Tag Archives: Marvin Bagley

10 Random Thoughts on Duke’s Comeback Win

Photo Miami Herald.

They did it again!  Just when you thought the team was about to lose their third game of the season, Duke came alive.  The Blue Devils uses an 18-0 run to shock Miami and snatch a key ACC road win.  Without further ado, here is volume V of 10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball.

30 Point Efforts

No other team in the ACC has more than two players with 30 plus scoring games this season.  Duke, on the other hand, has now had players go for 30 points or over in seven games.  Last night it was Gary Tent Jr.s turn.  After being sick the game before against Wake Forest and still playing well, Trent followed up that game with 30 points which included some big time three pointers.  His effort helped Duke remain undefeated against teams in the current A.P. Top 25.

Comeback Artists

Trailing 66-53, Duke went on an 18-0 run and outscored Miami 27-4 over that  stretch which sealed their fourth conference win.  Gary Trent went 6 of 9 from three-point range, knocking down two consecutive trays to start the comeback.  Trevon Duval also stepped up his game after struggling with turnovers early in the game and ended up having 8 assists.  Duke has had a way of turning up their offense for spurts all season long.  Quite simply, they are capable of staging major comebacks in just a few minutes or when the game looks to be in doubt.

Not to take anything away, but ...

The Blue Devils still need to find some consistency in many areas of the game.  Firstly, they need to protect leads they build in the first half or leads in general.  Duke also needs some work on their free throw game.   They got away with going 10 of 21 from the charity stripe last evening and left a lot of points with misses of late.  Then there is the need for a consistent effort and better shot selection not to mention a better understanding of man to man defense.  Duke is young and learning.  Once they take better shot and gain a killer instinct with the lead, they will be hard to beat.  Just a little bit of improvement in the aforementioned areas could pay huge dividends.

A different role from Bagley

Well of course Marvin Bagley III got his 15 double-double on the season.  And he tallied 13 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists by deferring to other Duke players at times.  Last evening three other Duke players had more shots than Bagley.  The talented freshman took another step in his development by allowing this to happen which translated to a win.  And if Duke wins, Bagley will still remain the center of attention for many.

Wendell Carter went beast mode

When teammate Marvin Bagley went to the locker room with a shoulder injury, Carter played outstanding basketball.  He was a machine on the boards where many of his game high 14 rebounds came early or in key times in the game.  Carter is a double-double guy as well and he has pout together back to back games with the not so easy feat.  Duke would be well served to make sure he continues to get touches moving forward for he is better when that happens as is the team.  What people might miss is there is a timed development with players from the staff.  They told Carter he would float outside for some shots to better that part of his game when recruiting him.  They are keeping their promise.  BTW, Carter has an insane stat line - 15 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Allen continues to struggle with his shot

Sometimes players get in a shooting funk.  That has been the case with all of the Duke backcourt players at times this season.  It is scary to think how good Duke can be if all three are hitting on the same night.  What Allen is doing is finding his way into the stat line and remaining the senior leader a team needs.  Last evening he led Duke is steals with 5 and his effort towards the end of the half to get one and assist Trent for a 3 halted Miami's momentum.

That zone

I know there is a part of Mike Krzyzewski that hates going to a zone.  But in the one and done era with limited teaching time with players, not to mention a top-heavy team with concern to minutes: it is necessary.  And when Duke does go to that zone it seems to have a great effect to date.  When they went to it last evening, the Hurricanes offense immediately struggled with the length and movement.

Bad Duval, good Duval

Trevon Duval got into some early foul trouble and had to sit.  He needs to learn to harness his aggression in that Duke needs him on the court.  He is the best option at his position hands down.  I thought he was on his way to 8 turnovers like he had against NC State, but he flipped the switch and halted that.  Instead of 8 turnovers he ended the game with 8 assists.  And he was very efficient from the field going 7 of 11 and 2 of 2 from 3.   There is no position like the point guard spot which makes mistakes stand out.  Duval was good down the stretch and was a part of Duke not committing turnovers after a season high 19 during their 30-9 run to close out the game.

This and that

Duke has now had players garner 25 double-doubles on the season.  Bagley is 2nd in the nation in double-doubles and 1st among freshmen players.  Trent tied a Duke freshman record with six made three pointers.  Coach K is now 1014-273 at Duke and has 1087 total wins.

