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.