Blue Devil Nation was once again on the scene after Duke defeated St. John’s 80-71 on Saturday afternoon. One of the players who had a big game was Lance Thomas. The senior forward took the time to answer some questions which you can hear by simply pressing play -
The Blue Devil Nation caught up with Duke senior Lance Thomas today and we got his thoughts on this seasons team and the opener against UNC-Greensboro on Friday.
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Next up – Jon Scheyer
BDN’s basketball media blitz continues with audio from Duke senior Lance Thomas -
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Official practice sessions for the 2009-10 college basketball season will commence in less than 10 days. Excitement throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference is palpable so it is time to preview the ACC. The Duke Blue Devils will win the ACC in 2009-10. Wait, wait a second…before all the Carolina fans howl with indignation, insist the Tar Heels will still rule the roost in the ACC, and label the author as a complete Duke Homer; remember that Duke won the ACC last season. That’s right, the ACC Champion is the team which wins the tournament, not the team which finishes the regular season with the best record. Carolina fans, worldwide, consistently choose to ignore this small fact.
But, for the record, this article is my prediction on how the teams will be aligned at the end of the regular season. What? Howl the Carolina faithful once again, you are switching between apples and oranges, discussing last year’s ACC Tournament one paragraph, this year’s regular season the next, that’s inconsistent, you can’t do that. But of course I can, this is the Internet and it is my article, so I make the rules.
Anyway, on to the predictions: when March 11, 2010, arrives: Duke, Carolina, Maryland, and Clemson will have earned a first round bye at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. What’s that sound? More indignant howling, but this time it is coming from Atlanta. Sorry, Yellow Jackets faithful, but Paul Hewitt will find a way to lose despite the formidable talent he has recruited to play in Atlanta. He has consistently accomplished less with more in the past so why should this season be any different?
However, the two teams best positioned to crash the first round bye party in Greensboro are Florida State and Georgia Tech.
This is how the standings will look at the end of the regular season:
2. North Carolina
5. Florida State
6. Georgia Tech
7. Wake Forest
8. Boston College
9. Virginia Tech
12. N.C. State
Here are some thoughts on the league’s projected top six teams in 2009-10:
Duke – Coach Krzyzewski will be sending a lot of experience onto the court this season and that experience coupled with some young talent will give the Blue Devils the edge. Kyle Singler (70), Jon Scheyer (68), Lance Thomas (62), Nolan Smith (22), and Brian Zoubek (21) are all upper classmen with a combined 243 starts. Experienced teams find a way to win in the college game. The transfer of Elliot Williams due to an illness in the family is unfortunate, but highly rated freshmen Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and Andre Dawkins along with returning sophomores Miles Plumlee and Olek Czyz provide Coach K with depth to augment experience. The last time Coach Krzyzewski was able to place this much talent and experience onto the court was when J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams were seniors.
North Carolina – despite losing Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, and Bobby Frasor from last year’s National Championship team, the Tar Heels will still be a talented and dangerous team. Their frontcourt will be extremely tough with Deon Thompson, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Travis Wear. Marcus Ginyard, Dexter Strickland, and Leslie McDonald will hold their own at the shooting guard position. However, Coach Roy Williams is missing the dominant point guard that has fueled his team in recent years. It isn’t a fatal flaw, but it is enough of a flaw to keep the Tar Heels out of the top spot.
Maryland – Greivis Vasquez is a legitimate preseason candidate for ACC Player-of-the-Year and Coach Gary Williams, who consistently accomplishes more with less, has an experienced supporting cast surrounding his star. Seniors Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne are both double digit scorers, while freshmen James Padgett and Jordan Williams will provide the Terps size in the paint. The freshmen will have a learning curve at the beginning of the season, but Coach Williams will have the Terps hitting on all eight cylinders by the time ACC action commences in January. Vasquez and Hayes are arguable the best backcourt duo in the league.
Clemson – Trevor Booker suffered a minor foot injury over the summer and that is troubling, but I still like the Tigers to finish fourth to secure the last bye. Coach Oliver Purnell is building a solid program at Clemson and the best recruiting class in Clemson basketball history will provide Coach Purnell the pieces to execute his high tempo full court press defense. McDonald’s All-American power forward Milton Jennings is the most high profile recruit in the Purnell era, with shooting guard Noel Johnson and forward Devon Booker also being Top 75 recruits. Junior Demontez Stitt is a steady player at the critical point guard position, but he will be challenged for the starting role by sophomore Andre Young. Having two quality point guards on their roster is definitely an advantage for the Tigers.
Florida State – the Seminoles are young and their youth will probably keep them out of the league’s top four, however, Coach Leonard Hamilton does have talent, size and depth on his roster. Some projected starting line-ups indicate the Seminoles could start one junior, three sophomores and a freshman. Sophomores Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton are solid frontcourt players, while freshman guard Michael Snaer is highly rated and expected to break into the starting line-up. Derwin Kitchen, Ryan Reid and Xavier Gibson all contribute to FSU’s depth. The Seminoles will definitely miss Toney Douglas, but they will still be a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.
