Duke kept the W’s coming in the home opener against Colorado State, exhibiting a well-balanced team. Tre Jones took charge yet again, giving out 8 assists alongside his 15 points and 5 rebounds. Three freshman and Alex O’Connell were also into double figures.
Cassius Stanley, the freshman from California, has caught the eye of Duke fans and college basketball analysts alike. His athleticism is outstanding, his vertical jump having outreached even Zion Williamson. Stanley went for 19 points and 7 rebounds, leading the Blue Devils in both categories.
Alex O’Connell put up 14 points on 50% shooting from 3. O’Connell, a junior, provides valuable range and experience for the freshman. He started on Friday, taking the place of Jordan Goldwire.
Bleed blue. Duke is back in action against Arkansas State to begin the Empire Classic on Tuesday at 7pm.
Duke opened the season tonight with a bang in the Champions’ Classic as the Blue Devils took out the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, 68-66. Though by no means an offensive battle, sophomore captain Tre Jones led Duke, on every end of the court and every aspect of the game, with 15 points alongside 6 assists and 6 rebounds. It was a team effort, however, that won the game: both offenses struggled immensely, but the team defense was triumphant. It was a physical, rough game with ups and downs, and a young team responded on the big stage.
The biggest statistic for the game? 28 turnovers. 28! All on Kansas. Yes, that’s a sloppy game by the Jayhawks (almost the sloppiest ever) but it is undeniable that Duke’s defense played an enormous role in that stat. And while some may say that the margin of victory should have been much larger, the faintest idea that that is even possible is mind-boggling. With improvement and experience gained over the course of the year and that already established, this team is going to be very, very good. The game plan was executed exceptionally, with double teams containing the Jayhawk frontcourt and ballhandlers struggling to get by. Cassius Stanley’s athleticism was on full display, Jack White had numerous huge steals, one to seal the game, and Vernon Carey battled with the biggest of foes down low. It was an exemplary game in terms of strong and composed defensive play.
It’s not difficult to determine that the offensive efficiency for the Blue Devils was unimpressive. Duke managed to scratch out enough points to beat a top 4-ranked team, so I’m not too concerned. Shot selection was not always superb and neither was execution, at 36.5% on field goals. Considering the physicality of the game, though, the Duke offense wasn’t terrible, with some big shots coming from an array of players, eight in total scoring. Matthew Hurt had a huge three-pointer, and Cassius Stanley was magnificent, especially by the end of the game. In a rough offensive game for both sides, our Blue Devils didn’t back down.
One surprise was that Joey Baker, after showing out against Fort Valley State in exhibition, did not take the floor. Perhaps there’s an injury we’re not hearing about, but we’ll expect him to have an impact this season.
Bleed blue. Duke eases up with Colorado State on Friday for the home opener back in the Bull City.
The wait is over: college basketball returns tonight, and what way to start it other than a face-off between the premier programs of the NCAA? The Champions’ Classic pits Duke and Kansas against one another this year, both teams sitting atop the polls at #4 and #2, respectively. A young team will begin on a big stage, and it’s time to see how they’ll handle it.
Duke previewed the season with Countdown to Craziness then two exhibition games: Northwest Missouri State and Fort Valley State. NWMSU gave Duke a run for their money, and though they were reigning Division II Champions that doesn’t excuse a near-disaster for the Blue Devils. Duke scratched out a 6-point victory at 69-63. The emotion from the first game, however, seemed to be taken out in the second, unfortunately for FVS. Duke brought down the hammer on them, 126-57.
Duke is facing an experienced Kansas team, something we lack. A major focus will be rebounding, as the Jayhawks bring back a strong frontcourt including very productive big man Udoka Azubuike. Azubuike will provide a sufficient challenge on both ends of the court for Vernon Carey, Jr, the most renowned of Duke’s incoming freshman class and assumably starting center.
You can catch the start of the season tonight on ESPN at 7:00 ET. You won’t want to miss this.
On a hot night in Durham starting the season at least for Wallace Wade Stadium, the Duke Blue Devils made the home crowd happy with a win over the North Carolina A&T Aggies by a score of 45-13. A&T was overpowered, but in making it a contest it’s clear that they have a program to be respected.
Starting quarterback Quentin Harris had a field day, logging five touchdowns, four passing and one running, along with 345 passing yards and 85 rushing yards. A strong receiving game was encouraging after the “Core Four” receivers of 2018-19 departed for NFL and expiration of eligibility. A slow start deterred neither the offense nor the defense, an important lesson to learn entering a stacked ACC Coastal race in a couple of weeks.
Bleed blue. Duke takes on Middle Tennessee next weekend in Murfreesboro.
After picking up the two top picks in the NBA Draft in 2018 in Deandre Ayton and Duke star Marvin Bagley, Puma has signed yet another young star in RJ Barrett. RJ, the third pick in the 2019 Draft to New York, and the brand have not released the details on the signing but we know that it is a multi-year contract. Bleed blue.
Zion Williamson is being mentioned in reports on the federal investigation into payments made to college athletes– specifically, basketball players. Michael Avenatti, under federal trial for fraud amongst other charges, accused Nike of paying him and former Indiana star Romeo Langford in early 2017.
More evidence was recently released that suggested payments made to the families of Deandre Ayton and Bol Bol. Text messages from the head of Nike’s EYBL grassroots basketball program implicated a Kentucky coach “KP”, presumably assistant Kenny Payne but not confirmed.
There is not, however, evidence publicized to implicate anyone associated with Duke, including Zion. Michael Avenatti’s claims do not have grounds as far as the exhibition of the investigation has shown. Bleed blue.
Think about this: Zion Williamson from last season (Heisman Trophy winner alongside every other award possible in college basketball for his position, eventual No. 1 NBA draft pick, social media rockstar, dunking sensation but way, way, way more than a dunker) in prime physical condition.
Hold up– Zion wasn’t in prime physical condition last year?
Well, obviously, Zion was in incredible shape. Like, he was jumping from the free throw line before the season had even started. However, it appears that even that isn’t prime physical condition for him; this picture is getting a lot of attention:
Good gracious. Many were quick to jump on the “not in good enough shape” bandwagon after his post-college, pre-draft break, but that’s out of the question. I’m pretty sure he’s doing alright and it looks like his knee, which he injured minorly in his first summer league appearance, is healed up pretty well (see below).
We can’t wait for Zion to start tearing up the league. The Pelicans open in Toronto to play the reigning champion Raptors, sans Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Bleed blue.