The Duke Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 in Omaha, NE with a 87-62 win over Rhode Island. Blue Devil Nation had Bill Hughes in the winners locker room where he talked with several players including Wendell Carter and Javin DeLaurier.
If you have read some of the articles in the national media of late, you would think Duke Basketball was in trouble. In a Yahoo report released yesterday, there was tale of a ledger which said an agent had dinner with the Carters in 2016.
"I don't really know a lot about what happened. It really wasn't that much of a distraction because I know I haven't done anything wrong nor had my family," said Wendell Carter Jr. after his teams 70-54 win over Syracuse.
About that time, Trevon Duval yelled, "Yeah, man, he's good, right?" His teammate was looking to save Carter from what had been non stop questions on the Yahoo report and not his stellar game.
If Wendell Carter was bothered in any way by the minor accusation his numbers did not show it. In fact, he had the best stat line of any Duke player with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots. He was also 6-6 from the free throw stripe.
"I just went out and played the game," said Carter. He continued, I am just a player who wants to win. I don't care if I score two points a game."
Carter also addressed the return of Marvin Bagley and that he thought the two would only get better as they played together. "it was great to have him back, he is a great player on both ends."
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski cleared the matter with Carter up even more in his post game presser. Krzyzewski said he was out walking his dog "Blue," when he received a call from Kylia Carter, who is Wendell's mom.
"Kylia called me at home when I was walking Blue. And she said did you see the Yahoo report. I said, Kylia, I am walking Blue and I haven't seen the Yahoo report. And she was nervous about and I said tell me about it. And she said, Coach this is what happened. A couple of years ago through a friend we met this guy and we were suppose to get something to eat. As soon as Wendell's father sat down, he did not like the guy and he left. She said, you know, I am a good southern girl from Mississippi, so I just stayed there a little longer. We did not have anything to eat and we left and never had anything to do with them," said Krzyzewski.
The Duke coach then said, "Please don't be nervous. We met at 9:00 with our compliance and at 11:00 Kevin White (Duke Athletic Director) arranged for compliance to meet just with the Carters. Wendell has never... he didn't know anything about it. So, they went through with preparation just like you would do with the NCAA and they let them know about that. Our team here at Duke did a great job providing the help a player and parent would need. And I applaud the NCAA for working so swiftly. It is too bad every item mentioned (in the report) had the same magnitude. It was a little bit of a rush to judgement, but that is the world we live in today."
Krzyzewski said he felt comfortable in using Carter in the win over Syracuse in that there were no violations committed.
"Ledgers are ledgers. It is not the Ten Commandments. I think everybody should be careful on rushing to judgement with something like that. It was an alleged ledger entry," said Krzyzewski.
"We don't feel like we were taking any chances with that particular thing," added Krzyzewskl.
Well, I can't tell you how many times Duke basketball has played 9:00 games in late January on the road at Winston Salem. The result was nice for the Blue Devil faithful but these games are no fun for the team due to travel and early morning classes. And with that said, lets jump into the sixth edition of 10 Random Thoughts on Duke Basketball.
The most important thing we learned last night...
...was that the young team is learning how to handle their business on the road. Duke has now won five consecutive conference games and more importantly, three of those wins have come on the road. The team is getting better after the lessons they learned in losses to Boston College and N.C. State on the road. The resurgence has positioned the team in sole possession of 3rd place in a tough 14 team league.
Who played well and who didn't
Firstly, Grayson Allen comes to mind. He is still struggling a bit with his shot but put up a big time stat line while running the team. By his running the team, that obviously means that Trevon Duval did not have a good game. In fact, Duval had perhaps his worst game of the season. Gary Trent Jr. has been playing his best basketball of the season since the loss to N.C. State. And all Wendell Carter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III did was once again tallying double-doubles. And then Alex O'Connell came off the bench to play 20 minutes of good ball. As for Javin DeLaurier, he still seems to be getting back into the flow of things upon his return from injury.
No, I am not talking about the title of a Stephen King book. I am speaking to the fact that Duke has perhaps their most important home stand of the season coming up this Saturday and then Monday night. And their opponents will be #2 Virginia and conference nemesis Notre Dame. Cameron needs to be on point.
Speaking of the Virginia game
It is not often the home crowd in Cameron or anywhere else are treated to a top 5 match up. But that is what we get this Saturday and there is plenty of incentive for the Blue Devils in this contest. Lets start with the fact that Virginia is undefeated in the league and atop the standings ranked #2 in the nation. Duke Basketball can flip the script with concern to the ranking and pull within a game in the standings with a win.
The keys to a win will be ...
Well, Virginia is good on defense. And they knock down their free throws. Quite simply Duke must have great shot selection in this game for possessions need to count. When teams miss, the Cavaliers can make you pay with a slow methodical style. And Duke must limit their opponents trips to the free throw stripe. It would bode well for Duke to get a working margin or lead in this game while limiting their turnovers. Perhaps no other player thanTrevon Duval who struggled in his last outing, will be more important. He'll need to play under control and watch for the traps.
Future Dukies played well on Tuesday
After his verbal commitment to Duke, Zion Williamson went off for 37 points in Spartanburg Day’s (S.C.) 87-38 win over Oakbrook Prep. Tre Jones went for 24 points as his No. 5 Eagles beat visiting Lakeville South. Oh, and he had double figures in rebounding and assists for a triple double. Yeah, he is a Jones. BTW, Duke will not have its 76th McDonald's All American game participant this coming March in Williamson and the aforementioned 2018 class.
