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Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update

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The Duke Blue Devils entertained two key prospect this past weekend when Shabazz Muhammad and Amile Jefferson came to town for the Duke-North Carolina game.  Jefferson will make a decision this coming week and we discuss the latest on both the recruiting trail and team in our latest update for Blue Devil Nation Premium Members.  Patrick Cacchio has been talking to key football prospects as well and you can read those articles as well but becoming a member.  And with AAU season coming up this is the perfect time to become a paying member where you will get all the inside scoop from the most active staff on the grass roots circuit.

UNC at Duke – The battle for the ACC Regular Season Championship

 

The hype is now in full swing for the big showdown between Duke and North Carolina, rivals with a mere eight miles of separation.  ESPN is firmly embedded on the Duke campus where they’ll begin to broaadcast live from today with the infamous tent city as the backdrop.  A stroll through the Gothic Wonderland shows students preparing for the event with live bands. brew cans popping and some last minute studying to free up their time.  With a Duke win, benches will burn, celebrations will last until the following morning and another Duke team will be crowned champion.  But North Carolina stands in the way and Duke must take care of the business at hand where history shows us that can sometimes be a difficult task.

There is no place in the country where two behemoth’s exist like Duke and North Carolina and everywhere you go in the region, fans are proudly wearing their colors.  It’s not unusual for a total stranger to start trash talking you from behind when in line to pay for gas or obtain a snack in any store.  Horns honk  in approval as cars pass with flags or their might be a finger stuck in the air from the more fanatical ones as they pass and the stakes could not be higher in this one as both teams are vying for the regular season championship.

One team will go or stay at home with their heads held high while the other will feel like they’ve been hit in the chest with a sledgehammer with a loss.  But in reality, win or lose, both teams will benefit from playing this game in that playing a top level opponent will be the best preparation for March Madness which will soon begin in earnest as conference tournaments get under way and folks start to study all the happenings in order to soon fill out their brackets.

It’s both the best and busiest time of year for media and they will soon converge on Cameron in droves, each seeking a story. Each member will be proud to have the opportunity to to simply cover a game of this magnitude in a legendary venue known as Cameron Indoor Stadium, a facility that has limited seating availability to handle a thousand or better requests.

At some point this evening, Coach Mike Krzyzewski will address the students and this is an annual thing, but it is for them and not the general public so please respect that.  And then there is the much anticipated private screening debut of the TBS produced documentary that Grant Hill and Christian Laettner co produced about the Back to Back Championship seasons which will be shown in Cameron.

There is even a managers game between Duke and UNC which goes off at 10:00 and these guys take this affair seriously.  Duke will be looking for the next Casey Peters to lead them to a win and his play landed him on the team a year later.  And there will of course be live music and revelry at every turn as well.

The aforementioned ESPN GameDay will have a presentation in the morning starting at 10:00 and it is open to the public.  And the atmosphere will be an all day affair with the most intense anticipation taking over many.   As game time draws near, the line monitors will start to do their thing and just before that Cameron Crazies will be putting on their royal blue war paint and who knows, we may even see an appearance by the infamous speedo guy.

Prospect Amile Jefferson will be in the crowd

The students are allowed in Cameron an hour earlier than the general public and they’ll be in their best form of the season and packed in like sardines for this one.  The ESPN cameras will stroll uo and down as they whip the Crazies into a frenzy.  When North Carolina comes out, they will be greeted and razzed non stop and many will wear ear phones to avoid the chatter, like Harrison Barnes did last season.

Barnes of course, was at the center of a heated recruiting battle and many on the Duke side felt he led them on, so he gets special attention.  And they will surely razz Tyler Zeller, but be careful there because he is the favorite to win player of the year in the conference by many.  And then there is John Henson, who has a sister on the Duke womens team which is playing in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

The atmosphere is beyond description in that there is never a moment of silence and the roars can be deafening in this one.  There is an electricity in the air like no other game in America and the intensity can be felt as you walk through the packed to the brim stadium.  It is nothing less than fever pitch pandemonium in every way.

