Category Archives: Monday Musings

Monday Musings – The Day Before Tipoff

We are on the eve of the opening game of the college basketball season where Duke will take on Kentucky in Madison Square Garden during the annual Champions Classic. While Duke has been installed as a one-point favorite in Vegas, ESPN gives Kentucky a better than 62% chance to win via their matchup predictor.

Both of these proud programs struggled a season ago but each program is all but destined to return to normalcy where they are giants in the game. Kentucky is deep, experienced, and talented and they will look nothing like they did a season ago.

The Blue Devils have looked sharp early on where Coach Mike Krzyzewski entering his final season at the helm has his team looking ready for the challenges ahead.

We are almost assured of seeing a spirited game played in a legendary venue between heavyweights giving it their all to get off to a great start. And we will see Mike Krzyzewski take one more shot at winning it all, which if it happened would be his sixth national title at Duke.

What we will see all year long are coaches trying to beat the legend on his way out. While Krzyzewski will still be involved in many things basketball, this is the last shot for those facing him to garner a win and they will not hold back.

This will especially hold true for John Calipari where the program is still smarting from a beatdown given the last time the two clubs met. But these are two different teams and let me just say there will be no cakewalk this time around.

In watching Duke, we will see if they can translate early-season success that has not counted for a thing in the standings to a 1-0 mark to start the season.

In order for the Blue Devils to come out with a win, they must be ready for the ebbs and flows of the game which tips after 9:30 due to it always being the prime time event. It doesn't matter who you root for and an opener like Duke-Kentucky will bring a lot of eyes out from around the nation.

Paolo Banchero has gotten plenty of deserved hype, but can he get into the flow against a team that can stay in front of him defensively? So many questions but players are eager to answer the call.

On the other side of things, we will see TyTy Washington taking over the PG duties at Kentucky where he may drive a Porsche to practice from his new NIL deal.

And that is just two players on teams loaded with star potential. We will see some guys literally playing for endorsements in the new NIL era.

To win this game tomorrow night will take teamwork, toughness and not getting too pumped before tipoff happens.

I have seen Coach K at the helm since 1980 and the memories are many. I have seen him claw to the top from a time when people could not spell his name nor took the time to do so thinking it unworthy. Everybody knows his name now.

When I first heard the official news that Mike Krzyzewski would be retiring it knocked me back. I was never one to speculate on which coach would be next for that went on for fifteen years and got rather annoying to those who simply knew you should just enjoy the ride.

Once the retirement news was announced I just wanted to as a fan and homer media guy to simply wallow in his accomplishments via appreciation to have been along for the ride. But there are so many memories that it is overwhelming.

It took me a bit to get on the page Krzyzewski was already on. He refuses to talk about the past only concentrating on this season's team. And now, I am finally there as well hoping he has a well-deserved successful curtain call with what looks to be a special team.

Whether Duke wins the title this season or not, it should be a great journey to try and achieve that goal. And I think Mike just wants to give it his all - his best effort going out and win or lose that is more than enough.

Monday Musings – Duke Hoops Solid

Well, basketball season is upon us as the tipoff to the Kentucky game is fast approaching. If this being Mike Krzyzewski's last season as head coach of the Blue Devils is not enough excitement, the team itself has the fanbase giddy.

Duke Looks Like a Well Oiled Machine

Judging from highlights seen of the secret scrimmage with Villanova and the onslaught of Winston Salem State in their only exhibition game, these Blue Devils look unusually together as a team considering it is only November the 1st.

In short, early-season chemistry is something we expect to see several games into the month if not later. By being able to spend extra time with his team and not being on the recruiting trail, this team doesn't look like a team that has been playing together since summer.

Duke hit their overwhelmed opponent like an octopus to its prey on Saturday. There were few uncontested passes or open shots for WSSU nor lanes to drive through. Be it on the boards or showing off the mentality to pass ahead for easy buckets, Duke was absolutely dominant.

While we all know that was not Kentucky, but it was still clear to see that this team is unselfish and determined and a far different team that looked uncertain a season ago.

AJ Griffin Returns

A nice surprise for the team and fanbase was the return to the court where AJ Griffin made a lengthy appearance. The solidly built freshman has battled injuries while not really playing a lot of basketball in the past year.

What you are seeing now is the start of him getting back into game shape. That means he is not as quick or jumpy just yet for it takes time to reenter the flow of playing against the competition.

In about eighteen minutes of action, Griffin tallied 10 points and 6 rebounds, and a steal and assist. He will only get better and one of the next stages in his return is to acclimate him further with teammates as his legs return.

Duke has a 10th man, depth and why it matters

Coming into the season some worried about depth with the team with just nine scholarships or originally recruited players. Enter Bates Jones, a Davidson transfer and of course, the brother of former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones.

