Tag Archives: Jeff Capel

Duke Basketball Team And Recruiting Update

While football season is set to kick off this weekend, echo’s can be heard from dribbling of basketballs in Cameron and the practice facility.  In about another week, pre seasons hoops magazines will hit the newsstands and there will always be talk around one of the most storied programs in America.  With that said, here is our latest Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Update for our members and there is plenty to read about.  First, we have Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel sharing his thoughts on every player including the freshman.  I then give my analysis and add some nuggets.  This update also addresses recruiting and we even take a look into what to expect this coming season with concern to style of play.  So, here we go with a 3700 plus word update on the latest on the Duke Hoops front -

This is the first year due to NCAA rule changes that Duke has been able to work out more with their team over the summer. That means they had two one hour practice just about each week. “They’ve been some of the toughest practices I’ve been a part of since I’ve been back at Duke,” said Capel. These one hour practices were very intense and fast paced were at a high level. There has been intensity and greater fighting for positions.

The pace that the players have been exposed to this off season has been different than anything any of them had done at Duke in the past per Capel and word is that some tongues have been dragging after some tough conditioning.

Duke is now looking for separation. The staff is trying to figure out who guys are right now and once an assessment is made, they will use that to talk to them and define roles for the coming season.  “We tell them here is what you need to do to get to where we want you to be by the time we kick off the season,” said Capel.

The Blue Devils staff sits down each season to adjust their strategy for the coming season and it’s supposedly quite the skull session.  When roles are defined, it is important to success that each player buys into their assignment for if not there could be a fracture in team chemistry.  Coach Krzyzewski will map a strategy and or plan and [private] the work will begin and this has likely already happened but only just recently.  What Krzyzewski does is allow his teams strength to dictate the strategy.  A year ago, Duke was a big team and they played a controlled game taking break opportunities when they became available but not necessarily pushing the ball at all times.  This season, he has a team that can press more and move and he will likely master spacing his guys properly creating some serious match up problems for some opponents.  Without the depth at the big man spots a season ago, it will be rebounding by committee and there will be times when a power player may go off on Duke but a three pointer is greater than a dunk, so the Blue Devils can get past that issue.  Many of you may not remember the great Len Bias formerly of Maryland who died an untimely death after being drafted by the Boston Celtics.  When he played his last game in Cameron, he was dominant, dropping 33 points and having his way inside, but Krzyzewski allowed that to happen while shutting down everybody else on the Terps team and Duke coasted to a comfortable win.  I can see that happening this season in some manner, the point being, the teams strengths will almost certainly be better than their weaknesses.

Here is a long look at the players, followed by a recruiting update for members -

Amile Jefferson

“He went home this summer and we have allowed him to showcase his talent. It is important for us that his role can be significantly more this year and that is something I think he wants so he has worked hard to prepare for that. His ability to guard different positions and his ability to be unique on offense is intriguing for our team. He’s a basketball player. he can handle the ball, score around the rim, a good passer, he just has a good feel,” said Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel in a recent conversation.

Jefferson is like any Philly kid, he loves his home, so he returned there this summer but he balled with some good talent while there.  Duke likes his versatility and that likely means he could start, but we’ll see.  I personally think Duke will rotate the 5th position in the line up according to match ups this season.  Amile  brings that old school cerebral play

Marshall Plumlee

“The big thing with Marshall is to just get healthy. Last year, until the time that school started, he was playing very, very well and would have made our rotation. He was never healthy when he came back and had surgery after the season, so we have just wanted him to get healthy. He’s worked hard this off season and worked with Will Stephens, with strength and conditioning The key is to maintain the weight as he gets ready to start running and burning calories. Marshall is going to be important for us in that he’s our biggest guy this season and if he embraces his role with rebounding, screening and running, then he can contribute all season long,” per Capel

Plumlee just started running a week or so ago but he has not progressed where he can make sharp cuts yet, so there is a way to go here.  The hope is for the added weight to stick or at least half of it once he starts to run with the team.  A season ago, many felt Coach K saying he would have been in the rotation coach speak, but Plumlee seems to be set for a role provided his legs return and there is no set backs.  Dude drank a ton of muscles shakes per Will Stephenson orders and did a lot of under water work during rehab.

ad gbAndre Dawkins

“He has a special skill with the three ball and he can impact a game instantly. It’s been great to have him back and he’s worked hard to get into shape and develop skills. He’s been through a lot on and off the court and has the ability to share those things with our younger guys. He’s been a part of a national championship but he’s also lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The main thing is he arms us with a weapon with his ability to shoot the basketball. Whatever role he earns on this team is up to him. He can put up points in a short time,” said Capel

Dawkins has been through a lot off the court with the passing of his sister.  He worked in the off season with a trainer and decided he wanted to return to the team in the season ending exit meetings and a plan was formed.  Dawkins can have a quick effect on the game with his abilities and the key will be for him to bring that consistently and not be a kid just hanging out around the three point line as he got into the habit of when we last saw him.  A mature Dawkins is a good thing and he’s a player who will not shy away from that big shot if it presents itself.

Jabari Parker

With Jabari his skill set and talent are very unique, so we don’t know the exact spot or a position on the floor he’ll play other than he”ll be a really good player, so you are going to see him all over the floor doing a little bit of everything. It will literally be everything. He can bring the ball up the floor and initiate things and he’s one of those guys on the team we feel he can do those kind of things along with Rodney. We don’t want to limit his abilities or strengths, so he’ll be used in a lot of different ways.

Parker has done everything the staff has asked of him and has a focus which is important for a player of his hype stature and the mere fact he’s a freshman. Coach Krzyzewski used Luol Deng in a similar role, but Parker has much better post skills. I think what we are seeing is that the staff will allow Parker free reign from the word go and they’ll seek to not pigeon hole him into what we’ll call a traditional position. I can see Parker playing pretty much every position on the court on defense, but doubt he will be needed against the point other than on presses. The word is that Parker has showed well in practice and that alone is enough to excite the fan base as if they are not already stoked enough for the coming season.

