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

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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!

Duke Pulls Away, Defeats Army 94-72

It was a freshmen showcase again for the Blue Devils as Duke’s impressive youngsters combined for 75 of Duke’s 94 points. Army fought valiantly and stubbornly, giving Duke more of a struggle than Kentucky did last week, so kudos to them for that. Zion Williamson continued to provide material for a SportsCenter Top 10 show of his own and putting up video game numbers, while Cam Reddish flexed his shooting ability with 7 3s. Keep sleeping on him, I dare you.

Don’t forget RJ! RJ put up 23 points to go with his 6 rebounds and 2 assists.

It was a quiet day on the stat sheet for Duke’s older guys, but Jack White posted 6 points and 4 rebounds. There were a few mistakes along the way but again, it’s the second game with a team whose stars are entirely comprised of freshmen, so it’s really nothing to look into.

Joey Baker did not play again, which definitely continues to support the notion that he will redshirt this year. Redshirting is probably a good choice for him as he can get practice in against stars like the guys on this team and still save a year. If you remember, he reclassified a year and should be a senior in high school right now, so having that experience under your belt despite being about the age of the incoming class would give him an advantage, were he to elect to do so.

Bleed blue. Next up, Duke will face Eastern Michigan for one last home appearance before heading off to Maui for the Maui Invitational.

Duke Scores 132 in Annihilation of Ferris State

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RJ Barrett (5) and Zion Williamson (1). Source: SI https://www.si.com/nba/2018/08/20/zion-williamson-rj-barrett-impressive-duke-basketball-canada-preseason-tour

The fury ran wild today in Cameron Indoor as Duke’s young team absolutely ravaged Ferris State, 132-48, a team that fought hard but failed to contain Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett (and the rest of the Blue Devils), who combined for a total of 55. These youngsters have a special talent for sharing the ball, as they racked up a total of 29 assists and Tre Jones neared triple-double territory with 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists. Obviously, the stat lines were through the roof. A quick synopsis: RJ Barrett was the high point-scorer with 32, Zion Williamson had 10 rebounds to accompany his 25, and big men Marques Bolden and Antonio Vrankovic picked up 15 and 10 points, respectively. Cam Reddish had 20 points as well to go with his 5 assists and 2 steals. Again: that stat sheet was packed. 

Lead Us, Captains

Coach K officially announced two captains and, in my opinion, excellent choices, to lead the 2018-2019 squad: Javin DeLaurier and Jack White. These two guys have shown dedication and heart through the years, and, let’s be honest, they’ve shown dedication and heart to a lot of teammates. Javin and Jack deserve this role; they’re roommates and have emerged as leaders for this group from the very beginning of the year. Congratulations to those two.

Bleed blue. 10 days to the Champions’ Classic!

Intro Video, Player Intros, Top Plays and More from Countdown to Craziness

It was an epic night as we got a glimpse of our team in a real scrimmage for the first time since August. The hype video got the night started, then the players took the floor for the first time in uniform, and the Blue-White Scrimmage began.

First of all, the Intro Video is fire. Literally.

If that doesn’t get you crazie hyped for the season, I don’t know what will. The players showed off their dance moves, and even some of their own music (go, Brennan Besser!):

Then we got to the actual scrimmage. This video has the top plays, and here’s a hint: “That’s gonna be on SportsCenter!”

It’s also got an interview (Tre Jones and Javin DeLaurier), and apparently, Javin yelled “Chicken” when he made a three-point shot. Find out what that was all about above.

The countdown to Countdown is over, but the Countdown to the Classic is ON! The Champions’ Classic is on November 6th at 9:30pm vs. Kentucky. Bleed blue.

Image featured on homepage is property of Duke Athletics. I do not own that photograph.

New Cam Reddish Footage

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Source: @camreddish on Twitter

I’m not exactly sure when this was filmed, but this video of Cam Reddish, which he posted on his Instagram account, working out is sure looking good and better, healthy.

View this post on Instagram

🤫 @8eyemedia @ballbeyond #TGBTG

A post shared by Cam Reddish (@camreddish) on

Reddish has not been forgotten despite his teammates’ epic performances in Canada, a trip in which Reddish’s groin injury held him out. He is expected to be ready for the start of the season but there’s not been any report that he has joined practice other than that he wouldn’t at the start, though this isn’t the NFL where they give injury reports every 2 days. At least he appears better in this video. Bleed blue. Team picture was Monday!

Good and Bad News for the Start of Limited Practices

I crash your first week of college football for some college basketball news: Duke starts limited practices this week! They took a break after last month’s trip to Canada and the Devils are back in action on Labor Day. The NCAA allows four hours of practice per week at this time of year (as Coach K has emphasized before, practice limits suck).

The good news? Tre Jones will probably be available to play after a hip injury forced him to miss the tour, according to associate head coach Nate James. He’s been playing

The bad news? Cam Reddish will not. Just saying, I’m not picking him over Zion or Zion over him: I haven’t been able to actually evaluate him. But this video highlights him well. His sore groin is still hindering him, and missing practice time, especially when we are allowed so little (NCAA, you need to address this), is irritating. Cam is really, really good, as DBR reminds us: some have focused so much on RJ and Zion after they brought the house down in Canada that they’ve practically forgotten the guy. He’s an incredibly talented player and people will almost certainly remember him when he starts playing. Alex O’Connell will also miss time and will not be able to get started on Monday. Alex suffered an orbital bone fracture against Ryerson and had a successful surgery to repair it. Alex has grown a lot (both physically and figuratively) in his game and will be an asset that we need as the season approaches.

© Duke Athletics. http://www.goduke.com/PhotoAlbum.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=4200&SPID=1845&BIO_PLAYER_ID=3106044&KEY=

 

Bleed blue, Duke fans.

 

Friday vs. Toronto: Duke’s Lineup Thin vs. Toronto

After starting out down two guys at guard (Cam Reddish and Tre Jones), Duke’s depth started to slip. Now, it’s gotten worse. With sophomore guard Alex O’Connell out the rest of the tournament with an orbital bone fracture, there are almost no guards left on the squad. Jordan Goldwire, Mike Buckmire, and Brennan Besser are the only three left. Of course, all three players should be healed by the time the regular season begins. However, with smaller guys dominating the Toronto lineup, some of the bigger guys will have to play like a guard. Of course, there’s Zion Williamson, who is “a powerful Mack Truck with the feet of a ballerina” (Jay Bilas). He has the ability to keep up with a guard, and Duke has centers in Marques Bolden and Antonio Vrankovic. It’ll work out.

Canadian collegiate basketball is not something I’ve studied, but Ryerson is reportedly the best team we will face this week.

Jordan Goldwire stood up to run the offense on Wednesday. Will he step up again? Who gets a boost in playing time? Against Ryerson, lots of minutes were given to Javin DeLaurier, Marques Bolden, Goldwire, Justin Robinson, and Jack White, and of course the two freshmen after O’Connell’s early injury. This game will be the last of the two games played in Missassagua, R.J. Barrett’s hometown before the Blue Devils travel to Montreal for McGill.

Duke is favored pretty heavily despite the absences. Obviously, the athletic advantage is there, but Toronto has a heavy advantage by means of experience. These guys are smaller, agile, and good shooters. It’ll be a challenge, but beating a team like Duke is a monumental order. It’ll be a good test for Duke, who will face more experienced teams all season long, especially in the grueling ACC.

Bleed blue.