BDN was on hand at Duke today where we spoke to Austin Rivers after a long practice and as usual, the Duke freshman had plenty to say. Rivers is always a great interview and today was no different. BDN will take you behind the scenes the rest of the season where we hope to wind up in New Orleans with the team, so bookmark us now for our unique style of coverage.
[5 AP / 4 Coaches] Duke (22-4, 9-2) vs. Boston College (8-18, 3-9)
Sunday, February 19, 2012 • 6:00 p.m. • ESPNU
The Opening Tip
• Duke (22-4, 9-2) faces Boston College (8-18, 3-9) in an ACC road contest on Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Conte Forum. Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m.
• Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Hubert Davis (analyst) will call the game for ESPNU.
• Duke is ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 66-24 when ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. Boston College is unranked in both polls.
• The Blue Devils are coming off a 78-73 win over N.C. State on Thursday. Duke outscored the Wolfpack 37-12 over the final 11:33 of action to overcome a 20-point second half deficit.
• Duke is the only team in the NCAA to rank in the top 5 in RPI, Strength of Schedule as well as the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
• The Blue Devils are currently 5-0 on the road in league play. Duke hasn’t won six straight ACC road games since the 2005-06 season.
Duke-Boston College Series
• Duke and Boston College have met 15 times heading into Sunday’s game with the first meeting between the two schools coming on Dec. 21, 1979.
• The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 13-2, including a 9-1 ledger since Boston College joined the ACC.
• Duke has won four straight and 12 of the last 13 games in the series.
• Mike Krzyzewski is 12-2 at Duke against the Eagles, including a 4-1 record at the Conte Forum.
• Seven of the 10 games since Boston College joined the ACC have been decided by 10 points or less.
• All five games in the series that have been played at the Conte Forum have been decided by 10 points or less.
• Duke and Boston College have met twice in the ACC Tournament with Duke winning both games.
l The Blue Devils are 9-2 in ACC play and are one win shy of winning at least 10 conference games for the fifth straight season and the 20th time under Mike Krzyzewski.
l Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 89 straight weeks, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.
l The Blue Devils have had 10 or fewer turnovers in five ACC games and leads the conference with 10.1 turnovers per game in league play. Duke had a season-low five turnovers in Thursday’s win over N.C. State, including no turnovers over the final 13 minutes of play.
l Duke is 12-3 on the year in games decided by 10 points or less. The Blue Devils have five wins in ACC play by less than 10 points.
l The Blue Devils have held seven of their 11 ACC opponents to four three-point field goals or less. ACC opponents are shooting just 28.4 percent (44-of-155) from three-point range against Duke for the second lowest percentage in the conference.
l Duke has trailed at the half in three of the last four games and has had a second half deficit of 10 points or more in three of the last four contests. The Blue Devils overcame a 13-point second half deficit to beat North Carolina (Feb. 8) and a 20-point deficit to defeat N.C. State (Feb. 16).
l The Blue Devils average 25.1 points per game off the bench. Duke has gotten double-digit scoring from the bench in 19 of 26 games this season and the bench has scored 30 or more points in 10 games.
l Austin Rivers was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the seventh time overall and the fourth straight week on Monday. Rivers’ seven selections are the third most in ACC history, while his four straight selections tie three others for the ACC’s longest streak.
l Brothers Mason and Miles Plumlee combine to average 17.9 points and 16.3 rebounds per game this season. Either Mason or Miles has led Duke in rebounding in 24 of Duke’s 26 games. The duo has also combined for 19 double-figure rebounding games on the year.
l Seth Curry has scored in double-figures in five consecutive games and is averaging 18.6 points per game in that span. He is 16-of-37 (.432) from three-point range and is also averaging 4.4 rebounds per game in the last five contests.
l Austin Rivers leads all ACC freshmen in points per game (15.0), minutes per game (32.2), double-figure scoring games (22), 20-point games (6), field goals made (131), field goal percentage (.444) and free throws made (83). He ranks second in three-pointers made (45) and steals (24).
l Mason Plumlee ranks second in the ACC in rebounding at 9.9 rpg. He is also second in the league with 14 double-figure rebounding games and has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in four straight games and six of the last seven contest.
