Tag Archives: Blue Devil Nation

Much Looms For Talented Blue Devils

If you haven't figured it out by now let it be known the Duke Blue Devils are really good. In the era of one-and-done players, this season's team is the most together of any group in recent memory under Mike Krzyzewski.

During the recent three-game stretch in six days, the Blue Devils have continued to play together and more importantly unselfish. This is a group of players who cheer for one another and seem hungry to achieve their lofty pre-season goals.

The Blue Devils go into ACC play next week on a roll, sitting at 10-1 and likely the nation's #2 rated team. While ACC teams have struggled to date and some want to paint the coming road as easy one needs to understand that this means every night out will provide a hungry opponent.

Perhaps no team will be hungrier for a win than the next opponent Virginia Tech. The Hokies lost a couple of tough contests early and had perhaps underachieved a bit. But the Hokies absolutely drilled St. Bonaventure in their last outing -- a team in every pre-season top 25 as the season began.

Virginia Tech got caught looking ahead or even off guard against Wake Forest in their ACC opener. They responded and they'll fight the Blue Devils hard in Cameron in an effort not to start 0-2 in the league.

The Hokies will likely be an upper-division team by year's end and they should push for an NCAA berth. And that is a warning that many ACC teams Duke will face will seek a resume-building win versus the Blue Devils.

Despite having two coaches out right now in Chris Carrawell and Nolan Smith, the message should get through to their young, but talented group to expect a few fights.

The great news for Duke is that if they play their game, they will be favored over every opponent left on the schedule. The team will hear this kind of thing from the media and that means the mental battle is just beginning.

Can Duke manage the hype and expectations? Probably so, but the grind is here. After a seven-day break between the Virginia Tech and Clemson games the Blue Devils will have no more extended breaks.

While the Blue Devils are clearly the most talented ACC team heading into the meat of conference action it is the mental aspects of the game that must be mastered.

During his post game presser after the win over Elon, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke of many things. But he also said this team is still a work in progress.

While that may be true, Duke is a pretty tight group already. But, yes it is factual that the team can get better. And they will need to get better for there are a lot of good teams in the country this season in what has been an interchangeable top spot in the polls.

Here is the thing. Duke has been great thus far and Krzyzewski knows it. But he is also looking over his shoulder at the suddenness of games being canceled due to COVID-related illnesses.

I mean, things are going close to perfect for Krzyzewski and the program. There is a bevy of players expected to hear their names called in the NBA draft. The team is well oiled with good chemistry for December, they are healthy and the list goes on.

And it is not just the team that is front and center of the college basketball world. Cameron has been solid this season. The Crazies were set to be a serious factor this season for they are a tight group of students and trust me, I have seen many come and go.

There is also a transition going on where Jon Scheyer will take over for the legend next season. And recruiting could not possibly be going any better.

Everything is clicking until it isn't.

There are factors that the team cannot control. There has been little discussion from the ACC or NCAA offices on more uniform testing procedures.

That frustration was evident for Mike Krzyzewski yesterday. It was almost as if his smiles were fighting back tears that the near-perfect path in every aspect for Duke could be altered.

Duke or should I say Cameron is just not the same without fans. As a team Duke has taken great strides with testing. But what good is that if others are not doing the same?

If Duke loses their sixth man it will make for a much longer season with concern to finding that vital game flow before March. And the many fans who want to see Mike Krzyzewski one last time in Cameron could have their desires wrecked.

He didn't come right out and say it but Krzyzewski is wondering what the media was. We could all see these pandemic-related issues coming and there needs to be immediate action to make it so we can somehow play the game as it is meant to be played in front of fans.

All of this falls on the ACC, NCAA, and fans alike and the actions we take collectively. Honestly, I, like many of you are dealing with the emotion of all this as a near-perfect start to a season for Duke could be altered.

Monday Musings – The Day Before Tipoff

We are on the eve of the opening game of the college basketball season where Duke will take on Kentucky in Madison Square Garden during the annual Champions Classic. While Duke has been installed as a one-point favorite in Vegas, ESPN gives Kentucky a better than 62% chance to win via their matchup predictor.

