Tag Archives: Duke Basketball

Duke Basketball Rising

Duke Basketball is on the RIse - Duke Basketball Rising - Photo - BDN

The Associated Press college basketball top 25 poll was released today where Duke moved up seven spots to become the nations 5th ranked team.

As usual, the Duke haters questioned how the Blue Devils could make such a jump in the rankings.  And as always, the facts are right in front of them.

The Blue Devils won consecutive conference games over Virginia Tech and Clemson.  Both of these teams are NCAA Tournament bound and are considered consensus op 30  teams.  Meanwhile, almost every team ahead of Duke stumbled.

Duke won games via their much improved defense which is a sure sign that the team is improving and on the rise as the regular season winds down.

In the win over Virginia Tech, Duke unleashed a new version of their zone defense which caught the Hokies off guard.  And trust me, Virginia Tech is a good offensive team, so that lopsided win was a huge notch in the Blue Devils belt.

Duke then followed that win up with another grinding style win over Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum.  Considering the Blue Devils were the first team to defeat the Tigers at home this season while holding them to 57 points was impressive.

In the last two wins, Duke had held its formidable competition to just 54.5 ppg.  And that is a huge improvement from what was happening a few weeks ago.

These Blue Devils are also starting to play much better half court offense.  In fact, Krzyzewski and his staff knows to win games in March you will play a grinding style at times.

That grinding style which Duke has been good at of late grooms much-needed mental toughness.  This is especially the case with a team full of freshman who are asked to become older than their years by making wise on court decisions on every play.

And then there is the play of Duke's team captain, Grayson Allen.  In his last few games, Allen has looked like his old self.  After being in a bit of a slump, Allen is now vocally leading his teammates on both ends of the floor.

"In the last two years he has led us in assists each season, so he is accustomed to making passes.  He is much more mature as a player -- he's a smart player," stated Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

He was alluding to the fact that his team has now developed more individually and that opened the door back up to get the ball in Allen's hands.

Krzyzewski continued, "We are putting him now in charge of a more veteran group of freshman.  He is a lot better and it has helped Trevon too.  He can go out on the side and also play on top."

Allen flat-out kept Duke in the game against Clemson in the first half and his defense of late is has been outstanding.  Allen had 4 steals in the game against Clemson as did his teammate Trevon Duval.

Speaking of Duval, he had one of his better games of the season in his last outing  You may have also noticed that he played at the top of the zone in the win at Clemson.  This was a switch off with Allen who manned to top versus Virginia Tech.

The bottom line is that the zone is getting better or at least staying consistent.  Add that to Allens improvement and Duvals acceptance of a different role and it once again points to improvement.

The list of positives continues.  Duke has succeeded of late without the services of the likely ACC Player of the Year, Marvin Bagley III.  His absence has afforded Duke the chance to design other players roles.

Wendell Carter Jr. has learned top play tired during this stretch.  He will also benefit from the return of Bagley in that he can no longer be double teamed.

Duke has also seen its bench step up and give truly meaningful minutes.  Marques Bolden is logging good time and has become a respect shot blocker and a good finisher.

JavinDeLaurier grabbed 10 rebounds in his first collegiate start and has earned the praise of his head coach.  And Jack White and Alex O'Connell have both filled in admirably at times as well.

Duke has also been hitting their free throws of late and making the three-point shot where Gary Trent Jr. is always a threat.  Trent consistently puts up good stats at times plays mature beyond his years.

With the expected return of Marvin Bagley on the horizon, there is a bright future for Duke.  That is as long as he is able to return in time to take care of easing back into the new-found team chemistry.

There is no timetable on Bagley per Krzyzewski, but he is getting better.  "It is not day-to-day but in some respects it is.  He is moving and I will know more today,  He is getting better and we're going to make sure that he is completely good before we get into March," said Krzyzewski during his Monday press conference with the ACC.

Duke will take on Louisville and Syracuse in home games this week and the team has four regular season battles left.  The team has a golden opportunity to take care of business at home.

So, while Duke is certainly worthy of their rise in the rankings, they must take another step in the process.  That points to simple consistency and continued forty minute effort and communication.

If the Blue Devils can take it one game at a time, protect their home floor with wins, then once again, next week, they'll remain a team on the rise,

Ask BDN – Your Duke Basketball Questions Answered

#AskBDN

Each week we will conduct an #AskBDN feature during the season.  You can send in your questions with the aforementioned hashtag on the Blue Devil Nation twitter feed or in our Facebook group or page.

