Duke Annihilates St. John’s, 91-61

Duke fans knew coming into this game that St. John’s was dangerous. Shamorie Ponds, especially: last year, he put up 33 in an upset in MSG against the Blue Devils. Tre Jones decided that history would not repeat.

Zion Williamson had 29, Cam Reddish had 16, and Duke shut down St. John’s main offensive weapons to get a smashing win in Cameron over the St. John’s Red Storm, 91-61. Cam Reddish was the spark early on with 11 first half points, and especially as the game went on, Zion couldn’t be contained. He stuffed the stat sheet with 29 points on 13-17 shooting, 4 blocks, 5 steals, and 6 rebounds. Believe me, there are highlights to come. Good Gods of Basketball, this isn’t fair.

Also, he, by himself, beat all of NC State today. Just sayin’.

The anchor of this win, however amazing Zion was, had to have been Tre Jones’ lockdown defense. Shamorie Ponds, the dangerous point guard that dropped 33 last year against Duke in an upset in MSG, did not hit a shot in the first half. He finished the day 3-11 from the field. This is no knock on Ponds as we’ve seen the great scorer that he is; it was all Tre today and he set the standard for the rest of the team.

St. John’s came in with an aggressive mentality, which showed during the game. In the first half, a flagrant 1 was actually assessed to St. John’s Marvin Clark and the physicality continued throughout the game, but the team handled it well, an important experience come late February and March.

The highlights (still to come) were great and all, but my favorite play of the game was when the ball went loose and every player on the court wearing blue and white dove to the ground at some point to get it. The call did not end up going in our favor as the referee called a held ball, mostly in order to keep the play under control. What are likely to be the #1 and #2 picks in the draft don’t care about getting the next highlight play or 40 point game: they care about the team win, even when it gets gritty, and that’s what makes them great.

Now, finally, for the highlights:

Good News for Tre Jones!

Duke fans have held their breath for the past week as Tre Jones continued to recover from an AC joint separation suffered early in a loss against Syracuse, but it’s time to exhale: Jones is doing exceptionally well and will be back much earlier than we feared. Coach Mike Krzyzewski described it as “not long-term”. AC joint separations are very dependent on the severity of the injury, and while Jones sustained a very painful injury it doesn’t appear to be horribly severe.

Agreed, Barstool Blue Devils. Agreed.

His shoulder has “responded well to treatment”, according to ESPN’s Andrea Adelson, though he is unlikely to play against Virginia on Saturday he is day-to-day and not yet ruled out less than 24 hours before the game. Cam Reddish, who did not play due to illness last Saturday, is expected to be available.

Bleed blue. All I ask is for you to continue to #PrayForTre! It’s working!

Duke Returns Home for Syracuse on Monday

Duke’s come-from-behind win against Florida State will have to be put aside for now as we get ready for a Monday night contest with Syracuse in Cameron. Syracuse is very up-and-down this season, having wins against against current #16 Ohio State and Clemson, yet lost just two days ago to Georgia Tech by 14 at home and Oregon by 15. This game really depends on who shows up for the Orange.

Okay, we’ll let this one in. Now we have to start looking at Syracuse.

One big question mark left from Florida State is definitely the status of Zion Williamson. A late first half eye poke kept him out of the entire second half against Florida State and his availability uncertain. Zion is a huge factor, and the stats against Florida State shows it: Zion left with 1:26 left. Florida State, though they had started, immediately came roaring back to take the lead at the half after quite recently being down by 7. Duke had 12 offensive boards in the first half; in the second without Zion, we had three. Total. Marques Bolden is a huge reason why we won as he saved us with defensive rebounds.

Zion reportedly had “double vision”, though how is not specified, and it apparently cleared after the game. Coach K said that he will “hopefully” play against Syracuse, but there’s certainly no guarantee.

Duke will have to make it work against a good Syracuse team if Zion isn’t available, but the Florida State game is a good testament to the toughness of this team that can get through without him if necessary- toughness that we’ll need against Jim Boeheim, whose team always likes to play tough and sloooow; they will want to keep the possession numbers low to keep the point totals low.