But what happens when the ball is tossed in the air at tip off?  Well, there will be a battle of two proud, storied basketball programs.  Watching Roy Williams and Coach Mike Krzyzewski stroll the sidelines is a view onto itself as is the many happenings all around.  Celebrities will be present and fans hang on every single play, pass or anything that can happen on the court.  Each turnover, dunk or tip of the ball brings about intense emotion, all seeming pertinent to the outcome.  It is basically one heck of a roller coaster ride that will leave you drenched in sweat as fans go through a myriad of superstitious ways.

What you will see is Duke trying to keep up with North Carolina on the boards and slow their transition game while UNC will try to push Duke off the three point line and get key bigs into early foul trouble.  There will be manic swings to where no lead is comfortable and it will all be left on the court by both sides.

Quite frankly, this game is too close to call, a virtual toss up in many ways and the Tar Heels will be hell bent on revenge after Austin Rivers three point dagger in Chapel Hill.  But will they be too pumped up?  Or for that matter, will Duke?  Staying calm before this game is something both coaches have to address and it may be tougher for Duke in that they are the younger team.

But Duke has had their doubters all season long, yet they’ve earned their way to a great opportunity and a 26-4 record with some solid NCAA resume building wins.  North Carolina was the overlwheming pick to not only win the ACC but were rated number one in the nation as well and they have suffered an injury to Dexter Strickland, but there starting lineup up has no less than three All ACC players on the team, so not too maybe will feel sorry for them.

That would be Harrison Barnes in Duke garb - copyright BDN Photo

Win  or lose, both teams will benefit from this game and know what to fine tune and work on for the tournaments.  Win or lose for Duke and they’ve had a great season with some huge wins.  Win or lose, Miles Plumlee will address the Cameron Crazies and fans after the game for his final time in a Duke uniform and win or lose fans should give him a warm aduraion and walk away with their head held high with pride.

It’s not the end of the world when you come up on the short end in this game, but it sure feels like it to those with a vested interest and that’s what makes this game special.  Two winners will take to the court and two winners will walk off the court and that’s all  there is to it, but being homer media, I sure hope that Miles goes off in style but no matter what I am proud of these Blue Devils win or lose, as you should be as well.

Let the game begin!

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Duke gains huge win over Florida State, remains atop the ACC

The Duke Blue Devils had fire in their eyes when they entered Donald L. Tucker Center and by games end they were perched atop the ACC with a 74-66 victory.

 Resilient Blue Devils show poise in victory

Miles Plumlee ended the game on the bench with 5 fouls. Mason Plumlee was reduced to a shadow of himself as he was saddled with 4 fouls, 3 early on but the Blue Devils overcame foul trouble. Had somebody told you Mason Plumlee would score a single point would you have thought there would be a Duke win?  The resilient Blue Devils never allowed Florida State to get too confident and the frustration played a factor as the game went on. Duke showed great poise throughout the game despite a most hostile crowd and pretty much took them out of the equation during large stretches of the game. And when the crowd did get into it as Florida State closed the margin late, the Blue Devils never folded on a night when they played 40 minutes of good basketball. And that’s what it took to beat a talented and explosive Florida State team.

Time to recognize this Duke team

The Blue Devils have secured victories over the likes of Kansas, North Carolina. Michigan, Michigan State and now Florida State on the road where they are now 7-0.  It’s time to give them their due at 24-4 overall with three regular season games to go.  If Duke takes care of business in their next two games against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, they’ll at worst play for the ACC regular season title.  This team just finds a way of getting it done.  The Blue Devils have remained in the top ten all season long and that has been the case for an amazing and soon to be 92 straight weeks streak under Kryzewski.

Dre all day!