Well, I am not sure what you are watching on television, but he is constantly working the refs.  My vantage at the Duke games and most recently UNC game, allows me to see what most on television do not.  Over the years, he has become more calm but he can often be seen asking his players or assistants to talk with refs during timeouts.  If things keep going as they have of late, you may get your wish of a technical coming his way.

Well, you are right that a recent trend in losses to St. John's and UNC has reflected upon slow second half starts.  Some of that is momentum and the way they closed out the first half.  Duke allowed both St. John's and UNC to pull much closer in the final minutes of the first half by turning the ball over late and taking bad, contested or off balanced shots.  I am not sure what is happening in the locker room but Mike Krzyzewski himself has said the team is not always sponging what the coaches preach.  And if that is the case, it has to change and the team must concentrate for a full forty minutes. I think consistency is the Achilles heel of this team.  They have trouble staying focused.  Much of that is youth and some could be that the starters, whom are very young, play iron man minutes.

There is not a coach or program in the nation that would not take the talent Duke has gotten on the recruiting trail.  For the most part, Duke has only had three years or major one and done types on the roster.  That includes this season.  Now, one must realize that Duke has one title in three years and are still in the hunt this year.  I think many people get caught up in last years injury riddled disappointing year and the current teams funk.  And that frustration is understandable.  We all like to get to know out players better and have done that over the years.  Krzyzewski and the program has given fans a lot of great memories.  But like it or not, the one and done era has Duke at the top in the pre season every year without rebuilding.  And odds are at some point the practice could once again pay off.  Now, what we can all hope for is more 2015 continuity.  That team had a few more seasoned players than this years team mixed in with one and done players.  As for last season, not having a point guard really hurt Duke.  Hopefully, Trevon Duval can mature quickly this year and next season they pick up another Jones in Tre, brother of Tyus.

Maybe, a little.  The one good thing this season for Grayson Allen is that he has not found controversy.  The bad thing of late is his lack of aggression.  After starting the UNC game with 8 quick points, he disappeared beyond his assists and was not a scoring factor down the stretch.  I think some of his issues could be the immense pressure of being a captain on a team with four freshman starters.  Krzyzewski wants him to hunt his shot.  He has said so to the press and realizes Allen needs to be a scorer.  It is also worth mentioning that Allen is a great free throw shooter, so you, like me, could stand to see him go to the rack more trying to draw the foul.  Allen is at his best when he is more involved on the offensive end -- that's for sure.

I think Krzyzewski felt they had to be on the floor.  It is not like Duke has major depth.  FWIW, Marvin Bagley III is in great shape and hates to even come out of games  As for Allen, ideally a breather may have been good for him.  Krzyzewski plays the players he trusts in close games.  You are right about the bench being better for they in fact outscored UNC's bench in the most recent loss.  So, they did get some minutes for Alex O'Connell, Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier and Jack White.  Hopefully that will continue and I think we will see them all in the next game against Georgia Tech.

That is hard to predict.  At this time with Duke 19-5, I would say no.  But I also feel the team is capable of going on a run.  They need to get past Georgia Tech and then take care of business at home and they can close the season on a roll.  With a gun to my head, I think this will happen.  The 2015 team had great chemistry.  This team needs better chemistry.  The whole key is to start to play as a "fist," as Krzyzewski puts it.  So, far, there has been a loose finger or two in the mix in any games.  Right now, Duke just needs a win...their 20th win in order to right the ship.  It is not often a Duke team lose 3 of their last 4 games.  And another loss would be devastating.

Duke actually plays a lot of junk zones which are hard to recognize.  You say 3-2, I say 1-3-1.  The truth is we have seen more zone than we are used to already.  But as for the pick and rolls, that has been an issue and teams will continue to hurt Duke unless they rotate and or plug the gap.  As for Grayson, he can only play the role JJ and Luke did if the point guard position is playing well.  Way too many turnovers of late for Duke to get into their offense as it is intended.

It is so hard to get on the same page for freshman in one season.  Honestly, I am not sure fighting over the screens would help or create fouls.  Many have this concern (see question above) so it is a recognizable issue.  I think maybe the answer lies in rotation of players and trying to make player aware and ready to move quickly going forward.