2Quinn Cook

“Quinn had a great season last year. He was a third team All ACC pick and the MVP in Atlantis. One of the big mistakes that Quinn or anybody can make is thinking it’s going to happen this year because of last year. This year will be different and the way we will play will be very different. Quinn had a great summer and he came back in really good shape as a player. It’s his team or a chance to be his team but he has to still work to make that happen and come to play every day. Quinn should be a very intrical part of the team this season,” Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel.

Quinn spent a lot of time at home in the D.C. region working out with some of the fine talent in that area and he comes back in tip top shape and condition per sources. Cook has a chance to take another leap this season and to do that he needs to learn to control the game and his team. If Cook can blend early on with his teammates, the upside is enormous. Cook has been playing with a lot of confidence this off season and if the maintains his mental focus first and foremost, he will be in the discussion as one of the best point guards in the country by seasons end. Cook knows there is a savvy senior in Tyler Thornton and a sleek sophomore in Rasheed Sulaimon capable of of running the point waiting in the wings, so I expect we’ll get his best effort this season. His ball pressure and his ability to defend has stood out the most about Cook in our eyes.

8Tyler Thornton

Tyler is unquestionably a leader on this team. He is probably the most respected guy on his team and he’s found a way to contribute each year here since he was a freshman. Tyler brings intangibles, Tyler effects winning and he does a lot of things that do not show up in the stat sheet but for people who truly understand basketball they can appreciate what he brings to the team. He’s a guy who you want all your team to look like in that he is totally immersed in winning..

Thornton has always found a way to get on the court in that he is tough as nails mentally and physically.  Thornton is a gentlemen in every sense since I met him as a junior on the recruiting trail, but he’ll talk a little smack out there if it can get under the other teams skin and that kind of thing is needed.  I think he gets a captain spot on this seasons team in that he is respected by all.

Alex Murphy

“I think Alex has had a great off season. It’s probably the first time he has been completely 100% invested in himself and I think he would tell you that. I think this summer he chose to remain here for both summer sessions when in the past he would go home or play with the Finnish National Team. He had a chance to do both of those things again this year but he chose to stay and I think that has helped his level of confidence. Every player and coach knows how much talent Alex has, but the thing for him is to have the confidence to play that way, through mistakes and to have the confidence to play and react without thinking so much. The way we will play this year will help him and that will blend itself for him not thinking as much and just reacting,” said Capel.

Just play, don’t think.  Has to believe in himself.  This is what I hear on Alex and it seems he’s bought into the suggestions.  Did you know that he has been in the starting line up for each of the last two exhibition openers?  Murphy has made off season strides but we’ll only now how much so when we see him play again.

horse2Matt Jones

“Matt is a really good player who has done a good job since he’s been here. One of the things with Matt is he has been coached really hard in high school and his coach did a great job this past season teaching him defense. With the AAU program he played for he was coached really hard, so he’s been held accountable and a lot has been demanded of him. He’s been able to adjust very quickly to the speed of the game. Speed and defense are the two biggest things high school guys must adjust to and most do not play defense in high school. he works really hard and he’s going to fight to be an important guy on his team,” – per Capel.

Great family, solid kid.  Doesn’t cut up a lot or act out.  Kind of what any parent or coach would want, right?  Remember when I said he could be the odd man out this coming season due to depth.  Well, I take that back for by all accounts he is playing better than a freshman should, meaning he has worked hard knowing that’s what it will take to crack the line up with this seasons wing loaded roster.  The word is that he has thrived in the weight room and gotten stronger and he’s becoming the X-Factor freshman in my eyes.

Semi Ojeleye

I think all the freshman will have to adjust to the speed of the game but Semi is probably the strongest kid who has walked through the doors here as a freshman. He’s the kind of guy who if he tested at the NFL combine he would do well and probably be a first round pick just based on his body and athleticism. He prepares and carries himself well and he is confident, add to that he can really shoot the basketball. He fits the mold of versatility that will be prevalent on this team. He can be asked to guard many guys and he can use his size and strength.

When you first see Ojeleye, you quickly notice his chiseled body which is akin to a juniors physique.  The key for Ojeleye is to adjust to the speed of the game.  He didn’t have bad coaching in high school or the AAU circuit, but it could have been better, so there will be the usual freshman learning curve.  Still, he is capable of guarding multiple type players and that will be of immediate value if grasps system basics.

Duke vs Georgia State 12 005Rasheed Sulaimon

“A very talented young guy and a great kid. This will be a really big year for him. When you have a freshman year like he did, you come back but do you make the jump or do you just rest and think going to happen. He was an important part of the Team USA squad that won the Gold Medal, so he’s had a good summer. He jumped right in when he came back with what we were doing . A talented kid who can play off the bounce and he’s a guy wee want to move around a lot this year and he progresses as a player.” Jeff Capel

As a sports reporter when I talk with Sulaimon, he’s the kind of kid I would want as a parent.  Humble, yet confident in his abilities, Sulaimon can be a go to guy on this seasons team with his ability to break down his opponent off the dribble.  Sulaimon has realized it takes hard work to succeed and with a year behind him, the lessons learned from a season ago will pay dividends.

Rodney Hood

“Well, he’s really talented and he’s gotten a lot better since he’s been here because he’s worked and he’s been touched by this culture. He’s gotten stronger, more athletic, he’s shooting and handling the ball better. At Mississippi State he was sort of a catch and shoot guy, so we were a little surprised as we went through practice at how good he is off the bounce. He’s a guy who can play multiple positions and guard multiple positions, so he will be asked to do that in our system. When you come to Duke the expectations are different than most other places, so you have to learn to deal with expectations. But Hood has had three really good seniors to watch a season ago, so he’s learned how to conduct his business from how they handled things,” states Capel.

