Category Archives: Monday Musings

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Monday Musings – Duke Football and Hoops!

SONY DSCThis will be an exciting week for Duke Blue Devil fans! It’s that time of year again, when football and basketball converge and that means a lot of pumped up fans.  That said, here are some thoughts on the football and basketball scene –

untitledSlam that Monkey …

The Duke Football team took care of business in Atlanta defeating the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Blue Devils last win in this series came in 2003, so they indeed got that monkey off their back this past weekend. With the win, Duke stands 3-2 in their last five game against ranked opponents, including the losses to Florida State and Texas A & M a season ago. The win also earned them votes in both polls where they are currently 28th in the A.P. and 29th by the Coaches.  This past weekends win was a big one for the team and program.

 Duke needs fannies in the stands …

It’s that time of year when each game is a bigger one that the last for bowl hopeful teams. Duke will next face Virginia, a team that has had the Blue Devils circled on their calendar. This years UVA team is tough and physical and they stand 2-0 in the Coastal Division. Vegas currently has Duke listed as a 3 point favorite but it will take a great effort for a win and fan support is very important in this game. There is a similarity to last weeks game, in that Duke open as a 5 point favorite and that has dropped quickly to 3. Virginia is also coming off a bye week just as the Blue Devils were before their first ACC win. I am by no means a better, but this is what they call a trap game for those who do. What does this all mean? It’ll be one heck of an effort for a Duke win. The Blue Devils need their student section full in this game. They also need their fans to show up despite the game being televised which kicks off at 12:30.

SONY DSCIt’s time for Countdown to Craziness Duke Basketball never stops. But it surely begins again when the annual Countdown to Craziness rolls around. For the record you can still get tickets through the Duke Ticket Office. This season Duke Blue Devils are highly ranked as always and they feature another stellar class. This will be fans first chance to get a glimpse at the likes of the much hyped Jahlil Okafor. Not only is Big Jah as he is known last years top rated center in high school, many think he is that as a true freshman in college hoops. The Blue Devils have been picked in all the pre season top ten’s to date. Their highest ranking thus far has been 4th by the Sporting News. Most in the pre season feel Duke will

Quinn Cook, copyright BDN Photo
Quinn Cook, copyright BDN Photo

The lone senior …

Quinn Cook will be the lone senior as far as recruited players go this season for Duke.  It’s hard to think of Cook as the elder statesmen here in that I have known the young man since he was fifteen years old.  Cook started his career at DeMatha before transferring to Oak Hill Academy, eventually  landing at Duke.  For those who may not remember his Father passed away at a very young age.  Cook now has the exact same locker as did his mentor Nolan Smith.  Make no mistake about it, he will be a key to success in the coming season be it his play or mentoring younger players.

Tyus Jones - DecisionSpeaking of lockers …

It should come as no shock to anyone that Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones lockers are side by side.  The two Duke freshman formed a relationship while playing AAU ball and they quite simply do all things together.  The beauty of this for this years team is that they already have great chemistry between them, but it will be vital that they extend that team wide.

SUB_2721Staff solid as always

Many Duke fans worried and for good reason when Steve Wojciechowski (Wojo) left for Marquette.  The season before Duke lost Chris Collins to Northwestern and these two guys had been around forever.  After a season with Team USA, Jeff Capel seems more than poised for filling those shoes.  After all, he was a head man before at Oklahoma and groomed the likes of Blake Griffen.  Nate James is stepping into a larger role as well and he relates well with the players.  One might remember that it was James, along with teammates Chris Carrawell and Shane Battier that visited Coach Mike Krzyzewski when Duke suffered severe losses to the NBA.  James assured the Duke coach that the Blue Devils would be fine then and he is doing the dame now. While Jon Scheyer had his career cut short with an unfortunate eye injury, he is still thriving in basketball.  Scheyer has shown an uncanny maturity early on which belies his young age.  He can mentor the players in that he is barely removed from the roster.  He, like James, can tell guys what it’s like to be on a national championship team, while Capel can speak to adversity.  Capel was on the team when Krzyzewski has his back issues forcing him to the sideline.  Together they form a sold core and that should bode well for Duke in the coming seasons.

