Duke in the NBA Update

Last month we looked at former Blue Devils’ movement in NBA free agency and Dukies that were just starting their first NBA season. With the NBA season well underway and the current Blue Devils taking a few days off between their matchup against Georgia Tech and their ACC home opener against Virginia, let’s examine how our former Blue Devils in the pros are faring so far.

Irving's success at Duke has translated to the NBA (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

We have to start with Kyrie Irving, who was the top overall pick in last year’s NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and has started off his rookie year on the right foot. Irving has started all eight games for the Cavs, who sit at 4-4, and is averaging 15.0 points and 5.1 assists per game. His breakout performance thus far was on January 3 against Charlotte, when he scored 20 points on 8-of-10 from the floor and dished out six assists in just 22 minutes. Kyrie has produced for Cleveland thus far, but is taking 12.9 shots per game and is only shooting 43.7% from the floor. He’d like to see that figure increase, but I don’t think anyone would call this a subpar start for a rookie point guard that couldn’t spend the offseason with his team due to the lockout. The Cavaliers are impressed with Irving’s progress, commending him for his leadership qualities, which is not something a rookie typically exhibits in the early going. They expect him to continue to grow into an extremely productive NBA player.

Smith's transition to professional basketball has been a slow one (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Duke’s other NBA rookie this season, Nolan Smith, has played limited minutes for the Portland Trail Blazers. Smith has appeared in four of Portland’s eight games this season, averaging 6.5 minutes and 3.8 points per game. Nolan made his presence felt last Friday night in a blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns, logging 14 minutes and scoring six points and adding three assists. Despite the early retirement of Brandon Roy, Smith is at a disadvantage due to the Trail Blazer’s deep and talented guard rotation. Most of the backcourt minutes are split between Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford, and Raymond Felton, all of whom are established NBA guards. This leaves Smith and fellow former Blue Devil Elliot Williamson the outside looking in at times.

Luol Deng will be in charge of guarding LeBron James come playoff time (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Luol Deng has continued to be a consistent weapon for the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are off to an 8-2 start and are arguably the best team in the NBA. Deng is putting up his usual stellar numbers– 15.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on a team with a lot of weapons. He has also been huge on the defensive end for Chicago, and consistently has to match up with the best offensive threats in the NBA. Just today Yahoo Sports published an article proclaiming Deng as “the most underrated player in the NBA“. Deng hopes to make his first All-Star team this season, but would surely settle for an NBA championship ring with the Bulls.

Deng’s Bulls teammate, Carlos Boozer is another reason for Chicago’s success in the early going. Boozer has put up a very respectable 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds this season– not bad for a player that many thought would be a victim of Chicago’s amnesty clause this offseason. He has proved to be a reliable inside threat this year, scoring double digits in all but one of Chicago’s game. His best performance of the year came last Friday, when Boozer posted 20 points and 13 rebounds in a Bulls victory over the Orlando Magic.

The line's a couple feet farther back, but Redick has made his living in the NBA from deep (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Speaking of the Orlando Magic, JJ Redick has appeared in all nine of Orlando’s games this year, scoring 11.1 points per game. He continues to develop a more versatile game, as he has actually struggled a bit from beyond the arc this season. Redick is shooting just 35.7% from 3-point range on the year, down from 39.7% in 2010-2011. He has still asserted himself off the bench as a threat to score in bunches, however. Redick had 21 points in Orlando’s victory over the Toronto Raptors on New Year’s Day and 20 points in a Magic win over the Rockets on December 26. Redick often teams up in the backcourt with his former Duke backcourt teammate Chris Duhon, who is Orlando’s backup point guard. Duhon is averaging 3.7 points and 3.0 assists per game in 19.4 minutes per game this year.

Some things never change- Henderson still throws some vicious dunks down in the NBA (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

Another pair of Duke teammates are producing for the Charlotte Bobcats this year. Gerald Henderson has stepped up his game thus far, averaging 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game. Meanwhile, Corey Maggettehas been effective as well, posting 12.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The Bobcats have struggled on the year with a record of just 2-7. Maggette was also recently injured, and will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a strained hamstring.

Shane Battier was considered one of the top prizes of the NBA’s free agent frenzy. He found a new home this offseason with the Miami Heat and is playing a more limited role in South Beach than he is used to. Shane is playing a career-low 21.3 minutes per game for Miami and is mainly used as a defensive stopper. He is averaging just four points per game and has made just one start for the Heat this season. Clearly there’s not much pressure for him to score with guys named LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh on his team.

Elton Brand is making the most of his minutes with the upstart Philadelphia 76ers. Though his time on the court has decreased due to the amount of young talent around him, Brand has helped the Sixers to a 6-2 start, their best in quite some time. Elton has played 27.6 minutes per game for Philadelphia this season, which is the least he has played in his entire career. He has contributed 8.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this year and still has some moves down in the post, but you can tell his history of injuries is really starting to catch up with him. Brand has just one double-double this season, coming on January 4 in a Sixers win over New Orleans when he scored 12 points and added 12 rebounds.

