Tag Archives: Duke Cheerleader of the Week

Watzone’s Monday Musings – Basketball opens, football struggles and recruiting

BDN Monday Musings Duke Cheerleader of the Week - BDN Photo/Rick Crank

Chances are you need no reminder that this is the opening week of the basketball season where pretty much everybody in the nation plays on Friday.  The Blue Devils open the season with a true test in Belmont, a 9 p.m. prime time game on ESPNU. Of course, they then wake up the next day and take on Presbyterian at 4:30 on the same station.  Meanwhile the football team heads to Virginia trying to make it four in a row on the Cavs in a 3:00 game which conflicts with the men's game, not unusual for this time of year.

Duke opens with a dangerous and deep Belmont team

Unless one lives under a rock, they realize that the Duke and college basketball season opens for real this Friday.  In the first two pre season games Duke has looked like a work in progress in that they are.  But Coach Krzyzewski and company will have to bring their best game to defeat a Belmont team that won 30 games a season ago and they return everybody.  Belmont is a legitimate top 40 type team and they jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the new mainland Maui Invitational format and Coach K more than welcomed a season opening challenge for his young team.  "We have to have a chip on our shoulder, an edge,'' Byrd said. "We've got 10 of 12 back, and I would expect we'd be better. I feel good about us at every spot the way we play," said Belmont Bruins coach Rick Byrd," and you can bet they will relish the opportunity of playing college basketball royalty in Cameron.  Belmont played 10 players last season when they won 30 games having what Coach Byrd, who has over 500 wins, called 10 starters.  Bryd also said that his team would not lose their composure in Cameron and that a win would solidify his team as a top 25 contender.  Thankfully for Duke, their opponent on Saturday, Presbyterian will offer much less resistance.

Coach K and the record

Having been around Coach K quite a bit in the past, I can tell you that he puts his focus on the next game and never rests in the present or recent accomplishments.  But this season is a little different in that media types have been on campus daily for several coming special presentations which I will cover next week.  Look for a dizzying amount of material coming out as he will soon become the winningest college basketball coach in history.  This is where I could go into my vast amount memories since his first day on the Duke campus, but I am taking a cue from Coach and will visit this after this weeks games.  Still, all I can say is that Duke fans should stop and realize how lucky they are to have him as their coach and never forget his faithfulness to the university where he will remain for his entire career.

Youth will be served

For Duke to have success in the coming season, several freshman must take on key roles.  We all know about Austin Rivers and have no worries there, but the other freshman seem green.  Alex Murphy was awarded the start in the opening exhibition game and he failed to step up earning him the last spot on the bench in the next game.  Silent "G," otherwise known as Michael Gbinije has been just that, quiet and Quinn Cook while at times showing flashes of greatness has been making some mental mistakes from his PG spot.  Several times, all of the freshman were unaware of defenders and were stripped of the ball in the exhibitions and that means there is a long ways to go.  If Duke is to succeed this season, they will need one of the aforementioned three if not more to become key contributors in their role.  There is no reason to think this will not happen but there is reason to expect some significant growing pains while the process works it's way out.

Prospect Tony Parker could pick a school as early as this week

The behemoth post player that fits into the role vacated by the likes of Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand and Shelden Williams may be making his choice as early as late this week.  Parker is a key recruit for the Blue Devils and they have been courting him from the very start.  Parker will choose between Duke, Ohio State, Memphis and UCLA, but IMO, it is down to just two schools.  A careful examination of future rosters makes it clear to me where he should wind up with my objectivity cap on.  There is a good opportunity for Parker at Duke and perhaps he will see that Coach K has been there all along in the recruiting process or that his parents have favored the Blue Devils from the word go.  We'll have more on this one in our Blue Devil Nation Premium section, out extended subscription service which brings you on the inside of the happenings around the program.

