Mason Plumlee chatted with the local media before heading to Philly with the team. Check out what he had to say –
The Duke Men’s Basketball team headed back to Durham yesterday morning where they turned their attention to the announcement of the 2012 NCAA Tournament pairings. As expected, Duke landed in Greensboro where they’ll take on Lehigh around 7:10 on Friday and should they advance, they take on the winner of the Notre Dame vs Xavier game. The Blue Devils have been one of the top eight seeds in 14 of the last 16 NCAA Tournaments.
Taking a quick look back at the ACC Tournament
I can assure you the team is already focused on Lehigh but let’s take a quick look back at what happened in the tournament. First off, it was clear that the Duke offense missed Ryan Kelly and that they were adjusting to his absence. The Blue Devils managed just 59.5 ppg while shooting 37% in the two games. The Blue Devils got 17 ppg from Austin Rivers and 12.5 from Seth Curry but the rest of the team struggled to score. Of course, that was partly due to playing some really hungry teams and the Duke defense played as well as it had all season, thus the close games. The loss to Florida State certainly hurt, but the Seminoles then beat North Carolina proving that they were the best team in Atlanta. Had Duke got another stop or had a made bucket here or there, they would have been in the final game. The Blue Devils have dominated the tournament in recent years winning 10 out of the last 14 and the experienced Seminoles won their first tournament ever. The Blue Devils played with effort but a few mental lapses proved their undoing but in the end, there is no shame in losing to a red hot FSU team that earned a 3rd seed in the NCAA Tournament with their play. The one thing which Duke will need to control going forward are their turnovers if they want to advance. The Blue Devils had but 8 against Virginia Tech but that number doubled against Florida State with a total of 16.
Duke was selected as the #2 seed in the South Region which means they will head to Greensboro and if they survive two games, they will head right back to Atlanta. One might call me biased, but the Blue Devils got one heck of a Road to the Final Four. The South Region features the #1 overall seed in Kentucky who will play on familiar turf. Then there are three of the last four teams from last seasons Final Four in the field not to mention the last two national champions. Duke faces a pesky Lehigh team in their opener and could run into Mike Brey and Notre Dame in the next game should they advance or an Xavier team that started the season ranked 14th in the A.P. poll. And then there is an ultra long and athletic Baylor team should they advance to Atlanta. It is clearly one of the two toughest regions and as I said, I think it’s the toughest of them all.
Battled tested Blue Devils
Duke is battled tested due to playing one of the toughest schedules in the land. With wins over Kansas, Michigan State, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida State they can play with anybody, so don’t think this team cannot make a run. This team now has some tough skin and they know what it is like to play in close games, be they high scoring or defensive stand offs. When the games get tight in the tournament and they will, Duke has been there before and that will certainly help.
Duke finishes 8th in the Coaches Poll
Rankings mean little right now, but unlike the A.P., the coaches poll comes out again after the conference tournaments and Duke is ranked 8th in the final poll. Duke started the season as the 6th rated team in the country.
Getting Andre going
Dawkins is in a shooting slump as teams have learned to play him for the three point shot and the Blue Devils could sure use one of his explosive 20 point efforts in the NCAA Tournament. Not a single point from Dawkins in the ACC Tournament is a red flag indeed and Dawkins is vital to the Blue Devils long term efforts. Sometimes a player just needs to do all the other things on the court, such as crashing the boards, a pass for an assist or a defensive play and let his offense come at it’s on pace. If Dawkins plays well off ball or without touches, his offense will come back.
Rivers has scored in double figures in 29 games this season and he’s been the Blue Devils most consistent scorer but his defense impressed me this weekend as did his hustle. If there was a loose ball on the floor, Rivers was there and his overall game is catching up to his offense. Rivers probably should have just pulled up for his missed three pointer against Florida State and that only proves that the freshman still has a few lessons to learn but perhaps the lessons to date will prove vital in the NCAA Tournament.
Day to day for Kelly
Ryan Kelly has made progress with his foot injury but it’s be slow going for the Duke junior in an attempt to fend of reinjury. Kelly is the 3rd leading scorer for Duke and his points were missed in Atlanta as was his ability to stretch a defense with this outside stroke. Here is to a quick recovery for a key player in the Duke rotation.
Duke NCAA Tournament Factoids
Duke is 12-0 when playing NCAA Tournament games in Greensboro, N.C. Duke won the 2001 NCAA Championship after playing its first two games in Greensboro. Duke has beaten a No. 1 seed eight times, the most No. 1 upsets in NCAA history. From 1991-93, the Blue Devils won 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament games which ranks as the second longest streak in NCAA history behind only John Wooden’s 38-game run at UCLA from 1964-74. As the No. 2 seed in the tournament, Duke owns a 23-7 record. Duke won the 1991 NCAA Championship as the No. 2 seed. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is 79-23 (.775) in the NCAA Tournament and is college basketball’s all-time leader in NCAA Tournament wins. North Carolina’s Roy Williams is the next closest active coach with 58 NCAA wins. Duke is 96-31 (756) all-time in the NCAA Tournament, ranked as the highest NCAA Tournament winning percentage of any program. Duke’s 96 wins are the third most behind Kentucky (105) and North Carolina (105) per Duke Sports Information.
