Tag Archives: Olek Czyz

Duke vs Maryland Freshman Photo Gallery

As you probably know by now, Duke walloped Maryland and is poised to go to number one for the 60th time since the ESPN/Coaches Poll has existed.  Oh, and nobody is a close second;)  We’ll get to the game shortly, but until then, here is a look at the freshman who got some good minutes –

Maryland players are posterized by Elliot Williams
Maryland players are posterized by Elliot Williams

 

Miles Plumlee takes it to the rim
Miles Plumlee takes it to the rim

 

Duke freshman Elliot Williams
Duke freshman Elliot Williams

 

Duke freshman Olek Czyz
Duke freshman Olek Czyz
Elliot to the rim
Elliot to the rim

50 Minutes to Success

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The success of the 2008 – 2009 Duke basketball season will be dependent upon 50 minutes. That is 50 minutes per game as in 40 minutes per game at the Center position and 10 minutes per game at the Power Forward position. Duke is solid on the perimeter and perimeter players will pace the team with an emphasis on pressure defense, transition basketball, and 3-point shooting. If the front court can consistently contribute with points, solid interior defense, rebounding, and shot blocking, this Duke team has the potential to be special.

Kyle Singler will play 30 minutes per game at Power Forward, but the other 10 minutes per game will be up for grabs. All 40 minutes of playing time at Center are available. There are five players competing for those 50 minutes: Lance Thomas (6-8, 220), Brian Zoubek (7-1, 260), Dave McClure (6-6, 200), Olek Czyz (6-7 240), and Miles Plumlee (6-10, 230). The competition for playing time should be fierce.

Last season, front court players, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, Taylor King, and Dave McClure combined to contribute 14.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 47.6 minutes per game. Starting Power Forward Kyle Singler averaged 13.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and .7 blocks in 28.6 minutes per game.  All together, Duke’s front court contributed 27.9 points, 16.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 76.2 minutes per game.

In contrast, out in Lawrence, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, and Cole Aldrich combined for 33.9 points, 19.9 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks in 75 minutes per game for national champion Kansas.  Over in Chapel Hill, Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson, and Alex Stepheson combined for 35.3 points, 19.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 68.9 minutes per game.

This season’s team must achieve more production, from those approximately 50 minutes of playing time, to complement Kyle Singler’s efforts. The key to success is having consistent production across all five positions. For the last two years, Duke has at times played four on five on the offensive end of the court. For the first two years of their careers, Lance Thomas (63 games) has averaged 4.15 points and 2.9 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game, while Brian Zoubek (57 games) has averaged 3.45 points and 2.8 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game. Rising Senior Dave McClure’s numbers are 2.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game over 88 games.

The efforts of the aforementioned three players have been hampered by injury and sickness. Brian Zoubek has had surgery on his foot twice, Dave McClure has undergone surgery on both knees, and Lance Thomas has suffered from severe ankle sprains and a respiratory infection. If they can achieve and maintain good health, these three veterans have the potential to be much improved this season.

Two new front court players will suit up for the Blue Devils this season. Miles Plumlee and Olek Czyz are arriving in Durham as the # 40 and # 92 ranked players, respectively, in the Class of 2008, according to Scout.com. Plumlee, at 6-10 230, is noted to be a skilled player on both ends of the court, while Olek Czyz, 6-7 240, is a raw talent with very good athleticism including a 40″ vertical. Adjusting to Duke’s defensive scheme will be the major obstacle to playing time for these two freshmen. If they can learn to play Duke Defense, they should challenge their upper class teammates for playing time.  Unquestionably, they will add depth to Duke’s front court.

