Category Archives: Monday Musings

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BDN Monday Musings – Are you ready for some football?

It’s time to kickoff the 2012 Duke Football season this week, and Monday Musings hopes to see you in the stands at Wallace Wade on Saturday.

Injury-plagued Blue Devils face test up front in opener

The Duke Blue Devils will kickoff the 2012 football season this Saturday when they take on a very solid Florida International Panthers team in Wallace Wade Stadium. While the team has improved in many areas under Coach David Cutcliffe, injuries leading up to the game have been unsettling. As of today, the Blue Devils will be without several key projected starters, including receiver Blair Holliday, linebacker Kelby Brown, tight end Braxton Deaver, safety Jordan Byas and defensive lineman Jamal Bruce. They may also be without linebacker David Helton, who is listed as day-to-day. What this all adds up to for Duke is a serious lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball.  This could really matter in this game as the Devils go up against a team that will push the tempo under new offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey.  Cramsey’s “pedal to the metal” approach will force Duke to go to many unseasoned backups as the game progresses and the front line guys start to wear down.

While the defense will have its hands full preventing big plays, an area that Duke clearly needs to improve upon over last season’s performance, the offense faces a stiff challenge as well. The Panthers’ defensive front is solid and very deep, so all eyes will be on an improved Duke offensive front, and whether it can give senior quarterback Sean Renfree enough time to work with a bevy of new and unproven wideouts.  Duke did move senior Desmond Scott from running back to wide receiver, and he is capable of making big plays once he gets the ball in his hands.  But until a strong second receiving option steps up, you can bet  that All-ACC wideout Conner Vernon will see nothing but double teams, and it will be tough to get him the ball.

The Scott move may seem odd, as he is the last Duke player to rush for 100 yards in a game.  But this could be indicative of Duke’s depth and talent at the running back position, where the Blue Devils have two veterans in Juwon Thompson and Josh Snead and two talented newcomers in Jela Duncan and Sheldon Bell.

So when the ball kicks off around 7:00 this Saturday night to open the season, watch the battle in the trenches where the game could be won.  Click here for more on FIU depth on their Defensive Front.

Interviews with Duke Prospects on the way

We’ll start to roll out interviews from the Under Armor Elite 24 this afternoon, starting with Duke Basketball recruiting prospect Austin Nichols followed by 2014 stud PG Tyus Jones.  There are lots of happenings with hoops recruiting, so join BDN Premium for full site access and don’t miss any of it.

Bowling …

Let’s face it, we all want to see the Duke football team bowl eligible and ESPN’s Heather Dinich has the Blue Devils playing in the Military Bowl.  The Blue Devils face a very tough schedule this season, so that is some serious optimism for Coach Cut and company.  So are any of you  starting to realize how much pressure there is for Duke to win its opener?

Good turnout needed for Duke

It’s Duke Employee Day at Duke for the home opener against Florida International and the Blue Devils will need solid fan support to defeat a team coming off two straight bowl seasons.  Let’s have a great turnout where the home crowd helps lift the team to victory.  It has all the makings of being a very tense and competitive game, so don’t miss it.

 

BDN Monday Musings – “Meet the Devils” event sparks fan interest

Duke QB’s Renfree, Boone and Connette BDN Photo

Mark your calendars for October 19th and 20th, for that will be a heck of a weekend for Duke Athletics. On Friday, October 19th the always popular Countdown to Craziness event kicks off the basketball season, and the following day Duke hosts arch rival North Carolina in football. While schools can kick off the basketball season a week earlier with Midnight Madness-type events, Duke is not doing that this year, so CTC was moved back a week in Durham. Regardless, there will be little sleep for the BDN staff as we cover all the events, as we have in seasons past.

Coach Cut is ready for some football – Photo Mark Watson, BDN

The Meet the Blue Devils football event went down this past weekend, as 1500 Duke fans turned out to meet this season’s team. Fans got a chance to mingle with players and coaches while seeing the positive changes in the football facilities. Duke unveiled its team posters (ripe for autographs for the youngsters) along with the new helmets and new season ticket plans.

Duke Women’s Soccer is hot and ranked #2 in the nation. The team crushed Elon this past weekend, and they next take to the field in the UNC Nike Classic on August 24th at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill.

