times which made the big man rotation different from what we could see.  The freshman all looked good while the veterans showed they were indeed the core of the team in the early season contest.  Matt Jones suffered what could be a nagging groin injury while Grayson Allen had some trouble adjusting to the surprise of many.  Duke will take to the court again this Wednesday evening against Livingstone.  The regular season begins with back to back games on November 13th and 14th against Siena and Bryant.  The Blue Devils will seek to find more team chemistry in said games before their November 17th meeting with Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic.

Viewing Notes

The only way to see the exhibition game with Livingstone is through BDN + via subscription on the GoDuke.com site.  Saturdays football game versus UNC will kickoff at 12 noon on ESPN 2.  The first of the regular season games for men's basketball versus Siena will be on ESPNU.  The next evening will provide more of a challenge for viewers in that the Bryant game will be the only contest this season carried on ESPN 3.

Monday Musings – A Great Week For Duke

front page devilFans were treated to the best Duke Basketball of the season in this weeks past two wins.  The Blue Devils are playing spirited basketball despite being down to just eight scholarship players.

Cameron at it's best for win over UNC

The old girl Cameron Indoor Stadium is known for it's fans but it had been a while since it's been as good of late.  During the win over UNC, the place gave the Blue Devils a needed lift staying in the game with a never say die effort.  The team, of course, had the same mentality and Duke came away with two fun, meaningful and memorable wins.  The Crazies also showed up for the Clemson game and Duke put on one of their better performance of the season.

Classic win over UNC

Well, when you come back to win in overtime as Duke did over a UNC team playing good basketball, it is memorable.  The win over their arch rival was an instant classic where Tyus Jones became a part of Duke legends who willed their team to win.  But it wasn't just his play, for Quinn Cook was as good a senior leader as one could ask for in the game.  Amazingly, Duke has showed no signs of wilting as other teams past had despite playing three freshman pretty much the entire game.  The win still has the fan base buzzing and Duke riding high.

The confidence carried over to Clemson

How many teams could lose Jahlil Okafor to injury, have just seven recruited players available and rip Clemson apart?  Not many.  The Blue Devils moved he ball like no other time this season on the offensive end.  They played zone the entire game which allowed them to press and gain the legs to run the ball when they boarded the ball or stops were made.  In short, Duke put on a clinic once they got rolling over Clemson in a feel good win.  The performance was the best job of the season for Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff.  The week was the best of the season for the team who is riding high going on the road against Virginia Tech this week.  Duke has played so well that they well could make a jump in the polls despite teams ahead of them not losing.

Recruits have to be impressed

Against UNC, Caleb Swanigan was cheering like he played for Duke.  Dennis Smith Jr. and Harry Giles exchanged many a comment and Derryck Thornton lost his business like demeanor during the comeback win.  Early returns are that all the prospects came away impressed and see that Duke is a place where freshman do contribute  right away.  Brandon Ingram took in the action against Clemson as well and Duke looks to add him to Luke Kennard who visited for the UNC game and Chase Jeter who will be here for Wake Forest.  All in all, it's an important and good time for Duke Basketball on the recruiting front.

Dukies in the NBA

Well, Miles Plumlee recently joined the Milwaukee Bucks.  Kyle Singler was traded to Oklahoma City where he has already started two games as well.  And in Los Angeles, JJ Redick and Austin Rivers went off in the same game for a big win.  Some of the Duke alum are finding new and better situations and homes and it will be fin to watch progress this season.

Monday Musings – Duke, K turn it around

JahlilBack in the Race

Duke Basketball reentered the ACC race with their weekend road victory over Louisville.  After losing consecutive games to unranked conference opponents, Coach Mike Krzyzewski dared to go zone and we all know the result.  That begs the question will this strategy continue and from my seat I think we'll see a mix moving forward depending on match ups.  The win stopped the bleeding and enabled the Blue Devils to almost assuredly remain a top ten team when the polls come out later today.  The win also puts Krzyzewski two wins shy of the remarkable milestone of 1000 wins.

Two more for Coach Cut

Duke added a fleet of foot cornerback in Jeremy McDuffie this past week.  Thawzanga Mugala also backed out of his Purdue verbal to come to Duke.  Mugala is a DE and the Blue Devils will be naming a new coach for the line within the week.  Coach Cut continues to build momentum on the recruiting trail assuring Duke to be a contender as the stadium renovations progress.

Miles Plumlee on the trading block

Former Duke basketball players Miles Plumlee is expected to be traded before the NBA trade deadline expires.  Plumlee has seen his minutes diminish a bit due to the Phoenix Suns adding depth to the front court via trades.  Up to six teams have shown interest per sources.  In other NBA news, Austin Rivers was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers where he will play for his Dad and join Duke alum JJ Redick for the remainder of the season.

Next up, Pitt

Duke has little time to enjoy their bounce back win over Louisville in that they play Pitt tonight in Cameron.  Don't expect another let down for Duke will get back to their roots a bit and mix man and maybe some zone in this one with a solid focus.  Pitt struggles on offense and that could play right into the Blue Devils hands but one can never overlook a conference opponent.  Look for the Blue Devil to try and get Justus Winslow going on the offensive end and to have success from the three point stripe.  By nights end, Coach Mike Krzyzewski will be one game shy of his 1000th career win.