With five players competing for those 50 minutes of available playing time, Duke is in good shape to see more points, rebounds, and blocked shots produced. With added production to a team that averaged 83.2 points per game and achieved a 28-6 record last season, the Duke Blue Devils will achieve much more success in the 2008 – 2009 season.[/private]

Olek Czyz: Athletic and Aggressive


For someone who has yet to even break a sweat in a Duke practice jersey, Olek Czyz has amassed quite a following among those in the Blue Devil fan base. Whether it is the traditional excitement and intrigue associated with a new recruit or the tales of internet lore spawned from his breath-taking dunks, Olek’s fandom expands more and more each day. The message board scuttlebutt regarding Olek’s recent aerial assaults during and after a particular game in the Greater N.C. Pro-Am has helped fuel the Olek hysteria. While Olek’s actual in-game contributions as a Blue Devil remains to be seen, Duke fans are understandably excited.

For the majority of Duke fans, Olek Czyz was considered somewhat of an enigma during his recruitment. While Duke fans collectively knew little about the Poland native, we all shared Coach K’s hope that Olek would commit to Duke. Although Olek is not highly ranked in the class of 2009, there was an intense recruiting battle for his services between Duke, Florida and Louisville. Despite standing at roughly 6’7”, supremely athletic and said to have a 40” vertical, Olek is considered to be unpolished and a developing prospect. What is not a mystery, however, is what college basketball’s coaching heavyweights saw in Olek: a tremendous upside and potential to explode at the collegiate level.

After formally committing to Duke on Nov. 14, 2007, Olek’s struggles in his game against Luke Babbitt were well-documented and discussed ad nauseam. His play on the court since that game, however, has been anything but a struggle: Olek scored 25 points in a state tournament semifinal win, scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds leading his team to the state 4A championship title, and then won the MVP award in the Capital Classic all-star game. While Olek has continued to progress each day, he remains relatively new to the game of basketball and far from refined. That is not to say that he cannot contribute immediately but just don’t expect an All-ACC Freshman Team campaign. Duke fans, therefore, should be cautioned to temper their expectations accordingly. Being a combo-forward in the Duke system, Olek’s minutes will be limited as Duke’s veterans will occupy the majority of the playing time at the small forward and power forward positions.

Olek’s recent performances in the summer league games against tougher competition demonstrate some of the shortcomings and deficiencies in his overall game. Fans that have attended the games routinely state that while Olek relentlessly attacks the basket when he has the ball in his hands, at times he appears to get lost in the offense. While he can explode vertically, Olek’s overall skill set needs to be improved upon: positioning, shooting, defense, footwork and rebounding.

As with any Coach K recruit, the fantastic part about Olek is that he recognizes his weaknesses and is more than willing to put forth the necessary effort to maximize his potential. While many players with Olek’s physical prowess choose to ignore their limitations and try to mask them by relying on innate athleticism to get by, Olek recognizes he needs to work on his overall skill set. In a recent Reno Gazette-Journal article Olek stated, “Different people develop differently and, you know, I never reached my top notch yet. I have more up in my sleeve than I showed in my senior year. I have a lot of things to work on still, and once I get those things right I can turn out to be a really good player. Duke is a program that can do that for me. They have the best training in the nation; that’s what I think.”

With his size and athleticism coupled with his desire improve, Olek will only get better and better every year he is at Duke. Just remember that while Olek may not set the ACC on fire his first year, there is a bright future ahead at Duke for him. As fellow BDN premium member HWAC42DEVIL told me, “At the end of the day, OC will be a solid contributor who will have a high FG %, can shoot FTs (he had some very clutch makes) and will get the crazies on their feet will his amazing repertoire of power dunks. I fully expect that OC will only get better practicing against, Hendo, LT, Singler, Zoubek, and Plumlee in practice. With a little polishing, the Polish Thunder will be a very special Duke player.”

By the time Olek is a veteran of the Duke system and earning All-ACC honors along the way hopefully we will all recognize what Coach K, Pitino and Billy Donovan envisioned when they were recruiting Olek.

This article is courtesy of Blue Devil Nation Premium member John Hayne.