Be sure to check out our BDN Open Group Facebook Page where we load a lot of photos in an environment that more or less acts as our free message board. Of course, BDN’s only true message board is reserved for premium members, who have full site access where they get all the latest inside tidbits and nuggets on the program, as well as a place to discuss recruiting with other members. Here is a link to the Facebook site, where you can see photos from the latest scrimmage and Meet the Devils Day. BDN Facebook Group

A steady stream of fans stood in line to get Coach Cut’s autograph this weekend. – BDN Photo

Speaking of photos, BDN has long used our own photographers, and we do not mind others using our pictures — provided proper credit is given. All of our photos are copyrighted, and we enjoy bringing you up close and personal with Duke Athletics through the medium. But far too many other sites are now using photos without permission and without crediting the original source. If you want to use our photos, please contact us beforehand. Most recently, we had to remove two photos from a gambling site whose operators felt it was their right to swipe them and tag them as their own.  It’s not.

On a related subject, it’s becoming more apparent to me that on today’s web, it can be hard to tell the difference between opinions offered without benefit of real on-scene access and reporting, and opinions offered by those who do have the benefit of firsthand views of a program.  The BDN staff regularly attends all Duke athletic functions and media events. Our team is in the trenches doing the work, enabling us to present an “eyes on” view of the subject matter. Why am I mentioning this? There is a growing trend out there of “reporters” and self-styled “insiders” offering what I’ll generously term “borrowed information.” A recent blog post came to our attention that consisted of BDN reports being simply copied verbatim, with a few minor word changes, and being passed off as the blogger’s own work. The bottom line is that you can trust what you read here as being original in every way. We like what we do, and we make the effort to get out there to cover Duke athletics in a comprehensive, professional, and honest way.

Back to the on-the-field stuff:  The September 1 home opener against Florida International looms, and it should be a good one.  For those unfamiliar with the Panthers, they return 18 starters from a season ago, when they were a bowl team.  The problem with playing an upstart program is that many fans underestimate teams they haven’t heard that much about, setting themselves up for surprise and disappointment when they realize these guys can play.  I can tell you firsthand that Duke will have to bring their “A” game to beat this team.  Adding to the pressure is that, given the difficult schedule the Blue Devils face this year, many are already coining this a “must win.”  I think Duke will be ready but they’ll need the 12th man, meaning a fired-up home crowd, to come out of the gates strong this year and get a win against a quality opponent.

Have a good Monday folks.

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BDN Weekend Notebook – Still celebrating Gold and Meet the Devils in Football

What an exciting time of year this has been for Duke fans. Coach K has returned from London with his blokes in tow — that’s assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, mate —  and with Gold. And football is just two weeks away from kickoff …

You need a map and compass to keep up with the various appearances Mike Krzyzewski has been making since he returned from the other side of the pond. Amazingly, Coach was the first one in the Duke Basketball offices the day after he got back, which is a testament to his dedication and hard work. Here at BDN, we’re still trying to figure out ways of saying thanks for all that he does.

Meet the Devils goes off tomorrow at the Paschall Field House at around 6:00 PM. Paschal is the new facility in the end zone of Wallace Wade, and once you see it you will know that Duke Football is making the necessary moves to compete in the increasingly difficult ACC. This is a serious facility. Free posters, refreshments, drawings for prizes and such will take place. It’s a great time to meet the football team in an “up close and personal” environment, and you’ll be able to take pictures with your favorite players as well.  Come on out if you can!

Staying with the pigskin, check out this in-depth question and answer feature on the ACC Sports Journal web site, where BDN Football Analyst Patrick Cacchio chats with Jim Young about the Duke program and this year’s team. Jim made no bones about putting Patrick on the hot seat, and our man predicts a 5-7 season against a pretty dern tough schedule, both in and out of conference.  For instance, Duke has to face Florida State and Clemson from the other division, while UNC gets Maryland and Wake Forest.

The pressure is already building  for the opener against Florida International, who returns 18 starters from a season ago, when they went to the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.  The Panthers dominate the Phil Steele Preview Magazine’s All-Sun Belt pre-season team, with 10 players on first or second team.  In last season’s meeting down in Miami, the Panthers badly outgained Duke in total yardage, but the Blue Devils prevailed because they did not turn the ball over and they capitalized on FIU’s only turnover to pull it out late by the score of 31-27.  Undoubtedly seeking revenge, the Panthers will have their ears pinned back and be ready to rumble; in many circles FIU will be considered the favorite.  It will be a heck of an early test for the Devils, and they’ll need Wallace Wade to be packed and ready.

