Duke Basketball Returns with Champions’ Classic

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.

Zion Williamson Wins Best College Athlete at ESPY’s

With both electrifying play and persona, Zion Williamson has collected accolades across the board in college basketball; now, his stock of awards includes one that spans all college athletics. ESPN awarded him Best College Athlete for the 2018-2019 year as expected. Zion Williamson is no longer simply a basketball star, but has been for a while an ambassador of our sport to the world.

Forget a case. He should probably just buy a whole house.

Congratulations, yet again, to Zion on one of the most incredible college years we’ve been lucky enough to witness. New Orleans has gained a phenomenal young player and man and he’ll always be part of The Brotherhood.

Bleed blue.

Interesting Article on Zion

Tired of all the speculation over Zion’s NBA future? Well, we’ve got a Zion article that doesn’t deal with any of that: ESPN’s Mina Kimes looks into not the player but the person. She notes that the Williamson family has mostly avoided the spotlight, turning down a lot of interview requests including that for the story she wrote. But Spartanburg Day, the 450-student school in Spartanburg, SC, that he attended, holds not only Zion’s trophies but his story from high school. Zion did not attend one of the big “basketball schools” for high school such as Montverde Academy in Florida like his roommate RJ Barrett, but instead a small school in South Carolina. Additionally, he interviews one of Zion’s favorite teachers from high school, Mr. Bill Pell, who taught him a creative writing course. The human behind the player is something that we haven’t seen much before and is a really cool guy. Anyway, here’s the article.

Bleed blue.

Game Notes: Stetson

Duke Basketball takes on the Stetson Hatters game in their first competition since blowing out Indiana on Wednesday, 90-69. Here are your game notes for the night:

Duke vs. Stetson

Date: 12/1/2018

Time: 7:00pm

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC


Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Bleed blue.

ESPN’s Mitch Sherman: Duke Is a Playoff Contender

Wait, what? Now I don’t want to overhype anything, seeing as last year’s 4-0 start was the last of that streak, but I find this pretty darn awesome: Duke is listed by ESPN’s Mitch Sherman as a playoff contender. Now, this guy also says Virginia Tech is “wounded”, which is followed by saying that we could stay undefeated for a while (they’re up next at home), and even a group of beaten-down Hokies is no picnic, so I’m not fully believing him. But hey, he’s been hired by the best sports reporting group in the biz, hands-down, so he can’t be that wrong. And get this: just ten teams are ranked ahead of us. This is great news for a program that, let’s be honest, before the arrival of our savior, David Cutcliffe, was an absolute afterthought. Even with all of the injuries, I truly feel that we can be something good this year. Daniel Jones is officially back and we’ll see how tonight goes.

Also, you’ll need an ESPN+ subscription to read this article, but here’s the part we’re looking for: the computer says Duke in the playoffs in simulation 2,173. The odds aren’t great, plus, it’s listed as the “wackiest” outcomes, and the most likely one is that we win out, including the ACC championship. Also included is simulation 4,839 where we go with one loss but defeat Clemson in the ACC championship in dramatic fashion to get in (the author, Seth Walder, made the dramatic fashion part up but with these two teams that’s not unlikely).

Bleed blue. Virginia Tech: tonight, 7pm ET on ESPN2. Go Duke.

NCAA Rule Changes Not Received Well

Despite the NCAA trying to at least make an appearance to put the students first, the reforms that the NCAA put in place yesterday were not well received by fans or organizations and participants who were reportedly blindsided by the changes. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a report on NBA and USAB executives’ surprise at the changes, who did discuss the matter, but neither organization believed they had come to any consensus with the NCAA. USA Basketball intends to expand the sport of basketball, not confine it to “elite players” for the sake of determining who is allowed to have an agent. The organization would prefer that this job is left to the NBA instead.

Myron Metcalf spoke of his dismay on ESPN, in addition with SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell and Duke Basketball Report’s JD King. The changes obviously attempt to address the issues that the FBI’s investigation surfaced, but do not address them. Really, all I can say is that at least they made an attempt. One major issue? Players who want to return to school must have attended the NBA Combine to be permitted to do so, which only includes a handful of players. If a player attended the NBA Combine, the player is likely to be drafted. Look at the list below:

So out of who knows how many undrafted student-athletes last year, only four would have the opportunity to return to school? Wow. What help.

There are a LOT of issues still to be solved. But at least they’re trying? Well, maybe what they’re “trying” to do is win back favor in the public’s eyes. Regardless, there is work to do. A lot of it.