Blue Devils continue play in the NC Pro Am

As I stated in my last Pro Am report, more stars would start to come out during the final weeks.  The mere addition of JJ Hickson, gave winless E-Net another force down low to go with Josh Powell which carried them to a 71-46 win over the RDU Barnstormers.

The Barnstormers feature three Dukies in Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and incoming freshman Olek Czyz.  Singler got little help from Czyz in defending Powell and Hickson, which shows that work lies ahead for one of the most popular players in the tournament.  Czyz did drain a three and positioned himself better on the court than on Tuesday.  And he of course had a sweeping one handed dunk which brought about many looking at one another as if to say, did you see that?

Still, for all the tremendous athleticism Czyz possesses, his defense is a work in progress.  Czyz plays hard all the time and is in excellent game shape and Coach K will certainly tweak his game to a desired effect.  Czyz finished the evening with 15 points.

Kyle Singler (12 points) was steady, but tired after working overtime on the glass which took a toll on his shot.  I mean, he never comes out of the game and I have yet to see any other player not get a little rest in the event.  Unfortunately, some sloppy guard play which accounted for four straight turnovers at one point, helped send the Barnstormers to their second loss.

Nolan Smith came off the bench for the Barnstormers and had a stretch in the first half which I have yet to see anyone recognize.  I mean all he did was wreck havoc in the passing lanes, slash to the rim on his ways to 13 consecutive points.  That’s right, 13 straight points!  The second half was a different story for Smith who scored but 2 points giving him a total of 15.  Smith struggled from the free throw stripe and this was a classic case of a tale of two half’s.

Another Duke freshman, Elliot Williams played on the winning team and he would on some occasions match up with Nolan.  Williams cored just 11 points tonight but continued to show the ability to make his team better with his passing.  The fact that he can take his man off the dribble, allowed him to draw multiple defenders which allowed him to make the pass to a teammate for the open shot, if not a dunk.  One thing is certain, that being Williams has the ability to contribute in a big way as a freshman.

One thing about sitting as close as I do to the action is that you see a lot more than just the game.  Nolan is still not 100% and favored his knee down the stretch.  While I normally do not talk of how the games are called, I must admit that this one was sloppy.  Hey, no homer-ism though!  The entire body of games on this night were called in an inconsistent manner, in my opinion.

In fact, the first game had a controversial foul on tournament sponsor Jerry Stackhouse (11 points) as less than second was left on the clock.  Miles Plumlee would later be called for an iffy foul with 3.2 seconds on the clock with his team up a single digit.  Ironically, he fouled a soon to be teammate that he was playing against on this night.  Lance Thomas missed hit one of two and the game went to overtime.

Thomas played a bigger role in the extra period, flushing a hard dunk and connecting on two free throws at a critical juncture of the game.  Thomas moved well and played good position defense scoring his tournament high of 17 points. 

This was the first time I got to see Miles Plumlee (10 points) and he showed me that he is pretty good with his decision making and that he plays hard.  He drew UNC freshman Ed Davis (16 points) and had to play a lot of help defense which would leave a man open where teammate’s didn’t shift.  He plays smart and has indeed gained some weight to a body that is still a work in progress.  I look forward to seeing him more.

In the end Stacks Regulators  team remained undefeated, but they got help from two obvious makeup calls which somewhat tainted the game for this fan.  It was a really tight game that was full of intensity down the stretch and it should have been decided by the players and not the whistle.

Despite the lackluster officiating on this night, there was still great entertainment value in that the event is absolutely free and the crowd was the the biggest yet.  They will throw the rock up again this coming Tuesday and if you are a Triangle resident, there is little reason not to go.  Read other reviews and in depth analysis on the BDN Premium Message Board by becoming a member.

Standings Link

Photos – (1) Miles Plumlee and Ed Davis, (2) Kyle Singler*, (3) Elliot Williams*, Olek Czyz*

*Rick Crank (All Photos on BDN are original unless otherwise marked and they are copyrighted.  IOW, no reproductions without prior permission)

Singler leads team to win, Williams drops 21 in loss

The first two contests during tonight’s NC Pro Am games at North Carolina Central were relatively quiet.  That would soon change as Jerry Stackhouse would suit up for the first time with a cast of Tar Heels.  The undefeated Regulators would face the winless E-Net led by Duke freshman Elliot Williams and walk-on Steve Johnson.