Duke takes on Virginia

The Cavaliers want to avoid four straight losses to Duke when the two meet in Charlottesville this Saturday.  Some of Coach David Cutcliffe and companies biggest wins have been against the Cavs but for that to continue, Duke will have to make a lot of adjustments this week, most of them mental.  The Blue Devils defeated Virginia 55-48 in a wildly entertaining game a season ago but to think we'll see a shootout this weekend could disappoint.  Coming into the season these teams looked pretty even on paper, but Mike London has his team playing solid football and wanting to secure a bowl game with a win, while the Blue Devils are thirsting for not only a break but a victory.  The Blue Devils could cure a lot of ills with a 4th win both over the Cavs and on the season but make no mistake, the team will be underdogs in the remainder of their games.  Afterall, the Cavs went down to Miami and punched the Canes in the mouth, while Duke played one of their worst games of the season there.  If momentum has anything to do with the outcome early Saturday evening, then the Blue Devils face a tall order.

Playing for next year?

Sure, Duke could win three games and be bowl eligible but reality tells us that will not happen.  At this point the Blue Devils are starting to play for next season and they need another win this year to help with their confidence going into the off season.  Virginia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina remain on the schedule and there is no one game which looks like a win at this time.  There has been no breakthrough win this season and it is hard to see major improvement with the offense averaging six less points per game to go with three wins.  In short, Duke needs to make their own off season momentum by either continuing a streak over UVA or finding a way to defeat two programs that have dominated them in the past.  Going into the season I stated that anything less than four wins would be a disaster and I still feel that way. The Blue Devils stumbled out of the gate and lost to a bad Richmond team and with that being there third straight loss to an FBS school, it was a killer and should have been the fourth win.  I do realize that Duke has played some teams close but they just don't seem like they know how to win or close games out with them on the line.  Next year will be a tell tale year in many respects for the program and that's why finding some momentum heading into the off season is oh-so important.

Monday Musings – Duke Basketball & Football, Cheerleader of the week

Well it certainly is an exciting time of year for Duke fans with the football team riding a three game winning streak and the basketball team set to kick off practice.  A lot of us in the media joke about taking vitamins this time of year in that the hours can be brutal with both basketball and football kicking it into high gear at the same time.  Then, you have to add recruiting to the picture, for us, anyhow.  So, yes, a test of true endurance is coming up and I can only hope I am rested enough to deal with it.  Of course, there are a lot of worse things to be doing than being court-side for Countdown to Craziness or the sidelines for the Florida State game, so I'll make due.

Basketball is here!

Let's face it, Duke is a Goliath to many for the program is college basketball royalty and breaths the rare air of constant contention for championships.  While most are awaiting Countdown to Craziness, the coverage begins in earnest on Wednesday, when Duke holds their annual media day.  BDN will of course be on the scene to bring you information as it happens in that we are hands on with our unique and faithful coverage.

Countdown to Craziness

Man, can you believe that Countdown to Craziness is this Friday?  It doesn't seem like that long ago when Nolan Smith came off the court in Greensboro, meeting Coach K in mid air for a hug after Duke won yet another ACC Championship.  For those who have never been to the event, it's a religious experience for the fans with rabid Cameron Crazies rocking the house. And you see the freshman in their uniforms for the first time and simply gain our first look at this seasons team.  It's off the charts from a fan perspective with skits, dunk contests and just flat out fun!  It's always interesting to see what songs each player chooses to come out to as the lights are dimmed and spotlights glow.  This years event will be broadcast online at ESPN3 but there is nothing like being there in person!  The festivities start early on outside, so make a day of it by getting there early and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of all things Duke.  For the record, many want to know which recruits will visit.  The answer to that question is Matt Jones and Rasheed Sulaimon.  Most all the juniors Duke is recruiting will have duties with Team USA, thus causing a conflict in scheduling.  Rumors blew up that Tony Parker would be in, but as of today, that is not the case.  But of course, Parker remains a player that Coach K and the Duke Family dearly want in Durham.

And then .....

Support the football team the next day as they take on Florida State, a team that was picked by everybody to win the ACC in the pre season, not to mention being ranked #5 in the country.  This will be one angry group as they are coming off three straight losses including one to Wake Forest last week.  The Deacs took it right at the Seminoles and that is what you have to do, be aggressive and play to win.  Still, I hate facing a team that has gone as far to ban twitter among it's players yesterday, for you can bet we get their best shot.  But this is a young Duke Football team with talent, so if they can match the intensity and play four full quarters of football, they will be in this game.  Our football coverage will continue tomorrow after Coach Cut's press conference.  A reminder, we tweet as he speaks, so tune into to our popular twitter home a little after noon and check out his comments.  Folks, BDN has become the place for recruiting and team information due to the hard work of Patrick Cacchio with some assists from the rest of our staff. Patrick was in Miami to cover the big win over FIU, bringing you video interviews after the contest,  And that is something not even the TV stations to claim.  We are dedicated to covering Duke Football and this site is #Dukegang friendly.

