Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Miami Loss Not That Shocking

It did not take long for the overreactions to start after Duke lost to Miami, sending the then #2 rated team to its first conference loss on the season. But for some, we have seen this before and know it is but one game of a long season.

And if the season is long and full of twists and turns slipped by Duke's young roster they were given a wake-up call last evening.

I tweeted my surprise that Vegas labeled Duke a 15 point favorite over a hot Miami team. In fact, I warned all that it did not matter what one of the hundreds of imperfect ratings said the Hurricanes were ranked for they had been playing great and confident basketball.

I certainly do not think Duke overlooked Miami. They just did not implement their game plan while the Hurricanes did. It's better to seek the answer to those backdoor cuts now than later for the Blue Devils.

A lot of realities hit last evening. The ACC is really not as bad as the hype and the Hurricanes will move into the Top 25. Today's media is all about what have you done for me lately with little effort made on how things fit into the big picture.

Duke will now be seen as vulnerable when in fact, they have been all along. The reason is that there are a lot of older teams around the nation due to extended eligibility via COVID.

There are a lot of pesky-good basketball teams not ranked at this time and the Top 25 will continue to feature all kinds of upsets. Teams do not stop practicing or getting better even if they have experienced a slow start. And they are hungry when things start to roll in the right direction.

This will not be the last loss for Duke. In fact, they travel to Wake Forest next and that game now has added significance. And yes, they can actually lose two in a row in league play which was seen as unfathomable a week ago.

So what Duke will do is let go of the loss after some film study and move forward. At some point, this team had to learn the lesson that these ACC games will be battles and teams will seek to build their resume vs Duke at night end and afternoon out each week through March and hopefully beyond.

If one were to have listened to Mike Krzyzewski during his post-game presser after the Georgia Tech win they may have realized that he saw this coming. The break in play cannot be used as an excuse but it was a catalyst to why the teams' chemistry was altered.

Things will not get any easier as the reality that the league still has some good teams getting better. Duke must improve and be ready for all kinds of attempts to neutralize their size and take advantage of some who are going through the wars of college basketball in their first season.

Duke played young last night because they are young. It is going to take them reaching deep mentally to shake this loss with Wake Forest on the horizon for the residue can build and linger if allowed.

I think the team will be fine but I see adversity as the one learning tool that makes or breaks you in March. Duke fans can hope for the latter as the team will seek to find their groove again but once a loss is in the books, it can get even harder before it gets better.

We will learn a lot about this group in how it responds in their next outing. But just as I warned Miami was dangerous and certainly not a double-digit underdog I am telling you that once a team blinks the battle becomes more mental.

Add the mental stresses of the game to physical ones and it can tire a team out quickly.

That said, Duke needs to find its energy center again. They need to figure out the strengths of their identity and next time out take advantage of their height as the Hurricanes did with their quickness at the guard spots.

The battle is mental at this point and time. And Duke needs to respond after losing one at home. But Duke was a bucket away from closing this one out in the other direction. So keep that in perspective. They were not blown out of the gym, but then again, that does not mean they can't be.

Taylor Bowen Talks Recruiting

The John Wall Holiday Invitational has a rich tradition of bringing some of the nation's top prospects to the Triangle area. I headed over to check out two prospects Duke has offered in Matas Buzelis and 6-8 Taylor Bol Bowen where both play for Brester Academy out of New England.

Bowen put up numbers of 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting and 3 of 4 from the three-point stripe. He also added 2 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. And he is consistently putting up steady numbers across the board in three games at the event.

The budding star caught my eye on night one in that he makes his team better when he is on the court. He is unselfish, has a nose for the ball, and is long and lean allowing him to alter the game defensively.

I like that Bowen plays intelligently and within his game. In other words, he rarely forces things to happen that lead to turnovers. He can go up to flush a dunk, get in passing lanes and moves the ball quickly to teammates when the ball is in his hands.

He has been improving steadily and will likely start to creep up in the rankings with his versatility and stat-stuffing game. His outside shot has been questioned by some but he nailed three of tour three-pointers today. And he has worked on his ball-handling showing pride in that as he answers the questions below.

It is easy to see why Duke coach to be Jon Scheyer extended an offer to Bowen. He seems to be a solid young man, focused and the right combination of being humble and confident at the same time.

I can see how he'd fit in any college system. Every team needs an unselfish player who could become a disruptive force with continued work. I saw enough in my two vies of him to see him as a late bloomer that may soon shed the label of being a little raw. From my vantage, his versatility makes him one of the best players in the class.

Which schools are most involved in your recruitment of late?

As of right now, I am hearing from schools like Duke, UCLA, Georgetown and Providence a lot. There has been a lot of teams from a lot of conferences but right now my focus is on getting better.

What are you looking for in a school?

I am just looking for a school that will give me an opportunity to play my game and be me really. You know, just a second home. I am not going to ask for playing time or minutes I just want to come in and earn it with work.

What have you been working on of late with concern to your game?

I have been working on a lot of my guard skills and I think it showed up here. I know I need to work on my shot but I am really just trying to put together a good game and focus on what I do best.

You mentioned Duke earlier. What kind of relationship do you have with Jon Scheyer?

Coach Scheyer is a great coach for sure. He was one of the first to reach out to me on June 15th and I really appreciate that. Obviously, I have been a big fan of Duke and what they have going on there. (Note - He is speaking of the open period and when coaches can make contact with prospects.)

Has he spoken to you about how they might use you in the system yet or is it a little early for that?

Definitely a little bit but I will give you an idea of what was said. He just wants me to come in and use my length and athletics and versatility.

