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.
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.
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.
Here is another edition, albeit a brief one of Monday Musings. BDN takes a look at Kyrie Irving, the Amile Jefferson recruitment, Matt Daniels and more.
Amile Jefferson Decision
It's taken Philly product Amile Jefferson, a consensus top 35 prospect a long time to decide where he will play his college basketball but a decision will be made tomorrow at his high school. As of now, three hats will be in place, those being Duke, Kentucky and N.C. State but some still say Villanova is alive as well. Jefferson has played this one really close to the vest and its rare nothing has leaked out in today's recruiting environment. Duke has had good feedback but the delay in a decision has effected them as well as the other schools. Kentucky has made a strong late run and they've already pulled one kid high on academics in Alex Poythress. On paper, Duke is a good fit for Jefferson on and off the court with his educational acumen but it is N.C. State that seems to be a late favorite. Those who cover Wolfpack recruiting have been supremely confident on this one for a good while and here is a tweet from the Wolfpacker this morning, "We'll have some Amile Jefferson stories lined up Tuesday, and then coverage of the press conference live at the school." Sound like they;re pretty confident and it would not surprise me if his decision leaks soon if he is indeed Raleigh bound. Jefferson is the last prospect on the table for Duke in the 2013 season.
Kyrie Irving set to be NBA Rookie of the Year
Kyrie Irving is the real deal and the whole world knows that now. The number one pick in last seasons rookie class and is set to be named NBA Rookie of the Year. And to Duke fans credit, you do not hear a lot of "what could have been." like comments, but one has to wonder what kind of season he would have had past a few games. Austin Rivers will join Irving as a first round pick in this years NBA Draft and that will keep Duke in the limelight. Irving averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 51 games.
Duke LAX success
What a great weekend for Duke LAX as the men and women took care of business. The Blue Devils Men defeated Syracuse 12-9 and the Duke Women ousted Virginia 11-9. Both teams move to the next round of the NCAA Tournament. And it's the last day to vote for C.J. Constabile, so go here and support his career efforts Vote here
Coach K will host his annual Coach K Academy at the end of this month and then it is off to training camp for Team USA. Krzyzewski has logged quite a bit of frequent flier miles and has rarely been in Durham. Coach is currently in Dallas and was recently on the road for ten days after the Nike EYBL Boo Williams event. Press conferences will start any day now and BDN will as always support Team USA efforts.
Matt Daniels nabbed by the Rams
Former Duke Safety Matt Daniels has signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Rams and he's earned a lot of praise as a player who is most likely to latch on from undrafted player. He is the infamous Gil Brandt from NFL.com on Daniels in this link. BDN will follow Daniels as he tries to fulfill his dreams.
Good Monday Blue Devil Nation! We're a day removed from March and that translates into the busiest time of year for Team BDN. I'm already setting up credentials for events like the Nike Jordan Brand Classic and even AAU events for they will be upon us in short time, but there is the here and now as well. On Tuesday I will head to Winston Salem for the Duke at Wake Forest game, then back to the Bull City for Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his annual state of the program address going into the UNC game. On Friday, I'll head to Greensboro for the opening round for the Duke women's basketball team, then back to Durham for ESPN GameDay coverage and of course, the biggest of the big ones, North Carolina at Duke which will likely be for the ACC regular season title.
First things first
The Blue Devils were scheduled to get a little rest after their overtime victory over Virginia Tech at home and that rest is well needed. Duke will take on the Deacons in a game that tips at 9:00 and as always, it's their opponent's biggest game of the season. Wake Forest is dangerous in that they have nothing to lose and a win would get them out of the bottom of the ACC standings. This is a game where Duke just wants to get in and out with a win and move forward and the one things good about a Tuesday game is that they'll have a little extra rest for the North Carolina game or will they?