Both of these proud programs struggled a season ago but each program is all but destined to return to normalcy where they are giants in the game. Kentucky is deep, experienced, and talented and they will look nothing like they did a season ago.

The Blue Devils have looked sharp early on where Coach Mike Krzyzewski entering his final season at the helm has his team looking ready for the challenges ahead.

We are almost assured of seeing a spirited game played in a legendary venue between heavyweights giving it their all to get off to a great start. And we will see Mike Krzyzewski take one more shot at winning it all, which if it happened would be his sixth national title at Duke.

What we will see all year long are coaches trying to beat the legend on his way out. While Krzyzewski will still be involved in many things basketball, this is the last shot for those facing him to garner a win and they will not hold back.

This will especially hold true for John Calipari where the program is still smarting from a beatdown given the last time the two clubs met. But these are two different teams and let me just say there will be no cakewalk this time around.

In watching Duke, we will see if they can translate early-season success that has not counted for a thing in the standings to a 1-0 mark to start the season.

In order for the Blue Devils to come out with a win, they must be ready for the ebbs and flows of the game which tips after 9:30 due to it always being the prime time event. It doesn't matter who you root for and an opener like Duke-Kentucky will bring a lot of eyes out from around the nation.

Paolo Banchero has gotten plenty of deserved hype, but can he get into the flow against a team that can stay in front of him defensively? So many questions but players are eager to answer the call.

On the other side of things, we will see TyTy Washington taking over the PG duties at Kentucky where he may drive a Porsche to practice from his new NIL deal.

And that is just two players on teams loaded with star potential. We will see some guys literally playing for endorsements in the new NIL era.

To win this game tomorrow night will take teamwork, toughness and not getting too pumped before tipoff happens.

I have seen Coach K at the helm since 1980 and the memories are many. I have seen him claw to the top from a time when people could not spell his name nor took the time to do so thinking it unworthy. Everybody knows his name now.

When I first heard the official news that Mike Krzyzewski would be retiring it knocked me back. I was never one to speculate on which coach would be next for that went on for fifteen years and got rather annoying to those who simply knew you should just enjoy the ride.

Once the retirement news was announced I just wanted to as a fan and homer media guy to simply wallow in his accomplishments via appreciation to have been along for the ride. But there are so many memories that it is overwhelming.

It took me a bit to get on the page Krzyzewski was already on. He refuses to talk about the past only concentrating on this season's team. And now, I am finally there as well hoping he has a well-deserved successful curtain call with what looks to be a special team.

Whether Duke wins the title this season or not, it should be a great journey to try and achieve that goal. And I think Mike just wants to give it his all - his best effort going out and win or lose that is more than enough.

Dariq Whitehead Picks Duke!

The Duke Blue Devils gained their second commitment of the Jon Scheyer era when one of the nation's most coveted prospects in the nation in Dariq Whitehead chose to play his collegiate career in Durham, N.C.

The New Jersey-born Whitehead plays his high school basketball for Montverde Academy. He made his decision known today on his 17th birthday where he picked the Blue Devils over Kansas, Florida State and the NBA G-League which offered $500.000 for next season.

Whitehead joins recently committed Kyle Filipowski giving Duke a solid foundation on next year's class. That class needs to have multiple players come in, so Scheyer and staff will remain in the trenches throughout August.

Make no mistake about it, Jon Scheyer is having early success on the recruiting trail thanks to the coveted Whitehead's commitment and the work of what seems to be a hungty staff.

Quick Take - As for Whiteheads' play on the court, think potential first despite having elite athleticism and the ability to be a lockdown defender. He has good physicality and finishes thunderously around the rim when the opportunity is at hand. But the reason I mentioned potential is that he was sometimes overshadowed at Montverde where he played with a talented team of all stars. We are just beginning to see a finished product in Whitehead. He is good in open floor situations as is Filipowski, so we are seeing where Scheyer is going with his first class. Duke will focus on the rest of their shortlist on the recruiting trail while preparing for the coming season which will be Mike Krzyzewski's swan song season.

