Reporting from the N.C. Pro-Am

The North Carolina Pro-Am Summer League continued this week at N.C. Central University, with several Duke stars in action. Amogh and Jake were on scene July 28th and 30th.

Jon Scheyer, Chris Duhon, and Mason Plumlee—teammates? Yeah, we wish.

From N.C. Pro-Am (July 15, 28, 30)

On Tuesday night, NCCU’s McDougald Gymnasium felt the presence of several current and former Blue Devils. Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and newly minted walk-on Casey Peters represented the modern Devils, while former guard greats Chris Duhon and Sean Dockery (remember VT?) returned to the Triangle for some elite pickup competition.

In Tuesday’s penultimate game, Kyle Singler and Team E-net gutted out a 55-50 comback win. Somewhat alarming—Kyle showed noticeable discomfort and appeared bothered by his elbow. He quickly taped it up, but it clearly affected the rest of his night. Thus, this was not a vintage Singler performance, but the projected All-American should be back to the hardwood soon.

The final game was the night’s best. Team Duhon, undefeated in eight outings, was tested by Team WR Starkey, led by Word of God (Raleigh, NC) star CJ Leslie and Anthony Greenup of the Harlem Globetrotters. Team Duhon’s roster was a veritable Duke all-star team, with Scheyer, Mason, and Dockery joining the namesake Knicks point guard. The Blue Devil connection was scintillating; Duhon consistently found Plumlee and Scheyer for easy buckets. Mason was exceptional around the rim, grabbing boards and finishing strong on almost every touch. Needless to say, Duhon and company easily built a commanding lead by halftime. After wholesale substitutions in the third quarter, Starkey’s Leslie led a furious comeback with a series of thrilling dunks and alley-oops. At crunch time, however, free throw shooting ended up sealing the deal for an 89-80 Duhon win—how Duke-esque!

The action continued on Thursday, with Ryan Kelly and Team Starkey facing Team Hendrick, led by UNC alumnus David Noel. Kelly led his team admirably in a losing effort, collecting 26 points on 10-18 shooting, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks. He displayed a deceptive quickness in defending the stronger Noel, a skill that will earn him minutes in K’s system. After a slow first quarter, Kelly showed off his midrange stroke, hitting a number of fadeaway jumpers from about 15 feet. He was the most impressive player on the floor.

Thursday’s second game featured sophomore Miles Plumlee, playing for Team E-Net. Miles has obviously been in the weight room, and his added strength translated to a solid performance—24 points on 10-15 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks in a loss. He also converted one of two 3-point attempts. The good news is that Miles was aggressive on offense. He was the focal point of E-Net’s attack, often backing down the defender and getting to the rim (see video below). However, Miles was unmotivated at times. While this can be partly attributed to the lack of competitive play in these summer leagues, he will have to exhibit more effort on defense in order to get minutes in our crowded frontcourt rotation.

Crazie Notes: CJ Leslie has loads of talent but a bad attitude—he often looked disinterested and frequently argued with the refs. Is this why he’s being recruited by UNC?… Speaking of which, why was Roy Williams at the Pro-Am on Thursday while the AAU Nationals are in full swing in Orlando? Every major D-I coach is there… David Noel was hilariously petulant, even earning a technical for repeated ref abuse. Isn’t this just summer league?…PJ Tucker still has serious game. The former Texas star and elder statesman of the league threw down a furious dunk on Miles to the delight of the Tar Heel-laden crowd…Duhon showed up on Thursday, chatting with a few friends before leaving 30 minutes later…Will Seth Curry make an appearance? He’s listed on the Starkey roster, but hasn’t yet played in a Pro-Am game…Singler missed E-Net’s Thursday game, hopefully nursing his elbow.

The highlight of the night? Miles throwing down. With authority!

Deviled Eggs 7/27/09

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best:

A star in the wings.

1.There is no greater honor.”

Coach K speaks to Team USA potentials in this video. Kevin Durant, Devin Harris, Andre Iguodala? They want to play for K and Country.

2. “I just love their system…I think I can do very well.”

Dave Rothenberg talks with Seth Curry on 850-The Buzz. He should be a phenomenal asset in the next few years.

3. Duke to host High Performance Basketball Camp

Expect the best and the brightest from the classes of 2010 and 2011 to be in Durham on August 22-23!

4. News and Observer: Don’t Blame Olympics For Duke’s Slide

An interesting take on Coach K’s Olympic post has affected Duke’s recent recruiting history.

