Tag Archives: Harrison Barnes

UNC at Duke – The battle for the ACC Regular Season Championship

 

The hype is now in full swing for the big showdown between Duke and North Carolina, rivals with a mere eight miles of separation.  ESPN is firmly embedded on the Duke campus where they’ll begin to broaadcast live from today with the infamous tent city as the backdrop.  A stroll through the Gothic Wonderland shows students preparing for the event with live bands. brew cans popping and some last minute studying to free up their time.  With a Duke win, benches will burn, celebrations will last until the following morning and another Duke team will be crowned champion.  But North Carolina stands in the way and Duke must take care of the business at hand where history shows us that can sometimes be a difficult task.

There is no place in the country where two behemoth’s exist like Duke and North Carolina and everywhere you go in the region, fans are proudly wearing their colors.  It’s not unusual for a total stranger to start trash talking you from behind when in line to pay for gas or obtain a snack in any store.  Horns honk  in approval as cars pass with flags or their might be a finger stuck in the air from the more fanatical ones as they pass and the stakes could not be higher in this one as both teams are vying for the regular season championship.

One team will go or stay at home with their heads held high while the other will feel like they’ve been hit in the chest with a sledgehammer with a loss.  But in reality, win or lose, both teams will benefit from playing this game in that playing a top level opponent will be the best preparation for March Madness which will soon begin in earnest as conference tournaments get under way and folks start to study all the happenings in order to soon fill out their brackets.

It’s both the best and busiest time of year for media and they will soon converge on Cameron in droves, each seeking a story. Each member will be proud to have the opportunity to to simply cover a game of this magnitude in a legendary venue known as Cameron Indoor Stadium, a facility that has limited seating availability to handle a thousand or better requests.

At some point this evening, Coach Mike Krzyzewski will address the students and this is an annual thing, but it is for them and not the general public so please respect that.  And then there is the much anticipated private screening debut of the TBS produced documentary that Grant Hill and Christian Laettner co produced about the Back to Back Championship seasons which will be shown in Cameron.

There is even a managers game between Duke and UNC which goes off at 10:00 and these guys take this affair seriously.  Duke will be looking for the next Casey Peters to lead them to a win and his play landed him on the team a year later.  And there will of course be live music and revelry at every turn as well.

The aforementioned ESPN GameDay will have a presentation in the morning starting at 10:00 and it is open to the public.  And the atmosphere will be an all day affair with the most intense anticipation taking over many.   As game time draws near, the line monitors will start to do their thing and just before that Cameron Crazies will be putting on their royal blue war paint and who knows, we may even see an appearance by the infamous speedo guy.

Prospect Amile Jefferson will be in the crowd

The students are allowed in Cameron an hour earlier than the general public and they’ll be in their best form of the season and packed in like sardines for this one.  The ESPN cameras will stroll uo and down as they whip the Crazies into a frenzy.  When North Carolina comes out, they will be greeted and razzed non stop and many will wear ear phones to avoid the chatter, like Harrison Barnes did last season.

Barnes of course, was at the center of a heated recruiting battle and many on the Duke side felt he led them on, so he gets special attention.  And they will surely razz Tyler Zeller, but be careful there because he is the favorite to win player of the year in the conference by many.  And then there is John Henson, who has a sister on the Duke womens team which is playing in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

The atmosphere is beyond description in that there is never a moment of silence and the roars can be deafening in this one.  There is an electricity in the air like no other game in America and the intensity can be felt as you walk through the packed to the brim stadium.  It is nothing less than fever pitch pandemonium in every way.

But what happens when the ball is tossed in the air at tip off?  Well, there will be a battle of two proud, storied basketball programs.  Watching Roy Williams and Coach Mike Krzyzewski stroll the sidelines is a view onto itself as is the many happenings all around.  Celebrities will be present and fans hang on every single play, pass or anything that can happen on the court.  Each turnover, dunk or tip of the ball brings about intense emotion, all seeming pertinent to the outcome.  It is basically one heck of a roller coaster ride that will leave you drenched in sweat as fans go through a myriad of superstitious ways.

What you will see is Duke trying to keep up with North Carolina on the boards and slow their transition game while UNC will try to push Duke off the three point line and get key bigs into early foul trouble.  There will be manic swings to where no lead is comfortable and it will all be left on the court by both sides.

Quite frankly, this game is too close to call, a virtual toss up in many ways and the Tar Heels will be hell bent on revenge after Austin Rivers three point dagger in Chapel Hill.  But will they be too pumped up?  Or for that matter, will Duke?  Staying calm before this game is something both coaches have to address and it may be tougher for Duke in that they are the younger team.

