Putting a loss in perspective
It amazes me how some fans will say the season is over after a single loss. History shows us that most teams which make a deep run in March have some adversity during the season. Just ask current Duke assistants Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith what they went through before the 2010 title. Duke lost a game to a hungry Virginia Tech team where a single play could have won the game. Teams can learn some tough lessons and benefit down the road.
Duke-UNC Important in many ways
Duke is a lock to get a double bye in the ACC Tournament, but a win over North Carolina assures them of second place. And that would be a good finish is in the toughest league in America. The Tar Heels can be more damaged by a loss. The reason is that they can fall out of a top four seed if the ball bounces right for other teams. That will make for a hungry bunch.
Win it for Grayson Allen
Lets face it. A loss to North Carolina would be devastating on senior day. And not only that, a regular season sweep would mean a long summer for the fans and team pride. Grayson Allen will be playing his final game in Cameron Indoor Stadium after a four-year career. Winning this one for a player who gave his heart would be nice on many fronts.
But this will be other players last go round in Cameron, too
We all know that Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. will enter the NBA Draft due to their lofty draft status. This will be these two players last game in Cameron as well and they should want to go out with a bang. Here is hoping the dynamic duo has a great outing. And for the record, depending on how the season unwinds, Duke will be losing other freshman early as well.
Defense has been good
Not to be lost by a close loss is the play of the Duke defense of late. The Blue Devils have steadily improved by playing zone. A good measuring stick for the defense will be the game with UNC which is one of the best offensive teams in the nation.
Now, the offense needs to catch up
It is strange how things work out. Early in the season the Duke offense was unstoppable and the defense had holes to plug. In their last two outings, the Blue Devils have been a tad clunky on offense. There are many reasons for slowed production but none that cannot be worked out. And that is good news for the team as all the games count from this point forward.
Finally, some rest...
Duke will be fresh when they face North Carolina if they can avoid getting too high. Campus will be a hotbed of activity as ESPN Gameday comes to town. Duke was a tired bunch after the loss to the Hokies and they have finally been able to rest up. That same break will also be big heading into Brooklyn and the ACC Tournament which will be well underway at this time next week.
About Marvin Bagley III
Firstly, how awesome is it that he made the All ACC Academic team? But the elephant in the room is the brutal criticism from Dan Dakich and others of late. Duke is better with Marvin Bagley but the there is an adjustment period when a player comes back in the lineup. Here is to Bagley using the chatter as motivation to be his best self the rest of the season. I mean, he is likely to be the ACC's Player of the Year with a strong finish. As for Dakich, I thought his comments were off base and unfair to Bagley or anyone else who would have been a recipient of a rant from out of nowhere.
Duke will have some very key prospects on campus this weekend. More on that later.
I feel pretty good about where Duke is at this time in the season. They have had some hard lessons on toughness but those have helped a young team grow. I think we will see Duke at its best this Saturday. One thing at a time.
My thinking is that Duke will land three players on the ACC All Freshman Team and a fourth will be very close in the voting. I feel Bagley III will come away with the Player and Rookie of the Year awards. Duke will likely have Bagley on first team and a couple of guys on second team or close.
Bold prediction? Duke is about to go on a four game run. That is if they treat each game like a fight.
Mark your calendars for October 19th and 20th, for that will be a heck of a weekend for Duke Athletics. On Friday, October 19th the always popular Countdown to Craziness event kicks off the basketball season, and the following day Duke hosts arch rival North Carolina in football. While schools can kick off the basketball season a week earlier with Midnight Madness-type events, Duke is not doing that this year, so CTC was moved back a week in Durham. Regardless, there will be little sleep for the BDN staff as we cover all the events, as we have in seasons past.
The Meet the Blue Devils football event went down this past weekend, as 1500 Duke fans turned out to meet this season's team. Fans got a chance to mingle with players and coaches while seeing the positive changes in the football facilities. Duke unveiled its team posters (ripe for autographs for the youngsters) along with the new helmets and new season ticket plans.
Duke Women's Soccer is hot and ranked #2 in the nation. The team crushed Elon this past weekend, and they next take to the field in the UNC Nike Classic on August 24th at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill.
Be sure to check out our BDN Open Group Facebook Page where we load a lot of photos in an environment that more or less acts as our free message board. Of course, BDN's only true message board is reserved for premium members, who have full site access where they get all the latest inside tidbits and nuggets on the program, as well as a place to discuss recruiting with other members. Here is a link to the Facebook site, where you can see photos from the latest scrimmage and Meet the Devils Day. BDN Facebook Group
Speaking of photos, BDN has long used our own photographers, and we do not mind others using our pictures -- provided proper credit is given. All of our photos are copyrighted, and we enjoy bringing you up close and personal with Duke Athletics through the medium. But far too many other sites are now using photos without permission and without crediting the original source. If you want to use our photos, please contact us beforehand. Most recently, we had to remove two photos from a gambling site whose operators felt it was their right to swipe them and tag them as their own. It's not.
On a related subject, it's becoming more apparent to me that on today's web, it can be hard to tell the difference between opinions offered without benefit of real on-scene access and reporting, and opinions offered by those who do have the benefit of firsthand views of a program. The BDN staff regularly attends all Duke athletic functions and media events. Our team is in the trenches doing the work, enabling us to present an "eyes on" view of the subject matter. Why am I mentioning this? There is a growing trend out there of "reporters" and self-styled "insiders" offering what I'll generously term "borrowed information." A recent blog post came to our attention that consisted of BDN reports being simply copied verbatim, with a few minor word changes, and being passed off as the blogger's own work. The bottom line is that you can trust what you read here as being original in every way. We like what we do, and we make the effort to get out there to cover Duke athletics in a comprehensive, professional, and honest way.