Grant Hill decided to return for a 17th NBA season with the Phoenix Suns, and although he too is playing a more limited role, his age doesn’t seem to be slowing him down too much. Hill has played 26.4 minutes per game for the Suns this year but has started every game for Phoenix. He is posting 9.8 points per game on the year, but it is safe to say Hill’s glory days are behind him as well. With the amount of time he has missed in his career due to injury, some are quite surprised that he is still able to play at age 39.

The landlord now resides in New Jersey, as Shelden Williams has been tearing down boards for the Nets this season. Williams, who is playing for his seventh NBA team in just his ninth year in the league, has made two starts for New Jersey this season, averaging 4.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. His best performance came in a 101-90 loss to the Miami Heat last Saturday in which Shelden scored eight points and pulled down 13 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. He did have some struggles in a recent game against the Indiana Pacers, where he went 1-for-9 from the field and dunked on himself. I think I’ll leave you at that.

2011: A Year In Review

2011 held a little bit of everything in store for the Duke Blue Devils. There were triumphs and defeats, comings and goings, and a record that will stand the test of time. As the year winds to a close let’s take a look at Duke’s 2011–the good, the bad, and the Crazie.

Unsure when Kyrie would return, Duke fans remained op-toe-mistic. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

January 1: 2011 kicked off for the Blue Devils without freshman sensation Kyrie Irving, who was sidelined with turf toe after suffering the injury in Duke’s victory over Butler on December 4, 2010. Irving, the team’s leading scorer after Duke’s first eight games, would miss the Blue Devils’ next 26 games with the injury. The Blue Devils were forced to carry on without Irving, and in some ways the results were positive. Kyrie’s absence allowed for the emergence of Nolan Smith as the leader of this team. Smith elevated his play to average 20.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists for his senior season.

St. Johns had its way with the Blue Devils inside in a blowout victory. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

January 30: Duke suffered its worst loss of the season, falling 93-78 to St. John’s at Cameron North Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils seemed lost from the start, as St. John’s dominated Duke and used the normally Duke-friendly Garden crowd to their advantage. The Red Storm led by as many as 24 points in the second half before Duke made a small run late to keep the score somewhat respectable. Nolan Smith led the Blue Devils with 32 points in a losing effort, but Duke was doomed from the start by its long-range shooting, converting five of their 26 shots from deep. The Blue Devils had not lost to St. John’s since March 2, 2003- at that time Austin Rivers was just 10 years old. Duke would recover and win its next seven contests.

Curry's incredible second half is now stuff of Duke legend. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

February 9: The fifth-ranked Blue Devils knocked off the 21st-ranked Tar Heels 79-73 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Smith led the way with a career-high 34 points, but this was Seth Curry’s coming out party. Curry added 35 quality minutes off the bench in which he scored 22 points–his highest scoring output since he transfered to Duke. Carolina was in complete control of this game in the first half, taking a commanding 43-29 lead going into halftime. Duke came out with a different energy in the second half. They had not one, but two “Patented Duke Runs” of 18-6 and 13-1 in them to erase the 14-point halftime deficit. The second of these runs was nearly all Seth. He posted seven points in just over a minute before Ryan Kelly’s huge three-pointer gave Duke its first lead of the game. Smith added a three-point play to extend the Duke lead to five on the next possession. Curry also posted six rebounds and five assists on the night. UNC would get the best of Duke at the Dean Dome on March 5 with a convincing 75-58 win.

Duke celebrates in style after a second victory over Carolina. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

March 13: Duke wins its 19th ACC tournament championship in school history with a satisfying 75-58 victory over North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum. Smith led the team with 20 points and 10 assists and earned tournament MVP honors. This was just the eleventh time in school history that a Duke player had posted 20 points and 10 assists in the same game. The victory gave Duke its 10th championship in the last 13 ACC tournaments. The victory over North Carolina was Duke’s 30th in the 2010-2011 season, and would ultimately earn the Blue Devils a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament’s West Regional.

After three full months without him, Kyrie Irving returned just in time for the tournament. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

March 19: Possibly the most talked about appendage in Duke history had finally been mended. After 26 games on the bench and becoming a Twitter and internet sensation, Kyrie Irving’s toe had finally healed and he was ready to play once again, just in time for the NCAA tournament. Irving played 20 minutes in Duke’s first NCAA tournament game, an 87-45 victory over 16th-seeded Hampton. He had 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting as Duke took a large step toward a deep tournament run, playing with a full roster for the first time since December. Irving would contribute 11 points off the bench in Duke’s 73-71 win over Michigan in the next round. He struggled from the floor, shooting just 1-of-4 from the field in 21 minutes.

