Tag Archives: Marty Pocius

The Duke Blue Devils men’s team celebrate their 2009 accomplishments

poaulussThe Duke Men’s Basketball Awards Banquet was held this past Friday evening in Cameron Indoor Stadium and serves as a season ending celebration.  For those in attendance there is that feeling of being a part of the team as you listen the seniors give emotional and personal speeches.  The voice of the Blue Devils, Bob Harris, got the evening started and he soon gave way to Athletic Director Kevin White.

White made it quite clear that Mike Krzyzewski had been a big factor when he interviewed for the job and ultimately left Notre Dame.   It was clear that White realized K’s accomplishments as he presented him with the Amos Alonzo Stagg trophy.

Krzyzewski took to the podium, where he acknowledged appreciation for the crowd that gathered and looked out adoringly to his family, introducing each and every one in one fell swoop.  His family has always played a big role in the awards banquets, coming up with themes and video highlights features for the seniors and assigning each their own individual song.

Just in front of Krzyzewski’s table sat the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Champions trophy and he let everybody know of how proud he was of that accomplishment.  We should all recognize that Duke won thirty games against a schedule ranked number one in the RPI and that, when the chips were down after a loss to Boston College, masterful adjustments led to the ACC crown and a number two seed in the NCAA Tournament.

This was, after all, a new staff with the addition of Nate James and the departure of Johnny Dawkins to Stanford.  Not only did Dawkins leave, but so did Mike Scragge, the head of basketball operations.  K’s son-in-law, Chris Spatola, took over that job and Chris Carrawell came aboard as well and both may be in line to coach one day.

The point is that Duke persevered by making changes before and after the season.  With a team that had no dominant center and a point guard by committee, this w,as in my opinion, one of Coach K and his staff’s finer jobs.  Had the average fan been given the opportunity to take the aforementioned thirty wins, ACC title and Sweet 16 going into this season, I’m pretty sure they would have said, fine by me.

But Krzyzewski knows that it takes players to perform and he was quick to thank them for the experience of coaching them and this was genuine adoration, not just coach-speak.  He then gave way to his assistant coaches who handed out individual awards where Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson were named MVP’s.

Coach Collins was his perpetually exuberant self as he handed out each award, and Wojo limped to the stage on a crutch due to recently suffering an ACL injury in a pick-up game.  Nate James made his first appearance and some of the players mentioned how good it was to have a guy like him around.  Heck, Coach K even called him “Nate Dogg,” as the crowd let out laughter.

But despite funny cracks all the way around, it may have been Marty Pocius who stole the show.  He alluded to the fact that his first roommate left for Arizona State and then his second to California and wondered out loud, is it me?  He then mentioned that both went a long way west to get away.   Pocius then stated that he was assigned a walk-on for a roommate the next season.

Marty also joked of his language curve and how hard it was for a Lithuanian to learn English.  “I’d be sitting around in the locker room and be listening to a joke and everybody would start laughing.  By the time I caught up with it and laughed they had moved on to the next joke.”

After each senior spoke, Krzyzewski would finish up with some comments and introduce the next one in line.  When he came to Dave McClure, he stated that he just got a text from Matt Christensen with his well wishes.  This again brought a laugh from the crowd for Christensen had a longer stint at Duke than, well, anybody.  McClure’s injuries made it seem like he was here for almost as long.  Even Pocius jokingly referred to him as “Uncle McClure.”

But when Dave was at the podium flashbacks of one of the most selfless players in Duke history filled my head.  They, of course, showed that awesome shot to win the game versus Clemson a bit later in his tribute video.

When it was time for Greg Paulus to have his turn, Krzyzewski showed the highest admiration, reminiscing on when he recruited him and how tough he was.  While he certainly didn’t mention some of his detractors, he made sure that all knew that during Greg’s four years that Duke went 112-28, which averaged out to 28 wins a season.

Paulus was grateful for the comments and walked off the round stage with the dignity of a champion, an ACC Champion.   It’s not often that a three year starter can accept a new role for the betterment of his team, and Paulus gave his heart and soul to Duke during his four years.

During some of the awards, a hoot or holler if you will, rang out for Gerald Henderson to stay.  But those in the know realized that the talented “G” or Hendo was just hours before he was to announce that he would be entering the NBA Draft.

I suppose some would have liked to hear a farewell speech from Gerald, but this night is traditionally set aside for seniors.  While I certainly hope Henderson will return, my sources say he is likely gone and Duke fans should not hold that against him for he served the royal blue well.

Maybe that’s why Krzyzewski didn’t really talk as much about next season as he has in past events, but maybe he just wanted these kids to enjoy their championship.  Before the hall of fame coach made his final trip to the podium, the 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Champions banner fell from above and K stood under it to applause from the diehard fans who were there.

