For those of you who have been following off season happenings, you may have known that Elliot Williams mom is very sick. I got the news late last evening that Elliot would be transferring from Duke in order to be near his Mom and family. BDN posted the news on our members message board and elected to let the Duke SID office announce the news. The Blue Devil Nation wishes the Williams family the best.
I know it’s hard to fathom this departure, but there are times when we must put life in perspective. That said, I will tell you that Williams left with Coach K and his staffs full blessing. Make no mistake, the news changed the Blue Devils outlook on next season and expectations have been significantly lowered as a result.
Duke fans were excited when they landed Eliiot Williams and visions of him breaking out this season gave the faithful hope that the 2009-10 season would be one to remember. But faithful is the keyword here and we’re about the separate the real fans from the bandwagon fans. When there is an unfortunate controversy, we’re suppose to come together.
Coming together is what the Williams family is doing and as fans we should support them and follow their lead by coming together in a unified way for a team that is terribly thin in the backcourt. Jordan Davidson will return to the team after back surgery and a student manager will take a spot on the team as well. There is some speculation that a football player may help out, but that seems unlikely unless there is a redshirt freshman available.
We’ll miss the slashing drives and thunderous dunks Williams brought to the table, but life has a way of testing us. And this is a situation which we should work through together. Anyone who has ever dealt with a sick family member would have done the same thing.
Williams will petition the NCAA for a waiver as we first reported and it is believed that he will become a Memphis Tiger.
Official Press Release –
Elliot Williams To Leave Duke For Family Medical Reasons
DURHAM, N.C. – Rising sophomore Elliot Williams has decided to leave Duke University for family medical reasons, school officials announced Wednesday. He is expected to file an appeal for a waiver of the NCAA’s year in residence transfer rule that would require him to sit out the 2009-10 season. Williams is seeking to transfer closer to his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., to be near his family.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Elliot and his family,” said head coach Mike Krzyzewski. ““We fully support him in his efforts to be closer to them during this trying time. He is a good young man with an opportunity to become an outstanding player. We wish him well as he determines his future. He will always be a part of our program and we will always be in his corner.”
Williams averaged 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 34 contests a year ago. He started 11 of the final 12 games of the season as Duke claimed the 2009 ACC Championship and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. The Memphis, Tenn., native had five double-figure scoring games as a freshman, including a season-high 15 points at Maryland on Feb. 25. He also posted an 11-rebound game on Nov. 11 against Georgia Southern and sparked a 101-91 Duke win over Wake Forest on Feb. 22 with a season-high four steals.
After Duke’s Sweet 16 loss to Villanova, on March 27, Coach Krzyzweski was asked, “Does this in any way make you more eager to find a post player who can really score?” He answered, “And a point. And we feel — it’s not like we haven’t tried to find them. A couple of them have gone to other schools right at the last second. We were like a three-headed monster on offense. And it carried us a long way, but it couldn’t — they played a lot of five against three tonight.”
The Blue Devils may end up with a top rated point guard but it will not be from the Class of 2009. Eric Bledsoe and John Wall have signed with Kentucky, while Darius Smith decided to head East to Connecticut. Those three point guards all had Duke on their list, but the Blue Devils have most likely finished up their recruiting for this year and did not bring in a point guard to complement 6’11 Mason Plumlee and 6’9″ Ryan Kelly two McDonald’s All-Americans who will potentially provide Coach Krzyzewski considerable depth in the front court. The recruiting focus now shifts to 2010.
For this coming season, point guard duties will remain with Senior Jon Scheyer, a 6’5″ wing guard, and Junior Nolan Smith, a 6’3″ combo guard. While neither Scheyer nor Smith is a true point guard, both players bring point guard skills onto the court. When the two play together those skills combine to create a point guard who, while not spectacular, is certainly solid.
Jon Scheyer protects the basketball which results in a minimal number of turnovers. After Scheyer led Duke to the ACC Championship and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Kyle Singler commented, “He makes plays for himself and others. That spot for us, when Jon has been there, has been huge for us.” For the season, Scheyer recorded a 1.8:1 assists to turnover ratio, while averaging 14.9 points per game. Defensively, Scheyer is a tremendous off-the-ball defender who led Duke with 1.6 steals per game.