Next up

Pitt will visit Cameron Indoor Stadium on Coach K Court this coming Saturday.  That game will tip-off at 4:00 on  ACC Network Extra.  Duke should get both rest and good practice time this week.  They should also be able to let injured players continue to mend against Pitt which s struggling while rebuilding their program.

Always check back for new 10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball.  And take advantage of our special on Blue Devil Nation Premium where we double your membership through the month of January.  Get two years for the price of one or one year for the price of six months.

Another ACC ROW Honor for Marvin Bagley III

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III was named the league’s Rookie of the Week.  Bagley led the Blue Devils to a pair of ACC wins last week with double-doubles in both victories.  The rookie scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Wednesday’s 87-52 at Pitt – Duke’s largest margin of victory in an ACC road game since 1999. Bagley followed that with one of his best all-around games this season, scoring a game-high 30 points, with 11 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a career-high four steals in Saturday’s 89-71 victory over Wake Forest.  Bagley set an ACC freshman record with his fifth 30-point game, while his 14 double-doubles have tied Duke’s freshman record. The Phoenix native leads the ACC in both scoring and rebounding, and is the only player in the country averaging 22.0+ points and 11.0+ rebounds.  Duke which is ranked 5th in the nation in the new polls takes on Miami tonight.

K-Less Duke Rattles Wake Forest 89-71

After an unseasonably warm couple of days, the weather turned cooler on the day of the Duke-Wake Forest game.  Walking up to Cameron Indoor Stadium one could see tent city in full bloom.  The students were back in force to cheer on their beloved Blue Devils who sought to get back in the thick of the ACC race with a win.

But things were far from normal on this day.  About an hour before tip-off, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski decided not to coach in the game.  He had just come down with a stomach virus and he did not want to make his players sick, especially with a trip to Miami on the horizon where Duke has to take on the Hurricanes in just over a day away.

Add Gary Trent Jr. to the list of sick players as well.  Trent hovered over a trash can on the bench but would play in the game.  Duke was also without the services of Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden, but the team did not give in to the pressure.  Instead, they rose to the occasion and came away with an 89-71 win over Wake Forest.

Duke Associate Assistant Coach Jeff Capel took the reigns in Krzyzewski's absence.  And Capel looked more than a little comfortable taking over the role with short notice.  After all, this is not his first rodeo.

Capel substituted enough to keep the players fresh in the game.  The involvement seems to have helped Duke in wins over Pitt and Wake Forest which has pushed the team's record to 3-2 in the ACC and 15-2 overall.

Of course, it is nice when Capel has Marvin Bagley III (30 points, 11 rebounds) on the floor.  Bagley threw down some emphatic dunks on his way to his 14th double-double of the season which ties the Duke record for a freshman.

Bagley also has 4 steals.  And, of course, some of those led to crushing dunks.  Some of the students were donning his face on their shirts which his Dad had made.

Wendell Carter Jr. (15 points, 11 rebounds) chipped in with a double-double as well.  The duo were also beasts on the glass and altered many Wake Forest shots over the course of the game.

Grayson Allen continues to struggle with his shot.  But he earned the praise of Coach Capel in that while only scoring 2 points he led the team in rebounding with 12 and assists, dishing 8 dimes.

Despite being really sick, Trent Jr. nailed three consecutive three-point shots and played another good overall floor game.  Capel praised his toughness where he tallied 19 points.

Duke played a zone for much of the game and they were active in it when doing so.  The Blue Devils held a good Wake offense down when Capel went back to it in the 2nd half, after they cut into the Duke lead and closed to within 13.

Due to the closeness of the two games, the staff will not be able to go on the road and watch some key prospects in the Hall of Fame Classic.  It is unknown when Krzyzewski and player Bolden and DeLaurier will return.

 

Another ACC ROW Award for Marvin Bagley III

DURHAM, N.C. – Following a career performance in Duke’s win over Florida State, freshman forward Marvin Bagley III has been named the ACC Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season. Bagley was also named Duke’s Student-Athlete of the Week.