A look at Lehigh
Lehigh gained an automatic NCAA bid as the Patriot League Champion and they ride an eight-game winning streak into tournament play. Lehigh has played NCAA Tournament teams Michigan State, losing 90-81 and Iowa State, losing 86-77 all on the road. Lehigh’s roster boasts the nation’s 5th leading score, C.J. McCollum (21.9 ppg.) This is the 5th NCAA Tournament for Lehigh.
And tickets remain for Greensboro at Ticketmaster for face value, so hustle up and support the Blue Devils!
As Duke took a 15 point lead over Michigan in yesterday’s game, the song “California Dreaming,” started to play in my head, but a furious Wolverine comeback almost burst that dream bubble and that’s what it is all about. It takes but one made shot to send your dreams packing and nightmares to begin, but Duke survived and advanced and this is how you do in the NCAA’s. In this weeks Monday Musings, late afternoon column, we’ll take a look back and ahead with happenings surrounding Duke Basketball.
Sometimes, you have to make your own emotion
For the first thirty minutes of the game I kept thinking to myself on press row, how flat the crowd was in Charlotte. Across the way, the only person I could make out standing up in the Iron Duke section was Debbie K, Coach K’s daughter. A few moments later with the team looking flat, Coach Krzyzewski slapped the court with his hand, jacket peeled off, arms in the air exhorting fans as he walked out to meet his team, emotion clearly implanted on his face. It’s not the first time he’s had to do this for as fans we get a little fat and happy. Regardless, without that emotion Duke would have never vaulted to a substantial lead, one which they had to hang onto for dear life to advance.
900 wins, 1,2,3, 4 …………….. 896 more
Wow! Coach K now has 900 wins! Amazing feat indeed and it deserves even more attention than it is getting but make no mistake, Coach will reflect on this after the season. For now, he wants nothing more than this team to win, not for him, but for them and the fan base. With so much going on, BDN hasn’t even been able to write much about the accomplishment but we want to address that after four more victories if you know what I mean, wink, wink. We do however salute him with the count box on our main page which will soon contain a link to his vast accomplishments.
The return of Kyrie Irving
Let me tell you first hand that it was quite the circus surrounding Kyrie Irving this past weekend. Never have I seen so many cameras on a kid during NCAA events. Irving is clearly coming along fast at this point and he will see even more minutes against Arizona and may even start. We have several video interviews up with Irving, so check them out. You could see flashes of Irving getting back to where he was but there is a ways to go yet with concern to his Still, Duke may not have advanced had it not been for his second half play. His one steal was a key one and the only one the Blue Devils made all day and that runner was the difference in the end.
… but Rollin’ Nolan is the backbone
Make no mistake, Nolan Smith is the leader of this season’s team and his skills have allowed Duke to get as far as they have to date. Nolan put the team on his back, scoring 10 straight points against Michigan yesterday and without him Duke would be staying in Durham until graduation. Smith has been flat out hard to stop and when he gets on the same page with Irving … watch out! He is the most dependable player on the team and his consistency has been amazing. Give him a good look the rest of the way Duke fans, because he’s having one of the best seasons of any player in the Blue Devils illustrious history.
Kyle Singler, he’s not that good
Relax! I didn’t say it, an astute well thought of sports writer beside me on press row did. Look, Kyle had some misses yesterday that make you want to hide until the next play and it is funny how some only seem to recognize an air ball. That was the case with the writer beside me. I then pointed out that Kyle had 7 rebounds and led the team with assists with 4 with about 17 minutes left in the game. It amazes me how people fail to see what he does off ball and how good a defensive player he is. Singler is a flat out winner who could care less about his stat line. You better get a good look this week at #12 Duke fans, for you will not realize how much you miss an eternal starter until he is gone.
Jet lag and adjusting
Duke will leave tomorrow afternoon for California in order to adjust to a three hour time difference. It will be quite an adjustment for the Devils and could point to a slow start. Arizona is much more familiar with the turf, having a lot of players from Cali on their roster mixed with some street tough New Yorkers. Anaheim is a nice family oriented place so it shouldn’t be too many crazed fans and for the first time, Duke is away from the baby blue bunch that is booing them heartily at every turn.
