Tag Archives: Duke Basketball

Duke is Set to Take on ACC Schedule

After a long break, the Duke men's basketball team returns to the court this Saturday evening to take on Clemson in both teams ACC opener.  Duke will do so ranked as the number one team in America after going 11-1 during the non-conference portion of the schedule.

During the seasons opening stretch, the Blue Devils won a memorable game over Kentucky in dominant fashion in.  They would be humbled against Gonzaga but also gathered wins over solid teams in Auburn, Indiana and Texas Tech.

The Blue Devils have also become must-see basketball where they dominate the likes of the ESPN airwaves with the teams' exploits.  While R.J. Barrett is the teams alpha player, it is Zion Williamson that has set the world on fire.

Williamson has made it clear that no analysts can properly describe his game to date,  The young phenoms game is more than powerful dunks.  He has shown an uncanny potential to flourish in any on the court situation and his every move is watched.

Duke has also developed quite nicely around their two high scoring stars.  Tre Jones has run the point guard position effectively and his defense often starts the machine and its roll.

Cam Reddish has struggled at times, but his potential points to more consistent play and aggressiveness during ACC play.  But when the four freshmen play together, they are at times unbeatable.

In the preseason, most analysts felt Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden would share the fifth starting spot.  Both of these players have shown flashes of solid play.  An injury set DeLaurier back a bit and Bolden has had some moments.

The most surprising contributor to date has been Jack White.  In fact, he is currently the fifth man due to his ability to fit in seamlessly.  White is flourishing in his captain's role on and off the court.

Duke has also been able to develop more depth in the way of Alex O'Connell.  A timely three-pointer here and there but more importantly being better on defense has made him an option.

The team will now face the gauntlet known as the ACC schedule.  And the league is good.  Florida State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Virginia Tech are all off to solid starts and each is ranked.

The Duke staff will now have to prepare the team in a short time between games until the NCAA Tournament ends.

By all accounts, the time off has been beneficial for the players before the ACC slate,  It is the last time they can really catch their breath and reflect on how things have gone to date.   Those lessons learned can help prepare them for the stretch run.

From this point forward, the games and lessons come quickly.  In a sense, Duke is ahead of the curve with concern to chemistry,  This seasons teams core was set early on and there is little to no controversy to date.

It will be important for the collective team to learn in the coming battles, who takes shots and when in close contests.   When it is time to leak out into the passing lanes instead of leaving others open and so and much more.  Those are the lessons which will help guide them to their goal of getting to the Final Four.

One thing we know for certain.  That being that the hype will not go away.  During ACC play, Duke will have to learn to deal with expectations and how hard it is to bring your A game every night.  In short, they will get every teams best shot.

While this team has yet to achieve anything in the way of championships, they surely have the potential to be special.  This team has the air of those special teams past but it will take continued work and some luck for the ultimate success.

It will surely be fun for the Duke fan base to watch as the season unfolds with what has become one of the more likable teams in memory.  And that is saying a lot for Duke fans love all their teams.

Strap yourself in for what is now the greatest show in college basketball.  But there will be some bumps along the way and how the team deals with them will ultimately decide if they become truly special in the way of title memories.

 

 

Duke Rips Stetson 113-49

The Duke Blue Devils pushed their season record to 7-1 with a 113-49 win over Stetson.  Duke came into the game as a 43 point favorite and the team did not disappoint.  In fact, Duke cleared their bench at the eleven-minute mark in the second half with a 90-31 lead.

The Blue Devils were paced in scoring by RJ Barrett who scored 26 points including back to back dunks with the second one coming off a steal.  Cam Reddish knocked down four three-point shots to tally 23 points in just twenty-two minutes of play.  Zion Williamson added 17 points in a mere eighteen minutes of play.

After a sluggish start, Javin DeLaurier and seldom used Jordan Goldwire sparked Duke off the bench who added 15 points between them.  Duke also had double-figure scorers in Justin Robinson and Alex O'Connell who had 13 points apiece.

Duke shared the ball well with 29 assists.  Duke had 19 steals in the contest as well and a 43-7 edge in bench player scoring.  The subs had a 10-0 run to end the game.  To give one an idea of how long the bench played, Alex O'Connell led his team in minutes played.

The Blue Devils scored 41 points off Stetson turnovers.   Duke held a 58-24 edge in the paint as well.

Coach K also gave his condolences to George Bush who passed away today.  He met Bush through announcer Jim Nance and had the former president to Cameron for games in the past.  Bush also attended the last Duke national title.

The win was the 143rd consecutive non-conference win in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Duke will return to Coach K Court on December 5th to take on Hartford.

 

Duke Rolls Past Eastern Michigan

The Duke Blue Devils moved to -3-0 on the season with an 84-46 victory over Eastern Michigan in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke used a 20-4  run, one of many, over the last eight minutes in the half to go up 48 to 13 at the break.

The Blue Devils defense was suffocating holding the visitors to  21% shooting from the field in the first half.

Duke continued their effort into the second half.  The lopsided affair allowed Duke to play several players.

Zion Williamson led Duke with 21 points while his freshman teammate R.J. Barret added 20.