5. A Future PTP-er?

2010 target Kyrie Irving, of Elizabeth, NJ, drops 37 points in a win against heavily-favored Team Final in the Nike Super Showcase in Orlando, FL.

6. Team USA wins gold…again.

The Men’s U-16 team, led by 2011 target Brad Beal, of St. Louis, MO, won the gold medal at the 2009 FIBA Americas U-16 Championship.

BONUS:

The New York Times runs a feature highlighting the experiences of American college students. A  Duke engineering student and a UNC freshman submitted articles.

This is just another example of why we are proud to be Duke students and represent our University. Mr. Singh writes a compelling article about the cultural differences between his native India and college life in the United States. On the other hand, Ms. Banks does little more than insult Duke, although UNC has much to offer its students. This is yet another example of how the Duke-UNC rivalry goes beyond basketball—with mixed results.


Weighing In: Coach K and Team USA

Every few weeks, the five of us get together and discuss a pressing question related to Duke basketball. These  discussions are then compiled into a feature aptly entitled “Weighing In”.

Today’s question: how will Coach K’s involvement in Team USA affect Duke basketball?
Chong, Daniel, and Jake “weigh in”.

He's a winner.

He's a winner.

Chong

In the early 90’s, a young up-and-coming film director from Brooklyn echoed one of the most famous lines in advertising history: “It’s gotta be the shoes.” Since then, both the director, Spike Lee, and the product advertised, Nike Basketball shoes, have become synonymous with images of success and innovation.  Behavioral economists can  present a plethora of conjectures on why the commercial succeeded, but this perfect formula doesn’t require a drawn-out explanation.  The reason that Nike’s advertisement succeeded is simple:  Nike capitalized on the star power of Michael Jordan, along with the cinematic wizardry of Spike Lee, to catapult their basketball shoe line into an international icon.

Now, how does this relate to Coach K continuing his tenure as the leader of team USA basketball?  The answer correlates exactly with what Nike did with Michael Jordan.  Instead of using MJ, Krzyzewski’s experience with the best players in the world allows Duke Basketball to reap the benefits of its coach’s increased publicity.  If you’re a high school basketball stud, wouldn’t you want a coach that could harness your skills?  Coach K, by working with the likes of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, would certainly fit the bill in terms of a coach who can handle some of the world’s hottest basketball talents.  From a recruiting standpoint, the fruits of Krzyzewski’s labor are already showing, as the class of 2010 is turning out to hold as one of the school’s best in recent memory.

But even if the international publicity does not help us (a scenario I just can’t believe), I feel that many critics of Coach K’s decision are forgetting one of the most important benefits of coaching such a talented squad of players.  Coach K, just like any other professional, constantly seeks to improve at his job.  Even if his “x’s and o’s” don’t translate to a higher-octane offense, Coach K will gain valuable experience and respect for being able to manage a group of highly-paid superstars.  We may finally be able to attract t the superstars that, over the last few years, have turned us down for the likes of Memphis, Kansas, and UNC.  We may, more importantly, be able to reload to make a serious run in the NCAA tournamnet.  Hopefully, Duke can replicate some of what the “redeem” team was able to produce in Beijing.  In the meanwhile, all we can do now is work with the talent we already have.  Just do it, Blue Devils.

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Daniel

At Duke University, greatness is spelled: K-R-Z-Y-Z-E-W-S-K-I.

Take that, Merriam-Webster.

This ten-letter-mishmash of consonants represents Duke’s equivalent to John Wooden at UCLA, or Red Auerbach in Boston.  Despite his commitment to USA Basketball through 2012, Coach K has made his long-term intentions crystal clear; he began his career at Duke, and that’s where it will end.

For the average coach, an opportunity to lead a star-studded Olympic team would require little deliberation.  Unfortunately for Mike Krzyzewski, he’s not the average coach.  The commander-in-chief of Duke University basketball carries with him a degree of responsibility and expectation to which other collegiate programs simply cannot relate.  Since its inception, Blue Devil hoops has established a rich tradition of winning…and winning big.  For the Durham faithful, anything short of a Final Four appearance is quite frankly a disappointing season.

Duke has been getting loads of flak from the media due to recent sub-par recruitment.  Should Coach K be spending less time with USA Basketball?  Maybe.  Is his presence with the “Redeem Team” hurting Duke’s recruiting?  Absolutely not.  Find me one kid who wouldn’t kill to play amongst the likes of a Lebron James or a Kobe Bryant.  Granted, most college ballers will never have this chance…but if you can’t play with the superstars themselves, isn’t playing for their superstar-coach an enticing alternative?  At the end of the day, any recruit looking to develop his game for the next level will recognize the second-to-none caliber of coaching offered by Coach K and company.  Why not learn from the best?