Syracuse may be one of the worst teams in the country at shooting, but their defense is tough. Syracuse simply isn’t good enough to keep up with Duke offensively, so defense is really key and will have to hold a perfect storm to keep in it. If Zion’s in, however, Syracuse has absolutely no answers, period.

Game Notes

Duke Blue Devils vs. Syracuse Orange.

Time: 7:00pm EST

Date: January 14, 2018.

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

TV: ESPN

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Bleed blue.

Duke Takes Road Trip for #13 Florida State

Duke gets its first huge road test this weekend as they travel to Tallahassee, Florida to take on #13 Florida State. #4 Virginia shut down the Seminoles, but don’t take that as any indication for this game as they’ll be looking to establish themselves as a major threat in both the ACC and on the National level, something for which they’ve been close to but never legitimate for. An excellent November was followed by a more meager December and early January, but it’s not going to be easy.

Florida State: Résumé, Players to Watch

The Seminoles come in with a 13-2 record, 1-1 in ACC play. The two losses came at Virginia and vs. Villanova in the AdvoCare Invitational Championship, with the most impressive win probably being an 81-60 throttling of in-state rival Florida, whom most thought would be at least competitive.

Florida State returns multiple players from last year’s upset Elite Eight run. One notable is 6-8, 230 F Phil Cofer, who gave the Blue Devils some serious trouble from three last January before we pulled out, 100-93 (the score being explanatory of the nature of the game!). While most would certainly say that the Blue Devil defense last year was not nearly as efficient as this year. Cofer is currently averaging just 7.4 PPG as he slowly comes back from an injury that kept him out the first 10, having played his most minutes all season last week against Miami, but we all know that if you give him space, he’ll shoot it and probably make it, too. Matchup-wise, there will be rotation, but mostly RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish will probably take him on.

One major issue, though, is that this year we’ll face a guy significantly taller than all of our guys: Christ Koumadje. The senior, native to N’Djamena, Chad, is 7 ft. 4, one of the tallest players in the NCAA. He only averages 16.8 minutes but Coach Leonard Hamilton may take a shot at our absence of height, especially when 6-11 center Marques Bolden takes a rest.

Florida State is pretty stacked. Cofer is just the start: Terance Mann is averaging 11 points, while David Nichols and PJ Savoy add fire off the bench. This is a tall, deep team that will attempt to use our weaknesses against us in a very anti-Blue Devil environment.

Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett Look to Keep Going

After having a monster, NPOY-worthy performance in Winston-Salem, Zion Williamson looks to continue his electrifying performance in Tallahassee. He recently said that he hates being “classified as just a dunker”, and if he keeps putting up games like that, I doubt he needs to worry. Today, though, he’ll see a frontcourt that he hasn’t seen in the past: as mentioned, the 7-4 Christ Koumadje and 6-10 Mfiondu Kabengele. However, after going 3-4 from three against Wake Forest, he’ll probably try to stretch out the big men with an improving shot.

RJ Barrett continues to average over 20 PPG, a major factor who, if possible, is sometimes overlooked as Zion shines! The great thing about this team, however, is that they don’t seem to care. Zion and RJ are great friends, regardless of how many times that they’re compared to each other.

Defenses Attempts to Slow Offenses

Florida State isn’t just tall and deep– they’re forcing turnovers on 25% of their opponents’ possessions. Duke will need to be careful when handling the ball, especially on those pitches down the court that sometimes don’t go as well as might have been hoped. Duke, on the other hand, is one of the top five efficient offenses and defenses in the country. The Blue Devils lead the country in blocks per game at 8.6, with a recent showing of 13 against Wake. FSU has only been stolen from on 7.6% of their possessions, including having played Virginia! It’ll surely be a tougher task on defense for us against a team very good at handling the ball.

Game Notes

Duke Blue Devils @ Florida State Seminoles

Date: Saturday, January 12

Time: 2:00pm

Venue: Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, Tallahassee, FL

TV: ESPN (Sonic Blockbuster)

Bleed blue.

