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Cheerleader of the Week

Monday Musings – Duke goes to Maui, football takes on UNC, Cheerleader of the Week

Cheerleader of the Week

Welcome to the Thanksgiving week Monday Musings where BDN of course, hopes all of you have a great holiday.  Duke takes on Tennessee in just a few hours to open the loaded Maui Classic and Terry Rains is in place to bring us coverage.  This is also the last game of the football season where the Blue Devils travel to North Carolina.

Aloha!  Maui begins with Tennessee

Duke gets it underway on the islands starting at 5:30 this afternoon when Duke takes on what will be their easiest opponent in Maui Invitational in Tennessee.  The Vols come into the game 2-0 riding the play of Trae Golden but they will be hard pressed to keep Duke from facing the winner of Memphis and Michigan.  Duke will either face the methodical style of the Wolverines or the crazy athleticism of Memphis.  You can bet I will be tuned in to see who wins this clash of two styles and for the record, I think Memphis would be a very difficult matchup for Duke.  The Tigers are loaded with quickness and are athletic and have just the kind of team that could trouble Duke this season.  Of course, Michigan took Duke to the wire last season and have all but one key player back, so either way, should Duke get past the Vols, they will have one heckuva match up awaiting them.

Fans and coaches will learn more about the team

By the time the dust clears on the tournament, we’ll all know a lot more about this seasons team which is both young and a work in progress.  No matter who Duke faces past the Vols, they will be one of the nations best teams and this will present a great early season challenge.  And for those of you that haven’t looked ahead, the Blue Devils will take on  #2 Ohio State in Columbus after the invitational.  It has been a long time since the Blue Devils faced such a challenging schedule and with a young team, a loss is certainly on the horizon.  If Duke comes out of Maui undefeated it will be a great feat and one that will have them firmly set in the top 5 teams in the country.  What I will be watching is how this team responds to adversity and close games.  Can they close with a lead or will they wilt under the pressure of a game time possession.  That’s what makes watching the games so much fun.

Stepping up

Who will step up for Duke next?  Coach Mike Krzyzewski has made it clear on more than one occasion that different players will step up for the Blue Devils in certain games.  Andre Dawkins did so in New York and Mason Plumlee in the last outing, so will it be Austin Rivers this time?   Who knows, but in reality Duke is looking for consistency and a couple of players to blossom into bonafide stars.  And for the record, Austin Rivers despite being a true freshman has been very consistent on the offensive end as has his backcourt mate, Seth Curry.

Recruiting never sleeps

BDN Recruiting Analyst Andrew Slater has been checking out Duke prospects Noah Vonleh and Nerlens Noel among others in holiday recruiting events and we’ll be hearing a lot more about that later in the week.

One game can redeem a season

Duke Football has been improving, just not at the speed many had hoped for.  When you look at the success of Virginia and Wake Forest, two teams the Blue Devils were supposed to be right there with this season, it cannot help but make one wish that there were more than 3 wins on the ledger.  The Richmond loss still haunts as do other close contests and until Duke gets a win, frustration is just that, frustration for both the staff and the fan base.  One may look at the Boston College game as a break through win on the road this season, but they could cure many ills finding a way to finally beat their arch rival UNC.  A win on the road in Chapel Hill would erase a lot of the frustration and be a great starting point for next year when Duke returns pretty much everybody save a couple of defensive studs.  Duke opens as a 13 point underdog and it will not be an easy task in that the Tar Heels are tough on the fronts.  But if they could find a way to win, it would be a huge one and bring about some major belief to what has been a disappointing season.  Here is to hoping the Duke team believes it can win and plays with heart and a reckless abandon in the finale.

Be safe out there Blue Devil Nation and eat mo’ turkey!

 

 

Monday Musings – Duke Basketball and Football, Coach K and the Cheerleader of the Week

Monday Musings continues it's tradition of presenting the Cheerleader of the Week - BDN Photo, Rick Crank

The Duke Blue Devils football team closed out the season with a 24-19 loss to North Carolina while the men’s basketball team headed to Singler-ville bringing home a win over Oregon this past week.  This week the football staff starts concentrating on recruiting while the men’s team prepares for Michigan State in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and we discuss all of this and more in our latest Monday Musings offering.