Irving was out-dueled by Arizona's Derrick Williams in Duke's Sweet 16 loss. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

March 24: Duke falls 93-78 to 5th-seeded Arizona in the Sweet 16, bringing the Blue Devils’ 2010-2011 season to a close. It was a matchup of the two players who would eventually become the NBA’s top two draft picks. Future #2 overall pick Derrick Williams led the Wildcats with 32 points and 13 rebounds, dominating Duke on the inside. Future #1 overall pick Kyrie Irving led the Blue Devils with 28 points of his own, coming off the bench in his final Duke game. The Blue Devils held a 44-38 lead going into the half, but Arizona came out firing after the break. It seemed as though they couldn’t miss in the second half, shooting 58.3% from the field. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils cooled down significantly, shooting just 9-of-24 in the second half.

Though he only played 11 games for Duke, it was enough to make Kyrie Irving the NBA's #1 pick. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

June 23: Three members of Duke’s 2010-2011 team are drafted into the NBA. Despite a short college career and injury-plagued season, Kyrie Irving was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nolan Smith was also selected in the first round, 21st overall, joining former Duke guard Elliot Williams as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Kyle Singler was drafted with the third pick of the second round, number 33 overall, by the Detroit Pistons. Irving and Smith have both begun their NBA careers, but spent a lot of time in Durham the following fall during the NBA lockout. Singler, who played for Alicante in Spain during the NBA lockout, elected to remain in Spain for this season. He now plays for Real Madrid. They were not the only Duke players to start their careers in the NBA, however. Lance Thomas, who went undrafted after he graduated in 2010, played his way into a training camp invite from the New Orleans Hornets after a strong showing in the 2011 Pan American Games. He made the Hornets roster on December 24 and appeared in two games before he was waivedon December 31.

Duke basketball's class of 2015: Quinn Cook, Alex Murphy, Austin Rivers, Michael Gbinije, and Marshall Plumlee. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

July 10: It didn’t take very long for the Blue Devils to get back at it, opening practice less than four months after the 2010-2011 season ended. For a year where “Duke Basketball Never Stops” has been the motto, the early start was quite fitting. The first practices brought much change for the Blue Devils, as they said goodbye to their three NBA draft picks and welcomed five new freshmen to the Duke family. This year’s freshman class included silent-but-deadly Michael Gbinije, prep-school star Alex Murphy, the youngest and goofiest of Perky Plumlee’s children, Marshall Plumlee, Nolan Smith’s god-brother Quinn Cook, and Austin Rivers, son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. Duke’s newest players were welcomed to the fold with open arms, and received a fairly large gift when they entered the ranks–a trip overseas.

Only thing that's bigger than the Plumlee brothers? The Great Wall of China. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

August 15:The Blue Devils embarked on a 12-day tour, playing two games in China and one game in Dubai. The team visited Beijing and Shanghai, saw the sites in China, and made a trip to Kunshan with university officials to promote Duke’s new Kunshan campus that is currently under construction. The team used the trip as a bonding experience, and an opportunity for this young team to get some extra practice and playing time. The Blue Devils then traveled to Dubai to promote Duke’s new Dubai campus and face the UAE’s national team. They won all three games they played, and the trip concluded with a trek to the top of Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. The trip spanned seven countries and 21,188 miles.

The end of an impressive introduction at Countdown To Craziness. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

October 14:The 2011 Blue Devils make their Cameron Indoor Stadium debut at Countdown to Craziness. The energy in the building was electric as the Cameron Crazies welcomed the team home from their trip abroad and got their first glimpse at all five freshmen. The game was competitive, as Austin Rivers’ White squad came out firing and held a 13 point lead at halftime. The Blue team made a run in the second half behind the play of Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins. Curry had a game-high 28 points as Rivers struggled down the stretch and the experience of the Blue team was the difference maker in a 56-53 win. Miles Plumlee defeated younger brother Marshall in the final of the postgame slam dunk contest, sealing the victory when he jumped over 6-foot-11 Marshall and slammed it home.

The two winningest basketball coaches in Division I history, as Coach K passes Bob Knight. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

November 15:The Blue Devils defeat Michigan State 74-69 at Madison Square Garden for Mike Krzyzewski’s 903rd career victory, passing his mentor Bobby Knight for most all-time in Division I basketball. Knight was in attendance at the game, and the two shared a long embrace immediately following the win. Andre Dawkins scored a career-high 26 points on 6-of-10 from three-point range. Coach K now has 911 career victories.

Duke celebrates its fifth Maui Invitational championship. (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

November 23:Duke wins its fifth Maui Invitational championship, defeating Kansas in the final 68-61. Duke improved to 15-0 at the Maui Invitational all-time as it faced the most competitive field in the history of the tournament. Duke defeated Tennessee in the quarterfinal and Michigan in the semifinal in tight contests. Tyler Thornton came up clutch in the tournament’s final game, knocking down two three-pointers in the last two minutes of the game to give Duke the championship. Ryan Kelly earned tournament MVP honors with 17 points in the final.