Thanks for the questions and keep them coming each week.

Coach K Tidbits

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski briefly addressed the media today.  Here are  some tidbits from that Q & A.

-If there is one thing that bothered the Duke coach in not only the loss to St. Johns but in the games of late; that would be turnovers.  Krzyzewski said that many of the turnovers against St. Johns were unforced.  "A really good team doesn't need to beat itself and when you commit that many turnovers we beat ourselves."

-Krzyzewski would like to see a more aggressive Grayson Allen.  he wants him to shoot hunt his shot and to play aggressive. "He has done that for the most part but not all the time. He is trying to help his teammates but you have to be careful not to lose some of you."

-Krzyzewski said it is easy to see what his team has to do better and while he is not minimizing issues as a simple fix -- he feels hard work will get the team to where it needs to be,

-Krzyzewski praised UNC for still being a good rebounding team despite playing a smaller lineup.  "Thursdays game is not an end all.  It is a huge game but there will be another after that.  Their program and out program is built on more than one game."

-When asked of struggles of late, Krzyzewski said, "Nobody wants to be at their peak in February."

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The Morning After For Duke Basketball

Cameron was packed for a national showcase game. Pom-poms were handed out and the crowd was ready for a win. But the team fell short and must now learn from a tough lesson.

There was an NCAA type intensity in the Duke loss to Virginia yesterday.  It is true that the Blue Devils had the home advantage which makes the Virginia Cavaliers win even more impressive.

After the dust cleared Virginia moved to 20-1 on the season solidifying their ranking.  Their coach, Tony Bennett, said that his team knew exactly who they were as a team.  He inferred that his squad knew their roles and played as one on the court, not caring who takes the shots.

On the other side, Duke lost a game on Coach K Court in Cameron Indoor Stadium which is rare.  They pretty much allowed Virginia the regular season crown by not taking care of the business at hand.  That means, one goal is all but done -- that being the regular season ACC crown.

Unlike Virginia, Duke is a young team that is trying find their stride.  The Blue Devils, while good, are not playing like a well oiled machine just yet.  And that is a fact, despite a starting lineup that is playing exclusively together.

On one hand, it is still early in the season with ten regular season games left.  On the other hand, the staff needs to push the right buttons and start to see results and togetherness.  With injured players Marques Bolden about to enter the fray and Javin DeLaurier starting to get healthy, team chemistry will be a challenge.

That is the keyword, right there.  Chemistry.  For this team to make great things happen, it has to improve.  Yes, Virginia is the best defensive team in the nation.  But the 16 turnovers Duke committed in the game was far too many.

Countless times, Duke tried to pass the ball through defenders or they would passes were not properly anticipated.  Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have just five turnovers and shoot lights out from the free throw stripe.

The game plan to beat Virginia is to not beat yourself with turnovers and bad shot selection.  Missed front ends of one and ones helped doom the Blue Devils as did not playing smart when the game was on the line.  You must value every possession.

The Duke defense was not that bad.  In fact, the team, at times, looked great in that area.  But Virginia would find just enough spacing to launch some timely three pointers.  And this happened despite the fact that making their guards dribble or penetrate while limiting space is the way to go.

The Blue Devils looked dead in the water at the half.  And perhaps they dug too deep of a hole to climb out of.  But after a raucous comeback, where they took the lead came some untimely carelessness.

In short, the opportunities were there but the team could not execute well enough at crunch time for a win.  And that points to questions.  The main one being, can this team turn the corner in short time and play with more rhythm and better chemistry.

Maybe this is the way it will be with a young team. But Duke is immensely talented and capable, despite its youth.  Duke had dominate performances from Marvin Bagley III and Wendel Carter Jr. which felt wasted.   The teams guards were not consistent nor effective as a group, especially in some of the mental aspects og the game.

While there is no particular blame for the loss, there is concern with the back court.  Gary Trent seemed to get back to the way he was playing before the loss to N.C. State instead of allowing the game to come with him.

Despite leading the league in assists, Trevon Duval made a very untimely pass into the teeth of the Virginia defense late in the game.  It was a deflating turnover which was majorly risky.

As for Grayson Allen, he did not seem like himself in the loss.  Nor has he of late where his offensive output has been streaky  at best.  And in this game, his other stat lines were not making up for his sudden shooting woes.

