Due on newsstands across America this week will be the glossy pre-season college basketball magazines, the publication of which means that the start of practice is not far away.
We've learned that the Duke Men's Basketball team will be ranked 4th in the nation by the Sporting News, which has Kentucky in the top spot. IN addition to the Blue Devils, the ACC is represented in the top ten by Syracuse and North Carolina.
The Duke Women are ranked second in all the land, just behind UConn. Blue Devils Elizabeth Williams and Chelsea Gray will be named to their ten player first team All-American squad.
On the men's side, the pre-season All-American teams consist of five players each, and the interesting thing is that neither of the two Blue Devils who made the teams have ever dribbled a ball in a Duke uniform in an actual game. This is certainly consistent with the trend in selecting these types of teams these days, where the choices often seem to be based more on potential than actual performance.
Jabari Parker was selected pre-season First Team All-American. He is perhaps the first true freshman at Duke to earn such pre-season honors. Parker, who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school player, is no stranger to this kind of hype. Parker is also predicted to be the top player in the ACC.
Joining Parker as an All-American selection is redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood, who is picked to the magazine's Third Team. Hood, a rare transfer to Duke from Mississippi State, sat out a season ago per NCAA transfer rules, but has garnered high praise since arriving in Durham, and consequently now has high expectations.
Rasheed Sulaimon, who seems like a veteran on the Blue Devils squad even though he's just a sophomore, was selected High Honorable Mention and if you ask me, he'll be right there for honors higher than that by season's end.
In the projected standings, the Blue Devils are picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, followed by Syracuse and North Carolina.
In full, the predicted ACC standings are as follows:
3- North Carolina
4- Notre Dame
8- Boston College
9- Florida State
The Sporting News merged with old school legend Street and Smith's. The magazine doesn't have a lot of meat to it anymore, which is disappointing given its history. For instance, it doesn't even include the teams' schedules anymore. But it is the first glossy magazine to hit the stands. The Triangle area cover will feature a UNC and an N.C. State player.
Practice for Duke starts in mid-October and Countdown to Craziness kicks off the season on October 18th at 8:00 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils will then play their first exhibition game against Bowie State on October 26th and open the regular season against the Davidson Wildcats on November 8th.
The Blue Devils will then travel to Chicago to meet Kansas, ranked #7 in The Sporting News preview magazine. There the top two incoming freshman in the nation, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins -- both pre-season All-Americans on the TSN teams -- go head-to-head in the Champions Classic.
USA Basketball and Syracuse University veteran coach Jim Boeheim, Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, and New Orleans Pelicans head coach and former USA Basketball player Monty Williams, today were announced as USA Basketball Men’s National Team assistant coaches for 2013-16 by USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo.
USA Basketball announced on May 23 that Duke University’s Naismith Hall of Fame mentor Mike Krzyzewski, who directed the USA National Teams from 2006-2012 to a 62-1 overall record and back-to-back Olympic championships, would return to lead the USA National Team program for a third quadrennium.
Over the course of the 2013-16 quad, the USA Men’s National Team coaching staff will direct the USA through a team mini-camp in Las Vegas, Nev., July 22-25, 2013; the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly the FIBA World Championship) Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Spain; if necessary, the 2015 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD); and if the USA qualifies, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games (Aug. 5-21) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Circumstances change for individuals, and it was time to make some coaching staff changes. We’re excited about the coaches we have coming on board,” said Colangelo, who has served as the Managing Director of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team program since 2005 and seen those teams compile a 62-1 record. “I think we have assembled another outstanding coaching staff, one that I believe will continue to lead our program to success on the court as well as off. Coach Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach who knows the international game as well as anyone and has been an invaluable part of the national team program since its inception in 2006. Coaches Thibodeau and Williams are outstanding additions to our staff, and both of them have already made their mark in the league.
“I also want to acknowledge and thank our previous national team assistant coaches Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan,” added Colangelo. “They were both huge parts of our successes over the last seven years, and I want to publically thank them for all their time and many contributions.”
“I’m really excited about the USA Basketball National Team coaching staff,” said Krzyzewski. “To work with Jim Boeheim again, who’s as close of a friend as you can have in this profession and also one of the brilliant coaches in the history of our game, to have him right along side me is fantastic. We’ve done that for the last seven years, we’re going to do it for four more.
“To have Tom Thibodeau join us, I think his reputation speaks for itself. He was a great assistant who has become an outstanding pro coach, and nobody wants to play the Bulls. The toughness that they show, their togetherness, their competitiveness, and the preparation that is there, that is shown by he and his staff. I think he is one of the best defensive coaches, his defensive game plans are incredible, and so I’m really looking forward to working with him. Then in Monty Williams, it’s ironic that he was an assistant with Nate McMillan, and again he is someone who is well respected in the NBA. The players love playing for him. I actually know him some because is a very close friend of Grant Hill, I’ve met him a number of times, and I’m looking forward to working with him.
