Tag Archives: Alex O’Connell

A Dozen Feel-Good Takeaways From Duke’s Win

With the exception of an unfortunate injury to Cassius Stanley as he was warming up, yesterday was a total feel-good day for the Duke Blue Devils.

The Return of Zion Williamson

The former Duke standout has taken the world by storm and is now an attraction wherever he turns up. Williamson had participated in the NBA Rising Star game the night before wowing fans with his play. He went out of his way to make it to Duke in time to catch part of the game and when he entered necks were bending. Williamson was also able to see Mike Buckmire collect a late-game basket and it was clear that tickled him. Williamson went to the Duke locker room after the win and hung out with players but he did not address the media, not wanting to take the focus off the team. He spoke with the aforementioned Cassius Stanley who was not able to play in the locker room.

The Return of Tyus "Stones" Jones

A national champion was in Cameron yesterday. Tyus Jones came back to sit with his mom Debbie who is recovering after a health scare. The two were able to see Tre who is having a banner season for the Blue Devils. Tyus spoke with some in the media and it was clear he was there for his brother He also told me they would be able to spend some time together that evening.


It is fair to say that Notre Dame guards Rex Pfluger and T,J, Gibbs will not soon forget the Blue Devils defense on them. They were both held scoreless. The Duke defense was stellar in pushing the Irish off the three-point stripe which is their bread and butter strength. In fact, the Irish were held to a season-low made three's. Duke also scored 19 points off forced Notre Dame turnovers and their thing is ball protection.

Matthew Hurt is Playing his Best Ball of Late

At times this season, Matthew Hurt has struggled to adjust to the physicality of the college game. He has turned a corner of late and his 12 points and 9 rebounds were somewhat lost in a game where so many players had success. There was a play in the first half when Irish star John Moody was guarding Hurt and banging on him hard. Hurt backed him down despite the no calls and connected on a mid-range shot. If Hurt continues to hit the boards as he did yesterday and grows his inside game to go with his three-point shot, we will be talking about him a lot moving forward.


The most pleasant surprise this season is the play of Jordan Goldwire. He flat out shut down Irish guards. His offense is getting better and he was working with Duke assistant Chris Carrawell two hours before the game started. The one play where he was relentless on defense, gained a steal and connected on a drive on the other end was a crowd-pleaser. He will be further tested by a guard-heavy Wolfpack team next.

Big Vern Shows Off

Vernon Carey Jr took over in the first half against the Irish. He took it to John Mooney and showed he was at times unstoppable when he gets intense. Carey has been a difference-maker for Duke this season and he is the best big man in the league. Once Duke took a commanding lead, Carey's numbers dropped off, but he made a definite statement in the game,

Tre Jones

Make no mistake, the keys to the machine are owned by Tre Jones. His play continued to be top-notch on both sides of the ball as his brother and mom looked on. His steady play gives Duke two player of the year candidates. Duke is 33-4 when he scores in double-digits.

Duke Won Their 7th Straight Game

The Blue Devils are playing as well as any team in the nation as they won their seventh consecutive game. Duke is likely to move up in the rankings but a very hungry N.C. State team awaits them next. Duke rolled the Irish and never looked back once that started. The smashing of the Irish was a near-perfect performance.

The Win Puts Duke in 1st Place

The Blue Devils moved into sole possession of 1st place in the ACC with their blowout win over Notre Dame. Louisville stumbled at Clemson earlier in the day and that allowed for Duke to take a half-game lead in the standings.

Quinn Cook Return

The Los Angeles Lakers Quinn Cook was the other part of the 2015 National Champion backcourt to return from the NBA All Star break to take in a game. Always popular, the Crazies could not manage to get him to sit with them. He conversed a bit with mentor Nolan Smith on the bench once the game was in control. Cook had to head out shortly after with big Duke win to get back to business.

Everybody Contributed

We have mentioned some of the players which played well for Duke, but yesterday had a lot of good performances. Javin DeLaurier logged good minutes and he is playing well of late. Alex O'Connell had a team-high 4 steals to go with his 12 points for a super effort. Joey Baker scored 8 points in 14 minutes as well. And Justin Robinson and Mike Buckmire scored in late-game minutes.

Cassius Stanley Will Be Fine

I have no idea how a manager scratched Cassius Stanley's eye in the pre-game warm-ups. I do know he hated missing the game with former players back. As I said in opening this was one of the few negative moments. But the silver lining is he will be ready to go when Duke travels to N.C. State and that is good news and a way to close the feel-good dozen.

Duke in Canada – What to Watch

Duke in Canada - What to Watch

Duke is set to play three games in Canada starting tomorrow evening.  With Cam Reddish and Tre Jones sidelined due to injury, here is what to watch.