The shadow of Duke at North Carolina
It wasn't that long ago that Austin Rivers hit a three point buzzer beater over North Carolina in Chapel Hill and the Blue Devils will be asked of that game a thousand times by the media this week. Despite the Wake game looming, the shadow of the greatest rivalry in college basketball is so powerful that fans and media alike cannot help but look ahead. And what a game it will be when ESPN rolls into town and fans have the opportunity to show up for a live show and get in free around 10:00 the morning of. Campus will be abuzz in many ways for this one an the list of activities is long. Starting Wednesday, we'll have player interviews, hear from Krzyzewski himself and more. Here is a link for the ESPN GameDay activities ESPN Game Day at Duke
If you've been paying attention you have seen the Duke senior stepping up his game of late and it couldn't come at a better time. It seems like yesterday when I was covering Miles and his brother Mason in the North Carolina State Championship game where Christ School of course, came out the champs. I've watched Miles grow into a man and he, like all the Plums are polite in every way. But as nice as they are, each of them has that little bit of nasty in them and here is to hoping Miles taps into that and goes out with a championship or two. Miles will address the crowd win or lose after the North Carolina game on Saturday and personally, I'd love to see him ride his infamous unicycle out to do so. Win or lose, fans should honor his efforts and appreciate the fact that he's represented Duke in a well mannered and solid way. I'm sure this will be a big week for Team Plumlee and here is shout out to his parents Perky and Leslie for raising a truly good young man. Miles will leave Duke with a national championship ring and maybe two if all goes right.
NCAA tickets for Greensboro
Tickets are still available but will be gone before you know it to the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro. Actually, it is now called the second round, but the first game for Duke. The Blue Devils will share the venue with 8 teams, one of them being rival North Carolina. So buy your tickets now and represent.
Josh Hairtson out for Wake
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Josh Hairston would not play against Wake Forest during the ACC weekly call in show today. Tyler Thornton has been cleard to play.
Shabazz Muhammad to visit
The nations top rated prospect, Shabazz Muhammad will visit Duke for the UNC game. You can learn more about this visit and other prospects by joining Blue Devil Nation Premium our extended subscription service which is all about insider information. Be sure to give him a nice welcome Crazies.
And then there is Amile Jefferson
Jefferson is about to pull the trigger on his decision on where to play his collegiate ball and Duke will be his last visit. Jefferson fits the Duke mold on and off the court and is a sleek and smooth forward prospect from Philadelphia. This will be his second visit to Cameron, the first during the inaugural Countdown to Craziness. Duke will have more prospects as the game draws near and again, BDN premium will be all over it, so if you are a recruiting fanatic, join today.
A crazy time for media
I've been hammering down my travel plans for the upcoming ACC Tournament where I will stay at the Marriott Marquis which is a hop, skip and jump from Phillips Arena. We also have to sign up for credentials to the upcoming NCAA Tournament. And the All ACC ballots, which include player, rookie and coach of the year will be in the mailbox this week. And with Duke Football starting spring practice earlier than most schools? Well, it's brutal on those who cover the Duke beat and trust me when I say I am taking my vitamins. The dust will not clear for me until Duke goes out and so I'm hoping to be at it in April. If not, it's straight ahead to the grass roots basketball circuit. In short, covering Duke Athletics is a 364 days a year job.
Duke Women earn top seed in the ACC Tournament
The ACC Tournament starts in Greensboro this Thursday and the Duke women play Friday due to earning the regular season title with a win over rival UNC yesterday. I cannot tell you how awesome a job Coach P has done this season with enough injuries to make one cry. The future is bright for the team but so is the here and now, so get over to the 'Boro and support our women.
Duke Spring Football
We haven't forgot about the Duke Gang on the football field and we'll do our best to cover the team during a most busy time. We'll have more player interviews this week and our staff will be bringing you some good stuff as the practices roll along.
A new follow suggestion
Follow our friends at the new DMIX Magazine where the girls can check out Team Plumlee rocking their style.
BDN on social media
If you are not a follower on our twitter site, then you should be. We started out tweets from press row in Cameron and since that time we have brought you the view from behind the bench at the 2010 National Championship and more. So look us up and follow now! Also, we have a new Open Group Facebook page known as Blue Devil Nation as well and you can get there by going here/. Join in the interaction with fellow fans, post pictures, etc. All that of require is that you are a Duke fan and that you act in a decent way to fellow fanatics. Here is a link to our BDN Twitter Home BDN Twitter home and or look for BlueDevilNation.
And lastly ..