DURHAM, N.C. - Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski entered a sweltering and packed media room in Cameron Indoor Stadium and he wanted no part of fielding questions about the Blue Devils perceived or real short comings or areas of needed improvement. And who can blame him? His team just pulled off an amazing comeback victory over a game N.C. State Wolfpack team that led his Blue Devils by 20 points with 11:33 on the clock in the second half.
Once again, Austin Rivers hit a huge three point shot with 2:26 left giving Duke a 73-71 lead and one they'd hold onto ending the game with a 78-73 victory keeping them in a three way tie atop the conference. "When we made that run, I could just feel it. I could just feel it. I felt confident. I love those games," said an elated Rivers.
While he may have liked the outcome, he was quick to say as did other Blue Devils that they cannot keep digging holes and expect to comeback. In a span of eight days, Austin hit two of the biggest shots of the season with one being a dagger to the heart buzzer beater over arch rival North Carolina.
To give you an idea of the ferocity of the comeback, it was the largest in the Krzyzewski era, down 14 in the half. "That was an amazing win," said the Hall of Fame coach who broke the all time NCAA win mark this season. He continued, "I thought our fans were terrific, they never let us die."
And Cameron did rock and it sounded like jet aircraft taking off the runway when Rivers nailed the three to put Duke ahead for good. There were times when every fan in the old girl were standing and it has been while since the collective did that.
While it seemed bleak for much of the game, the first 29 minutes to be exact, Duke kept the faith, their heart and never quit which payed off in a most big way. "They thoroughly outplayed us for close to 29 minutes but we thoroughly outplayed them for 11," said Krzzyewski.
And those 11 minutes were amazing (37-13 run to end the game) for a Duke team that has set the tone for ACC drama of late. A quick look at the message boards, showed a lot of fans giving up, just as they had in the North Carolina game, only to all come back and dine on a crow sandwich as they celebrated another incredible and impossible to script win.
"Heroic," was the word Krzyzewski used for Seth Curry in the post game and man was he on the mark. The junior went to the sidelines with what seemed like a game ending injury and he was escorted to the training room by Duke trainer Jose Fonsesca. Curry told Fonseca that he didn't know if he could make a go of it according to Krzyzewski, but he was told he had to and he did and in the process had a story book 2nd half.
Curry dropped 21 of his team high 26 points in the second half in what I feel was his best game of the season. He drew praise from his coach for his strong play with the ball in his hands and he was a match up nightmare for the befuddled Wolfpack team. "That was a heroic performance by Seth," said Krzyzewski. Duke will scheduled to take a look at his injury today to see if he is a go for Boston College this Sunday.
Now back to Krzyzewski and that hot media room. A mildly flustered Krzyzewski when questioned by media said, "No, no, no,"when questioned about his concerns. "You know what I am concerned with today? A celebration of a great win. Whatever string of things happened, we are 22-4 and ranked in the top five of the RPI all season long. We're not a perfect team, but we're a good team," stated the long time Duke head coach.
And he is right. Far too often the media and especially the fan base expect perfection yet overlook the fact of the seasons accomplishments to date. The bottom line is Duke won and they are winning and they are competing with anyone. Go back and harp on a loss at Ohio State if you like, but this is a better team now and a resilient one at that.
And keep in mind how tired Duke was after starting the season off in China and Dubai, then to Hawaii, New York and then Columbus where they faced a team that had nine days rest and had not played away from home with the Buckeyes. Just sayin'
While there is no take charge leader on this years team, there is a perpetual will to get better and win and the Blue Devils continue to find ways of hanging around in the top five ranked teams in the country. This Blue Devils team is finding ways to win in tough situations and that is the mark of a winner.