Good homecoming for Kyle Singler

Duke took care of business in Portland after spending time with Team Singler, aka, his family.   Singler dropped 30 points, his career high in the win over Oregon but the feeling here is that he will break that tally again.  Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock you know that Singlers family is very athletic and competitive and Kyle who grew up watching film on Celtic great Larry Bird could be at the top of the list. 

Another test awaits the Blue Devils

Okay, it’s no secret that this years edition of the Duke Men’s Basketball team is loaded with talent and each game is a lesson for the long season to come.  On Wednesday evening Michigan State the consensus pre season #2 rated team comes into Cameron in a game that will have the place rocking.  The fact that the Spartan’s dropped an early season game will only make them tougher and they’re getting healthy after some nagging injuries.  Duke will face a team deep enough to challenge their depth and present some pressure on the defensive end.  The bottom line is that Michigan State is the best team Duke will have played to date andwill be one of the best teams they play all season long.  Many feel the two will eventually run into each other for a second time come March Madness.

As I said, it’s a long season ahead

The media will continue to build Duke up after every win eventually claiming them to be unbeatable should they continue their winning ways.  I feel Duke is the nations best team in November but the season has four solid months to go and lots of things can happen along the way.  We are also hearing  chirping of the team going undefeated and all I can say to that is temper your expectations for it will not happen.  Still, Duke should develop along the way and it is frightening to think of what they’ll look like come seasons end should their chemistry be intact.

Meanwhile Coach K keeps knocking down wins

Count from one to eight hundred and one and tell me how ridiculous that is when you think each number that rolls off your tongue is a victory for Mike Krzyzewski.  We’ll drop you a hint that the UNC-Greensboro game could be one for the record books for if all goes as planned that will be the one where a huge milestone is set.  Can you figure out what that milestone will be?  And for what it’s worth Coach K is so far ahead of other active coaches in weeks he’s spent as the nations top ranked team that it’s not even worth mentioning how far Roy Williams is behind him and the Heels coach is in 2nd.

Football season comes to an end

Duke finishes the season at 3-9 but they lost four ACC games by a touchdown or less.  I don’t think Cutcliffe and company will worry with that more than getting the team physically stronger.  The goal is to realy hit the weight room hard at certain positions, reevaluate team personnel and acclimate newcomers into a solid group of returning players.  Next season will be the first year Cutcliffe has all of his players on the roster for the first time.

Sean Renfree

After a season of learning, look for Duke quarterback Sean Renfree to come back with a vengeance.  Renfree is the kind of kid that’ll work his butt off in the off season and don’t look now, but he will be one of the most experienced signal callers in the league as other schools break in new players at his position.

Let’s take a peek at next seasons schedule

It’s never to early to look towards next season, so here is the 2011 football schedule – Duke will play Richmond, Tulane, Stanford, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest at home and will visit Florida International, Boston College, Miami, Virginia and North Carolina on the road.  Duke will liklely be favored to win five of those games in the pre season, so a six win season of bowl eligibility could come to fruition.
 
 
Talk about rebuilding
 
My girls, the Duke Cheerleaders, will lose seven senior members after this season!  That has to be a record.  Anyhow, congrats to them and thanks for cheering your last football game at Duke on Saturday. 
 
 
BDN Twitter contests
 
Follow Blue Devil Nation on twitter and participate in contests to win free BDN Premium memberships.  We will ask for the point spread, leading scorer and such and the closest Devils fan to our requests gets your name in twitter lights and can join in on our private message board discussing all the latest Duke happenings, especially the recruiting front.  So, sign up today where we are taking picks for the actual score in the Duke-Michigan State contest.  Also, check out or Facebook group as well.  Lastly, I hope all of you who make up the Blue Devil Nation had a nice holiday break.

Monday Musings – Duke vs Marquette, Duke vs UNC, Cheerleader of the Week

As always it's a busy time around BDN where we covered both the basketball and football games this past weekend. This week will be no different as we have staff members in Kansas City for consecutive games and we'll start our focus on Duke and UNC on the gridiron as well. And oc course, there is our Cheerleader of the Week!

Good Monday Blue Devil Nation and may you all have a great Thanksgiving week ahead.  The Duke Basketball team embarks on two contests that will provide a better look at where they stand this week and the football team takes on those dreaded North Carolina Tar Heels on the football field this week.  So, without further ado here are this weeks Monday Musings and of course, our cheerleader of the week.