He then called his team up and, once they settled together, the championship trophy was hoisted high by Brian Zoubek as the circular stage turned so all the crowd could see.  It was a proud moment for all and the smiling faces of the players, the fans and family alike is what makes this event special.  Quite simply, it was a celebration of accomplishments, and the history books will always have Duke crowned the 2009 ACC Champs.

Men’s Banquet Photo Gallery is located in the menu to your right.
2008-09 Duke Men’s Basketball Award Winners (courtesy GoDuke.com)

Swett-Baylin Award (Most Valuable Player): Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler
Dr. Deryl Hart Award (Top Scholar-Athlete): Greg Paulus
Glenn E. “Ted” Mann, Jr., Award (Reserve Contributing Most to Team Morale): Elliot Williams
Coach’s Award (Player Exemplifying the Commitment and Values of Duke Basketball): Lance Thomas
Iron Dukes Award (Most Minutes Played): Jon Scheyer
Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Awards: Gerald Henderson, Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer
Best Field Goal Percentage Award: Gerald Henderson
Best Rebounding Average Award: Kyle Singler
Best Free Throw Percentage Award: Jon Scheyer
Most Assists Award: Jon Scheyer
Best Defensive Player Award: Gerald Henderson
Gopal Varadhan Senior Manager Award: Joey McMahon, Griffin Tormey
Harry Rainey Spirit Award: Elise Rose
Charles Hogan Memorial Band Award: John Roelofs

Tri MVP’s named during the Duke Basketball Awards Banquet

Team celebrated the 2009 ACC Championship
Team celebrated the 2009 ACC Championship

DURHAM, N.C. – The trio of Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler shared the Swett-Baylin Award for Most Valuable Player at the annual Duke Men’s Basketball banquet on Friday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Henderson, a Wooden Award All-America and first team All-ACC choice, also received the Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Award, True Blue Award for most charges drawn (20), the Best Field Goal Percentage (.450) and Best Defensive Player.

Scheyer, the ACC Tournament MVP, also received the Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Award, the Iron Duke Award for most minutes played (1,214), the Best Free Throw Percentage (.836) and the Most Assists (102). He has recorded the best free throw percentage in all three of his seasons at Duke.

Singler, a second team All-ACC selection and 2K Sports Classic MVP, had the Best Rebounding Average with 7.7 rebounds per game. It is the second straight season he has posted the top rebounding average.

Senior Greg Paulus was named an Academic All-America for the second straight year and received the Dr. Deryl Hart Award as the top scholar-athlete. He has been named the top scholar athlete in each of the last two seasons. He also received the Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Award for the second time in his career.

The Glenn E. “Ted” Mann, Jr., Award, which is given to a reserve who contributes the most to team morale, was delivered to freshman Elliot Williams. The Coach’s Award for a player exemplifying the commitment and values of Duke Basketball was given to Lance Thomas.

Three other awards were handed out Friday night. Joey McMahon and Griffin Tormey received the Gopal Varadhan Senior Manager Award, Elise Rose was given the Harry Rainey Spirit Award and John Roelofs was the recipient of the Charles Hogan Memorial Band Award.

2008-09 Duke Men’s Basketball Award Winners

Swett-Baylin Award (Most Valuable Player): Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler
Dr. Deryl Hart Award (Top Scholar-Athlete): Greg Paulus
Glenn E. “Ted” Mann, Jr., Award (Reserve Contributing Most to Team Morale): Elliot Williams
Coach’s Award (Player Exemplifying the Commitment and Values of Duke Basketball): Lance Thomas
Iron Dukes Award (Most Minutes Played): Jon Scheyer
Bill Krzyzewski Captains’ Awards: Gerald Henderson, Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer
Best Field Goal Percentage Award: Gerald Henderson
Best Rebounding Average Award: Kyle Singler
Best Free Throw Percentage Award: Jon Scheyer
Most Assists Award: Jon Scheyer
Best Defensive Player Award: Gerald Henderson
Gopal Varadhan Senior Manager Award: Joey McMahon, Griffin Tormey
Harry Rainey Spirit Award: Elise Rose

BDN Interview with senior Marty Pocius

Marty Pocius - BDN Photo
Marty Pocius - BDN Photo

Marty Pocius has decided to forgo his senior season, but he will take with him a Duke degree.  He wants to play professional basketball in Europe and will return home to Lithuania.  Pocius took time to reflect upon his Duke career this afternoon –

It caught a few by surprise that you would graduate early …

I just decided to get my degree.  Right now, the most important thing for me is basketball and I really want to play.  So I will try to figure out where that is and find an opportunity.  I got the degree.  I accomplished what I wanted.

Have you thought about where you might play ball in the future?

Honestly, not at all.  Because we still have a month of the season left and I really haven’t given it much thought because I really want to focus on out team and give 100%.  I will start to think of that when the season is over.  Whatever comes after, comes after.

Was it tough not to play a lot this season?