Bagley reached the 30-point mark (32) for the third time this season, while setting a Duke freshman record with 21 rebounds as the rookie led then-No. 4 Duke past No. 24 Florida State, 100-93Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Bagley’s performance was the first 30-20 game by a Duke player under Mike Krzyzewski and just the fourth 30-15 game under Coach K – Bagley has three of them this season, with Christian Laettner the other.

It stands as the seventh 30-20 game in school history, the first at Duke in 48 years, and the first by an ACC freshman. His 11 offensive rebounds in the game were also a Duke freshman record, and he tied Duke’s freshman record with 13 made field goals. Among all Duke players, Bagley’s 21 rebounds were the second-most at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the Coach K era (22 by Miles Plumlee vs. Maryland in 2012) and tied for 12th-most in a game in school history. The 21 rebounds were the most by any Duke player since Plumee’s 22 vs. Maryland.

With 21.9 points and 11.6 rebounds, the Phoenix, Ariz., native is the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder. He is second in the NCAA in doubles-doubles (11), and is the NCAA’s second-leading freshman scorer and rebounder.

Over the last four-plus seasons, Duke has had an ACC Rookie of the Week in 38 of a possible 76 weeks, including six of the eight weeks this season. Bagley is one of 10 different Blue Devils to have won the award at least once in that time.

No. 2 Duke (13-1, 1-1) is back in action Saturday, Jan. 6 at NC State at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Duke’s 2017-18 ACC Weekly Honors

Marvin Bagley III

co-Player of the Week (11/13)

Rookie of the Week (11/13)

Player of the Week (11/27)

Rookie of the Week (11/27)

Rookie of the Week (12/4)

Rookie of the Week (1/2)

Grayson Allen

Player of the Week (11/20)

Wendell Carter, Jr.

Rookie of the Week (11/20)

Rookie of the Week (12/26)

BDN’s Complete Duke Basketball Preview

Duke Basketball Preview

Welcome to Blue Devil Nation's annual Duke Basketball preview.  You will find a recap on last seasons team, this years players and coaches and what to expect this coming season.  With practice starting today, it is time to take a deep look at Duke hoops.  If you like this article, please link for others to read.

2016-17 Season Recap

The highlight for Duke last season was an amazing 4 day championship run in the ACC Tournament. They defeated eventual national champion UNC alone the way and held a 2-1 over them during the season.

A season ago Duke Basketball was besieged by injuries and the team would in time fall short of lofty expectations.  There were no games played when Duke had a completely healthy team and that led to an early exit in a game against South Carolina in the NCAA tournament.

Duke had players injured before the ball was even tipped in Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden and Harry Giles Jr. was recovering from his second major surgery.  Later in the season, Grayson Allen injured his ankle and he was never the same player after that happened.  Even Frank Jackson played with injuries and Amile Jefferson who was one of the teams steadiest players went out in January with a foot injury.

What Duke did get right a season ago was get it together in time to win the ACC Tournament.  The team was amazing when winning four consecutive games in Brooklyn.  Three players would later go in the first round of the NBA Draft, including the team's top player in Luke Kennard.

Duke experienced an unexpected departure when Frank Jackson elected to leave.  Jackson would have been a key cog for this seasons team,  but he felt his decision was the right thing to do.  Jackson went in the second round of the draft but signed a guaranteed contract.

If those were not enough players to lose, add Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones to the list.  Jones was a steady defender and Jefferson was a program staple.  Jefferson is currently expected to compete for a roster spot with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he would play alongside former Duke standout Tyus Jones.  The Blue Devils also lost Chase Jeter, who transferred to Arizona.

On paper, Duke lost six players who played significant minutes and return a single starter.  In a season where everybody anointed Duke the pre season pick as the national champion - everything went wrong at times.

Duke was not only hurt by injuries, but not having a true point guard came into play was well.  Jackson was never able to fill the role as some expected and Grayson Allen played out of position and weighed down my the mental aspects of the position.

There is also the elephant in the room in Grayson Allen and his conduct.  In short, the young man lost his composure and was the villan of college basketball.  It got a bit ridiculous at times when ESPN had some announcers cross the line.  But they were not the only ones.

