Section 17: Scary, Scary Good (Duke vs. Princeton)

The regular season officially started Sunday night as the Devils faced the Princeton Tigers, one of the favorites to win the Ivy League this year, in the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.  After a bit of a slow start, Duke pulled ahead and won by a final score of 97-60.  To see some of our coverage from the game, be sure to check out our live blog, led by the Jake himself, all the way from Ireland.

Arun is really proud of his artwork. (Photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

The two senior captains, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler (who gets buckets, as mentioned above), led the way for Duke tonight, finishing with 22 and 16 points, respectively.  Nothing unexpected there.  Singler and Smith combined to shoot a very solid 17 of 25 from the field.  Kyrie Irving, in his first regular season game donning a Blue Devil jersey, had an impressive 17 points and 9 assists (not to mention a quite a few crossovers and trick dribbles).

The Devils struggled offensively in the first half but combined to shoot 67% (20-30) after the intermission.  Joining Singler, Smith, and Irving in double digit scoring were sharpshooters Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry, who scored 13 and 14 points, respectively.  Dre and Seth combined for six three pointers and a bevy of pretty jumpers and floaters. The team as a whole shot 53.8% from beyond the arc, going 14 of 26.  Princeton switched from a man-to-man to a zone midway through the first half, and the boys in royal blue took full advantage.

Though the game ended in a blowout, this team still has a bit of work to do on the interior.  No frontcourt player reached double figures, and no player had more than four rebounds for the entire game. For the second week in a row, Duke was outrebounded in the first half.  Luckily, that didn’t factor too much into the final score, but I’m sure it’s something Coach K will focus on in the coming days.  Too many times did the Duke big men allow a smaller opponent to get the rebound.  Before we get too critical though, let’s remember the season’s only just begun, and this was an incredible way to kick it off.  Check out highlights straight from Section 17 below.

On Sunday night, the Cameron Crazies wore Viking helmets in memory of Line Monitor Drew Everson, who recently tragically passed away.  Everson could always be found wearing his Viking helmet in Cameron.  Duke is not the same without him, and he is truly missed.  Rest in peace, Drew.

Crazie-Talk Live! Duke vs. Princeton

…and here we go.

Duke opens its season today at 5 PM in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Our opponent? The Princeton Tigers, upon whose campus in New Jersey Duke’s West Campus was modeled. Thanks, guys.

Princeton is coming off an encouraging OT victory over Garden State rival Rutgers on Friday night. Although the Scarlet Knights of unfortunately named Piscataway, N.J. are certainly rebuilding under new coach Mike Rice, it’s always cool to see a Big East team go down to an Ivy. Right, MidMajority?

Princeton is no longer the class of the classiest group of American U’s, Cornell and Penn having usurped that role several years ago. Nonetheless, they managed a second place finish in conference play last season, and return their top 5 scorers from a team that won 22 games.

For our side, we’re less worried about the outcome of this game—we should win this one, yeah?—than with how we go about winning. Several top teams have struggled in opening games thus far, including the eighth ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, who eked out a win against Lipscomb Friday night. I don’t want to see an iota of struggle. Not an iota!

Coach K is not in the habit of overlooking anyone, and hopefully he can instill a sense of purpose in this team from the opening tip against Princeton. With senior leaders like Smith and Singler in the starting lineup, Duke should be hungry to start pursuing another great season. Let’s get after it, Devils.

As I did for the Cal Poly Pomona game, I will be monitoring a liveblog of the game right here on the website starting at 4:45 EST. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN3.

Stop by C-T for a lively and (hopefully) focused discussion of the game. Let’s get this season off to blistering start.

Crazie-Talkers inside Cameron will also be updating our Twitter throughout tomorrow’s game. If you’re not already following us, please do, sirs and madams.

Section 17: Champion of Champions (Duke vs. Cal Poly Pomona)

Thursday night, just a few hours after securing a verbal from Quinn Cook, the defending Division I National Champions took on the defending Division II National Champions, Cal Poly Pomona, and came out on top by a score of 81-60.  To see some of our coverage and commentary on the game, check out our live blog found here.

Duke got off to a bit of a rough start but still led at halftime 39-33.  The Broncos had their way in the paint in that half, actually outrebounding Duke 23-17.  On the offensive end, the team was a bit sloppy, committing almost as many turnovers as assists (1 less).  However, that’s exactly what these exhibition games are for: To shake off the cobwebs and get back in the swing of things.  No disrespect to Cal Poly Pomona though.  They came out ready to go.

In the second half, Duke pulled things together and took control.  When the final buzzer sounded, all 5 starters finished in double-digit scoring, and Mason Plumlee added 12 rebs on top of his 11 pts for a double-double.  While there are some negatives from this game (2-15 from beyond the arc, 17-28 from the free throw line), there are certainly a number of positives, such as the 21 turnovers forced and of course, the large large amount of fast breaks and alley oops.  Check out some of the highlights from the game, as seen from Arun, Scott, and Amogh’s perspectives from the front row of Section 17:

Breaking: Quinn Cook to Duke!

Quinn Cook, shown here on Coach K Court. We can get used to this. (Photo Property of C-T)

Quinn Cook has announced his decision to attend Duke University and become the Devils’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2011.  He joins a class that was already considered to be one of Duke’s strongest in recent memory. He’ll team up with Austin Rivers and Michael Gbinije in the backcourt next year, the mere thought of which makes me want to do this.