Take time to take a deep breath and realize that these Blue Devils are taking you on quite a ride and enjoy every second left of the season. We often get so caught up in future recruiting and worries that we fail to take in the here and now. Immerse yourself in Royal Duke Blue and cheer your team on with the support they deserve. And you want to bookmark us now, for BDN coverage this week will flat our ROCK!
The Duke Blue Devils coasted past Boston College last evening setting up a huge rematch against Florida State this week and BDN Monday Musings takes a look back and ahead.
Duke too much for Boston College
After a slow start, the Blue Devils waltzed past the Boston College Eagles 75-50 and that kept them in a three way tie for first place. A tremendous 45-21 rebounding edge and pounding the offensive glass gave Duke the win but this game is less than memorable after the Blue Devils have won a couple high profile and talked about games. But Duke took care of business and returned to snow dusted Durham healthy and well. The 25 point margin was the larger in the series for Duke who holds a 14-2 edge in the series. Duke held the hapless Eagles without a field goal for a 14 minute plus stretch. Folks point to the Blue Devils defensive numbers being down this season and this game will help those numbers but has anyone taken into consideration the Blue Devils strength of schedule his season and that they haven't played the sisters of the poor? Just sayin'
If you've been paying close attention to the last few games, the Blue Devils are getting improved chemistry from it's guard tandem of Seth Curry and Austin Rivers. This is a good thing for Duke in that the two have become the top two scoring options on the team. You will continue to see Rivers with the ball in his hands at crunch time and Curry has a constant green light to shoot on the offensive end. Both will need to show up big against Florida State in Tallahassee this week.
Coach K on the Dan Patrick Show
Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski appeared on the Dan Patrick show today where he addressed "Linsanity," an this seasons team. When asked which president he'd have a drink with if he could, Krzyzewski responded that he'd like to have a glass of wine with George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, the founding fathers. Patrick asked, but what if Washington was a UNC fan tongue in cheek. Krzyzewski responded by saying, "He's not a Carolina fan or he wouldn't be after a few bottles of wine." Kyrie Irving was also on the show and spoke of keeping up with Josh Hairston and his happiness that Rivers shot beat the aforementioned rival North Carolina.
ESPN GameDay is coming to Durham for UNC-Duke Game
The GameDay crew of Reece Davis, former Duke player Jay Bilas, former coaches Digger Phelps and Bob Knight and former UNC player Hubert Davis will broadcast live from Cameron Indoor Stadium during the North Carolina at Duke game on March 3rd. Former players and guests will appear. More details to come from BDN as the event nears. In the past, some fans just come for the atmosphere and then watch the game locally. Tickets to a Duke and UNC game are next to impossible to obtain in Cameron without giving away your first born or a large section of your wallet.
Another reminder for Greensboro
The first round of the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro will feature Duke and North Carolina and tickets are still available, so go to ticketmaster and get them now and show off your royal blue colors in an effort to move the team on.
Coach K post game comments
Here are a few comments from Coach K on yesterday's game where Terry Rains represented the Nation in these two BDN Vids
No more Super Bowl day games for Duke, I say! The Blue Devils fell in overtime to Miami for their second ACC loss of the season in Cameron Indoor Stadium and their third straight loss on Super Bowl Sunday. They must now pick up the pieces for the coming media blitz and hype which is known at the Duke-Carolina game. Monday Musings takes a look at a litle bit of everything today and with that let's get the ball rolling.
In search of the right buttons
The Duke Men's staff has tried to shake up the lineup and they've tried to figure out ways to get to this years team to play together and smart. Early in the season it worked for Duke holds nice wins over Kansas and Michigan and Michigan State, but since that time the team has struggled a bit and of all places at home. The reason I say, a bit, is because they could have easily won their games against Miami and Florida State with a couple of made shots or execution. The frustration on Coach Krzyzewski's face was evident yesterday and he is trying to figure out a way to get his team to play a full 40-45 minutes of what is known as "Duke Basketball," and their year in and out lofty expectations. Just when you thought the team had reached deep and turned a corner, they fell back into some bad habits. I hate to say this, but this years team seems a bit soft at times and there were some loose balls and rebounds missed that could have turned the tide in their two ACC losses. You see, Krzyzewski wants all his teams to win the regular season, but yesterday, those hopes took a major hit and it is not acceptable by his standards.
