By The Numbers

Just over three weeks ago, the Duke Blue Devils completed their 105th season of college basketball with the fourth national championship in school history. Let’s take a look at thirty-five numbers for each of the Devils’ wins during the magical run that was the 2009-2010 season.

35 victories in the 2009-2010 season. Tied for the 2nd most all time in victories, only behind the 1985-1986 and 1998-1999 squads.

34.7%:  Seth Curry’s percentage from 3 his freshman year at Liberty.  Can’t wait ‘til he joins the lineup next year.  Though he couldn’t play this year as per transfer policy, his impact on the team was nevertheless present.  Seth often played the role of the best player on the other team during practice, and Nolan’s defense improved greatly from having to guard Seth.

33 =16 points + 17 rebounds for Brian Zoubek, February 13th, 2010.  Zoubs’s huge performance propelled the Devils to a 21-point victory over Maryland in Coach K’s 1000th game with Duke.  The game served as a model of what we would come to expect from Z for the rest of the season.

32 – the difference between 82 and 50. This was the largest margin of victory in the rivalry in over 45 years, and the biggest victory against UNC in Cameron’s 75-year history.

31 points poured in by Jon Scheyer in his hometown of Chicago, when the Devils matched up against the Iowa State Cyclones in the United Center on January 6th. Scheyer had over 500 friends and family members in attendance.

30 victories in the Duke whites this season. 3-0 in Madison Square Garden, 1-0 in the United Center, 17-0 at home, 3-0 in the ACC Tournament, and 6-0 in the NCAA Tournament.

29 points for Nolan Smith – a career high –  on March 28th as he led the Devils to victory over the Baylor Bears and back to the Final Four for the first time since ’04. After dedicating the game to his late father, Nolan put together his best performance of the year.

28th nationally in scoring defense were the Devils this year, allowing a mere 61 points per game.  As the adage goes, offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

27 offensive rebounds for Brian Zoubek in the Big Dance. This was the largest total by any player in postseason play this year. Who was in 2nd for the tourney? None other than Lance Thomas, who finished with 20 offensive boards.

26 days into 2010, Pat Forde claimed that Duke was the one team in the Top 10 that could NOT win it all. Forde must be enjoying his crow right about now.

25 minutes per game for Lance Thomas, 7 more than he had averaged in any previous year.  Lance’s intensity on the court was key to the team’s success, particularly on the defensive end.  LT took 16 charges during the season, the most by anyone on the team.

24 ACC championships during the Coach K era.  The regular season and tournament championships this year pushed the totals to 12 and 12.

23 free throw attempts, 22 made.  As part of the 32-point domination against UNC this year, the Devils shot 95.7% from the line, the 14th best performance from the line in Division I this year (Minimum 85% and 15 made).

22 times this year, Duke held opponents under 60 points.  Two of these instances came on the biggest stage possible, against West Virginia and Butler in Indy.

21 points was the difference between the Blue Devils and the Mountaineers of West Virginia when they faced off in the Final Four.  The point margin was the second largest for a National Semifinal in the modern era, trailing only the Kansas Jayhawks’ 33-point victory over Dwyane Wade and Marquette back in 2003.

20 points scored by the young Andre Dawkins in his fourth game at the college level.  The performance, in which ‘Dre made 6 of 8 from downtown, was his season-high.

19 more rebounds for Brian Zoubek in 2009-2010 than his total count for his first three years at Duke.  He finished with 71 in his freshman campaign, 86 as a sophomore, and 133 as a junior – totaling 290. This year, Big Z cashed in with 309 boards.

18 three pointers made on November 21st, 2009, when Duke defeated Radford at home. The total tied a Duke record.

17 victories in Cameron this year, a feat no other Duke team has accomplished.

16 points was Duke’s average point differential per game, good for fourth best in the country.

15 times in 2009-2010 that Earth (Kyle), Wind (Nolan), and Scheyer each had at least 15 points. Jon, Kyle, and Nolan were the most productive trio in the country.

14 turnovers forced per game by one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. By comparison, opponents forced an average of 11 Duke turnovers per game, a total that was the 18th lowest in the country.

13 times this year Big Z reached double-figures in rebounding, including 4 of the 6 NCAA Tournament games.  We can never say enough how much he meant to this team.