Rodney is a completely different player than he was at Mississippi State where he did not get the best coaching.  Duke has tried to instill confidence in Hood, who will finally be seen by fans.  What I worry about to a degree is that he has been saddled with a lot of expectations and hype, more-so than any other player on the roster.  However, this will be a hungry player and a mature one and a sure starter.  In fact, I still say Hood, Sulaimon and Parker will be the main three options on offense.  Hood has a nice mid range game, so do not expect a dominating rebounder despite his height in that he is more wing than power.

Josh Hairston

“Josh is a player who has started games for us, so he’s had an important role. As a senior, he’s been through early exits in the tournaments, part of big wins and has simply been through a lot. He can play a lot but we don’t know for sure. He will have a role on this team,” said Capel.

When Hairston and Thornton were recruited to play for Duke, it was during a time when the Blue Devils were experiencing a bit of a drought in recruiting.  They were dubbed “program kids,” which means they embody what one would want out of a young man with concern to character.  Hairston will be in a position to offer leadership this coming season but how he accepts his role will be the key.

Recruiting

We all know that Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones will visit the Duke Campus together during the last weekend of October.  I still have mad confidence that Tyus Jones will be a Blue Devil and Okafor as well, just not at the level of Jones.   Before you reads into that too much and start a worry-fest, I feel good about both players and predict fans will be happy when the dust clears.  There is a reason the last visit is scheduled for Durham, that being I think both kids know Duke is their leader whether they say so in public or not.  At this point it would be a major upset of Jones went elsewhere and I do not buy into the worry about Kentucky one bit, even though traditional wisdom may be to never count them out.

Kavon Looney will visit the weekend when Duke is at Memphis in football and the Blue Devils seem to feel quite good about their chances here but this one still has a few things which need to fall into place.  Duke has been the highest riser of any team on his list and the staff will have Looney all to themselves and will be able to spend some serious time with his family.  The stars could be aligning themselves nicely here, so stay tuned.

The two prospects Duke is working hardest on for a visit are Myles Turner and Diamond Stone, two bigs.  Duke faces a tough battle for the service of Turner but the two like each other a lot and that could lead to a possible visit during Countdown to Craziness.  In fact, both Stone and Turner could make the event if all goes well but recruiting is liquid as are the prospects schedules, so this one needs to play out more.  Duke Assistant Nate James has been the lead on these two guys.

It’s that time of year when fans hang on every little thing said, be it rumors or just speculation with recruiting and no player has had more worry connected to him more than Justise Winslow who plays his hand carefully at the game we all love to follow.  Winslow has been recently linked to a late UCLA run and even a package deal at Arizona.  The Wildcats worry me, UCLA does not.  The Bruins are late to this party while Zona has been on Winslow longer than Duke.  Still, Duke has a legitimate shot here and are very much in the race until his announcement.  Word is Winslow is feeling a little pressure about making a decision and will have a had time telling a coach no, but that too is not unusual.  No additional visits are set in stone at this time with Winslow and while I felt he was ready to pop at one time, it seems his decision could come later than anyone might like.  Still, there is reason to believe he is close and has an idea where he wants to go.  Expect another cut down on his list and his family and or Justise seems to really be concerned about making the right choice here, thus the stretch.  It’s Duke or Arizona if my sources are right and they usually are.

Want a possible new name on the radar?  Henry Ellison, a 2015 corn fed prospect got a call from a Duke Assistant recently and was told they would keep an eye on him.  Some say he could really grow into a force and he can stretch the court with his ability to hit the three. [/private]

Blue Devils visit Parker, McGary on the agenda as well in our latest update

Just yesterday, Coach Mike Krzyzewski visited 6-9 Tony Parker, one of the Blue Devils long time targets.  Krzyzewski has been pro active with Parker for better than a year now and he’s leaving no doubt that he is and has been a prime target,  Parker has some of the best hands you’ll see on a big man and he of course, eats up a lot of space in the paint.  He has the opportunity to follow in the foot steps of similar past Duke alumni in Carlos Boozer, Shelden Williams and Elton Brand, all of whom are still balling in the NBA.

Today, Krzyzewski and company continue their trek when he will drop in on Brewster Academies Mitch McGary.  The young budding star is another player the Blue Devils staff covets and one whom they are making sure knows their desire to see him rocking rims in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  While some are saying that McGary is a Michigan lean, he said himself in the recent Jason Jordan’s ESPN Blog that he didn’t really know where he wanted to go yet.  We tend to believe him and why not?  McGary is not a kid that has been deceptive in his recruiting process to date and he is a young man with several schools making a hard play at him.

The Blue Devils will not be finished with the McGary visit.  Three other key prospects are on the agenda.  [private] Duke will also drop in on Nerlens Noel, the human fly swatter of a defender that is close to reclassifying.  Had the Blue Devils been aware of that possibility, which maybe they were late like everyone else, you would have seen them more active.  Coach Wojo visited Noel last week and Coach K will take a look at him today.  Noel is the best defender I’ve seem come down the pike in quite a while, altering games and or should I say shots all by himself, getting into the heads of his opponent.

On Wednesday, Coach K will head west to see the nations top rated prospect in Shabazz Muhammad.  I have told you all along that the Blue Devils would hang in this one until the end and that has payed off.  Duke has a legitimate chance of landing Muhammad at the midnight hour and this is because of the relationship that has developed between Krzyzewski and the star prospect.  UCLA is right there two and I personally feel it might come down to these two schools.  Still, never count out Kentucky for they have time and time again sold kids on their, pardon the pun, one year program.  Muhammad is a one and done kind of player and all involved know that.  UCLA  once selling him that he could be “the man,” in Hollywood, now has to alter that a little bit with Kyle Anderson in the fold.  Most feel Muhammad would like to play with Anderson but there are a few who feel he might not.  Only time will tell on this one and be patient for this one will go on until the very last minute.

The Blue Devils will drop in on Julius Randle as well, a kid that they feel can like Parker, take on the role of a paint eater.  Randle is a stud bull in the paint, unafraid of any comer.  During the summer circuit, he more often than not took it to older opponents as a Texas Titan where he plays with Matt Jones, another Duke prospect coming to Countdown to Craziness.  It’s pretty awesome that Randle and Jabari Parker are seriously considering Duke and as I have said before, I feel Duke is in good shape with Parker and for that matter Randle.