As great as the ACC Tournament title  run was for Duke, it became overshadowed by the NCAA loss to South Carolina.  In a season where everything went wrong for Duke, HB-2 would send the higher seeded Blue Devils to play South Carolina in their backyard.  It was the final blow for the team which did their best to run from the black cloud of bad luck that enveloped the team with lofty expectations all season long.

2017-18 Season Prospectus

Developing a New Roster

It didn't take Duke and Mike Krzyzewski long to reload.  Recruiting started slowly as Alex O'Connell was the first player to commit to the Blue Devils.  But in time the flood gate would open and the talent would come once again.

Duke signed the top recruiting class in the nation.  Now they hope to blend those young men together with three other returning  players expected to play key roles in Grayson Allen Marques Bolden  and Javin DeLaurier.

Duke also returns Antonio Vrankovic, Jack White, Justin Robinson and Brennan Bresser.

Projected Starters

Grayson Allen is an All American candidate.

Grayson Allen (Sr. 6-5, 205 lbs SG, Jacksonville, FL) - Few will ever forget how Grayson Allen burst onto the scene in the 2015 National Championship game.  When Duke needed a mid game lift to defeat Wisconsin, Allen came to the rescue which helped his Duke team win the schools fifth national title.

A season ago, Allen tried to shoulder a lot of the weight for the team.  In a sense that backfired on him as he fell victim to the stress of trying to play out of position and run the point.  That combined with some ill-fated decisions made him a college basketball bad boy.

When a player plays with his tenacity, emotions can play a role.  He was the pre season pick as the National Player of the Year, yet injuries set him back.  He was viciously attacked by media and opposing fans alike in a way that has never been seen.

While some of the criticism was warranted, it would end up going too far.  But that was a season ago.  According to those close to the program, Allen is now rejuvenated.  He will play a role on this team similar to that of Quinn Cook who helped a bunch of freshman win the Blue Devils last title.

According to those close to the situation, Allen had an ankle injury which hampered him all of last season.  He could not do the things we have become accustomed to seeing him do.  His lift was gone and that is a big part of his aggressive nature as a player.

Allen certainly helped the media crown him the bad boy of hoops, but those who have known him over the years saw how that took a toll.  The truth of the matter is that as far back as high school, Allen loved playing the game with anyone.  He was more than accepted when competing in dunk contests and his Duke teammates coming into this season seem in great spirits with him being their leader.

In a sense, it is good that Allen returned to Duke.  This team needs a player who has been in the trenches and one who owns a national championship ring.  Allen has been seen making loose videos with his teammates in the off-season and he is enjoying himself again.

Duke will use Allen as their shooting guard this season.  He will team with newcomer point guard Trevon Duval to make up the teams starting backcourt.  The key for Allen will be to allow others around him to be good as well and support their growth.

We should see a return to his natural game this season.  He will slash down the lane for dunks, knock down the three and hustle after balls the coaches might not want him to.  That is Allen's game.  But the key for him to have a great year is to remain healthy and grounded,  He is still one of the best college basketball players in the country and a very good guy off the court.

Bolden started the season as a starter a year ago before an injury.

Marques Bolden (So. 6-11, 250 lbs. C, Houston, TX) - Many may not remember that Marques Bolden was tearing it up in the pre season a year ago.  A sudden foot injury would set the former DeSoto player back where he never regained his original stride.

Bolden would go through another experience this summer where he was an early cut on Team USA.  Sources say that worked as motivation for the big man and that he came back to Duke and decided to make it his mission to improve.

Before returning to Duke to train for what would be a canceled trip in the Dominican Republic, Bolden returned home to work out.  There is reshaped his body,  That led one Duke assistant coach to say, he was perhaps the teams best player in the few practices they got in.

I will go ahead and tell you that Duke will go big often this season.  That comes from people in the know.  And Bolden will be a big part of the plan.  He will be asked to anchor the middle to allow his teammates to float in and out in the front court.

When Bolden is motivated, he is a force to be reckoned with.  His mental and physical  motor is the key for him having a great season for the Blue Devils.  Look for Bolden to play faster and with more certainty.

Marvin Bagley is the nations top recruit even after moving up a class.

Marvin Bagley III, (Fr, 6-11. 230 lbs, F. Phoenix, AZ) - One of the last players to come aboard for Duke this season was Marvin Bagley III.  He reclassified and shocked many by picking Duke shortly thereafter.  But the plan for Bagley was shared by the staff and in the end, he realized, Duke was the best fit.

