Tag Archives: Elliot Williams

Duke Assistant Coach Chris Collins talks Duke Basketball

Singler and Scheyer were really good against Purdue …

I think they were quietly looking forward to seeing how they stacked up with Hummel and Moore.  Both of those kids are very confident players with what they can do and they’re unbelievable competitors – they fight for everything.

Duke Assistant Coach Chris Collins instructs freshman Mile Plumlee in practice.
Duke Assistant Coach Chris Collins instructs freshman Mile Plumlee in practice.

We did actually.  When we recruited Kyle he was one of the best players in America.  He’s now made another big jump and has become an elite player.  Jon has always had that warriors mentality.  Now that his body is catching up with his mind he’s able to put it all together.  I’ve always thought he was an underrated player.  People who follow the game or coaches follow the game know what kind of value he has.



The team will have a big break after the Michigan game.  As a staff what will you focus on at that time?

During the exam break you have to keep your conditioning up.  You’ve got to try to keep getting better.  It gives you a little bit of a break to let your body rest.  We’ve had eight games early on which takes a big toll on your body.  We’re going to continue to take the long view with this team.  It’s a long season and we’re a long ways from March.  We have to continue to do what we can to get better not only for the rest of the season, but for the ACC.

Elliot seems to be pushing it a bit …

I think with both of our freshmen, Elliot and Miles, we think both of them are going to be outstanding players.  What you are seeing with them is that they are on a team that’s loaded with great veteran leadership and players.  It kind of reminds me a little bit of the olden days when I was in school in the late eighties and early nineties you can in a learned contributing while getting better as the season went along trying to improve upon your role.  Both of those guys have great attitudes.  We have high hopes for both of them.  It’s kind of just when it clicks.  They have great role models with the upper classmen on this team and their attitudes have been great.  We’ve just got to continue to stress to them it’s a process.

Gerald has been struggling a little bit on the offensive end …

I think with Gerald has been a little off.  When you are a good scorer and things aren’t going as good for you, the best thing you can do is concentrate on other areas of the game.  He rebounded well against Purdue, got some steals and really put his stamp on the game.  If he can continue to do the things he did against Purdue, when his offense comes you are going to have a real dynamic player.

How is Greg coming along?

Greg’s coming along well.  Nolan got in foul trouble against Purdue but Greg came in and did well.  That’s the great thing about having two capable point guards.  He ran our team and made a big basket late in the game with a lay up.

You grew up loving the NBA and are a hoops aficionado probably watching every game that’s on the air when at home … do you find time for other things?

I am probably going to get kicked out of the house by my wife and kids.  I have such a passion for basketball.  My earliest memories as a kid were going into the locker rooms after games and being around it and watching it …  I’ve been a junkie my whole life.  Now, being able to play with my son, go out in the yard with him and shoot around is great.

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Behind the scenes practice update and John Wall tidbits

K-ments - During some recent practices, Coach K shared some thoughts about his team.  He stated that Marty Pocius was one of the teams better three point shooters and that they would try to get him the ball in good position when he entered the game.  Marty has been playing surprisingly well, especially on the offensive end of the court.  He’s still not the best defensive player, but he should provide some good depth in the back court.  The biggest plus is that Pocius has learned the system and knows where to be on the court.  [private] Now, if he can only drop Olek some hints.

He said that he hoped Elliot Williams could fill some of the roles that DeMarcus Nelson did this past season.  He likes Williams versatility and his ability to play good on ball defense on the perimeter.  He also mentioned that Williams was a good spot up shooter.  Williams played very well against Virginia Union and we’ll see how he does this evening against Lenoir Rhyne.  However, in my views, he has a ways to go to get use to the size and speed of the college game.  When I talk of speed, in Williams case he needs to slow down a bit and let the game come to him.  This will come in time as will his strength, but expect K to bring him along at well, K’s pace.

Coach also said that Duke would get out and run.  With their depth, he plans on pushing the ball and he seems as if he will go to the bench early and often.  He once again mentioned how important it was to keep Kyle Singler fresh and how having a deeper front line wold help.

He also said his team was healthy overall and that he hoped that would carry through the season.  “We have 14 healthy guys ready to go,” said Krzyzewski.

“Do it, hear it, see it!”  K barked that out as he stopped practice on several occasions.  He meant for his team to talk a play through, see it later on film or at a half speed walk through and to then “do it.”

K worked his team very hard with ACC Officials last week.  He then carried that over into more work, knowing and saying his team was tired.  He had a no contact practice after that, wanting to see how his team responded the next day when they went through two full practices in one day.   He was pleased with the results.

