Tag Archives: Duke Basketball

Core Players And A Lot Of Possibilities For 2020-21 Duke Basketball

When trying to come up with which players will be in the court in crunch time for Duke next season, I keep coming up with four players. My current feeling is that Duke will want true freshman Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, and returnees Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore Jr. on the court most of the time.

We should see a vast improvement from Hurt and Moore, both of whom will be depended upon to lead via knowing the Blue Devils system of doing things. Ideally, you want some older players in the lineup but Duke will be a pretty young team, save two key backups, if you can call them that, in Jordan Goldwire and Joey Baker.

Jalen Johnson is a sure bet one and done talent and Duke will allow him plenty of freedom to grow his game while in Durham. Jeremy Roach will be handed the keys to point guard duties early on as well.

So, I see these four as starters for most of the season which begs the question, who will the fifth starter be? Well, to start, Duke will have a lot of players fill that role and it will come down to how players are working in practice and matchups.

When Duke goes big, they can look to freshman Mark Williams and to a lesser degree Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman. The staff will also have incoming Columbia transfer Patrick Tape in the mix in the frontcourt. I can see all of these players getting a start and when practice resumes, we will have an idea of who is adjusting to perceived roles.

As for the freshman, Brakefield and Coleman each bring their skillset to the mix. Brakefield is a solid offensive player who can stretch the floor and Coleman is a versatile hard worker around the paint. Williams can be a basket protector and a force in the paint and has continuously improved in the past two years.

But Duke can go smaller as well and this is where I enter another freshman D.J. Steward into the mix. He is a potentially prolific scorer and talented enough to fill that fifth spot. In fact, when I took a poll of the few people I trust, he seemed to be what most considered the best bet for the fifth starting spot.

But, hold on a minute. This is where we talk about Jordan Goldwire. Talk about a hard worker that will get after you defensively. And then there is Joey Baker who is always a three-point threat and a player who can do much more than that.

This is where I tell you that while I have penciled in some perceived starters, it does not mean they will have to play ironman minutes. In fact, there are many lineup possibilities.

Duke can go small and pressure the heck out of teams with Roach, Steward, Goldwire, Moore, and a big. Or they can try and match up with the likes of bigger teams with Williams, Johnson, and Hurt with some help from Tape.

The Blue Devils have tweeners as well to insert into the mix, so at least early in the season, Duke will be able to go as deep as they did a season ago with concern to their lineups. I will go out on a limb and predict up to ten players will get a start at some point in the coming season.

While Duke will be young, they will be deep again this season. The key will be to get back on campus and get accustomed to one another as we all await positive news on the virus which has yet to clear.

Also, keep in mind this is my early take on Duke hoops in 2020-21 and it will change as we get closer to the season. But for now, this is a gauge on what we might expect.

I will be discussing other aspects and possibilities concerning Duke Basketball as we tie several articles in as an early bird preview in the coming days where we'll answer a lot of team questions. And speaking of questions, send any into our bluedevilnation@twitter feed with the hashtag #AskBDN and we will address the best of them.

What Could Have Been and What Was for Duke Basketball

The dust has finally settled on the 2019-20 basketball season and it is now time to reflect on what could have been. As some in the media, I took the trip up to Greensboro for the ACC Tournament and took my seat at courtside as I watched the unusual situation unfold.

It was surreal seeing just the bands from Clemson and Florida State making noise where no fans were in the stands. There were cheerleaders, essential coliseum personnel, some media members, and television crews as Clemson and Florida State took to the court to warm up.

Duke and N.C. State was to have played next, so I was dug in with my laptop ready to cover something like we had never witnessed. I was wondering which parent might make a name for themselves in support of their team for those who stood out would be getting plenty of camera time.

For a brief moment, it appeared the games would go on, but there was a problem, you see. That being something called the Coronavirus and it was at the forefront of everyone's mind, even fanatical fanbases desperate for life to go on as normal.

I could not help but think Duke did not get a good draw in the tournament. The Blue Devils would have likely gotten past the Wolfpack, but it would not have been easy. The draw came from finishing fourth in the standings and it was hard not to think about the collapse in Winston Salem, for a win against a so-so Wake Forest team would have put the Duke in the top spot.

There was also a late-season loss by a two points at Virginia which was costly as well, These two games kept Duke from winning the regular season.

So, when it became evident that the long-awaited ACC Tournament return to Greensboro was about to be canceled there was still not ample enough evidence that the season would end. I mean, no season had since the inception of the NCAA Tournament.

As it became clear that we had seen the last dribble of the ball this past season, you could not help but wonder many things. As Florida State was awarded the ACC Tournament Championship trophy in a way that was highly awkward, it just felt like Duke should have been there.

Yes, one could argue they stole a win at Chapel Hill over North Carolina but had Mike Krzyzewski known the season would end as it did, perhaps he would have coached a little differently.

While this may seem a controversial statement, some coaches are looking to teach lessons during the season. I am not saying Duke did not want to win those close or critical losses, but I am saying the staff never thought the win over North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium would be the last game the team would play.