A happy and healthy 2012 to our readers from all of us here at Crazie-Talk. 2011 was a fantastic year, and hopefully 2012 will be better (and hopefully the world doesn’t end, that would be nice). As always, stay Crazie, my friends.

The Rookies

Howdy, folks! The NBA season is finally upon us, and as Duke fans, we are lucky enough to have plenty of former Blue Devils to watch in the league. However, there are four former Blue Devils who may be playing their first years of professional basketball this year – and I’m here to talk about each one of them. We’ll start with a guy who’s been #1 on the court and #1 in all of our hearts here at Crazie Talk for quite some time – Kyrie Irving.

Cheesin'. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

As the first overall pick in the draft (and Duke’s first overall pick since Elton Brand), Kyrie certainly has high expectations for himself for his rookie year. As we were able to see in person (albeit briefly), Kyrie’s ability to change speeds and use his instincts to control the game make him the best point guard prospect in years and earned him comparisons to none other than Chris Paul.

Irving did pretty well in his preseason debut for the Cavs, collecting 21 points on 4-14 shooting and making a living at the free throw line. He struggled in his second preseason contest, but continued to get to the charity stripe with success. Because of Cleveland’s personnel (or lack thereof), it seems likely that the majority of the Cavs offense will come from Irving penetrating and/or getting to the line, or in transition with Kyrie running the break.

From Tom Reed, of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:

 The image of Irving leading the break will become a familiar one this season, as the Cavaliers find ways to manufacture offense. After years of searching for secondary scoring in support of LeBron James, they must generate it by committee in a rebuilding season.

Irving has shown the willingness and fearlessness to play that style. In preseason, he averaged 16 points and got to the line 16 times, converting 14 free throws. But is the 6-2, 180-pounder durable enough to absorb the elbows and forearm shivers that come with repeatedly driving the lane?

[Cleveland forward Antawn] Jamison said Irving is still learning some of the finer points of the position but enjoys watching him run the floor and create offense.

“Young fella is going to be all right,” Jamison said. “I try to get on him and try to find weaknesses. But he is tough and he brings it.”

Although Kyrie came off the bench behind Ramon Sessions during the preseason, expect him to get the starting nod sooner rather than later. The Cavaliers’ best chance of success lies with Irving running the show. While the post-LeBron rebuilding process will take some time, having a guy like Kyrie at the helm makes for a bright, bright future.

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Of course, Kyrie is not Duke’s only alum who plans on making his debut in the NBA next week. One of our favorite Dukies ever – Mr. Nolan Smith – will make his NBA debut with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday against the Sixers. Unlike Kyrie, who has been forced to learn the ropes himself,  Nolan has had the opportunity to learn  under another former Tobacco Road lead guard – Raymond Felton.

Nolan wears Todd Zafirovski pajamas, too. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

From Joe Freeman, of The Oregonian:

When the Trail Blazers introduced Felton and Smith during a June news conference, they touted the duo as the franchise’s present and future at point guard, proclaiming that they would be a fixture in Portland for years to come. Tonight, when the Utah Jazz visit the Rose Garden in the Blazers’ exhibition opener, Blazers fans will get a first look at what this future holds.

There is a bubbling feeling among the Blazers that the team will be a particularly tight-knit group, that chemistry and togetherness will be trademarks of the lockout-shortened 66-game season. This is particularly evident at point guard, where Felton has pushed ego and competition aside to assume a mentorship role with the rookie Smith.

You should definitely check out the rest of Freeman’s piece on the relationship between Ray and Nolan – but it’s safe to say that Nolan is in a great position to start his career. Currently, he stands to be the backup point, paired with another former Dukie – Elliot Williams – as the backup two guard. Aside from the 27-year old Felton, Portland is young in the backcourt – Smith is 23, Williams is 22, and starting SG Wesley Matthews is 25. That core is only going to get better with time – and we know from first-hand experience that Nolan has consistently gotten better over the years. The Blazers should be a pretty decent team this year, and I’m definitely excited to watch Nolan play and progress this year.

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This guy is a beast. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

If you were to tell me that Lance Thomas would be the first player from Duke’s 2010 National Championship team to play in an NBA game, I would have thought (with good reason) that you were crazy. Lance proved the doubters wrong last week as he made the start for the New Orleans Hornets against the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring 7 points and grabbing 8 boards in 30 minutes of action. He was much less effective in the Hornets’ second preseason contest, but he may have a shot at making the regular season roster. Though New Orleans has brought in quite a few bodies to fill the frontcourt – Jason Smith, Gustavo Ayon, Emeka Okafor, and Chris Kaman, among others – Hornets coach Monty Williams has been impressed with Lance’s effort thus far.

