Austin Rivers responds to being named Cosmopolitan’s Hottest 25 players in the NCAA Tournament and talks a little hoops as well via BDN Video –
The Duke Blue Devils fell to Florida State 62-59 in the ACC Tournament semi finals in Atlanta, Georgia and fell to 27-6 on the season. The team will now await the NCAA selection show on Sunday to see which region they’ll play in but it is pretty much a lock they’ll be in Greensboro for their first one or two games.
Duke had a hard time with their bread and butter three point shots in the tournament and today they went 5 of 20 from beyond the arc. Duke almost tied the ball game on a shot at the buzzer after a defensive play, but the ball rimmed in and out for Curry. The Blue Devils managed to stay in the game with its free throw shooting where they went 16 of 18 but the Seminoles dominated the boards for most of the second half until late in the game and all the loose balls seemed to go their way in key stretches.
Luke Loucks nailed a three pointer over Josh Hairston with 12 seconds left and Duke failed to score on two possessions with the aforementioned Curry miss and another failed three from Rivers. The ACC Freshman of the Year led Duke in scoring with 17 points and Curry added 13 as the Blue Devils only two double figure scorers.
It was obvious that the Blue Devils missed Ryan Kelly and that they were at times out of synch on offense without him. Kelly can stretch the floor pulling big men out as a true three point threat. Kelly is day to day but will likely see limited action in this weeks tournament.
With Mason Plumlee saddled with foul trouble, the Seminoles took advantage in the paint outscoring Duke 34-24. That forced Miles to take on much of the load and he did grab 11 rebounds and scored 9 points. Mason ended the game with 8 points and 4 rebounds. Duke got just 9 points from their bench, 4 for Josh Hairston and 5 from Quinn Cook while Andre Dawkins continued his struggles going scoreless.
Both teams played hard with maybe the Seminoles making a bit more effort. Duke was sluggish in the 1st half and a look at the stats would make one think they had trailed by more than 2 points.
Coach Krzyzewski has done a great job with this team to date but the Blue Devils may have to tweak their offense a bit without Kelly seeing significant minutes. When Duke needed a stop tonight it just didn’t come and sometimes that’s just the way the ball bounces. We’ll discuss that a bit later as it’s now time to look forward where all teams are 0-0.
The Blue Devils survived the pesky Hokies 60-56 to advance to the semi finals where they’ll take on a talented Florida State team this afternoon. In the process Duke tied the second longest streak of ACC Tournament victories at 10 consecutive wins. The Blue Devils defense was the key against the Hokies, holding their opponent to 30.2% from the field.
Duke doubled the production of the Hokies in the paint by a 24-12 margin and their fast break worked as well to a 8 to 3 rate. But Duke was just 5 of 26 from the three point stripe and that number must improve against Florida State. The Blue Devils also benefited from going 15 of 18 from the free throw line and that was a huge factor in winning their 27th game of the season.
Tyler Thornton was a vital part of the win as well, despite missing several three pointers. But the ones he did make were at key moments and he seemed to be there every time their was a loose ball, garnering 3 steals. Austin Rivers led Duke in scoring wih 17 points and Mason Plumlee played very well scoring 12 points to go with 10 rebounds.
As I hinted to earlier, Duke went small just minutes into the game, rotating the the borthers Plumlee with Ryan Kelly sidelined for the tournament. You can expect more of that today against the Semionoles winners over Miami. This will be the rubber match between these two clubs and trust me when I say the Florida State fans travelled well here and they’ve let their presence be known. Of course, Duke will have all the UNC fans pulling against them as well in that the Heels face rival N.C. State in t he opening game.
There is no doubt that the Duke-Florida State game is likely to go to the wire and it’ll be a tense affair throughout. The Blue Devils must keep a body on the Seminoles and hold their on in the paint while hitting a better percentage from beyond the three point arc. So, pull up a chair if you think you can actually sit down during this game and root your Blue Devils on for they’ll need the collective support from the fan base today.
Duke fans were a bit quiet in the arena yesterday and they’ll need to pick up the support as well. We’ll continue to have post game wrap ups with exclusive video and photo galleries from Lance King, so bookmark Blue Devil Nation now and go up close and personal behind the scenes. As for our prediction today, we’ll take the Duke Blue Devils 66-64.
1st Team Tyler Zeller UNC
1st Team John Henson UNC
1st Team Kendall Marshall UNC
1st Team Mike Scott Virginia
1st Team Austin Rivers Duke
I couldn’t vote more than three players from any team on my 1st team and some say you only vote three if that team dominated the league. Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Kendall Marshall stood out for me, leaving Harrison Barnes as the odd man out despite being 2nd in the league in scoring. Mike Scott tailed off a bit late in the season but take him away and Virginia would not make the NCAA Tournament and his last performance assured him of a spot on my team. Austin Rivers came on strong midway through the season and earned his way on my ballot despite scoring just 25 points in his last two games. He was the Blue Devils best player and that helped him edge out the leagues leading scorer in Terrell Stoglin.