But Duke has had their doubters all season long, yet they’ve earned their way to a great opportunity and a 26-4 record with some solid NCAA resume building wins.  North Carolina was the overlwheming pick to not only win the ACC but were rated number one in the nation as well and they have suffered an injury to Dexter Strickland, but there starting lineup up has no less than three All ACC players on the team, so not too maybe will feel sorry for them.

That would be Harrison Barnes in Duke garb - copyright BDN Photo

Win  or lose, both teams will benefit from this game and know what to fine tune and work on for the tournaments.  Win or lose for Duke and they’ve had a great season with some huge wins.  Win or lose, Miles Plumlee will address the Cameron Crazies and fans after the game for his final time in a Duke uniform and win or lose fans should give him a warm aduraion and walk away with their head held high with pride.

It’s not the end of the world when you come up on the short end in this game, but it sure feels like it to those with a vested interest and that’s what makes this game special.  Two winners will take to the court and two winners will walk off the court and that’s all  there is to it, but being homer media, I sure hope that Miles goes off in style but no matter what I am proud of these Blue Devils win or lose, as you should be as well.

Let the game begin!

Our final word on the “B” word …

Kyrie Irving wanted to play with Barnes, but he will now prepare to face him as a rival.  For Duke fans, it's time to move on and show love to the players that want to play in Durham.
Kyrie Irving wanted to play with Barnes, but he will now prepare to face him as a rival. For Duke fans, it's time to move on and show love to the players that want to play in Durham.

When I first started to write of the aftermath of Barnes recruitment, I realized that in order to get a better picture that it would take a little time. So, I let this sit on the cutting room floor for a few days.  Of course, members wanted answers right away and nobody could give them what few involved in the situation wanted to talk about.

As time has gone on and I have yet to release what we’ll term BDN’s final word on Barnes, I realized that despite all of my efforts there was no real way to make sense of the disappointment.  Still, I will give it a try in an effort to appease those with questions.

First off all, lets be real in that had Harrison Barnes chose Duke, we would have had no problem with his recruitment.  Many of you are seeking answers but nobody can give you a complete scenario as to how things went down.

I have been saying for a year now that [private] I do not like it when Duke is considered the leader for a recruit, especially early on.  Duke has missed on Barnes, Boynton and Monroe after being considered the leader and there are others as well.

I personally do not think prospects like being linked to a certain school for a long period of time, for all the questions and all the attacks surely come.  Yes, we are talking negative recruiting and there is a lot of that going on.  But that’s a story for another day for it was far from the sole reason Duke lost Barnes to Carolina.

I say lost Barnes, for I really thought they had established themselves the leader and there was never any over the top bad vibes from Barnes throughout the process.  You can also make a case in that Roy Williams closed hard and seemingly made all the right moves.

Roy camped out in Iowa towards the end and he had his team working behind the scenes at breakneck speed in a calculated effort to get Barnes.  The official visit to UNC was a grand slam, but why?

Well, as it turns out Barnes mom, Shirley is a big UNC fan and she was completely blown away on the visit, meeting Michael Jordan and being schmoozed by players she grew up rooting for is tough to overcome  Nobody realized just how deep this went until it was too late to do anything about it.

Barnes is a mommas boy, so he would naturally be swayed by his mom and sister’s emotion.  It is also known that the Barnes family felt more at home at UNC than they did Duke for whatever reason.

Yes, Barnes was urged to call certain ex Duke players and yes, kids on their team that were recruited by Duke [Leslie McDonald] and those who wanted to be for exposure [Kendall Marshall] played roles.

It’s many kids dreams to take it down to the wire with the biggest names clamoring for them as they announce to a national audience.  Duke was not about to fall prey to Marshall whose Dad wanted DU to offer for they knew where he would end up all along.

Still, there is no secret that prospects seemingly have no problem with slipping a nod and wink to one coach while stringing along others, recruiting budgets and emotions be damned.

Barnes did string Duke along and he made them feel as if there was a legitimate shot right up until his announcement.  For Duke fans, it did seem like a slap in the face with Roy slipping in after Duke’s in home and no sign of serious remorse for the jilted ones.

Once again, we all had to sit on pins and needles while Barnes gave what seemed like an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards before going over and pulling up Skype on his computer in a most clunky way.