Pundits, critics and haters will continue to speak of the short comings of Duke while not recognizing their amazing success and a string of two memorable victories. The media is just like that, some say doing there job, but the fan base should know better and if you haven't noticed yet, this team is pretty darn good and still learning.
Sit back and enjoy the season as it winds down and leave the nit picking to others. This team has been amazing and it is time to give the Devils their due.
Austin Rivers did it again. His three point bomb gave Duke a 72-71 lead with 2:26 left and Duke pulled off the largest comeback in the Coach K era after the half. Hear a happy Austin for yourself via BDN Video, always on the scene to bring you the best independent coverage of all things Duke.
Here are a few more notes on Duke Basketball for your Friday -
Next up, Maryland
Nobody is ready to let go of the Duke_UNC game just yet including me as you will see as you read on below. But Duke has to put that game behind them and prepare to defend the home turf. Duke should handle Maryland in that they have but so much fire power but overlook any team beyond the bottom dwellers and an upset can occur. The Terps feature the leading scorer in the ACC in Terrell Stoglin, but they're thin up front. With a much improved N.C. State coming in next week, getting this game into the win column is a must to remain atop the conference and in the ACC race.
Has Duke found their go to guy?
The last question asked in Coach Mike Krzyzewski's press conference was about Austin Rivers and his ability to step up. I know because I posed the question and I'd been seeing signs of young Rivers starting to get the college game. Coach Krzyzewski basically said he needed his juniors and senior to step up but in the back of his mind, I am certain he saw exactly what I had. Well, everybody saw it when he drilled a three point shot over Zeller as time ran out securing a win over arch rival North Carolina. What you saw offensively is exactly what Rivers did on a regular basis on the AAU level but now he had one of those patented performances on the biggest stage possible. Duke has found their go to guy and you can bet that the ball will be in his hands a lot as the season wears on. The bottom line is that Austin Rivers blew up last night showing the kind of confidence that cannot be taught. If Seth Curry and Rivers get on the same page, Duke will be much improved and last night was a good start towards that mix. The key here is that Rivers wants to step up and he's become tougher each game out. Much like I mentioned early on this season, at some point the light would go off for Rivers and that's exactly what happened against North Carolina. Check out Duke Blue Planet's Comeback Video by clicking this link.
Good job Coach
Coach Krzyzewski kept his team confident and playing hard against North Carolina and they kept playing hard and the end result is the epitome of why you do so. Krzyzewski shrewdly brought his team in without calling a timeout where he made the move to Tyler Thornton to guard Tyler Zeller. The reason was that Zeller was the player he wanted fouled and the perceived mismatch caused North Carolina to play right into his hands. Just before that, Roy Williams called a full timeout for strategy and his team totally came apart being outscored 10-0 down the stretch, struggling to get a shot off during the Blue Devils run.
The Blue Devils win will keep their streak of remaining in the top ten in the polls in tact at 88 straight. Duke also ended the Tar Heels 31 home court winning streak, the longest in their history. Coach Krzyzewski also kept the edge over his rival 37-36 and one must remember the arly lean years when taking those numbers in when he was building his program. Krzyzewaki is 13-9 against Coach Williams.
Rasheed Sulaimon named to McDonald's All American Team
Coming in next season for Duke is a slick guard out of Texas, Rasheed Sulaimon and he's made the McDonald's All American team. Sulaimon is potentially a lock down defender and he can slash about in a way I think you'll like for he brings the energy. Duke has a bevy of prospects on the team as well starting with Shabazz Muhammad, a sky walker and complete player for his age. Tony Parker also made the squad as did Amile Jefferson, a Philly kid Duke recently offered. Jordan Jones, the sister of Duke verbal, Matt Jones made the girls team.
Amile Jefferson nears his decision
Duke prospect and top 20 rated Amile Jefferson is about to make his collegiate choice. Here is a recent article link. For more on this recruitment, join Blue Devil Nation Premium and discuss the matter with other members. BDN Premium is an extended subscription service where you get the inside scoop on all things Duke Hoops.