Duke will be tested

The Men’s basketball team could face two contrasting styles which will challenge both their backcourt and frontcourt.  Marquette is the first challenge this evening and they bring a Big East toughness and a loaded backcourt to the table.  If Kansas State defeats Gonzaga, Duke will face a loaded frontcourt of physical and athletic players.  The Wildcats will also have a home court advantage and that could prove huge for the nations #3 rated team.

The bench will shorten

In the next two nights we’ll see which players Krzyzewski has confidence in for his bench will shorten against stellar competition.  Keep in mind that the rotation is likely to look quite different from one night to the next due to the aforementioned match ups.  The games should provide fans a glimpse of what the team will look like as the season goes on but Krzyzewski is far from settled on which combinations will be`on the court come March.

And the arch rival struggles

In watching North Carolina’s first few games a few things come to mind when evaluating their future.  The first is that UNC indeed lacks a leader and until they get someone to fill that role, they’ll not turn the corner to Top Ten country.  Harrison Barnes will get better as the season goes on, but the question is will UNC get better as a team.  The likely answer to that is yes, but these Heels are not he juggernaut they once were.  Still, too much talent is on hand for them to fold up like last season and finding a leader is a must.  The parts are there but fitting them together is not always and easy task.

The blame game can at times be ridiculous

Perfection!  That’s all we’ll stand for!  Okay, okay, some of us realize that Duke is a work in progress and we don’t find something wrong or someone to point the finger at in the early season.  Unfortunately, there is a faction of the fan base that constantly worries and you can always count on them to play chicken little.  With the Duke backcourt being solid, those fans have turned their attention to the Plumlees.  “They’re not Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek,” one poster said.  Uh, no they’re not but does that fan remember the gripes those two experienced until they won a national title?  The Plumlees are a big key to the success to the 2010-11 Blue Devils but they like others are still learning how to fill their roles and they’ll be fine.  It’s no secret that Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston are pretty much all that’s behind them, so I’m afraid the brothers will experience what Thomas and Zoubs did along the way, no matter how short sighted those not so basketball savvy critics are.

So close but how far?

Duke Football could have won games against Boston College, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Wake Forest this season had a bounce or two gone their way.  Had they won three of these close contests they’d be bowl eligible.  The real question is how close are they from turning the corner where they can win these games.  That’s a tough call but Duke returns pretty much all of their better players next season but they’ll need to score touchdowns in the red zone before improvement will become evident.

It’s Carolina at Duke on Thanksgiving and Duke at Oregon

Make no mistake a win over Carolina in the finale would help ease the frustration from close losses mentioned above.  There was a day when this game was huge but Duke will only be considered a true rival again when they find a way to defeat their neighbors and not just play them close.  With the game being played over the Thanksgiving holidays, the students will be gone and the Duke Basketball team will tip off thirty minutes after the kickoff in Oregon for Kyle Singler’s away game in front of his peeps.  With both games being televised, this will likely mean an increase in the dreaded baby blue which will dominate more than half of Wallace Wade Stadium.  A great solution is to back the Devils against UNC in person and DVR the basketball game.  After all, when Duke finally does beat UNC on the gridiron, don’t you want to say you were there?

It’s Holiday Tournament time

One of our favorite holiday basketball tournaments to cover is the Glaxo Invitational in Raleigh, N.C. But we’ll take in some other events as well and as a member of BDN Premium you can keep up with coverage of the Blue Devils future hopefuls and those who’ve already signed.

Monday Musings – Football, Hoops, Rumors and the Cheerleader of the Week

Our cheerleader of the week shares a smile for you this Monday morning. BDN salutes the team behind the team be it the cheerleaders, mascot or those who contribute their effort to support Duke Athletics - BDN Photo

The Duke basketball and football teams both play in what will be a busy weekend ahead for Blue Devil fans and both games should prove to be quite interesting.  In this weeks edition of Monday Musings we’ll take a look at the week ahead, offer thoughts on the programs and of course there is our Cheerleader of the Week.

Where were the students?