Bagley has impressed everyone in practice per sources.  He is fitting right in at Duke and enjoying himself and his teammates,  This young man is a phenomenal talent who is versatile and driven.  He is the kind of young man who never curses and has a focus on the court which cannot be taught.

Duke will allow Bagley to do his thing.  What that means is he will be allowed to float out for the three-point shot and go inside where he can be dominant.  He is a good rim protector and shot blocker who makes put back buckets seem easy.

Powerful is a word used to describe him and it fits.  He can dominate a game but still must adjust to the stronger players he will face.  In high school teams could double team him and play junk defenses.  If they do that in college, other Duke players will eat defenses alive.

Bagley is a good team player that will be challenged in multiple ways by the staff.  He is expected to be one of the top three players drafted in the next NBA Draft.  He will enjoy a long basketball career and could be one of the best to ever play in the royal blue and white.

Wendell Carter will now be playing in front of the Cameron Crazies. His length and game will make them cheer.

Wendell Carter Jr. (PF, 6-10, 260, Atlanta, GA) - It is likely frightening to opposing coaches when thinking how they will deal with Wendell Carter Jr.  He is long, strong and determined on the basketball court.  I list him as a power forward but he has worked on expanding his game to the outside as well and can also man the center spot.

Carter trimmed down in the off-season which will make for a quicker player -- not that he was slow to begin with.  He will be part of what will make up a beastly front line at Duke and should flourish in that no one player can be left alone in the starting line up.

According to the staff, Carter always wants to get better.  He asks questions and is attentive.  The young man was one of the more dominant players on the Nike EYBL circuit and he always liked the Blue Devils.

Carter already has connection with other Duke freshman and that bond should enable him to be a solid contributor from day one.  When playing alongside Bagley, the two will at times seem like bookends.  Carter is a hustler whose long arms should disrupt the passing lanes.

Gary Trent Jr. is a strong PG that will be the leader of this years talented freshman class.

Trevon Duval (Fr, 6-3, 185 lbs, PG, New Castle, DE) - The scary thing about Trvon Duval is that despite his immense talent, he is still developing.  Duval is known for taking the ball down the lane and flushing it in a way that point guards usually cannot do.

Duval is a physically mature player for a freshman who relies on his strength to create difficult match ups on both ends of the court.  He gives Duke a true point guard this season and he will have crazy talented teammates to dish the ball to.

The Blue Devils front court will allow for Duval to get out in the passing lanes where he will take advantage of his 6-9 wing span.  He has the potential to be a dynamic defensive player with work.

Duval is still working on a more consistent outside shot, but he makes up for that by finding holes in defenses.  He is a player who finishes well in contact and will likely get to the free throw stripe a lot via that skill.

In short, Duval has the keys to run a talented bunch.

Gary Trent is a hard working scoring guard.

Gary Trent Jr.  (Fr. 6-6, 205, SG, Columbus, OH) - You may have noticed that I have listed six players under the starters.  Well, Duke will use two main line ups this season due to match ups.  One will go big and one a tad smaller with Trent.

When you look for a hard-working young man with an ability to score points quickly, you might think of Gary Trent Jr.  The staff knows Trent can provide instant offense, so a sixth man role would fit.  However, he may be too good to keep out of the line up.

I have seen firsthand how hard Trent works when not playing while covering him on the Nike EYBL circuit.  He is a driven young man who played alongside future Blue Devil Tre Jones.  He is the perfect shooting guard type who can score in many ways.

The key for Trent will be to become a better defender.  If he does that, he completes his game.  He is already physically ready to play at the college level.  He remains cool and focussed on the court.

The First Man off the Bench

Javin DeLaurier (So, 6-10, 230 lbs, F Shipman., VA) - The Duke staff feels DeLaurier can guard multiple positions and potentially be the teams best defender.  That is saying a lot, but many feel the second year player will make a big jump this season.

When you have a top end motor are long and athletic, the staff will work you into the rotation.  I feel he will be the seventh man on this seasons team after hard off-season work and a great attitude.

Look for him to guard wing players this season despite his height.  He needs to improve his shooting, but should see action.