Speaking of the lunatic fringe fans …
Okay, there are a lot of Carolina fans, so that means more fools in their fan base and all schools have them. But I just cannot understand the make up of hate some of them seem to have. F&%$ Duke shirts are a bit over the top and you never see Duke fans, no matter how redneck they may be in similar garb. There were fans there whose soul purpose was to spew hate when Duke took to the court, spittle flying out of their mouths, faces red with last nights beverages. One got escorted away and even more rational Tar Heels fans actually clapped. One couple held up an anti Duke sign saying I hate Dooke? Any Tar Heel hating fan knows its Dook. On to a public restaurant where four Heels fans were asked to leave or take off their F&%# Duke shirts. Not the kind of thing one would wear in public unless of course they are part of the lunatic fringe. The hate really is disturbing at times.
Get well soon to one of our cheerleaders!
One of our own suffered an injury yesterday, cheerleader Hattie Cutcliffe. BDN loves the support group behind the Blue Devils and we wish her a speedy recovery. She’s the one that turns like 164 flips in Cameron, being the best at that! No details on the injury but we have our sources working on it;)
We love what we do!
Just wanted to take a moment to say thanks for all the fans who support and make up the Blue Devil Nation! We love what we do around here and will continue to bring you passionate yet professional coverage of all things Duke Athletics. We will be working on some changes soon which are sure to please and our AAU Basketball coverage will begin soon. You can support our efforts and ability to bring you up close and personal with the teams by joining Blue Devil Nation Premium, our subscription service. It is our members which help keep the site going and that give us the ability to offer so much on the free side of the site, much of which other sites charge for.
In closing, a little story for you
After the media scramble where I interviewed players in the Duke locker room, I ventured back to my computer which was court side. Most of the media had left for the media room but I remained with maybe five others due to a faster Internet connection. It must have been maybe an hour after the game ended when I looked up from my work. Walking towards the court with his head hanging was a player in a Michigan warm up. As he strolled out on to the court area, I could see tears in his eyes. He walked onto the court and then started from just inside the free throw line and walked through and took a shot with and imaginary ball and repeated this two more times. You could see his mind working and he was doing all he could to fight back more tears. He then strolled silently off the court and walked to the top of the arena where he stood and reflected one more time before turning and walking off until he faded from sight. It was Darius Morris who missed the shot at the buzzer. Folks, this is what it is all about! And this is why you need to relish every single victory and understand it is not your birthright as a fan to see Duke win every game. Each win is sweet and it should be cherished for there are players on the losing team who showed as much heart despite the loss. Keep your head up Darius for you guys played a helluva game.
More interviews from the Duke locker room brought to you by Blue Devil Nation Video. In the first video, Miles Plumlee readies for the tournament and talks of experience just after he was trying to distract his brother Mason, while he was interviewing with the media swarm. In the second, Nolan is Nolan and he’s always great as is guest Casey Peters. The two of them try to conjure up a nickname for Kyrie Irving. Then there is Josh Hairston having some fun as Duke Blue Planet’s David Bradley films the guys. Enjoy –
INDIANAPOLIS – The Duke Men’s Basketball team has settled into Indianapolis and many Blue Devils fans are either here or on the way. They’ll be joined by students and of course fans from Butler, Michigan State and West Virginia.
It’s always nice to be playing in an area that loves its basketball and Indianapolis has a rich tradition not unlike North Carolina. The Blue Devils had their first practice today and they will be on the court for the general public to view tomorrow at 4:00 in Lucas Oil Stadium.
There is really nothing like the excitement of the Final Four and BDN will be on the scene with the Duke Blue Devils and we’ll be bring you live updates, interviews and much more. We’ll attempt to tweet live from the games provided the logistics can be worked out and we’ll start to churn out articles on Friday.
Stay tuned for the Blue Devil Nation is once again covering the Duke beat in grand style. We have been with the Blue Devils every step of the way this season and now we hope to close it out with a Duke National Championship.
Of course, it will not be easy for Duke and West Virginia come into the contest red hot. The Mountaineers have won 10 straight contests, while the Blue Devils have won their last 7 and 16 of 17 since a loss to Georgetown.
See you in the A.M. Blue Devil Nation!
Game 37 • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen
1-Seed Duke (31-5, 13-3 ACC) vs. 4-Seed Purdue (29-5, 14-4 Big Ten)
Friday, March 26, 2010 • 9:57 p.m. (ET) • CBS
Reliant Stadium (70,676) • Houston, Texas
The Opening Tip
Duke (31-5, 13-3 ACC) plays Purdue (29-5, 14-4 Big Ten) in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament at Reliant Stadium on Friday, March 29, at 9:57 p.m. (ET). The game will air on CBS with Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg calling the action.
The Blue Devils enter the game ranked third in the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, while Purdue is ranked 10th in the AP poll and 11th in the Coaches poll.
