BDN caught up to Kyrie Irving in the Duke locker room, and a return to the court in the NCAA tournament looks like a great possibility.
Blue Devil Nation is on the scene for the post-game excitement! Here are a few videos of the action at Greensboro - more to come later, so be sure to stay tuned to BlueDevilNation.
With the season winding down one might think Duke is not recruiting hard, but they are quite active and still persuing several kids. The Blue Devils added a solid one-two punch when Alex Murphy and Rasheed Sulaimon chose to play their collegiate careers in Durham in the same week. Murphy is a wing player who'll likely play the small forward role while Sulaimon is more suited to play out front. Many have wondered if Murphy would re qualify and the answer is (A 1227 word update awaits BDN members) [private] no, not unless he goes to summer school. Look for Murphy to transfer from St. Mark's in the coming year to a school where he'll play better competition. I should be able to tell you where that will be soon.
The addition of these two prospects allows Duke to now turn their attention to other main targets, two of which are Tony Parker, a behemoth big man from Georgia and Shabazz Muhammad, a multi talented wing. North Carolina has moved hard on Parker but in a chat with Dave Telep this past weekend, the ESPN talent evaluator said he still feels Duke leads. As for Muhammad, the team to beat is Kentucky, a school he'll soon visit. Duke is still very much in the mix for these two but they do have stiff competition and only time will tell how they'll fare.
We reported that Justin Anderson was getting some looks and that will continue. Anderson's camp is claiming an offer per Andrew, but the offer is contingent at this time but that could change any time now. Anderson is close friends with current Duke player Josh Hairston and he is a bit of a hybrid player in that he plays a bit bigger than he actually is. Duke feels he is a type of player they currently don't have, but harbor your emotion for that is said of many prospects, especially the aforementioned Parker.
This past weekend Michael Gbinije, Quinn Cook and Marshall Plumlee played in Cameron and I took in the action. As has been said, Gbinije has to be the shyest guy ever. But that's not all bad in that it is a part of his make up as being a team player. Gbinije still needs to be more aggressive, especially on the boards but he is capable and seems to be able to do what he is told. He was named his teams MVP.
Quinn Cook led his Oak Hill team to two wins and he seems to be coming along but is still favoring his knee. On occasion, he tries to do too much, but he is a distributor and he has above average offense for a point guard. Marshall Plumlee is coming along nicely as well and he continues to play hard and aggressive when in the game. Despite being the only big, Christ School runs few plays through Plumlee this season which is curious when you consider his passing skills and his ability to draw a crowd in the post. Both prospects will join Austin Rivers in the McDonald's All American game, but Gbinije is a fifth year senior and like John Wall last season, is ineligible. There has been much discussion since the ESPN telecast of his game said he may redshirt. While that has been discussed it will still be a wait and see thing and there is no reason to get caught up in worry one way or another until the start of next season for we'll no nothing until then.
You may have seen that Duke didn't make JP Tokoto's list which was trimmed recently. That's because Duke backed off of him, showing little interest. And to think, Tokoto could have given Duke a verbal during their camp! Duke offered him at that time and he almost signed that day after a great trip, but they decided to wait and they are still waiting, almost dragging their feet with the process. That is fortunate for Duke in that he took a major tumble in the rankings and has yet to show he can step up and be the man on any of his teams. He'll still be a good one, just not at Duke.
After being on the AAU trail for several years, you learn to take in guys who are not always on the radar in that the recruiting landscape changes. That's why BDN talked with Austin Rivers when he was a 15 year old prodigy, two months shy of picking Florida. Well, we know what happened and the guys we've kept up with of late are the aforementioned Anderson, once thought to be off the radar and now Andre Drummond.
As Andrew has stated, Drummond is no longer a UConn lock as has been thought. He also has some Duke ties which again, Andrew has mentioned on our message board. I still feel he is a long shot but you never know. And for some breaking news of sorts, Duke Assistant Nate James was check him out last evening but connecting flights issues kept him from doing so . The catch is he was going to see a new name on the radar, big man Mitch McGary. What a great opportunity for James to check out these guys go head to head. We'll have more on this new kid on the block later and we will hopefully be talking to him before TOS's suddenly happen upon his name once this article goes to press.