Sean Renfree is the key

Sean Renfree is seeing the field better than at any time of his career in my opinion.  The coaches have turned him loose allowing him to stay in when in the red zone and his confidence has soared during that time.  Renfree is the key to the Blue Devils success, so if he gets protection, he will make Duke a tough out during a brutal stretch of games that remain on the schedule.

I think Seth Curry will blow up this season

The biggest question for Duke Basketball is where will points come from this season.  With Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Kyrie Irving long gone, it is up to a lot of Blue Devils to step up to the plate for the opportunity is at hand.  I said in early summer that I thought Curry will make that leap this season and I still feel that way as the season approaches.  Curry is a scorer and he's gone through the Duke system enough to flourish in it this season. I look for Curry to be first team All-ACC at seasons end.

Cheerleader of the week

We like to salute the team behind the team and we're speaking of Duke Cheerleaders and the Blue Devil himself.  Folks have kept asking me to start Cheerleader of the Week back up, a Monday Musings tradition, so we did.

Speaking of social media ...

If you are not following Blue Devil Nation tweets, you should be! We throw out a lot of information about recruiting, the teams and more.  It all started a few years back when we started tweeting from press row in Cameron and that carried into the National Championship game where we sent out real time stats and what was going on that the TV cameras were missing.  Sitting directly behind Coach K gave us a lot of insight even though I did duck when they were in the team huddle for I felt like I was seeing something I shouldn't, LOL. It was a fabulous experience and I loved sharing the moments with Duke fans.  We share some recruiting information on twitter as well, but must save the best of that for out members, who help make BDN happen.  In fact, if you like what we do, the best way to support us is to become a member.  We also have  Facebook open group which is of course called Blue Devil Nation and we welcome you there as well.  It is set up for your participation.

Contests are a hit!

We love when fans take part in our twitter contests which have been a hit since their inception long ago.  Every week of the football season you can predict the score of the Duke Football game and that goes for all men's basketball games as well.  You win a trial membership to our premium section and get your name in twitter lights if you win, so head on over and get your picks in this week.

Cha, cha, cha,cha, cha, changes ...

Okay, that probably ticked off David Bowie in that it was a bit lame.  We spoke of site changes a good while back and they are still coming.  Since that time, BDN has been in talks with others as well about going under their flag.  We have yet to make a decision on what we'll do but I must admit it is hard altering something I've built from scratch as it continues to grow in popularity.  We feel this is a unique site that has brought fans as close to the programs as one can get and we'll not alter that without a lot of thought.  We have a lot of passion for Duke Athletics here and that is one thing you can rest assured will continue.  Thanks to all of you for making this place what it is today by following us.  We hit the road running with our original blog which became an overnight success and we continue to refine and try and make the site better.  We have built tremendous relationships which we cherish greatly for many of them are true and legitimate sources as well as friends.  When BDN says something, it is generally taken as gospel and we are proud that we have always dealt with the facts.  We have been and will continue to be the most hands on Duke site out there, thanks to the great staff we've assembled.

Stay tuned! 

By late Wednesday afternoon, the Nation will go nuts with coverage #DukeStyle.

BDN’s Monday Musings – Sweat, Cheerleaders, Irving, Smith, Stats, Duke Football and more sweat

And our cheerleader of the week is a member of the Dancing Devils who filled in for the cheerleaders last evening and did an admirable job. If we had a team shot, I would have selected all of them. Lance King Images for BDN

Welcome to another edition of BDN's Monday Musings where we talk of random happenings around Duke Athletics.  It was fun to see the students start to come back in force in Cameron last evening and props to the dance team lasses for filling in for the cheerleaders and doing an admirable job.  On to today's chatter -

Anytime you get an ACC win, it's sweet and Duke moved to 2-0 in conference with last evenings 71-64 win over a pesky Maryland team.  When the Terps come to town, you will always hear "Sweat Gary Sweat," from the Cameron Crazies but last evening, a few Blue Devil fans were sweating along with him, as Duke found themselves trailing by as many as 6 points at home.  But the team itself never seemed too worried, or should I say the staff never fretted, from my vantage on press row. Duke has been in these games before and with 883 wins, this is not Coach Krzyzewski's first rodeo.