The newly committed Blue Devil --

There was a tell in the three hats pictured. The Duke one had no tag and appears to have been worn or already owned.
Scheyer scores his 2nd verbal in Dariq Whitehead

Why Tonight’s Game is Important for Duke

The verdict after two games into the basketball season is that Duke is young. And young teams take time to gell with one another to work in unison for wins.

We all know by now and some before now that when the ball tiped off on the season that it would take this team a bit of time to figure out what or who it wants to be. As that development is happening the early season schedule is as daunting as ever with the recent loss to a veteran Michigan State team and Illinois looming early next week.

Unlike seasons past, Duke did not have many games against non-powerhouse opponents before taking on the Spartans. And it showed for they're a new team trying to learn one another preferences on the court.Unlike seasons past, Duke did not have many games against non-powerhouse opponents before taking on the Spartans. And it showed for they're a new team trying to learn one another preferences on the court.

Add to the fact, head man Mike Krzyzewski is experimenting with lineups and combinations to the fray and we are presented with a live learning curve during games.

Some games allow him to grow his roster and find out who is ready or wants to play. Tonight's match up with Bellarmine (7:00 ACCNX, FOX Sports South) is one such game.

The Duke staff has likely worked a lot with film from the last contest and they want to see which players show the ability to learn from such lessons. And the games come quick, so this team is learning many things on the fly.

Teams like Duke, which are breaking in a lot of new players needed their traditional exhibition games and most certainly their non-conference scheduled games. Duke lost their scheduled season opener with Garnder-Webb due to COVID testing issues and that single game being canceled hurt with invaluable development.

Fortunately for Duke, the game with Garnder-Webb has been rescheduled for Sunday, December 6th in Cameron. I say fortunate because Duke needs all the experience they can get before the ACC begins.

There is no word yet whether this Saturday's canceled game with Elon, again due to COVID issues will be rescheduled.

Back to tonight's game versus Bellarmine. Firstly, you cannot get back on the court quick enough as a player after a loss and this should be a game where Duke can look deeper into combinations.

Duke needs to see some things go right and they should be able to implement their will against a Bellarmine team which despite being a former Division II power is picked near the bottom of their conference via pre-season projections.

The Blue Devils hope to see some guys step up tonight or bounce back if you will. Joey Baker, DJ Steward, and Wendell Moore need to get off the skid, where none of their shots was falling against the Spartans.

Duke will likely continue to develop Matthew Hurt into a go-to guy this season while developing duel threats upfront where he teams with talented freshmen Jalen Johnson.

The one position which needs to be better is the point guard spot where Jeremy Roach has been a bit slow out of the gate while Jordan Goldwire contributes there as well. But this position needs to distribute better to get the motor running.

So, yes, this Duke team desperately needs the experience from tonight's game to experiment and prepare for the coming schedule where the ACC despite its top teams all having early losses, seems better than expected.

Duke will be playing the Knights for the first time in regular-season play. They own an exhibition win over Bellarmine where Duke played the defending Division II national champs which is a common practice to open the season under Mike Krzyzewski.

Tre Jones Named 2nd Team All American/USA Today

DURHAM, N.C. – USA Today announced its 2020 college basketball All-America Teams with Duke sophomore Tre Jones earning Second Team honors.

The ACC Player and Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports Third Team All-American, Jones was the floor general all season long for the Blue Devils. The sophomore team captain, who is also a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award and the John R. Wooden Award, and a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, ranked sixth in the ACC in scoring (16.2), second in assists (6.4), fourth in assist/turnover ratio (+2.4), sixth in steals (1.8) and 11th in field goal percentage (.423). He was the only player ranked in the league's top 11 in each of those categories. The native of Apple Valley, Minn., was a three-time ACC Player of the Week selection.

Duke ended its regular season with a 26-5 overall record and 15-5 mark in the ACC.