Just a reminder to members – (This message in no way applies to all, for we have some great members here) We have had some problems with people taking information from here and putting it in free forums.  Firstly, there are some things sensitive enough that the staff itself doesn’t want it out in public forums and if it gets there it can hinder their work.  Second, you entered a binding contract when signing up agreeing that you would not cut and paste or share our information in other forums.  We want to take you at your word and hope it means something when you check the box.  We don’t allow others premium info in our forum in that it is about ethics for us.  If you are one that has been guilty of the above, if we catch you, we will take action which could be a simple ban from this site or more if necessary.   It shouldn’t come to down to that.   We don’t expect you to not share info with your brother or something, we just ask that you be considerate in understanding that we work hard to bring you news and it keeps this site alive.  The more that gets out there, the less I will say.  That’s just the way it is for we are about the health of Duke first and the money second.  But it takes money for us to hit the trail like we do, so members are vital to our efforts.  We have never claimed to know it all, but we do feel we are ahead of the curve more often than not with our offerings.  I mean nobody has an Andrew Slater out there and you have to admit he’s good at what he does, the best in my book.  And Patrick has made this the place to be for football coverage and we expect that side of the site to continue to grow as people come to realize how hands on we are with the program.  We have dreams of making this site even better and these are dreams I fully expect to come true, so stick with us and you’ll be glad you did.  On a positive closing note – - thanks for your support in that we truly appreciate you following Team BDN.  We love serving Duke fans and hope to continue to do so forever. [/private]

Leadership In Training: An Interview With Miles Plumlee

Duke

Blessed with a reported thirty-six inch vertical, a 6’11,” 247 lb. frame, and the mind of a high school salutatorian, Miles Plumlee is a rare specimen. On a relatively young squad, Miles, a twenty-three year-old third generation college basketball player, has started more games, forty-one, than any current Duke player. The team will need him to provide leadership, experience, and low-post production to a more featured frontcourt.

Already a national champion, having grabbed three rebounds in nine minutes against Butler in the 2010 Championship game, the eldest of four Plumlee progeny brings the hunger of a man anxious for one last good meal. The psychology major has tried to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him this summer. Initially, the one-time engineering student with an entrepreneurial zeal worked in New York for Jesse Itzler, a serial entrepreneur who created Marquis Jet. The Winona Lake, Indiana native followed that experience up by participating in the college portion of the LeBron James Skills Academy, as one of the twenty invited players, including his talented and gracious brother, Mason. Most recently, the former high school track star enjoyed a thirteen day around the world trip with his Duke University teammates as part of Duke’s Friendship Games, playing in Dubai and three Chinese cities, Kunshan, Shanghai, and Beijing.

In the three games competing against the Chinese junior national team, Miles Plumlee, who is the team’s second-leading returning scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker, averaged nearly eleven rebounds and eleven points, while providing a vital role as a low-post scorer and offensive rebounder (corralling eight offensive rebounds in the final game against China’s large front court).

After Coach Trent Johnson left Stanford for Louisiana State, Miles Plumlee opted to open up his recruitment at Christ School in Arden, NC and ultimately decided to enter Duke University. At the time, he had a reputation for being more of a face-up four and had contributed to consecutive State Championships for the Greenies. Last summer, Miles transformed his physique and game by adding nearly twenty pounds of muscle. Near the end of the 2011 season, Coach Krzyzewski reinserted the eldest Plumlee into the starting lineup, where the Ft. Wayne-born big man immediately stepped up his game in the ACC Tournament, highlighted by his play against Maryland (10 points, 9 rebounds) and using his length against North Carolina’s finesse frontline (helping to hold Henson and Zeller to a combined 9 for 26 in the ACC Title game). Based upon his recent play, it appears as though he has continued to become more acclimated to the transition from a floating big to the team’s biggest physical presence, while seeking to maintain the athleticism that once allowed him to perform a 6’9″ high jump.

This year, with both brothers Marshall and Mason on the Duke’s campus, Miles Plumlee would like to take more of a leadership role in his final season of college basketball and go out with a second National Title. Miles spoke with BDN about a variety of topics, including stepping out of his comfort zone and into an increased leadership role, his relationships with both the coaching staff and his brothers, his team-centric focus, and an entrepreneurial future.

Maybe we can start with both leadership and your role on this team.

You know that’s the biggest thing I’ve been thinking about in this off-season. I’ve been focusing on it and, you know, I had an experience where I was doing an internship with one of the coaches’ friends.

I’m definitely going to get to that in just a moment…

Yeah, well, it kind of goes hand-in-hand.

Okay, great.

The biggest reason I wanted to go there is because I know [Jesse Itzler]’s a great leader in what he does and I learned a lot from him. I picked his brain and I got a lot of great advice. He started his own company a few times now, so he’s been successful and that was one area where I think it’s going to help me, but also coming back and being an older brother my life, you know, trying to apply that to the team. Just trying to bring that brotherhood to the whole team.

[private]

I wanted to get to the issue of you and brothers, too.
(laughs)

What are the expectations from your perspective and the coaching staff? What have they asked you to work on?

Well, I don’t have any personal accolades in mind, but all of my coaches know how high my ceiling is and I know how high it is. So, I’m just trying to reach a level that I’m really happy with, but more importantly, I’m concerned about the team competing for national championships.

Yes, absolutely. I mean you’ve already accomplished that once.

Yeah, but now to do that and be a leader on the team would be another thing. That’s the biggest goal on my mind.

Is being a captain something you aspire to? Have the coaches talked about you being captain or part of a committee, so to speak?

Yeah, I know, they said they’re going to wait and see how everything goes in China. They want to see how people’s roles surface, but, you know, I’ve been through more than anyone else on the team.

Right.

I’ve played with a lot of great leaders, like Jon Scheyer, a lot of great seniors growing up.