Scout.com lists Cook—who also considered playing for UCLA—as a five-star player and the 4th best PG of his class. Over the summer, Crazie-Talk’s Arun had a chance to watch Quinn play at the Tournament of Champions. In his review of the event, Arun had a feeling that Duke would not be a major player in his recruitment.  Good thing his feelings have nothing to do with the staff’s recruiting decisions.

Cook’s recruitment got interesting over the past week. ScoutHoops reported he had added UNC to his list a few hours before ZagsBlog announced Quinn would pick between Duke and UCLA in a matter of days and would abstain from visiting UNC altogether. Whirlwind!

Recruitniks were further mystified by top-flight PG Myck Kabongo’s long-rumored de-commitment from Texas earlier this week. Kabongo said that he wanted to take a further look at Syracuse, UNC, Kentucky, and Duke, along with the Longhorns. Just this morning though, Dave Telep of ESPN.com reported that Myck has decided to re-commit to Rick Barnes and the Texas program. Best of luck to Myck in the future!  We’re just glad he didn’t land over in Chapel Hill.

With Cook now on board for 2011, Duke is poised to field the nation’s best backcourt for two years running. Enjoy the show!

Thanks again, Nolan.

For the umpteenth time in his tenure at Duke, Nolan Smith is to thank for something great happening for Duke Men’s Basketball.

It has been well reported that Quinn and Nolan are godbrothers. Dan Wiederer of The Fayetteville Observer recently wrote a wonderful and inspirational piece on their friendship. If you’re not familiar with this story, spend a few minutes reading that article. Caution: tears alert.

Though they won’t ever play together in college, Quinn’s relationship with Nolan will make the transition from Oak Hill to Duke butter smooth. It will also inform Quinn’s career as Duke’s point guard—the difficulties and triumphs of which Nolan knows well.

Quinn was also a member of the DC Assault AAU program, the same team that has produced literally dozens of current and former NCAA stars, including Michael Beasley, Austin Freeman, Jeff Green…and Nolan Smith. (Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston also played for the Assault. Can you say pipeline?)

Quinn will bring an excellent skill set to Durham when he enrolls in the fall of 2011.  He has great handles and has no issues getting to the basket in traffic. As Arun reported, “there really wasn’t anyone on the opposing team who could contain [Cook.]”

His ability to create both for himself and for his teammates is remarkable.  At the FIBA U17 World Championship, Cook led all players in assists with an impressive 7.4 apg.  Those kinds of stats are certainly welcome in Durham. We love assists.

This year, after transferring from DeMatha Catholic, Cook is playing for Coach Steve Smith at Oak Hill Academy, the most storied high school basketball team of the modern era. The Warriors’ unbelievable list of alumni includes Jerry Stackhouse, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Jennings…and high school/NCAA national champion NOLAN SMITH.

(Aside:  Oak Hill also produced Makhtar N’diaye, who some might recall held up a certain sign at the 2009 title game.  Here’s what Crazie-Talk countered with in Indy this past year. Alright, enough snarkiness.)

Cook has made a big impression thus far at Oak Hill. He had 16 points and 7 assists against the Italian Junior National Team and followed with 14 and 15 against Princeton Day three days later. These stats, particularly the assists, indicate Quinn’s ability to recognize the talent around him at Oak Hill. The same concept will apply manifold at Duke, where the talent level is reaching heights unseen since the late 90s.

For this season, Cook will have the opportunity to play with and learn from perhaps the best coach high school basketball has to offer.  And when that’s done, it’ll be off to Duke to learn from the best coach the college game has to offer.

As much as I’d like to give Coach K all the credit for reeling in another amazing guard or give kudos to Mike G or Rivers for starting the domino effect, I’ve got to throw it back to the one, the only, the @ndotsmitty. I can’t wait for more Smith/Cook videos to come out—this time with both of them head to toe in Duke gear.

UPDATE: Here is the video from ESPNU of Quinn’s announcement.

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Here are some highlights that show what Cook will bring to Duke, from our friends over at HardwoodElite.

Scott and Jake contributed to this impassioned piece of expository writing.

Crazie-Talk Live! Duke vs. Cal Poly Pomona

Hello Duke fans and Crazie-Talkers,

Tonight the Blue Devils face off against the defending Division II National Champions, Cal Poly Pomona at 6 PM EST. We have been excited for this game for some time, mainly due to this post from the ESPN College Basketball Nation Blog in early September. It seems the CPP community is super stoked to visit Cameron:

“What an absolute thrill for our players, coaches, staff and university,” Cal Poly Pomona coach Greg Kamansky said in a statement. “We’ll have an opportunity to savor the successes last season by playing against a program that represents the very best that our sport has to offer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we look forward to the challenge of playing against a talented team that should be the preseason top-ranked team in the country and coached by one of basketball’s true icons and ambassadors.”

What a stand up guy this Kamansky fellow is! And apparently the excitement has only built in Pomona: the school is having a campus watch party at their student center.

As I am currently abroad in Ireland and can’t watch the game in person, I will be liveblogging right here on Crazie-Talk. Feel free to join the fun using the console above. You can watch the game online at GoDuke.com for a $10 monthly subscription. Several C-Ters will be in Cameron taking video of the game, so be sure to check the site frequently over the next few days for more highlights like this.

Enjoy the game, and I hope to be chatting up a storm with hundreds of Duke fans champing at the bit for this season to start.

See you right here at 5:45 PM EST.