Nolan Smith’s key skills are on-the-ball defense and the ability to finish at the rim. When he is healthy, Smith is a player who makes Duke a stronger team. Staying healthy has been a bit of a challenge for Smith over his first two seasons as a Blue Devil. He missed three games, late this past regular season, after suffering a concussion and bruised ribs in a game at Maryland. As a freshman, Smith was slowed down the stretch after hyper-extending his knee. With Duke being thin in the backcourt this coming season, it is imperative Smith avoid any significant injuries such as the concussion as well as the nagging little problems of his freshman year.
Last season, the three headed monster Coach Krzyzewski alluded to was: Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson, and Jon Scheyer. The three combined to average 47.9 points per game which represents 72 percent of the team’s points. With Gerald Henderson gone to the NBA, Coach Krzyzewski will be looking for a couple of players to step up their consistency on offense. Nolan Smith, who averaged 8.4 points per game last season, is a likely candidate as is Elliot Williams, who averaged 4.2 points.
As a freshman, Williams came on strong, after being inserted into the starting line-up, averaging 7.3 points over the last 12 games. Williams brings exceptional athleticism onto the court and has the ability to play pressure defense. He needs to develop a consistent jump shot and must improve on his woeful free throw percentage, but Blue Devil fans should look for Williams to be a significant factor in the rotation from day one especially if he makes the type of freshman-to-sophomore improvements prevalent in the college game.
Coach Krzyzewski will only have three guards at his disposal next year so look for Kyle Singler to spend major minutes at small forward. Duke will have to play a larger line-up out of necessity and the competition for playing time should be fierce. Seniors Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek have started 62 and 21 games respectively during their first three seasons in Durham. They have the advantage of understanding Coach Krzyzewski’s defensive system and will be looking to have breakout senior seasons. Neither player has proven to be a consistent offensive option but both have their niche. Thomas is a versatile defender who is valuable in a fast tempo contest, while Zoubek is an extremely talented passer out of the high post. Zoubek made 82.8 percent of his free throw attempts as a junior.
Sophomore Miles Plumlee and freshmen Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will be intent on taking away playing time from the two experienced seniors. Miles Plumlee looked lost on the court at times during his freshman season but also showed flashes of talent. He is mobile and should benefit from the standard freshman-to-sophomore improvement. His brother, Mason Plumlee is a player many analysts believe has the ability to make an immediate impact. Time will tell. Ryan Kelly is a wiry outside-in player with 3-point range. Kelly won the 3-point shooting contest at this year’s McDonald’s All-American game.
Out of those five frontcourt options, someone needs to step up and establish themselves as a consistent offensive threat. As Coach Krzyzewski stated in March, Duke played a lot of three on five last year and the lack of an interior offensive threat hurt the team. Zoubek and both the Plumlees have the size to be an impact post player what remains to be seen is if they can develop the game to get the job done. Thomas and Kelly are players who need to provide minutes at power forward so Singler can play on the wing. Sophomore Olek Czyz is a wild card and could compete for playing time at power forward due to his leaping ability and strength, or see duty on the wing due to the lack of backcourt players.
Singler, Scheyer, Smith, and Williams will be the core of next year’s rotation. The question is who will be players five, six, and seven? The answer will be interesting but Duke Fans will have to wait until next year and ACC games in January before knowing the answer. In the meantime, it is only late spring and a whole summer of starting line-up and minutes per game speculation lies in front of us not to mention summer pick-up game reports. I’ll see you all on the message boards!
DURHAM, N.C. – The trio of Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler shared the Swett-Baylin Award for Most Valuable Player at the annual Duke Men’s Basketball banquet on Friday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Henderson, a Wooden Award All-America and first team All-ACC choice, also received the Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Award, True Blue Award for most charges drawn (20), the Best Field Goal Percentage (.450) and Best Defensive Player.
Scheyer, the ACC Tournament MVP, also received the Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Award, the Iron Duke Award for most minutes played (1,214), the Best Free Throw Percentage (.836) and the Most Assists (102). He has recorded the best free throw percentage in all three of his seasons at Duke.
Singler, a second team All-ACC selection and 2K Sports Classic MVP, had the Best Rebounding Average with 7.7 rebounds per game. It is the second straight season he has posted the top rebounding average.
Senior Greg Paulus was named an Academic All-America for the second straight year and received the Dr. Deryl Hart Award as the top scholar-athlete. He has been named the top scholar athlete in each of the last two seasons. He also received the Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Award for the second time in his career.