Jones put in some minutes, did not miss a free throw, went 2 of 4 from beyond the three-point stripe that translated into 11 points and 4 rebounds.

Some may say this is an anomaly, but the kid is solid as are the walk-ons this season. Building and maintaining depth will come in handy this season more so than others for Duke plays five games in ten days this month and four games in eight days in December.

Duke also has two quick turnarounds in ACC play where their Saturday then Monday matchups feature N.C. State at home before heading to Florida State and they play at North Carolina and then Virginia at home with a single day in between.

Football fumbling

It is hard to ignore nor not say anything about the struggles which have befallen the football program. In gauging the fanbase via social media and beyond it is clear that we are nearing the end of the David Cutcliffe era at Duke.

It is a very complicated situation. It is not an ideal time to set off a search should they decide to make a move in that it interrupts what many at Duke want to focus on. That desired focus should be on Mike Krzyzewski's last season at Duke so we are in the tricky timing department.

I take no joy in speaking harshly of David Cutcliffe and #DukeGang but it is clear that there is not the desired foundation in place for the future in a world where college athletes are changing.

Things are very stale in Durham these days. The same struggling offensive schemes, lack of depth and player development, and good coaching are missing. And it has gone down too far for any kind of quick fix.

What that means is little hope, followed by little caring. If there was something positive to point to in the future I would not have to end this week's Monday Musings on a somber note.

Monday Musings – Tidbits on the Duke Programs

AJ Griffin Injury

Considering that the ball is yet to be thrown up at tipoff the last thing anybody wants to hear is that AJ Griffin had suffered an injury to his knee in practice.

According to Mike Krzyzewski, it is a sprain and that is all the details we have at this time. However, the implications are that he will miss some games and that the staff will be extra cautious with him early in the year.

Griffin is already coming off a knee injury that sidelined him a year ago and yes, that was his knee. But there is no reason to think this might be any worse than has been mentioned already.

With an injury, depth comes into question

The Blue Devils roster is not the deepest it has been for the upcoming season. With the injury to Griffin, this comes into focus where Duke will need some guys to step up.

The hope was that a shorter roster would define roles and thus create better chemistry. It can happen that way but one injury can alter the dynamics in this situation as well.

One would think the starters are Mark Williams, Paolo Banchero, Jeremy Roach, Wendell Moore, Theo John and Trevor Keels with Griffin sidelined indefinitely. Okay, I know. That is six players but the point is that lineups will be altered due to matchups.

The next guys in line are the ones who will take on a larger role, Among them is Joey Baker, one of the team's older players and one who is expected to knock down any open look. I think we will see a rush to prep Jaylen Blakes now for past him Duke has five walk-ons. While those walk-ons are much peskier than some may think, it is hard to see them making a major impact on game day.

The one thing Duke may do all season long is walk on eggshells a bit where possible injuries can occur. And that means every player on the roster will need to pull their weight and be willing to play an expanded role.

I am more of a glass half full guy so I am thinking all will be fine with Griffin over time. But with him already coming back from an injury the news is concerning for everyone who wants Coach K to have a full roster available for his last season.

ACC Media Day tomorrow

You will hear a lot more on Duke basketball and the ACC in general for media day takes place in Charlotte, N.C. tomorrow. You can watch some of it via the ACC Network via ESPN. Be sure to follow @bluedevilnation on Twitter for updates from the Duke perspective.

Countdown to Craziness

It will take place on October the 15th and start at 7:00. Masks are required in Cameron this season. I am not a huge fan of them but glad the show is going on and will adhere as should the fanbase. I am encouraged that there have been large football crowds around the country and few issues and hope the trend continues. Duke has about as good of a setup as they can with restrictions in place.

Am I the only one a tad worried about...

Cameron. With the students having a year away one wonders if they will be on top of things or show some rust. Having seen all the tent city folks over the years who site behind me, skipping a year could have an effect. And there were times when some did not show up for certain games. The point is people are really seeking tickets and Cameron should be packed for Coach K's last ride and I am sure someone knows to finetune the logistics to make this happen.

JJ Starling

Yes, Duke is still in this recruiting race but so are the other schools on his list. I have covered recruiting a long time and Duke has never had success with City Rocks players from the Nike circuit. Of course, they have not offered that many, but most of them have always had Syracuse high on their list which is natural with them being from that region of the country. Their players are always fundamentally sound and that is but one of many reasons the staff wants this kid to take notice that they covet him. Starling has only seen his stock rise and will make a decision fairly soon.