The Big Three- “Gerald, Kyle and Jon are the guys we will build around.  They are our best players.  That doesn’t mean a Nolan Smith or Greg Paulus couldn’t lead the team in scoring.  It simply means that these are the guys we feel comfortable building around, much like what we did in the Olympic.  We feel if the rest of the team can fit in around them, then we’ll have a chance to be really good.  Don’t get me wrong, we have some good players, but these three are our best.” – Coach K

Jon Scheyer has played wonderfully in practice and worked his butt off all summer.  When prospects came to visit, they all mentioned Scheyer.  When teams are picked by individuals, he goes first or to the next guy with the second and third picks.  He has shown more leadership and his defense on the ball has vastly improved.

Kyle Singler is the smartest player on the court when he’s out there and that is often.  Expect a fresh Singler to really blossom as the season progresses.  He has worked with Miles Plumlee to make him a better player and the two get along on and off the court.

Gerald Henderson is becoming a man among boys.  He is physically better than he’s ever been and he looks like a future NBA player with his ability to go inside and out.  He is capable of making the jump to All American.

No secret anymore- Miles Plumlee has proved that he has a very well rounded game.  He plays smart, runs the floor well, has good hands and nice ball handling to go with a mid range offense game.  He also finishes nicley and has good hops.  His Dad told me he was under appreciated and you know what?  That won’t last much longer.  I do expect he will struggle at times with veteran big men, but this kid has earned the starting nod as a freshman and that’s a heck of an accomplishment.

The latest on John Wall- Wall will get together sometime soon with Coach K and the Duke staff.  At that time both will figure out how they will proceed.  Wall canceled his weekend visit with Memphis and I expect we will know whether Duke has offered no later than Monday.

Sorry for the delays in reporting of late due to computer attack.  It happens.  I lost two informative articles, but some of the info is a bit old now.  I will still go back over some practice notes and dig up the pertinent information in the coming week.  It looks like the Josh Smith interview will come next week, due to and overload in covering Duke vs NCSU in football, tonight’s game, preparing player profiles and Monday and Tuesday’s opener.  Thanks for your patience during this time.[/private]

Deep roster will compete to support a solid core

[private]
Duke returns a solid core of players from last year’s 28-6 squad. Kyle Singler, a 6-8 220 power forward, was the ACC Rookie of the Year and 3rd Team All-ACC. Versatile 6-4 wing Gerald Henderson had a breakout sophomore season. Jon Scheyer was invaluable as Duke’s Sixth Man playing the third most minutes and was the team’s fourth leading scorer. Greg Paulus recovered from the injuries that plagued him as a sophomore, displayed a deadly 3-point shooting ability, and earned 3rd Team All-ACC honors.

The challenge for the coaching staff this season will be managing the five or six players required to support the solid core of Singler, Henderson, Scheyer, and Paulus. Which players emerge and secure spots in the rotation is a question which will be answered during intense practice sessions throughout the season. With 12 scholarship players healthy and available to compete, Duke is deeper and more experienced than they have been in recent seasons.

The first question is how improved will Nolan Smith be as a sophomore? He tallied 5.9 points in 14.7 minutes per game as a freshman and displayed flashes of greatness at times. In a key victory, on the road at Maryland, on January 27th, he scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in twenty minutes of action. His highest scoring game of the year was on February 17th when he dropped 21 points on Wake Forest. Unfortunately that was in a losing effort. Smith was slowed, down the stretch, by a hyper extended knee so his season statistics under represent his actual contribution on the court.

Duke is going to need Smith to be a consistent performer this season especially on defense. With defensive stopper DeMarcus Nelson lost to graduation, Smith is the likely candidate to draw the assignment of guarding the opponent’s best perimeter player. With solid freshman to sophomore season improvement a la Gerald Henderson, Smith could emerge as a star for the Blue Devils. Smith is currently slated to be Duke’s starting point guard. In recent comments, Coach Mike Krzyzewski stated, “Right now, Nolan would be a starter.” With Smith in the starting line-up, it appears Greg Paulus will take over the Sixth Man role occupied by Jon Scheyer last season.

Next, is Miles Plumlee a viable option to fill the starting post player position? He has been especially impressive in early practice and the exhibition game against Virginia Union, a game in which he started, played 16 minutes, scored 14 points, and grabbed seven rebounds. With Plumlee slated to break into the starting line-up, it appears Duke is set to address their post presence short-comings of a year ago. Coach Krzyzewski on Plumlee, after the Virginia Union game: “Good hands, good feet, a shot blocker, runs and it’s just a matter of him getting experience. He’s got a great feel for the game. He’s a very good athlete.”