Duke Takes On Yale Before Exams

Image result for duke basketball
Zion Williamson runs in Duke’s 113-49 win over Stetson. Source: Duke Basketball Report https://www.dukebasketballreport.com/2018/12/5/18126894/a-yale-look-at-yales-odds-vs-duke-zion-reddish-barrett-jones-coach-k

Duke will get one last test before taking a week-long break (okay, well, one last basketball test) for exams as Yale visits in the “Brain Bowl”: these two universities are some of the premiers of the country. It’s also a rematch of the 2016 Round of 32 matchup. Duke won, 71-64, but the Bulldogs didn’t make it easy and will not this time around, either. Yale is actually very good this year and Duke can’t sleep on them. The old Ivy League that just couldn’t keep up is dead and gone.

Yale has already taken on and defeated an ACC foe in Miami– away from home, at that– a week ago. They lost to Vermont and Memphis but kept it pretty tight in both games. Hartford certainly gave us a headache with grit, experience, and three-point shooting. Yale is no different. In fact, they’re ranked 18th in the country in three-point percentage. With a stout interior defense, it’ll be the outside that Duke will need to focus on to keep the Bulldogs from staying in it. 

Duke, on the other hand, comes in 8-1, ranked third in the country, with easily the most talent in the country between the high-flying freshmen: RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, as well as a good veteran corps in junior captains Javin DeLaurier and Jack White, both of whom are having the best seasons of their respective careers thus far

Game notes:

Duke vs. Yale

Date: Saturday, December 8th

Time: 5:30pm ET

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

TV: ESPN

Bleed blue.

Duke Rolls Against SDSU, 90-64

Duke kept rolling tonight against San Diego State today for their first win in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational to advance. RJ Barrett continued his streak of scoring 20+ points and led the Blue Devils with 20, but we executed a more balanced attack today than the past few games. Zion racked up an incredible five steals, showing his effort on the defensive end with a “quiet” (not really) evening of 13 points and 6 rebounds. Jack White had a career-high 12 points while Marques Bolden poured in 4 plus 4 rebounds. 

Cam Reddish returned from an injury that kept him out of most of last week’s contest against Eastern Michigan for a strong 16 points and 2 assists. Cam had some NBA-caliber stepbacks and highlight reel shots that got the attention on one of the most underappreciated projected lottery picks and top-3 recruits that I’ve ever seen (mostly because of his elite teammates). 

After a generally tumultuous week in college basketball, Duke further solidified its No. 1 status in the AP Poll. Duke leapfrogged Kansas and Gonzaga after starting the season off with a very, very, very big bang in the win over then-#2 Kentucky

Bleed blue. Duke will return for a high-profile battle with No. 8 Auburn in the semifinals for the Invitational. 

Duke Rides Shutdown First Half to 84-46 Win over Eastern Michigan

A brilliant first half. A hard-playing team that made just about every Duke fan proud. Oh, and, by the way, Zion put on a dunk show. Yeah, this was a pretty fun game. Duke smacked Eastern Michigan 84-46 as Zion Williamson led the way with 21 points and 9 rebounds. RJ Barrett came a close second with 20. Javin DeLaurier had one of his best games in a while, scoring 10 points alongside his 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and block. In addition, a usually foul-prone Javin only had one foul in this entire game, which came in the second half. Jack White also performed well, matching his co-captain with 10 points.

Yeah, I lied a little bit when I said Zion put on a dunk show. They all put on an in-the-paint clinic. Dunking, layups, tip-ins: S/o to Zion, Javin, and Jack for controlling the paint! Duke scored most of their points down low. I did not lie, though, when I said Zion dunked. He’s so much more than a dunker, don’t get me wrong, but it’s EPIC when he does. However, he has non-dunk highlights, too: I sometimes wonder if this guy took dance lessons or something. He’s 285 pounds of muscle, yet he has the feet of a ballerina. How it’s humanly possible I don’t know, but you can see it below:

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find tape of an amazing lay-in from the second half, but Duke Basketball Report has highlight reels of RJ and Zion, so check those out!

Cam Reddish was limited in playing time because of a sore groin, but Coach K said he’s fine and it was just a precaution. He would’ve played had it been closer. Freshman Joey Baker was the only guy on the team not suited up, which basically solidifies the notion that he will redshirt this year.

Bleed blue. Duke prepares for San Diego State in Maui this Monday. That’ll be 5pm ET. Go Duke!