As for James, he is up to more than just checking this game out. Another new name on the recruiting radar is Anthony Bennett and the Dogg will take the lead on this one. We have more. He will also check out North Carolina in state product Montrezl Harrell [6-7 BF Tarboro, NC] in the coming weeks.
There are some names on the radar in the class of 2013, but those will not solidify until AAU ball this summer and you guys know how active we are that time of year.
A note on women's recruting is that highly rated Betnijay Laney will is down to Duke and Rutgers. If the Blue Devils land her, they'll have the top class with three outstanding women. BDN Flashback
Lastly, there is the Kyrie Irving situation. It's day to day and his return is dependent on complete healing. Irving cannot help his stock by returning to the court and that could be a factor. However, so far, so good with concerns to the timetable we mentioned long ago. He can play this season if he wants to but that decision with be a family one. While Duke has certainly not shut the door on a possible return, they are cautiously optimistic at best in the way the convey things to insiders and the public. They want the current players to play as if Irving will not return but they'd welcome Irving with open arms if he suits up. I remain a glass half full kind of guy on this one and I will not back down now from saying I still think we'll see him play. As I have been saying, the door had by no means been shut in any official manner to date but keep in mind that he is not going full throttle in practice yet and that means time will tell. Discuss the latest on the BDN message board and please adhere to user agreement with concerns to this article. Go Duke! [/private]
What do we know about this year's team as 2011 quickly approaches? Well, for starters, we know Duke is deep with the ability to place a lot of top talent onto the court. Plus, we know Duke has all the different pieces required to be a champion commencing with senior leadership. Additionally, we know Kyrie Irving is the real deal. He has proven all the hype was warranted. Unfortunately, what we do not know is when Kyrie will be available and on the court for Duke due to his right big toe injury. We know the freshman to sophomore jump is alive and well in Durham. All one has to do is look at the improvements in the play of Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins and Ryan Kelly. Finally, we know the team still needs to develop and improve if they are to equal the accomplishments of last season's team.
There’s no real point in discussing Kyrie’s injury because there is too much we do not know so let's take a look at each of the "things we know" and break them down:
Duke has senior leadership.
The presence of senior leadership is not widespread in today’s college basketball landscape; however that does not make it any less valuable. In fact, it makes it more valuable as Duke has what few other teams have – two proven senior leaders in All American candidates Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith.
Coach Krzyzewski discussed Singler after the victory over Oregon in Portland: "I'm very proud of Kyle. Today was a special day for him. He is truly one of the special kids I've had the opportunity to coach at any level. He has a warrior's spirit. He's all about winning and playing hard and I love the way he performs. He's never nervous. He's the same all the time. He never has a play in a game or in practice when he's not working hard. He's what I call a no-maintenance guy."
Nolan Smith is currently number eight on statistics guru Ken Pomeroy’s list of contenders for the 2011 Player-of-the-Year Award.
During the St. Louis post game press conference, Associate Head Coach Chris Collins stated, “For Nolan to get back, I mean he didn’t have a field goal against Bradley the other night, but he played a good floor game. For him to come back today and have the six rebounds, five assists but also get 22 points at the point guard position, I thought was really good.”
Last season’s run to the national championship demonstrated the utility of senior leadership as Scheyer, Thomas and Zoubek combined to be a steadying influence upon the Blue Devils during the stretch run. In 2009, North Carolina won the championship with senior Tyler Hansbrough as their key player. Kansas started two seniors and two juniors in 2008 when they won the national championship, and when the Florida Gators repeated as national champions in 2007, they started a senior and four juniors.
There seems to be a pattern here and the pattern is experience is King come March and April. The experienced leadership on Duke’s roster in 2011 will provide the Blue Devils a decided advantage once the post season arrives. Singler and Smith are two of the best players in the nation.
