DURHAM, N.C. - Two Duke Blue Devils were a part of another championship as rising sophomores Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins helped D-One to the title at the N.C. Pro Am.
D-One scored 135 points to defeat Hendrick's who had buy 124 in an All Star Game atmosphere where defense was in short supply. But that doesn't mean guys were not making plays and Kelly and Dawkins showed a lot of drive to be a part of the last team standing on Sunday afternoon.
The two Blue Devils were joined by new New York Knick and UNC alum Raymond Felton and for Pack standout Josh Powell. Felton did a good job running the team and ended the contest with 28 points but it was Josh Powell's [33 points] play which helped D-One control the inside game.
Andre Dawkins had a stretch where he missed five straight shots, but like a shooter he kept putting the ball up and ended the game with 18 points and as usual the vast majority of his points came on the three ball.
Kelly added 16 points but played all facets of the game well and was named the winner of the Rodney Rodger's Spirit Award before the game started. During the presentation it was stated that Kelly was the player most guys wanted to play with, meaning he is a good teammate who actually plays team ball instead of always looking for his shot.
Another former UNC player Jawad Williams added 16 for the losing team.
This years event shed a lot of light on off season improvement of several Blue Devil players and we'll recap each one and hear from Ryan Kelly shortly, so stay tuned to BDN as we wind up our annual coverage on the N.C. Pro Am.
DURHAM, N.C. - There were some solid individual efforts during Tuesday evenings N.C. Pro Am but it was Nolan Smith who stole the buzz. Smith looked over to his Dreamwork's coach and bench with 5 seconds on the first half clock of his game, he then turned and left three pairs of sneakers on the court as he weaved through the defense to score at the buzzer as the crowd showed their approval.
Smith would go on to score 43 points and his moves dazzled the crowd bringing them to their feet or drawing multiple reactions. In short, there was nobody who could stop Smith from invoking his will. Smith told BDN after the game that he had been working non stop to improve and touched on his preparation to go to New York to be with the U.S. Select team.
Smith had help from two Plumlee brothers, no, not Miles and Mason, but Mason and Marshall. The youngest Plumlee a rising senior at Christ School Arden started the game by jumping center and scored 6 points to go to go with 2 blocks. His brother Mason brought about some of the evenings loudest roars of approval with his emphatic dunks and ability to handle the ball in the open court.
Plumlee [Mason] finished with 15 points, grabbing 7 boards and his most impressive stat was his team high 5 assists. BDN also got word that Mason and Miles were selected as counselors at the Adidas Nations event and they will head to Minnesota where their brother Marshall will play in the event.
All of the Blue Devils had their moments in the win which included Nolan putting it off the backboard for Mason to throw down a dunk. Mason matched up most of the evening with Jawad Williams.
The next game featured four Blue Devils where the three freshman faced off with Ryan Kelly's team. On this night Kyrie coasted along with 13 points but he had moments where he showed I can do what I want when I want. He dished several assists and his teammate Tyler Thornton added 4 points.
Josh Hairston scored 12 points and is averaging 15.0 ppg in his last two outings. One might think that these Dukies played on the winning team but it was a gallant effort by Ryan Kelly which enabled his depth shy D-One team to defeat Hendrick 79-75.
A late Irving bucket cut the lead to two in a sea saw affair, but that was as close as they would come for Kelly answered by finishing off an alley-oop dunk. Kelly finished the game with 21 points.
"We just got out in transition and played confident. I've been working hard all summer and being able to showcase that work is great. It was just our night," said Kelly.
In the night cap Miles Plumlee took to the court where he was greeted by former Los Angeles Laker and current Atlanta Hawk Josh Powell. The current NBA star coming off a championship scored a game high 27 points and at times taught Plumlee a lesson. But the eldest Plumlee never backed down and got his shot off with a variety of moves on his way to 19 points.
Plumlee had to play the whole way in the middle where his team had to add two players due to no-shows. The athletic Plumlee can only benefit from playing tough competition.
Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry attended the games but did not play. The N.C. State guys are preparing to go to the Bahama's while the UNC guys were once again no-shows. BDN learned from a good source that the Heels would be there for the play offs. The games continue this coming Tuesday as the event starts to wrap up.
Be sure to sign up for BDN Twitter for the latest updates from the Pro Am and the recruiting trail. And we have more on Nolan Smith coming your way in the morning. BDn's stats differ a bit from the official stats but we assure you they are accurate.