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

“There are no issues. Guys get hit in practice, and you don’t want a small thing to turn into a big thing because we didn’t take a day or two off. We’re going to see what we have tonight. It’s an opportunity to get a look at Quincy and Al-Farouq (Aminu) at the three-spot, and Lance has earned these minutes. He’s played hard every single day in practice. All those guys have.”

As an able defender with size and a relentless motor, Lance could very well turn into a high energy glue guy in the league. Here’s to hoping he makes the final cut in N’Awlins.

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Ah, the lone wolf of the pack – Kyle Singler. As many of you know, Kyle elected to remain in Spaininstead of heading back to Detroit to join the Pistons as their second round draft selection. He signed on with Real Madrid for the remainder of the season, after averaging 15 points in nine games for Alicante.

The Kingler enjoys the rain in Spain. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

While many NBA players returned back to the U.S  from European or Chinese leagues, Singler was one of the few who elected to remain overseas.

From NBA.com:

“I thought here in Spain there was good basketball to be played. There was no rush to go to the NBA and play there,” Singler said. “I wanted to come here and play for Madrid, play for a great club and next year have the opportunity to go to the NBA.”

Moving to the Spanish capital has given Singler the chance to play in the Euroleague, where he debuted Wednesday and scored eight points in 24 minutes in Madrid’s 101-83 win over Partizan.

Singler said the Pistons were eager for him to return.

“I haven’t talked to them very much but when I decided to stay I know they were a little disappointed,” Singler said. “But I wasn’t really focused on that. I was making a decision that was best for me.”

It is great to see Kyle doing so well in Spain; his play will almost certainly earn him a raise when he does elect to return to play for the Pistons. Although he may have to deal with idiot fans like this. Either way, we wish him the best of luck for the rest of the year in Madrid.

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Well folks, that’s all we’ve got for now. We’re really looking forward to following these guys as the NBA season starts – and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on how they’re doing.

Happy Festivus, everyone!

Looking Back To Move Forward

Good teams win games, but great teams can bounce back from a tough loss, and I’ll speak for the entire Crazies community by saying we can file last week’s game in Columbus under the “tough loss” category. Taking 20-point defeats is not something that the Duke Blue Devils are used to, but luckily for us, Colorado State is coming to town tonight.

We can take away many negatives and a few positives away from the Ohio State game, some of which I discussed in my post yesterday. But there is one thing I’m sure we can all agree on—in order to get back to form and elevate itself to the next level, this Duke team needs a change. Luckily for us, the guy calling the shots for this team knows just a few things about basketball. Although he has not found himself in this situation many times throughout his illustrious career, Coach K has a knack for responding to a blowout loss with an adjustment that alters the identity of the team, and when Coach K responds, the team responds as well. Let’s take a look back to some similar situations Duke teams have found itself in over the last few years to examine the adjustments we might see tonight against Colorado State.

Nolan Smith shot 1-for-7 against Clemson and was subsequently pulled from the starting lineup (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

The Game: February 4, 2009—Clemson 74, Duke 47
What Went Wrong: In a word…everything. Duke couldn’t throw a shot into the ocean during this game, shooting a miserable 30.8% from the field. Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and Jon Scheyer, who would eventually lead the Blue Devils to a national championship the next season, shot a combined 4-23. Meanwhile, Duke had no answer for Clemson’s Trevor Booker, who shot 8-for-10 from the floor en route to 21 points and eight rebounds.
How Coach K Adjusted: Finding themselves in a similar situation as this year’s Blue Devils, with no true point guard to speak of, Greg Paulus assumed the role in Duke’s next game, starting in favor of Nolan Smith. Krzyzewski also used a significantly smaller rotation in this game, with only six Blue Devils playing more than 7 minutes in the contest.
The Result: Despite going in down 32-19 at the half, Duke came back to win an overtime thriller at Cameron by a score of 78-75. Miami’s Jack McClinton scored a game-high 34 points in a herculean effort, while Paulus added 18 points in his first game at point guard. Duke’s shooting woes continued, however, as Kyle Singler scored 17 points but at the expense of a 5-for-23 shooting effort. Overall, Duke would go on to lose its next two games following Miami, but was able to finish 8-1 down the stretch en route to an ACC Tournament championship. The team would fall earn a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and fall in the Sweet 16 to #3 seed Villanova.

