The offensive woes of late - While Duke has struggled in conference games offensively, averaging 70.6 ppg, they still remain third in the conference overall at 78.2. During yesterday’s press conference, Krzyzewski openly joked about his offense in the last couple of games before taking on a serious tone saying, “We’re still trying to find our identity offensively. But we are trying to find ways of incorporate more people, not just the three point shot. We need to put ourselves in a position to get fouled a little bit more and get it into the post. Not just the post for big men, but Gerald. We’re still very much developing there. The offense has got to get better.” Duke is clearly waiting for the offense to come into its own but with eight regular season games left it has become a concern. “Our offense takes on the identity of our key players,” said Krzyzewski who will adjust his offense to roster personnel.
The defense is solid -“Our defense and rebounding is up a notch or two from last year and that’s why we’ve won,” said Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils are letting
up just 61.0 ppg, but they will be tested like no other game versus UNC who averages 92.3 ppg.
Rebounding is solid - Duke is third in the conference in rebounding despite their lack of depth inside. The team has bought into how important this is. UNC will surely try to dominate the glass in Cameron and it’ll take one of Dukes better efforts to offset this.
Dave McClure -A huge plus of late has been the outstanding play of Dave McClure who is showing senior leadership. “David has always been a solid player in our program and a part time starter. What he’s done this year is be an outstanding defender and the ultimate role player. He’s done a lot of little things that end up being big things. In the game Saturday, he’s probably good for gaining 18 possessions for us - thirteen on rebounds and five keeping the ball alive. That’s a lot of points and there is no stats for that,” said Krzyzewski of his play. He went on to say his role was similar to what Dennis Rodman use to do for the Bulls which is high praise.
Greg Paulus will start- Kryzewski announced that Greg Paulus would start on Wednesday. “Greg didn’t so much re-earn his spot, he will start obviously
against, or maybe not so obviously against Carolina. Greg played a great game on Saturday. He did that while we as a group were going through a very adverse time. When somebody steps up when we are going through adversity, that’s the best. He played a great game, he was all over the place,” said Krzyzewski. He went on to say that Paulus has dealt with a lot of frustration not being able to prepare in the off season for his senior year due to injury.
Nolan Smith is okay and ready as well -“This is a good thing for Nolan. Nolan is a much developing player. He’s played really good basketball for us. All of a sudden you are in intense conference play and we are not functioning well offensively puts even more pressure on him,” said Krzyzewski. Expect to see both Smith and Paulus play together some versus UNC and Smith is still considered to be a starter. Smith later stated that he was okay with the decision, but it was clear it may have motivated him a bit to for now, lose his spot at the “1″ position.
Gerald Henderson- “For over a month now, he’s been pretty good,” said Krzyzewski, calling him their most established player offensively. Henderson keyed a second half run versus Miami but had only two points in the first half. “In the first half, he was more of a shooter and in the second half he attacked. He has to remember that’s who he is.” said Coach.
Kyle Singler -“Physically, he’s okay. He’s just playing like a warrior. Maybe he needs to be a little bit more precise on his technique when shooting. He’s missed some lay ups that have been in and out. He just needs to keep doing it. We need f
or him to stay aggressive, but physically he’s okay,” said Krzyzewski. Singler had been sick but is better now. In short Duke wants him to shoot through his many drought.
How to slow the UNC offense- Krzyzewski said it would be a huge challenge and that it would take a team effort to slow them down. He also made reference to how important bench play would be in this game. “To win big games you try to play well for forty minutes and that’s what we are going to try to do and they are going to try an not let us play well,” stated Krzyzewski.
Interesting K quote- “None of my players are where I want them to be because I always want them to be better.”
Closing K quote – “You know, we get a chance to play a game of this level. Not many programs in the United States would ever play this level of game and we get to play it twice. Historically, this game has helped both programs win or lose because you’ve been tested. I think that’s the most important … over the years Duke and Carolina have made each other better. It’s a good game to be at and a heck of a game to be in.” He went on to say that the most relevant thing in this game is that both teams were 7-2 in the conference and atop the conference coming into the game.
Anybody who has watched a lot of basketball will tell you teams play in cycles. Sometimes a made shot, key steal or more importantly a win will get you back on track.
