The Villanova Wildcats put an end to the Blue Devils’ 2008-09 season with a 77-54 win. Duke was out of sync on the offensive end all night long, some of that due to the Wildcats’ defense. Duke’s Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson struggled mightily and without two of your big three stars playing with their A game, there is little chance of victory.
The two combined for just 4 of 32 from the field. The Wildcats would not allow the Blue Devils to drive and that affected Henderson all night long.
By the time Gerald Henderson hit his first basket from the field, Villanova was up by 15 points with 4:47 left in the game. The very next trip down the court the Wildcats sliced through the Duke defense in mere seconds to score an easy lay-up and cruised to a 23-point win.
Duke ended the night shooting 26% which translates into 16 of 60 from the field. Villanova helped their cause going 19 of 23 from the free throw stripe, but Duke still held them to 43% from the field.
There were some opportunities but every time it looked like Duke could close the gap, a shot would rim in and out or they wouldn’t get a shot off. So, it will be a long flight back for Duke, but this staff will hit the road running in recruiting, where their goal is to dig up a point guard.
Duke fans will await the news of whether Gerald Henderson will return for his senior year and, like the team, will realize that one bad game doesn’t tarnish a great season.
It was one of those nights and certainly not the way the Dukies wanted to end their season. It’ll be hard to get the taste out of their mouths for a couple of days, but at 30-7 and ACC Champions, the Blue Devils did have a good year. Let’s not forget that Duke won 10 of 11 to get to the Sweet 16 when the chips were down.
Villanova (29-7) will move on to face Pittsburgh, a team they defeated in their only meeting this season. The winner of that game will advance to the Final Four.
Nolan Smith has been a key component in the Blue Devils’ attack since coming back from a concussion suffered against Maryland. Coach Krzyzewski most recently sang the praises of the sophomore guard, saying that he feels like he has found his role on this season’s team.
Smith has been in the news a lot of late, including a recent feature on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. There is no doubt that Duke will need Smith to be at his best in order to defeat Villanova on Thursday evening. Here are some of Nolan Smith’s thoughts from a question and answer session before the Dukies headed to Boston.
Did you have a tough practice today?
Today’s practice was quick but very intense and we started going over Villanova and have a good game plan going into the game.
Has the team been able to stay fresh?
We are very refreshed. The days in between those games we’ve managed to relax and stay off our feet. We play those forty minutes and are right back to resting. We definitely take care of our bodies at this point in the season.
How does the team feel to be going to Boston for the Sweet 16?
This team is very excited to be where we are at. When we step on that court we’re going to let it all out and play as hard as we can. That’s what we have done during these first two NCAA games.
Was there ever a time when you thought the team might not make it to where they have today? Like after the Clemson game?
Not at all. Even after that we realized we weren’t at our best. We knew that we’re still developing and growing. Right now, I feel like we are playing very good basketball. We are getting something from different players every game.
Talk about your relationship with some of the Villanova players –
I played high school basketball with Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham my freshman year at St. John’s. And then Corey Fisher and Stokes were in my class and I have played against them numerous times on the AAU circuit. So, I have a good feel for all their players and have a good relationship with them off the court as well.
Many have said that Villanova and Duke are similar teams …
They are very similar to us. Their Dante Cunningham is our Lance Thomas. They are not a real big force inside, but both teams shoot a lot of mid-range stuff. They play with three guards a lot just like we do.
Have you talked with Coach K a lot of late?
We’ve talked a little bit. He let’s me know you have to be ready for anything. Role changes may happen and you have to be ready and do what is better for the team. Since my role change, we’ve been on a tear and playing great basketball. And my play has picked up, so … He’s told me to stay ready and be ready for anything.
Are you comfortable with your new role?
I feel very comfortable. Before I check into every game, Coach K looks at me and tells me to attack. So, I try to attack and make plays. If Jon is not out there, I still have the ability to run the one and set my teammates up. It’s not for a long period of time like at the beginning of the year.
