Tag Archives: Duke NCAA Tournament

The road to the Sweet 16 runs through Greensboro – Texas vs Duke Preview

kterviewIf past history proves to be correct, then Duke may well advance to the Sweet 16 with their fourth win against no losses versus Rick Barnes and Texas.  On the other hand, if recent history is at work , then the Blue Devils may take the short trip home to Durham, once again saddened by an early exit.

Duke is now one of three ACC schools left standing after the first round, while Texas is among the undefeated teams from the Big 12.  Let, Duke or UNC go down today and rants of the ACC is overrated will dominate the air waves in the coming week.  If both go down, it will be known as Black Saturday, which mirrors Black Sunday where Duke and UNC lost on the same day to definitive underdogs.

Make no mistake that Texas is a formidable opponent, which has three kids who can rebound with anybody.  They may have the most explosive player on the court with A.J. Abrams, who nailed a bushel of three pointers in the Long Horns easy opening round win over Minnesota.

Abrams comes into the game averaging 26.0 ppg and he will likley make or break the Blue Devils or should I say the Blue Devils may make or break him with their defense.  The bottom line is that Duke will look to slwo him down and not give him any more open looks than necessary.

Texas inserted three guards into their lineup and have since been playing solid basketball.  The pre season top ten team fell just short of expectations, but their talent level is at, well, a high level. 

Where Texas rally flourishes is on the boards.  Dexter Pittman is a 6-10, 298 pound behemoth who continues to come into his own.  Pittman will be a difficult match up for Duke who will not be able to double team him but so often in that Damion Jones and Gary Johnson are athletic and probably both better players than Pittman.

Jones averages 15.2 ppg and 9.1 rebounds and is all over the place.  You may also remember Gary Johnson for Duke once took a long look at him.  Johnson sat out one season with heart problems. but he plays bigger than his 6-6 height and has good hops and the ability to do damage inside.

Duke will count on Elliot Williams, Nolan Smith and whoever switches to keep Texas from being able to dish to their bigs, which despite Abrams is the strength of their team.  The Blue Devils will very much need some good minutes from Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas and as always will need to keep their true front court star, Kyle Singler out of foul trouble.

The X-Factor could be Gerald Henderson, a player capable of turning any game.  However, Henderson will face some athletic wings which will not allow him to drive like he is accustomed to unless Duke finds season in the defense which will most likely come from pushing the basketball up the floor when possible.

It is very important for Duke to hit their three point shots in this contest and canning the free throws wouldn't hurt.  Coach Rick Barnes is 4-8 versus Krzyzewski, but their are grumblings among some fans that Texas is due.

One more intangible, will be that UNC fans are likely to make this seem like a road game, despite their distaste for Rick Barnes, a story for another day.  This may allow Texas to reach deep and or gain momentum for runs, so Duke will have to focus on forty minutes of basketball.

While anything can happen in a game, if Duke is shooting the ball well from the three point stripe, I expect that they will fight through the recent bugaboo where they flamed out early.

This is a different Duke team, but still one developing it's psych.  Barnes expects Duke to come out hard early, but the Devils will not be allowed to get too jacked up by Krzyzewski who knows the final score is what counts and that the game will likely have some runs by both teams.

So, the pick here is Duke 75 Texas 70 in a hard fought contest.

Duke defeats Binghamton 86-62 to advance in the NCAA Tournament

Krzyzewski praised the play of Lance Thomas
Krzyzewski praised the play of Lance Thomas

Duke had little trouble whipping up on undersized Binghamton to advance to the Saturday evening game with Texas.  While the Blue Devils had their way over the course of the game, Binghamton played inspired basketball.  The Bearcats kept it close by hitting 6 of 11 three pointers in the first half.

But the Duke defense tightened up in the second half, allowing a single three pointer and starting with a 17-2 run to send the pesky Bearcats reeling.  Duke hit nine three pointers of their own and dominated the game from the charity stripe going 21 of 25.

It didn't hurt that the Blue Devils held a 38-20 edge on the boards, many of them on the offensive end.  Duke had six double figure scorers on the night, led by Lance Thomas who went 5 of 5 from the field for 14 points.

"It just seemed like Lance had tremendous energy and our whole team fed off of it," stated Krzyzewski after his team notched him victory number 832.

Kyle Singler fell just short of a double-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds and had a team high 5 turnovers.  Gerald Henderson chipped in with 13 points and 6 rebounds and Nolan Smith was pretty much a sixth starter off the bench with 13 points and 3 assists.

Jon Scheyer had a team high 15 points and Elliot Williams continued his ascent with 11 points.  Scheyer and Williams had four assists each, making them the team leaders in that category.

"Elliot made a few really big time decisions, or good decisions in how we moved the ball, instead of taking a quick shot," said Krzyzewski of his freshman's play.

