Tag Archives: Duke ACC Champions

Monday Musings – ACC Champs, NCAA, whipping the Tar Heels

BDN's Cheerleader of the week goes plural! The champs behind the champs! BDN Photo by Rick Crank

Duke won its third consecutive ACC Tournament Championship yesterday afternoon, but this one was sweeter than the previous two for they beat their arch rival North Carolina.  BDN takes a look back at the 75-58 win and a look forward to Charlotte this weekend in the return of Monday Musings.

Greensboro is the Blue Devils home away from home

Yes, I know that I called Greensboro Coliseum the Dean Dome West in tweets this weekend, but in reality, Greensboro has been good to the Blue Devils.  There is a distinct comfort zone for Krzyzewski and his troops when they play in the ‘Boro and the evidence is that they have won three straight titles there.  Despite a large North Carolina fan base, the Duke fans were quite loud and supportive, and I must say I came away impressed.  Of course, Duke led from the outset and they never trailed in the game and that took the light blue colored bunch out of the game in that they had little to cheer about.

Hit them square in the mouth

Duke took the fight to the Tar Heels from the opening buzzer, rolling out to a 8-0 lead and they never looked back.  This seemed to stun many in the audience but not so much me for this team is always focused when it comes to championship games.  You could almost see the worry in the Heels eyes as Duke came to play down low, where Mason and Miles Plumlee, teamed with Ryan Kelly for some very effective minutes.  There was no let down in this game for Duke who showed how important it is to have senior leadership this time of year.

Happy! Photo Rick Crank for BDN

Ministers of Defense

Duke held the vaunted North Carolina offense to 58 points and a mere 33.9% shooting from the field, not to mention causing 16 turnovers, many of those coming in the first half.  But it was Nolan Smith’s ability to take Kendall Marshall out of the game that stood out… or was it Kyle Singler’s defense on Harrison Barnes?  Barnes was coming off a 40 point effort and he looked the part of a first team All American in the second half of the season.  Barnes scored 16 points, but it was clear he was frustrated and many of his points came when Singler was not covering him.  Marshall didn’t sneak up on Duke like he did in Durham and he looked like a deer in headlights at times when the ACC Player of the Year shadowed his every move.   Marshall ended the game with 8 points and 4 assists, but his 5 turnovers stood out as well.

A Kyrie Irving Tease

As you know by now, Kyrie Irving warmed up with the Blue Devils before the UNC game and that set off a frenzy of speculation.  BDN conducted a video interview directly with Irving to get more information.  Our take is that Irving loves being on this team and he really wants to play, but he still needs to get in basketball shape and he admited that.  On the other hand, he said there was little risk in aggravating the same injured toe.  I feel he will get some spot minutes this weekend in order to re-acclimate him to the game. But Duke will be careful in keeping their chemistry in tact and handle him in a most careful manner.

copyright, Rick Crank and BDN

More Tar Heels!  Duke can’t get away from them

Once again, UNC and Duke will be in the same venue when the NCAA regionals kick off this weekend.  And again, that means that a lot of fans will be pulling against Duke in their home state.  Tickets to Charlotte will be at a premium for the most part, but there still may be time to buy tickets directly from the venue, so check it out quickly. Come to Charlotte and support the Blue Devils!

Duke seeded #1 in the West

Duke got the number one seed and in the process, will get stuck in Anaheim where there is not a large Duke alumni base.  Maybe I should say I may be stuck there.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been to and like Anaheim, California a lot, but it is brutal on BDN from a financial standpoint and travel time where you must adjust to another time zone.  And Texas a number four seed?  Are you kidding me?  Should Duke get out of Charlotte, the best four seed in the tournament will await them in the Sweet 16 game.

Team play essential

Duke needs continued contributions from what many refer to as role players.  Personally, I do not like that terminology and feel that the Blue Devils need everybody to show up each game.  The play of Andre Dawkins and Miles Plumlee was a shot in the arm for Duke in Greensboro and the coaches will look to continue to find ways to keep them involved.

"Get out of the way, I'm rollin!" Rick Crank for BDN

A word on Duke cutting down the nets

BDN has been underneath the basket during a lot of net trimming in the past couple of years.  While the ACC was obviously sweet, you could teel the Blue Devils had been there before.  A week before, UNC fans rushed the court in glee when the Tar Heels won the regular season, but their reaction was a tad somber when the scissors came out on Sunday.  It was clear that the Blue Devils loved the nets they were cutting but that it was not the ones they covet.  There was a focus, like this is nice, but we haven’t done anything yet.  Duke expected to win, they did and they want more.  Duke fans are all glows this morning, sporting their colors while trying to figure out where a certain shade of blue suddenly disappeared to.  In the end, Duke found itself in its rightful place, the ACC’s representative and the ACC Champions!