Stackhouse, of course, sponsors the tournament and the word is that more ex pros will trickle in over the next two weeks.  Joining Stackhouse were rising UNC senior Danny Green and incoming freshman Ed Davis.

The game started off a bit slow as Stackhouse drained a three.  Few fans who have watched the games figured Team E-Net had a chance, but as the half went on they hung in the game early in the first half taking a one point lead at 16-15.  Shortly thereafter, the fun began.

Elliot Williams jumped out on Danny Green on the far baseline and forced the ball off his leg with smothering defense.  This brought the Duke fans to life as cheers echoed throughout the arena.  Shortly thereafter Green faked by Williams for a score which brought oohs and ah’s from the Tar Heel contingent.

Several big plays ensued, be it a dunk or a block.  Stackhouse showed his light blue blood getting a little riled after a few big plays from the Dukies.  Ed Davis also stepped up and looked really good on the glass.  Steve Johnson scored six points and is fundamentally sound ina many areas of the game.

Toward the end of the half, Williams stole the ball (one of four) and went to the rim to dunk, but Green would have none of that challenging him and getting the block but also the foul as time expired in the half.  He also got an elbow in the mouth, blood streaming to the point where he covered his mouth with a towel and sat out the second half.

It was in no way intentional on either players part.  Williams hit the deck hard and Green came away with the elbow.  The fans enjoyed the mini Duke-UNC rivalry and several seriously hard plays. Green had nine points and shook hands in a show of sportsmanship with Elliot after the game.

During one sequence, Johnson and Williams both had steals and dunks back to back.  Elliot again showed the ability to take his man off the dribble and finish with the dunk.  He had one play where he blew past Stackhouse for a rim rattling dunk.  He struggled a bit from the outside, but again, showed the ability to pass the ball garnering a few assists.  Williams ended the game with 21 points.

Former N.C. State star, Josh Powell was the game’s leading scorer with 26, but he was literally all E-Net had down low and this coupled Stackhouse’s experience made for an easy 73-58 win down the stretch.  Still the game was closer than that score indicates.  Stackhouse had 12 points and Ed Davis added 14.

In the nightcap, the Barnstormers rattled Team KG 70-58.  Kyle Singler had his usual all around game, playing the entire game for his depth shy team.  Kyle ended the game with 17 points  and as usual was vital in his team’s win.

Olek Czyz, called O.C., scored just 8 points tonight with 4 coming off his patented dunks.  There were times when he got lost on the court tonight and he will have to position himself better and more importantly know where to be on the court in sets.  Olek signed autographs for adoring fans who’ve come to love his uncanny athletic ability.

Nolan Smith had a quiet 14 points, and seemed to favor his knee.  He played sparingly at times due to the nagging problem.  This was his first time back after sitting out last Thursday.  The three Dukies have led their team to second place in the standing with just one loss.

Duke PG Greg Paulus and Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis were in the house to watch their school mates.  Miles Plumlee is listed on a roster but didn’t make the early game.  Paulus attended the game with his brother who plays for the UNC football team. 

The games continue this Thursday at 6:00.  The last game tips at 9:00.  Here is the Pro Am’s official website where you can check the schedules, gametimes and stats.  Admission is free.

Singler, Williams, Czyz and Johnson shine at SJG NC Pro Am

The SJG Greater North Carolina Pro Am is in its first year of existence and is holding the event at McDougald Gym on the campus of North Carolina Central University.  The event features players past and present from the likes of Duke, UNC and pretty much every area school you can name.