Who was the best leader you’ve played with? Is Scheyer the best?

He and Lance did a great job that year. There’s a reason why we won it. What was the initial question?

It had to do with leadership and whether you aspire to be a captain.

Oh, yes, they’re not going to make a decision until after China, but I’m already trying to assert myself and get out of my comfort zone because I’m not the most vocal guy.

Neither am I, but I try to push myself too.

Yeah, well, I’m trying to talk more on defense and also off the court. Yeah, you know, defensively, I can talk to people on the court, but I’m really trying to become a leader off the court. It’s not something I’m really comfortable with, but it’s something that I’m trying to grow into. I want to get that role.

Just out of curiosity, as you were saying it, I was thinking about being the oldest brother. I’m the oldest brother as well and by nature, you almost have to a leader among your younger siblings. Do you think that will help and have you found that to be the case?

Definitely, I think it’s a huge advantage in my position. I don’t think I’ve been the best big brother in the world, but I think there’s some things I’ve done right, and if I can learn from them..

God knows, I haven’t been.
(

laughs) Yeah, you know, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but all of them are experience that maybe an older brother has to have.

They can, sort of, learn from your own mistakes.

Yeah, yeah. Then, they can make their own. (laughs)

How do you think you’ve developed, both physically and from a skills perspective over the past few years? Physically, you’ve gotten a lot bigger.

Yeah, you know, I’m still continuing to push my body.

Always a work in progress.

I’m trying to get stronger and that, but I got really pretty athletic when I got to college and you know, I was more of a face-up player, but I’ve tried to adapt my game and become more of a back-to-the-basket player since coming to college.

Yeah, I wanted to touch on that as well.
Yeah, so you know, that’s probably been my biggest focus and the other stuff’s there and we’ve got such great guards coming to Duke each year. Yeah, maybe down the road I’ll use that more at the next level, but right now I want to make the biggest impact I can for our team and so that’s inside, giving us a low-post game.

In terms of mentoring, it sort of goes hand in hand with leadership, but how do you feel you’ve done as a mentor to your brothers and some of your future teammates this year?

I think it’s something I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to do. We have so many young guys and I need to mentor them and show them the ropes. We need them to win. They don’t even realize it yet. I mean, I was in that position as a freshman too, I didn’t know where I was at. We’ve got to bring them on board real fast and mentoring will be a big part of that.

You know him better than anybody, what dimension do you think Marshall can bring to program? Maybe give a scouting report on him to the fans that may not have seen him play.

Yeah, he’s surprised me. He’s really grown into his body. I think the number one thing if you’re scouting him is his motor. He never gives up, he goes full blast all the time he’s out on the court.

He’s a really nice kid, too.

Oh, yeah, he’s really nice, but he’ll take it to you on the court.

Yeah, he’s very serious and competitive on the court though.

Oh, yeah, definitely.

He said he’s very good at video games too.

Yeah, he is. Me and him always go at it.

In terms of a scouting report…

Yeah, a scouting report..he’s going to be going at you every minute of the game. He’s going to be busting his ass 100%. Yeah, I think that’s his biggest attribute right now is just running the court.

How do you think he differs from you and Mason at the same point in your lives?

You know, his whole life he always wanted to be a big guy for some reason, and it just so happened that he kept growing. You know, a lot of guys want to be big buys, but you can’t control that. So, I think he’s grown up wanting to be in the post doing the dirty work. He has fun just running the court and getting the ball. A lot of big guys don’t want to do that, they get spoiled, lazy, and they don’t want to do all of that work if they’re not going to get the ball every single time. That’s huge for a team. That changes the game.

Yeah, it does. I was just curious about that. What are you trying to work on this summer primarily on the court?

The same thing, but you know, just taking that post game to another level and getting more comfortable. I really thought that I made huge strides towards the end of last year, just having confidence when you get the ball in the post, and wanting the ball, and in the end, that makes a huge difference in the game when it comes down to the wire. You’ve got to want it.

Is it a “no hesitation” kind of thing for you?

Yeah, exactly. I really think that’s been my biggest setback is really getting out of your own head. You catch it and you immediately react.

I remember going to one of your practices a few years ago and Coach Krzyzewski was talking about how you were very hard on yourself, but that was a few years ago.

Definitely, that’s been my biggest problem. In practice, I play great for three years. Well, my freshman year was kind of tough, but for the last few years I played great in practice, and now the thing is to try to translate it to the games.

And it can happen, it’s just a matter of time and concentration.

Yeah, absolutely it can happen.

Can you touch on being an engineering student and how that differentiates your game? I remember you used to be an engineering student.

(laughs) Oh, no, that was way too much.

I was an Economics major there.

Yeah, my first semester there was the hardest of my life.

What’s your major now?

Psychology. You know, I think it’s something that’s applicable to anything I do in life, but, you know, it’s way more flexible for basketball.

Way more merciful too. They’re tough in terms of grades too.

Oh, yeah, it’s just tough.

The reason I was asking was because I was wondering if you saw the court differently by having somewhat of an engineering background.

Oh, yeah, you know I always thought I see angles differently. I don’t think a lot of basketball players realize what they’re seeing. I think it gives me a better sense of what I’m seeing…helps to visualize.

Would you describe your summer job as more of a finance job? How would you categorize it?

Yeah, well, it’s sort of hard to explain, it was really more of a company that Jesse Itzler founded, more of like a marketing thing. He founded Marquis Jets and now it’s like more of a marketing agency and a brand incubator. We came up with a few of our own products.

Would you like to get into that post-basketball? Perhaps be an entrepreneur?

Yeah, you know, that’s what it really opened my eyes to. An amazing opportunity would be to play in the NBA and not just squander it.

I’m glad you have your eyes wide open. There are so many sad stories, unfortunately.

Yeah, I know there are. Yeah, I want to make things happen. There are a lot of guys from Duke that have done great things like here or in China and you know, really have an entrepreneurial mindset just like him, and you know, it was a great experience.