Patrick also has an interview up where he recaps the latest Duke verbal commitment, California running back  Joseph Ageigbe.  This is verbal number fifteen for the program, which really does seem headed in the right direction.

With all of that going on, Andrew Slater’s latest interviews have been flying a bit under the radar at BDN Premium. Slater has set the gold standard when it comes to getting to know these hoops prospects.  One recent post profiles The Rockwell Rifleman, Austin Grandstaff who is a young combo guard out of the Dallas area that we talked to at the Nike Peach Jam and then followed up with in Las Vegas.  Then there’s the Rebel with a Future, KavonLooney, a good-looking prospect from Milwaukee who has been catching the eyes of many scouts.  There is also Explosive Potential-An interview with Robert Hubbs focussing on the Tennessee wing who continues his rise in the rankings, and finally the star wing out of Houston is profiled in And Justise for All-The Justise Winslow interview.  As a paying subscriber you have full access to all of these articles and can talk recruiting and more on our members-only message board, where you will get all the latest scoop.

BDN will cover today’s closed session football scrimmage and we’ll have photos galore. Be sure to check out the previous pictures from Photo Day here and we will be adding more as time allows.

 

coach k Plympics

Random Thoughts from the Duke Beat

BDN wishes Austin Rivers a Happy Birthday! He will always be remembered for his buzzer-beating three point shot over the extended arm of Tyler Zeller and Duke archrival North Carolina.  Heart Breaker.

“Let’s do this,” said diving maestro Nick McCrory, who grew up in Chapel Hill but attends Duke, and he now owns a Bronze Medal from the XXX Olympics. Do you think Chapel Hill is happy losing one of their own to Duke of all places? Congrats Nick!

Also in diving:  Congrats to Abby Johnston, who won a Silver medal. I wonder if the Duke Stores and the Duck Shop are printing up “Duke Divers Rule” t-shirts.

Fencing National Champion Becca Ward of Duke was named ACC Female Athlete of the Year. Ward got my vote, as did linebacker Luke Kuechly of Boston College for Male Athlete of the Year.

Also electorally speaking, the ballot I cast at the ACC Kickoff event for the projected ACC football standings matched the final results in balloting. Of course, these projected standings are rarely on the money come year’s end.

While we’re talking pigskin, Duke opens fall practice for the 2012 season this coming Monday.  Positions to watch in the pre-season? The middle of the defense and the wideouts, where guys will need to step up and fast.

All eyes will be on the seniors as well. Can QB Sean Renfree bring his game full circle this season? Local Durham product Desmond Scott has been taking snaps at wideout, yet he is also the last Duke running back to rush for more than 100 yards. Good thing the Blue Devils seem deep in the offensive backfield.

Back to hoops:  So, if Shane Battier is playing congas for Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band in a performance, can we get an encore at a local club in Durham? One can wish.

The Duke Women’s Basketball team is preparing for its European tour.  They will spend the first few days in Paris. Life is tough. Actually, it may not be all quiche lorraine and boeuf bourguignon for the ladies, as their days of wine and roses will be limited somewhat due to injuries to Chloe Wells (leg), Richa Jackson (knee), Elizabeth Williams (leg), Amber Henson (knee), Katie Heckman (questionable – knee). #BuildingDepth

Yes, Duke will have two pre-season top 10 basketball teams this coming year.  Maybe even top 5.

Back in London, even while substituting liberally, Team USA rolled past overmatched Tunisia. In games like this, motivation and focus are challenges for the staff.  If anyone can keep our team locked in, it’s Coach K.

Speaking of Coach K, you just know his work with the NBA’s best really hurts recruiting. If you really fall for that, I have a coupon for half off the purchase of London Bridge.

How do we know Duke assistant coaches are all over the nation’s top prospects while K, Collins and Wojo (not a law firm) are in the United Kingdom? Because BDN Premium continues to be out there on the beat with them. Join today and find out who Nate James and Jeff Capel have been watching.

Quinn Cook and Marshall Plumlee took a break from the N.C. Pro-Am to play in the Four Nations Cup tournament in Tunisia, of all places. Cook was named to the All Cup team but Plumee was his saucer. It was good experience for both young players.