Join BDN as we continue to bring you the best coverage available during the NCAA title quest.  And check back today for we have a lot of videos on the cutting room floor to post as well as a sure to please photo gallery from yesterday’s game.  And you can support our efforts by joing Blue Devil Nation Premium for full site access.  Help us to continue to bring you our brand of coverage.  Go Duke!

Nolan Smith Interview (Edited)- Smith talks of coming back from injury and the NCAA’s

Duke is preparing for Binghamton
Duke is preparing for Binghamton

Nolan Smith sat down with the media today and talked about the upcoming NCAA Tournament -

Is that dunk on youtube.com yet?

I’m sure it is, everything gets on you tube.

How well do you know Kevin Broadus, the coach of Binghamton?

I know him very well, he recruited me when he was at Georgetown and he’s a family friend.  I have a good relationship with him.  My stepfather, Curtis Malone, knows him through recruiting.  They’ve known each other for a long time.  It’s going to be fun playing against him.  Hopefully, he’ll let me get off.

Do you know anything about the Binghamton players?

I know one of them, Emanuel Mayben and Rivera, I’ve played with him in AAU.

How does the team feel going into the tournament?  How do you feel?

Right now, I feel great, the team feels great and we are in the best shape we’ve been in a long time.  Coming off an ACC Championship … we’re very excited being champions going into the tournament.  We feel fresh, we’re ready to play.  Last year guys were getting worn down towards the end of the year, playing so hard throughout the season.  We did the same thing this year, but we did things differently as far as practice schedules, keeping guys fresh.

On sitting out during his injury and coming back -

After the concussion, I had to sit out  and it helped me.  I was able to sit back and watch the team practice and in three games.  I knew coming back where I fit in and what I could do to get my minutes back to where they were earlier.  Right now, I’m in a great place and hope to make a charge at the NCAA Tournament Championship.

On whether he knew he’d play thirty minutes in the ACC tournament on Saturday -

No, I didn’t.  I had a good practice the day before we left to go to Atlanta.  The first game I played 18 minutes, but they were good minutes.  I wasn’t that confident I was going to play that many minutes.  But Coach called my name and I was ready.   I got a little winded, but coach gave me the rest I needed and put me back in.  I felt great from there on.

Kyle seemed to get tired at the end of last season..

Oh yeah, definitely.  Kyle at the end of last year, he looked tired.  He’d be laying in the training room for hours after practice, but now he is back joking around and having fun.  He feels great, he’s playing great and everybody is rejuvenated now.  Our practices are great, we are going hard for an hour or an hour and thirty minutes and we get what we have to done.

Do you feel that the team learned from the Belmont game last year?

Um, yeah.  I’d say so.  We know that we can’t overlook anybody.  They played us down to the wire, so going into this game, we have to play great and play one game at a time as if it was our last one.

Scheyer has a new role as the PG.  What do you feel like your role will be going into the tournament?

My role going into this tournament is going to be to play defense and continue to drive the ball strong and make plays.  Be aggressive like I was this weekend and be aggressive when I play off the ball.  I still have some work to do at the point, but off the ball, I’m a lot more comfortable when I get the ball.  If I have the ball and Jon (Scheyer) is on the wing, I can try to make something at the point.  There are going to be different situations where I am going to have the ball and Jon is on the wing.  I’m getting a good feel of what needs to be done at the point guard spot, seeing how well Jon is running it.  It’s been a learning experience watching him play point.

On the team protecting the ball better with Scheyer at the point -

Not turning the ball over helps our offense.  We feel like we can get a good shot down the court every time.  And if we can do that, it’ll help our defense.  A lot of teams  don’t want to play against our set defense, so if we don’t turn the ball over we feel like we are going to score when we get a good look.

Duke players and staff comment about winning the ACC Championship

ACC Florida St Duke Basketball

There was no shortage of happiness as Duke won the ACC Championship yesterday.  An excited Gerald Henderson was pulled aside by a Raycom announcer, but his eyes were on his teammates the whole time.

The commentator realized this and told him to go and hang out with his ecstatic teammates who were posing for pictures with the trophy held high nearby.  As Duke fans gathered near court side to watch the team, some of the Blue Devils commented on the victory, including coaches.