Some may have seen Duke collapsing a bit after the losses to Virginia and Wake Forest in the regular season, but I saw it as ongoing lessons for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. And I think this team was better built for the tournament than some think.

We will never know for sure how things may have fared, but the team had a solid year with some memorable wins. They owned a win over Kansas the nation's top-ranked team and they had a veteran point guard in Tre Jones ready to go for what would have been the sixth national championship.

Perhaps the Blue Devils would have hoisted the ACC Championship Trophy had the games been played, but the Seminoles had a much easier road to do so. So I am thinking the team was better built for the NCAA's and like many, I wanted to see how it played out.

Duke showed they could be caught off guard in some losses this past season, but the Blue Devils could have beaten any team on a given day. Trust me, it is all about matchups in the big tournament and so we will never know how things would fare, but the feeling here is that Duke would have gained some more wins and been a tough out for anyone they faced.

Duke had a good locker room this past season. Their players represented the brotherhood well. They were a likable bunch of young men where each brought something to the table.

Since my last article, Duke has seen Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., and Cassius Stanley all enter the NBA Draft. It was fun watching those players.

Tre Jones returned to Duke to win a title. It is painful for many he never got that chance. But people will fondly remember what he and his brother Tyus, did for the program.

Vernon Carey Jr. was evidence that Duke does develop big men and he had a stellar season. He is a very underrated player going into the draft and will likely land with a winning team per source.

Cassius Stanley showed off some serious athleticism which will help him achieve his goals at the next level. Duke proved they do as well with west coast talent as any other part of the country.

Duke also says goodbye to Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, and Justin Robinson. These three young men as all destined for some great things in life.

So, if you haven't guessed yet, this is me closing the door on the 2019-20 season. It was not easy to do so for many reasons, but anyone reading this article likely lives for the basketball season and when it is cut short, there is a part of us seemingly missing,

While many are still dealing with the outbreak which has forever changed our lives, we still covet the constant success that has defined Duke Basketball.

A popular tagline is that "Duke Basketball Never Stops." While that statement has been challenged, it is clear to see via social media that the Brotherhood is still active.

I am a glass half full type. So, I think we will see the Blue Devils soon enough and the staff is hard at work even from home preparing for another season. Heck, they are recruiting for much more than next season, so it is time to start talking about that and in the coming days, Blue Devil Nation will start to cover what is to come next in our own way,

So, let us remember that amazing putback by Wendell Moore Jr. one last time But it is time to make some new memories and move on.

Duke Up to 6th in A.P. Poll

The new A.P. poll was released just moments ago and the Duke Blue Devils move up to

The Blue Devils are currently riding a seven-game winning streak including a recent blowout win over Notre Dame.

Duke returns to the court this Wednesday to take on N.C. State in Raleigh, N.C. before taking on Virginia Tech at home on Saturday.

This is the 40th consecutive week Duke has been ranked as one of the nation's top 10 teams which is the second-longest streak.

The Blue Devils closed the gap to within 9 points from Dayton. Duke is 3-1 vs Top 25 teams, while Dayton is 0-1. The ACC has 14 Top 25 wins while the Flyer's conference has a single top 25 win on the whole, but I suppose that does not matter.

No knock on Dayton, they are a solid team, but I see a much better resume from the team in Durham.

While polls are subjective, considering Duke has a win over Kansas and the aforementioned stats make for curious questions with concern to the criteria some voters are looking for.

Ever since Duke was upset by Stephen F. Austin there seems to be a hesitance to move them forward a bit, nevermind there current seven-game winning streak. For what it is worth, the Lumberjacks are now the 33rd team in the top 25 voting. they're atop their league and a tournament lock.

Duke is also 6th in the new coaches poll, just 7 points shy of 5th this week. The top 10 in each poll are identical.

Duke has been ranked in the top 25 in 79 consecutive polls.

1 - Baylor

2 - Gonzaga

3 - Kansas

4- San Diego State

5 - Dayton

6 - Duke

7 - Maryland

8 - Florida State

9 - Penn State

10 - Kentucky

11 - Louisville

12 - Villanova

5 Questions With Jordan Goldwire

One of the reasons the Duke Blue Devils came away with a 79-67 win over Pitt was a career-high scoring night from Jordan Goldwire. The Blue Devil guard scored 13 points including three made three-pointers in the first half.

You knocked down three big three-pointers in the first half. What are your thoughts on that?

They [Pitt] were giving me the shot, so I just tried to step in and shoot the ball with confidence and my teammates told me to keep shooting and it felt good to see them going in.

You have made yourself into a player and a key contributor. What did you do in the offseason to help accomplish that?

I don't think it is anything special I did. I have always been in the gym a lot in the summer, so I mean, it was just a matter of getting the confidence

Your teammates seem to have confidence in you. How does that make you feel?

It feels good to know. As you said, the hard work I have been doing is paying off and I am just happy to help get the win.

You had a career-high in scoring, who will be the first people yo text?

My parents and friends.

What will you work on the rest of the season?