Alex Murphy got some serious burn recently too. The redshirt freshman was one of two “go-to” guys for the Finnish National Team in the recent U-20 European Championship tournament.  The team had little depth, so Murphy played big minutes and really showed off his scoring abilities despite being double-teamed for much of the way.

Bobby Hurley tweeted this yesterday:  “Proud 2 watch the “Fab Five” perform & bring home the gold! Who would have thought that the “Fab Five” could it get it done.”   See! I am not the only one who tweets how I feel on occasion. For those who missed it, the shot was directed towards the Michigan Wolverines’ “Fab Five” of the early 1990′s.

BDN Monday Musings – Irving, Plums, Peach Jam, Pro Am, Football Approaching — and More

I took this picture of Coach K upon his return with the first Gold his team earned. Let’s hope he can do it again and BDN will once again greet him at the RDI Airport.

There is always a lot happening around Duke athletics, and this coming week is no different.  BDN Monday Musings takes a look around  in our latest group of tidbits.

Kyrie Irving injured again

Kyrie Irving suffered an untimely injury when, during a Cavaliers practice, he hit his hand out of frustration — breaking a bone in the hand — and will now be out of action until the start of training camp.  Irving is, of course, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year who most recently was a member of USA Basketball’s NBA Select Team.  Here is more on his injury.  BDN wishes him a speedy recovery.  For the record, according to BDN’s recruiting analyst who was recently in Las Vegas watching Team USA’s preparations, Kyrie’s play was as good as any guard in the USA camp.

The Nike Peach Jam is upon us

One of the more popular stops on the AAU circuit is the Nike Peach Jam, which is held in North Augusta, SC, just minutes from the site of the Masters golf tournament.  This event provides coaches with one of their last opportunities to scout the Nike kids.  Only the top teams qualify for the tournament, which ultimately crowns the best team on the “Swoosh” circuit.  In fact, the importance of the event caused several players to back out of the Nike Hoops Summit this past weekend.

Several key Duke prospects will participate in the Peach Jam, and BDN will be there to bring you all the action.  Our most recent offering for premium members is a very interesting interview with big man Jahlil Okafor, who stated on record how bad his team wanted to win it.   The Nike Peach Jam was one of the first events that Blue Devil Nation covered, and it’s always one of my personal favorites.  BDN has now been around for ten years and our message board is celebrating its 5th anniversary this season.  Want more great coverage?  Join today!

Team USA preps and also entertains the troops

What an exciting summer it is for Duke fans, as they get to see coach Mike Krzyzewski try to mold another gold medal-winning national team.  During yesterday’s practice several members of our military and their families got to watch their heroes work out at the National Guard Armory in Washington, D.C.   “They humble us. I mean they do so much for our country and represent our flag,” said Timberwolves and Team USA forward Kevin Love.  “We just go out there and play basketball. So they are the reason we have our freedom.”  Team USA will take on Brazil today; here is the team’s entire schedule through theLondon Olympics.

Duke Football

Just 47 days remain until the Duke football team kicks it off against Florida International in Wallace Wade Stadium on September 1st at 7:00 EST.  There is no update on Blair Holliday, who was recently injured in a horrific boating accident.  Please keep his family and Blair in your prayers. But Duke Football will have to suck it up and prepare to start practice, where they will undoubtedly be hampered by the loss of Holliday at wideout, where he was slated to start.  In fact, this is the position that will be watched most closely in the pre-season by media and coaches alike.

The ACC Kickoff happens in Greensboro this coming Sunday.  This event marks the unofficial media start to the season, as coaches and players meet and the pre-season projected standings and All-ACC teams are released.  BDN will be there as always to bring you full coverage, including the comments of Duke Coach David Cutcliffe.

Elton Brand

In a move designed to shed $18 million from their payroll, Elton Brand was released by the Philadelphia 76ers.  But Brand was quickly picked up and signed by the Dallas Mavericks, who outbid the rest of the league for his services.

 

My man, Rick Crank is a heck of a photographer and we’ll see more of his work soon.

Mason Plumlee named to Honor Court

Mason Plumlee was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches 2011-12 Honors Court today. The Honors Court awards the talents and gifts that these men possess off the court and the hard work they exhibit in the classroom.  Plumlee, a double major in Psychology and Cultural Anthropology, also received CoSIDA First Team Academic All-America honors last season. On the court, he was named third team All-ACC while averaging 11.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Plumlee also shot 57.2% from the floor and finished the year with 12 double-doubles and a school record 60 dunks.