The Glenn E. “Ted” Mann, Jr., Award, which is given to a reserve who contributes the most to team morale, was delivered to freshman Elliot Williams. The Coach’s Award for a player exemplifying the commitment and values of Duke Basketball was given to Lance Thomas.
Three other awards were handed out Friday night. Joey McMahon and Griffin Tormey received the Gopal Varadhan Senior Manager Award, Elise Rose was given the Harry Rainey Spirit Award and John Roelofs was the recipient of the Charles Hogan Memorial Band Award.
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.
I was able to sit down with Duke freshman Elliot Williams and get his thoughts on the UNC game, his season and his future, team health and more.
So, whats this (pointing to an ice bag on his knee)
Aw, it’s nothing
So this is not a Ty Lawson thing (joking)?
Naw, not at all. I’m alright. (laughing)
That was a tough loss … (UNC)
Yeah. Tough loss. I thought we played pretty well, just couldn’t get the stops at the right moments. We were down one or two three possessions in the game to go ahead and we just have to hit our open shots, but we’ll be alright. [private]
Does it bother you a little bit that you missed those open shots from the three point stripe?
Not really! It doesn’t bother me.
Just keep shooting?
Just keep shooting and hit my open shots. I really … this is one of the first times I’m learning to be an off ball player. Usually the ball has always been in my hand …
It’s a learning experience …
Yeah, it’s a learning experience all the way around. I want to knock those shots down. I’ve got to just keep shooting them and keep working.
What’s the atmosphere around the team at this point? I mean you guys have just picked yourselves up and it seems obvious you are not going to let yourselves be down.
Naw, naw (emphatically shaking his head). We are feeling good going into the ACC Tournament, NCAA Tournament. I’ve talked to some of the guys and they’ve said this is the best they’ve felt. There all healthy, our best players are playing well and we’re ready to go at this.
What is the general health of the team? I know Lance and Jon have been hobbled … Nolan? (Scoop;))
Going into the ACC Tournament, we should be completely healthy. Nolan is feeling good. Today he did some stuff and he is feeling well. Lance? He’s a soldier. And you know Scheyer, he’s doing good, he’s practicing, so we’re getting healthy.
Your spirits have obviously been totally uplifted – you’re starting now …
… what does that mean to you. Does this kind of thing help you forget time on the bench?
No. (smiling) You can never forget that because it’s the kind of thing that motivates me, but at the same time being on the bench helped me a lot.
How hard was that on you?
It was hard. But I used that as an advantage to keep working hard and get better. Because I didn’t want to be there and I thought I could help the team with my play.
Tell me a little bit more about Nate James?
Nate James (said with obvious respect and admiration)… It’s great to work with him. He relates to everything I do. We have a relationship on and off the court. He’s a cool guy, straight up guy.
Have you met that mean dog of his? (Mastiff)
That’s a bad dog. That’s no poodle.
Do you talk with your Dad a lot?
I talk to my whole family. They’ve been very supportive of me and what I’ve done. I talk to them every two or three days.
How is student life? Is it hard to balance everything in your first year?
I mean, we have a good academic advisor in Kenny King. Academically, it’s difficult, but we are managing it pretty well.
Going into the ACC Tournament, what has been the message in practice of late?
We’ve been pretty intense and we’ve got to tighten up on a lot of offensive things. Learn to dig deep. Like I said at Carolina, we were down two or three times and they scored each time, so we have to dig deep and get those stops, because we are going to be in some situations like that in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.
At this time, I was joined by the local media, where the first question was about the play of Tony Douglass of all things;) I will print that part of the interview later today. [/private]
The Duke Blue Devils defeated Maryland 78-67 to move into sole possession of second place in the rough and tumble Atlantic Coast Conference. The pesky Terps played the Blue Devils even most of the game, but after the score was tied at 60 apiece, Duke made key plays to go up 66-60 and never looked back. They outscored the Terps 18-7 down the stretch.
“We knew what was at stake. You have desperate teams. You have a Virginia Tech team that won at Clemson tonight and Maryland beat the best team in our conference in North Carolina. We knew they were an entirely different team now,” said Krzyzewski.
It was a workmanlike victory for the Devils who never showed signs of losing their composure despite the usual hostile home crowd. Duke was also able to take
Grevies Vasquez out of the game by taking several charges. Vasquez ended the game with just 10 points coming off his signature performance of 35 points and double figure assists and rebounds in their upset win over North Carolina.