A heads up
NCAA Tournament tickets are on sale at all locations and they are running some early specials. Duke basketball fans may want to consider looking into the region in Charlotte that takes place on March 16th through the 18th. Yes, that is a hint and the teams goal on where they want to play. Some key dates -
|Selection Sunday||N/A||March 11|
|First Four||Dayton||March 13-14|
|First/Second||Pittsburgh||March 15 & 17|
|First/Second||Wichita||March 15 & 17|
|First/Second||Dallas||March 15 & 17|
|First/Second||Boise||March 15 & 17|
|First/Second||Charlotte||March 16 & 18|
|First/Second||Detroit||March 16 & 18|
|First/Second||Nashville||March 16 & 18|
|First/Second||San Diego||March 16 & 18|
|Midwest Regional||Omaha||March 23 & 25|
|West Regional||Los Angeles||March 22 & 24|
|South Regional||Atlanta||March 22 & 24|
|East Regional||Boston||March 23 & 25|
It goes fast from here
While some are caught up in next seasons recruiting class, this years team is way to fun to watch....so pay attention and beam into the present. Duke will be a major factor heading down the stretch as we enter the halfway point of the ACC season. One of the most incredible talents in the land in Marvin Bagley III is special, so enjoy him while you can. The other freshman starters are all doing their thing as well and the senior leadership of Grayson Allen and his last home game against UNC will be here before you can blink an eye.
I was asked about Virginia at Duke tickets
It generally starts, "Hey, do you know anyone..." Yes, somebody asked me if I knew of any #2 Virginia at #4 Duke tickets in Cameron Indoor Stadium. FTR, there is one ticket left on Stub Hub for five hundred bucks. The rest are going much higher than that. Vivid Seats has them from $579.00 per ticket to $789.00. FTR, face value on most Duke tickets is close to one hundred bucks. which is likely most expensive in America these days. If you have won the lottery recently, you might look into Grayson Allen's Senior Day game against North Carolina to close out the regular season.
Several columns coming
There are two columns coming to bluedevilnation.net this week. One will be on Zion Williamson to Duke and the other will be titled you heard it here first, but we cannot divulge what that will be about just yet. We are also running a special through the end of the month on Blue Devil Nation Premium where we double your membership for the usual price. For those who have recently subscribed, be sure to sign up for the message board as well for more information.
The Duke Blue Devils won their fifth consecutive ACC game with an 84-70 victory over Wake Forest. With the win, Duke sets up an ACC showdown against Virginia this coming Saturday in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Blue Devils move to 18-2 on the season and 6-2 in the ACC. Duke was led by a solid performance from Wendell Carter Jr. who had 23 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 2 assists and 1 steal. It was Carters ninth double-double of the season.
Duke also got another double-double from Marvin Bagley III who finished the contest with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals. "We are growing as a team and definitely getting better," said Bagley after the teams win.
Gary Trent Jr. had another solid scoring game by adding 19 points. Grayson Allen also entered double figure scoring with 17 points to go with a team high 6 assists and 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Blue Devils never trailed in this game. They continued to play better defense, holding Wake Forest to 70 points where 11 steals played a big role. Duke also had an impressive 30 points off turnovers.
Wake Forest would cut into the lead with a 10-0 2nd half run, but Duke was solid down the stretch on their way to an important road win. Quite simply, Duke took care of its business and by doing that they remain in the ACC regular season race.
"I really don't like playing teams so close together and I definitely don't like Tuesday 9 games but our staff prepared us well for them," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Duke used Allen to run the team with Duval having an off game per Krzyzewski. He also praised the play of Alex O'Connell off the bench who played 20 minutes in the game. "I thought Alex gave us a lift offensively in the 1st half and defensively in the 2nd half with Trevon not playing well."
Krzyzewski said his team took some bad shots after a quick start to the 2nd half. He said Allen ran the team well.
The Duke game against Virginia will tip off at 2:00 on Coach K Court. The Cavaliers come into the game ranked 2nd in the nation and undefeated in conference play.
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.
Blue Devil Nation chatted up Duke freshmen Wendell Carter recently and here is how that conversation went.
A lot of changes since I last saw you on the Nike circuit. You've cut your hair. Are you going to keep it short now?
I don't know, I don't know. We'll see how it's feeling. I might row it back out in a little bit.
What has been your biggest adjustment so far?
Time management. We are out here and basically on our own now. We are required to get to practice and class on time. You don;t have your parents to reinforce what you have to do, so time management has been my biggest adjustment.
I am looking at a rebuilt body.
How did that come about?
A great coaching staff, weight lifting and my trainer has us on a great eating plan. So just taking care of your body and doing a lot of work in the weight room.
What do you think your role will be this season? I mean nobody has likely ever played with this many big men who can all play.
We are all kind of looking for our role right now. Me, Marvin and Marques and Antonio are all looking at what we can do to better fit the team. It is kind of like a gray area where we are trying to figure it all out, but we are really great friends off the court, so I think we should be fine.
(Grayson Allen walked by and gave Carter a solid whack on his rear about this time. To his credit, Carter just played it off as a smiling Allen walked away.)
What do you think about that?
That's just Grayson.
What has he been like as a leader so far this year?
He's been a really great leader and somebody I can talk to on or off the court. He is just easy to relate to and has a great sense of humor, but he knows when it is time to lock in and when it is time to have fun.
Who is your go to guy among the assistant coaches?
Umm, shoot... if I had to pick one I guess it would be Jeff Capel. I mean he recruited me and we had the greatest relationship out of all the coaching staff. So, that is someone I can go to when I have problems.
What are the coaches emphasizing?
The biggest thing they are telling me is I've got to run. The game is a lot faster than it was in high school. It is more so like you just have to go out there and play and not over think the game because the ball is going to find the right person.
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