Well, Duke hopes today’s hard fought victory over a game Miami team will pull them out of a funk. It certainly looked as if the Blue Devils were on their way to a second straight loss after one of the worst half’s of offensive basketball I have seen them play.
Coming off the Clemson debacle, fans hoped to see a well oiled machine, but it became evident that Duke was in a mental funk and by intermission even the most positive fans were wondering if Duke could find any way to score.
While the first half was seriously ugly, the end result was beautiful for Duke. Wise men will tell you that win you win a game like this, you let the first half go. In fact, Duke should let the Clemson game as well.
Ironically, it was the much maligned Greg Paulus who was a key catalyst. He made some mistakes but he played through them and continued to hustle forcing many miscues you don’t get credit for in the stat sheet.
Paulus three pointers and 18 points were especially vital considering sophomore Nolan Smith has all of a sudden got the look of a deer in headlights about him when on the court.
Singler struggled mightily from the outside and took a few rushed shots, but his toughness on the boards was vital as well. The super soph hit just 5 of his 23 shots, but he had the presence of mind to keep shooting and that is what was needed.
Like Paulus, senior Dave McClure reached deep down to help his fellow Devils. McCluers defense was stellar and his game high 14 rebounds were incredible for many of them were created by pure desire. One needs to not that half of them were on the offensive boards.
And then there is Gerald Henderson. After a single point before the half, he asserted himself to score 19 points and many of those were in one key stretch run.
The bottom line is if you look at individual stats and the Duke shooting percentage, you would think they lost. But they didn’t and much of that can be attributed to half time adjustments where Coach K tinkered with his defense.
During the second half, Krzyzewski made another good move, calling a timeout after his team hit a stretch where they missed five shot in a row, all beyond the stripe. He obviously told them to attack more and when they did it payed off.
You can certainly point to a lot of areas Duke needs work on, be it attacking a zone defense or getting players other than the big three to step up. Actually, two did step up today and they were both seniors. Duke could not have won this game without their spirited play.
In the end, there was one key thing which happened today and that was Duke got the win. The way they had to fight back to take that win is something which cannot be measured with concerns to confidence.
Duke is now realizing how hard teams will come at them and they are seeing defenses designed to give them trouble. Despite how bad some feel Duke is playing, they are tied atop the conference at 7-2 and won their 20th game of the season against three losses.
You see, it’s better to struggle or see those defenses now for those are the kind of lessons that prepare you for March. Duke will now prepare for rival North Carolina. The two teams will battle for sole possession of first place in the ACC and you can be sure that the lessons learned by Duke will benefit them in this game.
There is always something special when one of the nation’s best programs comes into Cameron for a non conference contest. The crowd seems to amp it up a bit, the intensity is at a high level, and the play is inspired and emotional.
All of the above held true on a game that started at 1:30 on Saturday afternoon as Duke defeated Georgetown 76-67 for their 67th consecutive home court win against outside invaders.
It was the kind of win that assures the Blue Devils a solid seed come March and a victory that allowed Coach K to further analyze his team before it gets into the meat of the ACC schedule.
The Crazies had a bit of fun ragging on Greg Monroe, the talented freshman that spurned Duke without taking a visit. It was obvious that Duke did its scouting on Monroe for they got the big man into foul trouble, essentially taking him out of the game during key stretches.
Gerald Henderson continued on his tear of late with an amazing first half show that enabled the Devils to pull away in what was a tight game before intermission.
Georgetown would of course make a run but could get no closer than four. Singler, who struggled with his shot early, gained his bearing and tossed in 15 points and grabbed a most impressive 16 rebounds.
Paulus added a needed spark off then bench with 10 points and 2 assists and his emotion rubbed of on not only the crowd but his teammates. Paulus scored his 1000st points moving him to 46th on the all time scoring list.
Freshman Miles Plumlee played his best minutes as well and he should be able to build off the performance.
Jon Scheyer was steady as ever leading his team with 5 assists and playing some really good defense, again leading the way with 3 steals and a lot of contested or deflected passes.
