Select players from the duke Men's Basketball team addressed the media before the ACC Tournament today in Durham and Blue Devil Nation was there to get the latest. Check out what Seth Currry had to say -
The week ahead is a big one for Duke Athletics as the Men's Basketball team takes on N.C. State on Thursday evening in Cameron Indoor Stadium before traveling to Boston College for another road game on Saturday. Meanwhile, there is a little thing happening on Wednesday called football signing day, when players from around the country will seal their college decisions by sending in their official letters of intent.
It was less than four weeks ago that N.C. State defeated a Ryan Kelly-less Duke team, knocking the Blue Devils from the ranks of the undefeated. Well, Duke will still be without the services of Kelly, but this time it is uncertain as to whether injured N.C. State point guard Lorenzo Brown will be available. The Pack is coming off a last second loss (without Brown) to ACC league leader Miami. They'll surely feel that their backs against the wall in Cameron, a site which more often than not brings out their best. It should be another tense game and while the Pack will be trying to right the ship, it is almost a must-win situation for Duke if they want to remain in the chase for the ACC regular season title. The Pack matches up better with Duke than do most conference teams, in that they have a solid one-two punch in the front court of C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell -- who is perhaps the most underappreciated star in the league. After Miami, it is a crowded ACC race, and the winner of this game will have a big leg up moving forward.
Speaking of Ryan Kelly
You have heard the old phrase "if I had a dime for every time ...." Well, if I had a dime for every time somebody asked me about when Kelly would return, I would have a hundred dollar bill. Ask ten people and you'll get ten different answers. As always, unfounded rumors abound on the web, as fans desperate for information increasingly believe just about anything they read, without bothering to check out the source's credentials. I can tell you that Kelly is getting closer to a return, and awhile back I told our members, "Think Boston College." Duke plays the Eagles this Saturday and again on February 24th and I feel Kelly will be back within that time frame. Anyhow, nobody is going to rush Kelly back. Once they get him back, the team needs him to remain on the court for the duration of the season, without relapses or setbacks. It's hard enough for a team to adjust its chemistry, its roles, and its rotations even once in mid-season. Two or three times? Much, much more difficult.
Duke will continue to hover ...
.... in the top five of the latest A.P. poll due out just after noon today. I'm not expecting a lot of movement in the polls where Duke is currently ranked fifth in the country, but fourth is not out of the question with Kansas losing. I think Michigan will not fall very far at all after their loss at Indiana. N.C. State will likely be just holding on to a spot in the polls, again, making them hungry to show the nation they can be consistent.
And just like that ....
There are only ten regular season games left on the schedule for Duke. Maybe it's the fact I am getting old, but man, has this season flown by. And Duke of course gets arch-rival North Carolina twice in those final ten games, on February 13th in Cameron and March 9th in Chapel Hill. This stretch of the season should prove more than a little interesting. And how many have March 2nd circled on their calendars, when Miami comes to town?
Seniors have just five more home games
Wow. There are just five more home games for Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly in the Duke uniform. I hope all the Crazies will give them a phenomenal send-off. I get to know the quality of the young men while covering the recruiting trail, and these are three really good guys. It'll be time to reflect soon enough.
Football Signing Day
Our members know that our football recruiting information is second to none on the web, and we'll certainly be in place when David Cutcliffe and company start to receive prospects' letters of intent. Look for BDN's Patrick Cacchio to have lots of great information and insights, and check back into our archives to read about the prospects who hope to continue to build Duke Football into a consistent winner.
A little bit about the site
We've been in the process of rethinking Blue Devil Nation a bit. We've been slow to move on some of the changes, but you will see them moving forward. We'll be introducing a couple of new writers who have the qualities we have been looking for, and recruiting is about to heat up around here again in a big way. After fielding several inquiries to join a group or network, we've decided to remain an independent site. That means we have to work a little harder. It may take until the off-season to get some things in place, but the goal is to continue to serve the Blue Devil Nation with solid, dependable information and full beat coverage. We have assembled a team of what we consider to be true experts in recruiting and coverage, and that should become even more evident as we move forward.