What is your emotional reaction to finally get the opportunity to play with all of your brothers and be at the same school together? Excited? Happy?

So excited! I really think this is going to be the funnest year by far. You know, I’ve always had a blast, but you know, me and Marshall, we grew up hanging out together like non-stop and I was so much older than him, but, now, you know, we’re competing on the same level and it’s an adjustment.

Do the three of you ever just walk into the Y or something like that? Did the three of you walk in and people just go “Holy cow?”

(laughs) Yeah, I mean, we did, but we didn’t used to be this tall. Yeah, the last time I was at a place like that was back home and I was only like 5’9” or 5’10” as freshman. But I think it’s going to be a blast. It’s going to be a great senior year.

And what’s Mason’s take on all of this?

Oh, yeah, he’s been great. We both just love Marshall to death. It’s just fun to have all three of us together again.

Can you talk about the addition of the freshman class and Coach Capel? Those are the two big post-season additions to the program.

Yeah, I mean, everybody in the freshman class seems to have a great attitude. They’re really skilled, they’re really athletic. I think they all really have a great attitude, they all really want to get better. Coach Capel is just a great addition because he knows so much, he’s coached great players, and I love his positive attitude. He’s really good at pumping everybody up.

He can also relate to players. He’s still young and yet he’s got that head coaching experience, which is a great combo to add the staff.

Yeah, everybody’s pretty young and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great group to be around.

What’s your relationship like with both Coach K and Coach Wojo?

First of all, I’ve got to say it’s like family. I mean, they’ve been there for me in more than just basketball. That’s just one small part of the whole thing. You..you come to Duke and I had no idea what it was all about. You become part of this family. They’ve become like fathers to me. There’s a bond. I come to them for advice on everything. I know..I know I’m going to stay in touch with them for the rest of my life. It’s something that’s really special to me.

I don’t think a lot of recruits necessarily realize that, to paraphrase Coach Holtz, it’s not a four year thing, it’s a forty year thing.

No, you know, I don’t think a lot of them realize it. You don’t realize what you’re signing up for. If they did realize it, I think even a lot more would jump on it, but I know that I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

How comfortable do you feel you are with your back-to-the-basket game and how far out do you feel your range is at this point? Because you still have that face-up game that you were talking about before.

I’ve always felt that I’m really versatile and now it’s not just a matter of how to use it, but when and where to use it, what opportunities you have and reading the defense. So, becoming a lot smarter and putting it all together. It’s something I’ve really worked on in the last year.

And in terms of your back-to-the-basket game?

Yeah, I’m realizing how much you can control the game with your back to the basket. Seeing, you know, guys like Tim Duncan and those kind of guys..taking your time, seeing the floor.

Is that what you worked on at the LeBron James Academy?

Yeah, you know, it was great playing against some of the best players and some of the best bigs. I was just trying to see where I stack up.

How did you do and what was the toughest guy for you to defend?

Dude, you know, everybody’s tough. Everybody’s good. I feel like I did as well as anyone. It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to where it takes my game.

What are your expectations or goals for the team this year? A National Title?

A National Title all the way, that’s all I’ve got to say. We’ve always got talent. I just feel like we’ve just got to bring it together and develop that chemistry along the way.

Thank you very much, Miles.

No problem.

Do you like this interview?  This is a sample of what you’ll find as a member of Blue Devil Nation Premium.  We are still running a membership special where you can save up to 15% off our normal rates, so take advantage of this offer today!

Duke Basketball Team & Recruiting Update – A Crystal Clear Picture

The Dynamic duo of Matthew Jones and Julius Randle srike a pose for BDN - BDN Photo Do you want an accurate take on Duke Basketball Recruiting? Well, join BDN Premium and we'll give you a crystal clear picture.

BDN’s Duke Basketball Team and Recruiting Updates have set the standard among the sites and sure enough, this concept is now being copied.  We’ll take that as a compliment but when push comes to shove, it is all about the content and we’ll stack ours against anybody.  Here at BDN, our staff is in the trenches at AAU events.  That means our members are getting live streams of information as it happens, making our site well ahead of the curve.

We can lay claim to the fact that we cover more major recruiting events in person than any other site and that has been a running thing for several years now.  We don’t send “stringers,” with limited knowledge of the subject matter to do our work, nor do we sit back and depend on national network guys to do our job for us.  Seriously, do you not want first hand observations from an accomplished staff that has seen the prospects play multiple times?  No knocks here on the National guys in that many are our friends, but their sole focus is certainly not on Duke prospects nor is it a priority to cover them.  There are no smoke and mirrors tactics at BDN folks, nope, we are straightforward and honest when it comes to our coverage and we take pride in that.

If you have yet to try BDN Premium, you don’t know what you’re  missing of late and with some exciting changes on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to check us out.  Our staff is hard working, dedicated and hands on in everything we do.  In our current update we lay out a clear picture of the staff’s efforts.  And before we get on with our update where lots is happening, take a look at how much content we’ve pumped out recently which includes: Two interviews with both Tony Parker and Matt Jones to go with individual interviews with Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Alex Poythress, Perry Ellis, Jahill Okafor, Rasheed Sulaimon and much, much more.  Just today, recruiting analyst Andrew Slater goes in depth with Mitch McGary and we have content laying in wait this week. And our interviews have meat to them in that we don’t lure you in with a premium article featuring a couple of quotes via texting.  Anyhow, let’s move on to another informative and detailed (2521 word) update on the Duke Basketball recruiting scene where we paint a crystal clear picture for our members.  Trust me in that you will absolutely love our update, so if you want to find out where the coaches will be going, who is really on the radar and such, we have the answers for you.  And if you are not satisfied, we’ll refund you within the first 24 hours of joining.