There were a lot of positives and we will have more coverage on this important win tomorrow, so check back in. Until then, take a look at the game quotes -
Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski
“Well, it’s a great game. It’s two hard-nosed teams who play defense, and kids who play hard on very possession. We feel very fortunate to have won. I thought we played well enough to win and I think [Georgetown] played well enough to win. It was one of those games. [DaJuan] Summers is a very special player – one of the best we’ve played against this year or will play against. He’s really good. Obviously [Greg] Monroe is a special talent, and they have a great perimeter. I thought Kyle [Singler]’s rebounding performance was spectacular – 16 rebounds in this game when we only had 32, although there weren’t that many missed shots. That’s a spectacular performance. And, [Gerald Henderson] really gave us a huge boost, I mean he played a terrific game. I thought [Greg] Paulus played withthe fight that he’s had throughout most of his career here, and I think he’s finally getting healthy. He and Nolan [Smith] out there in this game was a good combination and it limited our turnovers – we had 14 assists and 12 turnovers. The last 10 minutes of the game with Kyle in foul trouble was interesting, but we hung in there and made our free throws, didn’t make mistakes down at the end there. I’m real proud of my team, plus the crowd was great. It was a great atmosphere and the crowd helped us, no question about it.”
On the switch in lineup and less minutes for the post players:
“A lot of it had to do with their offense. Monroe is a very unique player, and he’s their point guard – he plays at the top, goes to the side, and if you play him in a traditional sense, big-on-big, he’s going to get a lot of open passes. His vision is terrific, so we thought that was part of how we might be able to limit them. [Miles] Plumlee came in and did a great job for us. We have a versatile team, and we should be able to use our personnel to match up against someone the way we did, and that’s why we did it.”
On the impact of the technical foul called on Monroe: “It gave us two points. We were really horrible on three straight offensive possessions in transition, where we could have gotten six points, and I think they ended up getting seven off of those, and that’s a huge swing – potentially a 13-point swing. It was one of the worst swings of the game, and we were responsible for that. So, [the technical] just kind of stopped the game for a while, maybe we righted the ship, and we hit the free throws.”
On Gerald Henderson’s play recently: “I think he’s finally over that wrist injury. Remember he was out for four months – he didn’t do anything basketball-wise for four months at the end of last season. It’s still not 100-percent, but now he’s learned to finally live with it. The last month he’s just kind of gone off. I think he’s in great shape, probably the best shape that he’s been in since he’s been here. His weight is down, so instead of playing at around 215-216 [pounds] he’s probably 210-211 and all those things have an impact.”
On Georgetown’s offense: “Theirs is a read offense. It’s based on movements and reads. [Coach John Thompson III] gives his guys a lot of freedom in that offense, and that’s why Monroe is so huge with that because he has a great feel for the game and he makes good reads. What we tried to do is rush the quarterback, at least put pressure on the quarterback, so it at least took away some of his vision. He had four assists but he had four turnovers. He had a good game, but when he walks on the floor he can potentially have a great game. He had a good game today and that helps us.”
On Greg Paulus’ play:
“I thought that was, by far, his best performance this year. What he showed was fight. He was playing really good defensively, playing with emotion, and gave us a huge boost. I mean, we don’t win the game without Greg today. Greg had a huge impact on today’s game.”
Duke Junior Gerald Henderson
“The first half was great. It was special. My teammates were finding me and I was knocking shots down. We got a good lead at the end. In the second half, shots weren’t falling like they were in the first half. I just started getting to the rim a little more. They started taking some things away, but I ended up on my drives being able to kick it out to my teammates so it was good.”
“I grew up basically in Villanova. I’ve been to Georgetown-Villanova games at the Pavilion. I’ve been to those games, I’ve watched them play, and I know what kind of intensity the Big East brings. Growing up around that, it was fun to play them and beat them.”
“This is the second time I’ve played Georgetown [in Cameron]. Both games have been unbelievable in terms of intensity, and this one didn’t disappoint at all. We won but it was a lot of fun.”
“I think after [the Michigan] loss where nobody really played that well, I kind of made it a mission to myself that I could contribute more and do a lot more out there on the court. A loss really kind of made me realize that. Up to that point, we were winning but I wasn’t playing all that great. That loss kind of opened up my eyes and told me that I needed to contribute a little more.”
Duke Senior Greg Paulus
“Whether the team is from the Northeast, the South or the West, you want to win and you want to win at home. You want to protect your home turf. We really wanted to win this one, not because it was ACC-Big East, but just because we’re playing and we hate to lose.”
“It was a very intense game. They’re a big, physical team and we’ve played them a couple of years – I’ve played them three times – so we knew it was going to be that kind of game. We knew that was the type of effort we were going to need in order to win.”