Growing pains for freshman
Quinn Cook came off the bench to spark Duke in a big way yesterday, but at games end he throws up an inexplicable wild runner with the outcome on the line and nobody in position to board late in the game. It was a critical mistake and one of several which changed the games outcome. But before you give up on Cook, realize that he now has an assist to turnover ratio of 3.33 to 1 which is the best of any freshman ever at Duke. And just ask the assistants on the bench or go back and look at tape on any of the former PG's in their freshman years and they all had growing pains or a lapse when the game was on the line. And the good news is the rest of the aforementioned or former freshman I alluded to all learned and helped Duke to many victories.
Duke gets all the calls ... yeah, right
You will never see the staff blame the refs for a loss, nor me for that matter. But those who think Duke gets all the calls haven't been paying attention of late. It's funny how Karl Hess is well known by the Crazies and the Blue Devils record is, well, just look it up under him. But the real crime is with the game on the line, none of the three refs were seemingly paying attention to the Duke head coach who was doing everything he could to call a timeout. In my experience, a ref is almost always near the bench in those instances or at least aware the game is on the line and paying attention. That in no way caused the loss, but it sure makes one wonder of yet another what if.
The elephant in the room for me was ...
The Cameron Crazies have been in the news more than I care to see this season and for good or maybe I should say, bad reasons. There have been so many articles on this of late that I can honestly tell you I read maybe one. But there is a problem and it is a huge one and the university itself needs to figure out a way to resolve this before the bottom tier of the stadium is dominated by average fans. The turnout yesterday was deplorable at best and I heard many reasons from the CC's which sit behind me. For the record the Crazies who come on a regular basis are great and I mean that, but what on earth is happening to where students will not come to a Duke game when it is free? I could put together a book on how they just aren't the same anymore but that just seems a waste of time when the season is in full swing. Maybe it's time the scrap everything and start fresh, I don't know, nor can I personally do more than complain that I miss the atmosphere that has made the stadium so famous through the years. Seriously, former Crazies never used the same chant for a player in a game more than once and there was a brain trust who came up with some outrageously witty and fun cheers. Coach stopped short of saying the Crazies had anything to do with the loss when asked by media members seeking yet more ammunition for articles. He instead blamed his team for the loss and he was right, but he did mention atmosphere and if you have been around as long as I have, you easily read between the lines of what was said.
Everything was off
The air was ripe for an upset in so many ways. On message boards fans wanted to fast forward to the UNC game this Wednesday evening and overlooked Miami, a team projected #5 in the ACC this season. Then the team looked flat and almost sleep walked through the first half and in the process dug a hole too deep to climb out of. And then the aforementioned worst turnout of the season by the Crazies which has caused a ton of negative media towards the program didn't help. But I can tell you this for a fact, Duke did not overlook Miami and they were not looking ahead to the UNC game. Nope, it was just one of those foul, unusual days where all alligned in a not so good way.
UNC at Duke Women
Before the men's team play this week, the women get it going this evening in Cameron Indoor Stadium. This is always a spirited and entertaining affair and tickets are cheap, so tuen out and cheer on the Blue Devils as they try to maintain their hold on first place in the ACC.
And the hype begins
There is no doubt that yesterdays upset loss to Miami tarnished the upcoming Duke at UNC game a bit for you always want to come off a win. But the hype begins today with a Coach K press conference and players talking about the game and BDN will be there and remain for the Duke vs UNC women's game, so stay tuned for a lot of coverage all the way through the game.
It's the end of the world as we know it, but not really
As usual, any Duke loss this season is met with the Chicken Little effect from many fans and it is the end of the world as we know it, but nothing is fine. Okay, that was a bad play on an old song. Duke is a few plays away from being 21-2 and there is plenty of balling left. There are some red flags for sure, but this Duke team has 19 wins against a difficult schedule. Some Duke fans need to suck it up, just like our team will do. Support your Blue Devils when they need it most. Duke was down 16 points yesterday and staged a comeback which fell short. Krzyzewski will find a way to get his kids to play together and with a collective heart and make a run when it counts in March and the lessons learned will help along the way. Remember, this team lost Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving and they are young at many key positions.