 

NCAA BASKETBALL: OCT 20 ACC Operation Basketball Media Day

Monday Musings – Duke Football & Basketball

In this weeks Monday Musings piece, we ponder the changes to Wallace Wade, take a look back at the loss to Miami and look ahead to ACC Basketball –

Jeremy CashThoughts On The Loss To Miami

When Duke lost to Miami on Saturday evening, many fans were quite frustrated.    Despite the offensive struggles to consistently move the ball, the defense played well enough to win the game. Had there been just decent execution when they had the ball on offense, the game would have looked a lot different.  But let’s not get riled up just yet, in that a season ago, Duke started the season 2-2 and 0-2 in the ACC before righting the ship on their way to the ACC Championship Game.  With a bye week at hand, the Blue Devils will do some soul-searching and a bowl eligibility is a mere two wins away.  There would be no better game than to make a statement in than their next game at Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets and their salty coach have owned the series of late and this is the one team Duke needs to find a way to defeat if they are to contend in a tough division.  As for the Anthony Boone, who has struggled, he’s as good a leader as there can be, but he needs to get his throwing mechanics to come around and fast.  Let’s not forget that the Miami defeat was his first as a starter in the regular season and that’s an incredible accomplishment.  It wasn’t that long ago that fans just wanted to compete against a team like Miami on the road.  Now, they get upset when Duke doesn’t win.  That is a testament to how good of a job Duke Coach David Cutcliffe has done with the rebuilding process.  That said, let’s see how the team rebounds against a tough challenge in their next game before passing judgment on a season that has seven games left.  In my opinion, Duke had to adjust to the fast and stronger competition against Miami and anybody who watched the game realizes if their errors had been reversed, they could have still won the game.  Granted, it makes for some extra frustration just knowing that.

Let The Hype Begin

The Duke Basketball season is more or less upon us.  When October hits in Durham, the hype starts and for good reason in that Coach Mike Krzyzewski has built a juggernaut program.  As we start to talk more of the coming season, go to our Duke Basketball section for existing articles.  The Blue Devils have been picked in the top ten in the three preview magazines which have hit newsstands, but only  one picks them to win the ACC and two have arch rival UNC ahead of them.  The bottom line is the ACC is tough at the top.  The Tar Heels are deep and talented and Virginia is still quite solid.  Louisville has no major weakness in their front court or back court and Syracuse will be better than some think despite their losses.  Florida State will be much improved and Pitt is formidable as well.  Miami and N.C. State could be sleepers but there is a drop off at the bottom.  It should be a great season.

Grand Changes Ahead

The facilities are improving at Duke.  Okay, so it took long enough in football, but the recently announced changes are exciting for the fan base.  In two years time, you will not recognize Wallace Wade Stadium.  Already gone are the World War II era rest room facilities and now the distinct changes are about to take place.  If you’ve been asleep at the wheel, let me remind you that construction starts immediately after the Wake Forest game which closes the season.  Duke now has the go ahead to get this project under way and for those of us who have clamored for this most of our lives for this moment, all I can say is finally.  Don’t get me wrong here, but there are some long time followers who have dreamed of this actually happening.  Duke Athletics is poised to compete for many years to come across the board and that is the commitment many have waited for.  With a grand resurgence taking place within the football program and basketball on as solid a ground as ever, the future looks quite bright.  I will take one more stroll around the track I grew up using, thinking with each step made, where some classic plays both good and bad happened on the field.  It will be a bitter-sweet moment only because access to Wallace Wade will soon be a thing of the past.  At the same time, I have always known that the atmosphere would be better served without a track, where the fan base will be closer to the action with more of a true football look.  It took a long time for changes to come to Wallace Wade.  I look forward to seeing them in my lifetime for there was a time when I never thought that would happen.