Back to the on-the-field stuff: The September 1 home opener against Florida International looms, and it should be a good one. For those unfamiliar with the Panthers, they return 18 starters from a season ago, when they were a bowl team. The problem with playing an upstart program is that many fans underestimate teams they haven't heard that much about, setting themselves up for surprise and disappointment when they realize these guys can play. I can tell you firsthand that Duke will have to bring their "A" game to beat this team. Adding to the pressure is that, given the difficult schedule the Blue Devils face this year, many are already coining this a "must win." I think Duke will be ready but they'll need the 12th man, meaning a fired-up home crowd, to come out of the gates strong this year and get a win against a quality opponent.
Have a good Monday folks.
Austin Rivers addressed the media today in Cameron Indoor Stadium and BDN Video was there to bring you his comments -
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.
Anytime a prospect comes to the Triangle and both Duke and UNC are recruiting him, you can expect a lot of disinformation on message boards. I am of course talking about Mitch McGary, a bruising and talented post player that is best described as tenacious on the court. McGary visited UNC during the first part of his visit this past weekend before heading to Duke to finish his journey south.
It didn't take long for the rumors to start.
It's certainly understandable for fans to hang on every word or take one might post in that McGary is a very important prospect for Duke, a high priority for sure. Rumors are so rampant these days, that we actually created a separate board for Blue Devil Nation members about two years ago. It had become tiresome for our staff to constantly refute every little mention or statement, especially when said rumors come from a myriad of places.
Sure enough, the rumor mill was in high gear late Friday afternoon and it caused a knee jerk reaction among many fans. I had just finished up interviewing Duke HOF inductees Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Bobby Hurley and was watching the Duke women's soccer victory over Texas A & M thinking what a beautiful day it was on campus while awaiting their speeches later that evening. Then, I turned on my computer on.
What awaited me were 6 PM's from our message board, and 4 e-mails from Duke fans in a panic and all this in two hours time I had been off line. The rumor was that a popular UNC site had posters and or insiders (I'm uncertain for I do not generally go to message boards there) saying that a kid from Brewster Academy had given the nod and wink to UNC, Kendall Marshall and others, stating, "I'm going to be a Tar Heel." This was automatically percieved to be McGary.
My thoughts were, "Really?," and it took little time for me to think here we go again. Look, he may end up in Chapel Hill but to think it all ended there and like that is hard for me to fathom. Let's examine this for a moment. I had already known that McGary was on the Duke campus the same time I was on Friday. I learned through a source that he played pick up games with the players earlier that afternoon and that the visit was going well.
For those of you who don't know, it is a violation for any fan based web site to talk to a prospect while actually on campus, so even if I did see him which I didn't, I'd have run the other way.
I did have conversations with Mitch at the NBA Top 100 Camp earlier in the year and his parents to learn more background on their son. While I have not talked to them since, I learned enough about them to realize the rumor was likely a stretch. I mean why would McGary suddenly pick the Heels and then visit Duke for two days?
It's part of my job to keep up with the recruiting front and our staff does so by working various sources. As most followers of Blue Devil Nation know we go to all the major AAU events in person to get a first hand view of the prospects. We also cultivate relationships with those in the know while attending said events.
Anyhow, back to the issue at hand. If one were to think it through or have prior knowledge of the scene, they would have realized that T.J. Warren was also visiting UNC. Warren is a nice talent that transferred to Brewster Academy for his senior season. Warren has most recently been considered a UNC lean.
That said, doesn't it make sense that this is who folks were talking about? I mean he was on their campus as well. Interestingly, once I tweeted Friday that this was likely the case, more freaking out started. Folks were then saying the two prospects were friends and played together, so this means UNC will get both of them for sure. Granted, others were more rational but they couldn't control the fire. They are surely friends playing on the same team, but they have never actually played together at Brewster Academy.
There is certainly a chance that the two could end up together but I personally think both will do what is best for them. Our feeling was that this rumor started from a lack of fact checking and falling hook, line and sinker for rhetoric on a UNC site which is often designed to simply incite their rivals in a ribbing nature. Look, facts are facts and rumors are rumors, so which would you depend upon?
We will eventually speak with McGary but we would never ask of unsubstantiated rumors. We most recently spoke with him at the Elite 24 and save this visit, little has seemingly changed. It's also a policy of ours to allow the young men as much space as possible.
Good research and fact checking can be done without me seeking out folks that almost always say, "I have no idea what you're talking about." However, separating fact and fiction has become increasingly hard in the wild west atmosphere of recruiting message boards. If fans would be a little more patient instead of having knee jerk reactions, the truth will come out in due time.
It takes but one "Negative Nellie" to set chaos in motion. I call it the "Chicken' Little effect," for in a matter of minutes the sky indeed seems like it's falling. In fairness, many people have this Chicken Little effect built in as a mechanism for for coping with "recruiting stress." And folks, I am here to tell you that it is sometimes stressful following the recruiting trail.
How many times has a school been considered a leader up until a prospects senior season only to be swayed elsewhere for whatever reason? But, if I were to follow up every rumor that is brought to our board, I would never sleep. I often joke that all pay sites, including my own, are like a men's soap opera for there is no shortage of drama.
Again, things can certainly change on a dime but more often than not rumors play more of a role than research and common sense which if used can help with a lot of undo fan angst for in the end they have no control over the situation.
As for McGary? Only time will tell where he chooses to go to school and that decision will likely come down the road.