On Zoubek and McClure being in at crunch time versus Texas after Singler and Thomas fouled out -
Coach K lets us know that in order to win a National Championship, we are going to need a whole team. So they have to stay rested and ready. Zoubs and Dave and those guys have stayed ready.
Has the emergence of Elliot Williams helped you with your game?
Oh yeah, definitely, I tell him all the time that I’m glad he showed Coach he can really press the ball. I got tired of doing it the first 22 games by myself. (smiling while media laughing) It takes a toll on you. Now that we have two guys that can pressure the ball, Elliot and I can take turns out there.
Gerald Henderson talks about the bench play in the win over Texas, Villanova, his Dad’s playing days with the Boston Celtics, being a leader and more. Enjoy –
Your thoughts on Villanova …
It should be a good game. They’re a really hot team right now and played a really good game against UCLA where they pretty much dominated the whole game. It should be a good match-up for us.
You grew up in Philadelphia …
I grew up in Villanova. Back home, I live about fifteen or twenty minutes from there. My sister went there, I had a cousin that went there. You know, they recruited me, so I’m pretty familiar with all their coaches and most of their players.
So, they were your second choice?
It came down to Duke and Villanova. I took an official here and there, those were my only two. I think my host was Kyle Lowrey.
Did you grow up pulling for them out of the Big Five?
I guess it was ‘Nova because they were the closest to me. My Dad took me to their games when I was little.
Speaking of your Dad, he has some great memories in Boston where he played with the Celtics. I guess it’ll be kind of a homecoming for him?
He’s got a lot of friends back there. A lot of people that are close to me. He always talks about that those were his best years as a pro. Not just on the basketball court, but in terms of just living and him having a good time as a basketball player. Those were the best times.
Do you think with all that’s going on that there will be a lot of distractions?
I think the way we travel and our managers … (laughed), I don’t think there will be many distractions.
Does your Dad stay in touch with former teammates?
Nobody that’s on the team now, but different people like Bill Russell he still talks to. I can’t really think of any of the guys, but he still keeps in touch.
Does he ever talk about that big steal against the Lakers in the NBA Finals?
Yeah, he doesn’t talk about it as much. Every now and then somebody will come up to me and say they saw it on ESPN Classic. It’s probably one of the best moments of his career. (Henderson made a key steal vs. the Lakers in the NBA Finals, which helped his team win the game and the series.)
Earlier in the season, did you think you would be where you are now (Sweet 16)?
When we lost to Boston College, our season could have gone a lot of different ways. I wasn’t even sure at that time we would make the tournament. Nothing is guaranteed. We could have gone backwards from there, but we just were not going to let that happen. Me, John and Kyle being the leaders kind of took it on our shoulders not to let that happen.
Your thoughts on Coach K -
I’ve said all season that his passion is something I’ve never seen in anybody before. I think winning that Gold Medal has given him even more passion just wanting to win another championship and do something nobody else has ever done. He’s our leader and we get strength from that.
On his relationship with Wayne Ellington and his family -
His parents are really close to me, especially his Dad. He’s been to all our high school games and him and my Dad always sit next to each other yelling at us. That’s something I will never forget. They actually moved again and I have been to their house. It’s good to have a close family like that, when mine just comes down for the games … it’s good to have them here in case I need anything.
Which Dad was the worst critic?
That depends on who was playing good.
On hanging out on occasion with the Ellingtons -
His Dad does more of the cooking than his Mom. Big Wayne will cook up fried chicken, rice, string beans, everything. He will cook up everything. It’s good to have a place to get a home cooked meal away from home.
As a leader, do you feel any added pressure going into such a big game?
I don’t really look at it as pressure. There is a lot of responsibility on Jon, Kyle and, well, everybody. I just look at it as something I have got to do. If we want to accomplish some of the things we set forth at the beginning of the year, I have to play well. Jon has to play well. Kyle has to play well. Everybody has to play well! That’s how it is. I just look at it like you go after it and put everything into it and see what happens and see what you are made of.
