And for the last of our post game recordings we turn to Duke senior Lance Thomas who played his last game in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Just press play –
And for the last of our post game recordings we turn to Duke senior Lance Thomas who played his last game in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Just press play –
When ESPN’s Game Day crew comes to town, it is a big event for the host school and this weekend the nation’s focus is on Cameron Indoor Stadium where Duke takes on Carolina this evening in a game which will decide the ACC Champion and send off some beloved seniors in Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek,
A solid turnout of students and fans attended ESPN’s Game Day morning session which was of course televised live and nationally. Jay Bilas drew some cheers as did Bobby Knight while Digger Phelps got a little love simply because he picked Duke as a number one seed recently.
Then there was Hubert Davis, a former Tar Heel who likes to take some light shots at Duke from time to time. Needless to say, he was greeted with a lot of boos. Duke radio host Bob Harris also participated in the event as did several other local types.
Fans cheered on cue and were indeed loud as they held up car board cut outs of the player’s heads and other signs which pretty much said “Go to Hell Carolina.” The students were treated to Game Day sweatshirts after the event and a walk around campus shows tents in every crook and cranny. Everywhere you look there was Duke Blue as music filled the air on a bright and sunny day.
The ESPN Game Day crew moves outside of Cameron for the rest of the day and festivities pretty much continue as I type. BDN will be on the scene to bring you all of the action and we will update from twitter throughout the evening. So, stay tuned and tell your friends about Blue Devil Nation.
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Durham, N.C. – BDN caught up with Lance Thomas in the Duke locker room shortly after he had grabbed 10 rebounds in Duke’s 24th win of the season. Lance talks of his senior season and his last two games before being whisked off to talk with Bob Harris on the Duke Radio Network post game show.
Just press play –
[8 AP/7 Coaches] Duke (17-3, 5-2 ACC) vs.
[7 AP/11 Coaches] Georgetown (15-4, 6-3 Big East)
Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 • 1:00 p.m.
CBS Verizon Center (20,600) • Washington, D.C.
The Opening Tip
Duke (17-3, 5-2 ACC), ranked eighth in the AP poll and seventh in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, faces Georgetown (15-4, 6-3 Big East) at the Verizon Center on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 1:00 p.m. The Hoyas enter the contest ranked seventh in the AP poll and 11th in the Coaches’ Poll. The game will air on CBS with Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg calling the action.
The Last Time Out
Duke posted a hard-fought 70-56 win over Florida State on Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils forced 22 turnovers in the game and limited the Seminoles to 34.5 percent shooting in the second half of play.
Senior Jon Scheyer paced the offensive attack with 22 points for his ninth 20-point game of the year. He went 7-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and 4-of-4 from the foul line in the game. Scheyer also had four rebounds, five assists and three steals in the win.
Kyle Singler added 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in 38 minutes of action. Junior Nolan Smith added 11 points, four rebounds and four assists in the contest.
Duke’s five upperclassmen (Scheyer, Singler, Smith, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek) combined to score 65 of the teams 70 points on Wednesday. The group also recorded 25 of the team’s 30 rebounds as the Blue Devils were outrebounded for just the fourth time this season.
Big Three Pace Blue Devil Offense
Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith combine to average 53.0 points per game or 64.5 percent of Duke’s scoring.
Scheyer is second in the ACC in scoring at 18.8 ppg., while Smith (18.1 ppg.) and Singler (16.1 ppg.) rank third and eighth, respectively.
Texas Southern, Nevada, UC Davis, Fairfield, TCU, Kentucky and North Dakota State are the only other schools with three players ranked among the top 10 scorers in their respective leagues.
The trio of Scheyer, Smith and Singler is the highest scoring threesome in the NCAA this season and the fourth-highest at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski.
Checking in on …
#2 Nolan Smith – +9.7 ppg. increase from a year ago leads the ACC … averaging 18.6 ppg. with three 20+ point games against ranked opponents
#3 Seth Curry – Sitting out the 2009-10 season due to NCAA transfer rules
#5 Mason Plumlee – Averaging 1.0 blocks per game
#12 Kyle Singler – Has led the team in rebounding nine times and in scoring six times … tied for the team lead with 25 steals
#20 Andre Dawkins – Fourth on the team with 27 three-point field goals … shooting 41.5 percent from three-point range
#21 Miles Plumlee – Leads the team with 25 dunks … has tripled his scoring and rebounding averages from a year ago
#30 Jon Scheyer – Has scored in double figures in 19 of 20 games with nine 20-point games … has led the team in assists in all 20 games
#34 Ryan Kelly – 14 blocked shots … one of five Blue Devils with 10+ blocks
#42 Lance Thomas – Shooting 81.6 percent (31-of-38) from the foul line … leads the Blue Devils with nine charges taken
#55 Brian Zoubek – Five or more rebounds in 14 of 20 games … averaging 16.7 rebounds per 40 minutes played
After a tough road loss to Georgia Tech, Duke is looking to regroup at home against Boston College Eagles on Wednesday night. The Blue Devils are well aware at how important it is to win at home in the ACC this season and they’ll surely come out with a lot of fire in an effort to avoid a second straight loss.