Duke is deep and talented.
The roster contains five McDonald’s All Americans: Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Kyrie Irving. However, other players on the roster earned accolades prior to arriving in Durham.
Freshman Tyler Thornton was the Washington D.C. Gatorade Player-of-the-Year while fellow freshman Josh Hairston was the Maryland Gatorade Player-of-the-Year. After the St. Louis game, Associate Head Coach Chris Collins commented on the play of Thornton and Hairston, “I mean we felt great when the guys came off the bench. I mean Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton did a great job, especially in the second half. They hit us with a little run to start the half. We weren’t as happy with our energy coming out of halftime. We went to our bench and those guys played great.”
Prior to transferring to Duke, Seth Curry was the Big South Conference Freshman of the Year.
Andre Dawkins skipped his senior year of high school and enrolled at Duke early so he missed out on the opportunity to be named as a member of the various All American teams. However, he was a two-time first team NCSAA All-American.
Duke has all the requisite pieces required to be a champion.
It takes more than talented players to win a championship. It takes the right mix of players who complement each others game. A championship team needs perimeter players and inside players, jump shooters as well as players who can attack the rim, rebounding specialists and defensive specialists. Chemistry is vital to building a championship team.
Duke’s roster contains all of those individual pieces.
The freshman to sophomore jump is alive and well in Durham.
Andre Dawkins was inserted into the starting line-up for the Bradley game in response to Irving’s toe injury. Dawkins responded by scoring 28 points on 8-14 shooting on 3-pointers. After the game, Coach Krzyzewski stated, “It’s great; I hope it’s not a passing fancy. Andre has been, and I said it last week, Andre has been as consistent as anybody we’ve had this season including Kyle and Nolan and Kyrie. Andre has been solid, just really solid and was hitting with a limited amount of shots.”
Dawkins currently leads the ACC in 3-PT FG percentage at .536 and is averaging 12 points per game.
Mason Plumlee is averaging 8.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Against Michigan State, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, Mason played 35 minutes, having five steals, to go along with a 10 points, 10 rebounds double-double. Coach Krzyzewski praised his performance, “Mason had to play 35 minutes with the foul trouble we had and they kept alternating bigs and Mason got a double-double and five steals. As obviously sensational as Kyrie was, quietly Mason was outstanding, he was outstanding.”
Mason’s high scoring game so far this season was against Marquette when the 6’10 big man exploded for 25 points on 12-16 shooting from the field. Additionally, he recorded 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Mason leads the team in blocked shots.
Ryan Kelly scored a career high 13 points in the most recent game against Elon. Kelly is a versatile player with advanced passing skills and solid shooting ability. He has demonstrated rebounding and shot blocking skills as well. As his playing time increases, his game will continue to develop. Kelly is much better now than he was as a freshman, and he will most likely be much better in March compared to December.
Seth Curry is the fourth sophomore but he is two years removed from his freshman season due to sitting out last season after his transfer to Duke from Liberty. Curry has been a little inconsistent at times this season but he has demonstrated a solid shooting stroke and excellent wing defense skills. Curry has second most steals on the team behind Singler.
This team still needs to develop in several areas.
Duke is 11-0 and the unanimous number one ranked team in the country. The ACC schedule kicks off next week when the Miami Hurricanes visit Cameron Indoor Stadium, and with the conference schedule comes games against teams, and perhaps more importantly coaches, who are intimately familiar with the Blue Devils. Things are going to get tougher in January and February before the real test of March and hopefully April arrives. This Duke team is deep and talented with the senior leadership that provides an unlimited upside, so 2011 has the potential to be another great year, but everyone knows there is a lot of work to be accomplished over the next three and a half months.
Every team has to develop their unique identity but this year’s team has been thrown a curve ball with the injury to Irving. Therefore, a need exists for the team to rediscover who they are specifically in regard to playing style. Will the team continue to apply maximum pressure on the perimeter with an emphasis on creating turnovers? Or will they revert to last season’s style, which focused upon rebounding? On offense, will they push the ball at every opportunity? Or will they look to become a dominant half court offensive team?