Simply put, Coach K’s presence in USA Basketball is tremendous PR for Duke University basketball.  Krzyzewski has revitalized the national team and restored its winning tradition—the same type of winning tradition he’s established at Duke; one that Cameron Crazies have come to expect, year in and year out.

To all the Coach K nay-sayers and Duke haters out there (there are lots of you)—take a step back and realize the big picture.  Yes, Coach K now has less time to scour the recruiting trail due to his Olympic commitment, but he also brings something to the recruiting table that no other coach can offer; he knows how to get the most out of world-class talent.  Recruits will recognize that, and respond accordingly.

For crying out loud, look at our incoming class in 2010!  Even WITHOUT Harrison Barnes on our commit-list, Duke already has one of the most impressive classes, if not the single most impressive class, in the nation.  Seth Curry’s timely transfer from Liberty was simply icing on the cake.  The addition of Barnes would be like spelling “National Championship” on top of that cake.

Duke will soon reclaim its perch atop college basketball.  For now, be patient, and watch Coach K win another gold medal.

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Jake

In 2004, as Coach K was toying with the Los Angeles Lakers, junior Andrew Humphries wrote a letter, imploring Krzyzewski to remain at Duke. He closed the letter with an emotional statement–”Please still be my coach.” As fate would have it, Andrew and the rest of Blue Devil Nation got their wish:  Coach K elected to remain at Duke.

Humphries’ final line touched on an emotion present in every Duke fan—that of provinciality. We feel that Coach K is ours and belongs to no one else, a bastion of the our values, our spokesperson and leader. But it’s time we realize a painful truth: Coach K is more than just Duke’s coach. He is one of basketball’s premiere ambassadors, a successful businessman and promoter, and yes, the coach of the Redeem Team. We have harrumphed about these traits in our coach, claiming them as reason for our admiration and dedicated support of Duke basketball. We rejoiced when Team USA won the gold medal in Beijing. “Coach K is such a patriot!” we all exclaimed.

So why do we lament Coach K’s decision to do it all again? He’s hungry for more success. He wants to prove himself and help his country achieve even more athletic glory. Furthermore, he’s putting his reputation on the line for a second time. Win one gold medal, the media will claim that anyone could have won with the talent of Kobe, Lebron, and Carmelo. Fail to win a second? Then it’s all your fault, Coach.

We should feel lucky to have a Coach qualified to lead the Olympic team. K deserves this opportunity—and he deserves our support. The man is over sixty, and he’s managing three of the most difficult situations in basketball: the pressure of the nation on the Olympic team, the pressure of Duke fans, and the pressure of Duke haters. And he does it all with class and composure.

The biggest concern seems to be that our recruiting will suffer due to K’s absence from the circuit. Firstly, there couldn’t be a better reason for that truancy. Secondly, we signed our three recruits for the class of 2010 in the weeks following the national team’s victory over Spain. I personally saw Josh Hairston in Wallace Wade wearing a Team USA t-shirt the day he committed to Duke. Another Olympic triumph could lead to more recruiting success.

It’s time for Duke fans to let go of the notion that Coach K is only ours. He is a global basketball icon and Duke’s most recognizable face. What’s wrong with the rest of the world knowing it?

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Deviled Eggs 7/20/09

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best:

Hopefully, there are more smiles to come.

1. There Will Be Blood

A fantastic outlook on the 2009-2010 ACC Basketball season.

2. The Natural Order

Kyle Singler looks forward to playing his natural role on the wing.

3. Oblivious to Pressure

Mason Plumlee does work.

4. 2010 Commits Hairston and Thornton Want In

Andre Dawkins, a.k.a “Dr. Dre”, is ready to gate-crash the 2009-2010 season. So are his former classmates.

5.  Straight A’s…

The number one recruit in the Class of 2010, Duke target Harrison Barnes plans to have finished nine AP courses by the time he graduates. Wow.

6. Duke-UNC at Cameron: The 4th Best Sporting Event to See Live…

Thanks, Rick Reilly. Mad respect, but the Masters at #1?! Really?

A Closer Look: Andre Dawkins

According to numerous sources, erstwhile Class of 2010 commit Andre Dawkins is considering enrolling at Duke one year early.

Such. A. Stud.

Such. A. Stud.