A Note on Football

One has to feel for David Cutcliffe and the program for they lost a game against Georgia Tech that they had in their hands. Even Cutcliffe sounded dismayed blaming himself after the loss. So many things went wrong and that reminds people of what life was like before he took over where Duke found many ways to lose a game. Duke is an underdog in every game moving forward and that will make for a long season.

I honestly saw a lot of improvement against the Yellow Jackets, but letting up untimely big plays, terrible 2nd down calls which led to long 3rd downs, yips in the kicking game, the inability to gain a yard on going for it on 4th down and the list goes on will not allow them to flip this thing anytime soon.

Monday Musings, Dereck Lively, Football & more

Dereck Lively Decision Day

If you haven't heard of Dereck Lively yet, you may be living under a rock. Lively is the latest can't miss prospect who is seemingly down to Duke and Kentucky and he will make his decision later today.

Lively who stands over 7 foot tall soared up the rankings into the top five some months back and for good reason. He moves well, is long and lean, has upside, and can change the game with his play.

The Pennsylvania prospect most definitely likes the Blue Devils enough to have them in his final few schools. He may well pick Duke and if so, it would give Jon Scheyer the core base of his class where he would join Dariq Whitehead, Kyle Filipowski and Jaden Schutt.

Duke head coach to be, Jon Scheyer who is flanked by Chris Carrawell and Nolan Smith has made major inroads on the recruiting trail. That means Duke post-Mike Krzyzewski will still be a huge factor on the college basketball scene.

I share my thoughts on the member's message board on this important decision away from the public sphere. Be sure to follow our Twitter feed for updates on how to watch the decision.

Football hopes to ride momentum from Northwestern win

Nothing cures ills like a win. Just ask David Cutcliffe who was plenty happy Duke defeated a Big 10 opponent in Northwestern. The Blue Devils rode a fast early start to a win but they had to hang on late as they did not play especially well in the second half. Still, this was a solid win and with Kansas coming in this week where Duke is a hefty 15.5 point favorite and it appears the Blue Devils could win their third straight game after the opening day upset loss to Charlotte. This team needs support and hopefully, more fans will turn out this week in that the Kansas fanbase does not travel well.

Mataeo Durant

What a season this young man is having. Eight touchdowns in three games to start the season for Mataeo Durant. A South Carolina native, Durant, is also averaging about 133 yards rushing per contest.

In case you missed it Department

A tremendous win for Duke Women's soccer over UNC this past week as Duke Athletics, on the whole, continues to flourish. I am a Duke Baseball fan and you should be too for they're a fun program to follow under Chris Pollard. He secured the nation's #9 recruiting class. #bluecollar Back to Jon Scheyer for a second... he got a commitment from monster talented 5-star 2023, PG Caleb Foster, last week as well.

The schedule was released in hoops

Press release - DURHAM – The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Thursday night the conference schedules for the 2021-22 men's basketball season, with Duke opening the ACC slate at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

The Blue Devils' 20 ACC games include home-and-home tilts versus Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia and Wake Forest, while welcoming Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State and Virginia Tech to Cameron Indoor. On the road, Duke battles Boston College, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.

On the heels of an 11-game non-conference schedule that had been previously announced, Duke unwraps the ACC schedule three days before Christmas versus Virginia Tech at Cameron Indoor Stadium (9 p.m., ESPN2) followed by a date at Clemson on Wednesday, Dec. 29 (7 p.m., ACCN).

The New Year begins with a road battle at Notre Dame on Saturday, Jan. 1 (6 p.m., ACCN), before the Blue Devils return home for five of their next seven contests, beginning with reigning ACC Champion Georgia Tech on Tuesday, Jan. 4 (9 p.m., ACCN) and Miami on Saturday, Jan. 8 (8 p.m., ACCN).

The first of two versus North Carolina is Saturday, Feb. 5 in Chapel Hill (6 p.m., ESPN) with the return game scheduled for Saturday, March 5 at Cameron Indoor Stadium (6 p.m., ESPN) for the regular-season finale.

Duke finishes the regular season with three of the final four games on the road, including three consecutive road stops at Virginia on Wednesday, Feb. 23 (7 p.m., ESPN), at Syracuse on Saturday, Feb. 26 (Time TBD) and at Pittsburgh on Tuesday, March 1 (8 p.m., ACCN).

The ACC schedule includes 10 Saturday games – five at home – and two matchups on ESPN's Big Monday package – at Florida State on Jan. 17 and home versus Virginia on Feb. 7.

Duke's Countdown to Craziness event is Friday, Oct. 15 at Cameron Indoor Stadium and the lone exhibition game is against Winston-Salem State on Saturday, Oct. 30 at Cameron Indoor. The regular-season opener is Tuesday, Nov. 9 versus Kentucky at Madison Square Garden in the State Farm Champions Classic.