R.J. Barrett will control the ball

While the starters have yet to be announced, Mike Krzyzewski said in his press conference that the ball would run through R.J. Barrett on the Canadia trip.  I asked Barrett last week if he was comfortable in that role and he said that he was.  Duke loves to play what they call positionless basketball but they have a true PG this season in Tre Jones when healthy.

Who might start?

Duke will likely go with Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Alex O'Connell.

Duke will seek to develop quality depth

With the aforementioned injuries, Duke will play their bench and they'll do so often,  BDN Premium members know who I projected as the season rotation, but Duke needs another body or two to become viable if there are injuries.  Jack White will get some quality time and he could be the likely candidate for added depth once the season starts,  Krzyzewski said he had lost ten pounds in the offseason,  Another source close to the situation said their goal was to get the Austrailian product to play with more confidence.  We can also expect to see Joey Baker, Antonio Vrankovic, Justin Robinson, and Jordan Goldwire see significant minutes.

Look for R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson to Shine

These guys are good and they're about to let the nation see that.  Barrett is a confident player who enjoys challenges.  He will thrive being the one who dictates action on a trip home.  Zion Williamson literally makes Coach K smile when he speaks of him.  All eyes will be on the South Carolina native and if his game translates to the college level right away.

Leaders will lead

Duke will look to Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden to lead as both enter their junior seasons.  Duke has also been getting some chatter from White and O'Connell while the talented newcomers adjust.

Don't expect a refined, perfect bunch

The Duke staff is just scratching the surface on conditioning and they have yet to put in major parts of the system.  Duke will play up-tempo this season with more man to man but this trip might not reveal how effective that can be.

Sideline Chemistry

This will be the first time we have seen this staff together.  Gone is Jeff Capel and entering is Chris Carrawell.  It will be interesting to watch how things are handled with the aforementioned along with Nate James, Jon Scheyer, and Nolan Smith.  While Smith is not technically a coach, he plays a major role.  It is worth noting that every coach or staff member mentioned has a national championship ring while at Duke.

Duke Defense Stymies Evansville

Alex O'Connell 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block and 1 assist in Duke win.

The Duke Blue Devils completed yet another undefeated season against non conference opponents in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  With a dominant 104-40 win over Evansville, the Blue Devils pushed their streak to an NCAA best 139th straight win.

Duke used a suffocating defense that held Evansville (10-3) to just 15 field goals on the evening.  In fact, there was one stretch in the game where the Blue Devils outscored the Purple Aces 42-3.

The Blue Devils defense created a 39-2 advantage on point off turnovers.  And that was aided by 13 steals to just 1 for their overwhelmed opponent, which means the team also protected the ball.  By games end,  Duke forced a season high 21 turnovers

The Blue Devils now go into the Christmas breaks with an upbeat if not feel good win.  The team is now 12 -1 on the season and will not return to the court until December the 30th against Florida State in a game that will be televised from Cameron on CBS.

Despite the students being on vacation, local and Duke fans from afar packed Cameron Indoor Stadium and were vocal in their appreciation.  Of course, with a stellar team win, that made for the festive atmosphere.

Jordan Goldwire has 7 assists

By games end, the Blue Devils had played many players and the bench guys showed well.  Jordan Goldwire would end the game with 7 assists, while Justin Robinson would knock down back to back threes which brought those at Coach K court to their feet.

Jack White would only score two points but his thunderous dunk punctuated an evening when many things went right.  Duke shared he ball, dishing out 34 assists which pleased Mike Krzyzewski in his post game press conference.

Duke shot a blistering 16 of 26 from beyond the three-point stripe and it was Duke freshman Wendell Carter Jr. that took 7 of those shots.  Carter who ended the game with a career high 27 points knocked down 4 of 7 three pointers.  Overheard was somebody saying in a light manner that he was the new JJ (Redick).

There was a sense of accomplishment in the locker room.  All the players seemed please with the team's performance.  Many mentioned the hard work on defense and it was clear they all felt good going into the Holiday break.

Wendell Carter had a career high 27

And they should feel good, for it was easy to see that their work had reamed rewards in improvement.  It was easy to see from my vantage that the players were being more vocal and switching off their man in a more seamless fashion.

This was the kind of game that cured some of the angst in wait the team had after their only loss of the season.  Duke went to their bench just four minutes into the game as it became clear that the team had a feel of togetherness.  That togetherness led to a dominant, feel good win for the team and the fan base.

Notes - The Duke players will return on December the 27th.  The coaches will be out on the road recruiting in force at the many holiday events.  We will discuss where they will be in detail in a coming update for premium members.  And remember, we have a special where you get double any membership time when you join before year's end.  Javin DeLaurier was out nursing a hamstring injury and Jordan Tucker had an undisclosed injury as well.

The margin of victory was the 7th largest in school history,  Duke has made at least one three-point shot in 997 consecutive games.   Marques Bolden matched his career high with 3 blocked shots.  Grayson Allen moved to 24th on the all time scoring list.