Duke and Carolina
Here in the Triangle, the two teams have always been referred to as Duke and Carolina and not Duke and North Carolina. And you have to understand some of the localese pronunciations. Duke is "Deeyewk" and Carolina is "Carelina." So, you add a bit of a "w" when you say Duke and lose the "r" when you say Carolina. Also, if you're a Blue Devil fan never use the spelling "Dook" for it is derogatory like a gangsta slurring his rivals. And "Dookie" is a no-no, but "Dukies," is okay. What?
How big was Rivers shot and or where does it rank?
You see a lot of newspapers running stories on this and research is required for most, but ole Watzone was there is in person for Gene Banks shot in Cameron as well as Jeff Capel and his launched three. I've seen most all of the famous shots but there is a separation point. In this case, buzzer beaters to win games instead of great shots. Rivers shot ranks third behind Christian Laettner's two shots. The first is his shot heard round the world to beat Kentucky to go to the Final Four where Duke won. The second was a Laettner shot as well, versus UConn the year before, again in the NCAA's. But Rivers shot will live for years to come and to me, it was the biggest shot in the lone Duke-UNC history.
It's gameday for Duke at North Carolina and if one lives in the Triangle area almost everywhere you go or look, somebody is wearing a shade of blue. When the Blue Devils and Tar Heels come together, it's as if time stops until games end and once that happens one fanbase is extremely elated while the other deals with a tough couple of days.
Whether one walks into a convenience store, sits down to eat in a restaurant, works out in a gym, takes the kids to kindergarten, somebody is likely to ask you with often times a southern drawl, "Who you got tonight?" followed by a little smack talk as they bait you into conversation. Some fans even worry themselves into a frenzy making one wonder if their should be a new addition to the DSMV manual. Work productivity goes way down and sports bars make a killing.
Fans gather in droves to watch the game in a mix of both dark and light blue. Others couldn't watch a game with the other side if they had to. Many will put on their lucky charms and colors, some will go through rituals. You can almost hear the pacing in households afar once the game starts and all hang on every single play, every call and ride a roller coaster of emotion that leaves them drenched in sweat from the stress by nights end.
A bit later, I will meet with a co worker to eat and then head to Chapel Hill to the Dean Dome which is mere minutes from Duke University where car flags will be a flapping and the color goes to a lighter hue as you approach. Once checked in, it's off to the media area for me, setting up a good two hours in advance and then talking with the throng of reporters from both far and near as the teams begin to warm up in the background. And while the media cannot cheer on press row and must remain professional and objectionable, you can read their faces and clearly see who they're for and trust me, eveybody has a dog in this race if you are local media.
Anyhow, here are a bunch of random thoughts going into tonight's game -
UNC favored by 6 points
When the line came out it caused several folks to raise an eyebrow. Every single media person I have spoken to this week thinks UNC will win this game easily and or that the line is too low. Many feel they'll go double digits on Duke and never look back and local bookies have added points to that total to try and keep money coming in on Duke. I in no way advocate betting and only speak of this for entertainment purposes and trust me gambling has a dark side, so beware. And while I am at it, if you are goaded into a sucker bet by the opposing fans and friends, it's your own fault. If you want to take the chance of wearing the other teams colors for a week at work, go right ahead;)
Numbers, stats and more numbers
Everywhere you look there are people throwing out numbers and they prove to be quite interesting. Duke has won 20 of the last 30 against UNC, Duke is even at the Dean Dome ... so on. The truth of the matter though, is that when these two teams get together, you can throw conventional wisdom out the window. But while I seem to be making fun of the numbers, I still read them and here is a must read article from my friend, Al Featherston at Duke Basketball Report that is well worth your time.
The biggest advantage for UNC is ...
It is not their front court of Barnes, Henson and Zeller. It is not Kendall Marshall, the league leader in assists. It is their experience. The aforementioned front line all returned for UNC when all of them could have gone in the first round in the NBA draft. These guys are battle tested now and for the most part the Tar Heels are an old team. The Tar Heels fast break finishes a close second in my book and Duke must control the glass enough against the leagues best rebounding team to win.