12 times during the regular season #12 scored 20 or more points.  Duke could always look to Kyle throughout the year to carry the team when others’ shots weren’t falling.  He continued that trend into postseason play, scoring 20+ in 5 of the 9 games and 15+ in all but 1.

11 and 1 in Elite Eight games under Coach K. the only blemish to his near-perfect record came in 1998 to Kentucky, who went on to win the National Championship. Since then, Kentucky has failed to return to the Final Four, while Duke has reached the promised land four times, winning the National Championship twice. In K We Trust.

10 straight wins rounded out the 2009-2010 season. Duke finished the season having won 18 of their final 19 games.

points per game – the difference between the sophomore and junior campaigns of Nolan Smith, which was the 2nd best increase in the ACC.

three pointers made by Kyle Singler against Georgia Tech on February 4th. Against the Yellow Jackets, Kyle poured in a career high 30 points.

games the Plumtrees combined for 3 or more blocks.  We’ll look forward to even more production from them next year.

out of those 22 games mentioned above, the Devils held opponents to under 50 points, including one at Littlejohn where the team avenged a 27-point loss from the year before.

Five victories in league play for our baby-blue brethren, compared to the 7 McDonald’s All-Americans on their roster.

Four National Championships for Michael William Krzyzewski, more than any active coach. Only John Wooden has totaled more national championships than our very own Coach K.

Three assists for every one turnover by Jon Scheyer, whose transition from the two slot to the point was nearly flawless. Not only was he adept at the point – he was one of the best point guards in the nation.

2nd in Division I in three point defense . Opponents shot 28.3% from beyond the arc against Duke, the lowest percentage for a Duke team ever.

And last, but not least…

One Shining Moment.

Long Live the Kingler

Delay the Kyle Singler farewell tour until next April. He’s coming baaack…

We’re officially two weeks removed from Duke’s fourth national championship, and already we’ve received good news about the 2010-2011 Blue Devils: Kyle Singler is coming back for his senior season. This post was supposed to be about Kyle’s brilliant performance in the NCAA tournament (save the Baylor game), but we decided to delay it until he made his decision on the NBA. Now that he has made it, we are undoubtedly (and selfishly) happy that he made the choice that he did.

Black eye? No problem. Just a day in the life of the King-ler. (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

By averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds in the Final Four, Kyle Singler was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA’s final weekend. Furthermore, Singler played sound defense on West Virginia’s DaSean Butler (10 points, 2-8 shooting) and Butler’s Gordon Hayward (12 points, 2-11 shooting) in the Final Four. He displayed a polished offensive game with an array of three-pointers, floaters and tough layups in traffic along with his consistent intensity on defense and loose balls.

Kyle Singler is both one of the most talented and one of the toughest players to ever put on the Duke uniform. His father, Ed, when discussing Kyle’s draft prospects, said, “[NBA scouts] are not even questioning his heart or character or work ethic and skill level, those are pretty evident when seeing Kyle play.” The injuries from Singler’s tough play have become almost legendary: the elbow he ate from Andre Dawkins in a practice before the Sweet 16 game against Purdue that required stitches; the black eye that he played with in February victories over Miami and Virginia Tech; and who could forget, his dive into ESPN announcer Dan Shulman during the ACC tournament that gave Dickie V sole possession of the broadcast for a whole two minutes. All cliches aside, he really does wear his playing scars like badges of honor.

GoDuke notes that Singler has scored the third most points ever (1767) in Duke history through his junior season. Only two of the greatest Blue Devils of all-time, Jason Williams (2079) and JJ Redick (1805) scored more points before their senior season. Singler could conceivably be the third leading scorer in Duke history by this time next year, a spot currently held by Christian Laettner (2460). Regardless of what he accomplishes next season, Kyle Singler already has one ring, something not even the two highest scorers (Redick and Johnny Dawkins) in Duke history can boast of.