Duke will now head back to Durham and prepare for Texas, who won handily over Minnesota to advance.  The Longhorns will bring a lot more size to the table than the Blue Devils' first opponent and will be led by A.J. Abrams who scored 26 points today.

The Blue Devils are now 29-6 overall for the season.  Duke is now 87-29 in the NCAA Tournament which equals the highest winning percentage of any team.  Duke now has 30 NCAA Tournament wins since 2000 and 290 wins in the decade which tops the list of all schools in that time period.

Box Score Link

First Round Preview, Binghamton vs Duke (Greensboro, N.C.)

5Duke rolls into the Greensboro Coliseum as the ACC Champions to face Binghamton University, a team that is in the NCAA's for the first time.  The Blue Devils are sure to face heckling from what is sure to be a pro UNC crowd and t-shirts which let their neighbors know they won a trophy for winning last weeks tournament are guaranteed  to make the blood boil even more.

Coach Krzyzewski will not allow his team to bathe in past glory and it is clear from hearing the Blue Devil players that they are on a mission to make it down the road in this season's tournament.  So, put aside the venom of the rivalry, for beaming in on the job at hand is the ticket.

Okay, you might say that Binghamton has never been to an NCAA tournament and they shouldn't be all that.  Before you get it in your head that this will be a cakewalk, remember Belmont.  That's why as fans, you must take these games one at a time, just like the team does.

Did you know that Binghamton has the third longest winning steak in the country?  Well, they do.  The Bearcats are riding an 11 game winning streak, partly due to the play of their go-to guy, D.J. Rivera.

Rivera, a controversial transfer, enters the game as the Bearcats top scorer and rebounder.  He is putting up numbers of 20.0 ppg and 6.5 rpg.  The junior has broke pretty much every single game record and was named to the Fox Sports Mid Major All American team.

Before you get too caught up on that mid major tag, you would be wise to realize that the majority of the players who log major minutes are transfers from major college programs.  In fact, the Bearcats had eight newcomers or transfers from other schools coming into the season.

That was a philosophy which second year Coach Kevin Broadus implemented right off the bat.  After a sub .500 year, this year's Bearcats won the American East Conference and sport a 23-8 overall record.  A side not is that the Cats are 2-0 on neutral sites and 9-6 on the road this season.

Broadus, formerly employed by Georgetown, was named Coach of the Year in his conference. Much has been made about his recruiting style, but that has nothing to do with the game at hand, so save it for another day.

Helping Rivera out will be Emauel Mayben, a member of the All America East second team.  Mayben is averaging 11.5 and 4 rpg. 

The middle is manned by Reggie Fuller, the only senior in the lineup.  Fuller is tallying 10.2 ppg and 7.1 rpg and holds the teams single season rebounding record.

The fourth double figure scorer us Malik Allen, a third guard who has numbers of 11.7 ppg and 3.1 rpg.

So, the Bearcats are pretty much a four man show and look for Duke to show them a stingy defense designed to keep their guards from going off.  In fact, I think Duke will play a lot of players in an effort to wear Binghamton down while staying fresh for the next game if all works according to plan.

Look for the Blue Devils to play a lot of perimeter and wings against a team which relies on quickness and ball movement to get their shots.  Duke will likely try to smother Rivera as well, making other players step up to beat them.

Last season, Gerald Henderson put the team on his back to get past Belmont, but the Duke players say they learned from the experience and I think they have.  Look for Singler and Thomas to control the paint and Henderson to pick up where he left off.

It will be interesting to watch and see how Scheyer reacts at the point in the NCAA's as well.  If Duke continues to protect the ball as it has of late, Binghamton could be in for a long night.  The pick here is Duke 81 Binghamton 57

Side Notes -Binghamton has far more students than Duke with 14,368.  They were originally Triple Cities College of Syracuse University in 1946.  Binghamton is 18-0 when leading their opponent with 5 minutes left in the game this season.  They overcame a 25 point deficit to beat Boston earlier this season.  Rivera has scored 20 points or more in 20 games.  In 2001 Binhampon lost to North Carolina 61-60.  They defeated Miami in 2006 by a score of 79-74 at Coral Gables.  Greg Paulus was a teammate of Bearcats guard David Fine while at Christian Brothers.

Brian Zoubek Interview – Zoubs talks of this team being more prepared for the NCAA’s

Zoubek addresses the media - BDN Photo
Zoubek addresses the media - BDN Photo

How did you like going up against Soloman Alabi of Florida State?


Yeah.  I really enjoy playing against guys my size.

What did you learn from the Belmont game last season?