Kyle Singler's 18 points were not enough against the Hoyas (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

The Game: January 30, 2010—Georgetown 89, Duke 77
What Went Wrong: Georgetown shot an obscene 71.7% from the field as Lance Thomas and Miles Plumlee’s shoddy interior defense allowed the Hoyas’ Greg Monroe, Chris Wright, and Austin Freeman to attack the rim and score at will. Duke once again relied too heavily on its outside shooting and was only able to muster 9-of-29 from three-point land. President Obama watched on at the Verizon Center as Georgetown pushed its lead to 23 late in the second half, before a mini Duke run allowed the final score to look slightly more respectable.
How Coach K Adjusted: Brian Zoubek, who played only two minutes against Georgetown, saw his playing time increase to 13 minutes in Duke’s next contest, an 86-67 victory over a ranked Georgia Tech squad. Zoubek continued to put in quality minutes in the team’s ensuing games and replaced Miles Plumlee in the starting lineup three games later, when he played the best game of his Duke career with 16 points and 17 rebounds in a 77-56 rout of Maryland.
The Result: We all know how this story ended, as Zoubek started for the rest of the season, playing a crucial role as Duke went on to win 18 of its final 19 games en route to its fourth national championship.

St. Johns had its way with the Blue Devils, but Duke got the last laugh come March (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

The Game: January 30, 2011—St. John’s 93, Duke 78
What Went Wrong: Playing at Madison Square Garden, the Red Storm certainly had a home court advantage and didn’t waste any time, jumping on the Blue Devils early and often. As the lead ballooned to 21 points at the half, the Johnnies continued to coast, not allowing Duke to cut the lead to less than 13 for the rest of the game. The Blue Devils were too reliant on their three-point shooting early in the game, and fell behind as the shots were not falling. Faced with a large deficit, Duke had to rely on long range shooting in the second half in hopes of a comeback, but its struggles continued from beyond the arc, knocking down just 5-of-26 three-point attempts on the afternoon.
How Coach K Adjusted: Tyler Thornton replaced Seth Curry in Duke’s next game at Maryland as the Blue Devils sought to shift their focus from three-point shooting to defense and efficiency in their half-court sets.
The Result: Duke held firm control over an inexperienced Maryland team throughout the contest, coasting to an 80-62 win. Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith led the team with 22 and 21 points, respectively, while Mason Plumlee added an impressive 12 points and 11 rebounds on 6-of-7 shooting. Duke would go on to post an 11-2 record to close out the season with yet another ACC Tournament title before falling in the Sweet 16 to Arizona.

And here we are. Following a performance in Columbus that couldn’t even qualify as subpar, Duke faces yet another critical juncture in its season. If there is any time for new life to be breathed into this Blue Devils team, it is now. Despite minor tests against Temple, Florida State, and upstart Virginia over the ensuing weeks, Duke certainly won’t be considered an underdog in any game it plays before its February 8th matchup with “the-team-who-must-not-be-named” in Chapel Hill. Although following last week’s beatdown at the hands of the Buckeyes this year’s matchup at Carolina looks especially daunting, if this team can make the necessary adjustments and hit its stride, we could be looking at one of the games of the year in college basketball.

Michael Gbinije saw increased playing time against Ohio State, scoring these two points on a fast break (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

The only question now is, what will be Krzyzewski’s adjustment this time around? It almost certainly will include some sort of a change in tomorrow night’s starting lineup, though it is not particularly clear as to who will be inserted. The most likely to be pulled from the starting lineup following last week’s debacle appear to be Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins, both of whom played quite poorly and sat nearly the entire second half. Although Kelly has not always been reliable defensively (which is where Duke clearly got burned against Ohio State), I think the clear choice is to pull Dawkins. If you’ve been keeping up with our statistical analyses using advanced metrics, you’ll see that despite his weak showing last week, Kelly has been the most consistent offensive weapon on this year’s Duke team. Who is inserted into the starting lineup is a bit more up in the air, however. What Duke is lacking right now is the presence of a big wing player who can defend on the perimeter. As of now the only person on the roster that fits that role is Michael Gbinije, who saw more minutes against Ohio State than he had all year and put forth a decent effort. But I still question whether at this point in the year Gbinije is ready to take on a starting role, so I would say the more likely option is to see Quinn Cook or Tyler Thornton tomorrow night. Putting a true point guard out there will provide more stability on offense, and Thornton’s defense would surely be appreciated to make sure nobody can ever replicate Aaron Craft’s performance from last week again. If I were a betting man, I would say Thornton starts in place of Dawkins, but I would not be surprised to see any of these three in the starting lineup tonight.

Luckily for the Blue Devils, Colorado State does not pose a particularly tough test, so it should have plenty of opportunities to try different combinations of players and work to improve on some of the weaknesses from last week. Let’s hope history repeats itself and the adjustments pay off. Stay Crazie, my friends.

Deviled Eggs: 4/11/11

 

Kyle and Nolan are still giving it their all for a few final collegiate games. (Courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

1.  ACC Seniors Put on a Show in the ACC Barnstorming Tour

Every year, some of the top seniors in the ACC travel throughout the southeast to face off against local all-star teams and compete in slam dunk and 3-point contests.  Duke’s three seniors, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and Casey Peters, are all part of this year’s squad.  There are still a few more stops left on their tour, so take a look at the schedule and see if they’ll be nearby.  You won’t want to miss this!