When Roy’s face popped up, the mystery was officially over but rest assured it had been over and this “different way of announcing,” had been set up well before the day of the event.

But Duke has been here before.  Patrick Patterson strung Duke along yet in the end it was clear Duke was not in the top two.  Patterson’s mom jumped to the mike and shouted, “We shocked the world, we shocked the world.”

I suppose that is okay from the prospect’s standpoint, but wasting the recruiting budgets of schools for your own needs is wrong in my book.

Yes, Mrs. Patterson and Patrick shocked the world, but why be so proud of that?  Both the Barnes and the Patterson’s had a need for the element of surprise, but whether or not they went too far is a matter of opinion.

I’m more than happy for them in that it was a big moment for their sons, but when will the madness end where prospects clamor for the ultimate spotlight?

Like the vast majority of prospects, Barnes changed by his senior season, just like Boynton and Monroe.

Barnes had nothing but good things to say about Krzyzewski up until about three months ago when his Mom took complete control of the media and decided Barnes would speak to who they felt were the best sound pieces for their goals.

The same kid that would come up to me after his AAU games to ask about his stats to send to his mom, dissed me in the end.  Never mind, how good I made him look and that he once treated me as if I was a step above the rest of the media.

No sour grapes there, for I never bugged Barnes at home but one time.  The last time I called, I was told he would return my call by his mom Shirley and that it would be that night, but the call never came.

Look, Barnes is a good kid as is his family, but they didn’t do Duke any favors and something tells me there is already some of that UNC blue crawling up their spines that will in time bring out the intensity of the rivalry.

The thing is that Duke recruited Barnes hard and did just about everything they could which makes this a tough pill to swallow.  But Roy worked some magic in the end and that’s the bottom line.

I am not sure if Duke let up a bit in the end or anything else for that matter.  Duke is not about to share details with anyone, especially those who will run with it on the Internet.

It should also be noted that the Duke staff just wants to move on and Barnes is now history in their book.  But you can bet that the Duke family is distraught and there is a definite sense of betrayal.

My understanding is that Barnes decision caught many Duke players off guard, but there did seem to be a sense of trouble about a week ahead of his decision.

Incoming Duke freshman Kyrie Irving even made a veiled statement via twitter that in hindsight showed the writing on the wall.

Duke has clammed up of late and it should make sense to us all for there is a basketball game tonight as the season is underway.  Duke and their fans can get over this and it will likely make the return to the top sweeter.

Still, I get it in that this was the most devastating loss yet for Barnes to the neighbors down the road.

A reality check is in order, for you will hear about Barnes a lot this season on telecasts and you will have him rammed down your throat in the off season and even more-so when he sets foot in the Dean Dome.  It will not be fun but it is best to prepare for it, deal with it and accept what we can’t control.

This is also a test of Duke fans mettle for many of you started pulling for Duke when they were on top of the world.  Some of us went through two 10-16 seasons, a coach bringing us back to the final four and then leaving and watching Krzyzewski build Duke into what it is today.

A visit in history shows that Krzyzewski won with lesser talent via rankings in his first several years.  And it took a while before he started to get marquee recruits.

Duke fans have been through a great cycle and now we are in a somewhat down cycle only with concerns to Carolina.  Take them away and Duke is just a top ten team … how disgusting we have to live with that, huh?

Give it time and this to will flip.  Barnes would have flipped the balance of power had he chosen Duke, but he instead widened the gap only in that Duke needs athletic wings.

Duke will work out and remember that maybe, just maybe, the fans need to understand what it is like to be hungry again.

It’s never been Duke’s birthright to get a championship every year or a prospect they desire.  But when you compare Duke to the rest of the country’s programs, they are still elite in every way.

As for Barnes, facts are still being sifted through and by the time I get the whole picture none of us will care.  Quite simply, it is time for all of us to move on and enjoy the season in the here and now.

Final word - The Duke staff worked their butts off recruiting Barnes and they gave it their best effort.  That’s all they could do.[/private]

Tyler Thorton signs his letter of intent to attend Duke University

Tyler Thornton puts pen to paper to officially become a future Blue Devil - Photo courtesy of Real Thornton pictured left.
Tyler Thornton puts pen to paper to officially become a future Blue Devil - Photo courtesy of Real Thornton pictured left.

Tyler Thornton signed his letter of intent to attend Duke University.  Thornton joins Josh Hairston and Kyrie Irving in the class of 2010 and the trio could be joined by Harrison Barnes in just a few hours.  Stay tuned to Blue Devil Nation as we’ll take a further look at the future Blue Devils in the coming week.