For the first time since his toe injury, the media didn't question Coach K on Kyrie Irving's status in the post game press conference.  And last night seemed like the first time the focus turned to the team on the court and that is probably a good thing.  As crazy as it sounds, Irving's toe gets more hits than Duke Basketball itself of late, just ask many of the ACC bloggers who speak of his status on a regular basis, like my pal  Brett Friedlander who writes an ACC Insider column for Star News in Wilmington.  Of course, there was a Seth Davis tweet last night alluding to some sort of breaking news he would share on the "toe' a bit later.  Does he have the "real" scoop?  If he does, he is in rare air, for the real deal is protected like Fort Knox and not the type of fodder which might leak.  Irving has avoided surgery and his mystery injury to be named later seems to be on the mend.  Maybe we are blindly positive, but we think Irving returns to the court down the road.  If I am wrong, I am wrong, but my hunches are usually accurate.  As for the getting into shape questions ... I will take Iriving at 80% any day, eh?

copyright LKI

Taking a look at Atlantic Coast Conference stats, you'll see that Nolan Smith leads the league in scoring and assists.  Yep, he's the current heads on favorite to win ACC Player of the Year, but we have a long ways to go. Kyle Singler moved ahead of Jordan Williams into third place in scoring last evening as well.  It is also worth noting that Duke scores ten more points a game than any other conference team.

Duke's next contest is indeed a "trap game."  Florida State is coming off a road loss to but they are 1-1 overall and tough when they play at home.  The Seminoles are long and athletic and they struggle at times scoring the ball, but they get pumped up when Duke comes to town, especially when they're the defending national champions and number one ranked team in America.  At 15-0 and atop the polls, Duke will get every team's best shot. 

Duke had two prospects at last nights game, one being junior Alex Murphy a wing forward who is ranked in most top ten lists for his class.  Jabari Parker, a 2013 budding front court player.  For more on Duke Basketball Recruiting, join BDN Premium for the latest.

The odds on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy next season in college football will be Stanford's Andrew Luck.  It's rare that a possible first pick in the NFL Draft opts to return.  Duke Football will take on the Cardinal next season in Wallace Wade Stadium, so you will get a chance to see him go up against Sean Renfree and the Blue Devils.  As for Luck, turning down 5o million with a new agreement being reached on rookie salaries going into place the following year, this situation  is something he might consider revisiting.  Meanwhile the struggling Carolina Panthers await and one has to think San Francisco may negotiate a trade with Jim Harbaugh at the helm.

Check out the Duke Blue Devils Women's Basketball team, which is ranked #3 in the nation!  Coach P's gals have avoided nobody with a tough early season schedule yet they remain undefeated.  Duke is still a work in progress as the entire team is getting minutes thus far.  Of those players, many are very young and that bodes well in the future as does a stellar class coming in to join them next season.  That said, all I have left to say is Jasmine Thomas is a gamer, worthy of the name Ms. Clutch.

Bookmark Blue Devil Nation as we follow the Duke beat all season long and thanks for supporting our site.

BDN’s Monday Musings – Recruiting, Football Wins, Praise and Injuries

A Monday Musings tradition is the Cheerleader of the Week pic - Rick Crank, BDN Photo

Good Monday morning Blue Devil Nation!  It's the first day of November which means we are into the meat of the football schedule while basketball begins in earnest.  It'll be a busy week ahead as recruiting heats up and Duke prepares for Virginia on the football field in Wallace Wade this Saturday and Cal Poly Pamona visits Cameron Indoor Stadium prior to that.