Every basketball player wants to play as much as he can and have as good a career as possible.  For me, things went one way.  Maybe if  I weren’t injured for a couple of seasons it would have been different.  It is how it is and I’m just choosing to go back home.  There aren’t any hard feelings.  I love Duke and I will always love Duke.  It’s a great place with great memories

Do you feel like you are a better basketball player after your Duke experience?

Absolutely.  I know I have learned a lot from the experience.  Having four years to learn from coaches has helped me to improve as a basketball player.  I’m just ready to do it somewhere else.  I will try to play basketball for as long as I can and I have a chance to do that.

So, do you think you’ll start tomorrow night?

I don’t know if I can say anything about that, so …

What did you major in?

International Computer Studies.  It’s a flexible major, which I can do anything I want with it.

Was it a tough decision to leave Duke?

Um, you know it’s … of course it’s hard to leave.  It’s been a great four years, but I feel it’s the time to move on.

What is the one thing that sticks out in you mind you learned while at Duke?

The work experience.  I learned to really work hard no matter what and I think that will definitely help in the future.

Best of luck to you in all of your endeavors ..

Thanks a lot.

Behind the scenes practice update and John Wall tidbits

K-ments - During some recent practices, Coach K shared some thoughts about his team.  He stated that Marty Pocius was one of the teams better three point shooters and that they would try to get him the ball in good position when he entered the game.  Marty has been playing surprisingly well, especially on the offensive end of the court.  He’s still not the best defensive player, but he should provide some good depth in the back court.  The biggest plus is that Pocius has learned the system and knows where to be on the court.  [private] Now, if he can only drop Olek some hints.

He said that he hoped Elliot Williams could fill some of the roles that DeMarcus Nelson did this past season.  He likes Williams versatility and his ability to play good on ball defense on the perimeter.  He also mentioned that Williams was a good spot up shooter.  Williams played very well against Virginia Union and we’ll see how he does this evening against Lenoir Rhyne.  However, in my views, he has a ways to go to get use to the size and speed of the college game.  When I talk of speed, in Williams case he needs to slow down a bit and let the game come to him.  This will come in time as will his strength, but expect K to bring him along at well, K’s pace.

Coach also said that Duke would get out and run.  With their depth, he plans on pushing the ball and he seems as if he will go to the bench early and often.  He once again mentioned how important it was to keep Kyle Singler fresh and how having a deeper front line wold help.

He also said his team was healthy overall and that he hoped that would carry through the season.  “We have 14 healthy guys ready to go,” said Krzyzewski.

“Do it, hear it, see it!”  K barked that out as he stopped practice on several occasions.  He meant for his team to talk a play through, see it later on film or at a half speed walk through and to then “do it.”

K worked his team very hard with ACC Officials last week.  He then carried that over into more work, knowing and saying his team was tired.  He had a no contact practice after that, wanting to see how his team responded the next day when they went through two full practices in one day.   He was pleased with the results.

The Big Three- “Gerald, Kyle and Jon are the guys we will build around.  They are our best players.  That doesn’t mean a Nolan Smith or Greg Paulus couldn’t lead the team in scoring.  It simply means that these are the guys we feel comfortable building around, much like what we did in the Olympic.  We feel if the rest of the team can fit in around them, then we’ll have a chance to be really good.  Don’t get me wrong, we have some good players, but these three are our best.” – Coach K

Jon Scheyer has played wonderfully in practice and worked his butt off all summer.  When prospects came to visit, they all mentioned Scheyer.  When teams are picked by individuals, he goes first or to the next guy with the second and third picks.  He has shown more leadership and his defense on the ball has vastly improved.

Kyle Singler is the smartest player on the court when he’s out there and that is often.  Expect a fresh Singler to really blossom as the season progresses.  He has worked with Miles Plumlee to make him a better player and the two get along on and off the court.

Gerald Henderson is becoming a man among boys.  He is physically better than he’s ever been and he looks like a future NBA player with his ability to go inside and out.  He is capable of making the jump to All American.

No secret anymore- Miles Plumlee has proved that he has a very well rounded game.  He plays smart, runs the floor well, has good hands and nice ball handling to go with a mid range offense game.  He also finishes nicley and has good hops.  His Dad told me he was under appreciated and you know what?  That won’t last much longer.  I do expect he will struggle at times with veteran big men, but this kid has earned the starting nod as a freshman and that’s a heck of an accomplishment.

The latest on John Wall- Wall will get together sometime soon with Coach K and the Duke staff.  At that time both will figure out how they will proceed.  Wall canceled his weekend visit with Memphis and I expect we will know whether Duke has offered no later than Monday.

Sorry for the delays in reporting of late due to computer attack.  It happens.  I lost two informative articles, but some of the info is a bit old now.  I will still go back over some practice notes and dig up the pertinent information in the coming week.  It looks like the Josh Smith interview will come next week, due to and overload in covering Duke vs NCSU in football, tonight’s game, preparing player profiles and Monday and Tuesday’s opener.  Thanks for your patience during this time.[/private]