#4 Duke Takes Down #3 Kansas in Champions’ Classic

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.

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.

Merry Christmas: Duke Takes Back #1 Spot in AP Poll

Duke reclaimed its spot on top of the AP poll this week after Kansas’ loss to Arizona State opened it up. After losing to Gonzaga, whose loss to UNC led to their fall from #1 and Kansas’ immediate assumption, Duke fell in the rankings but will now become the latest best in he NCAA. Merry Christmas to us!

The Coaches’ Poll puts Virginia at #1, but if I’m being honest that’s pretty bogus. The Hoos’ best win comes against Wisconsin, which was then ranked 24th and only scored 53 points. Of course, they’re 15th now, but Duke beat Kentucky, who was then #2 (Duke then at #4) BY 41, and Kentucky has rejoined the top 20 just behind the Badgers. Also, that Auburn win is pretty sweet and Texas Tech is really, really good and we beat them on an adverse night. Just sayin’.

Happy Holidays, Krazies! Wishing you a very happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year from the authors of Krazies’ Korner (okay, there’s only one of me but this sounds more impressive).

Bleed blue. Duke won’t play this week, but look for my preview as they’ll return from a two-week, well-deserved holiday respite next Saturday to take on Clemson in the first ACC challenge of the year.

Guilty Verdicts in Adidas Pay-For-Play

Logo_brand_Adidas.pngNEW YORK– I haven’t covered the Adidas Trials very much, but it looks like a bigger and bigger deal for college basketball every day. Now, we’ve got a verdict: Christian Dawkins, James Gatto, and Merl Code were all found guilty of fraud. This includes payments made to players at Kansas, NC State, and Louisville, all Adidas-sponsored schools. Zion Williamson’s name appeared at a point but he and Coach K both thoroughly denied that claim and there’s evidence there to back it up so we’re not worried. However, there are multiple trials in the early months of 2019, and they should be worried from here on out. Kansas has announced that they will not allow Silvio De Sousa, whose guardian was allegedly paid by Gatto, to play until eligibility issues are cleared up, but the effects on college basketball otherwise are murky and pretty limitless.

Bleed blue. Duke vs. Ferris State: 4pm Saturday. Unfortunately, this game is literally within 30 minutes of the starting time of Duke football’s game against Pitt. What a time to be alive- you can watch both if you use two devices!