2.  Will Duke Add DeAndre Daniels to its Class of 2011?

While Kyrie Irving unfortunately announced last week that he will be entering the 2011 NBA Draft, he also speculated that Duke might be adding one more phenom to its already stellar Class of 2011, DeAndre Daniels.  Only time will tell if Kyrie is right.  Let’s hope he is.

3. Austin Rivers and Quinn Cook Shine in the Nike Hoop Summit

Two future Duke freshman participated in the annual Nike Hoop Summit this past weekend and helped lead the USA squad to victory.  Cook had 12 points and 3 assists, and Rivers finished with a game-high 20 points and was named MVP.  We just can’t say enough on how excited we are for this incoming class.

…And in other news, Bismack Biyombo is a total beast.  Look for him to go high in this year’s NBA Draft.

4. J.J. Redick Likely to Return for NBA Playoffs

Redick has been sidelined since early March with an abdominal strain.  Things are looking up though, and he looks to be back in time for the playoffs.  That’s certainly good news for the Magic, who definitely miss his presence on both the offensive and defensive ends.

5. 2012 Commits Doing Their Best to Sell Duke

Alex Murphy and Rasheed Sulaimon are doing all they can to produce their own version of the Fab Five.  They’ve been working hard to sway Shabazz Muhammad, L.J. Rose, and Tony Parker to join them in Durham in the fall of 2012.  Check out what Muhammad has to say about that in his latest HighSchoolHoop Diary entry.  Also, be sure to take a look at some analysis of a few of these high school stars from the Nike EYBL Session #1.

6. Mark Gottfried Not Afraid of Challenges

Last week, Mark Gottfried was named the new head coach of the N.C. State Wolfpack.  Let’s see if he has better success against his in-state rivals than Kool-Aid Man did.

That’s it for this week’s edition of Deviled Eggs.  Hope you enjoyed them!  Be on the lookout for the latest offseason news here at Crazie Talk!

C-T Experts: Should Duke Retire Kyle and Nolan's Jerseys?

 

Kyle and Nolan--Blueplanetshots.com

Kyle and Nolan hoisted a lot of trophies together at Duke. Should Duke hoist their jerseys to the rafters? (courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

Should Duke retire Nolan and Kyle’s jerseys?

by Brandon Godwin

It’s a simple question, but the answer is very complex.

Current Conversation on the Web

On a straw poll of 100 Duke fans, no doubt that at least 90% would answer in the affirmative –Retire their jerseys! But we often over-value the present to the devaluation of the past.

Duke fan and media forums have picked up the topic as well, as have a number of local, regional, and even some national media sources.
After spending multiple hours over the last couple months reading through forums and Web articles, here’s what I’ve discovered. Most people are reasoning whether Nolan and Kyle’s jerseys should/shouldn’t be retired based on the following factors:

1. Career Stats & Rank

2. Comparison to other Duke jersey retirees

3. Rabid fan emotion

A Different Measuring Stick

One problem, though — what if numbers and statistical comparisons aren’t the main criteria in measuring whether to retire a player’s jersey or not? What do I mean? Well, it’s “known,” almost as folklore or legend, in the Duke community that there are two main criteria for a player having his jersey retired.

Graduation and National Honors

Players like Elton Brand were no doubt headed for jersey retirement, but chose not to stay four years. Other players like Trajan Langdon had four good years, but no national honors to show for it (only 2nd team All-America).

Let’s define “National Honors“– (a) 1st Team All- America (b) National Player of the Year (c)National Defensive Player of the Year
(2nd/3rd team All-America as well as Conference or NCAA Tournament awards are not considered true national awards in this discussion.)

Kyle’s Resumé

A quick glance at Kyle’s resumé is quite impressive. He is top 5 in so many major stat categories (scoring, rebounding, etc.), including being only the 4th player in Duke history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. Obviously, winning the championship in 2010 sets him and Nolan apart from many other Duke classes.

Potential Problem – No national award. If this is really a requirement for jersey retirement,how does Singler’s get retired? Maybe it’s an unwritten rule that is more of a guiding principle.Honestly, I’ve never found anything written in stone. But the legend says it’s necessary.

Nolan’s Resumé

All statistical discussions aside, since one of the only statistical categories he breaks the top10 is in FT percentage, Nolan had a dominant senior season. One could argue Kyle never had adominant season (though 2010 was darn good).

Nolan already has a national award with the 1st team All-America honor. He’s also a candidatefor several NPOY awards.

Potential Problem: Career stats

Note: Merely winning a national award and graduating do not guarantee jersey retirement at Duke.