“I think the different personalities that we have on this staff and the different strong suites of each coach will make all of us better,” Krzyzewski concluded. “I’m anxious to get started.”
The USA Men’s National Team begins its 2013 training with a July 22-25 mini-camp in Las Vegas that concludes with the 2013 USA Basketball Showcase, featuring a Blue-White intra-squad game, on July 25 at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. The mini-camp will feature rising NBA stars, newly minted All-Stars, and members of the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s Select Team. A full roster will be announced later this month.
The Duke Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight where they will take on Louisville for a chance to go to the Final Four. BDN takes a look at the frenetic pace of events in Indy as we continue our coverage.
A good win over Michigan State
A lot of people were worried about this game and for good reason in that Tom Izzo and the Spartans are always good, but the Blue Devils seized the opportunity at hand pulling out a 71-61 win. On a night when Quinn Cook struggled, Tyler Thonrton played well off the bench and Seth Curry was quite simply the best player on the court by evenings end. Curry of course, dropped 29 points to lead all scorers and he got help from fellow seniors Ryan Kelly who scored 9 points to go with his team high 7 rebounds. Actually, Mason Plumlee tied him for the lead in rebounds with 7 of his own and scored 14 points himself. It is also worth noting that Kelly was also the games leader in blocked shots with 4 rejections. Rasheed Sulaimon tallied 16 points as well, knocking down 12 of 16 free throws. As a team, Duke went a more than acceptable 24-26 from the free throw stripe as well. And then there is the defense which you have probably read about by now, but if not is was stellar and should the level of play continue, Duke will be a tough out.
No time to reflect
In talking to the Duke players during the press conference here in Indy and what they call break out rooms where they speak individually with members of the media, it was clear they were tired due to the late end of the game. Some members of the team had to take mandatory drug tests late last evening and the other players while they did not have to, waited for their teammates, putting them in their rooms about 2:00 in the morning. Krzyzewski and others saw this as being ridiculous in nature for many reasons. The team had to be back at Lucas Oil Arena by noon today for the aforementioned interviews and according to many of them, it took some time to wind down from the Michigan State game they had just won. It was impossible for them not to think about that with the dreaded overkill thoughts before bedding down for the evening and to make matters worse, Louisville had to be on their minds as well. While these are indeed young men that can run circles around me, the responsibilities they have which are demanding in nature go unnoticed by fans. But the media knows, for they are on the same schedule with dead lines and in my case it was around 2:48 before I left the arena. Anyhow, Krzyzewski mentioned this as he should, hoping the NCAA will do a study on the situation. There was no reason why today's pressers could not be pushed back at least until say, 2:00. Another thing worth mentioning is that the coaching staff gets very little sleep if any, breaking down film and preparing for the job at hand in order to advance. How tired were Coach K's Devils? Tired enough to only conduct a simple walk through practice today.
The Final Four Regional
Again, I have dubbed this the Final Four regional in that this region is and or was, flat out loaded. For the record, Duke and Louisville are the top two seeds left in the entire tournament and many feel the game tomorrow could in a sense be the national title game. It's almost a crime that these two-storied and strong programs could not meet for all the marbles. I mean it is Pitino vs Krzyzewski for gosh sakes and both teams are playing great basketball. Some feel the winner of this game could actually get a break when they hit the Final Four and I would not argue against that and actually agree with the analogy.
Keep in mind ...
Keep in mind that we'll see these two programs going head to head in the future when Louisville joins the ACC. In that vein, this is an all ACC match up in slightly skewed way. The one thing I noticed when talking to both teams players was the fact that I saw a lot of character. Covering the Duke program up close and personal over the years and even the AAU trail and the kids who eventually go to school in Durham, the one thing I can say with 100% objectivity, is that the Blue Devils players all have immense character in that they are all great kids and citizens on and off the court.
Nobody better than Coach K in Elite Eight play
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is 11-1 in Elite Eight play which is an amazing record. Blue Devil faithful are lucky to have him at the helm and who the heck else would you want in this situation? But the fan base should be grateful win or lose tomorrow and not take for granted how hard it is to advance in these tournaments. Remind yourself how it felt to go out last season against Lehigh in order to enjoy the accomplishments which are earned with hard work that starts the very next day the season ends. It's a long process and the season will be full of ebbs and flows but the last team standing will always be the happiest. Duke is one victory away from going to another Final Four which would be the eleventh for Coach K and company, one shy of John Wooden at UCLA.
30 wins, again
Duke won its 30th game of the season and while no fan wants it to end, that in itself is a dream for any school. It's the 13th time in history Krzyzewski has won 30 games at Duke. In fact, he is the only coach to win 30 in Durham and he has more 30 win seasons than any other coach in the long history of college basketball.