“There’s nothing like it.  You play to win championships and I am just so proud of them.  These guys have grown up together and it’s just a great feeling to win,” said Chris Collins to Duke play ny play man Bob Harris when asked of his feeling of winning Duke’s 9th ACC Tournament Championship in the last 12 years.

Withthe Duke band blaring in the background and flashes from cameras all around, Nolan Smith said, “It was terrific!  We played our hearts out!  We’ve been working hard all season long and we deserve it. I’m so proud … I’m speeclhess right now.  Now I get my hat and my (championship) shirt.  Hanging a banner up there in Cameron means everything to me.”

ACC Florida St Duke BasketballKrzyzewski made sure that his grandsons and family shared in the moment, motioning them down to the court as he smiled and enjoyed the moment.  After all, Krzyzewski has encouraged the fans to live in the moment all season, and today, Duke fans all over the nation shared a smile with the living legend.

Lance Thomas said, “It (the ACC Championship) means the world to me.  It feels good to actually accomplish something big like this.  It’s only motivation to want more.  We needed everybody to contribute and this is something we are all going to share the rest of our lives.”

In the background, the nets began to come down as the Blue Devils in customary fashion took turns cutting pieces of the net.  Elliot Williams handed the scissors off to Gerald Henderson and a loud roar came from the Duke faithful.

Jon Scheyer then turned to Raycom and was asked if the team was playing it’s best.  “It’s playing really well,” said Scheyer who then continued, “I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves right now, but this championship is a good stepping stone going into the NCAA Tournament.

Before Scheyer could turn around, the voice of the Blue Devils was there for more comments.   “It was a great day and it feels really good to get this win.  We’re not going to be satisfied and hopefully we can use it as a stepping stone going into the NCAA Tournament. ”  Sounds familiar, huh?

“It feels great.  It was very important for us to get off to a good start in the first half.  We shot the ball very well.  We think we’re playing our best basketball and winning this will give us great momentum going into the NCAA Tournament.  We’ve just got to keep this thing going,” said Duke standout Kyle Singler.

Singlers play earned him All Tournament team honors with teammates Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson.

ACC Florida St Duke Basketball“It’s always good to be a champion and to be a part of this team now as a coach and have these guys go out there and play hard to get this championship means a lot to me just to be here and see them get it done,” said Duke’s newest assistant coach Nate James.

“We have such a good group of guys and they work so hard and they deserve this.  It feels good to win in Atlanta,” said the man known by some as Nate Dogg.

In the backdrop, Jon Scheyer who has just been named the tournaments most valuable player, stepped off the ladder after getting his cuts.  Scheyer naturally was the recipient of rousing applause.

Coach K then said, “It means a lot (ACC Champions).  I’ve been a part of some championships and a Duke player … it’s not a birthright that you get a championship.  If you don’t get one you will feel left out from the other guys and this group winning their first championship is huge.  Especially, to win three tough games like they did.”

Krzyzewksi then commented about the late season changes which proved successful.  “This is a new team.  We played about nine games with this lineup together.  To have these three games with their pressure is like going through a month and a half of the season.  So, it was really good.  I don’t think we’ll be tired, but we will be a little more hardened.”

Duke President Richard Brodhead chime in with the Duke Radio show as well, stating, “Today I was confident from beginning to end.  It was still a struggle, but we had a great effort out there.  There is a lot of basketball to be played and we’re all 0-0 at this point going into the next phase.  And you know what?  Duke is going to be right in the middle of this thing.  We have a great coach and a great staff and a tremendous group of young men.”

The team then made their way to the Duke locker room to be among themselves.  After spending some time there, it was off to the media room where the process of questions started again.

We are the Champions
We are the Champions

On a day where Duke made history and memories, the grind that is thrust upon student athletes probably didn’t seem so bad.  But in the back of their minds, they knew that the moment they were living in would have to be put on the back burner in the near future.

“Our kids played really hard for three days,” said Krzyzewski as the session began.  Indeed they did, Coach.  But give yourself a little credit too.  On a day when you became the sole owner of the fourth most wins in college basketball history it was clear for all that you and your staff coached hard for three days as well.

The combination of effort from the players and staff gave Duke fans a day in heaven and added to their long list of fond memories.  The bottom line is that the Duke Blue Devils are the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Champions.

A special thanks to Moore Productions for some of these quotes.

Every player played a role in Duke’s ACC Championship run

The Blue Devils came together as a team to win the 2009 ACC Championship
The Blue Devils came together as a team to win the 2009 ACC Championship

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.