New polls have Duke #3 in the Nation
The new polls came out this afternoon and while it was inevitable they would fall from the top spot with the loss to N.C. State, the Blue Devils still have a lot of respect amongst voters. Duke still received 14 first place votes, and is rated #3 in the nation. Louisville, a team Duke beat earlier in the year, climbed to the top spot, while N.C. State vaulted to #14. Duke is 3-1 against teams currently in the top 25. With the weekend loss, Duke is now 213-32 in games played as the #1 team in the land.
A needed break
Duke will next take to the hardwood on Thursday evening against Georgia Tech in Cameron Indoor Stadium. It is never a bad thing for a team to have several days rest after a loss, especially the first loss, which can shake a team's confidence. Duke will undoubtedly work on their transition defense and study film to see where they can get better as they adjust their line up with Ryan Kelly's absence. Duke will get another six-day break after the Georgia Tech game before having to travel to Miami on January 23rd in what will be another stiff ACC road challenge. Duke will play three of their next five ACC contests on the road, so needless to say this will be an important stretch for the team.
Ryan Kelly injury
Seth Davis stated the other day that Ryan Kelly could be out for the season. Maybe so, but I wouldn't read too much into his comment. Most unsubstantiated rumors have said it'll be 2.5 to 4 weeks, but the reality of the situation is that it will be kept quiet. This is not an uncommon thing because teams do not want to allow their opposition to prepare differently, so sometimes what you are hearing is a form of disinformation. The bottom line is nobody will leak anything on this one, so it is best to just assume Kelly will be out for an extended period of time. While we often deal with what is termed inside information, we stop short of sharng anything we might learn if it could be remotely considered detrimental to the team; additionally, in my opinion they deserve some privacy. We all clearly wish for a return to the court for Ryan Kelly and continue to wish him the best in his recovery.
Silver lining of sorts
While the immediate impact from Ryan Kelly's injury is not positive for a team that had perfect chemistry, the long-term effect could be the development of some additional players. Duke needs players to step up right now and Amile Jefferson did just that against the Wolfpack. While Jefferson may not be physically ready for the ACC grind, he plays smart and has length and he grabbed hold of the opportunity afforded him vs N.C. State, posting 10 points. On the other hand, Duke got three minutes each from Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee, and their box scores read zeros across the board. Trust me when I say this: these brief minutes are looked at for production, and for either player to play more, those minutes, no matter how brief, need to show something positive in the box score. Josh Hairston played a career-high minutes and played well as a starter, his third such opportunity in his Duke career.
Sulaimon slumping on the offensive end
Surely you have heard the phrase "Hitting the freshman wall," and it is real. Adjusting to the speed and frequency of the games at the college level is a difficult thing. Throw schoolwork into the equation -- and we all know you have to attend class at Duke -- and it can be a lot to handle. Rasheed Sulaiumon has connected on just 9 of his last 40 shots in his last four games, including 0-10 against the Wolfpack on Saturday. In the four games prior to the last four, Sulaimon went 25 of 50 from he field, which is more of what the Blue Devils need from him. Hopefully, he can find that rhythm to his game again -- and fast -- as Duke needs its scorers to score. Sulaimon likely needs to just re-discover his feel for the speed of the game on the offensive end, where he can be aggressive but not playing as if expecting contact. I fully expect he will find that game flow, and Duke fans will be happy when that happens.
Duke senior Mason Plumlee talks about the process he took in making his decision to return to Durham and what he worked on in the off season during ACC Operation Basketball in Charlotte. Check out the latest BDN Clip -
After a long hiatus, BDN's Monday Musings returns, and there is a lot to talk about with respect to Duke Athletics. To say this is a big week is an understatement. Duke Basketball will hold its annual Countdown to Craziness on Friday evening followed the next night by a prime time football game with archrival North Carolina, where a win would snap a long losing streak in the series and gain the Blue Devils bowl eligibility.