Thornton [6-2,180] enters his senior year at Gonzaga in Washington, D.C. where he hopes to help lead his team to the title.

Thornton is happy to be a Blue Devil
Thornton is happy to be a Blue Devil

Friday Frenzy – Harrison Barnes pending decison overshadowing the start of the basketball season

6Duke plays the seventh ranked football team in the country tomorrow and Duke Basketball opens their season tonight yet neither event is casting as big a shadow as Harrison Barnes pending decision.

The nations top rated prospect ends the speculation just after 4:00 est today on ESPN-U.  For those who cannot follow via ESPN-U, here is a link to a live steream via the Internet.

BDN will chime in just before covering tonight’s basketball opener versus UNC-G in a game that tips off at 7:00 on FSN.

We also encourage Duke fans and students to turn out for tomorrow’s Georgia Tech game which kicks off at 7:00.  All military personnel and veterans receive four free tickets by showing their ID’s.

Barnes decision is about four hours away now and fan bases from all the schools involved are tied in knots from anticipation.  This is a rare decision that has not been leaked by media members, meaning a kid will announce on his terms.

Stay tuned for updates -

Anxiously awaiting Harrison Barnes decision

Harrison Barnes is set to make his collegiate choice on Friday - BDN Photo
Harrison Barnes is set to make his collegiate choice on Friday - BDN Photo

Durham, N.C. – Can you remember the last time that the potential signing of a prospect overshadowed the start of the regular season, not to mention home opener for Duke Basketball?  Quit searching, for it has never happened, but one must keep in mind that this is Harrison Barnes and he’s become a household name not only in the Triangle [Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill], but in the nation.

Barnes of course is the consensus top rated player in the Class of 2010 and his addition can really sway the balance of power on the college basketball landscape.  Come 4:20 eastern standard time tomorrow afternoon, when Barnes makes his destination known; the staff and fan base of one school is going to be riding on cloud nine while the five contenders will go into hiding until the initial shock is over.

The suspense is already turning various school sites message boards into a cesspool of rumors and propaganda.  Yet many fans hang on to everything they hear trying to fit together pieces of supposed inside information to give them an early answer.  Never mind, that these claims are coming from anonymous posters, it doesn’t seem to matter in the frenzied world of recruitniks [a reference to recruiting fanatics].

It looks as if Barnes will actually announce his decision rather than some “need of the scoop” media types blowing his day in the sun.  You can rest assured that media types are making calls to all channels in an effort to get said scoop as I type and they’ll stop at nothing, including trying to pick the losing coaches.

Barnes in action - copyright BDN Photo
Barnes in action - copyright BDN Photo

If my sources are true, Barnes will not call or contact any of the opposing coaches with concerns to his decision, save to thank them for recruiting him.  IOW, Barnes will make the coaches wait as well, or will he?

Barnes day in the sun will continue after his decision in that this recruiting battle  is destined to be talked about by many.  I mean, can you hear Dick Vitale saying, “The amazing Harrison Barnes signed with the …… baby!  Watch out, he’s the second coming …”

Okay, it may not go quite like that, but you get the picture in that Harrison Barnes is the most hyped prospect since LeBron James skipped college to go straight to the pro’s.

Despite the comparisons with James with concern to hype, Barnes is a kid who is big on education and he seems to be a kid that easily fits in.  What I am trying to say is that Barnes could well stay in college more than just one season.

Duke started recruiting Barnes in the summer of 2008 and they had an offer out there early, but Kansas was the first school other than hometown Iowa State to get involved in his recruiting.  UCLA wasn’t far behind, nor was Oklahoma.   UNC got in late but there are many indications that they made up a lot of ground in a short time.

Depending on who you trust, the Barnes spin mill has him going to four schools on his list of six.  UCLA and Oklahoma have become the dark horses, while Iowa State is hanging out of respect, a Barnes trait.

North Carolina fans and their players seem confident that Barnes is theres and that Michael Jordan served as a trump card.  Kansas is proported to be the choice with concern to location and allowing the family to stay in the area.

Duke?  Well, I cannot speak for the assumed rumors and assumptions above, but I can tell you how Duke’s recruitment of Barnes has gone from my vantage.

The Blue Devils had more visits than any other school save Kansas. Coach Kryzewski has been the front and center lead man for Barnes.  It is believed that the two have formed a sound relationship and word is that he gets along with the players both current and coming.