The picture is now crystal clear with concern to 2012 and beyond.  Duke will stick with Tony Parker until his decision is made.  Coach Krzyzewski sat front and center for many of Parker’s games and the big man [private] knew it, cutting his eyes towards the man while playing.  Parker has been a bit up and down with his comments of late but my belief is that Duke is in better shape than anyone else for Tony.  His parents love Duke and if they had their way, this one would be over from what I’ve heard from legitimate sources.  The Parkers sat directly behind the bench this weekend and they certainly saw the Blue Devils’ keen interest.  Duke has been faithful to Tony and his verbal could set other things in motion.  Coach K loves his hands and footwork and wants him to anchor the paint in Durham.  The Blue Devils have made Tony priority 1 on their 2012 wish list.

And if Parker is priority 1-A, then Mitch McGary is 1-B, or you can reverse the order if you’d like.  Duke will go hard after McGary and they feel they have a great chance at the tenacious big.  Sources are now saying McGary may pull the trigger before his high school season and if that is indeed the case, look for a whirlwind of activity in the coming months.  It is safe to say McGary will be visiting Duke and the Blue Devils will be in home with him when the time comes, but that will not happen until the team returns from their venture to China and Dubai.

The Blue Devils were most impressed with Matt Jones and he gained an offer after his play this past weekend.  Of course, as members, you all saw this one coming.  Jones glowed beyond belief when talking of Duke and you will see those videos this week.  We spoke to Jones the other night but kept it short.  He told BDN that he was on cloud nine after Coach K called and that he could certainly see himself there.  He was very excited that Duke moved in and it is fair to say that they went to the top of his list.  Jones has shown steady improvement in his game and he can slash through the lanes and has an outstanding outside shot.  He is a good on-ball defender as well and he sent a game to overtime with a defensive stop in front of Krzyzewski as time ran out.  The only knock I witnessed is that he at times has trouble shaking free for his shot.  He is a great character kid as well and BDN got his AAU coach’s thoughts on that, which is another feature you can look forward to.

His teammate, the hulking Julius Randle, also has an offer and Duke feels they are in good shape there as well.  Jeff Capel has certainly been a help in this one and the thought of a package deal with Jones is most appealing.  But make no mistake about it, Duke loves Matthew Jones as a stand alone player.  Randle was called the best player in the nation on the night he dominated the Memphis front court by someone close to the situation that watched him play.  That was a bit cryptic but easy enough for you to figure out on your own.  Randle was like a bull in a China shop and it is clear that he will not back down from anyone.  I caught several of his games and was most impressed by his enormous upside.  He is a true power player that may or may not fit should Duke get Tony Parker.

The Bull - BDN Photo

And then there is another 2013 product named Jabari Parker.  What a humble superstar he is and you’ll see this on coming videos as well.  Parker likes Duke a lot … a whole lot and the Duke coaches like him a lot, a whole helluva lot.  They are in great early shape with Parker and this one might end in the spring of next year at the latest.  Parker will make an unofficial visit to Durham in due time and we’ll have more on that as it develops.  While UNC and others are on him, Duke has been from the start and that will IMO pay dividends down the road.  Parker is smooth and versatile and at times cannot be stopped.  He is part of the spectacular trio joining Randle and Noel as the best of the best in 2013.

One thing many seemingly fail to see is that Duke has a great jump on 2013 for a reason.  The Duke staff will be tied up with Team USA duties next summer limiting their time on the recruiting trail.  That especially holds true for Krzyzewski and that is why he was so hands-on this past week with the class.  The three aforementioned 2013 players are clearly at the top of the wish list but more names are in the works, specifically Nerlens Noel.  This defensive demon we coined the “Sultan of Swat,” is a most interesting talent and game changer.  Then there is the “Nerlens Noel effect,” which causes players to alter shots for Noel is an absolute terror when it comes to blocking shots.  By the  end of the EYBL he was in every prospect’s head and it doesn’t matter who he is guarding.  In short, he inflicts pain on guys the same age, younger and/or older.  When I joked with Noel about the fact he didn’t send out invitations to his “Block Party,” he loved it.  Form that point on, Noel really opened up to me.  Make no mistake, everybody is on Noel, so Duke will have their hands full as will every other team that vies for his services.  I love me some Nerlens and so does Grant Hill, for he is making his fade rise on the cover of the 1991 Sports Illustrated stylish again;) A side note is that Grant Hill will go along on the China trip and he will be helping to teach the “Duke culture” to newcomers.

Rasheed Sulaimon, Matt Jones, LJ Rose and Rodeny Purvis strike a pose for BDN

Some have attempted to hang me out to dry with a comment on Rodney Purvis which was misquoted, but that is something I am used to from another Duke site.  This time they made sure my name was in the head of a post.  I never intended certain things to go public but when users break the agreement upon signing up all I can do is boot them.  Purvis flat out wants to come in and play right away but Duke has a bevy of wings on the roster and in the works.  Purvis wanted to hang with Rasheed Sulaimon, Matt Jones and LJ Rose this weekend and he is seemingly upset at, well, everything that is said these days.  The mere fact that Duke did not watch him is telling and I can tell you without revealing sources close to the situation that Purvis is no longer an option.  Of course, we were the first to say that in a private forum and now all but one site is on the bandwagon.  I think the offer to Jones may have made him see the light and/or the writing on the wall.  Purvis is a good kid, but his emotion concerns me as does his behavior when he is not on the court.  Would Duke take him if he called and wanted to come?   Make no mistake, Purvis has talent and he is a good kid, so I am in no way beating him down, but he is no Austin Rivers or Kyrie Irving.

We have to watch how we mention prospects around here and even where we’ll be going on the recruiting trail in that it tips off others.  Just this week nobody was on Nerlens Noel until we were seen talking to him.  Yes, people pay close attention to everything we do at events.  It frustrates us at times but what can you do?  All I can say is pay close attention to when information is printed and as a member sit back and know that you were aware of it beforehand.  Noel is sure to pick up an offer soon.

Rasheed Sulaimon played very well at the EYBL finals as well although he saved his worst game for last and a lackluster offensive performance cost him the scoring title.  Still, he finished second and he has improved immensely since a season ago;  he’s like a water bug running all over the place and locks down well on his defensive assignment.  His handle is improving as well and his offense is top shelf.  The Duke staff knew exactly what they were doing in getting this kid aboard early, a testament to Krzyzewski’s eye.  That too should excite one more with concern to Jones.