Former UNC player Jerry Stackhouse came up with the event with the help of two childhood friends.  In fact the “SJC” initials stands for the names of their Fathers.  The friends have know each other since elementary school in Kinston, N.C., thus the local flavor.  “We have four hours each Tuesday and Thursday where we are keeping some kids off the streets … adults too for that matter,” said Donyell Bryant.

Bryant acts as the commissioner, overseeing the event and making sure all runs smoothly.  “We don’t charge people a thing to come in and watch the games, thanks to our sponsors.”  He continued, “It’s a great opportunity to get kids involved.  Parents can come here at a time when their is a tough economy and spend some quality time with their children for free.”

The plans are for the event to grow and it surely will.  There was a fan friendly atmosphere during Tuesday evenings games.  If you are anywhere near the Triangle area, be sure to stop in on Thursday.  The games begin at 6:00 and last through early August every Tuesday and Thursday evening.  Groups, churches and even entire neighborhoods are invited by the promoters, so get some folks together and come see some good ballin.

Now, I am sure you want to hear about future and current Blue Devils, so here we go.  The first game of the evening pitted against.  Freshman to be, Elliot Williams and Steve Johnson played for E-Net.

Elliot was late to arrive, but it didn’t take long for his coach to get him into the game.  Williams wasted little time making his presence felt, scoring on dunks, three point shots and getting to the line.  Williams has put on a bit more size since I last saw him.  The strength of his game is the ability to beat his man off the dribble and create plays.

Williams drained a couple of threes, showed knack to make some tantalizing passes and when left free for even a second, he easily dunked the ball on slashing drives.  In fact, he was doubled as the game got into the final minutes.  Williams showed a lot of confidence and no player on the other team had an answer for him.  Williams ended the game with 22 points.

Williams teammate, Duke walk on Steve Johnson added 4 points.  Their team lost the game 65-59 to Black Magic.

The next game featured last season’s ACC Rookie of the Year, Kyle Singler and incoming freshman Olek Czyz.  Neither of these players disappointed the fans. In fact, Olek Czyz was referred to as O.C. in that there was a lot of trouble pronouncing his name.  As you may have read, his ability to get off the floor and dunk anything near the rim is a crowd pleaser.  In fact, the opposing players often cleared out in fear that they would be posterized by a photographer who might catch them on the receiving end of a dunk.

Czyz (pronounced “Chiz”) threw down five crowd pleasing dunks, many from unusual angles.  On this night, he showed a consistent outside shot from around the free throw line and drained a three.  While he certainly needs work in some areas of the game, Czyz proved that he can electrify the crowd in that he has plenty of athleticism.  More importantly, he plays hard all the time and seems to be in excellent shape.  Czyz ended the game with 22 points.

Teammate Kyle Singler like many have said has put on some size.  Some of that size is from his off season workouts, but most may be from natural maturity of his body.  In the first half, there was no doubt Kyle was the best player on the court.  He does so many things that goes unnoticed, be it playing the passing lanes, getting out on a man his teammates missed or making the pass or big play during critical moments.

Singler put the ball on the floor with ease, shot well from the outside, grabbed 11 rebounds and had 4 blocks to go with 16 points.  Not being a homer here, but the refs took him out of the game late in the second half, making three calls which drew disapproval from the 1000 plus fans in attendance.  But that was after his teams amazing comeback.

I looked up and the Barnstormers were trailing Team Noel by 11 points, just minutes later the tide turned and both Singler and Czyz played big roles in making plays, be it altering shots, grabbing boards, dunking, making a steal … you name it, they helped spark a comeback.

Kyle Singler drained a key three point dagger at the end of a 12-0 run to put his team ahead for good 58-57 at the 4:03 mark.  How good was his team’s defense?  Well, they held the opponent to just two points the rest of the way, winning 66-59 on an amazing 18-2 run to close the game.

Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Gerald Henderson were in the crowd to watch their teammates as was Chris Carrawell.  There is more coverage and details of the event on the BDN Premium Message Board.  Here is the link official link for scores, schedules and results.