(Bob Verga & Chris Carrawell won 1st team AA honors; Tommy Amaker and Steve Wojciechowski won NDPOY honors)

Note: Every player to graduate and win National Player of the Year has had his jersey retired.

Decision Time!

So, where do I land?

Nolan and Kyle, other than sharing the National Championship, have had very dissimilar careers–Singler, the ultra-consistent 4-year standout player, and Smith, the ever-evolving player withthe dominant senior season and the All-America nod.

Package Deal? I wouldn’t be surprised if Nolan and Kyle are a package deal, meaning, either they both get retired, or neither does.
I mean, if only one goes, how do you distinguish between them? Nolan has the national award with the outstanding season, while Singler has the career stats.

Only time will tell. Regardless, Nolan and Kyle will forever be two of the most beloved Duke players.

Brandon Godwin is the first writer in our Crazie-Talk Experts series. (#CTexperts on Twitter). Check him out on his Twitter–he’s an excellent Duke fan like (most of) you.

Check Crazie-Talk every Friday for a new #CTexperts article. Our loyal readers will discuss Duke, the ACC, the NCAA, and all the greatness of college basketball.

Deviled Eggs: 3/28/2011

Alright, so Duke’s 2010-2011 campaign is now finished. The end of the season is always tough, but here’s your silver lining; Deviled Eggs are back!

It does stink to have to start these a few weeks early, but what’s done is done. I’m sure most of you spent the rest of the weekend trying to avoid the productivity black hole that is college basketball in March, so here are six of this week’s best links on the interwebs that might be of interest to you.

 

From blueplanetshots.com

I don't know how much attention this Duke cheerleader gets. So here you go, hon. You're famous! (Courtesy of DBP's Photo website, BluePlanetShots.com)

1. Austin Rivers on The Fab Five and Jalen Rose’s Uncle Tom comments

Not sure how much coaching AR got on this article. But good lord, man. If he wrote any of it, he’s going to represent himself well at this University. Better than half of the humanities majors at this school! #notmeanttooffend

2. SethCurrySavesDuke on the Kyrie Irving twitter saga

(Editor’s note: Good lord I’m proud to be a Duke English major when there are people like Shane at SCSD out there)

Must read for those who want one possible explanation for Kyrie deleted his twitter. He’s back, by the way. @RealKyrieIrving. Tweet a lot of things about you know. Coming back.

3. DeAndre Daniels: MORE 2011 recruits???

If you want to read a LOT about this potential power forward recruit (who’s rated 9th in the country at that position), go to The Devil’s Den message boards. More than enough wacky theories and “insiders,” right JohnTDD?

4. “Is Brandon Knight Kentucky’s best freshman ever?”

So says Cincinnati.com…maybe? I think he’s more accomplished than Wall, but there’s a guy named Jamal Mashburn who might have something to say about that title. Or not?

Neither Rex Chapman nor Sam Bowie nor Jamal Mashburn nor Chris Mills nor Kenny Walker nor Ed Davender nor Ron Mercer nor Rajon Rondo nor Keith Bogans nor Patterson nor anyone else you can think (even Alex Groza) had the statistical or even intangible impact Knight has had.

Ugh. I don’t even follow Kentucky and I can tell that’s a stupid article written by some whiskey drunk Western Ky. grad who always wanted Big Blue…but never quite made it. Sad life.

5. Charlotte Observer on Andre Dawkins’ next steps

Ah, that’s more like it! Useful articles by people who cover the Triangle instead of the “Commonwealth of Kentucky.” Man, all the Ph.D’s around here must wear off on everyone.

(Ed. note: how many of our readers have doctorates or majorly advanced degrees of some sort? Just wondering. Tweet us @crazietalker or comment below. Go Duke.)

6. Follow @DaggumRoy, @NotCoachK, @NotBradStevens and more on Twitter!

It started with @DaggumRoy. Then @FakeJayBilas. Then…in a stroke of genius, somebody made @NotCoachK. Follow them all on Twitter via @crazietalker‘s list.

Here’s K’s bio from @NotCoachK:

Almost NCAA #winning-est Duke coach. Dammit, Derrick Williams. From mean street Chicago. Don’t mess with me–I’ll buy your hometown and turn it into a charity.

 

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The offseason is going to be fun. Go Duke. Thank you seniors. We’re going to miss you, but you all have accomplished so much and there’s much left to do going forward. You’ll have a Duke diploma–you’re set. Good luck. And hopefully you’ll all be pulling for Butler this weekend…you totally screwed them over last year.

Check out Crazie-Talk TV’s video of the Kyle, Nolan and Casey doing their senior speeches below. Subscribe to us on YouTube, you connected weirdos. And if you’re on LinkedIn….well. We’re sort of hard to find there. 🙂

(Ed.’s note: UP NEXT FROM CRAZIE-TALK: The Arizona Post-Mortem. Coming once I gather my thoughts. –@JGStanley12)