Duke has been up front with Barnes throughout the process and they have made no secret he was their target from day one.  It’s also obvious that Duke fans are hanging on the result of this one for they too are deeply involved with the outcome.

All of the schools offer a great opportunity for Barnes, but it isn’t hard to see that the Devils have a plan and that Barnes is a vital part of their future plans.

In closing may I suggest you brace yourselves for even more late breaking rumors.  At Blue Devil Nation, we do not have public message boards, instead opting for a members only forum.  But even there, we have multiple Barnes  threads with as many as 30,000 views.

Make no mistake, fans are hanging by a thread and anxiously awaiting Barnes decision.

To discuss the Harrison Barnes recruitment and get our feel for the outcome, join Blue Devil Nation Premium for full site access.

Harrison Barnes has been consistent throughout the recruiting process

The Duke staff wants to work with Harrison Barnes - BDN Photo
The Duke staff wants to work with Harrison Barnes - BDN Photo

My original plan was to run all of the interviews we have done with Harrison Barnes for Blue Devil Nation Premium [subscription service] on our free board this week.  After reading Barnes comments from eight different interviews, we decided to just break it down for you in that his answers have been incredibly consistent.

Despite the fact that names like Duke, Kansas, Oklahoma and UNC are some of college hoops best and that they are all in the running for Barnes services, the young man did not grow up watching college basketball.  He was instead reared on NBA basketball and that is where he learned a lot of his skills.

That means he didn’t really understand the Duke-UNC rivalry unti this past year and that places like the Dean Dome and Cameron Indoor Stadium were all new to him.

BDN covered Barnes during seven AAU events and we personally saw the coveted prosepect play in 24 or more games since the first time we saw him.  That first time was during the NBAPA Top 100 Camp in 2008.  Up until that time Barnes had played with All Iowa Attack and they quite simply did not attend the major events.

That led Barnes to start playing with Howard Pulley [Minnesota] and that allowed the media types and scouts to see what all the hype was about.  Howard Pulley is in a rebulding mode, so Barnes would pretty much carry the load, but he is more than willing to do that anytime, any place, any where.

BDN has learned and seen firsthand that Barnes will not back down from a challenge and that his confidence is rarely shaken.  Even when tired Barnes leaves every ounce of energy on the court no matter what the situation.  There were a couple of occasions where Barnes would handle the ball during crunch time during this past seasons NBAPA Top 100 Camp.

Each time the best prospects in the land would clear out for him and each time Barnes finished the deal against talented competition.  But Barnes is more than just a scorer.  He is always around the ball and plays to his teammates as much as possible.  Observers would have seen more of this had Barnes played with better teammates on the AAU circuit.

Anyway, back to the interviews and Barnes consistency for it could well be telling come Friday.  Barnes has maintained since day one that he would not make a decision until he had made all of his visits.  Guess what?  He took all of them.  You see, Barnes is methodical in everything he does.

Unlike some kids his age, Barnes seems to be an old soul in that his demeanor is always professional.  During all of my views on and off the court, Barnes is always on his best behavior and you never see him, cutting up in an animated way.  He is aware of his surroundings and seems tuned in to what he wants.

When sorting through the numerous interview questions it became clear that Barnes has stuck to his word in most every way.  He’s not the type of kid who’ll rush into anything without disecting all of the facts from fiction and evaluating the pro’s and con’s. That’s why he took each and every visit.

The one thing that has changed in his recruitment is that the Barnes camp decided to speak through certain media outlets where he has kept a diary.  As of a couple of months ago, Barnes would not take calls from the numerous schools sites and he refused to talk about any of the details of his visits.

I have dealt with many kids during similar processes and I can tell you that Harrison Barnes has a good poker face and anyone who claims they have penetrated that are fooling themselves.

Maybe that’s why the makers of Prozac are apt to get a boom in their business come Friday, for many a fan will have been absorbed by rumors and supposed leanings that change every ten minutes on the Internet.

I mean, some depression is guaranteed, especially if Barnes chooses Duke or UNC for that rivaly is unmatched in collegiate sports.

But the bottom line is that this decision will likely stay a secret until the moment he announces.  While that may be tedious for our instant gratificatin society that wants to know it all right now, it’s kind of refreshing.  I mean, when is the last time a player got his day to shine in the light at his bequest?

Blue Devil Nation will have more on Barnes in the coming hours, so stay tuned.  For more on Barnes, join Blue Devil Nation Premium and discuss the matter on the fastest growing premium message board around.  Once a member you can discuss the latest happenings with knowlegable fans and insiders.