We’re not here to speculate whether Kyle would have been a first-round lock or a possible second-rounder if he declared; we’re also not here to speculate what his draft stock might become. We’re here to appreciate the fact that two of our starters, two of the guys that made up the Big Three, are returning. Next year’s team will undoubtedly be captained by Singler and Nolan Smith. Singler was the No. 6 recruit in a 2007 class whose top 5 recruits were lottery picks in 2008 (remember Kyle’s Oregonian rivalry with Kevin Love?). Whereas those five were all one-and-done, staying all four years speaks volumes about Kyle’s love of college life and his wish to leave a stellar legacy at Duke. It says nothing about his ability to play in the NBA—he will be an NBA player (a damn good one at that). Leave the conjecture about Kyle’s NBA future alone; just appreciate that #12 will be back in Cameron for one more ride.

Let's do it again? (Photo courtesy

Rewriting History

With a win over upstart Butler in last Monday’s championship game, Mike Krzyzewski cemented his legacy as one of basketball’s greatest coaches. During his first 29 years at Duke, Coach K joined the elite ranks of his mentor—Bobby Knight—and his old nemesis—Dean Smith—as a coach with at least two national titles and 800-plus victories.

But when Gordon Hayward’s desperation heave bounced off the front of the rim at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, Coach K rose to another plateau of coaching. He became a legend.

The Architect joins Nolan and Jon in the aftermath of victory. (Courtesy of

The victory on Monday marked Coach K’s fourth championship, tying him with Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp for second most all time behind the Wizard of Westwood’s 10 titles at UCLA. Arguably, Coach K’s latest ring might be more impressive than those of Rupp or Wooden (although Kentucky and UCLA fans will almost certainly disagree. But who cares about Kentucky?) One could argue that Rupp and Wooden won their in a different era of college basketball, one without the present physical play and brutal postseason tournament (that is set to become even longer). Coach K’s accomplishments in the modern era testify to the will, intensity and consistency of play he instills in his teams. Duke teams under Mike Krzyzewski have only had 3 losing seasons in 30 years—two of which came during Duke’s early 1980s rebuilding effort (the other I blame on Pete Gaudet. Sorry, Pete).

This season, Coach K also negated another criticism by proving that Duke can win without loads of NBA-ready talent. Not a single member of the 2010 championship squad was voted a First-Team All-American. No one on this squad is a projected NBA lottery pick (yet). There was no unstoppable “Duke villain” a la Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, or Shane Battier (that’s subjective, of course. Maryland fans hate everything, but mostly Scheyer). Instead, what Coach K had was a team of hardened veterans, bonded by the millstone of the previous three years. Many of these burdens, we must say, came from Duke’s sometimes spoiled fanbase that assumes “D-U-K-E” spells unequivocal success.

Coach K knows better. He told his players to shut their minds to comparisons to past Duke teams—and to their own past pitfalls. He told them to focus on the present task at hand. In his words: “be in the moment.”

There’s a reason why the Fuqua Business School shares a name with Krzyzewski, his books sell millions of copies and global companies invite him to speak at major events. The man is a master motivator, and the 09-10 Devils bought into his message. Be yourselves. Work hard. And go out there and win.

Coach K speaks to the press at the Final Four for the 11th time. (courtesy of

By following the words of their leader, this Duke team achieved greatness. One by one, the 2010 senior class conquered the demons of their first three seasons. In avenging previous home losses, Duke notched an unprecedented 17-0 record in Cameron. In front of a bloodthirsty crowd at Clemson, Duke defeated the Tigers, helping ease away the memories of last season’s 27 point debacle. They finally defeated (weak synonym for ‘ate alive’) UNC in Cameron. In preparation for the challenges of the March postseason, Duke won all their games at neutral sites. Consistent excellence in the ACC led to a share of the regular season title; performance under pressure won the Devils their second straight ACC Tournament.

Most importantly, the Blue Devils triumphed in the face of their previous postseason failures. In the NCAA tournament, Duke relieved the anxiety of its fans by winning the South regional and advancing to the program’s first Final Four in six years. But that wasn’t enough. Duke answered the call against West Virginia—a team that had looked infallible against Cal’s Kentuckians. After the media lambasted Duke as the weakest one-seed by far, we were the last 1 standing.

The final triumph was ironically the least vengeful. The David-Goliath matchup in the National Title game ended up being Goliath v. Goliath (or rather David v. David, as Jon Stewart believes.). In beating a fantastic Butler team like that, Duke broke the hearts of a stadium, a state and perhaps an entire nation of hoops fans dying for a reenactment of Hoosiers.