Wojo was in Wisconsin this week and Krzyzewski was as well before returning to Augusta.  Chris Collins was at home this go round but he returns in the coming week.  The addition of Jeff Capel has been a winner and this staff is, well, pretty darn good.

One kid that caught our eye during the EYBL opening session was  Tyus Jones, a 2014 PG from Minnesota who plays for the older Howard Pulley team.  Once we interviewed him, it was obvious to others he had caught the Blue Devils’ eyes.  Again, our every move is watched by others at events.  We actually interviewed Jones while at Boo, so he didn’t slip up on me at all.  In fact, he stood out and I was amazed to learn he was 2014 for his play was smooth as silk and so far ahead of those in his class.  We have a nice interview coming your way with Jones as well.  I can tell you that he has great character, confidence and his recruitment will go on for a very long time.  Still, both Andrew and myself take pride in giving you background on players Duke likes before it really gets out there.  In short, we anticipate while at the many events, as Andrew did with Jahill Okafor.  What you may not realize is how rare a good interview with Oakfor is, so pay attention to our offerings.

Duke is still keeping an eye on Alex Poythress and Perry Ellis as well.  Neither of them have an offer and both play pretty much the same position.  Duke would likely turn here if they got one of Mitch McGary and Tony Parker but the real need is bangers and not wings.  Still, keep a close eye on these guys as the recruiting evaluation period opens back up.

Just in are the players Duke will watch in Orlando for the AAU National Showcase which runs from the 23rd to the 27th.  Mitch McGary will start there and once it is over go to Kansas City.  Teammates Julius Randle and Matt Jones will be there as well along with Nerlens Noel and Theo PinsonRasheed Sulaimon will play in the AAU Nationals in Orlando which takes place after the loaded Showcase.  And Tony Parker and Alex Poythress will play in both events.  I am trying to swing this event but right now it isn’t looking good.

I am trying to rework my schedule to go to Orlando but a cash crunch may prevent that from happening.  However, Andrew is set to go to Las Vegas and you know his coverage will be top shelf.  In closing our latest update I would like to thank all of you for supporting us through membership.  We would like to give back, so here is an opportunity for you.  If you refer new members to BDN Premium, we’ll give you 15% of their membership provided you e-mail or PM us before they join.  If you have a friend join for a year, that means you get 15$ cash sent to your paypal account.  If it is for six months, you get 9$.  There is no referral granted for a one or three month membership.  This is a limited time offer.  Help us grow our community!

Thanks again for choosing Blue Devil Nation Premium and the future is looking bright around here, so stay tuned for more on that. [/private]

BDN speaks with Duke prospect Tony Parker

Tony Parker remains at the top of the Blue Devils want list - BDN Photo

Make no mistake that Duke has made it clear that Georgia Stars big man Tony Parker is a top priority.  Coach Krzyzewski and Jeff Capel watched 90% of his games this week at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam.  Parker came up big in that his teammate Alex Poythress sat out one game and he shouldered the load.  He led the Stars to the semi finals before they bowed out.  BDN caught up to Tony for this video [private] chat -

More to come – [/private]

New Duke AC Jeff Capel addresses the media

DURHAM – New Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel addressed the local media today on the campus of Duke University.  The former Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth coach brings a lot of experience to the basketball staff and after a whirlwind move into temporary housing he is already settling in to his duties, namely the recruiting trail.

“Life can only be understood backwards,” were words Capels Grandmother shared with him and that advice now makes sense to the former Blue Devil player.

“Control what you can control, it’s a tough profession but a rewarding one,” said Capel, who continued,  “It was hard, difficult and I didn’t like it but it was whats supposed to happen,” in reference to his release at Oklahoma.

The Sooners loss is the Blue Devils gain.  Capel brings a new set of eyes to the program and the fact he has had such experience on the sidelines will certainly help him with his new gig.

“Duke helped prepare me for life, not just coach and the program but Duke,” said the former Fayetteville native.  While at Duke Capel played for the national championship, something he points to as the highlight of his career along with a steller game against Purdue in the regional finals which helped the Devils advance.

When asked how he could help the program, Capel stated, “I don’t know right now.  Maybe I can understand some things during a day better than some of the other guys,” referring to his head coaching experience.

Capel joins former teammates and friends Chris Collins, Steve Wojociechowski and Nate James at Duke, giving him a comfort level from day one.  “Chris and Wojo are trained to be head coaches and they will be successful when they head out.  I have been a coach and I thou\ght I was really go four great years at VCU.  I wanted to get it back going.  When I took the OU job it was under turmoil which may have chosen to forget.”

And while there are some familiarities coming back to Duke, Capel sees changes since his playing days which ended in 1997.  “It’s different.  I would periodically visit campus but not for an extended length of time.  When I walked into Cameron I didn’t know the seats were now blue.  But while the campus is different, the expectations for excellence are the same.”

When asked about the progression of his hiring, Capel said he was fired on a Monday in Norman, flew back Tuesday and Wednesday he decided to go by the Duke campus just to say hello.  During that visit he talked with Coach K briefly where he was asked of his interest in a created special assistant slot.

Capel wanted to check his options and he took a look at some head coaching vacancies and even looked into a chance to become a TV analyst. 

Krzyzewski later contacted Capel again saying the best way to utilize his talents at Duke was to offer him a spot as an assistant coach.  It didn’t take long for Capel to accept the position.  “It was a no brainer,” said Capel.  “I have trusted the man since I was 16 years old and that trust has never changed.”

Capel officially started his duties last Friday and he worked with a returnee individually this morning.  He has already started to get accustomed with the players Duke is recruiting as well and he will be out on the road in July.

“One thing about Coach is he is always willing to change and adapt to help a team become the best they can be.  His objective is what is best for Duke and that will be my mission here to help Duke be the best it can be.”