2nd Team Harrison Barnes UNC
2nd Team Terrell Stoglin Maryland
2nd Team Michael Snaer FSU
2nd Team Lorenzo Brown NCS
2nd Team Mason Plumlee Duke
The leagues top two scorers head up my 2nd team All ACC selections. A testament to the Tar Heels talent is the fact that Harrison Barnes was pushed to my 2nd team. Some will have him ahead of Kendall Marshall, but take away the captain of their ship and none of the big three stars would have the numbers they do. Terrell Stoglin could have easily been a 1st team choice as well. Michael Snaer was my first Florida State player selected and I am very comfortable with him on this team. I am of the opinion that Lorenzo Brown of N.C. State was their most valuable player and his all around play made for a spot in my top ten. As for Mason Plumlee, take him off the Duke front line and you would have seen many more losses. He is one of the leagues top big men and the 2nd best player on the Blue Devils team from my vantage.
3rd Team Kenni Kadji Miami
3rd Team Travis McKie WF
3rd Team Erick Green VT
3rd Team CJ Leslie NCS
3rd Team Seth Curry Duke
Kenny Kadji had great stats in league play and he got better as the season progressed, so he represents Miami. Many might go with Durand Scott on this team but he fell just short on my ballot and I felt Kadji earned this selection. Wake Forest pushed C.J. Harris for 1st team or their lead player but to me, Travis McKie was more valuable with his all around stats. Harris, like Scott was right there for me but Seth Curry gained the last spot in that he played for a team which won a lot more games in league play. Erick Green could have easily made my 2nd team as well and he had a fine season for the Hokies. I wrestled back and forth with the selection of C.J. Leslie, but he is 10th in scoring and rebounding or close to that going into the last game of the season, so that garnered him a spot. And Bernard James was the odd man out but he had a heck of a season and was quite valuabel to his team.
Jontel Evans Virginia
John Henson UNC
Michael Snaer FSU
Bernard James FSU
Andrew Young, Clemson
The trio of John Henson, Michael Snaer and Bernard James were no brianers. Jontel Evans gained a spot with his play and I felt good about his addition, while Andre Young of Clemson edged out the likes of Erick Green and Lorenzo Brown.
Austin Rivers Duke
Ryan Anderson BC
Dorian Finey-Smith VT
Shane Larkin Miami
Nick Faust Maryland
In a very weak freshman class, Austin Rivers leads the way and a unanimous choice. Ryan Anderson was an easy choice as well for me but I struggled with Nick Faust and some of his teammates and others for the last spot. There are s a lot of freshman on the leagues better teams which have more talent and many of the players I voted for but their development was slowed by the talent ahead of them.
Player of the Year – Tyler Zeller UNC – Tyler Zeller had a very nice senior season and he got my vote as the conferences top player.
Defensive Player of Year – John Henson UNC – Henson altered a lot of shots and ripped plenty of defensive boards for the Tar Heels dominant front court. Michael Snaer and Bernard Hopkins were right there as well and earned my consideration.
Rookie of the Year – Austin Rivers Duke – This was the easiest pick of the individual awards for me. In a weak freshman class via production, Rivers stood out all season long, owning the weekly award as if it were velcroed to his chest.
Coach of the Year -Mike Krzyzewski Duke – It came down to three coaches for me, those being Leonard Hamilton of Florida State, Tony Bennett of Virginia and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. Hamilton led his Florida State team to their pre season predicted finish of 3rd and they demolished North Carolina with some home cooking. But those early losses to weak teams at home, lands him in 3rd place for me. Tony Bennett led his team to a 4th place finish despite losing transfers and Asanne Sene, their main post presence. That earned him 2nd place in my voting. As many of you know, Coach Mike Krzyzewski hardly ever wins the award but this is the year he is deserving and he got my vote. Krzyzewski led his team to 26 regular season wins which include Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Michigan. Add wins over NCAA tournament bound teams Belmont, Davidson, Washington and possibly Colorado State and Tennessee and it is clear that the Blue Devils came to pay despite losing Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving in the off season. He coached an unusual roster by past standards and squeezed the most out of them. I am very comfortable with him obtaining my vote.
In the end, selections are all subjective, but I pride myself on remaining objective and voting my conscience. There is no true tried and true criteria for voting, so you will see ballots vary greatly. As for Duke, Seth Curry was on my 1st team ballot in the pre season and he made that team, but he fell to my 3rd team at seasons end. Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes flip flopped teams and the rest remained the same with the exception of Rivers. Zeller ended up my Player of the Year but his teammate Barnes got my vote in the pre season. My pre season predicted standings were very close to the actual finish, the top five intact as was the bottom. I had Virginia Tech a couple of spots too high in the pre season, but overall I was very close. My optimistic pre season projected record for Duke was the 26-5 record they own, another reason Krzyzewski got my vote.