A center-by-committee of Miles Plumlee, Brian Zoubek, and Lance Thomas is a definite possibility. After the Blue-White game, Coach Krzyzewski praised Lance Thomas for his defensive pressure. “When he’s in the game we need to pick up our pressure in the full court, because defensively he’s outstanding. You have to give him the opportunity to use those talents when he is in there.” Brian Zoubek has put up impressive numbers in limited minutes: five points and six rebounds in just 12 minutes against Virginia Union; 10 points and three rebounds in the Blue-White game. It appears all three players will get minutes and the opportunity to shine. Over the long haul of the season, their combined efforts should develop into a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of the individual pieces.

Before proceeding any further, it must be stated that Duke, like every other team, must avoid the injury bug. The past two seasons have been negatively impacted by injuries. Paulus broke his foot on the first day of practice in 2006, Zoubek broke his foot twice last season, Thomas suffered from a respiratory infection, Henderson hurt his wrist, the flu bug struck hard with inconvenient timing, and who knows what other minor injuries never leaked to the press. A healthy 2008-2009 season would be a nice change.

Finally, who will emerge to take over and secure spots as the ninth and tenth men in the rotation? Dave McClure, Elliot Williams, Marty Pocius, and Olek Czyz will be fighting for playing time as role players off the bench. All four of these players should have an opportunity to contribute early in the season, but when the ACC season starts competition for playing time will stiffen and it is not unrealistic to expect Coach Krzyzewski to shrink the rotation to ten players. Fifth year senior Dave McClure has the advantage of understanding the system, red shirt junior Marty Pocius is healthy and coming off a summer spent playing with the Lithuania National Team, and freshman Elliot Williams is extremely athletic. “I think he could be one of our better on-ball defenders,” Coach Krzyzewski said. Freshman Olek Czyz is a natural athlete and a guy who will be looking to make an impact when given the opportunity.

Duke is in good shape to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. The team has a solid core and a talented supporting cast. By avoiding the injury bug, having a ball or two bounce the right way, and improving as the season unfolds, a trip to Detroit and the Final Four is a realistic expectation for this edition of the Duke Blue Devils.[/private]

Devils, Heels participate in Pro Am – “G” makes his debut

The NC Pro Am once again threw the ball into play on Tuesday evening and there were some interesting performances along the way.  The night was highlighted by the appearance of Dr. LeRoy Walker, a former NCCU coach who is an iconic figure in Track and Field and the local community.  Walker was the first black president of the US Olympic Committee and is 90 years old.  He is a former member of Omega Psi Phi and is a graduate of Benedict. 

The evenings first game pitted the RDU Barnstormers minus Kyle Singler and Team Williams.  Williams wore them down inside down the stretch.  That coupled with turnovers sent them to a third loss, the final score being 75-71.

Olek Czyz threw down four dunks which brought cheers from the crowd.  In fact, he pretty much entertains the crowd every night whether they are a Duke fan or not.  OC as he is called, finished with 14 points.  He was pitted against Vasil Evtimov, an experienced former Wolfpack player and held his own.

Evtimov reached into his bag of tricks on occasion and would out fox  the incoming freshman.  Olek didn’t back down, pinning one of his shots and taking it right two the taller Bulgarian.  For every play Evtimov made, Olek frustrated him with his ability to get to the hole on offensive.   If it were scored as a fight it was a draw or Olek by a slim decision.  For further scouting analogies on Czyz and other players become a member of Blue Devil Nation Premium which is our subscription service.

Nolan Smith looked smooth and in control and had a nice game despite not handling the ball that often.  He made some sweet passes and tallied 15 points.   His guard heavy team kept him from truly showing off his skills in that he was almost a “3” guard if you will, meaning he almost took on a small forward or a second shooting guard role at times.

Miles Plumlee failed to show for the next game and our understanding is that he is hampered by a minor knee problem.  For all the disappointment from no shows, there was one huge surprise on the evening.  That being the first appearance of Gerald Henderson since his wrist surgery.

“G” started off slow, possibly due to his teammates getting use to him.  The cold hard truth is that they didn’t seem to get him the ball so he could show his skill set and he had to make his own plays.  This led to a couple of forced shots, many rimming in and out early.  By games end, he was acclimating himself and showing his renowned ability to flush dunks.  Henderson ended the game with a quiet 19 points, but there was no doubt he will pick up where he left off last year and in my opinion will blow up this year, not that he will have a breakout season for he already has, but that he’ll take the next step.