Duke captains Javin DeLaurier and Jack White added 10 points apiece.  Both of them also pulled down 6 rebounds each.

Duke hustled early on in this game playing great defense along the way.

Cam Reddish went out of the game early and did not return but will be okay and was held out as a precaution per Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The win for Duke was their 141st straight against no conference opponents in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke will take on San Diego State in the Maui Invitational on November 19th.  The team will leave Friday morning for Hawaii where they will play three consecutive days.

Should Duke win the first game they may face top ten foes Auburn and Gonzaga, two of the nations better teams.

The Duke Basketball Season is Upon Us

Well, the Duke Basketball season is upon us and what a way to open things up.  The Blue Devils will face off with the Kentucky Wildcats tomorrow evening in Indianapolis, IN in a matchup of college hoops heavyweights.  So, what are my thoughts going into the game?

Win or lose, it will be a learning experience

Mike Krzyzewski has one of the youngest teams he's ever coached.  While this group is immensely talented, they still start four new freshmen,  This game will be a measuring stick for the program for Krzyzewski has in no way implemented his full hand yet with concern to how this team will look in March.  This is by no means a must-win game for either team.  It is instead, a game for college basketball fans around the world to celebrate the tip-off to another season.  And, yes, the winner will stay atop the polls for sure, but the loser will not fall too far in the rankings.

What are the potential weaknesses for Duke this season?

If you watched the ESPN special eight-part series on Duke Basketball, you will see Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski addressing his team.  One of the things thee things he mentioned was that players needed to be better three-point shooters via their approach.  Duke does not have a lot of known three-point artists on this years team, so many of the players are getting accustomed to adding the shot to their resume,  This, in turn, will reflect on two other areas of play in rebounding the ball and knocking down free throws.  Duke is not as big up front and could go small, so that means all players will need to hit the boards and they could struggle against teams like Kentucky which have big, fully grown men in their frontcourt.  As for free throw shooting, Duke should get to the line often, so struggling in any of the three aforementioned areas could haunt them at some point of the season,

What are the potential strengths

The defense will be improved where Krzyzewski has shown he will go man to man much more often.  Duke is long and athletic and can get in passing lanes while pressuring the ball.   This team will run.  When the breaks are there, Duke will be off and running.  Duke will also benefit from knowing their roles and or chemistry this season.   asked veteran players in the locker room about this and they said this team is together on and off the court.  I suppose we have to mention how ridiculously good the freshman class is as well.  R.J. Barrett is an alpha dogs, alpha dog.  Zion Williamson is a pleasure to watch skywalk, Cam Reddish knocking down threes is nice too.  And all three can pass the ball as can true PG Tre Jones.  Duke will benefit greatly from having a more traditional point this season in their positionless scheme.

How can Duke beat Kentucky

It will not be easy for Duke to beat Kentucky in that the Wildcats are a solid nine players deep and they have some grown men in their lineup.  You just cannot concentrate on any one player for there is a danger at each position on the court.   One thing which Duke needs to do is stay out of foul trouble early and the whole game for that matter.  Duke loses a lot of talent when they go to their bench, but there are players capable of quality minutes there and they need to step up against the Cats.  If those two things happen, Duke will be tight their in what should be a tense and close game before the final buzzer sounds.

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Early season test will prepare Duke for the ACC and March

Duke has a very challenging early season schedule which includes tomorrow evenings opener against Kentucky.  The Blue Devils will face stiff competition in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational where they can run into highly ranked Auburn and Gonzaga, not to mention Arizona.  Even the opener against San Diego State is tough.  Duke will take on one of the most underrated teams in the nation when they face Indiana in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge and mark my words, the Hoosiers will have move up the polls by then.  These games along with a brutal ACC schedule and a late-season contest with St. Johns, where Mike Cragg now resides as the AD will have them a seasoned bunch before March Madness.

Who do I think will be good in the ACC this season?

The league is loaded.  I voted for Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, and Syracuse in no particular order in the top four and have Virginia Tech, Florida State close behind.  N.C. State will be better than some think, never sleep on Miami.  Clemson will be solid and Notre Dame has an interesting roster.    I went a little outside the box and voted Tyus Battle preseason ACC POY and R.J. Barrett as the top freshman.  I also place both Barrett and Zion Williamson on the first team.  It is a safe bet that Duke will have no less than three newcomers on the ACC All-Freshman team at seasons end.

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What is Al Featherstons take?

Al thinks this years team can reach the Final Four but that a lot has to go right.  He felt Marques Bolden contributing solid minutes is a major key to success as is bench development of the seventh man in crunch time.  I watched all of the games in Canada with Al before he passed on this morning and he was excited to see what the team would look like with Cam Reddish and Tre Jones in the lineup.  He scanned over the last exhibitions games box score fervently before saying, they're going to be pretty damn good.  I will miss talking Duke history with Al and was honored he valued my opinion.  I had hoped he'd make it through what may be a special season.

BDN Premium Special Still Available

We are still offering a special rate for new or former Blue Devil Nation premium subscribers of 60 bucks for one year.  I will be talking recruiting happenings later this week while offering up behind the scenes tidbits.