On a crisp Autumn day in Wallace Wade Stadium, the Duke football team was going back in forth with Virginia in what was an exciting offensive showdown where the Blue Devils came out on top 55-48.  At the start of the game, there may have been 50 students max in the stands and some in the press box thought that number would grow and it did, by maybe 100 and I do mean maybe 100 more.  Meanwhile the football team played with a lot of heart and won a thrilling victory in the last minute of the ball game and they deserved better support.  Despite the lack of students, the ones who there in faith were shown appreciation as the team and Coach went over to celebrate their victory.  I have attended games for a long time and the students were not born for some of them.  With that in consideration, I can tell you that I have never seen such lack of support as was witnessed this past Saturday.  We live in a day when Duke practically has to bribe and coddle the student body to get them to show up at what should be a traditional gathering.  And the scary part is there seems to be no obvious solution.  If you are a student and reading this, how about supporting Duke against Boston College for a win would give the Devils a three game winning streak and their second straight ACC win.  It’d be a lot easier to accomplish if there were more support.

Meanwhile, Duke opens the men’s basketball season

During the ACC Media Day in Charlotte, North Carolina I asked Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski if it were hard to put last season behind him, thinking his answer might be yes.  Nah!  He’s beamed in and ready to embark on the 2010-11 season where the Blue Devils will this time start the season where they left off, that being number one in the country.  Duke will miss graduated seniors Brian Zoubek, who attend the exhibition win over Cal Poly, Jon Scheyer who by the way suffered a really devastating eye injury since and Lance “Hustle Bunny,” Thomas.  But the Blue Devils reloaded with guy named Kyrie Irving, a really talented, sometimes dazzling point guard, Josh Hairtson and Tyler Thornton to go with the returning cast which features All Americans in Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith.  The first victim will be Princeton this coming Sunday in a game televised by ESPNU which starts at 5:00.  Duke will then turn right around and take on Miami of Ohio on Tuesday.  Do you think the aforementioned students will be in Cameron for the opener?

Before the tip off to the basketball season, Boston College invades Wallace Wade

In the pre-season I picked Boston College second in their division [and I wasn't alone] for there was a lot of returning talent on the team.  The Eagles stumbled early on, but they are now talking bowl and winning out and they are licking their chops thinking they’ll take care of business starting with Duke.  Does it seem like it’s been a long time since the schools played?  Well, it has for Duke has played them one time since their conference arrival, a 28-7 loss in 2006.  Anyhow, this is a key contest for both schools in many ways.  Duke wants to close out the season with some momentum while Boston College wants to atone for early season woes.  The Eagles have won two straight ACC games with their latest victim being Wake Forest, a team which Duke lost a heartbreaker to.

Duke Basketball will be tested early

This seasons edition of the men’s basketball team will face several early tests in November and early December.  Not that we want to overlook some teams but games with Marquette, Gonzaga or Kansas State, Oregon on the road for Kyle Singler’s homecoming all in November.  And December brings the #2 Michigan State into Cameron and a rematch with Butler in East Rutherford, N.J.  That’s two top 10 teams and two top 25 teams and two just outside of the rankings in short time.

And there will be great catastrophes and rumors of  …

This past weekend an ESPN Insider speculated on a certain Duke guard transferring.  Not long ago, the media giant started running rumors across the ticker.  Rumors set forth tremors in fan bases and the sky is falling crew just know there has to be something to every little whim, right?  Well, of course they do and that fuels other fans paranoia more often than not.  The mere fact that some rumors are proven to be true seems to justify each and every one be examined under a microscope, despite the fact that the majority of them, like 90% or better are just bunk.  I mean opposing fan bases are constantly planting stuff about one another on the wild, wild west like world wide web.  This especially holds true on the recruiting front where a certain anonymous poster can say something and it ripples through message boards like fire in a dry forest.

And if you run a web site, you will find that no matter how ridiculous some of them are, you are expected to acknowledge each and every rumor to the tune of numerous questions and the aforementioned “Chicken Little” fans.  Oh, and they can be justified for this poster on so and so’s board got one right.  Folks, I am here to tell you that people have selective memories.  If you are in my position, they only remember the very few things I have gotten wrong.  Heck, sometimes people even say I gave them a guarantee from lack of comprehension and again, they read what they want to and can reconstruct what you say to fit their selective views.  So facts?  What are they and do people even care anymore?

