Tag Archives: Blue Devil Nation

Duke Football Still Has Plenty to Play For

There is plenty yet to play for Duke Football despite it's loss to Georgia Tech in a game which cost them any hope of winning the Coastal Division in the ACC.

Coming into the season, few thought the Blue Devils would be bowl eligible and those few that did projected nothing more than a .500 mark and or a 6-6 record.

Miami travels to Durham next week in the home finale for the Blue Devils and while the ACC only recognizes head to head tie breakers for the division title, a win would guarantee Duke a 3rd place finish with the same concept.

If Virginia Tech were to stumble against Virginia, then Duke would finish in 2nd place. Either scenario is a show of extreme progress for a bowl starved program and one the staff can point to on the recruiting trail.

A win over the Hurricanes would also give Duke a 7-5 mark, a winning season and the most wins for the program since 1994 and considering Duke was unlucky enough to draw Florida State and Clemson from the other division on their schedule, this would be quite an accomplishment.

Let's not forget how a win might possibly help with a bowl scenario as well. Duke for all intents and purposes probably out of the running for the Chic Fil A Bowl but a win still makes them a much more attractive invite.

And depending on other results, Duke still has an outside chance for the slot in Atlanta.

With a victory, Duke may well secure a berth in the Music City Bowl in New Years Eve in Nashville against a tough Vanderbilt team from the SEC. or perhaps Missouri.

That is more attractive to the fan side of me than say, the Belk Bowl in Charlotte which would be the likely destination if they were to finish with a loss and go 6-6.

While the Sun Bowl is El Paso, Texas is still a possibility, my feeling is that playing to be closer to home for the overall fan base is something worth playing for as well.

And then there is still the a chance for Orlando but a win on Saturday against Miami guarantees more varied opportunities

If that weren't enough incentive for Duke Football and the fan base which will need to turn out on a Thanksgiving Holliday weekend where the students are for the most part gone for the break, then maybe setting a few more records in Wallace Wade are in order.

Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon are still setting school and ACC marks and there is a chance for records to fall. I am sure their teammates want to reward these two seniors.

Speaking of seniors, this will be the last game for a bevy of them in Wallace Wade, so a send off with a win is in order for the class that brought Duke Football back to relevance.

Another thing Duke will be playing for is a break through win. The last time Duke beat Miami was in the year 1976. To put that into perspective, I was starting high school and many of you reading this were not even born.

The Duke program could use a win over what is still considered a storied program in Miami, a former football power that is still significant today and one playing for the division crown.

I had the chance to visit Coach David Cutcliffes office a couple of times over the years and when there I always look at those breakthrough commemorative footballs he has displayed.

I have covered Duke Football in each of those wins starting with his first over James Madison when the program was starved for anything positive.

There is also one for his first ACC win over Virginia in that Duke was not even competitive in conference when Cutcliffe arrived in Durham. Then there is one for a road win over N.C. State, a rare thing for a program until recently.

I am pretty certain without another visit to Cutcliffes' digs that a Wake Forest game ball was added in that the victory this season broke a long streak.

And surely there is a game ball for the win over rival North Carolina where Duke fans were elated that their team ended a long streak and brought the Victory Bell back to Durham for a year.

So, yes, Duke has plenty left to play for  when Miami comes to town and there is no short-changing how important a victory would be for the seniors who turned the programs fortunes around.

Duke over Kentucky Aftermath – One on One with Josh Hairston

The Duke Blue Devils are still basking in the glow of a big win over Kentucky and Blue Devil Nation continues to bring you post game comments from the players. We caught up to Josh Hairston last night and asked him if this was his best game to date at Duke and he said yes. We agree. Hairston was very productive with his minutes filling in for Mason Plumlee who had foul trouble and he played good defense on Nerlens Noel in the 2nd half. Check out what he had to say -

Amile Jefferson talks the Duke Basketball season opener

copyright BDN Photo, Mark Watsob

Duke Freshman Amile Jefferson has been a pleasant surprise in the early season exhibition games and BDN caught to him as members of the team addressed the media today.  Jefferson talks of his adjustment to the college game and his role on this seasons team and more.  Check it out for yourself -

BDN Preview: Duke’s Sophomore Class

Lance King Images for BDN

A year ago, anyone planning to write about Duke’s then-freshman class would have had a lot of work to do, as there were five, count ‘em five, new Blue Devils to assess.  Today, the job is much easier, as that group of five frosh from 2011-12 has for a number of different reasons dwindled to a one man sophomore class.  Nobody really expected Austin Rivers to stick around for more than a year, and sure enough, he declared for the draft after his freshman year and was a lottery pick of the New Orleans Hornets.  Alex Murphy, who had been playing very well in the off-season, the trip to China, and the pre-season, suffered a concussion and ultimately took a redshirt.  Marshall Plumlee just wasn’t ready physically to contribute at this level, and would have just ridden the pine behind his brothers, so he was redshirted as well. And then Michael Gbinije, who never earned any significant playing time despite the team being in dire need of some length and defense on the wing, bugged out for Syracuse.