Georgia Tech – the buzz in Atlanta is all about incoming freshman Derrick Favors. Georgia Tech has great expectations for the McDonald’s All-American and #1 rated player in the nation. Add in 3rd Team All-ACC player, Gani Lawal, ACC All-Freshman Team player Iman Shumpert, and senior Zach Peabody, and the Ramblin’ Wreck are loaded with talent. The question is can Paul Hewitt mesh the young talent into a cohesive team? The outlook isn’t positive based on previous performance in Atlanta. Georgia Tech has underachieved over past five seasons and went 0-8 on the road in the ACC last year. Add in the loss of seniors Lewis Clinch and Alade Aminu and this season looks to be a steep uphill battle for the Yellow Jackets.
Wake Forest, Boston College, and Virginia Tech make up the rest of the ACC’s muddy middle, while Virginia, Miami, and N.C. State are projected to reside in the cellar. It’ll be a long season (actually basketball season always seems to fly by) with many hotly contested games, but in the end this season should play out similar to many past seasons over the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference with Duke and North Carolina fighting it out for the top spot in the standings and another year of bragging rights. Figuratively speaking, my money is on the Blue Devils.
durham, n.c. – Seniors Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas were named team captains for the 2009-10 men’s basketball season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced on Thursday. Scheyer was a team captain last season, while Thomas has garnered the honor for the first time.
“Jon and Lance have both been great leaders on and off the court for our program,” said Krzyzewski. “Jon has a great approach to the game and is one of the most consistent performers in practice and during games. Lance brings a work ethic and fiery competitiveness that teammates rally around. Both players are strong leaders individually and will be even stronger together.”
Scheyer, a Northbrook, Ill. native, was one of three captains last season on a team that went 30-7, claimed the ACC Tournament Championship and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. He joined the 1,000-point scorer club at Duke a year ago and now ranks 32nd all-time with 1,349 career points. Scheyer, the 2009 ACC Tournament MVP, averaged 14.9 points per game to rank third on the team last season, while leading the team in minutes (1,214), three-point field goal percentage (.385), assists (102) and steals (58).
Thomas, out of Scotch Plains, N.J., has played in 100 career games with 62 starts. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last season and led the team in field goal percentage (.626). In his career, he has 13 double-figure scoring games, 53 steals and 33 career drawn charges.
Duke will begin the 2009-10 season on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. with Countdown to Craziness in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
As you know by now Roscoe Smith is slated to visit Duke this coming week. The visit [private] caught Duke off guard because it was not planned until recently. Despite that, Duke is elated to have him visit, especially Nate James one of the lead recruiters with Smith. After his visit to Durham, Smith will head to Oak Hill Academy where he will ready for the start of the school year. Our understanding is that Duke will set up an in home visit with Smith in the near future. Smith still has a standing offer but nobody expects him to pull the trigger soon.
Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston’s official in home visits will take place September the 20th. Hairston, of course, transferred to Montrosse Christian Academy. Duke is ironing out last minute details on “Countdown to Craziness,” an event that will take place on October the 16th. The event will kick off the fast approaching season and should be a lot of fun. The aforementioned Hairston and Thornton will attend the event. There are other visitors in the works for that day as well, more on that later.
While Brandon Knight expands his list of schools, it may interest you to know that Duke is working on an in home visit in September. One must remember that Duke has kept their name in there for a good while now. While they would like be happy with Kyrie Irving pulling the trigger quickly, they are covering the bases. In fact, Duke seems to still have some type of back-up plans should Irving and Barnes suddenly sour. Speaking of Kyrie Irving, Duke will be in-home with Kyrie on September the 9th. Harrison Barnes is slated for October the 5th. Please check past updates for the official visit dates. Duke is waiting for the Rivers camp to solidify a visit, but they are not pushing for it, instead allowing them to do on their time. Austin Rivers is still expected to visit in September. There is word that the visit will coincide with one to UNC as well.
Mason Plumlee will room with Ryan Kelly this season. Both players continue to work hard in the weight room under Williams Stephenson. Miles Plumlee has the highest measured vertical leap on the team. When standing side by side with Mason, their hands raised, Miles has about a four-inch reach advantage. Lance Thomas is the team’s strongest player in the weight room.
Recruiting analysis - With Barnes now saying he will take until spring to make a decision, Duke is covering the bases with Smith, a player who has shown a decent amount of interest in Duke. Duke was obviously hoping Barnes would decide in October. The same holds true with Kyrie Irving, who Duke will be all over this month. Duke feels really good about their chances with both kids, but they need one of them to go ahead and verbal no later than October so they can move on with plans for 2011 and 2012. Other prospects holding offers are Quincy Miller, Marshall Plumlee and J.P. Tokoto.
We’ll add an addendum to this post a bit later. Thanks for your patience while I took a mini break and sorry for the run-on post in that I am suddenly having format issues.[/private]