Actually, Belmont was a good team and they played really well, but for us, it was definitely a lesson not to look forward to the next game.  Everybody is hungry and a champion out there for the most part.  I know Binghamton is, so they know how to win.  It'll be a good game.

Has the team learned anything from going out within the first two games the last two times out?

If we haven't learned from the last two years, then it's pretty stupid of us.  It's different this year obviously.  Look what we have accomplished so far and we're not done and are ready to move on.  We're definitely more confident this year.  It's a lot harder when you come off two losses to North Carolina and Clemson.  This year it is a completely different story.  I think we are just happy to be playing.  There is not much of a difference in what we do each   day.  But, I think we are in a better place mentally and physically.  We're not as worn down as we were and are ready to go.

What kind of role do you see yourself playing in the tournament?

I think I can play a key role.  It's a little bit harder for me to play against some of the smaller teams, like Maryland where there center goes out and shoots threes a bunch.  I mean going in against Florida State - it was a huge role for me.  And if we advance, there are Texas and Pitt ... there is a lot of good teams out there with big guys. 

Can you talk about Lance Thomas and his contributions?

His play has  been huge.  He is literally our best defensive stopper from position one to five.  That's a huge key for us.  It allows for us to be really strong when we switch off and not have any downside.

In Atlanta, there were lots of Carolina fans cheering against you and Greensboro could be much the same, does that bother you?

I think it's tough.  There are so many Carolina fans around here.  But I think that we feed off of that and we like it.  We play like environments like that a lot and we hear it, whether it is during the day or outside of basketball.  We are just looking forward to taking care of business and that's how we are going to make our statement.  It's nice not to have to wait on a plane to get ready because it takes a toll on you.  Just to be able to go on the bus spend some time with the team and get ready to play.  So, being close is huge.

Concerning Coach K's adjustments and playing close games -

I think it's been really important in that a couple of the games we had against BC and Maryland.  We might have lost them last year and having that experience and not panicking when they hit a few shots or come back and make it close.  We were down against BC but came back and we were ready to move on and move past them.  So, that shows some maturity.

Is the team looser going into the NCAA's?

The team is not as uptight.  Like, I said against BC it's easy to panic and worry about your shots or every little thing that goes on and it can effect your game.  What we do is try to concentrate on what we know we can do well and that's play defense and rebound and if we do that the offense is going to come around.

Nolan Smith Interview (Edited)- Smith talks of coming back from injury and the NCAA’s

Duke is preparing for Binghamton
Duke is preparing for Binghamton

Nolan Smith sat down with the media today and talked about the upcoming NCAA Tournament -

Is that dunk on youtube.com yet?

I'm sure it is, everything gets on you tube.

How well do you know Kevin Broadus, the coach of Binghamton?

I know him very well, he recruited me when he was at Georgetown and he's a family friend.  I have a good relationship with him.  My stepfather, Curtis Malone, knows him through recruiting.  They've known each other for a long time.  It's going to be fun playing against him.  Hopefully, he'll let me get off.

Do you know anything about the Binghamton players?

I know one of them, Emanuel Mayben and Rivera, I've played with him in AAU.

How does the team feel going into the tournament?  How do you feel?

Right now, I feel great, the team feels great and we are in the best shape we've been in a long time.  Coming off an ACC Championship ... we're very excited being champions going into the tournament.  We feel fresh, we're ready to play.  Last year guys were getting worn down towards the end of the year, playing so hard throughout the season.  We did the same thing this year, but we did things differently as far as practice schedules, keeping guys fresh.

On sitting out during his injury and coming back -

After the concussion, I had to sit out  and it helped me.  I was able to sit back and watch the team practice and in three games.  I knew coming back where I fit in and what I could do to get my minutes back to where they were earlier.  Right now, I'm in a great place and hope to make a charge at the NCAA Tournament Championship.

On whether he knew he'd play thirty minutes in the ACC tournament on Saturday -

No, I didn't.  I had a good practice the day before we left to go to Atlanta.  The first game I played 18 minutes, but they were good minutes.  I wasn't that confident I was going to play that many minutes.  But Coach called my name and I was ready.   I got a little winded, but coach gave me the rest I needed and put me back in.  I felt great from there on.

Kyle seemed to get tired at the end of last season..

Oh yeah, definitely.  Kyle at the end of last year, he looked tired.  He'd be laying in the training room for hours after practice, but now he is back joking around and having fun.  He feels great, he's playing great and everybody is rejuvenated now.  Our practices are great, we are going hard for an hour or an hour and thirty minutes and we get what we have to done.

Do you feel that the team learned from the Belmont game last year?

Um, yeah.  I'd say so.  We know that we can't overlook anybody.  They played us down to the wire, so going into this game, we have to play great and play one game at a time as if it was our last one.

Scheyer has a new role as the PG.  What do you feel like your role will be going into the tournament?