I want to keep growing as a player, leader, defender and just keep adding different things to my game. That's what I want to do to help my team and continue to win,

Duke Seeks Continued Growth vs Miami

The Duke Blue Devils (2-0 ACC, 12-1 overall) ended 2019 with a dominating victory over Boston College and now face Miami (1-1 ACC, 9-3 overall) in their first test of the new year. The Hurricanes will sell out their arena for the premiere game on their conference home slate against Duke. And that means added emotion for a Hurricanes team which comes into the contest with a five-game winning streak.

In their last few contests where the Hurricanes have secured wins over Clemson and Illinois on the road; Miami seems to have found their comfort zone with their rotation.

As for the Blue Devils, Duke is on a six-game winning streak and sits at the #2 ranked slot in both polls. In short, Duke is getting better as they constantly stir the pot with their own rotation before the ACC schedule to come.

This is just the second true road ACC game for the young Duke cast and that means we will see how they react to an always hostile home crowd whenever they wear the visiting uniform.

Other than consistent contributors, Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones, Duke has had a lot of different players step up each night. Thankfully, the Blue Devils have a deep roster and they are making this situation a strength.

Meanwhile, Miami is led by three guards who all average 15 ppg in Chris Lykes, Kameron McGusty and Dejan Vasiljevic. The emergence of two frontcourt players in Sam Wardeenberg and Rodney Miller Jr. balances out the starters and Keth Stone is a solid frontcourt contributor off the bench,

Miami will test Duke by driving the ball to the hoop and when they kick the ball out, they have solid three-point shooters. In fact, every player but Miller in their starting lineup is a threat from the three-point stripe.

The Hurricanes will also play nine players against the Blue Devils. so the Duke bench play will loom large in this game as well. It almost never fails, that one of the better Duke players on a given night will come off the bench. The reason for that is there is not major separation from competing players at this time of the season.

Duke will hope that Matthew Hurt can build off his career-high in their win over Boston College. Right now, Hurt and his other teammates seek consistency with their play.

The Blue Devils showed what they can do when hitting the three-point shot in their last outing, but all games are different. Miami will provide another test for Duke and they are better than the Eagles.

What we will watch for is Duke to continue to play good defense against a guard-heavy team. The Blue Devils have struggled a bit with teams who are physical with their drives and Miami will test Duke that area of the game.

This will also likely be a contest where the Duke wing players need to be at their best. The play of guys like Cassius Stanley, Wendell Moore and Jordan Goldwire on both ends of the floor will be critical to success.

The Blue Devils could use some continued scoring punch out of Alex O'Connell and Joey Baker as well. When just one of these guys steps up on the offensive end, it has been good for the Blue Devils winning effort.

Duke cannot afford to get caught with a lack of focus for this game could prove tougher than many think. What the staff and fans hope to see is continued growth as the season moves into ACC play.

Tidbits — Duke-Virginia Tech

Hokies tough at home

It may not seem like it but the Virginia Tech Hokies have defeated Duke the last three trips to Blacksburg. A wall of students in one endzone will bring their A-game as Duke plays their second true road game of the young season. And let's not forget that Duke won by a mere basket in last year's NCAA Tournament over their conference foe.

Get to Know Nolley

Lander Nolley II is a scoring guard which stands 6-7 and is averaging 20 ppg. He is a redshirt freshman, meaning he is an older player and destined for getting some votes for not only All ACC but is in the running for freshmen of the year.

Hokies are Guard Heavy

Virginia Tech shocked Michigan State and whipped Clemson in Littlejohn to open the season. What you will see in their team is a guard-heavy group of players who like to spread the court and relocate the ball quickly. They can also throw out a good press. Virginia Tech has a nine-player rotation and seven of the nine are guards.

Feed Carey

Vernon Carey Jr. has had a fabulous start to the season. Everyone should know he is a lottery pick by now in next year's NBA Draft. Duke should be able to post him up often against a team that boasts two frontcourt players which stand 6-5 P.J. Horne and 6-10 Jonathan Kabongo who is averaging just ten minutes per game, Vernon Carey is tied for the nation's lead with seven double-doubles to date.

Hokies Better Rested

In my humble opinion how these teams come out of the gate or at games start will dictate how this one goes. Virginia Tech has had a lot of time to prepare for Duke where they last played on November 27th. They will try to push the ball early on a Duke team coming off an emotional victory.

ACC Schedule is 20 Games This Season

A lot of fans are still unaware that the Atlantic Coast Conference has implemented a 20 game schedule this season. This means some interesting scheduling where Duke gets a single day off after their trip to UNC before taking on Florida State. There has never been a single day turnaround after the Duke-UNC regular-season series that I can remember. Duke has had little time to put the win over Michigan State to bed going into this game.

Final Thoughts

Duke has a nice long break after tonight's game where they return to the court on 12/19 against Wofford. Look for the Blue Devils to go all out knowing this. Cassius Stanley has not been ruled out of this game and seems to be ahead of schedule.

The Hokies are 6.5 underdogs per Vegas. A win for Duke tonight puts them in an eight-team tie for the ACC lead at 1-0. A loss puts them in a seven-way tie for last place.

Duke needs a win to keep its A.P. top ten rated streak alive. A victory would also push the team back towards the end of the top five in rankings which means very little in early December yet is still the desired result.