It wasn't that long ago when people were writing off the Blue Devils after a road loss against Boston College. There were cries of this team has hit the skids or they are already burned out. During press conferences, the Duke players get the same questions over and over with concerns to fatigue.
Well, the Boston College loss seems long ago now and the 2009 Duke Basketball team closed out the season in style by winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and now look to the NCAA's. Krzyzewski praised his juniors, stating that they had been through adversity, but a closer look shows a story behind practically every player. Here are some general thoughts on each player -
Kyle Singler- He has answered more questions concerning his physical being at the end of last season than he has his better moments this year. Krzyzewski semi jokingly asked the media to ask Singler a question after his stellar opening round game against Boston College. Make no mistake in that Singlers early play allowed Duke to advance. You can bet that he will hear another question this week with concerns to his playing every minute of every game of the tournament. Singler appears poised to make his presence felt, starting with Binghampton on Thursday. Singler made the All Tournament Team, but was still fifth in the voting which makes me wonder what games were some media members watching?
Dave McClure- The senior has been through enough ups and downs with injuries to where it was good to see how much he contributed as the consummate role player this season. His defense and hustle will be remembered as much as his shot to beat Clemson at the buzzer. McClure brought some toughness and senior leadership when the Devils needed it most. His back to back baskets against Maryland helped thwart comeback attempts.
Greg Paulus- Paulus has played through untimely injuries in the past two seasons. What does it say about a player who made an All ACC team the season before to accept a role on the bench? That takes character which is something Paulus has in spades. Always the competitor, one has the feeling he has a couple of big shots left before he finishes his career.
Brian Zoubek- Like McClure and Paulus, Zoubs has battled injuries galore in his career. The center grabbed some key boards versus Florida State. He has been able to come back and contribute after hitting a mid season slump. At some point and time, Zoubs is likely to get valuable minutes in this years tournament.
Lance Thomas- Thomas finds himself drawing tough defensive assignments. The minutes he logs should tell you what the coaches think about him. His hustling play is invaluable. Thomas is due for a good showing on the offensive end and what better time to do that than the NCAA's?
Elliot Williams - Duke could not have turned their season around if it were not for Elliot Williams play. Williams has had a tough learning curve as a freshman, but he grabbed key rebounds in the tournament and his skills are something which you cannot teach. He hit a slight wall of late, but he is still starting and his on ball defense will be crucial for a Devils run. Williams just needs to keep his head up and continue to let the game come to him while working on his outside shot.
Nolan Smith - Smith played great minutes in the tournament and his play was very important to Duke's championship effort. Much like Williams, Smith came alive at the right time when production was hard to come by. It appears that Smith has fully recovered from his injury.
Jon Scheyer- What can be said about Jon Scheyer? He took over running the point and is playing as good as anybody in the conference. Scheyer won the tournament MVP for a reason this weekend. He's showed no signs of becoming stale since Coach K made the change and he will be counted on heavily as Duke goes into the final days of March.
Gerald Henderson- Henderson came alive today and his play put Duke over the hump. When Gerald goes, Duke goes, so it's important for him to be consistent. Henderson seems to be on a mission and he has blossomed into a leader. The future is bright for Gerald and I implore you to worry about the here and now and not look ahead to anything other than this seasons games. If you look ahead in worry and not live in the moment, then you will miss out on a lot.
Olek Czyz, Marty Pocius and Mile Plumlee- When Nolan Smith drove down the throat of the Seminole defense for a dunk, Czyz and Plumlee jumped off the bench with authentic glee. Sure, these kids want some burn, but they are part of something special, a championship. Don't think they will not contribute in the NCAA's for I have seen some strange things happen with rotations. Still, they are a big help everyday in pushing their teammates in practice and supporting them. How comforting is it to know that Duke can go deep to players like Marty Pocius if needed?
Duke will now have to put the hard earned championship behind them and focus on the game Thursday evening. I would imagine they will be allowed to enjoy being ACC Champions through Monday, but then it will be back to business. In order for Duke's season to continue, each of the aforementioned players will have to find new ways to contribute, show up and make stops or a big shot when they have to.
Winning the ACC title is a wonderful achievement, but these guys can still make some more memories. No matter what happens, this team came together when they had to and now own a trophy and a banner. My guess, is that they are still hungry, but only time will tell if they advance further into March than recent years.