My role going into this tournament is going to be to play defense and continue to drive the ball strong and make plays.  Be aggressive like I was this weekend and be aggressive when I play off the ball.  I still have some work to do at the point, but off the ball, I'm a lot more comfortable when I get the ball.  If I have the ball and Jon (Scheyer) is on the wing, I can try to make something at the point.  There are going to be different situations where I am going to have the ball and Jon is on the wing.  I'm getting a good feel of what needs to be done at the point guard spot, seeing how well Jon is running it.  It's been a learning experience watching him play point.

On the team protecting the ball better with Scheyer at the point -

Not turning the ball over helps our offense.  We feel like we can get a good shot down the court every time.  And if we can do that, it'll help our defense.  A lot of teams  don't want to play against our set defense, so if we don't turn the ball over we feel like we are going to score when we get a good look.

NCAA Round I – Duke vs Binghampton Game Notes

kGame 35  •  NCAA Tournament First Round  •   East Regional
2Duke (28-6, 11-5 ACC) vs. 15Binghamton (23-8, 13-3 America East)
Thursday, March 19, 2009  •  9:40 PM ET  •  CBS
Greensboro Coliseum (22,404)  •  Greensboro, N.C.
Blue Devil Bits

Duke has won three straight games and enters the NCAA Tournament 28-6 overall. The Blue Devils earned the Atlantic Coast Conference automatic bid by claiming the program’s 17th league title on Sunday. 

The Blue Devils earned the No. 2 seed in the East Regional. Duke has claimed the No. 2 seed eight times in school history, winning the 1991 NCAA title from that position.

Duke is ranked sixth in the AP poll and fifth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Blue Devils have now been ranked in the top 10 in 36 consecutive AP polls.

The Blue Devils are making their 14th straight NCAA Tournament appearance and the 33rd overall for the program. Duke is 86-29 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

Junior Jon Scheyer was named the ACC Tournament MVP after averaging 21.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game in wins over Boston College, Maryland and Florida State. Scheyer was 16-of-31 (.516) from the field, including 12-of-25 (.480) from three-point range, for the tournament. He is the 16th Blue Devil to win tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson were also named to the ACC All-Tournament first team. Singler contributed 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, while Henderson added 17.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
l Duke committed just 9.0 turnovers per game in the ACC Tournament, including a season-low four in the championship game win over Florida State.
Numbers Game
Duke has 86 NCAA Tournament wins to rank fourth all-time. Mike Krzyzewski is the winningest coach in NCAA Tournament history with 69 tournament wins.

The Blue Devils are 21-6 in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed. Duke is 6-0 against No. 15 seeds.

Duke has won nearly 80.0 percent of its games when playing out of the East Region in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils are 53-14 out of the East with National Championship runs in 1992 and 2001.

The Blue Devils are 28-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games played in the state of North Carolina. Duke has won eight straight tournament games in its home state.

Duke is 10-0 in NCAA Tournament games played at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Blue Devils also played NCAA Tournament opening round games in Greensboro in 1986, 1989, 1992, 2001 and 2006. 

The Blue Devils enter the NCAA Tournament with the No. 1 RPI and Strength of Schedule according to CollegeRPI.com.

Duke has an NCAA record 289 wins this decade. The Blue Devils have nine more wins than the next closest team (Kansas) since the 1999-2000 season.

Mike Krzyzewski is one win shy of matching Ed Diddle for fifth place on the all-time coaching wins at one school list. He enters the NCAA Tournament with 758 wins at Duke.

Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer have each scored over 500 points this season, marking the seventh time in school history (1978, 1986, 1990, 1999, 2002, 2005 & 2009) that feat has been accomplished.

Sophomore Kyle Singler leads the Blue Devils in scoring (16.7 ppg.), rebounds (7.7 rpg.), blocks (36) and steals (53). He is looking to become the first player in Duke history to lead the team in all four categories.

Duke players have scored 20 or more points in a game 32 times this season. Kyle Singler (11), Jon Scheyer (10) and Gerald Henderson (10) have combined for 31 of the team’s 20-point efforts. Lance Thomas had Duke’s only other 20-point effort.

Jon Scheyer has scored in double figures in nine straight games. He has scored 20 or more points in four of the last nine contests.

Gerald Henderson has reached double figures in scoring in 25 of the last 26 games for the Blue Devils. The Merion, Pa., native has nine 20+ point games during that span.

Jon Scheyer is averaging 20.2 points per game and 3.3 three-point field goals made per game over the last nine contests. He also has 21 assists, 15 steals and just 10 turnovers during that stretch.

Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer are a combined 53-of-116 (.457) from three-point range over the last nine games. Duke is averaging 8.6 threes per game in that stretch.