There are a lot of questions and the answers will be forthcoming over the next month, all one has to do is watch. Coach Krzyzewski is a master at transforming a team.
Free throw shooting is another area where the team could improve. Duke is shooting .743 as a team; however, Mason Plumlee (.417), Miles Plumlee (.611) and Josh Hairston (.538) all have room to improve. In a close game, the ability of these players to convert from the free throw line could the decisive factor.
With 2011 literally just around the corner, it is time for Duke fans to sit back and enjoy the ride as Coach Krzyzewski and the Staff lead the Blue Devils in their pursuit of excellence. No one knows how the season will end, but it is apparent the 2011 Duke Blue Devils have all the pieces in place to make a serious run toward Houston and another national championship.
Firstly, I hope all of you are having a safe and happy holiday season! I hope too, that all of you caught your breath for the basketball season will now get into the meat of the schedule.
First things first
Before we can discuss the coming ACC season we must first address Wednesday nights game with UNC Greensboro in Greensboro Coliseum. The game, itself, will be a walk in the park for the nations top rated team. Coach Krzyzewski will use thes game to help his troops shake off the holiday rust, so expect the Blue Devils to be focused by games end. Not to be lost or under the radar is the fact that Mike Krzyzewski will be in sole possession of the second most NCAA wins in history at nights end. It's a heck of an accomplishment for sure, but Krzyzewski has his eyes set on another championship and he knows it will not be easy for this seasons team to meet lofty expectations for they are through the roof. That said, Coach will once again downplay the history making moment where he officially passes former North Carolina legend Dean Smith. Tickets are still available and it is a great chance to see Coach K and Team Blue Devil for many fans in the central and western part of the state. You can be a part of history should you choose to go to the game.
I've chosen to remain positive with concerns to KyrieIrving returning to the court for Duke this season, but in truth nobody seems to know for sure what will happen. Everybody has an opinion, some justified, some just plain silly. All I can say is that I hope he comes back but until there is news of a firm plan, it's time to start looking at the Blue Devils without Irving. About the only fact I can pass on is that Irving and the other Duke players spent Christmas at home with their families and they were to return today. Irving will likely have another look at his injury any day now and the team tending him will go from there.
Here comes the ACC season
The ACC Basketball season begins in earnest in January where the Blue Devils will face seven conference foes with Alabama-Birmingham and St. John's mixed in. Duke has two home games to start off the ACC season with Miami and Maryland. They then travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State in a game the pundits are already circling as a good possibility of an upset. They then face Virginia at home before two in state road game affairs with N.C. State and Wake Forest. Duke will be looking for a bit of revenge against the Pack, but their opponent will be at full strength then. The Deacons have much better talent than their record indicates, so this could be a trap game. Heck, it's the ACC, so they could all be trap games. By the end of January, fans will realize the road will indeed be a tough one and that Duke will continue to take everybody's best shot.
Duke fans wouldn't trade places with anyone. After all, they are undefeated and ranked #1 in the nation and have Coach K at the helm. Earlier in the season Coach Krzyzewski said this team would have to make their own journey but a lot of fans continued to whisper undefeated as did the media labeling Duke clearly the best. A look around the college basketball landscape shows that there are a lot of good teams and those teams are capable of beating the Blue Devils on a given night. In short, anyone thinking this team will go undefeated is fooling themselves.
On the other hand
The Blue Devils will learn a lot about themselves when adversity continues to set in. They are currently dealing with the fact Kyrie Irving will be out for a bit if not the season. The players were sent into the break knowing they'd have to elevate their games, so the key thing to watch will be continued development with concerns to chemistry. In short, Duke is looking for certain players to step up their game and become consistent night in and night out.