Who will Rise?

At some point, Duke will need more bodies to play.  Early season games will give players a chance to define and prove their game.

Antonio Vrankovic (Jr, 7-0,  270 lbs. C  Del Ray Beach, FL) - Vrankovic will help teach this team the Duke way.  How nice is it to have a player who has had on court success at Duke on the bench?  The big mans patience will lead to a role on this team this season and next.  He has played well under the tutelage of Nat James and Jeff Capel and is capable of filling a role.

Jack White (So, 6-7, 225 lbs, F  Taralgon, AS)- With a solid and improved physical presence from off-season work, White is a wing who could benefit from Duke needing a player at his position to play some minutes.

Jordan Tucker (Fr 6-6, 210 lbs, SF White Plains, NY) - Tucker can shoot, but will need to work on defense and knowing the system.  Like White, he will compete for playing time at the wing where Duke is less deep than in the past.

Alex O'Connell (Fr, 6-6, 168 lbs, SF, Roswell, GA) - His Dad played for Duke under Bucky Waters. The staff feels he can be a solid player for Duke but must put on more weight which could mean his time will come in the future.

Justin Robinson (So, 6-9, 195 lbs, San Antonio, TX) - The son of David Robinson was awarded a scholarship this past summer.  He will once again provide practice depth.

Jordan Goldwire (Fr, 6-2, 168 lbs, PG, Norcross, GA) Duke likes this young mans character and he will fill a key practice role in his first season at Duke.  He has played with talented players in high school

Mike Buckmire (Fr, 6-2, 170, PG, Blue Bell, PA) - The last addition to the Duke roster also bolsters team practices where the team was depth shy at the guard spot.  He put up some good high school numbers.

Brennan Bresser (Jr. 6-5, 190 lbs SG, Chicago, IL) - The Crazies love their hard-working walk on's and will chant for Bresser to see some late game action this season.

The Staff

Mike Krzyzewski returns to lead Duke in hopes of a sixth national title.

Mike Krzyzewski - After graduating from Army in 1969, Krzyzewski would later coach the Cadets.  Duke Basketball was searching for a new coach after Bill Foster left for South Carolina.  Krzyzewski came highly recommended by his mentor and then Indiana coach, Bobby Knight.   The story goes that then athletic director Tom Butters sent former Vic Bubas era player, Steve Vacendak, to the airport to stop the man who would in time be known as Coach K from leaving.  The job was his and the rest is history.

Duke has been blessed to have Krzyzewski in Durham and he is a living legend still doing what he loves to do best.  The Chicago native has now won 1071 college basketball games and garnered every honor that can be bestowed on a coach.  He has five national championships.  His wins are the most in college basketball history.

Krzyzewski has led Team USA to six gold medals as the men's basketball coach.  He took over the program when it had floundered and righted the ship.

Krzyzewski has also won the most regular season ACC championships in conference history  as well as the most tournament wins.  He has the most wins in NCAA Tournament history which currently stands at 91.  His 23 NBA Draft lottery picks are the most in history as well and the list goes on.

The long time Duke coach will enter his 43rd season as a head basketball coach.  He will hit another milestone early in the season when he wins his 1000th game at Duke University.  He currently sits at 998 wins.  The record will almost certainly be broken against Utah Valley State on November 11th.

Capel is not your normal assistant coach.

Jeff Capel -  Capel is not your typical second man in charge.  He has been a head coach at Virginia Commonwealth and Oklahoma.  He is 175-110 as a head coach.  In the past few seasons, Capel has also had success when Mike Krzyzewski was out due to health reasons.

Capel has been instrumental in both player development and recruiting.  He has helped Duke land some of the nation's top prospects while developing the likes of Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum,

A graduate of the Class of 1997, Capel has seen the inner workings of Duke Basketball from both a player and coach standpoint.  In fact, all of the Duke assistants have this going for them.  Many think that Capel will one day be handed the reigns to the program in Durham.

Perhaps no assistant in the country has the respect Capel does as Krzzyewski's right hand man.

James coming off the court after a semi final win at the Final Four in Indy.

Nate James - As the eldest assistant, Nate James has been coaching at Duke for 11 seasons. James has played a role in national championships as a player and coach.