TD Duke

Monday Musings – Duke Football & Hoops Chatter

TD Duke
TD Duke

Looking Back on Duke Over Tulane

This was game was much closer than the final score indicated.  Outstanding play from Duke Special Teams coupled with some of the worst I have seen this season on the other side of the ball, led to multiple scores.  But take away the last long run from Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk late in the game and the Blue Devils and Green Wave had even yardage.  The good news is that Duke came away 4-0 with a 47-13 win but the score is not indicative of the fact that this was a close game in some ways.  The bright spots player wise  for Duke, was the play of Deondre Singleton, Jeremy Cash, David Helton and Jamison Crowder.  Our game ball goes to the special teams all the way around.

Expect Duke To Drill The Team In Protecting The Pigskin

The Blue Devils had their first lost fumble of the season in their win over Tulane.  But there could have been more. on close calls. Duke will likely focus their energy this week on protecting the ball.  They came away luck a few times and turnovers can drastically alter games moving forward.  Duke also had their first interception of the season, but there could have been more there as well for some passes went right into the pouch of Tulane defenders who muffed chance at a turnover.  The Duke passing game struggled mightily with consistent play and that is something that could also catch up to them as they enter the meat of their schedule.

Positives Too

Okay, so it sounds like I am being a little negative, huh?  Despite Duke freshman Shaun Wilson putting the ball on the ground for the first fumble of the year, he continues to be the best option via numbers in a solid four man rotation in the backfield.   He followed up his monster performance against Kansas with a 10 yard per average carry with just seven carries.  His production per touch may earn him even more touches moving forward but the staff seems to want to bring him along at the proper pace for a kid playing straight out of high school.  It is also worth noting that Duke has played some incredible football with Anthony Boone as their starter and that means his leadership is there even when his passes are a bit off the mark,  Did I mention that Duke is 4-0?

The Miami Challenge

You simply cannot overlook intangibles when looking at match ups.  Yes, Duke is ranked 23rd in the nation and Miami is unranked, but there is a reason the Canes come in as six point favorites in that they were picked by the ACC media to win their division.  Miami has lost to two stout opponents in road trips to Louisville and Nebraska and they stand at 2-2, but you can bet that their ears will be pinned back come 7:30 on ESPN 2 this Saturday.  They are a dangerous and talented team with their backs against the wall where they stand to go 0-2 in the ACC with a loss.  They will also be extra pumped after Duke thumped them a season ago in Wallace Wade in one of the Blue Devils best efforts in recent memory.  They also benefit from the return of running back Duke Johnson.  Duke has defeated some not especially strong teams to date and this will be their first true challenge of the young season.  Miami is by far the best team they have played to date and they are a strong, physical and quick football team.  What a measuring stick this will be for both teams and a fun game to watch.

Bx_b4rWIYAANaotIn Defense Of K

A lot of people came to the forefront in supporting Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski after a critical article from Yahoo Sports.  This has all died down now after varying outlets lambasted what seemed like a borderline personal attack.  The man known as Coach K was honored on the field this past weekends football game, alongside Jeff Capel and he got a deserving adoration from the fans.

Off The Plane And On The Road

The Duke Men’s Basketball staff visited several prospects last week, straight off their flight from Spain.  This week they take in Tyus Battle on Wednesday and Dennis Smith Sr. and Brandon Ingram today.  These are some of the top remaining prospects on the board and the Blue Devils are focusing in on their true targets now.  For the record, the visits are to workouts or open gyms which is the allowed procedure from NCAA rules.

coach k Plympics

Monday Musings – Thoughts on Duke Athletics

coach k PlympicsWhat a weekend it was for Duke fans.  The football team goes to 3-0 on the young season with a stunning performance from a true freshman running back, Shaun Wilson.  Add to that, more Gold thanks in large part to Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the royal blue has never looked better.