How the Blue Devils Advanced
Duke posted wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (73-44) and California (68-53) in Jacksonville, Fla., to reach the Sweet Sixteen for the 25th time in school history. The Blue Devils have now advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament 19 times under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Junior Kyle Singler averaged 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, while shooting 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from the field in the opening two rounds of tournament play. He had a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds in the opening round win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Nolan Smith, a junior guard, scored a game-high 20 points on 9-of-18 shooting in the win over California. He is averaging 15.0 points and 3.5 assists per game in tournament play. Senior Brian Zoubek went 9-of-10 from the field against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and California en route to recording 10.5 points per game. He is also averaging 8.5 rebounds, including 13 rebounds in the win over the Golden Bears.
Duke’s defense was outstanding in the opening rounds, limiting the opposition to 48.5 points per game and 35.6 percent (36-of-101) shooting from the field.
l Duke earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in school history. The Blue Devils are 39-8 all-time as a top seed and have earned a No. 1 seed in nine of the last 13 tournaments.
l The Blue Devils are making their 11th NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last 13 seasons.
l Duke is the No. 1 seed in the South Region for the sixth time in program history. The Blue Devils are 15-5 when playing out of the South Region.
l Duke has won nine straight neutral site games and is 17-1 at neutral sites over the last two seasons.
l Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith are attempting to become just the third trio in Duke history to each average over 17.0 points per game. Jim Spanarkel, Mike Gminski and Gene Banks accomplished the feat in 1977-78, while Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy did the same in 2001-02.
l Kyle Singler is averaging 21.5 points and 7.0 rebounds, while shooting 45.2 percent (14-of-31) from three-point range during Duke’s six-game win streak. He has two double-doubles and has scored 20 or more points four times in that span.
l Nolan Smith is 16 points shy of joining Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler as 600+ point scorers this season. In 2001-02, Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy became the first Duke trio to accomplish that feat.
l Senior Jon Scheyer is 26 minutes shy of moving past North Carolina’s Ed Cota into sixth place in ACC history in minutes played. Former Duke players currently occupy the top five spots in the record books. Scheyer is also four three-pointers shy of entering the top 10 in that category. He is looking to become the fourth Blue Devil to rank in the top 10 of the ACC in career three-point field goals.
l Brian Zoubek has started Duke’s last 12 games and is averaging 6.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in that span. He has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in six of those contests, while scoring in double figures four times.
l Miles Plumlee and Mason Plumlee combine to average 9.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. The duo also has 55 dunks on the season. The Plumlees’ mother, Leslie, played basketball at Purdue from 1980-83.
l Duke is allowing 55.6 points per game in postseason play. The Blue Devils have held three of their five postseason opponents to under 60 points in a game.
l The Blue Devils have won nine of their last 11 games and are 10-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament play against the Big Ten.
Checking in on …
#2 Nolan Smith – +8.8 ppg. increase from a year ago is second-best in the ACC … 60th player in Duke history to top 1,000 career point mark … tied for third in the ACC with 15 games with 20+ points scored … shooting 45.0 percent (95-of-221) from the field in nine neutral site contests
#5 Mason Plumlee – Second on the team with 21 dunks … tied for second on the team with 29 blocks … 5 or more rebounds in nine games
#12 Kyle Singler – Seven double-doubles and eight games with 10+ rebounds … averaging 19.9 points per game while shooting 46.6 percent (41-of-88), since the loss to Georgetown on Jan. 30 (15 games)
#20 Andre Dawkins – Fourth on the team with 34 three-point field goals … shooting 37.0 percent from three-point range
#21 Miles Plumlee – Leads the team with 31 dunks … second on the team in field goal percentage at .572 (79-of-138)
#30 Jon Scheyer – Ranks in the top 10 of the ACC in scoring, free throw pct, three-point pct, assists, steals, three-point field goals, assist-to-turnover ratio and minutes … seventh in ACC history in minutes played … tied for third in the ACC with 15 games with 20 or more points … three-time ACC Player of the Week
#34 Ryan Kelly – 14 blocked shots … played in 33 of 36 games
#42 Lance Thomas – Leads the team with 14 charges taken … 5+ rebounds in 17 games … ACC All-Defensive team member
#55 Brian Zoubek – Four or more offensive rebounds 16 times … averaging 16.5 rebounds per 40 minutes played … 10-of-11 from the field in the last four games
Big Three Pace Blue Devil Offense
Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith combine to average 53.0 points per game or 68.3 percent of Duke’s scoring.
Scheyer is third in the ACC in scoring at 18.1 ppg., while Singler (17.7 ppg.) and Smith (17.1 ppg.) rank fourth and sixth, respectively. The trio is the highest scoring threesome in the NCAA and the fourth-highest under Mike Krzyzewski.
Bradley, Texas Southern, California, Siena, VMI, New Mexico, Purdue and UC-Davis are the only other schools with three players ranked among the top 10 scorers in their respective leagues.