When Andre Dawkins brings it and is on his shot, look out! Dawkins scored 18 1st half points and finished as the Blue Devils leading scorer with 22. This was the 4th time Dawkins scored 20 plus points this season and this one came when Duke had to win to remain in the ACC regular season title hunt. Dawkins also grabbed 5 key rebounds and dished one dime to go with a steal. Dawkins came up huge when Duke needed him and that was a huge reason for tonight’s win. Dawkins made three-pointers on back-to-back possessions twice in the first half. Back-to-back treys by Dawkins stretched a 7 point lead to a 13-point lead in a span of 26 seconds. Dawkins leads Duke with 89 three-pointers on the season and leads the ACC with a .422 three-point percentage.

Austin wanted the rock!

You have to love the fact that freshman, Austin Rivers, wanted the ball in his hands in key situations and so did the staff, his teammates and fans. Rivers scored 20 points to go with 4 assists and 4 rebounds in one of his better efforts of the season. Rivers was there to knock down four daggers, otherwise known as the three pointer and each one was a exclamation point. But I liked his defense in this game, especially his late steal.  Rivers will be a unanimous choice for ACC Rookie of the Year and he could make a run for some first team votes if he doesn’t already have a few.

Speaking of the three ball …

Duke drilled home 16 of 37 three point shots which translates into 39 points. In comparison, the Seminoles scored 12 points beyond the stripe, a 27 point differential. Seth Curry struggled for much of the game but Krzyzewski stuck with him and his late game play and three were huge for Duke. And Ryan Kelly hit what might have been the biggest of all the threes where the Blue Devils maintained much needed momentum.

Miles Plumlee comes up big

On a night when Mason Plumlee scored a single point, Duke still won, thanks to his brother Miles Plumlee who scored 10 points and 8 rebounds which led the team. Miles earned the praise of Krzyzewski who said his play set a standard for the rest of the season. Considering the foul trouble Duke had in the post, Plumlee showed the ability to succeed without being too aggressive. The senior has been playing some really good basketball of late and just in the nick of time for the Devils.

Another solid effort from Kelly

Ryan Kelly had his second 4 point play of the season when he was fouled on a made three pointer in the first half and then made the ensuing free throw. Kelly was in double figures for the 17th time this season, the third most on the team. Kelly knocked down a huge three-point shot with 4:30 remaining in the game which gave Duke’s 6 point lead as the ‘Noles made a run. Kelly took another charge and leads the Blue Devils in that category. Kelly hit all five free throws. Kelly is shooting 80.8 percent from the free throw line, 41.2 percent from three-point range and 45.3 percent from the floor.

Ridiculous turnaround

Who made this schedule? The Blue Devils will head to Durham shortly and be back on the Duke campus in the wee hours of the morning. Then they will have a short day and night before tipping off at noon against Virginia Tech. Duke will be tired and in need of a lift that only the ….

… Cameron Crazies can provide

The Blue Devils are having a fabulous season and they are growing as a team right before our eyes. And with just two home games left and coming off a huge road win over Florida State, the Blue Devils will need their sixth man to turn out in droves and show their appreciation. So, come on Crazies! Do your thing.

Facts and numbers of interest

Duke improved to 31-8 against Florida State in a series that began in 1955. Duke had lost the previous two meetings, including the 76-73 buzzer-beating loss to the Seminoles on Jan. 21 in Cameron Indoor Stadium.Duke won its seventh straight ACC road game. During the Blue Devils’ 58-year tenure in the ACC, they have started 7-0 in ACC road games just four times. The last time Duke started 7-0 in league road games was in 2005-06. Duke finished a perfect 8-0 in ACC road games in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. The Seminoles had allowed no more than 11 three-pointers in a game all season until Duke hit 13 tonight. Duke improved to 5-1 this season against ranked teams. The Blue Devils have wins over North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan, Florida State and Virginia. Duke’s only ranked loss came on the road against No. 2 Ohio State. Duke is holding opponents to a .277 shooting percentage from three-point range.