Tag Archives: Duke Basketball

Hoops Hype for Duke

A look around the newsstands shows that the hype has started on the fast-approaching basketball season. Wendell Moore Jr. shares the cover of Athlon Sports magazine and there is no shortage of talk of Coach K's last season at Duke.

Here are the highlights -

  • Wendell Moore Jr. graces the cover.
  • Paolo Banchero is rated as the second-best player in college basketball and is picked to be 1st team All American and the best freshman.
  • Duke is ranked 6th nationally and expected to bow out in Final Eight.
  • Duke is picked to win the ACC. 1- Duke 2- UNC 3- FSU 4- Va Tech 5- UVA 6- Louisville 7- Syracuse 8- Notre Dame 9- Miami 10- Miami 11- GT 12-NCSU 13- WF 14- BC
  • Mark Williams is picked 2nd team All ACC and is ranked 23rd in the top 100 players in college hoops.
  • AJ Griffin is picked 3rd team All ACC and is ranked as the 79th best player in college basketball.
  • There is a Steve Wiseman article on Coach K titled the Final Chapter.
  • The "Last Page," is dedicated to Mike Krzyzewski with quotes from others.
  • In the list of what to watch for this college basketball season, the number one thing is Coach K's Final season.

The magazine is at most newsstands/book stores and priced at 10.99.

Scheyer Scoring Early for Duke

Over the years fans have fretted, argued and wildly speculated on who would one day replace legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. For some of us covering the program, it became a running satire on how many take a crack at a prediction. It almost became distracting and made me personally wonder why people wanted to look ahead with a wildly successful career taking place.

At some point and time, Mike Krzyzewski had to retire. With a fast-paced and changing world throttled by COVID restrictions, Team K came to the realization the time was now. But that realization could not take place if there were not a viable replacement.

Behind closed doors, it was decided that former player and lead assistant Jon Scheyer had emerged as the top candidate. He had been Coach K's right-hand man for a few seasons and the decision was made that he would lead the post-K era for Duke Basketball.

The talk for years has been nobody in their right mind would want to replace Mike Krzyzewski. For those who did not live the entire K-era at Duke one needs to know it took a lot of work to build the program to where it sits today as a part of college basketball royalty.

Scheyer steps into a much different environment than Krzyzewski did. The program is well established. There will be no building just maintaining a high level of competitiveness. He also has a mentor close by in Krzyzewski, and a former teammate in the affable Nolan Smith on one side and a seasoned Chris Carrawell on the other making for immediate chemistry.

Many may not remember the top recruits did not always come to Duke. Krzyzewski was an unproven coach at Duke and he had multiple misses and growing pains before landing the class which would lead the program to a return to the national title game in 1986. What happened since that time is that the Blue Devils won five national titles.

Fast forward to 2021 and Mike Krzyzewski has prospects calling him to come to Duke. And Scheyer takes over when the iron is hot, a system is set and winning is the norm.

The first order of business for the regime at Duke is naturally recruiting. Early returns are sparkling as the Blue Devils landed combo guard Jaden Schutt to a verbal commitment last evening.

Schutt joins a couple of five-star prospects in Kyle Filipowski and Dariq Whitehead. That three-man class currently ranks atop the nation and the Blue Devils are not finished adding players for many spots could be open.

Krzyzewski could have only dreamed to have a class coming together from day one when he arrived at Duke. Scheyer has been handed a near-perfect situation when he takes the reigns after this season.

What we are seeing has been well thought out with concern for the timing of the pending change. Duke did a good job of keeping it all close to the vest as the decision Krzyzewski would retire earlier this summer.

The one thing Jon Scheyer could immediately do is hit the recruiting trail hard. There were questions on how he might fare with a legend retiring. He is after all, basically just 1-0 at Duke in a game he coached last season.The one thing Jon Scheyer could immediately do is hit the recruiting trail hard. There were questions on how he might fare with a legend retiring. He is after all, basically just 1-0 at Duke in a game he coached last season.

We will all have to wait and see how Scheyer does in the X's and O's department which is an entirely separate discussion. But he has hit the trail running as they say and he did so when major adjustments were required in the process of recruiting.

Hitting the recruiting trail in 2021 is different than the early 1980s under Krzyzewski during his first season. The recruiting climate is even vastly different than a season ago. Scheyer and his staff of Nolan Smith and Chris Carrawell have adjusted well to the new era to date.

That adjustment included navigating restrictions in how coaches got to view prospects. Schedules changed, opportunities for viewing or having actual contact with kids were different. There has been a complete overhaul by shoe camps of late and the staff has adjusted accordingly leading to early success.

It was not that long ago that the fanbase just wanted to see a prospect verbally committed under Scheyer to get the ball rolling. A month or so later he has three in the bag while hotly pursuing others in the same class and beyond.

Duke has adjusted quickly to stabilize the program with Krzyzewski's last season approaching. This points to a team effort where Scheyer is surrounded by a young crew on and off the court that can grow with him.