Duke just doesn't have it ... Duke will win it all
It amazes me how wrong the talking heads can be with their predictions as the year goes along and their flipping and flopping is akin to being manic. Going into last evenings game, BDN picked the Devils to win and we did so confidently. Maybe it comes from being around since the dawn of the K era for me or maybe it was just luck. Anyhow, Duke is starting to get some favorable press again. After the Maryland loss, everybody assumed a single game performance meant that Duke would continue to play like that and the ship was destined to sink. Maybe those NBA types will start to do their homework a bit more going forward. After all, it is not like anyone invited them to invade their living room trying to pose as college hoops experts.
Sidebar - Duke is 26-8 all time as a no. 2 seed. Duke is playing in their 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament which is the longest such streak of any program. Did you know there were seven couch fires in East Lansing, Michigan last night? Seth Curry knocked down six three pointers, a new Lucas oil Arena record and his is 29 points were the second most scored in the arena. Duke's free throw percentage last evening was the highest in their NCAA tournament history. Cook moved to 19th on the all time Duke assist list.
DURHAM, N.C. - It's that time of year again when Duke takes on North Carolina in a storied basketball rivalry and BDN was on hand at today's press conference to bring you both the players and Coach Mike Krzyzewskis' thoughts on the contest. Check out our videos with Mason and Coach K below -
Blue Devil Nation Premium has learned that Duke has offered a schlorship to Kevon Looney. When you're a versatile and skilled 6'8", your highly respected five-time state title winning coach says that -- as a rising junior -- you're the best player he's ever coached, including NBA players Rodney Buford and Carl and Marcus Landry, college programs will take notice. When you add in a 3.6 cumulative GPA and the reputation of being a high character player, schools from around the country from Stanford to Duke will start to pay even closer attention. So it's no surprise that Kevon Looney, a player who fits such a description, has seen his recruitment and rankings take off over the past few months.
Partially out of necessity, Looney was thrust into a starting role as a freshman for Coach Tom Diener, a thirty year veteran, and the Hamilton Wildcats of Milwaukee. He took like a fish to water, averaging a near double-double and earning second-team All-City honors. Despite being severely undermanned (the starting five played the vast majority of the minutes and included three freshmen), the Wildcats enjoyed a miraculous run to the state semifinals at the Kohl Center in Madison before losing narrowly to Memorial HS of Madison. This past season, as a sophomore, Kevon played more of a point-forward position for Coach Diener, and averaged over twenty points, nearly nine rebounds, and two assists. In the toughest conference in Wisconsin, Looney was named the Milwaukee City Conference Player of the Year. Kevon was also a unanimous First Team All-State selection by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association and a Sophomore All-American by MaxPreps.
This camp season, Looney's unique skill set, versatility and rebounding on both ends of the court really helped him stand out, first at the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, California. He followed that up by performing well at the NBA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA. In July, he was invited to compete at Nike's prestigious LeBron James Skills Academy, where he excelled as a long, face-up wing in his preferred small forward position alongside teammates Austin Nichols and Andrew Wiggins on the Duke camp team. On the AAU circuit, the Wisconsin native played for the Milwaukee Rebels, where he stood out at the Spiece Run N' Jam in Fort Wayne, the Kansas City Classic, the NY2LA Swish 'N Dish, and the Under Armour Summer Jam in Wisconsin. Most recently, he played for the Rebels at the FAB 48, where Duke special assistant coach Nate James watched him at courtside.
When the summer drew to a close, Kevon has been recognized as a consensus top ten caliber player in the class of 2014. I spoke with Kevon at multiple events and, off the court, he's got the same poise, directness, and maturity that belies his age and so impresses on the court.
How do you feel about your AAU season overall?
It’s gone pretty well. We played pretty well.
You’ve had a bit of a breakout year.
I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played this spring and summer. (laughs) I’ve been working hard.
How do you account for it? Was it something you did either in the off-season or the high school season? Getting more physically developed?
Yeah, I think it’s a lot of working out and staying in the gym..just putting in the time. Just try to out-work people, working on things that people say I need to improve on.
So it’s a work ethic thing for you?
I would assume this is the case, but do you feel that your recruitment has picked up over the last few months?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve gotten a lot more suitors.
Which ones? Who are some of your suitors?
I’ve got Michigan State, Kansas, Wake Forest, Stanford. All of them offered.
Oh, so you must be a good student.
Yeah, and Kentucky and North Carolina have shown interest as well. There are some others.
How far along are you in your recruitment?
Not very far along. I’m going to try to sit down and put a list together in the middle of August. I’d like to cut it down a little bit.
So if a school wants to get in with you, they’ve got to start pretty soon, would you say?