With all the foul trouble against Texas, did you get nervous with reserves playing key roles?
That gives us confidence and should give that confidence as well. Elliot is making some really good plays. Rebounding and going after that ball (Scheyer pass). He was just really being a presence in there. And Dave made that play at the foul line. That should give them all confidence and show them that we have confidence in them in those situations.
Do you think playing in close games like in the last couple of weeks has helped this team grow?
I think it’s good for us. As a team we are still evolving. It’s funny that every game we play could be your last one, but yet we can still get better. Teams will play us differently and we have to adjust what we are doing and get better at those things.
Kyle Singler sat down and answered a few questions just after Monday’s practice. The Blue Devils will soon head to Boston for their Sweet 16 match up with Villanova.
Are you still running on adrenaline from the last game or is that behind you now?
Shoot! I’m still kind of running on it. I’m still running on it from a couple of weeks ago – the ACC Tournament. We’re in a good place as a team and we’re having a lot of fun. [private]
Was there a time this season when you didn’t think this Duke team would make it this far?
Afraid is not the word, but throughout a season you’re going to go through your highs and lows as a team. It’s the time where you bond as a team and I think this team has a good chemistry. And, um, it’s tough to break up this team, we’ve gone through tough times, we’ve gone through good times. We know what both sides are like. There really was no time in the season when we felt like the season was going in the tank.
What’s it like to play these late games which end after midnight?
We’re kind used to them by now. You try to break up the day by taking naps so it really doesn’t seem like a midnight game. I think the one thing that happens is the game isn’t over until 2:00 or so after interviews. It’s tough to go to bed after those games. You’re looking at a 3:30 or 4:00 bedtime.
You’re a west coast guy, so you should be used to it …
(smiling) Yeah, well I changed my clock. It’s the best time of the year so it really doesn’t matter when you play.
Do you think the change in the line up played a big role in turning the season around?
I felt like that was the right change that needed to be made. Our personnel, we have the right people just to mold a great team together. It was just time and I think it turned out to be for the better.
Duke has played in many sweet 16’s, but what does it feel like for you to play in your first one?
For me? It’s very special. I’m very excited, my family is excited and fans especially are excited. It’s just an exciting time at Duke because we haven’t been there for a while. It’s a good accomplishment, but we can’t be satisfied with the Sweet 16. It’s kind of a benchmark that we got to. Now, we have to stay hungry like we have throughout these last couple of weeks. [/private]
Duke has won five straight games and 10 of its last 11 contests. The Blue Devils are 30-6 on the season, the program’s 10th campaign with 30 or more wins. All 10 of the 30-win seasons have been under Mike Krzyzewski.
The Blue Devils posted wins over Binghamton (86-62) and Texas (74-69) in the Greensboro pod to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the 24th time in school history.
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 the No. 2 seed in the East Regional. Duke has claimed the No. 2 seed eight times in school history and boasts a 23-6 (.793) record from that position. The Blue Devils claimed the 1991 National Championship as a No. 2 seed.
Junior Gerald Henderson averaged 18.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in Duke’s wins over Binghamton and Texas. Henderson scored a game-high 24 points in the win over Texas for his 11th 20-point game of the season.
Duke was 16-of-34 (.471) from three-point range in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Jon Scheyer was 6-of-12 (.500) from behind the three-point arc, while Kyle Singler was 5-of-8 (.625) from three-point distance in the two wins.
Sophomore Nolan Smith averaged 12.0 ppg. in wins over Binghamton and Texas. He was 7-of-12 (.583) from the field and 8-of-9 (.889) from the foul line in the contests.
Duke has 88 NCAA Tournament wins to rank fourth all-time. The Blue Devils are fifth all-time with 117 tournament games played.