Glaxo Smith Kline Invitational
Our members know that the Duke staff has been on the road checking out the nations top prospects while forming their wish list for the future. In the past the Glaxo Invitational has always been a great event where it is literally filled to capacity. The event as always, takes place at Raleigh Broughton High School and the action for the men begins on December 28th. Broughton is the alma mater of former Dukie Shavlik Randolph and the legendary Pistol Pete Maravich. Originally, Duke had two kids to watch closely. But one of them, Tyler Adams backed off his commitment and now plans his future with Georgetown University. Marshall Plumlee remains a future Duke and he will lead Christ School against Brandon, Mississippi and the aforementioned Adams on December 28th at 7:20. You better get there early to see the two in action and if you cannot make it, BDN will be there to fill you in on the action where we'll eye a couple of other kids as well.
The Duke vs Elon game will most be remembered for Coach Mike Krzyzewski tying North Carolina's Dean Smith at 879 all time wins. Duke came away with a 98-72 win over their outmatched performance and the Phoenix played with a lot of heart and found some good looks in the Duke defense. Without further ado, here is the BDN Post Game Report with Coach K audio after his historic win.
Coach K ties Dean Smith on All Time NCAA wins list
As we alluded to in our Monday Musings column, Coach K downplayed an historic win in favor of concentrating on his team's improvement. He was very gracious in the postgame chat, where he complimented Dean Smith and gave the media the quotes they needed to fill the numerous pieces you'll see in the morning papers. For those of you who were around during the Krzyzewski-Smith years, you know this was quite an accomplishment, but with Kyrie Irving still not projected to be back any time soon, working on his team is the right thing to do. Still, BDN sends out a hearty congratulations to a man who has built quite a program and is a living legend. Duke fans should enjoy and embrace every moment he remains the head coach of Duke University.
Happy with the performance?
Coach Krzyzeswski said his team played well and at times they did but there was quite the lull before media was allowed into the Duke locker room. The players told me the message was that they couldn't play like that in ACC games, and the maestro knows a brutal January slate awaits his Devils. "It was intense and Coach K told us we had a long ways to go to be the team we are going to be," said Kelly of the post game meeting with their coach.
According to Coach Krzyzewski, Kyrie Irving is still out indefinitely. He is being evaluated every ten days and could miss the season still according to the Duke coach. You can hear Coach K's comments via BDN audio below.
Kyle was the man
Kyle Singler tallied a team-high 24 points to go with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Singler told BDN he wasn't sure why his game elevated in late December going into the rest of the season, but we know why. He loves competition and it gets better every step of the way from here. Kyle dished 5 assists in the first half and that helped Duke take an 18 point lead into the half. Duke also had a 14-0 run early and that put the game pretty much out of reach.
Ryan Kelly had a nice game
Kelly scored a career high 13 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and had a team-high 6 assists. I tried to attribute the 6 assists to Andre Dawkins which you'll hear shortly when my eyes crossed a bit on the score sheet in the locker room. "Every play I'm out there trying to play my hardest. If I can earn more time by doing that, it's great. I'm going to play just as hard when good things happen," said Kelly.
Nolan was effective when he was in
With 19 minutes to go in the game, Smith got his fourth foul. He played just 21 minutes and scored 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting. He had 4 assists and his 6 rebounds were impressive as well. Smith was not too happy with their team's performance saying, "We just want everybody to step up, start talking and be ready to play when we come back."
A.D. played well too
We'll have a chat with Andre Dawkins up in the morning. Dawkins reached double figures in scoring for the seventh time this season. Dawkins leads the team with 30 three point field goals on the year. He tallied 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 dimes.
Sidebar - Duke moves to 11-0 on the season and for the first time was not the unanimous number one team in the nation when today's A.P. poll came out. Duke outscored Elon 34-24 in the paint, 28-18 off turnovers, 15-11 on second chance baskets and just 9-4 on the fast break. Elon's bench tossed in 33 points but the Duke bench beat them by 1 at 34 points. Duke will now have a nine day Christmas break before Krzyzewski passes Dean Smith when they take on winless UNC-G. The Duke wireless internet went down in the media room, so the picture gallery from Lance King will come in the morning.
Coach K's post game audio below, just press play -