Mission Accomplished

Most folks forget the moribund state USA Basketball was in before Mike Krzyzewski took over.  The program needed leadership and he sacrificed his time for country more than anything else, in that the man is a true patriot.  Team USA rolled to a Gold Medal and in a most impressive way, doing so with what many coined a “B,” team.  While I am not too fond of that phrase, what is obviously impressive is that it didn’t take a team of out very best to be molded into a unit that played together.  Coach K has a long and obvious history of helping men grow and despite the age of some of his players, how many on the roster didn’t get better in some way?   It’ll be a long time before Coach K takes to the court again for Team USA, but he will be plenty busy with his family back in Durham while teaching  his Duke Blue Devils how to come together as a team in similar fashion.  In today’s media, there is more than ample criticism no matter what some folks do but most of the time hater articles are designed for hits with many facts going to the wayside out of convenience.  You will see some of the said type of articles manifest, but you thankfully there are more appreciative ones.  Krzyzewski should be celebrated for what he has done for his country and USA Hoops.  He is one of the main reasons USA Basketball is once again the dominant force it should have always been.  Some want to take away NBA players who want to represent their country from playing, others see the benefits.  My guess is no matter the change or format allowed to rosters, with Coach Krzyzewski in charge that the results would be the same.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 18 Division I Men's Basketball Championship - Second Round - Hampton v DukeAnd then there was Kyrie …

Kyrie Irving came away with MVP honors for the FIBA tournament and deservedly so.  While talking heads strangely never mentioned him when talking candidates as USA was thumping Serbia, it was clear that he was Team USA’s most consistent guard.  In reality, this should have been a team reward for no one player stood out above the rest in what was a true balanced team concept.  Irving likely benefitted form his final performance where he busted the game open with his quickness on the court and it’s an another award, one of many to come, he will cherish.

Haters gonna hate …

Adrian Wajnarowski is an NBA writer for Yahoo Sports.  For some reason is took aim at Coach Mike Krzyzewski in his morning column which is all over the place with concern to a point.  It seems like he tries to pit John Calipari against Krzyzewski as his distaste for the Duke coach is more than a little obvious.  If you want to read his diatribe, you can search for it.  Anyhow, a good or valid point is lost in the article due to said hate with concern to the USA program possibly going with younger NBA players.  Whatever he was trying to say, other than Krzyzewski used USA Basketball as a recruiting tool was lost.  A normally grounded media type, lost his composure by not spewing facts but opinion in a way that may be designed simply for hits.  Honestly, I don’t know if Krzyzewski may have accidentally stepped on his toe when leaving the media room or if he just hangs with the haters.  Anyhow, he seemingly seeks the company of those who would agree with him more than he does a fair and balanced offering.  Oddly, or maybe not so much, he has a history of  different stances if one does a simple search, but he conveniently avoids trying to explain why he’s changed his mind.  That said, Krzyzewski obviously must have stepped on his toe on the way out of the media room one night;)

Still buzzing over Shaun Wilson’s performance

If you have been living under a rock, you may have missed that a true freshman running back, Shaun Wilson, broke the all time single game rushing record.  When the game was 20-3 and the tenth punt of the day was booted, the match up with Kansas was in a word, boring.  Then came Shaun Wilson, who dazzled on lookers with his speed and smooth running abilities on his way to 245 rushing yards.  Wow.  Anyhow, Duke fans are still buzzing over that performance and so is Athlon Sports who coined the performance the best of the week among freshman.  By the time most of you will have read this, I fully expect more honors to have come his way.

Duke WR Max McCaffrey hauled in 2 TDs on Saturday against Kansas.
Duke WR Max McCaffrey hauled in 2 TDs on Saturday against Kansas.

Not to go unnoticed …

After moving to the inside as a slot receiver this season, Max McCaffrey caught two touchdown passes from Anthony Boone.  It was the first time he had multiple touchdown catches in a game for Duke and his game was a bit overshadowed from the aforementioned Wilson.