Now, you reclassified... is that still on as planned?

Absolutely, yes, as a freshman I went to St. Georges and I really appreciated that opportunity when I had it but I will graduate next year [2023] for sure.

I know you are close to your brothers and have a home gym with them?

Yeah, yeah.

Are they a part of your inner circle and who will help you make your college decision?

It is going to be me and my close coaches and trainer. It is really a tight-knit circle with my family and coaches. That is really it, there is no outside noise and I just want to continue to focus on my game.

I have seen a lot of guys play over the years and your play of late has you poised to move up in the rankings. Your game has improved to the point where everyone is noticing. How will you stay grounded if that kind of thing starts to happen?

Well for me I know I am not number one and I am not the best I know that there are guys out there ahead of me and that drives me every day. I want to kill that guy who is in front of me every time.

Are Academics big for you?

Yes, most definitely. My mom instilled a work ethic through discipline and education was a part of that.

I read in another interview that if you didn't make it to the NBA, you would possibly seek work in basketball in front offices, etc...

I really want to get my degree for sure and my mom always said if you are not going to play basketball you have got to get your degree. Even if I make it she says I still have to get my degree from a good school so that is high on my list as well. No chance I would never be okay with the NBA not working out. If that doesn't work out I am going overseas for I want to play until old age But once I am done with the game I still want to be a part of it in that there are so many different things you can do.... so many different levels all the way up to the pros. I just love the game and love being around it.

What advice do your brothers give you?

My brother just give me advice to just be me and play hard. My brother Deng is one of the hardest workers if not a harder worker than me and I feel like if he was 6-7 or whatever he would have been one of the best players in the nation. But he worked hard and walked on at UVM.

For the Matis Buzelis interview, you must be a member of Blue Devil Nation.

Matas Buzelis Talks Recruitment -Scouting, Notes Too

Brewster Academy lost their opening game of the John Wall Holiday Invitational but they have two more games in Raleigh to prepare them for their conference season.

As a boarding school, they have just come back together as a team after an extended lay off and they showed a bit of rust as they adjusted to different rules as well. They will play again this evening at the JWH Invitational and on 1:30 the following day.

Brewster HC Jason Smith on Matas -

He is a really good kid and someone I enjoy being around on a daily basis. He is engaged in the classroom and off-campus activities. Matas is hearing basically from everybody in the country.

Matas Buzelis on being recruited by Duke and what is his relationship like with Jon Scheyer?

It's great just to talk to these types of coaches and get that attention.

Do you have a visit set up with Duke?

No, I haven't, actually.

Is there anything in the works on that front?

I haven't really thought about it but me and my parents will be scheduling something, for sure.

What is the most important thing for you in the recruiting process?

The rest of this article, game analysis on all the Duke prospects at the event you must be a member of Blue Devil Nation Premium which allows you to view thew entirety on the message board.

Duke – On the Road Again

The Duke Blue Devils (11-1, 1-0) are coming off their last seven-day break in between games to travel to Clemson (9-4, 1-1). This will be the second true road contest for Duke and part of two consecutive games in hostile environments where Notre Dame is next. NOTE - This game may be rescheduled.

While the Blue Devils will certainly not look past a pesky Clemson team, the two-game stretch should be a teaching tool and measuring stick for the staff. The only loss of the season was at Ohio State and the team learned then that road games are a different animal.

One of the things to watch is how the team deals with what we will call holiday legs. It takes a bit to get back into game shape after relaxing with family but rest assured the staff likely had a tough workout before they head to South Carolina.

The other possible concern is the mental aspect. Players can quickly relax at home, reflect on the season to date, etc. But this staff knows all ACC teams will be ready to punch Duke in the mouth.

One of the remaining lessons to be learned is how hungry teams will be when they face Duke. Yes, we all know Duke is the only ranked team and we have all heard that the ACC is down. But this is where one must understand that Duke is the one glowing win others can put on their tournament resume.

Duke, IMHO, had a wake-up call against Virginia Tech and they took care of business. But they had the home crowd to lift them and that will not be the case in the next two outings.

As mentioned, the ACC teams will be hungry for an upset win against Duke for the mere fact they are a highly ranked team. And Clemson and Notre Dame following that contest are better than many think as are some other teams in the league.

Clemson crushed Virginia in their last outing and they hold wins over Drake, South Carolina, and Temple as well. The Tigers' losses were to road games with Rutgers and Miami and close losses to St. Bonaventure and West Virginia in early season tournaments that have them sitting at 9-4.

The one thing Duke must do is to locate their three-point shooters and push them off the stripe. Clemson is as good as anyone in the nation with their three-point shooting.

Duke should also be focused on their best player in P.J. Hall. The Tigers rebound well too where three players average at least six boards per game.

The Blue Devils have been solid to date this season, but as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski states, his team is still learning. In my last article, I mentioned phase I and that is over. Now Duke enters ACC play for the rest of the regular season but we will lump these next two games together as another learning phase on how to handle hostile environments on the road.

So, what we will hope to see in the unusual 2:00 start on Wednesday is for Duke to put together a full forty minutes on the road. They fell short of that against the Buckeyes and it showed that no matter the hype a team has coming into a game that a hungry group can and will knock you off.

Sean Stewart to Duke

Jon Scheyer and staff remain on fire as Sean Stewart committed to the Duke Blue Devils this afternoon. Stewart is a 6-8 power forward from Windermere, Florida and a top prospect in the 2024 class. He joins Caleb Foster giving the Blue Devils two early verbal commitments.