That leaves point guard Quinn Cook, a player whose development many observers, including this one, believe will be critical to the success of this year’s Blue Devils.  The 6’1” Cook had an outstanding high school career, playing his first three years at DeMatha before transferring to Oak Hill for his senior campaign.  He was widely regarded as the top player in the D.C. metro area, and one of the top point guards in the nation.  Quinn suffered a partial tear to his knee, however, in practices leading up to the Elite 24 game in the summer of 2010, between his junior and senior seasons in high school.  He came back sooner than expected and had a solid senior campaign, though, was named a McDonald’s All-American, and wound up ranked as the #31 ranked player in the RSCI ratings – very likely lower than he would have been absent the knee problem.  But he probably rushed back too soon from the injury, and he was never 100%.  The knee continued to bother him, so much so that Duke shut him down last summer, meaning Quinn did not play in the games during Duke’s trip to China and Dubai, and missed a number of preseason practices as well.

Cook was ready for the start of the season, though, but it never seemed that he quite got untracked all year long.  His performance was up and down, which is not uncommon of course for a freshman, especially a freshman point guard.  His minutes were inconsistent because his play was inconsistent.   He had moments where he was brilliant in taking the ball to the hoop and finishing.  He dropped dimes to teammates who didn’t even realize they were so open.  But on defense, he struggled to move laterally and therefore to stay in front of penetrating opponents, and he did not always seem quick to the ball.  He also had mental lapses where he just flat-out missed defensive assignments, which usually resulted in an immediate hook from Coach K.  Quinn appeared to be making real progress though, with a string of solid games in December and early January, but then he re-tweaked the bad knee at Clemson, and that set him back again, and he never regained any real consistency.

Quinn finished the year with averages of 11.7 minutes, 4.4 points on 40% shooting (25% from 3 point land), 2 assists, and an excellent 3.5:1 assist to turnover ratio, clearly the best on the team.

So why is he going to be such a key component of this year’s team?   After all, Duke lost only Austin Rivers on the perimeter, and he didn’t play point.  Well, one of the real weaknesses of last year’s squad was the absence of a true, natural point guard, one who could both penetrate and dish, as well as score on the offensive end, and then also D-up opposing guards – and be a floor general out there.  You know, the kind of player that Quinn Cook can be.  The Seth Curry Point Guard Experiment did not go as planned, and was scrapped.  Tyler Thornton is a hard-nosed, energetic defender and a real leader, but he is quite limited offensively.  Rasheed Sulaimon, while showing great promise, may turn out to be an option at the point, but I don’t think that’s his natural position and I don’t think that’s where K would ideally like to play him.  The best thing for this team would be for Quinn Cook to remain healthy and to take over as Duke’s unquestioned point guard, and stay there.

Quinn had an excellent summer in 2012.  He got some solid international experience playing for the East Coast All-Stars at the Four Nations Cup in Estonia, where he ended up averaging 22 points per game and being named to the All-Tournament team.  He was outstanding at the NC Pro-Am as well, where he joined forces with a number of Duke teammates, and spent time working out with his God-brother Nolan Smith.

Best of all, Quinn is healthy.  He appears to have finally given the knee a chance to heal, and it shows.  From all reports from the summer and as pre-season practice begins, he is moving much more smoothly, he is quicker, he is faster, he is pushing the ball on offense and moving his feet on defense.  This is a kid who has all the skills and all the talent needed to take over as the quarterback of this team, as Coach K envisioned when he recruited him.  Quinn doesn’t need to score 20 points per game.  What he does need to do is what he does naturally, which is control the flow and tempo of the game, push the ball when the opportunity arises, penetrate into the lane, dish, and hit open jumpshots.  That’s on offense.  On D, he needs to be in the shirt of the opposing point, and be ready to move his feet to contain dribble penetration.  He’s simply got to commit on the defensive end.  Quinn is not a tall point guard by any stretch, but he has a solid body.   He needs to use it, so the opponent cannot get in position to shoot over him.

Tyler Thornton is a nice player who does have some skills, and is a kid who definitely has a role on this team.  But let’s face it:  he's not the natural PG nor does he have some of the tools Quinn Cook possesses.  If Cook can maximize that potential – and now that he’s healthy, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t – as well as develop into a leader out there, he can solidify Duke at the most important position on the floor.  If you then consider the three solid seniors in Duke’s lineup, plus dynamic freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, highly skilled redshirt freshman Alex Murphy, an intriguing prospect in Amile Jefferson, and others, well now we’re getting somewhere.

Rasheed Sulaimon talks Duke victory over Winston Salem State

Sumaimon drives to the rim for 2 of his 12 points vs WSSU - Lance King Photo for BDN

Duke defeated Winston Salem State tonight in their final exhibition tune up of the season and BDN caught up to Rasheed Sulaimon after the game to get his thoughts.  Sulaimon ended the game with 12 points and 2 assists. Note - Our game recap will be up late night or in the morning.

BDN’s Countdown to Craziness Highlight Video – Get pumped!

Blue Devil Nation brings you our Countdown to Craziness Highlights Video and we hope you enjoy it.  We've partnered with Ball is Life and will be bringing you more prospect videos than ever as we continue to make out site all it can be.  Join BDN Premium today for full site access and Duke-centric coverage. Enjoy the show and please feel free to link or embed the video -