Visit www.GoDuke.com for the complete 2021-22 Duke men's basketball schedule.

Monday Musings Talks Duke Athletics

What a great win for #DukeGang

Okay, so it was only a win over Charlotte. But the Blue Devils romp to victory cured a lot of ills. Firstly, a return to the win column and that is as important as it gets. Then there is the fact that players saw positive things happen on and off the field. Considering the Blue Devils struggles on the injury front and with chemistry to date, seeing some positives was much needed.

It was clear that David Cutcliffe had his team prepared for Charlotte but now he must turn his attention to taking on rival North Carolina. And we are talking a team which will have its ears pinned back after a stumble at Virginia.

The Tar Heels open as a 10 point favorite in fanless Wallace Wade Stadium. And it seems like every time the Duke run game show enormous success in a game, it disappears the next week. Yes, that is something to watch for if the Blue Devils are to compete.

Duke gets Illinois in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge

If you are wondering about the opponent the Blue Devils drew in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, we have a few words on them. Firstly, Illinois is a hungry team enjoying a resurgence with their program. They are expecting a banner season in Champaign in that Ayo Dusunmu and Kofu Cockburn pulled out of the NBA Draft at the midnight hour. They got a good transfer in Austin Hutcherson who will try to mesh with a lot of returning talent. Duke will need to match the hunger of a highly ranked team in the pre-season trying to return to the glory years and fully expecting to do so with their best team in decades.

About the rest of the schedule

Trust me, the team is as upset as the fanbase that the basketball schedule has not been released as of yet. With the season starting in two weeks the ACC and ESPN are still working on the ACC part of the slate which will consist of twenty games this season. Surely, it has to come out by week's end. Right?

NBA Draft will coincide with the season

We are starting to get some buzz on the NBA Draft which takes place on the 18th of this month of November. Duke will be sending Tre Jones, Cassius Stanley, and Vernon Carey to the league in a draft that takes place after the season opener in hoops. Like everything else, this will take some getting used to but I do expect all three Dukies to be on NBA teams next year. I see value in each of them and think while this draft is not top-heavy with major talent, it makes up for that in the overall depth of talent who will make the jump.

Duke Hoops Monday Musings

Vernon Carey Coming Out Party

After four consecutive games where he tallied double-figure points and rebounds, Vernon Carey Jr. has officially arrived as one of the nation's best players. Once Carey started to take his game inside first, it has allowed him to be a stat stuffer in the Blue Devils 6-0 start. Carey leads the team in scoring and rebounding and has shown the ability to knock down various outside shots with his great touch for a big man. He is also realizing his ability to clog the lane on defense. Look for the staff to push Carey to be even more dominant moving forward.

New York Trip Beneficial for Duke

The Blue Devils took care of business with two wins over California and Georgetown during this past weeks 2K Empire Classic. In the first game, the Duke defense smothered Cal. In the second game, Duke seemed a little tired at first while learning the lesson every team will come after you hard when wearing the four letters on your chest. Duke was able to gather itself and play a complete second half defeating a Georgetown team that was playing its best basketball of the season. The team grew up a lot while defining the roles of certain players on the trip which is a major positive moving forward.

A Sign of Things to Come?

During the trip to New York, it became evident that Cassius Stanley and Wendell Moore were seeing more minutes. They did not disappoint and at times played off one another. In the win over Georgetown Stanley tallied 21 points and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes. Moore 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 36 minutes. More importantly, they showed signs of growing chemistry between themselves and teammates. If the two versatile freshmen continue their growth while playing efficient and together good things will follow.

Next - Getting Matthew Hurt Untracked

Anyone who saw Hurt in high school knows he can be a solid contributor on the court. I think Hurt has struggled a bit with the physicality of the game as he grows into his body. Sometimes a player needs to go inside first and then float out to get it going. Some buckets near the rim while working on rebounding could open his game up. It is not a question of if things will come together for the talented freshmen, but when.

Duke Still #1

The Duke Blue Devils will remain the top ranked team in the country when the polls come out later today. Duke takes on Stephen F. Austin tomorrow evening in Cameron and then entertain Winthrop this Friday at 7:00. The Eagles are better than their 3-3 record suggests (likely 4-3 after taking on Pfeifer on Monday) and likes to play a slow down style. They have a 2 point loss to St. Marys on the road

Next up - Stephen F. Austin

Duke will take on Stephen F. Austin which is off to a 4-1 start including a 30 point win over Durhams' own North Carolina Central. Guiard Kevon Harris leads the way for the Lumberjacks who have four players averaging double-figure scoring. Tomorrow night's game has a dreadful 9:00 tip off time in Cameron.