Who is ready to step up for Duke?
Is there a Fred Lind or Reggie Love in the group? Lind, then a bench warmer, went off against UNC in the sixties and has become a legend for his performance when Duke starting center Mike Lewis fouled out. Love, a former Barrack Obama aide was a walk on from the football team that filled in when Duke had injuries to Carlos Boozer, outplaying his UNC opponent which helped Duke close out the Heels in their backyard. For Duke to win tonight, it will likely take a player or players stepping up their game to a beyond normal level.
The last time out ...
Duke rocked UNC at the ACC Tournament and proceeded to cut the nets. But that team had Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. Nolan scored 20 plus points in that game and dished out 10 assists. This years Duke team is averaging just under 13 assists per contest combined. Again, I point to experience and you can bet they'll miss those dimes and Smittys' on ball defense. Remembering that loss could serve a a plus side intangible for the Tar Heels, who will be hell bent on revenge.
Plumlees have had success
Duke will need to hit the boards as a team tonight but I feel many are underestimating the abilities of Team Plumlee. Both Mason and Miles have had success against the UNC front court but that help side defense from Singler is missing and Kelly and others will have to fill that role. The key for Duke will be to keep Mason out of early foul trouble and to adjust as a team to the way the game will be called.
Young Devils will need to step up
This will be Austin Rivers first trip to Chapel Hill and freshman past, not matter how good they are have taken a beating at times in this series. Rivers will be a focal point for the Tar Heels defense and seeing if he can rise past that attention will be interesting. Quinn Cook will also need to be calm cool and collected and that will not be easy in a hostile environment. Here is ESPN on how freshman will play key roles in the game.
A Duke loss will add pressure to the team
If Duke loses to UNC this evening and Florida State and N.C. State win along with Miami and Virginia which is all likely to happen, the Blue Devils will find themselves in a three way tie for 4th place in the ACC. That in turn will make my job hard as much of the fan base will freak out on the message boards and quite frankly I do not look forward to that happening. So, be forewarned that this loss could be devastating but keep your composure please and be a good and supportive fan. Also, Duke would then face an N.C State team in Cameron this weekend that is a half game ahead in the standings. Funny how big that game has suddenly become and getting that 20th win can get harder and harder until a victory is achieved.
That darn Harry guy ...
Harrison Barnes spurned Duke at the midnight hour and then chose UNC but he didn't exactly do it in what many would consider proper decorum. His clunky Skype lives as a reminder to other stars not to go that route and few have done so since that time. Interestingly, Barnes immediately starting loathing Duke after his decision and he is perhaps one of the more detested Tar Heels for Blue Devil fans. But Barnes leads his team in scoring and the talk in media rooms is if the Tar Heels will get four players on first team All ACC. Barnes is a huge matchup problem for Duke and any other team and he took a mild shot over the bow as he mentioned that Kyle Singler was gone and that he'd gladly take shorter players to the rack.
On paper it looks like a UNC win
Everything points to a UNC victory in paper. Duke has lost two of their last three conference games in Cameron and Krzyzewski has been looking for upper classmen to step up. UNC has up to four 1st team All ACC players starting. That game is in Chapel Hill and the Blue Devils seem to still be coming together as a team. But you know what? Duke has a chance any time they step on the court. Duke has been beat down of late but if the team plays together anything can happen and that's why we watch the games. My objectionable pick would be for the Tar Heels to win but my heart says Duke can pull off a shocker and make all the aforementioned worries go to the wayside.
Don't hold me to all the numbers mentioned for everything here was off the top of my head and just random thoughts before tonight's game. BDN will be in the house to bring you live tweets and post game chats with the players, so stay tuned for our usual wall to wall coverage. And yes, I am homer media, so I can get away with saying, "GTHC, GTH!" It should be a lot of fun as the best rivalry in all sports is once again upon us.