Probably, but I’m still open.
What do you view as your strengths and weaknesses?
My weaknesses are I need to get stronger. I need to improve my athleticism and work on my handle.
Do you view yourself as like a 3-4?
I really see myself as a pure 3. A 3.
Will distance be a factor in your decision?
No, not really.
What was it like to play with Andrew Wiggins and also Austin Nichols?
They’re both very good. I had never seen them before this summer or played with them.
What would be your scouting report on both of them?
They’re both very athletic and they’re both real good.
Away from the court, what would you like the audience to know about you?
I’m a humble and smart kid. I have a good family and I’m fun to be around.
Although you‘re capable of doing both, do you consider yourself more of a face-up player or back-to-the-basket player?
I like to face-up more. I mean, I’ll post if I have to, but it’s usually only because I have to. I like to face up against my opponent.
You mentioned before that you’re a good student. Academically, you’ll be in good shape?
Yeah, my cumulative right now is about a 3.6.
Well, that’s impressive. That’s better than two of these normal guys combined.
What do you know about Duke and have they called?
Oh, they’re a great program and actually, they have called. I can’t believe I forgot.
And what did they say?
They said that they wanted to come see me play.
Do you know which coach was communicating with you?
And what did he say to you?
Just that he was looking forward to seeing me.
And what do you know about the program?
I know they’ve got a great program. I know they play in the ACC and I know that they have a great coach in Coach K. We saw them practice.
What do you know about Coach K?
I know he’s one of the greatest college coaches.
What is it like for you to play in front of college coaches? Is it helpful for you?
Well, I did it last year and I thought it was a bit stressful, but this year, it’s a lot more fun.
Does it make you excited or nervous before a game? Can you telling anything different about yourself before a game?
I mean, like the first time it did, but now, I can’t say it really does. I get pretty excited every time. After you talk to them awhile, it helps.
What’s the one thing that you hope college coaches walk away thinking about you? “Oh, that kid’s a…?"
That I’m one of the best players out there, that I’m a good person, and stuff like that.
I read in an article that your high school coach, Tom Diener, who had coached two other NBA players in high school, felt that you were the best player that he’s ever coached.
Well, that’s high praise. It’s great to hear stuff like that, but you know, you still have to keep heading to the gym and work hard.
I was wondering what went through your head when you heard that.
I just didn’t pay attention to it. I just tried to work hard. (laughs)
Do you have any visits planned?
I don’t have any plans, but I’ll probably take some visits later in August.
Do you have a favorite at this point?
No, no favorites at this point.
For you, what is the difference between AAU basketball and high school?
In AAU, there’s a higher level of competition than in my high school. We’re playing with better players in AAU. Everyone plays harder. We get to travel a lot more.
This year, in high school, will you be traveling a lot? Going to showcases or tournaments?
Oh, no, we pretty much stay in the same state.
I was hoping that some people could see you play around the country. What are your goals for next season?
In high school, I’d like for us to be state champs.
Do you have a good shot?
We have a shot. We were only like two games away this year and when I was a freshman. The first year we got really close, so I’d really like to be state champs. I think eventually we will.
Well, with you there, I’m sure you’ve got a great chance. Where do you feel comfortable shooting the ball?
I feel pretty much comfortable shooting anywhere middle and in.
Like 15 feet and in?
Yeah, I like to attack. I like to shoot pretty close in. I can shoot three’s a lot, but, you know, I guess I prefer to get a better shot.
Your handle seems to be something you worked a lot on. What has been the key and do you feel a noticeable improvement?
Oh, yeah, I work on my handle a lot. I mean, I don’t have to dribble a lot in AAU because I’ve got two good ball handlers, I just try to give it to them and go to my spot. Like bang bang. But yeah, I work on my handle a lot.
One of your strengths is defensive versatility. Which position do you feel comfortable defending?
I think I can pretty much defend anybody. (laughs) Well, I mean, 2 and up.
Yeah, I think 2, 3, and 4. What would be some people who will be important whenever you do decide?
My parents, my parents are most of the influence. A couple of my AAU coaches. Mostly, my parents.
Did your parents play basketball at all?
My dad played a little bit.
I’m not sure, I think it was like NAIA school. I can’t even think of it.
Does he work with you a lot?
He worked with me when I was smaller, but not right now.
Do you have a trainer?
Actually, I work out with my AAU coaches. I’ve been lifting a lot lately.
Yeah, it looks like that in the upper body. You’re looking a little stronger. What’s your current height and weight?
And what would you like to be?
I’m trying to get to at least 205.
One thing that comes up with you a lot is versatility.
Yeah, I’m pretty versatile. I can play a lot of positions and I can score from a lot of positions. I would say I’m pretty versatile.
Lastly, for an audience who has never seen you play before, how would you describe your game?