Basketball season is here!
The mens basketball team has started practice, and that always means excitement in the air among Duke fans. Coach Mike Krzyzewski seems as pumped up as ever as he enters the season with a record 927 wins, and he will close in on other marks as the year progresses. His teams have been ranked in the AP Top 10 a total of 425 weeks, and this year's first poll should make it 426. The Blue Devils return 10 letter-winners from a year ago, so there is experience on hand, and the team has received an infusion of talent with the additions of redshirt freshmen Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee, who join true freshmen Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaiman.
A couple of early injuries
As you may have heard, Marshall Plumlee is in a walking boot with a foot fracture, but the prognosis is unknown at this time. Seth Curry is nursing a minor injury as well, and is close to being able to go 100%. Most football programs are mildly evasive in providing news on injuries these days, and basketball is becoming no different.
Early high praise for Mason Plumlee
Blue Devils fans needed a shot in the arm at the end of last season after the upset loss to Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament and the departure of Austin Rivers, who entered the NBA Draft after his freshman campaign. They got that lift when Mason Plumlee spurned the league for another year to return for his senior season at Duke. Plumlee has earned high praise early on from Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has made no secret that he expects big things from the multi-talented big man. Expect a larger role for Plumlee this year, and look for the Blue Devils to establish his game early on.
Who will run the point?
Actually, it is still likely to be done by committee. Many hope Quinn Cook steps up in his second year and takes over the role, but he will share time with Tyler Thornton, Rasheed Sulaimon and maybe even Seth Curry. Cook improved leaps and bounds in the off-season and his confidence and game are where they were when I first saw him on the AAU trail in his junior season in high school. Thornton has improved his quickness, and he is a calming influence on the team with his cool play. Sulaimon has the ability to be the best on-ball defender from the guard spot, and Curry has run the position before and if necessary can do so again. But in the end, Blue Devil fans will look for Quinn Cook to earn the major minutes. Only time will tell if that happens.
Countdown to Craziness
This is one of the more fun events of the year, where the Blue Devils let their hair down for the last time before getting dead serious and focusing on the season, where early challenges against tough opponents abound. Countdown to Craziness is a celebration of Duke Basketball, where the team comes out to their song of choice during a raucous introduction and comedic skits are seen via video on the scoreboard. Then there is the Blue/White intrasquad game, giving fans a chance to see some action. It's a great event and one BDN will cover as always, so check back in for coverage. Tickets are still available at reasonable prices at GoDuke.com.
North Carolina at Duke
Both teams come into this weekend's prime time football game with 5-2 records, including 2-1 conference marks, but the Tar Heels have owned the series of late, and they opened as a 10 point favorite in this one. For the Blue Devils program, nothing would be finer than to see Carolina finally go down, and if the goal posts did not follow, there would be disappointment. A win for Duke would not only snap the long light blue winning streak, but it would also mean Duke is going bowling. Yeah, it's a big one, but tickets are still available for it, so why not make a Duke weekend of it by having a blast at Countdown to Craziness and then coming back the next night for some serious -- and meaningful -- football?
Can Duke Football bounce back?
After holding a 20-0 lead over Virginia Tech this past weekend, the team simply collapsed, allowing 41 consecutive points to a team which handled this week's opponent (North Carolina) with ease. The main concern I have is that the team almost seemed to mail it in once adversity struck, and could never find its way back. There have been times this season where I think the Duke team is better than the players realize; they need to believe they can win and deserve to win some ACC football games. Coach Cut has done a terrific job in rebuilding, but there are still important lessons to be learned, and patience is needed.
Duke Hoops in Fort Bragg
The Duke Men's Basketball team is practicing at Fort Bragg today. You can tune into ESPNU at 1:00 to see the practice.