Another thing which from my non coaching vantage seemed amiss, was that Duke allowed the Virginia defense to set up.  There were times towards the end of the game where the movement to take advantage of an unbalanced defense was not there.  And that had something to do with spacing and not putting game pressure on when you had numbers.

But credit Virginia.  They play a methodical and systematic style which causes players to doubt their instincts.  While Duke is the more talented team, Virginia was the most savvy group where they played older and wiser.

The good news is that there is time to get better for Duke.  The bad news is that the window closes each game out.  With March madness approaching the staff will need to see some better results.

At some point this team has to get on the same page and cut down on errors.  That potential efficiency can take this team far and maybe to the promised land.   But at this point in the season, as Mike Krzyzewski has said, they either will or they won't -- it is that simple.

The current reality is that Duke has little time to learn anything with Notre Dame visiting Cameron on Monday evening.  But perhaps the experience from top five showdown loss will spur them to a much needed win.

 

10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball Vol. IV

10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball - Trevon Duval (Val) Photo-Blue Devil Nation

Well, Duke got a much-needed road win over Pitt last evening.  Here are my 10 random thoughts on Duke Basketball going into the next game.

Put the win to bed quickly, get to bed quickly

The Blue Devils impressive  ACC road win over Pitt 87-52 cured many ills.  I will take a look back as my random thoughts progress, but the most important thing for Duke to do is put this game to bed.  Duke needs all the rest they can get before Saturdays high noon game with Wake Forest.  And just mere hours later, they will board a flight for Miami in a critical road match up.

That is why Duke played their depth

Come on.  You know it was fun to see Justin Robinson knocking down three pointers on his way to a career high.  Duke got major minutes from its bench players last evening and it was by design.  With games coming at a fast and furious pace, the Blue Devils need to rest their iron men starting rotation.  With injuries to Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier, Duke was able to steal some minutes and develop its bench against an even younger than they are Pitt team.  Those minutes will improve team camaraderie via involvement.  The team will benefit from strategic resting of players legs in certain games in the long haul.

Double-doubles are the norm for Bagley III

How ridiculously spoiled we are for now expecting a double-double from Marvin Bagley III each time out.  Last night he scored 16 points and pulled down 15 rebounds and he happens to lead the league in scoring and rebounding.  If you are counting, that was his 13th double-double which puts him one game shy of the record held by Jabari Parker and Gene Banks.  This young man is special.

Jabari Parker is set to return to the court for the Milwaukee Bucks in February.

Speaking of Jabari Parker

If you follow my Blue Devil Nation twitter feed, you saw where I retweeted video of former Duke player Jabari Parker moving well in the pre game for the Milwaukee Bucks.  Parker is expected to return to the Bucks before the NBA All Star Break.  Parker underwent his ACL surgery on Feb. 14, 2017, after tearing that ligament — for the second time in his career.

Vote Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram and other Duke players into the NBA AS game with some retweets

Staying on the NBA for a moment

How cool is it to see so many Mike Krzyzewski era Duke Blue Devils playing key roles in the league?  I must admit to being a bit of a Boston Celtics fan now that Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum are both starting and tearing it up.  But I like following Brandon Ingram and all the rest as well.  Back to my twitter feed, you can vote Blue Devils into All Star game considerations with retweets.  So, get at it!

Six double figure scorers

With every starter hitting double figure scoring and JRob's points off the bench -- Duke had six players in double figures for the first time this season.

Gary Trent Jr. had a sharp performance against Pitt.

I want to talk about Gary Trent Jr.

A shooter has to keep shooting even when their shot is off.  But there have been some games this season when Trent Jr. IMHO, may have taken too many shots.  We saw the best of Trent Jr. last evening where he allowed the game to come to him while getting other teammates involved.  He looked for his teammates first and that led to his career high in assists.  Trent then scored at will down the stretch after finding a balance or comfort zone.  And do not overlook his 2 of the 11 Duke steals.  He is a good defender capable of getting even better.

Don't overlook the positives

There has been a lot of talk about the Duke defense and for good reason.  Until last evening and in select other games they have not been very good in that area.  But don't overlook the positives with this team.  Duke leads the nation in scoring at 93.5 ppg.  Duke is 2nd in the nation in rebounding and close to the top in scoring margin of win.