Scheyer will benefit from a burgeoning new system in place around him and working together with new Athletic Director Nina King and the social media aspects in the NIL era. And thanks to his mentor Coach K he will have facilities and staffing designed to keep Duke Basketball running hot for years to come.

Only time will tell if the transition works but Scheyer is positioned to maintain excellence at Duke. Of course, when the ball is tipped off as he takes over the sidelines there is an altogether new pressure of strategy, in-game adjustments, and such.

There will in time be some growing pains for Duke trying to replace the winningest coach in history. But Scheyer is competitive and he will be allowed to grow into his role which the fanbase is looking forward to and his arrival on the recruiting trail is making the dreaded but inevitable transition from Krzyzewski tolerable to the fanbase.

Scheyer must now continue a balancing act of helping to prepare this year's talented team while always recruiting. Scheyer is young, hungry, and probably a little afraid to fail and that makes for constant work.

The one thing which is evident and it is gaining attention from the college basketball world is that Jon Scheyer is scoring some early wins on the recruiting trail.

Core Players And A Lot Of Possibilities For 2020-21 Duke Basketball

When trying to come up with which players will be in the court in crunch time for Duke next season, I keep coming up with four players. My current feeling is that Duke will want true freshman Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, and returnees Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore Jr. on the court most of the time.

We should see a vast improvement from Hurt and Moore, both of whom will be depended upon to lead via knowing the Blue Devils system of doing things. Ideally, you want some older players in the lineup but Duke will be a pretty young team, save two key backups, if you can call them that, in Jordan Goldwire and Joey Baker.

Jalen Johnson is a sure bet one and done talent and Duke will allow him plenty of freedom to grow his game while in Durham. Jeremy Roach will be handed the keys to point guard duties early on as well.

So, I see these four as starters for most of the season which begs the question, who will the fifth starter be? Well, to start, Duke will have a lot of players fill that role and it will come down to how players are working in practice and matchups.

When Duke goes big, they can look to freshman Mark Williams and to a lesser degree Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman. The staff will also have incoming Columbia transfer Patrick Tape in the mix in the frontcourt. I can see all of these players getting a start and when practice resumes, we will have an idea of who is adjusting to perceived roles.

As for the freshman, Brakefield and Coleman each bring their skillset to the mix. Brakefield is a solid offensive player who can stretch the floor and Coleman is a versatile hard worker around the paint. Williams can be a basket protector and a force in the paint and has continuously improved in the past two years.

But Duke can go smaller as well and this is where I enter another freshman D.J. Steward into the mix. He is a potentially prolific scorer and talented enough to fill that fifth spot. In fact, when I took a poll of the few people I trust, he seemed to be what most considered the best bet for the fifth starting spot.

But, hold on a minute. This is where we talk about Jordan Goldwire. Talk about a hard worker that will get after you defensively. And then there is Joey Baker who is always a three-point threat and a player who can do much more than that.

This is where I tell you that while I have penciled in some perceived starters, it does not mean they will have to play ironman minutes. In fact, there are many lineup possibilities.

Duke can go small and pressure the heck out of teams with Roach, Steward, Goldwire, Moore, and a big. Or they can try and match up with the likes of bigger teams with Williams, Johnson, and Hurt with some help from Tape.

The Blue Devils have tweeners as well to insert into the mix, so at least early in the season, Duke will be able to go as deep as they did a season ago with concern to their lineups. I will go out on a limb and predict up to ten players will get a start at some point in the coming season.

While Duke will be young, they will be deep again this season. The key will be to get back on campus and get accustomed to one another as we all await positive news on the virus which has yet to clear.

Also, keep in mind this is my early take on Duke hoops in 2020-21 and it will change as we get closer to the season. But for now, this is a gauge on what we might expect.

I will be discussing other aspects and possibilities concerning Duke Basketball as we tie several articles in as an early bird preview in the coming days where we'll answer a lot of team questions. And speaking of questions, send any into our bluedevilnation@twitter feed with the hashtag #AskBDN and we will address the best of them.

What Could Have Been and What Was for Duke Basketball

The dust has finally settled on the 2019-20 basketball season and it is now time to reflect on what could have been. As some in the media, I took the trip up to Greensboro for the ACC Tournament and took my seat at courtside as I watched the unusual situation unfold.

It was surreal seeing just the bands from Clemson and Florida State making noise where no fans were in the stands. There were cheerleaders, essential coliseum personnel, some media members, and television crews as Clemson and Florida State took to the court to warm up.

Duke and N.C. State was to have played next, so I was dug in with my laptop ready to cover something like we had never witnessed. I was wondering which parent might make a name for themselves in support of their team for those who stood out would be getting plenty of camera time.

For a brief moment, it appeared the games would go on, but there was a problem, you see. That being something called the Coronavirus and it was at the forefront of everyone's mind, even fanatical fanbases desperate for life to go on as normal.

I could not help but think Duke did not get a good draw in the tournament. The Blue Devils would have likely gotten past the Wolfpack, but it would not have been easy. The draw came from finishing fourth in the standings and it was hard not to think about the collapse in Winston Salem, for a win against a so-so Wake Forest team would have put the Duke in the top spot.