One of the keys will be for the Duke front court to establish themselves offensively in not only this game, but the remainder of the season.
To date, Duke has done an admirable job by committee with their front court and it is a well known fact that Krzyzewski said he will play who is playing the best of these guys from game to game.
While the Blue Devils have had solid overall production from their quartet of seniors Brian Zoubek and brothers Mason and Miles Plumlee, there is still a need for these guys to further establish their roles on the offensive end.
In short, I am talking about being more consistent scorers when opportunities are presented.
For this to happen, Duke needs further development from Mason Plumlee, a true freshman who was hampered with pre season injuries and just now getting up to game speed.
Mason grew leaps and bounds in the Georgia Tech loss and many will be watching to see if he can match that production with two ACC opponents at home this week.
It’s no secret that the Duke staff feels Mason is a key cog to the Blue Devils success and as he adjusts more to the physical play and speed of the college game and he could well become the fourth go to scorer.
In a recent interview for the Blue Devil Nation Locker Room Report, Mason admitted that he needs to make simpler plays instead of the flashy ones, but he also knows his teammates have been trying to feed him for some emphatic dunks.
The youngest Plumlee gets those feeds because his teammates know what he can do.
Mason already has great chemistry with Jon Scheyer and as he adjusts to his teammates, we could see him reach his lofty potential before seasons end.
His brother Miles will play a key role as well and like Mason, Miles knows how to finish when open.
Ask any Duke player and they will tell you that Miles can jump out of the gym and that he is freaky athletic jumping over players for dunks in practice.
There is a reason Miles started as a freshman in the opener and many of this seasons games for Duke sees what he can do in practice where he seems consistently good.
In short, Miles is a very athletic big who needs to work on said consistency with his game and he has all the tools to make this happen.
If he can establish himself as more of a down low presence on the offensive where he is needed most on the scoring end for a team that is riding the play of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith; he’ll become a major factor.
Another key will be when the brothers Plumlee get used to one another in the Duke system for there is no doubt they know one another well but that has yet to fully materialize on the court at the ACC level.
Seniors Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas both have the potential to score well in games.
While Zoubek isn’t the most athletic big man, he is a huge presence and he has earned Krzyzewski’s praise on many occasions when press members were asking about other players.
The reason being that Zoubs as he is known to his teammates, has had several games where he had or was near a double-double in scoring and rebounding in limited minutes.
As the Plumlee’s develop, Zoubek and Thomas will be looked to for toughness and leadership.
There is no reason to think Zoubek cannot relish his role as a senior down the stretch and if that happens Duke will be a tough team to handle.
Zoubs senior teammate Lance Thomas is Duke’s equivalent of the Energizer Bunny for the energy and hustle he brings to the court.
Thomas only knows one way to play and that is all out, but that can get him into some tough situations as was seen when he fouled out against Georgia Tech.
Granted, Thomas draws the some of the toughest defensive assignments each game, but he will need stay in contests down the stretch.
While he is not depended on the score a lot for this team, Thomas needs to continue to take his shots with confidence after working on it so hard in the off season.
Thomas is at his best when teams overlook him on the offensive end and he will likely look to exploit that in the coming games where he has proved to come up big at times in the past in ACC games.
While Ryan Kelly gets some minutes down low, I consider him to fall into the category of a “hybrid,” alongside Andre Dawkins, thus they are not discussed here.
Of course for any of these guys to progress Duke’s big three [Scheyer, Singler, Smith] will have to get them the ball where they need it.
The bottom line is that Duke’s front court is still a work in progress and as they become accustomed to one another even more, they will surely get better.
And it’ll be important that Duke gets offensive production from them when the teams shooters go cold.
It is New Years Day and Duke fans are asking, “How far can this team go in 2010?” Thus far Duke has looked like a solid team capable of competing to win the ACC regular season and defending the ACC Championship they won in Atlanta last March. Advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament is a realistic possibility.
The ACC regular season is set to start as Duke (11-1) hosts Clemson (12-2) on Sunday evening in a 7:45 pm contest. Duke is simultaneously a very experienced team and a young team still developing. Five upper classmen on the roster have a combined 280 starts, while three freshmen and a sophomore are all playing significant minutes in the rotation. How these two opposite elements meld is an important factor to how good the Blue Devils can become.
So the jury is still out on how good Duke can be in 2010. There are many questions remaining to be answered before it is known whether this squad can become the 11th Mike Krzyzewski coached Duke team to compete in the Final Four. The five questions discussed below are a good start for analyzing the 2009-10 Blue Devils’ chances of advancing to Indianapolis.
How dominant can S Cubed be during the ACC season?
Kyle Singler started the season as a legitimate candidate to earn All America honors. Jon Scheyer has been playing like an ACC Player-of-the-Year Candidate. And Nolan Smith appears to have made the performance jump everyone expected him to make last season. These three players, S Cubed, form the core of the 2009-10 Duke Blue Devils and in order for the Blue Devils to win the ACC and develop into a legitimate Final Four contender all three must bring their strengths onto the court.