Not to go unnoticed II …

The Duke defense has quite the game plan making Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart look just awful on his way to 89 yards passing.  The Blue Devils played their best defense of the season where Kansas barely threatened in this contest.  A couple of interceptions and steady play from Jeremy Cash and David Helton helped pave the way to holding the Jayhawks to a paltry three points.

Next up Tulane

Duke Football takes on the Green Wave of Tulane this coming weekend with a 12:30 kickoff.  The Blue Devils have opened as a 17.5 favorite.  This will be the last game that Duke will be a significantly favored to win in the near future.

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Monday Musings – Chatter on the Duke Front

2Next Up, Kansas

Players come and go with collegiate athletic teams, but fans can have long memories.  The last time Duke took on Kansas, they got thumped 44-16 back in 2009.  David Cutliffe was at the helm that day as the Jayhawks offense had their way.  But a lot has changed with Duke Football since that loss and you can bet that Cut and the fan base will seek some retribution this coming weekend in Wallace Wade Stadium.  Duke has a much deeper team now and that should bode well against the Charlie Weiss led team which comes in 1-0.  The Blue Devils also have a chance to defeat a Big 12 team and that too should add incentive.  The Blue Devils need to take care of business in a game where they tabbed an early 17 point favorite.  And make no mistake, despite that large spread, Kansas is the most talented team they’ve played to date.  In fact, they are littered with a lot of seniors who would love to pull off the upset on the road this weekend.

Time For Team USA To Bring Their A-Game

Duke Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to rebuild USA Basketball dominance, but it’s time for his team to bring their A game to the front.  Thus far, Krzyzewski has been able to play many players but that bench could shorten if they take care of business and ultimately face Spain in the final.  There has been obvious off the court chemistry and a lot of the players will certainly be better in their NBA seasons after some tutelage under Krzyzewski.  Make no mistake that USA Basketball is here to stay and that players, despite unfortunate injuries will continue to play.  In December, a 436 million dollar project gets under way in Tempe, AZ which will serve as a projected urban show place in a formerly neglected area of the city.  This will be a state of the art and top notch facility that will serve the program for years to come.  Next up for Team USA is a match with Slovenia in the quarter finals which tips tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.

ACC Coastal Division Looking Tough

Duke was picked second in the pre season by the media and they’re the defending Coastal Division Champions, but this was before injuries to two All ACC players.  Since that time the division foes are all off to good or decent starts.  Virginia gave UCLA, a team some national types picked to win it all, fits.  They then walloped Richmond.  Pitt has looked especially strong and focused with a road win over B.C. as their latest victim to go 2-0.  UNC rallied to go to 2-0 as well on the young season against San Diego State.  Add to the undefeated teams, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets who still have that grind it out maddening offensive style that has given Duke fits.  Miami, picked to win the division in the pre season, bounced back to win big last week as teams making noise.  Perhaps the most impressive team in the Coastal though, is Virginia Tech who soared into the top 25 after defeating Ohio State in their backyard and you can see how competitive each and every division game can potentially be.  Duke will learn much about its team early on as their first two ACC games are on the road against Miami and Georgia Tech.

A Work In Progress

Blue Devil Nation will continue to make some cosmetic changes, so be patient, the current version is not the finished project.  You can get to all our football or basketball articles by simply going to “Duke Football,” etcetera in the links inside the top of the articles on the main page.  In time, we’ll have this as a more usable feature.  Also, be sure to check out our strong social media presence on Twitter and Facebook where we have a fan group and a regular page.  Thanks for your patience as we get to changes which should make your fan experience better.

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Monday Musings – Duke Football, Hoops

DSC_0078Solid Opening Day Performance

You couldn’t ask for much more from the Duke Football team and their  52-13 opening day win over Elon.  The first thing they did was take care of business while other teams around the country struggled with lesser opponents.  Across the board, the Blue Devils looked solid in every phase of the game save two which we will speak to as you read on.  Duke had a solid opening day crowd and it was clear to many when students started chanting “Football School,” that things have indeed changed.