 

Remembering My Pal, Al Featherston

Al Featherston passed on today, Monday, 11-5-2018.

My longtime friend, Al Featherston died Monday, Nov. 5th, 2018 at Duke Hospital after a long illness.  Many of you know that Al has been a sportswriter for more than five decades and has authored books on both history and ACC sports.

Al attended Duke University and contributed to the ACC Sports Journal, Basketball Times, Blue Ribbon Yearbooks, Duke Basketball Report, GoDuke.com and many other outlets over the years.  He spent a great portion of his career writing for the Durham Morning Herald and the Durham Herald Sun as well.

He battled his illness until the end, but never recovered well from elective heart surgery.  He was also diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.  Being a long time New York Yankees fanatic, Al was able to go out like one of his favorites.

I had a lot of history with Al, which included seeing Duke win a National Championship together.  Having seen a lot of Duke athletics in my time, he enjoyed someone to talk history with,

Towards the end, another good friend of Al's named Ed McIntyre was able to help get our pal into a retirement home.  I would take Al to appointments and run errands while going over on Saturdays to watch college football games.

Make no mistake, Al loved his sports and we watched the Duke away football games together right up until his passing.  Al was staying on a strict diet and got down to 212 pounds, but he liked that I would bring something special for him for football Saturday,

We thought we'd lost Al about two weeks ago,  On a Monday, following the win over Georgia Tech, Al went back into the hospital never to come out,  He would also lose conscience for about five days.

Thankfully, Al came out of that and just in time to inform his sister Libby who was up from Southport on his final wishes.  He was able to get some closure and I can tell you after conversing with him that he was still very sharp minded and at peace with what was to come.

So, as soon as I get to his room, Al spots the box score to the Duke Basketball exhibition game in my hand.  Before he can say hello, he is reaching for it while asking me about Marques Bolden.

Yep, his faculties were intact and he wasted little time in wanting to talk about that game and the Duke loss to Pitt in football which he had just watched.

I spent the better part of three hours with Al the last time I saw him.  I filled him in on what he missed while being out and he sponged it all in while wanting to continue to talk about this years basketball team.

Al was very excited about tomorrows Duke matchup with Kentucky and the Duke-UNC football game coming up this weekend.  He mentioned that he was sad that he would miss this basketball season with this year's talented team, but we had all hoped he could bounce out of his issues and at least make it through this week.

I was saddened to hear the news of his moving on from his sister this morning whom I have been able to get to know through the process.  I contracted a virus and could not make it back to see Al beyond that last conversation.

But in the end, I realized I had a great conversation with him that day and it was a normal exchange which I think he liked.  I will miss my friend greatly and talking Duke Athletics, ACC sports in general and appreciate the many memories with him by my side.

Al wanted his sportswriter friends and acquaintances to know he was thinking about them.  He was in his favorite spot in the world on press row where he enjoyed socializing.  Towards the end, the plan was for him to dictate some messages to me but time would not allow for that.  But, again, he was thinking of many of you.

Whether you are a sportswriter, work at Duke Athletics or in the ACC offices in Greensboro, just know Al was appreciative of the relationships.

Al was the son of Louis Alywn Featherston Sr. and Mary Norfleet Vick Featherston.  He is survived by his sister, Elizabeth "Libby" Featherston if Southport, N.C.; and brothers, Mark Featherston of Caddilac, MI and Richard Featherston of Seymour, Conn.

The family plans a private cremation.  A celebration of Al's life will be announced at a future time. I will let you know of any further details and please pass this information on.

I appreciate your friendship Al, who last told me he was looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Duke Basketball Press Conference Tidbits

Duke Basketball tidbits - Reddish will not play in Canada.

Here are some highlights from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and players Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier and R.J. Barret before the teams trip to Canada.

Quick hits -

  • Marques Bolden said that the freshman are fundamentally sound and know how to do the little things already.
  • Bolden was asked about the transfer rumors a season ago and said it was never a true option for him.
  • Bolden said that much of his offseason work concentrated on his motor and eating habits.
  • Javin DeLaurier worked out with teammate Justin Robinson and his Dad David in the offseason where he took kickboxing lessons and also yoga while in San Antonio.
  • DeLaurier said his role was to lead as an upperclassman and that he joked with Bolden that they were the older guys now.  He joked that the freshman came up and asked if there were practices on Saturdays in which they laughed.
  • The freshman are especially close and work hard and are ready to listen according to DeLaurier.
  • R.J. Barrett said he was excited to return home with Duke and see his friends.
  • Barrett said he had worked on his outside game and hoped people backed off him in games.
  • Barrett said that a big part of his game was to make plays and that he could run the point if needed.
  • Barrett said he has achieved good things while in Canada and grew up watching Andrew Wiggins and that the younger generation now looks up to him.
  • Barrett said Javin was one of the hardest workers he has seen.
  • Barrett said that Krzyzewski just allows him to play and he was one of the funniest guys he knows.
  • Krzyzewski said he just wanted his players to play to their strengths without position worries.
  • Krzyzewski glowed when he talked about Zion Williamson calling him a great player and young man on and off the court.  He said his weight was proportioned to his body type and that he had good lateral quickness.