He once went to Mike Krzysewski's house after the 1999-2000 season with Chris Carrawell and Shane Battier to reassure head man that they would be just fine.  The reason is that Elton Brand, William Avery and Corey Maggette had all turned pro.

James would later become a veteran leader on the 2001 National Championship team.  James also won the three-point shooting contest in the McDonald's All American game.

Scheyer leads Duke
Blue Devil Nation has covered Jon Scheyer since his playing days at Duke.

Jon Scheyer -  An unfortunate eye injury cut short Jon Scheyer's career as a player, but not in basketball.  Scheyer seems to be a natural at coaching.

He brings to Duke the knowledge of a player who won a national title recently or in 2010.  His youth and maturity helps him to communicate with players.

Scheyer was also a decorated player who took on the challenge of running the point guard spot.  Duke would go on to win the title game over Butler.

"Get out of the way, I'm rollin!" Rick Crank for BDN in the 2010 ACC Championship Game.

Nolan Smith -  Well, Nolan just has that personality which makes one smile.  Always positive, Smith, like Scheyer, saw his career cut short due to injuries.

Smith has been yet another key addition to the Duke program in the role of special assistant.  That title means he is an assistant coach in waiting.

The D.C. native played a key role on the 2010 National Championship team and enjoyed a solid career at Duke.

Overview - Mike Krzyzewski has put together many great Duke staffs over the years.  But the current one is likely the best.  The Blue Devils feature a tangible strength in that this bunch has been together for a good while.  That shows in their chemistry where they work on the court or the recruiting trail with a defined plan.

What to Expect

  • Duke will not hesitate to go big this season.  I jokingly asked one assistant where would the rebounds come from?  He laughed for the Blue Devils have perhaps their best front court talent in the teams illustrious history.  Duke should be close to the top of rebounding stats in the nation.
  • Expect the Blue Devils to use two main starting line ups and most know that the sixth man at Duke is like a starter.  I see a seven man rotation at crunch time but the staff will seek to develop other players in case of injuries.
  • Look for Duke to experiment a lot early in the season before settling in on a true strategy.  The team may have actually benefitted from not taking the trip to the Dominican Republic in that they were still able to work on campus and get closer.
  • Duke may allow for Allen, Duval and Trent to be active with pressing and passing lanes,  The reason is they have rim protectors like never before.
  • There will be times when Duke bruises the rims.  They have players capable of throwing down terrific dunks and should feed off each other in that they will dare teams to double team starters,
  • A more known or expected rotation should allow for quick team chemistry, but chemistry will as always be the key to success.
  • This team will get to the free throw stripe a lot and will need to work on this in practice.  With so many bigs, they are likely to see a lot of fouls.
  • Duke may not be as strong as they have in the past beyond the three-point stripe.  Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. will be depended on the most and they will allow Bagley freedom from there as well.  It will be imperative for Duval to make teams come out on him to loosen up the many zone defenses they will face.
  • Having their staff together for a long time should help.  Mike Krzyzewski is expected to be healthy and ready as practice begins today.  I feel they have a chip on their shoulder and want to see an injury free season and nothing less than a national title.
  • Duke will almost certainly be picked to win the ACC, but the conference will be tough as always.  As we all know, there is news which could change the landscape rocking the sport right now.

Final Analysis

This is a super talented bunch of  young men.  But they are indeed young men,  Thankfully, they are better prepared than ever coming into college to play big roles.

Duke recruited some of the best players at their position and Krzyzewski always comes back strong when his teams have gone out earlier than expected the season before.

There are many good teams in the land which can beat Duke on a given day.  They are not so good as to go through the season without some adversity.

They are however, as good as anyone and better than most talent wise.  I think the staff will bring this team together quickly and establish roles early on.  This team should have fun playing the game while learning and have a veteran leader in Grayson Allen to turn to for his experience.

Go ahead and mark your calendars for Saturday, September 11th.  For that will be the day Mike Krzyzewski wins his 1000th game at Duke.  But he could care less about that and simply wants this team to live up to its potential.

If Duke stays healthy, they can do great things this season.  If that happens they should make it to San Antonio for the Final Four where they have a chance to win the schools sixth national title.

Let the season begin.