On Gerald Henderson:
“He’s playing well. He’s got a lot of confidence and we have a lot of confidence in him. Some of the moves that he’s making are at a very high level. It’s tough to defend and you can really feel his presence out there.”
“Whenever you can play one of the best teams in the country like Georgetown you get that type of experience. You play a lot of different teams in non-conference and they’re big and they’re long, and those are the types of teams you could see in the NCAA Tournament. Having this type of experience to win, it’s a good thing for our team.”
On his defensive spark in the second half: “We needed some energy so I tried to make a play. Luckily I got my hand on a ball and it was just good energy that we needed. We had those types of plays – Jon [Scheyer] made a steal that was big, Kyle [Singler] hit some threes – so we did a good job of closing the game out.”
Duke Sophomore Kyle Singler
On his first half shooting: “Sometimes your shot’s not going to fall. You can’t get down on yourself for missing a shot. Things happen. I thought the whole team played well and I fed off the team. That’s what happened – I wasn’t worrying about whether I was making my shots or not. Once the crowd got into it, you kind of lose all sense of if you’re making shots or not.”
“These types of games are very good for us. This is a very good team. It’s the type of team that’s a top team in the ACC. It’s a team that you’re going to play in the NCAA Tournament. It’s great preparation. But when it comes down to it, the game is over and you have to move on. We have to go on to N.C. State and start the ACC and keep on doing what we’re doing – playing good basketball.”
On his improved rebounding: “A lot of times the balls just come to you, to be honest. But it’s those 50/50 balls that you kind of haveto go out of your way to get. I had a couple of those tonight and I was able to get those 50/50 balls. One of the other main things that happens [compared to] last year, you’re older, a little stronger, you’re able to withstand a full-length game. You’re able to have legs and go get balls, and I’ve been workingreally hard on grabbingrebounds with two hands, especially at this level. A lot of big guys get hands on ball and tip them out of your hand. As a rebounderthat‘s the most frustratingthing.”
Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III
Explanation on technical foul on Greg Monroe “They outplayed us, we’re not going to sit here and look at that and say that was the reason the outcome was what it was. They outplayed us, that’s why we lost.”
On Duke’s run in the final eight minutes of the first half “During that stretch I think they did a very good job of executing at the defensive end and we couldn’t fall into a rhythm. We didn’t execute well at the offensive end, we made some poor decisions. And as happens with good teams, they got to feeling good, they went on a run, and the emotions of the building took over. So we went for too long of a stretch not scoring. But that’s a tribute to them.”
On lineup changes from first and second half “The group with [DaJuan Summers], [Greg Monroe], [Austin Freeman], [Jason Clark], [Omar Wattad] was playing well. We were down 15 or 16 and got it to four. Then they got a little tired and the lead went back to 11 or 12 I think. We got them back in there and the lead went back down again so this group was playing well together.”
On Greg’s reaction to the technical foul
“He was just saying to me ‘I didn’t say anything, I didn’t say anything’. I don’t know what went through his mind, but that’s what his reaction was.”
On what he takes from the game
“It’s a non-conference game in the middle of a very tough conference schedule, so it’s a very disappointing loss for a lot of different reasons, but we have to moveon. I think we continue to see our comfort level with different groups. Like you indicated, tonight it was Omar [Wattad] and Jason [Clark]. We made two separate runs when those guys were on the floor, so it’s going to be a different group on different nights depending on the flow, depending on what my feel is, and what I think is working and what is not working.”
On technical foul
“The technical was a key part of the game, let’s not try to run from that, it was a key part of the game. On top of everything, now Greg [Monroe] has four [fouls]. It clearly altered how they attacked us and what we could do, but that’s not the reason that we ended up with less points than them tonight. They played very well. They made plays, particularly in the first half. Early in the first half they were making tough shots. We played the defense, but they were making tough shots. Then there was a stretch in the second half where we were getting good looks, the ball just wasn’t going in, so that’s sports, that’s basketball, that’s life. They beat us today.”
On Gerald Henderson
“He put them on his shoulders and carried them. He was terrific. He was unbelievable. He just got into the flow and that happens with good players. He got into a rhythm and made everything he threw up.”
On how playing in the environment helps the team
“You go to places and you play the games and hopefully you learn from mistakes. We have to take something away from every game, win or lose.”