According to ESPN’s Andy Katz, Dawkins seems to have fulfilled the vast majority of requirements that would allow him to enroll this fall:

According to the source, Dawkins already had the necessary 16 core classes, a qualifying test score and the appropriate corresponding GPA to be admitted to Duke. Dawkins has been in high school for four years, starting out at Deep Creek High (Va.) in ninth grade before transferring to Atlantic Shores Christian High (Va.), where he repeated the same grade. That was done for basketball reasons, not academics, according to the source.

There was one hurdle, though. A player must be a high school graduate in order to be admitted. So this summer, Dawkins is taking the last class he needs to graduate…

The source with direct knowledge said Thursday that if Dawkins does graduate high school, there is no reason to believe he won’t play at Duke next season.

– Andy Katz, ESPN

Let’s take a closer look at Andre, who, if  he chooses to enroll,  will certainly provide talent in addition to much-needed depth in the backcourt next season.

We’ll be upfront: Andre Dawkins is Duke’s next superstar shooting guard. Armed with a jumper wetter than J.J Redick in an Indian monsoon and athleticism that likens to Corey Maggette and Gerald Henderson, Dawkins possesses the tools to dominate the ACC. Dawkins’ vertical leap is simply astonishing. He is a constant threat for offensive tip-ins and put-backs, as he often lurks around the rim after the shot. Although his ball-handling needs work, Andre’s physicality and shooting prowess will intimidate defenders for years to come.

Having grown up a Blue Devil fan in Virginia Beach, Dawkins is a great recruiter for the program, often getting in the ear of fellow Duke recruits and urging them to commit. Some of his (and our) favorite prospects include: Harrison Barnes, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, and Ray McCallum. Let’s hope his hard work pays off.

It is not easy for anyone to bypass a year of high school basketball and jump right into one of the most storied programs in college basketball. But if anyone can handle it, it’s Dawkins. A dedicated student, fierce athlete, and obviously talented player, Andre is also mature and a proven winner. Many have touted the 2010 recruiting class as one of the Duke’s best in some time, but in an interview with HighSchoolHoop.com, Dawkins doesn’t buy it:

…I don’t really look at it like that. We’re just gonna come in and try to win games. That’s why they’re giving us the scholarship. We can’t say that we’re the best anything. That’s for guys like you to decide down the line. I don’t put pressure on myself or any of us. We have enough pressure coming to Duke. Until we go out there and prove it, it’s just people talking. Our goal isn’t to be one of the best classes ever. We’re just trying to go there and win games. That’s it.

Assuming that Dawkins does in fact enroll early, he will likely take the place of departed Elliot Williams in the rotation, behind Nolan Smith and  Jon Scheyer in the backcourt. This will allow Kyle Singler to play in his natural position on the wing, with Mason Plumlee, Lance Thomas, Ryan Kelly, Brian Zoubek, and Miles Plumlee rotating on the block. If anything, Duke will boast one of the deepest frontcourts and most versatile offensive rosters in the ACC and Division I.

Get ready, Crazie Talkers. We’re in for a show.

Breaking News!

recruit_hawkins_200

He's the real deal. And then some.

Duke’s Top Commitment for the Class of 2010, Andre Dawkins, has been cleared to play this upcoming season, Fox Sports college basketball writer Jeff Goodman reports.

That’s right – we may not have to wait until 2010 to see the third rated shooting guard in his class in Cameron Indoor! If this is confirmed, it would be HUGE news for next year’s team. We had planned on having just two scholarhip players under 6’7″: Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith.

Crazie Talk will continue to follow this story. Check our Twitter and Facebook page for frequent updates regarding this absolutely brilliant news. We’re all pretty damn excited.

Deviled Eggs 7/13/09

Every Monday morning, Crazie Talk culls Duke basketball news, articles, and videos into a half dozen of the best “Deviled Eggs” on the interwebs.

Here are this week’s best:

Time to take control, Mr. Smith.

Time to take control, Mr. Smith.

1. “More Than a Game”

Nolan’s a beast. He also loves to update his Facebook.

2. Singler: “We might be the biggest team in the country.”

Maybe not, Kyle. But we’re probably close.

3. A Dream Come True

The “Kid From Red Bank” is the real deal. Congrats, Casey.

4. Curry, Team USA devour Spanokopita

Transfer guard Seth Curry scores 9 points in Team USA’s U-19 championship game against the Greeks. For the gold!

5. “Yeah, I hear that all the time.”

2010 Commit Andre Dawkins’ response to being compared to NBA rookie Gerald Henderson. What a stud.

6. Josh Hairston is hungry…

For competition. The 2010 Commit plans to transfer to Montrose Christian.

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Coming soon: An update on Duke players in the North Carolina Pro-Am Summer League at the “Rucker of the South”!