Gerald Henderson continued his torrid pace, putting the team on his back during key stretches. Henderson who has been one of the most consistent players in the country of late ended the game with 19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 blocks.
Freshman Elliot Williams made some huge plays, be it grabbing key boards or getting to a loose ball. Williams, who has now started three consecutive games, tallied a career high 15 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.”We were struggling to stop them on the offensive end defensively, but we put it together in the last minutes of the second half and came out with a win,” said Williams.
“One of the things I try to use to help the team out is my athleticism. That was a play where I just tried to get the rebound and I got it, pumped faked and went up as quick as I could,” said Williams when asked of a key rebound and stick back in traffic.
“I thought a couple of the plays Elliot made to get a loose ball and a bucket a couple of times was huge. He made the pass of the game – the extra pass to Jon for the three. You could see with that three that the look in their (Maryland) faces changed,” said Krzyzewski.
Kyle Singler also chipped in with double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Jon Scheyer also scored in double figures with 12 points.
Duke has protected the ball well in their 3 game winning streak and ended the night with just nine turnovers. Duke also outrebounded the Terps 39-28.
It was a solid victory for the Blue Devils who move to 9-4 i n the ACC and 23-5 overall. Duke will now travel to another hostile environment in Blacksburg, Virginia to take on a Virginia Tech team that gained a huge road win over Clemson.
Notes- Nolan had a mild concussion and some chest pain. Duke expects him to be okay but they are taking precaustions. Smith ran into a nasty pick from Maryland’s Neal.
From GoDuke.com – A Winning Tradition
• Duke has now won 1,870 games all-time, the fourth-highest victory total in NCAA history. The Blue Devils have an all-time record of 1,870-814, including 753-213 under Coach K.
• The Blue Devils have won 284 games this decade, the most wins in a decade by the program. The win total is the second most by a team in NCAA history behind Kansas (286-60 from 1990-99).
• Duke is now 929-237 all-time as a ranked team, including 787-180 as a Top 10 team.
• The Blue Devils have won 20 or more games 44 times in school history with 24 of those coming under Coach K. Duke has won at least 23 of the first 28 games a total of 20 times.
• Duke claimed its ninth ACC win of the year. They have an 845-478 all-time record against current ACC schools, including a 277-247 mark on the road. They have now won nine games in conference play in 12 of the last 13 seasons and in 21 of the 29 years under Coach K.
Duke vs. Maryland Series
• Duke and Maryland met for the 165th time on Wednesday with the Blue Devils now holding a 105-60 lead in the all-time series.
• The Blue Devils are now 4-3 when playing in the Comcast Center and 30-24 when playing in College Park.
• Coach K is 46-20 all-time against Maryland. He has a 17-8 ledger in the month of February.
• Duke has been ranked in each of the last 30 games they have played against Maryland and 54 times overall in the series. They have been ranked in the top 10 in 46 games.
Duke In The ACC
• Duke now owns a 518-277 all-time record in ACC regular season games since the inception of the league in 1953-54.
• Duke has an 845-478 record against schools currently in the Atlantic Coast Conference, including a 278-247 record at home.
• Coach K owns a 343-147 record against schools currently in the ACC.
Duke In February
• Duke improves to 5-3 in the month of February in 2008-09. Under Coach K, the Blue Devils have a 170-66 all-time record in the month of February.
• When playing on Feb. 25, Duke is now 16-11 all-time, including a 6-2 record under Coach K.
Krzyzewski Climbs Victory Ladder
• Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski earned his 826th victory as a head coach on Saturday. He ranks fifth all-time in NCAA Division I history for career victories and is first among active coaches.
• Krzyzewski is now four victories shy of Jim Phelan for fourth all-time.
• Coach K now has 753 wins as the head coach at Duke, ranking him sixth in NCAA Division I history for victories at one school and second among active coaches (Jim Boeheim, Syracuse – 791). Krzyzewski is six wins shy of Western Kentucky’s Ed Diddle for fifth all-time.
• Krzyzewski’s 826 victories are the second most by a head coach through 34 years of coaching. Only Dean Smith of North Carolina won more games with 830 victories.