DSC_0065Cut Points To Needed Improvements

As I stated above, the Duke football team graded out nicely against Elon, but post game and during yesterdays chat with David Cutcliffe, he stated concern over special teams. If you are a stat hound, you may ask what he is talking about.  After all, Will Monday punted twice for and impressive 51.5 yard average and kicker Ross Martin drove home a 49 yard field goal.  But the coverage on kickoffs and such bothered Cutcliffe where he said they were not physical nor did they run their lanes properly on coverage.  According to the head man, this will be addressed in practice this week and changes could be made.  The other area I felt could have been better was the fact that Duke got little pressure on the quarterback.  While Duke came away with two sacks, there seemed to be ample time, but that is something the film will help to address as well.

Troy Trojans Are Next

I can almost hear many whining that this game will only be televised by ESPN 3 as many of us seem to still be streaming challenged due to spotty connections world-wide.  Anyhow, this game is dangerous.  Why you ask in that Troy got trounced by UAB?  Well, for that very reason.  Troy has a tradition of playing good football and they were flat-out knocked back this past weekend in a road game that turned many heads.  Troy held the series edge going in and still do despite the loss.The Trojans were not supposed to lose like that and it was their worst defeat ever on many fronts.  A season ago, Troy gave Duke fits on the defensive end and Cut made sure to mention that they’d have their ear pinned playing on their field named after their long time coach and would be playing for pride.  Duke, slated and early 18 point favorite, will playing in the epitome of a trap game, but this will also be a test to see if they can handle expectations and play the opponent while not get caught looking ahead or patting themselves on the back after a solid win over Elon.

Coach Cutcliffe 11-16-13Foundation More Solid Than Some Think

I was really surprised that the ACC Sports Journal said in an article in their pre season magazine authored by David Glenn, that Duke was listed as having the 14th best foundation in the ACC moving forward.  When I look around the program I see stadium improvements on the verge of happening, recruiting getting better and better, retention or maintaining a solid coaching staff at all times and wins.  Perhaps Glenn thinks this is all an aberration but it looks to me as if Duke is dedicated to football in a way they never have been before and that fans are enjoying the turnabout.  Prospects are contacting Duke now and that didn’t happen in the past and there is little reason to not think that Cutlciffe will not remain a vital part of the ascent even after his eventual retirement which is a long ways away.  In fairness the Sports Journal did pick Duke to win the Coastal Division, but 14th in the conference moving forward for long-term football success?  Really?  I like David Glenn and think he’s quite grounded and the best of the local radio personalities but in my humble opinion he’s way off the mark with his assertion with concern to Duke Football and it’s future.

SONY DSCDuke Hoops Is Around  The Corner

There is a lot of excitement as always as September moves in for Duke fans start thinking basketball is not far away.  By all accounts this years team will be oh-so exciting and a mix of some key veterans and youth.  I can tell you I am as excited as I have ever been to see what this crop of freshman bring to the table.  Jahlil Okafor has totally reshaped his body and gotten stronger and Tyus Jones is just a guy that knew how to win on the AAU trail.  And then there is the surprisingly freaky athletic Grayson Allen and a hard nosed, play all phases of the game well, Justise Winslow.  Duke has had so many great classes past, but I can say having covered AAU Basketball for many years that this is hands down the most mature bunch or class I have seen to date.

SONY DSCUSA Basketball

So far, so good for Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Team USA.  With football in full swing, it’s hard to keep up with this as maybe we should around here but we are sure watching every game.  It’s great that Jeff Capel was able to go with the team while Nate James and Jon Scheyer hold down the fort in Durham.  And then there is a Duke flavor in the games with Kyrie Irving starting and Mason Plumlee coming off the bench.  Duke fans are so fortunate to have a living legend in Mike Krzyzewski at the helm and he sure seems to be focussed on the task at hand and advancing.  It will be fun to follow Team USA as they close things out in the month of September and to start talking more hoops around Blue Devil Nation.