There was also a late-season loss by a two points at Virginia which was costly as well, These two games kept Duke from winning the regular season.

So, when it became evident that the long-awaited ACC Tournament return to Greensboro was about to be canceled there was still not ample enough evidence that the season would end. I mean, no season had since the inception of the NCAA Tournament.

As it became clear that we had seen the last dribble of the ball this past season, you could not help but wonder many things. As Florida State was awarded the ACC Tournament Championship trophy in a way that was highly awkward, it just felt like Duke should have been there.

Yes, one could argue they stole a win at Chapel Hill over North Carolina but had Mike Krzyzewski known the season would end as it did, perhaps he would have coached a little differently.

While this may seem a controversial statement, some coaches are looking to teach lessons during the season. I am not saying Duke did not want to win those close or critical losses, but I am saying the staff never thought the win over North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium would be the last game the team would play.

Some may have seen Duke collapsing a bit after the losses to Virginia and Wake Forest in the regular season, but I saw it as ongoing lessons for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. And I think this team was better built for the tournament than some think.

We will never know for sure how things may have fared, but the team had a solid year with some memorable wins. They owned a win over Kansas the nation's top-ranked team and they had a veteran point guard in Tre Jones ready to go for what would have been the sixth national championship.

Perhaps the Blue Devils would have hoisted the ACC Championship Trophy had the games been played, but the Seminoles had a much easier road to do so. So I am thinking the team was better built for the NCAA's and like many, I wanted to see how it played out.

Duke showed they could be caught off guard in some losses this past season, but the Blue Devils could have beaten any team on a given day. Trust me, it is all about matchups in the big tournament and so we will never know how things would fare, but the feeling here is that Duke would have gained some more wins and been a tough out for anyone they faced.

Duke had a good locker room this past season. Their players represented the brotherhood well. They were a likable bunch of young men where each brought something to the table.

Since my last article, Duke has seen Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., and Cassius Stanley all enter the NBA Draft. It was fun watching those players.

Tre Jones returned to Duke to win a title. It is painful for many he never got that chance. But people will fondly remember what he and his brother Tyus, did for the program.

Vernon Carey Jr. was evidence that Duke does develop big men and he had a stellar season. He is a very underrated player going into the draft and will likely land with a winning team per source.

Cassius Stanley showed off some serious athleticism which will help him achieve his goals at the next level. Duke proved they do as well with west coast talent as any other part of the country.

Duke also says goodbye to Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, and Justin Robinson. These three young men as all destined for some great things in life.

So, if you haven't guessed yet, this is me closing the door on the 2019-20 season. It was not easy to do so for many reasons, but anyone reading this article likely lives for the basketball season and when it is cut short, there is a part of us seemingly missing,

While many are still dealing with the outbreak which has forever changed our lives, we still covet the constant success that has defined Duke Basketball.

A popular tagline is that "Duke Basketball Never Stops." While that statement has been challenged, it is clear to see via social media that the Brotherhood is still active.

I am a glass half full type. So, I think we will see the Blue Devils soon enough and the staff is hard at work even from home preparing for another season. Heck, they are recruiting for much more than next season, so it is time to start talking about that and in the coming days, Blue Devil Nation will start to cover what is to come next in our own way,

So, let us remember that amazing putback by Wendell Moore Jr. one last time But it is time to make some new memories and move on.

Duke Up to 6th in A.P. Poll

The new A.P. poll was released just moments ago and the Duke Blue Devils move up to

The Blue Devils are currently riding a seven-game winning streak including a recent blowout win over Notre Dame.

Duke returns to the court this Wednesday to take on N.C. State in Raleigh, N.C. before taking on Virginia Tech at home on Saturday.

This is the 40th consecutive week Duke has been ranked as one of the nation's top 10 teams which is the second-longest streak.

The Blue Devils closed the gap to within 9 points from Dayton. Duke is 3-1 vs Top 25 teams, while Dayton is 0-1. The ACC has 14 Top 25 wins while the Flyer's conference has a single top 25 win on the whole, but I suppose that does not matter.

No knock on Dayton, they are a solid team, but I see a much better resume from the team in Durham.

While polls are subjective, considering Duke has a win over Kansas and the aforementioned stats make for curious questions with concern to the criteria some voters are looking for.

Ever since Duke was upset by Stephen F. Austin there seems to be a hesitance to move them forward a bit, nevermind there current seven-game winning streak. For what it is worth, the Lumberjacks are now the 33rd team in the top 25 voting. they're atop their league and a tournament lock.

Duke is also 6th in the new coaches poll, just 7 points shy of 5th this week. The top 10 in each poll are identical.

Duke has been ranked in the top 25 in 79 consecutive polls.

1 - Baylor

2 - Gonzaga

3 - Kansas

4- San Diego State

5 - Dayton

6 - Duke

7 - Maryland

8 - Florida State

9 - Penn State

10 - Kentucky

11 - Louisville

12 - Villanova