1,000 Career Points
• Duke has 58 players in school history who have scored over 1,000 career points, giving the Blue Devils the third most 1,000-point scorers of any school in Division I behind North Carolina (62) and Louisville (59).
• Duke has three current players who have scored at least 1,000 points in their career. Jon Scheyer ranks 39th all-time with 1,186 career points. Greg Paulus currently ranks 40th on the school’s all-time list with 1,173 career points. Gerald Henderson ranks 48th with 1,111 career points.
• Sophomore Kyle Singler is also chasing 1,000 career points this season. He currently has 894 career points.
• The Blue Devils scored 78 points and have now scored 70 or more in 24 of the 28 games on the year. Duke is 21-3 this season when scoring at least 70 points and 664-132 all-time under Coach K.
• Four Duke players scored in double figures, marking the 15th game this season that four or more players have scored at least 10 points for the Blue Devils.
• Duke made 25 field goals to give them 19 games with 25 or more made field goals.
• The eight made three-point field goals for the Blue Devils give them 14 games with eight or more made treys. Duke has made 24 three-point field goals in the last three games.
• Duke made 20 free throws and have now made 20 or more from the foul line in 11 games this year, including the last three contests.
• The Blue Devils outrebounded Maryland 39-28 and have now outrebounded its opponent 18 times in 28 games.
• Duke committed only nine turnovers, the sixth time this year they have recorded single digits in turnovers. Four of those six games have been in February.
• Duke held Maryland to 67 points, including 33 in the second half. The Blue Devils have held 18 opponents to under 70 points on the year.
• The Blue Devils limited the Terps to three made three-point field goals. Duke has held 12 opponents to three or fewer made treys, including seven ACC opponents.
• Maryland committed 11 turnovers and the Blue Devils have now caused over 10 turnovers in all 28 games this season.
• Duke blocked six shots to give them nine games this season with five or more blocks.
Duke Player Notes:
• Junior Gerald Henderson scored 19 points to extend his double figure scoring streak to 20 games. He has scored 10 or more points in 24 games on the season and 56 times in his career. He has scored 16 or more in 14 straight games.
• Henderson pulled down eight rebounds to give him 14 games this season with five or more boards. He has at least five rebounds in 41 career contests and eight or more in five games this year.
• Henderson set a career high with four blocked shots. His previous high was three blocked shots in a game three times, including the Michigan game on Dec. 6. The four blocks give Henderson 66 career blocks, moving him into 20th on Duke’s career blocks list.
• With three assists Henderson has now recorded three or more assists in 13 games this season and 23 career games.
• Senior Greg Paulus became the 26th player in school history to play in 130 career games.
• Paulus made 2-of-3 three-point field goals to give him 205 career made treys. He has made two or more three-point field goals in nine games this season.
• Junior Jon Scheyer scored 12 points to reach double figures in scoring for the 21st time this season and 67th career outing.
• Scheyer had three rebounds to give him three or more in 23 games this season and in 73 career games.
• Scheyer dished out five assists to lead the team on Wednesday and now has five or more assists in five games on the year. He posted his 17th game this season with at least three assists and has led the team in assists in 14 games.
• Sophomore Kyle Singler recorded his eighth double-double of the season and fourth in conference play with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He now has 12 career double-doubles.
• Singler has now recorded at least one point, rebound, assist, blocked shot and steal in a game 14 times this season.
• The 13 points give Singler a team-high 25 double figure scoring games this season. Wednesday marked his 50th career double figure scoring game.
• With 10 rebounds Singler has now pulled down 10 or more rebounds in eight games on the year and 12 career games. He has eight or more rebounds in 15 games and at least five rebounds in 26 of the 28 games this season.
• Junior Lance Thomas recorded two steals to give him a steal in five of the last six games and in 10 games overall. He has four games this season with two steals.
• Freshman Elliot Williams scored a career-high 15 points on 6-of-8 from the field, 1-of-2 from the three-point line and 2-of-4 from the foul line. He has three straight games with 10 or more points after not scoring in double figures in his first 22 collegiate games.
• After shooting 6-of-8 from the floor, Williams has three straight games with at least five field made field goals. He is shooting 16-of-22 (.727) in the past three games.
• Williams grabbed six rebounds and now has five or more rebounds in three outings this year.
• Junior Brian Zoubek blocked a shot for the 17th game this season. He now has a team-high 25 blocks on the year, nearly doubling his career total of 26 coming into the year.