Georgetown freshman Greg Monroe
Whether he heard anything being said behind him
“A lot of people were saying things. I don’t even believe he was really looking at the bench, but I know I definitely didn’t say anything. I can’t say if I heard someone else, but I know I definitely didn’t say anything.”
Georgetown junior DaJuan Summers
On his offensive production slowing down in the second half
“I did miss a lot of key free throws, but that’s not why my offensive production stopped or slowed down. I tried to find different looks, not force shots, and find the best shots down the stretch. That’s probably mostly why.”
On team’s offensive execution down the stretch “I didn’t say it wasn’t great. I said, me down the stretch, I was trying to make the right play. They play good defense. They are a good defensive team and we as a team have to figure out ways to get better shots and not let the other team dictate where we are going to get our shots. That process is key for us, but they play great defense.”
[private]Duke rode double figure scoring from six different players and a season high 22
assists in route to a 99-56 drubbing of UNC-Asheville. The win was the 65th straight versus non conference foes in Cameron.
The win pushed Duke to 9-1 for the season and allowed them to get a taste of victory after an eleven day lay off, coming off a road loss to Michigan. Duke started slowly, but as the exam break blues wore off the Devils got better.
Duke started the game with their starters on the bench, partly being a message to said starters, but just as likely to extend the experience of their depth.
Kyle Singler led the way with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 block as eleven players played significant minutes. Henderson tied him for the scoring lead with 14 and Jon Scheyer after a slow start, tallied 13 points.
The other three players scoring in double figures were Greg Paulus, Brian Zoubek and Nolan Smith with 12 points apiece.
Paulus showed significant improvement in his overall floor game and his numbers were almost exactly the same as Smith, save one block he made in the second half. Paulus also scored all of his points with four.
Duke was also solid from the three point hitting 11 of 27 for 40.5% another season high. They also connected on the majority of their free throw opportunities going 16 of 19 for 84.2%.
The 99 points Duke put up was also a season high. Of those 99, 50 points were in the paint and 36 came off turnovers. Krzyzewski stated that he thought his team not only improved as the game went on but in general. Duke will next travel to New Jersey where they will take on seventh ranked Xavier on Saturday.
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.
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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It’s always nice when Duke Student Athletes support one another. Just ask Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis who recently told BDN, “When you sign on the dotted line to attend Duke University you are embracing a family whether you are a student or student athlete.”
He went onto say, “I want them (athletes) to support me, so I go out and support them.” Lewis could be seen at the Coach K Academy this summer checking out all of the former Duke players while stopping to talk to a couple of current players like Greg Paulus. “I wish I could get out there on the court,” said Lewis during that event. He went on to say he played basketball in high school.
Almost all athletes at Duke played multiple sports at one time. The aforementioned Paulus was one of the top rated quarterbacks in the nation out of high school. In a twist of irony, Paulus could be found at a recent football practice peering on much like Lewis did in Cameron, wondering what if.
Lewis and Paulus are two perfect examples of the kind of special athlete Duke produces both on and off the court or field respectively. Both could be seen at various Duke sporting events last year and both are willing to put in the work for their university of choice.
I mean, talk about being selfless! Lewis could be field on the field handing out water to prospects during the Duke Football Camps. Paulus could be found atop the hill in the new practice facility waiting to give attendees to the Coach K Academy rides to and from their motel. Just take a second and imagine Lewis handing you a gatorade and Paulus saying “where to,” as his van loads.
“Greg Paulus is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’ll do anything for his school,” said recently retired Frank Dascenzo of the Herald Sun while the two of us sat in the new practice facility during the K Academy.
Lewis also supported the basketball Blue Devils at the recent SJC Pro Am event at NC Central University. It’s kind of nice when Singler, Williams or Smith can look up and see Duke’s starting quaterback in the stands.
There is one bond that ties the two together besides being the engine to their respective teams. That being each one is throughly enjoying their Duke experience. “Duke is somewhere you can be comfortable at. It’s somewhere where you want to be and it’s somewhere where they want you,” said Lewis. He went on, “It’s family oriented around here and I’m enjoying every mintue of every day.
So, if you happen upon Paulus or Lewis around campus or in any environment, you will see two Duke student athletes who strive to not only give their best, but to support one another. Perhaps more importantly, they are enjoying their Duke experience.[/private]