We'll start with basketball recruiting for the November early signing period begins on the 10th of this month and ends on the 17th.  The news broke over the weekend that Myck Kabongo had decommitted from Texas and that Duke was on his list.  The Blue Devils will get involved but it remains to be seen how this one will play out for many reasons.  One of those reasons is Quinn Cook who holds an offer but who let North Carolina in at the midnight hour adding them to his list just yesterday.  Cook grew up a fan of the school and it is no secret that Roy Williams always seems to come in later on just about every kid the Blue Devils target.  A lot of people expected Cook to give Duke a verbal already, including me, but oh how the landscape changes quickly in the world of recruiting and Duke has positioned themselves to come away with a point guard to run alongside Austin Rivers.  Michael Gbinije, Marshall Plumlee and the aforementioned Austin Rivers are all expected to sign during the early period.  More recruiting discussion can be found if you gain full site access by joining BDN Premium and that's how you can support the hard work of the BDN staff and this site.

I attended the Coach K Coaching Clinic this past weekend without the media hat on for I have a passion for coaching myself.  But it was hard not to come away having gleaned some key insight into the team itself and I can share with you that Miles Plumlee earned high praise from Krzyzewski for his practice of late.  In fact, he was mentioned on three occasions and that is a sign that he'll certainly be a main cog in the lineup early on.  The key for Miles is to stay intense for Duke and he'll once again begin the season as a sure starter.

Also mentioned was the fact that Jon Scheyer's eye injury was not a good thing in that he has apparently lost some of the vision.  Scheyer will embark on a journey to Europe soon and we'll of course keep tabs on him.  Meanwhile Brian Zoubek had some unfortunate luck as well and he is currently rehabbing at Duke after an operation on his back.  BDN's wishes these national champions a speedy recovery.

Krzyzewski also spoke of "10 standards," for this seasons team and we'll let him share that at a later date.  We can tell you that the US team had 15 standards as well, bet here is what we're getting to ... the standards act as a contract.  This carries over into a much discussed issue of social media, namely Twitter.  During ACC Operation Basketball I spoke to Krzyzewski about the standards which he'd clarify more in recent days.  I basically said that he trusts his players in that they would not go as far as kids just down the road.  Krzyzewski doesn't think that he should put but so many restrictions on his team so that they'll grow in the process both on and off the court.  In short, Duke sets forth standards which players respect and adhere to and this enables Krzyzewski to trust his players judgement and that means we''ll continue to be entertained by Nolan Smith's tweets.  And isn't it obvious that the Duke kids have not embarrassed themselves or the school?

I personally think it is crazy to hang on every single comment from Twitter via prospects every little whim, but we do like it as a tool to further our site.  That said, join BDN Twitter for we bring you an additional game experience from press row in Cameron and Wallace Wade.  If you want constant behind the scenes tidbits then sign up now and get a unique perspective.  We carried you every step of the way to the national championship last year and we hope to do so again this season.  And we promise not to tweet what we are eating  and every little thing which is not pertinent to your fandom.

Man, did the football team need a win and the victory over Navy cured some ills getting the Blue Devils back into the win column.  One cannot help but think what if Duke had defeated Maryland and Wake Forest, two games where they outplayed their opponent for they'd be 4-4 going into the UVA game.  Still, the team has a chance to end the seasons with some positives but it'll take consistent play.

Winning down the stretch for Cutcliffe's troops will also be aided by another game with no turnovers.  We see what can happen when Duke protects the ball the entire game against a Navy team coming off a victory over Notre Dame.  Turnovers have doomed the Devils more often than not this season and they'll need this to turn around against a physical Virginia team coming off a win over Miami this past week.

Lastly, thanks for your patience of late as our staff has been very busy.  We'll get fully back into the gro this month and that means max coverage of the games on the Duke Beat along with some tweaks to the site along the way.  Also, check out our Facebook site which we have not pushed with the success of BDN Twitter for there all fans can post and or add pictures there.

Lastly, for the longest time we've held out from allowing advertisers on this site but that will change in the near future.  Originally, we thought we'd give you a break from those annoying ad's which bounce off the page or force you to read them for we're dependant on memberships to fund BDN.  For several years we chose to keep advertising off to facilitate a clean look for your viewing pleasure but the additional income will go towards site maintenance and growth.  We promise to avoid those annoying ads but will be adding some which we personally approve of.  Advertisers can contact Susan in Admin or myself for more details with your needs and at this time we still have a top banner opening.    Have a great week ahead and remember we all make up the Blue Devil Nation.