Duke met every obstacle this season—from the preseason NIT in NYC to the F4 in INDPLS (that’s what the kids call it). Although Coach will deflect any praise to his players, his leadership and post-Olympic energy boost were an integral part of Duke’s sensational run to the ‘ship.

In 2010, Duke earned its fourth banner. Coach K wants to share it with the entire Duke family:

“‘When you look up [in Cameron],” he said, “all of us would want you to say to yourself and to whomever you’re with: ‘That’s when my team — our team — won the national championship.'”

No matter what future race sees the plethora of banners hanging up by Cameron’s American flag, they will know who was responsible—the Pole from Chicago who changed basketball forever.

The Absolute Champions

Coach K, the seniors and Nolan Smith look on as "One Shining Moment" plays on the big screens in Lucas Oil Stadium (courtesy

Before we discuss Duke’s incredible run to the National Championship this past weekend, let’s rewind a month to March 6th. Moments after defeating rival UNC 82-50, seniors Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek and fifth year player Jordan Davidson held court in front of a rabid audience of Cameron Crazies. Donning the fresh ’17-0′ t-shirts designed by Kyle Singler, our seniors recounted favorite memories from their illustrious Duke careers. Lance and Zoubek highlighted the ACC championship last season, and Davidson spoke of how fortunate he was to be on this team at all.

Jon Scheyer, however, took a different approach in his brief speech—he said his best moment was still to come. Would it be the 2010 ACC Tournament? Beating a fantastic Baylor team to reach the Final Four? Making it to the National Title game?

None of these. The Duke Blue Devils won the 2010 National Championship in a thrilling game over Butler—the best final game since Kansas-Memphis ’08 and perhaps one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking championship games of all time. Jon Scheyer’s best moment—and indeed, the best moment for each player on this special team—came on the latest possible date of his career: April 5th, 2010. Almost precisely a month after the victory over UNC.

It was indeed a banner year for Duke. Some of the statistics don’t appear on paper, but they are staggering: 31-0 in our home white jerseys, 35 victories overall and the trophy from every tournament we entered. We took home the Preseason NIT (UNC almost won the actual thing! Almost.), the ACC regular season and tournament crown, the South Regional championship, and the hardwood plank of the National Championship.

Here are some things to think about in remembering this tournament, this team and the young men who made it happen:

  • Jon Scheyer is one of the greatest Blue Devils of all time. Scheyer finished his career in the only appropriate manner—with a national title. His 15 points against Butler gave him 2,077 for his career, putting him at ninth all-time at Duke behind Jason Williams and Gene Banks, who each scored 2,079 points. We have lauded Jon all year on this website. He is the consummate leader by example, doing everything the coaching staff asks of him and quietly exuding the Duke way. In his career, he has been magnificent against UNC in both winning and losing efforts. Jon’s 2009 transition from shooting guard to point guard was so seamless and successful that he was a finalist for the prestigious Bob Cousy Award this season, which honors the nation’s best floor general. Somehow Greivis Vasquez took home that honor over Scheyer (and John Wall and Sherron Collins…). Nonetheless, Jon got the ultimate prize: the National Title, and in his senior season to boot. It’s been quite a ride for Scheyer, who has factored in K’s strategy from the first. Four years after taking a shot to the face from VCU’s Eric Maynor in the NCAA first round, Jonny gets the last laugh over all his detractors. We wish him luck moving forward from this pinnacle of basketball accomplishment. If his nearly flawless leadership, perfect jumper and proclivity to protect the pill doesn’t earn him a bench position on an NBA team, there is something wrong with American pro basketball.
  • Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek developed so much this year. It’s obvious at this point—we could not have won

    this championship without these two senior big men. LT and Z bore the brunt of extreme criticism from Duke fans over their first four years, and many predicted that Miles and Mason would bump them from the starting rotation this season. For the first few weeks of the season, these two still looked lost on the offensive end. But in the past semester, something clicked. We won this championship with rebounding and defense, and Lance and Brian were key in making those statistics the fundamentals of Duke’s success. Zoubek particularly has emerged and become the nation’s best offensive rebounder. His final rebound of Gordon Hayward’s miss was fitting—how else could his career have concluded? Thomas’ contributions this season have also been invaluable. As our best on-ball defender, LT has guarded future pros like Stanley Robinson, Craig Brackins, Ekpe Udoh and Devin Ebanks this season. A few of his plays have been absolutely crucial: his tip dunk and-one against Baylor (pictured at right) was particularly memorable. Unlike Scheyer, Lance and Brian haven’t always been a crucial part of Duke’s gameplan. But this year, when our frontcourt had to step up to support the 3 S’s, these two men answered the call. Without the toughness, selflessness and desire of Brian and Lance, Duke would have stopped dancing long before Indianapolis.

