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.
No more Super Bowl day games for Duke, I say! The Blue Devils fell in overtime to Miami for their second ACC loss of the season in Cameron Indoor Stadium and their third straight loss on Super Bowl Sunday. They must now pick up the pieces for the coming media blitz and hype which is known at the Duke-Carolina game. Monday Musings takes a look at a litle bit of everything today and with that let's get the ball rolling.
In search of the right buttons
The Duke Men's staff has tried to shake up the lineup and they've tried to figure out ways to get to this years team to play together and smart. Early in the season it worked for Duke holds nice wins over Kansas and Michigan and Michigan State, but since that time the team has struggled a bit and of all places at home. The reason I say, a bit, is because they could have easily won their games against Miami and Florida State with a couple of made shots or execution. The frustration on Coach Krzyzewski's face was evident yesterday and he is trying to figure out a way to get his team to play a full 40-45 minutes of what is known as "Duke Basketball," and their year in and out lofty expectations. Just when you thought the team had reached deep and turned a corner, they fell back into some bad habits. I hate to say this, but this years team seems a bit soft at times and there were some loose balls and rebounds missed that could have turned the tide in their two ACC losses. You see, Krzyzewski wants all his teams to win the regular season, but yesterday, those hopes took a major hit and it is not acceptable by his standards.
Growing pains for freshman
Quinn Cook came off the bench to spark Duke in a big way yesterday, but at games end he throws up an inexplicable wild runner with the outcome on the line and nobody in position to board late in the game. It was a critical mistake and one of several which changed the games outcome. But before you give up on Cook, realize that he now has an assist to turnover ratio of 3.33 to 1 which is the best of any freshman ever at Duke. And just ask the assistants on the bench or go back and look at tape on any of the former PG's in their freshman years and they all had growing pains or a lapse when the game was on the line. And the good news is the rest of the aforementioned or former freshman I alluded to all learned and helped Duke to many victories.
Duke gets all the calls ... yeah, right
You will never see the staff blame the refs for a loss, nor me for that matter. But those who think Duke gets all the calls haven't been paying attention of late. It's funny how Karl Hess is well known by the Crazies and the Blue Devils record is, well, just look it up under him. But the real crime is with the game on the line, none of the three refs were seemingly paying attention to the Duke head coach who was doing everything he could to call a timeout. In my experience, a ref is almost always near the bench in those instances or at least aware the game is on the line and paying attention. That in no way caused the loss, but it sure makes one wonder of yet another what if.
The elephant in the room for me was ...
The Cameron Crazies have been in the news more than I care to see this season and for good or maybe I should say, bad reasons. There have been so many articles on this of late that I can honestly tell you I read maybe one. But there is a problem and it is a huge one and the university itself needs to figure out a way to resolve this before the bottom tier of the stadium is dominated by average fans. The turnout yesterday was deplorable at best and I heard many reasons from the CC's which sit behind me. For the record the Crazies who come on a regular basis are great and I mean that, but what on earth is happening to where students will not come to a Duke game when it is free? I could put together a book on how they just aren't the same anymore but that just seems a waste of time when the season is in full swing. Maybe it's time the scrap everything and start fresh, I don't know, nor can I personally do more than complain that I miss the atmosphere that has made the stadium so famous through the years. Seriously, former Crazies never used the same chant for a player in a game more than once and there was a brain trust who came up with some outrageously witty and fun cheers. Coach stopped short of saying the Crazies had anything to do with the loss when asked by media members seeking yet more ammunition for articles. He instead blamed his team for the loss and he was right, but he did mention atmosphere and if you have been around as long as I have, you easily read between the lines of what was said.
Everything was off
The air was ripe for an upset in so many ways. On message boards fans wanted to fast forward to the UNC game this Wednesday evening and overlooked Miami, a team projected #5 in the ACC this season. Then the team looked flat and almost sleep walked through the first half and in the process dug a hole too deep to climb out of. And then the aforementioned worst turnout of the season by the Crazies which has caused a ton of negative media towards the program didn't help. But I can tell you this for a fact, Duke did not overlook Miami and they were not looking ahead to the UNC game. Nope, it was just one of those foul, unusual days where all alligned in a not so good way.
UNC at Duke Women
Before the men's team play this week, the women get it going this evening in Cameron Indoor Stadium. This is always a spirited and entertaining affair and tickets are cheap, so tuen out and cheer on the Blue Devils as they try to maintain their hold on first place in the ACC.
And the hype begins
There is no doubt that yesterdays upset loss to Miami tarnished the upcoming Duke at UNC game a bit for you always want to come off a win. But the hype begins today with a Coach K press conference and players talking about the game and BDN will be there and remain for the Duke vs UNC women's game, so stay tuned for a lot of coverage all the way through the game.
It's the end of the world as we know it, but not really
As usual, any Duke loss this season is met with the Chicken Little effect from many fans and it is the end of the world as we know it, but nothing is fine. Okay, that was a bad play on an old song. Duke is a few plays away from being 21-2 and there is plenty of balling left. There are some red flags for sure, but this Duke team has 19 wins against a difficult schedule. Some Duke fans need to suck it up, just like our team will do. Support your Blue Devils when they need it most. Duke was down 16 points yesterday and staged a comeback which fell short. Krzyzewski will find a way to get his kids to play together and with a collective heart and make a run when it counts in March and the lessons learned will help along the way. Remember, this team lost Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving and they are young at many key positions.