The BDN staff starting having to address rumors from other message boards, so much so that we started a separate “rumors,” board for unsubstantiated blurbs in an effort to keep fact and fiction apart.  Our policy is if there is something out there we’ll let you know asap, but if not, or it is another ridiculous rumor we simply will not address the issue and that serves as a message there is nothing to it.  But just as some want to remember your misses and or supposed misses others want to just see rumors as being true, by not only overlooking but avoiding some of the facts.  When ESPN starts running rumors over the ticker wire, it just opens the flood gates for others to do so and we hope they reconsider before they to have to start a separate rumor central area like we have done.  Our motto has long been we deal in fact not fiction and we’ll stick by that by stating if what we say is speculation it’ll be clear to you and when we are emphatic about say a recruiting or other tidbits, you can take it to the bank.

In closing, thanks for your continued support and visiting the Blue Devil Nation for we all make up that nation.  Have a good week ahead, support the Blue Devils and check back in next week for another edition of Monday Musings and of course the Cheerleader of the Week.

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BDN’s Monday Musings – Hoops starting, recruiting, KI and more

A Monday Musings tradition is our Cheerleader of the Week selection and it has been a hit amongst fans of BDN. Image by my pal Lance King

Good Morning Blue Devil Nation!  It’s a rainy day here in the Triangle but that will not stop another edition of Monday Musings.

Basketball is here

When Duke has struggled in football there has been an on going blurb that hoops starts quicker in Durham than anywhere in the country.  Well, when you are the reigning national champion and have a long tradition of kicking butt on the hardwood, return Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler and add Kyrie Irving to the mix, the football team could be 4-0 and the excitement would still be there. 

Countdown to Craziness

You can get tickets to this cherished event by hitting up the Duke Box Office on October 6th and I expect tickets will go quickly.  The event itself is on October 15th and if it is anything like last years and we here it is, it’ll knock your royal blue socks off.  I’ve been around the program for a very long time but I can honestly say that this is as relaxed you’ll ever see the coaches and players.  It’s a night to celebrate all things Duke but this year, you’ll see the new national championship banner making it even better than last seasons event.  Extreme intimacy permeates Cameron Indoor Stadium and you’ll be flush with royal blue leaving the event stoked for what should be another great season.

Recruiting continues

Duke will be in home with point guard Quinn Cook tonight and they’ve made their rounds of late.  We’ve listed attendees for CTC and talk of recruiting non stop on BDN Premium, so why not join our dedicated members and chat about the latest happenings.

Excitement surrounds the Women’s team as well

We’ll preview the Duke Women shortly and their is a ton of excitement surrounding the best recruiting class since Alana Beard and company.  This years team will be a mix of young and old and that should make for some exciting moments.  BDN supports the women and will even cover their recruiting in the future, a first among sites.

Football needs some breaks

Duke Football simply needs a few things to go their way on the field against Maryland this weekend where they open as 7.5 underdogs.  The Terps match up very well with this years team, so to win, Duke will have to cut down on those five turnovers against Army.  The Duke defense is rebuilding and the offense needs to take care of the ball and if the team can just get a couple of breaks their way, they can ride those and good things will start to happen.

Kyrie Irving

Well there has been little hype surrounding the New Jersey native these days.  Yeah, right.  It’s the fact that Irving is a smoking point guard that has fans excited for he is the best they’ve had at the position since another Jersey native.  Still though, I think one should temper their expectations for there is a learning curve no matter how talented you are and Krzyzewski alluded to that in a recent press conference.

Pre Season Magazines

Duke is everybody’s number one with the exception of TSN who tabs Michigan State, a  team that visits Cameron in December.  Don’t be so harsh on Mike DeCourcey thought for he is just trying to be different and this has been their practice in the past when their is a consensus favorite.  There was a time when preview magazines were a big deal and fans would wait their arrival but times have changed thanks to the Internet.  I like a traditional hard copy on occasion but they increasingly come out so late that there is no news we do not know about in them.  Blue Ribbon is a great preview but I am not going to plunk down the bucks to read it when the season starts a week after it hits the stands.  The same goes for those glossy overpriced yearbooks where there is little information fanatical fans do not already know.  I see them more as collectibles these days and if I want to read a preview, I want to do it before Countdown for Craziness and not after.  I highly recommend the championship commemorative put out by Duke Planet though.  It’s well worth the money and serves as a reminder to a magical season.  The rest is on line and articles of Duke Basketball are a dime a thousand these day, up a lot since they were a dime a dozen.