A busy week lies ahead for Duke Athletics and BDN Monday Musings takes a look at the many events that will take place starting with tonight's UConn at Duke Women's game. The Blue Devils have two men's games as well one on the road and one at home and national signing day for football.
UConn at Duke - the ultimate measuring stick for the progrm on "Big Monday"
In a nationally televised game, the 5th Duke women (17-2) host the traditionally strong and 3rd ranked UConn women (19-2) led by their enigmatic coach Gino Auriemma. The Huskies lost to the top two rated teams in the country Baylor and Notre Dame before going on a monster roll, where they demolished the Blue Devils arch rival, North Carolina by a score of 86-35 and all other comers as well. The key to the game for the Blue Devils will be for their guards, Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston to slow the Huskies backcourt of Tiffany Hayes and Bria Hartley. As we've said in a past column, Duke freshman Elizabeth Williams is as advertised and tonight she'll be on the big stage with the rest of this young Blue Devil squad. There are still a few tickets left for the game and they're very reasonably priced, so turn out tonight for this heavyweight bout and cheer the young Blue Devils to victory.
Rest for the men's team
The Duke Men's team returned to the practice courts today after taking off time to rest after their lack luster victory over St. John's. The Blue Devils will travel to Blacksburg on Thursday to take on a wounded in wait Hokies team that would love to make their season with an upset win. One of the things happening is this years squad is getting accustomed to taking other teams best shot as some of the players grow into their roles.
Speaking of roles ... who will step up?
Before the season Coach Krzyzewski said that different players would step up on different evenings on this years team. And that's what has happened to date and the Blue Devils are a not too shabby 18-3 from it. But will any of the players have that light go off down the stretch and take over their roles in a consistent manner? Mason Plumlee has pretty much been the star of this team and or the most consistent player. Austin Rivers is on a learning curve, but his numbers are decent as well. I mean, the kid will likely be named the ACC's Top Rookie. But are juniors Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins ready to break out? Duke needs more consistency from the group, but make no mistake, each of them have already played key roles in major victories as has sophomore Tyler Thornton in Maui. This is also the final go round for senior Miles Plumlee and can he become a force as the season enters it's grind? And this folks, this is why we watch the games, to see how it all will unfold.
Just a reminder ... March 16th and 18th NCAA Tournament in the 'Boro
Get your tickets for Greensboro now Blue Devil fans! Duke will almost assuredly be in Greensboro for two games and the kicker is that North Carolina will share that pod. That said, get your tickets to the event as soon as possible.
The last ten games
It's hard to believe that there are just ten regular season basketball games left this season and just five of them home games in Cameron. Breaking it down for you, there are two games each with Virginia Tech and North Carolina, Miles senior day being the last regular season and home game. Then road trips to Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest and home games with Miami, Maryland and N.C. State. So, how do you think the Blue Devils will fare? I have heard 6-4 to 8-2 most often from those who cover the team.
National Signing Day for Football
On Wednesday, BDN will be on hand at Duke to hear the latest on the new group of Blue Devils from Coach Cutcliffe and staff. We're talking national signing day here and it is a big deal around the nation. Several prospects are taking their decision to the midnight hour and in our premium section, Patrick Cacchio talks of that and how things are shaking out with the likes of RB hopeful, Jela Duncan. Also, mark down March 31st on your calendar, for it is the date of the annual spring game where Duke returns 17 starters from a season ago.
Just do it!
I am not going to open the can of worms known at the decline in attendance for the Cameron Crazies at this time. There are five home games left and this is a team that needs the support in a big way, so no lecture or speculation from me other than this suggestion - Just do it! Sorry for the overuse of that Nike trademark, but it's what I'd tell them to do down the stretch if asked what should be done. Prove the critics wrong and show them you are not the weak bunch many think you to be. Man, was that a challenge or what? Crazies means getting crazy, so let go of yourselves, have fun and all will play out. I have faith that the many who follow this site can get it done. And for what it is worth many of the ones there are the best and if their leadership spreads, you will hear few complaints by seasons end.