  • Coach K is the G.O.A.T. (of the modern era). Alright, so this is Duke’s fourth national title, all of which have been won by the architect Michael William Krzyzewski. It is presumptuous to call him the greatest basketball coach ever, but I think it’s fair to say that K is the greatest postseason coach since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Coach has led to Duke to 11 of our 15 overall Final Fours, taking the crown in four of them and falling just short numerous times (1999 and 1986 come to mind most clearly). Moreover, K just doesn’t lose when he reaches that critical juncture: he is 11-1 in regional finals, with the Baylor win sealing Duke’s trip to Indianapolis. Although John Wooden is the rightful pharaoh of the college game (and one of the most amazing people in sports history), the Wizard of Westwood only had to win three games to win most of his championships in the 1960s and 70s. It’s safe to say that winning six games over a month is a tougher feat. The New Jersey Nets are right to offer Coach all of their riches. K’s resuscitation of the Duke program in the early 80s, the amazing run in the early 90s and his astounding consistency since is something to hold in awe. Fittingly, the best veteran and the best young coach faced off in the title game—will Brad Stevens be the next Coach K? Steep comparison, of course. Regardless, K has set the standard of coaching success in college basketball. Even if ridiculous publications like the Indy Star denigrate him, all he has to do is open up the Duke trophy case and say “kiss the rings.”
  • It’s nice to win the right way, isn’t it? How cathartic, as true basketball fans, was it to watch two honorable programs play for the national title? In a year where powerful but troubled programs like Kansas and Kentucky were favored to take the championship, it seems like a dose of karma that Duke and Butler—two squeaky clean programs led by no nonsense coaches—were on the game’s biggest stage in April. I don’t want to delve into the nitty gritty details about why those other programs are corrupt (although The Onion did a nice job with Kentucky). But Duke and Butler represented the Platonic ideal of college basketball: two programs that develop players over four years, play team basketball within a system, and think of their teammates as much as they think of themselves. We cannot say enough about the grit and fortitude of the Butler Bulldogs, particularly the unflappable Gordon Hayward. We won the game, but Butler proved that hard work and persistence are just as important as flashy dunks and 5-star recruits.
  • Next year? It might be too early to start buttering ourselves up about next season, but at Duke we like to believe that

    championships come in twos. Although ‘predictions’ about next season are largely unimportant, the Blue Devils will absolutely factor in the title hunt next year. Returning Nolan Smith is a definite, and we await Final Four M.O.P. Kyle Singler’s verdict on his future. The Plumlees will be back, as will Andre Dawkins and Ryan Kelly. Seth Curry sheds the redshirt next season and he may be the most surprising player of all. Nolan said that one major factor in his incredible improvement this season has been playing against Seth in practice. With a year of practice under his belt, I think that he will be ready to contribute right away, and earn starter’s minutes after Christmas. There’s also no need to belabor our excitement for next season’s incoming recruits: Kyrie Irving, Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton were an excellent class even before Carrick Felix committed several weeks ago. Smith, Irving, Curry, Dawkins and Thornton on paper look like Duke’s best backcourt in a decade; it will be up to the Plumtrees, Kelly and Hairston to provide enough bulk down low to keep the Duke train rolling full steam ahead.

But lest we get too excited about next year…here’s Duke’s One Shining Moment. We will never forget this team, this season and the incredible run to a fourth National Title.



Just got back to the Indianapolis hotel room, and it’s still sinking in. Duke just won its fourth national championship! Holy Lord. Holy Lord.

For now, I believe this picture says it all. Crazie-Talk will be crazy active in the next few days with a barrage of content from this amazing weekend.

sports betting

I’m still in shock. WE’RE THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!!