Singler, at 6’8”, is a match-up nightmare at small forward for most teams. He is bigger and more athletic than the typical small forward in the college game. Singler has the ability to place the team on his back and carry them. His 28 points in the loss to Wisconsin is a good example even though the end result came up short. In 2010, the requirement to step-up and carry Duke to victory is going to present itself to Singler more than once and the Blue Devils will need him to respond in order to achieve their potential.
Scheyer values the basketball. With an assists to turnover ratio of 5.5, and an 18.6 points per game scoring average, he is a tremendous asset at point guard. After Scheyer scored 36 points against his team, Gardner-Webb Head Coach Rick Scruggs stated, “He was unbelievable. Anybody that says there’s any weakness is out of their minds. He shot it, he controlled the game, he doesn’t turn the ball over. He does everything you could ask of him at his position.”
Smith is the player Duke will rely upon to contain an opponent’s speedy guard. Smith is currently the team’s second leading scorer at 18 points per game so he is obviously an important offensive player. However, defense is where Duke needs Smith to standout. Limiting dribble penetration, pressuring the ball, and creating perimeter turnovers that lead to transition opportunities will be key to Duke winning big in 2010.
Singler, Scheyer, and Smith are the core of this year’s Duke Blue Devils and all three must be consistent throughout the season in order for Duke to achieve their maximum potential. In most games, Duke will be okay as long as two of the three show up with their “A” game, but against the crème de la crème all three will need to be clicking.
How good is the defense?
Duke held Gonzaga to 41 points on December 19th. Gonzaga entered the game as the #15 ranked team in the nation averaging 79 points per game. Back on November 27th, Duke held #13 Connecticut to a season low 59 points. In the other nine games they’ve played, Connecticut has averaged 75 points. Were these performances an aberration or is Duke capable of consistently shutting down Top 25 offenses?
Duke is a big, physical team inside. Gonzaga Coach Mark Few stated, “Their physical play bothered us as far as finishing shots around the rim.” Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun stated, “Duke physically handled us.” Duke is averaging 5.7 blocked shots per game with sophomore Miles Plumlee leading the way with 1.3 blocks per game.
Versatility is another defensive characteristic this season. Senior forward Lance Thomas has the ability to defend every position and Coach Krzyzewski relies upon him to tackle the tough assignments. Coach Krzyzewski’s comments after the Gonzaga game included, “Lance played a great game today. The kid Harris, I think he is a really good player, and Lance did a great job on him.”
Through the first 12 games of the season, Duke has a +8.5 rebounding advantage. Basketball is a game where every possession is important and this Duke team denies opponents second chance points by aggressively controlling the boards.
Can Brian Zoubek continue to be a legitimate center during the ACC season?
Zoubek has been playing very solid basketball over Duke’s first 12 games. He is a rebounding machine averaging 7.7 rebounds per game in only 16.7 minutes of playing time. That equates to 18.4 rebounds per 40 minutes of playing time. With the start of the ACC season, the level of competition is going to increase and Zoubek must step up his game and continue to dominate the glass when on the court.
Duke is deep in the frontcourt with four players 6’10” or taller but three of the four are underclassmen. Senior Zoubek must be play up to the level of his experience and be a steady influence upon young big men Miles and Mason Plumlee. If Duke is to develop into a team capable of advancing to Indianapolis, Zoubek must remain solid as the competition stiffens because the Blue Devils need his leadership.
Coach Krzyzewski recently commented, when discussing the defense, “The kid who really hasn’t gotten much attention for us, is Zoubek. Brian has had a hell of a year so far.” Blue Devil fans desire to hear the coach make similar statements after big ACC conference games.
Can the bench players remain viable options?
All nine scholarship players, on Duke’s roster are averaging double digit minutes of playing time. The issue is Duke has only nine scholarship players so all nine must continue to improve and perform as the season advances. This Duke team is vulnerable to injury and can be hurt by a single player suffering a lapse of confidence. Duke needs all nine players contributing in order to ensure maximum team performance from now until late March.
How high is Andre Dawkins’ ceiling as a freshman?
We already talked about the bench players, but this question is a bit different. Duke needs an explosive fourth offensive option against top notch opponents. Is Andre Dawkins the guy? Or has Dawkins already played the best games of his freshman season? Once again, this is about tougher competition. Dawkins has shined in early season games averaging 9.8 points with double digit performances in five games including 11 points against Connecticut and 12 against Wisconsin with a season high of 20 points against Radford. The question is will Dawkins continue to be a consistent scorer in games against Clemson, Maryland, Florida State, North Carolina, and into the post season?
Duke is known for being a prolific 3-point shooting team and Dawkins is a guy who has the ability to stretch defenses past their comfort zone. Combining big, physical inside play with accurate outside shooting is a lethal formula so Duke needs Dawkins knocking down 3-pointers in 2010 like he did over the first 12 games of the schedule.
The 2009-10 Duke Blue Devils can become a legitimate Final Four contender with continued development as a team, and if the ball bounces their way a couple of times in key situations that are sure to arise. The factor promoting the most optimism in Durham this season is that this Duke team appears to be a squad, which will be much stronger and talented in March than in it was during November and December, and that is very bad news for the teams seeded in the same regional as Duke come March.