I watched him battle Lance Thomas who played alongside Jerry Stackhouse, the two having good chemistry together.  Thomas had a successful game on both ends of the floor and hustled his butt off.  In the second half, Hendo switched on him and did manage to slow him down a draw a couple of fouls.  Still, it was a solid showing from LT who tallied 12 on the official box score, but on this evening it seemed to me like he had 19 and G had 12.

Thomas and Stack’s team proved too much for Team KG and they cruised to a 77-59 win and remaining the only undefeated team.  Stackhouse ended the game with 13.  Danny Green and Ed Davis of UNC were no shows for this game and Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington have yet to play despite being on rosters.

Elliot Williams and Steve Johnson suited up for E-Net in the nightcap and the result was a defensive game early on where both teams had 40 combined at the half.  EWill wasn’t that effective in the first half, but warmed up in the second half when his team scored just under fifty cruising to their second victory and an easy win.

Singler leads team to win, Williams drops 21 in loss

The first two contests during tonight’s NC Pro Am games at North Carolina Central were relatively quiet.  That would soon change as Jerry Stackhouse would suit up for the first time with a cast of Tar Heels.  The undefeated Regulators would face the winless E-Net led by Duke freshman Elliot Williams and walk-on Steve Johnson.

Stackhouse, of course, sponsors the tournament and the word is that more ex pros will trickle in over the next two weeks.  Joining Stackhouse were rising UNC senior Danny Green and incoming freshman Ed Davis.

The game started off a bit slow as Stackhouse drained a three.  Few fans who have watched the games figured Team E-Net had a chance, but as the half went on they hung in the game early in the first half taking a one point lead at 16-15.  Shortly thereafter, the fun began.

Elliot Williams jumped out on Danny Green on the far baseline and forced the ball off his leg with smothering defense.  This brought the Duke fans to life as cheers echoed throughout the arena.  Shortly thereafter Green faked by Williams for a score which brought oohs and ah’s from the Tar Heel contingent.

Several big plays ensued, be it a dunk or a block.  Stackhouse showed his light blue blood getting a little riled after a few big plays from the Dukies.  Ed Davis also stepped up and looked really good on the glass.  Steve Johnson scored six points and is fundamentally sound ina many areas of the game.

Toward the end of the half, Williams stole the ball (one of four) and went to the rim to dunk, but Green would have none of that challenging him and getting the block but also the foul as time expired in the half.  He also got an elbow in the mouth, blood streaming to the point where he covered his mouth with a towel and sat out the second half.

It was in no way intentional on either players part.  Williams hit the deck hard and Green came away with the elbow.  The fans enjoyed the mini Duke-UNC rivalry and several seriously hard plays. Green had nine points and shook hands in a show of sportsmanship with Elliot after the game.

During one sequence, Johnson and Williams both had steals and dunks back to back.  Elliot again showed the ability to take his man off the dribble and finish with the dunk.  He had one play where he blew past Stackhouse for a rim rattling dunk.  He struggled a bit from the outside, but again, showed the ability to pass the ball garnering a few assists.  Williams ended the game with 21 points.

Former N.C. State star, Josh Powell was the game’s leading scorer with 26, but he was literally all E-Net had down low and this coupled Stackhouse’s experience made for an easy 73-58 win down the stretch.  Still the game was closer than that score indicates.  Stackhouse had 12 points and Ed Davis added 14.

In the nightcap, the Barnstormers rattled Team KG 70-58.  Kyle Singler had his usual all around game, playing the entire game for his depth shy team.  Kyle ended the game with 17 points  and as usual was vital in his team’s win.

Olek Czyz, called O.C., scored just 8 points tonight with 4 coming off his patented dunks.  There were times when he got lost on the court tonight and he will have to position himself better and more importantly know where to be on the court in sets.  Olek signed autographs for adoring fans who’ve come to love his uncanny athletic ability.

Nolan Smith had a quiet 14 points, and seemed to favor his knee.  He played sparingly at times due to the nagging problem.  This was his first time back after sitting out last Thursday.  The three Dukies have led their team to second place in the standing with just one loss.

Duke PG Greg Paulus and Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis were in the house to watch their school mates.  Miles Plumlee is listed on a roster but didn’t make the early game.  Paulus attended the game with his brother who plays for the UNC football team. 

The games continue this Thursday at 6:00.  The last game tips at 9:00.  Here is the Pro Am’s official website where you can check the schedules, gametimes and stats.  Admission is free.