There is a buzz around the N.C. Pro Am which involves the play of incoming freshman Kyrie Irving. Ever the competitor, Irving relishs the opportunity to go up against any and all comers. After committing two early turnovers in his most recent game, Irving settled in and dropped 33 points. The New Jersey native wowed the crowd with his ball handling ability and he blew by pretty much everybody who tried to guard him in his last outing. BDN teamed with the News and Observer's Ken Tysiac to get Irving's thoughts on many issues which you can hear via BDN Audio.
Note -You will need to adjust your volume for there are some technical issues with the recording which we could not resolve, meaning it is loud and more distorted than we like but it is still worth a listen.
DURHAM, N.C. - The first thing you notice when watching Ryan Kelly in the N.C. Pro Am is the fact that he has bulked up via the weight room and diet. Kelly dropped 28 points last evening which helped guide his D-One team to a close 82-79 victory over Dreamworks. Kelly showed off his improved all around game and has that unusual and rare throw back mid range game. In short, Kelly did all things well last evening. While attending the Peach Jam I had a brief chat with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski who posed a question to me. "Have you seen Ryan?," asked the HOF coach who seemed elated at the changes he has made physically. Kelly's emergence gives Duke fans something to look forward to as next years team depth will likely land them as pre season number one in the polls. During the interview, Kelly made it clear that he would find a way on the court this season and he did so with a steely eyed conviction. Listen to Kelly's comments for yourself via BDN audio where I shared the session with my pal, Ken Tysiac of the Charlotte Observer -
There will be little rest for the Duke staff as this week marks the beginning of a busy time split between the pro's and the nations top prospects. Coach Krzyzewski and Chris Collins will head to Las Vegas to where they'll be joined by Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. The reason is that Team USA is putting together and entirely new roster made up mainly of up and coming players. With no help from the Dream Team, Krzyzewski will seek to form new bonds of chemistry in his on going effort to aid USA Basketball. But the staff will also be out during the last leg of the recruiting trail where three major tournaments start in Las Vegas this week. BDN's Andrew Slater will be on the scene to bring you tidbits as they happen and his unique style has made him a hit with our members. The following week, it will be down to Orlando for the Showcase and AAU Nationals. Needless to say, it's quite the busy time for the men's hoops staff.
It's no secret that some Alabama fans are purchasing season tickets for just one single game in Wallace Wade Stadium on September 18th. Mark my words that this will be the toughest ticket to get in recent memory and rest assured the scalpers are lying in wait for what could be a big pay day. Speaking of season tickets, the numbers are already better this season which is a testament to keeping big games at home. Earlier discussions had the game possibly being played in Birmingham or Atlanta, but Cutcliffe fought to keep the game in Durham, not only for the program, but for the fans
I will head to Greensboro on Sunday for ACC Operation Football which kicks off the 2010-11 season. I've said for a long time now that the four best teams will be in the Coastal Division and it is no fun trying to pick the order in which they will finish. I could make a case for Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and Georgia Tech. It'll not be easy to place the Tar Heels who are in the midst of an NCAA investigation yet they return more experience than pretty much anybody in the nation.
Congrats to J.J. Redickwho cashed in with the Orlando Magic who met the Chicago Bull's offer. Same goes for Carlos Boozer who will man the paint in the Windy City this season. And to think, those two could have formeda tandem with Luol Deng.
Lots of buzz for Duke's Michael Gbinije, a class of 2011 commitment. Gbinije enjoyed a solid tournament as he led his Team Takeover team to the Nike EYBL Challenge. This kid has constantly improved from the first time I saw him play three years ago. A voice close to the program said he would play right away with Duke and that he did everything well. I concur.
Just a reminder that our N.C. Pro Am coverage will continue this week where games are played on the campus of N.C. Central University in Durham and admission is free.
DURHAM, N.C - Three Duke Blue Devils took to the court at the N.C. Pro Am on Tuesday evening on the campus of N.C. Central University. This was the first appearance for Andre Dawkins and Ryan Kelly fresh off the national championship and the two scored 10 points apiece while their team lost by 8 points. True freshman Tyler Thornton added 8 points.
In the preceding game, Team Stackhouse held off a game Team 212 on their way to a 4 point overtime win. A packed facility saw Harrison Barnes display his various skills scoring 31 points while his teammates Reggie Bullock added 21 and 20 points. In coming freshman point guard Kendall Marshall took in the action from the sidelines as his teammates took the majority of the shots.
While the Tar Heels played the entire game, that was far from the case in the third game, the most disjointed game of the evening. Kelly was the exception, playing much of the game if for no other reason than his team had just one other guy over 6-4. Kelly looks thicker than last season and it is obvious that he has worked on gaining weight in the off season. I had Kelly at 8 rebounds unofficially.
Kelly struggled from the free throw stripe and his shot wasn't as accurate as I have seen, but he showed nice athletic moves polishing off two dunks on successive offensive possessions and moved well with the ball, always looking for open teammates. He couldn't help but wear down playing so many minutes inside.
It was quite a different story for Andre Dawkins who opened the game with a strong one handed throw down dunk and a three point shot. After starting the game, Dawkins was then benched until the fourth quarter. Here is the culprit, his team had 13 players on the bench. Yep, that's right 18 players on the team.
Of those 18 players, several off them were in way over their heads and the Team Navy coach seemingly wanted to play all of them which prevented any hope of victory or good basketball. Dawkins move better with the ball in hands and showed that he continually gets better athletically.
Then there was Tyler Thornton, who to me, was the most impressive of the group despite maybe one quarter of play. Thornton's efficiency was evident where he was 3 of 3 from the floor, dishing 3 assists. He was the best guard on the court when in the game, playing under control, looking for his teammates. In short, he played smart. All of that went to the wayside when players from the bench came in and jacked up ridiculous one on one shots which cheapened the game in terms of competitiveness.
Thornton moves well with the ball and is quicker than many realize. He is more than capable of earning a little burn in his first season at Duke despite the tremendous depth on the roster. In short, there will be a role for Thornton. One of his perceived weaknesses was his three point shot, but BDN has told you in the past that he has been working on that part of his game.
The true freshman showed the ability to catch and shoot nailing one three from the corner barely moving the net. In fact he hit both of his shots beyond the stripe.
Most of the Blue Devils will play in the event, but Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith have been working on their skills at the LeBron James Skills Academy where both college and high school players participate. The much anticipated debut of Kyrie Irving will likely come next week where he joins Kyle Singler on his team.
Interestingly, the Duke players are scattered about on the teams, while Team Stackhouse has been dubbed Team Tar Heel by the fans. N.C. State fans got a chance to see their incoming class last evening where Ryan Harrow took to the court for the first time as well.
The event continues on Thursday evening and the games start at 6:00. Admission is absolutely free, but be prepared to walk a good ways to get in due to construction which cut out an entire parking lot. Crowds have been outstanding to date and at times were approaching capacity. Once the event settles in and the players appear on a more consistent basis that crowd may well push a record.
Duke fans can only hope that they see more of their players like the efficient Tyler Thornton. And the reason fans turn out is to see the local schools kids play. My understanding is that the issue of playing time for the better players will be addressed, but in fairness, this only happened in the third contest.
Be sure to check the N.C. Pro Am out for it is good free entertainment in a friendly atmosphere.
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