Mike Krzyzewski is the winningest coach in NCAA Tournament history with 71 tournament wins. Coach K will pass Dean Smith for the most tournament games coached on Thursday. The meeting with Villanova will be Krzyzewski’s 93rd NCAA Tournament game on the Duke bench.
The Blue Devils are 55-14 (.797) all-time, with a string of eight straight wins, when playing out of the East Regional.
Duke has failed to advance past the Sweet Sixteen just once under Mike Krzyzewski in nine NCAA Tournament East Regional appearances. The Blue Devils have reached seven Final Fours under Coach K from the East Regional.
The Blue Devils are 104-43 all-time against teams currently in the Big East conference. Duke is 2-0 versus the Big East this season.
Duke is 9-6 in NCAA Tournament play against Big East conference teams, including a 2-1 mark versus Villanova.
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.
Since becoming Duke’s starting point guard on Feb. 19, Jon Scheyer has scored in double figures in 11 straight games. He is averaging 19.1 points per game and 3.3 three-point field goals made per game in that span. He also has 27 assists, 19 steals and just 13 turnovers during that stretch.
Junior Gerald Henderson has reached double figures in scoring in 27 of the last 28 games for the Blue Devils. The Merion, Pa., native has 10 games with 20 or more points during that span.
Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer are a combined 64-of-136 (.471) from three-point range over the last 11 games. Duke is averaging 8.5 threes per game in that stretch.
Sophomore Nolan Smith has reached double figures in scoring in three of Duke’s five games since returning from a concussion suffered on Feb. 25. Smith came off the bench to average 12.0 points per game in wins over Binghamton and Texas.
Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler combine to average 48.2 points per game for the Blue Devils. The trio accounts for 61.7 percent of Duke’s scoring output.
Duke is averaging 9.3 turnovers per game over the last 10 contests. The Blue Devils have recorded less than 10 turnovers in six of the last 10 contests and lead the ACC in turnover margin at +4.2 topg.
Duke In The NCAA Tournament - Duke, making its 33rd NCAA Tournament appearance, has been one of the best NCAA Tournament teams in the history of college basketball. The Blue Devils’ .752 winning percentage (88-29) in NCAA Tournament play is the best all-time. Duke ranks fourth in NCAA Tournament history with 88 wins and fifth in games played with 117. The Blue Devils remain one of three programs to make five or more consecutive Final Four appearances (the Blue Devils advanced to the Final Four every year from 1988-92).
Duke As A No. 2 Seed – Duke earned a No. 2 seed in the East Regional, marking the eighth time it has claimed a second seed in the NCAA Tournament. Duke was also seeded second in 1979, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1997 and 2008. The Blue Devils have advanced to four Final Fours as a No. 2 seed, winning the National Championship in 1991.
Blue Devils Vs. The Tourney Field – Duke has played 19 games against teams in the 2009 NCAA Tournament field. Duke has an 13-6 (.684) record vs. teams that have reached the NCAA Tournament in 2009.
Duke In The NCAA Tournament Since 2000 – Duke has played in the second-most NCAA Tournament games (31) since 2000. The Blue Devils’ 23 wins are the second-most in that span as well.
Krzyzewski Looks To Build On NCAA Victories Record – Mike Krzyzewski has 71 NCAA Tournament victories to his credit. On the strength of a 63-55 win over Mississippi State on March 20, 2005, Coach K passed North Carolina’s Dean Smith for the most NCAA Tournament wins by a coach in college basketball history. Here is a look at the all-time NCAA Tournament victory leaders among coaches:
Coach K In The NCAA Tournament – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has enjoyed tremendous success in the NCAA Tournament throughout his career. His .772 winning percentage (71-21) is the highest among all active coaches with a minimum of 40 NCAA Tournament games. His 71 NCAA Tournament victories rank first all-time, while his 92 tournament games is tied for first. Coach K is one of only four coaches in history to win three or more NCAA Tournament titles. Here is a look at Krzyzewski’s standing among all coaches in the NCAA Tournament: