Tag Archives: Andre Dawkins

Countdown to Craziness is Upon Us

You never know what you will see at CTC - Nolan Smith and his hot pants Johnny Dawkins wore pictured

DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s basketball team tips off the 2011-12 season on Friday, Oct. 14 with the third annual Countdown to Craziness. For the third consecutive year, ESPNU will be on hand to cover the events as part of its four-hour Midnight Madness Special. GoDuke.com and ESPN3.com will carry the event in its entirety.

 

“Countdown to Craziness has been highly successful the last two years and we are excited to start this season with another terrific event,” said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “The start of the basketball season is always special, and surely, Friday will be a great experience for our players, staff and fans alike. We are looking forward to taking the floor in Cameron and getting the 2011-12 season underway in an exciting fashion.”

 

Countdown to Craziness will feature live music, inflatable games, highlight videos honoring past champions and the Duke basketball tradition, videos by Duke University Improv, live performances and on-court contests as well as the annual Blue-White scrimmage and a dunk contest.

 

Broadcast legend Bill Raftery along with Lou Canellis will be on site for Countdown to Craziness as part of ESPNU’s coverage of the opening weekend of college basketball.

 

Countdown to Craziness Schedule of Events

5:30 p.m. – Inflatable Games, Live DJ, Face Painting

7:30 p.m. – Doors to Cameron Indoor Stadium Open

7:30 p.m. – On-Court Promotions and Student Performances Begin

8:30 p.m. – 2011-12 Duke Blue Devil Player Introductions

8:55 p.m. – Blue-White Scrimmage (Two 12-Minute Halves With a Five Minute Halftime)

9:45 p.m. – Dunk Contest

Duke Blue Devil Andre Dawkins, “Dre, All Day”

It’s a sweltering summer evening inside McDougald Gym on the campus of North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. Fans pack the arena to cheer on local college stars and current professional players during the annual North Carolina Pro Am, an extremely popular event. Andre Dawkins’s team is up next and once the game starts it takes no time to hear the P.A. announcer bellow in a loud voice, “Dre, all day!” as Dawkins drains back to back three pointers.

“I like the nickname, Dre all day. It’s my Twitter handle and is a nickname that I have had for a long time. The dad of one of my childhood friend’s came up with it. I’m not sure where he got it from, but it stuck and I like it,” Dawkins told BDN on that late August evening.

After Dawkins drained the aforementioned three point shots, he turns and runs back up court and you can see a ton of confidence in his body language. There is little doubt that Dawkins has improved his game in the off season and that allowed him to start during the China / Dubai trip.

As it turns out, Dawkins performances during the Pro Am were no anomaly. Dre racked up points by the bushel scoring 35 one night, 24 of those coming in the second half. “I tried to get easy baskets instead of forcing the issue,” said Dawkins who nails three pointers with the same ease as a grown man dunks on a Nerf goal.

Dawkins had three consecutive 30 plus point games before slumming at a mere 25 points one evening, only to come back and hit 31 in the next game.

“The first night I was hitting a lot of threes in the first half but in the last game I concentrated more on getting to the basket,” said the rising junior.

When asked if he was ready to step up his game this season, Dawkins stated, “I hope so, we lost a lot of scoring from last season so there will be opportunities.”

Perhaps no player on the Duke roster has been through what Dawkins has. His sister’s untimely passing was something he had to deal with as a true freshman. In fact, Dawkins had enrolled in Duke a year early after graduating early by going to summer school. And for those who may not remember his recruitment, Dawkins was a huge Duke fan before the offer ever came.

Dawkins emotions were evident after the tragedy and he realizes that as well. His confidence would sway with a hit or missed shot and it was clear to read that on his face. “This year if I miss a few shots I have to come back just as confident,” said Dawkins. He continued by saying “I have been working everyday on ball handling and trying to get in real good shape and be aggressive on both ends of the court.”

The sharp shooting swing man is now one of the older players on the Duke roster and he is aware that young guys will look up to him and learn from his experiences. “It’s been going really well for them to date with the newcomers and I show them what I can. Guys are learning our system and we try to get better each time out.”

He also said that the coaches expect him to step up as well, “I know what all the coaches expect and it helps a lot to understand the expectations.”

When Dawkins smiles, he can light up a room. The smile is genuine. One will quickly notice that his braces are gone this season and that in some sense relates to the maturation of his game.

Once the dust settled at the Pro Am, Dawkins was one of the leading scorers in the event, if not the top one overall. More importantly, his team went undefeated until the last day of the regular season, but he missed the playoffs preparing for the Fiendship Games in China. “It’s just a comfort level. I’ve played with a lot of the guys on the team before and they know to look for me in my spots. It just felt good out there,” stated Dawkins on his overall play.

Next up for Dawkins was the China-Dubai trip where the Blue Devils got some early preparation for the coming season. Once the trip concluded, Dawkins showed again that he was more than capable of scoring in bunches. You can bet that other ACC teams payed close attention and they’ll certainly concentrate on trying keep him from going off on them.

I asked Dawkins after the trip about his confidence and improvement and he replied, “Yeah, I do have more confidence. It comes from a lot of hard work over the summer and as you work hard you gain confidence. I feel like I have gotten a lot better and plan to show that this year.”

That said, you may not hear the announcer in Cameron Indoor Stadium exclaim, “Dre, all day,” with a booming voice which echos throughout the rafters, but that doesn’t mean Andre won’t be lighting the competition just as he did this summer.

What Did We Learn Over Summer Vacation?

Participation in the Friendship Games provided an early look at the 2011-12 edition of the Duke Blue Devils. In three games against the China Junior National Team and one game against the United Arab Emirates National Team, Coach Krzyzewski was able to get an early jump on melding the individual Blue Devils into a cohesive team.

The dog days of summer are usually spent watching the pennant races heat up and preparing for the upcoming football season, while plenty of time was still devoted to those meaningful activities, Duke Basketball fans were treated to competitive international basketball in August. For diehard college basketball fans, those games were a sweet appetizer for the upcoming season.

So, what did we learn during the four games? In no particular order, we learned the following:

Ryan Kelly is looking really good

Ryan Kelly led the Blue Devils in scoring with 60 points over the four games. He also collected 33 rebounds for an impressive 15 points and 8.2 rebounds per game stat line. But the story isn’t Kelly’s stat line, but rather his calm, collected attitude on the court. The story is how smooth and confident Kelly looked knocking down a jump shot, collecting a rebound or delivering a pass to an open teammate.

If Kelly can build off his play in the Friendship Games, and continue to improve his all around game, he could be a player who gives opponents match-up fits and develops into an All ACC performer in 2012.

Starting Rotation

Over the four games, the same five players started: Miles Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Andre Dawkins, Austin Rivers and Seth Curry. While I am sure Coach Krzyzewski will still mix and match line-ups in the early season games, with some fluctuation in the starting line-up based upon practice intensity and previous game performance, the fact the same five guys started all four summer games is indicative that a solid pecking order has been established.

The perimeter is deep and talented

Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins and Austin Rivers combine to be a formidable three guard back court. Curry and Rivers can both handle the ball even though they are not true point guards, while Dawkins, who has always been a very dangerous shooter, appears ready to be a threat to attack the rim via back door cuts and by working the baseline.

Dawkins and Rivers each scored 57 points in the four games with Curry right behind them at 54 points. Dawkins sank a blistering 48.3 percent of his 3-point attempts, while Curry led the team with nine steals.

Rivers has the ability to create his own shot and drive to the rim; however, these international games demonstrated he still has a lot to learn. There will be further discussion on Rivers in a bit.

Turning to the bench players, Tyler Thornton is a pest and I mean that in the best possible way. His tenacious approach to playing defense will continue to earn him significant playing time.

Alex Murphy has length and the ability to run the court. While he struggled early on, he improved every game and was impressive in the United Arab Emirates game. Murphy should see time on the wing in relief of Dawkins and at power forward when Coach Krzyzewski decides to go with a small line-up.

Post game is in good hands

Led by senior Miles Plumlee, and including juniors Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, this year’s Duke Blue Devils are as talented and experienced in the front court as they have been in a number of years.

The three upperclassmen combined for 134 points and 96 rebounds, which averages to 33.5 points and 24 rebounds per game, from the center and power forward positions, against legitimate competition. We are not talking summer pick-up games here. Last season, those three players combined for 18.6 points and 17 rebounds per game.

I realize the comparison is apples to oranges, four international games to an entire NCAA season, but I’m just throwing it out there as food for thought. It is data points fanatic fans can chew on.

To take the apples to oranges comparison one giant leap further, on the 2004 team, Luol Deng, Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph combined for 34.7 points and 19.9 rebounds per game.

While I am not trying to suggest this year’s front court will be as formidable as the 2004 front court, I am suggesting this front court has the potential to be very, very good and perhaps the best front court we’ve had since 2004. And that is saying something seeing as the 2006 front court of Shelden Williams and Josh McRoberts was not shabby.

To maneuver this section back into the here and now, before this year’s trio of front court players can reach their maximum potential, they must prove themselves in two areas: consistency of play and foul management. If those prerequisites are achieved, the sky is the limit.

Austin Rivers is ready to start as a freshman

Rivers was simultaneously impressive and inconsistent. He scored 57 points, but he led the team in turnovers with 15 and only connected on 5 of 21 3-point attempts.

The poor 3-point shooting can easily be explained away by the deeper arc on an international court. The turnovers are more a result of poor decision making and playing out of control. On multiple occasions Rivers drove too deep into the teeth of the opponent’s defense and was left without an option other than to throw the ball toward a teammate on the perimeter.

So, should Duke Fans Worldwide go into a panic and chew their finger nails until they bleed? No! Rivers is a freshman so those type plays should be expected. Like every other freshman, Rivers must adjust to the speed of the game and the increased talent level on the court.

Rivers’ decision making will improve and he will rapidly learn to play within himself and once that happens, which I expect will take place sooner rather than later, he will be a force to contend with on the hardwood.

During the Friendship Games, we learned Austin Rivers is ready to immediately start and be an impact player.