North Carolina Pro-Am

The N.C. Pro-Am has kicked into high gear on the campus of N.C. Central University, and more Duke players could be participating in the event this week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  There really hasn’t been enough play thus far to warrant us passing on our opinions of the players we’ve seen, but that will change in the coming weeks.  There are several interviews from the event up on the site already, and even more for members on the message board.

Miles Plumlee is a hit

Miles Plumlee was named to the NBA’s Orlando summer league’s First Team.  Check out his video from Dime Magazine.

Syracuse is set to join the ACC

It’s official!  Syracuse will join the ACC in July of 2013.  Check out this link.

Monday Musings – Duke Hoops had a heck of a week

 

Mason slams one down.  His brother was a first round NBA Draft pick this past week.

What a week it has been for Duke Basketball!  There is no denying the “feel good” atmosphere around the program these days. It began last Thursday night when Austin Rivers was selected by the New Orleans Hornets with the 10th pick in the NBA draft. He was followed by Miles Plumlee, who went 26th to the Indiana Pacers, giving Duke two more first round draft selections under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. On Saturday, coveted transfer Rodney Hood pulled the trigger for Duke, so as I say, it has indeed been a good week for the program.

If you’ve seen Miles Plumlee of late, he sports a spiffy new look that recalls Clark Kent chic, and it fits him to a tee. Plumlee was often seen by the media as a mild-mannered type, always polite, grounded and professional. But this past Thursday, Plumlee ripped open his shirt to reveal he has a little Superman thing going on as well. While the Pacers’ pick shocked many, those of us who followed Plumlee’s progress and spoke with league insiders saw this coming. Plumlee is a workout freak, and he posted great numbers during the NBA combines.  Many teams saw a player with both the athletic ability and the skill set to make it in the league. You can’t teach height, of course, and Miles’s size, combined with his ability to shoot from the permiter and run the court, served him well. NBA coaches and execs also did not forget that Miles learned how to play the game under Coach Krzyzewski at Duke, and that at 23, he’s already mature in many ways that should aid in his transition to the next level.

Austin Rivers is one of the most unfairly judged players I have been around since covering Duke basketball. Many mistake his confidence as a brash arrogance, when the reality is that confidence is an integral part of his game and a key component of his drive and his motor. Desire can carry a player a long way, and Rivers unquestionably has it. It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed internet chatter can be taken as gospel truth, even by the “mainstream” media, and this was certainly the case with regard to the perceptions of this young man.  I can tell you first hand that Rivers is a good kid, polite and professional when need be, but also not afraid to speak his mind. He is the type of kid that would settle differences with a game of one-on-one; the only thing wrong with that is how unfair it would be to just about any opponent he would face.

Austin leaves Duke having provided the program and its fans with one of the most thrilling and unforgettable moments in Duke’s long and glorious history when his buzzer-beater to beat UNC hit nothing but the bottom of the net.  While Rivers will certainly have to adjust to the physicality of the NBA game, he has been a big success at every level, and this one will be no different.

The news came Saturday evening that Rodney Hood, a coveted transfer from Mississippi State, would be attending Duke. In our latest BDN Premium update we discuss his addition for our members, and one of the things we share is that he will be on campus this Wednesday.  Hood’s addition changes the landscape of Duke’s recruiting, and we discuss that as well in the Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update. Hood was a player BDN was on early when he was on the AAU circuit, when he let us know that he had always liked the Blue Devils growing up. Hood will be allowed to practice with the team this year, and should be a part of the N.C. Pro-Am, where fans will get a firsthand view of his game.

We are a mere two months away from kickoff on the gridiron, and the Blue Devils face a bear of a task in the opener, as Florida International comes to Wallace Wade returning 18 starters from back-to-back bowl teams. There is no doubt that this game, even though it’s the opener, is vital to the Devils’ hopes of a run at a bowl themselves.  If a season opener could ever be “must win” for Duke, this would be the year.  We’ll be talking more football starting this month as Cut surveys his team.  Make plans now to support Duke Football by buying season tickets and check out the new “Cut’s Corner.”

USA Basketball is about to take center stage as well, and Coach K and company will keep Duke in the headlines in their effort to bring another gold medal home from London.   BDN has always supported and covered Team USA’s efforts, and this season will be no different.