Featured image on the homepage is courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Duke In Canada: Streaming and a New Documentary

ESPN+ will be streaming Duke’s Canadian tour next month. “+” costs $4.95 per month (which you can buy for just the month of August if you want). Duke will take on Ryerson University on August 15 (7pm), the University of Toronto on August 17 (7pm), and McGill University on August 19 (3pm).

In addition to the tour, ESPN+ will also hold a documentary series, “Earn Everything”, about Duke’s training programs. We’ve had a few inside looks but no full episodes from the Official Duke Men’s Basketball Twitter, but otherwise you’ll, again, have to buy ESPN+ to be able to watch it.

Here’s the first quick peek:

Bleed blue, Duke fans. Duke in Canada is in 26 days! Let’s go Duke!

Kevin Pelton: Carter may be “best big in Las Vegas”

ESPN Staff Writer Kevin Pelton has some cool statistical evidence in this article on how Wendell Carter, Jr, may just be the best big man in the draft. With 5 players in the top 7 being 6’10” or taller (surprising in the “small ball” era of the NBA), a few interesting stats have emerged from summer league play:

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 5.53.18 PM.png
Courtesy: ESPN.com

As you can see, Carter leads in points per game, is a close second in field goal percentage, leads players other than #1 pick DeAndre Ayton in rebounds per game, has the only assist-turnover ratio over 1, and the most blocks per game. Carter also comes second in total 3-pointers (unfortunately for him, he’s not very close to Jackson of the Grizzlies). Marvin Bagley’s limited sample size must also be taken into consideration, as he was shut down for a hip bruise a few days ago. But what we’ve seen of Wendell in the past few days just adds to his promise come the start of the NBA season. While I’m no professional NBA analyst, I think the Bulls have a star in the making.

Marvin Bagley, III, MB3FIVE, drops rap mixtape

NBA players love to rap, and while few of them are quality, players such as Dame Lillard have made a name for themselves in the world of music. Marvin Bagley, III, is one of the best I’ve seen, honest. My favorite, personally, is depicted below. “Breathe” was written during a season in which Bagley was unable to play during high school.

Cool, huh? ESPN wrote a cool story on him, including his rapping:

Marvin Bagley III raps like he plays basketball, smooth and fast. Dressed in Duke sweats, Bagley wedges his 6-foot-11, 234-pound body into a recording booth just outside of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. On the other side of the glass are teammates Grayson Allen and Brennan Besser, who have come not only to listen but to bust his chops.

— Elizabeth Merrill, ESPN

Anyhow, you can find his full mixtape below and at this link.

LIVE UPDATES: Duke in the NBA Draft

Marvin Bagley, III, Wendell Carter, Jr, Gary Trent, Jr, Grayson Allen, and Trevon Duval are all ready. Who will pick these talents up? Who will be reunited with teammates? Updates are here. The NBA Draft is live on ESPN.

UPDATE: Marvin Bagley, III, is selected #2 by the Sacramento Kings

Marvin Bagley, III, is going to wear purple and silver next year as a Sacramento King. Marvin is explosive and an elite rebounder whom has an infinite motor and will be a huge asset to any team.

UPDATE: Wendell Carter, Jr, is selected #7 by the Chicago Bulls

Wendell Carter, Jr, is going to be missed in the Bull City, but he is going to be the hardest worker in the Bulls’ organization, no question. Planning to get his degree, Carter’s IQ and basketball IQ are both through the roof, and he is very ready for the NBA.

All further updates happened at 6am on Friday due to timing issues.

UPDATE: Grayson Allen is selected #21 by the Utah Jazz. 

Grayson Allen got an early welcome from Donovan Mitchell, the Utah Jazz star who was selected #13 last year and blew up as one of the best rookies in the league. I said Wendell Carter, Jr, was a hard worker. The Jazz may just have one of the hardest workers in the draft, as well, and Donovan Mitchell, who played against Grayson throughout his career, appears to be very happy.

UPDATE: Gary Trent, Jr, selected #37 by the Sacramento Kings, traded to Portland

This is a bookend for Gary Trent, Jr, whose father was also traded to the Blazers on draft night. Despite not playing with his Duke teammate, Marvin Bagley, III, (see above), he will get to play with some of the elite guards in the game, including CJ McCollum and Dame Lillard.

Trevon Duval was not drafted in the 2018 NBA Draft but has all summer league and the future to sign with a team.