And then there is Trevon Duval

It's Du-val.  Think Val Kilmer.  While many are figuring out how to pronounce his last name, Duval is quietly leading the ACC in assists.  What burning minds want to know is if that 3 of 5 from the three-point line was a mirage.  If he hits that shot at a 40% clip, his game would go through the roof.  Of course, he was just over 16% going into last evenings win over Pitt.

And then there is Wake the snake

Will Duke allow for Wake Forest to slither into this  game and challenge them in Cameron at high noon this Saturday?   Wake had a six game winning streak after a slow start to the season and they took UNC down to the wire in Chapel Hill.  They most recently lost to a good Virginia Tech team at home.  Hidden in the stat line from that game is the fact they outrebounded their opponent by ten and connected on nine three-point shots.  You cannot overlook them, but Duke certainly needs to come away from this game with a win.  And then go to bed.  Back to random thought number one here... Duke will fly all the way down south to Miami and be hit by the body shock of its warmer weather.  The team will have about 50 hours in between the end of the Wake post game meal and their next opponent.

Stay tuned for the next 10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball coming next Tuesday after the game with Miami.  One more thing, we are still doubling the time of premium memberships through January.  You can get two years for the price of one or a full year for the six month price.   Help support BlueDevilNation.Net by joining at this discounted rate --

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Duke Advances With Thrilling OT Comeback

Duke advances with thrilling comeback win over Texas in the PK80 Tournament in Portland, Oregon.

The Duke Blue Devils looked dead in the water when they were down 16 points to Texas with just over eleven minutes to go in the 2nd half.  But despite the teams youth and their captain in Grayson Allen fouling out, Duke (7-0) posted a thrilling 85-78 overtime victory over a game Texas (4-1) team.

"This was a magnificent victory because we were totally outplayed.  It looked like we were unprepared.  They were sharp and we were the worse we have been this season," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski referring to the teams 1st half effort and part of the 2nd as well.

And he was right.  Duke was down large at the half and nothing was going right.  They were simply being outplayed in pretty much every area of the game.  But there is a reason you hang in there until the end and Duke did that despite their youth and mounting stress.

"It was a very calm locker room.  The kids believed in what we were doing and each other," said Krzyzewski of how his players felt being down by 11 at the break.

Duke was beaten on the boards in the first half while turning the ball over multiple times where Texas had but a single turnover.  The Blue Devils would hold a 10 rebound advantage in the second half and that with a never say die attitude helped the team to a win.

As the game wore on, Duke was able to get the Longhorns in foul trouble.  Bamba fouled out on a key Gary Trent Jr. basket late in the game.  Texas would hang on for a bit longer but once Duke took the lead, they lost it just one more time down the stretch,

Duke would lose their captain, Grayson Allen on a charging call but the Blue Devils reached deep.  Allen ended the game with 12 points, all of which came in the second half.

The aforementioned Trent tallied 17 points while grabbing 8 rebounds.  His three-point play which fouled out Texas center Mohamed Bamba was one of the plays of the game.  Or should I say, one of many.

Wendell Carter Jr. added another double-double for Duke of 14 points and 11 rebounds.  He scored key baskets and pulled down rebounds with the game on the line.

The big difference maker for Duke was once again the play of its fabulous freshman Marvin Bagley III. "As they say in the NBA, he was a problem.. with a capital P.  You talk about a kid playing with all his heart -- he was terrific," said Krzyzewski.

Bagley would end the game with 34 points which ties a Duke record originally set by JJ Redick as the most points of any freshman newcomer in a single game.  He would also add 15 rebounds and Texas had no long-term answer for him.

Duke had five freshman out on the court in overtime, yet they found a way to win.  It wasn't easy for Texas deserves a lot of credit for a Herculean effort.

What the Blue Devils did in the process was to grow a little more as individuals and a team.  The Blue Devils found that winning effort in the end which sends  them to the Championship game against the winner of the Florida-Gonzaga game.

When Duke could have folded the tent and accepted a loss down 16, they instead gutted it out.  What we witnessed was an early season PK80 basketball match up which had a late season like tournament atmosphere.

It is only November and there are four months of basketball to be played before March.  But this Duke teams youngsters won on the road for the first time in a difficult situation.  They can do an even bigger thing with another victory against what will be an undefeated, ranked and older team this Sunday evening.