Duke takes on Miami of Ohio tonight in their second game of the young season and all indicators point towards another easy win. The Blue Devils depth will prove to be too much for the visitors and look for the Blue Devils to drop 100 or better points as they keep running. Here are some post game comments from Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving to hold you over. And we will, of course, be on hand for tonight's action, so visit us again.
Good Monday morning Blue Devil Nation! Talk about a big week ahead for Duke athletics, hey? It doesn't seem like that long ago when I was coming back from Indianapolis having followed the men's basketball team on their magical run to the national championship, yet the reality of a new season is here.
It's been almost hard to put the 2010 season behind me in that it was such a special and at times surreal ride. One can only hope that this year's team, talented as it is can produce similar moments for there are many factors which go into getting a team to come together at just the right time. There will be no Z-Beard, no energy bunny Lance Thomas and "Steady-Eddie" Jon Scheyer on this seasons team. Those three seniors left Duke as champions but it wasn't always a walk in the park.
Winning national championships is not an easy thing to do folks! How many times has the pre season number one ranked team failed to win the big enchilada? The answer is more often than not for expectations can create some serious pressure, especially down the stretch. The saving grace is that Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith opted to return for their senior seasons and that means Duke will once again have some steady leadership in the senior class.
The season kicks off this Friday evening with the much anticipated Countdown to Craziness II invades Cameron Indoor Stadium. The event is becoming a religious experience for true blue Duke fans in that it brings you up close and personal with the players and coaches. Last seasons event was off the charts fun from beginning to end and in serves in memory as the starting point on the road to Indianapolis.
Despite last season's successful event, this years will be just as good and very likely better. A much hyped freshman Kyrie Irving will be making his CIS debut where he'll join newcomers Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton as well as redshirt sophomore Seth Curry. Then there is the welcoming of the returning aforementioned senior players who will all get their national championship rings as a new banner is unveiled in the backdrop.
In the stands will be a bevy of future Blue Devils and their most recent get in Austin Rivers and special guests will be making an appearance as well. All of the faithful will be gathered in the Holly Temple that seats just over 9000 fans elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder. Seriously, what else can be said and how much more hype does this event need?
Meanwhile, the football team will take on a mad bunch of Canes as Miami invades Wallace Wade Stadium. Duke is playing for the future, one which is brighter than it might seem as this time. Duke has nothing to lose the rest of the way and there are still winnable games on the schedule. Take away a couple of mistakes and Duke would have two ACC wins over Wake Forest and Maryland and games. And with Virginia and Boston College on the home schedule it's looking like the Blue Devils have a shot to garner a few more wins. Please continue to support this young team and they will in time give you reason to cheer loud and proud.
Stay tuned to BDN for full CTC and Duke-Miami coverage.
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Good afternoon. It's a good opportunity for us to have this open date week. Preparation, we need a little extra time for Miami, but more importantly a little extra time on Duke.
Its somewhat like spring practice around here right now. We have a lot of things to show up and a lot of people to grow up, try to get better one practice at a time. With that, I'll take any questions.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about recruiting in the sense that you have a class now that's your fourth-year seniors and your third-year juniors that's very low in numbers for various reasons. How difficult is that to overcome in a program where you have a near hole in your progression of recruiting classes?
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Well, it is sometimes a little difficult. You try to balance those numbers out. We've looked at that closely.
We're in a situation where we can sign - and the number may vary - but over 20 this year. Next year, looks like the number is going to be real low. Our scholarships are really tight. It puts you in a little bit of a bind. You don't want that to keep reoccurring. It's hard to get out of that.
Between redshirting some, playing some freshmen, that's kind of how we'll balance it over a period of time. We're okay right now. We have a predominantly young football team, as I've said before. 99, including our walk-ons. We've tried to revitalize the walk-on program. We had 99 guys out there in August, and 51 of them were either true or redshirt freshmen.
Q. Isn't that a function of what should be a core class, being small, that you don't get a lot out of what should be one of the guys that are really producing and leading right now?
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Oh, no question. We had some of that left. It didn't work out. Unfortunately, a little bit of dismal circumstances, so it depleted it pretty rapidly. We're not a junior college recruiting program. That's the other way you try. I've been a part of that before, where we had to beef up some lean classes with JC guys. Cooper Helfet certainly helped that with the junior class. That's not going to happen very often at Duke.
Q. David, how is your tight end position evolving this year? Looks like Brett has missed some time with injuries, but other guys moved up on the depth chart in that area.
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Brandon King and Cooper Helfet are doing the bulk of the play. Brett has been out for some time now with a knee. He was injured in practice. So he's missed three ballgames. Hopefully we get Brett back.
But Brandon and Cooper are a little different model. Coop is more of the lean receiver and can run. Brandon is a little bit of a fullback/tight end type guy. We have a lot of guys that play a lot of positions for us and play versatile positions for us. It's one that we're growing the model. Not quite where we want to be, but I'm pleased with those guys and certainly what Coach Middleton has gotten done with that position.
Q. Is it possible Brett will be back for your next game?
COACH CUTCLIFFE: We're kind of day to day. I mean, between this open day, he has a little bit of running in today for the first time. I don't know if that's going to compute in him being able to get back out and practice, but there's a chance he'll play..
Q. On Miami ...
COACH CUTCLIFFE: Miami is a large amount of time, two-back big personnel. Kind of have to look at both worlds a little bit against them. But it's something we do like. It's something we did a lot at Ole Miss with great success. We're hopefully kind of going to be able to grow that model with young guys like Anthony Young-Wiseman, Jordon Byas, Taylor Sowell, some other safety types that are guys that are physical enough to play in linebacker, but yet can play man-to-man coverage and do a lot of things in the secondary as well for us.