Duke @ Louisville Game Notes

After a hard-fought win in Charlottesville on Saturday, Duke will turn around for another very good team in another hostile atmosphere: #16 Louisville. The Cardinals, while plagued by the issues of their past, are very good this year as Chris Mack has turned around a program that looked like it may just fall off a cliff. It will be a difficult game and we need to bring the same intensity that we did against UVA.

Also, RJ and Cam are blazing hot. Just FYI.

Game Notes: Duke Blue Devils at Louisville Cardinals

Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Time: 9:00pm ET

Venue: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY

TV: ESPN

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

State of the ACC in 2019

Well, if you haven’t paid attention to the ACC in the last month, it’s time to start. Duke isn’t the only force on the coast as teams such as UVA made statements in late 2018 and look to make their name known in 2019 before March (which is only 2 months away!). Happy New Year! It’s time to separate the headliners and the rebuilders. Take a look.

North Carolina: Will the real Tar Heels please stand up?

These guys are hard to figure out. They looked alright playing mediocre teams, plus Stanford, at the beginning of the year, but weaknesses were exposed in an 89-92 loss to Texas. Kerwin Roach smoked the Heels’ defense for 32 points as the Tar Heels gave up 92 and couldn’t win despite Coby White’s 33 points. A win UCLA against is looking less and less impressive. The one shining star on the Tar Heels’ record would be a 103-90 win against then-4 Gonzaga, but inconsistency has been a big issue. Also, Roy Williams refuses to play athletic marvel, top recruit, and NBA prospect Nassir Little more than a few minutes a game. Little needs the exposure; he has the potential to go top-5 in the draft if he can impress scouts which I believe he can do easily. His productivity is impressive in the few minutes he is granted. The consistency lies in freshman PG Coby White: that kid is a star. UNC plays Pittsburgh on January 5.

Record: 9-3

Pittsburgh: Jeff Capel Turning A Bad Program Around

I’ve been bad about following this since former Duke assistant head coach Jeff Capel departed for Pitt, but he’s making a bad program look fun again! They’re not going to win the ACC or something, but he has them set to be a winning program. The recruits flow to him. Plus, their social media platforms have been hyped. It’s not going to happen instantaneously, but Pitt is creeping back into competition. I can’t wait to see what happens there next. Pitt contested throughout the whole game in a 68-69 loss to ranked Iowa. They play UNC on January 5.

Record: 10-3

NC State: They’re Legitimate.

This is what I can say about NC State right now: Wow! Kevin Keatts was apparently the answer for State. They’re currently ranked #18 in the country. Torin Dorn is an excellent player. I’m excited for NC State-UNC this year (an early January game): this rivalry seems to come to life more and more as NC State revitalizes itself after the Mark Gottfried disaster. Poll voters have mixed opinions as some put the Pack near the top 10 while others didn’t rank them at all. They’re an intriguing development and look good in the future. They have a strong record of 12-1 and have a huge win on the board against #8 Auburn, the only blemish being a loss to Wisconsin. Star player Markell Johnson, though, is apparently having an issue as head coach Kevin Keatts didn’t play him for “low energy”: “Markell was low energy. So when you’re low energy, you don’t play for me… It’s not about the guy that scores the most points, but the guy who plays the hardest. I wanted more energy from him, especially on the defensive end.” NC State plays Miami on January 3.

Record: 12-1

Virginia Tech: Hokies Better Than Ever

Yet another team is on the rise: Virginia Tech had high expectations at the beginning of the season and has lived up to the hype thus far. They did lose to Penn State but have otherwise kept a clean record and entered the top-10 for the first time in a while. They’re the only team in the conference with an ACC win after kicking off the conference stretch with an win vs. Notre Dame in which their offense shone. Yet again, a trip to Blacksburg will be no fun for anybody.

Clemson: A Competitor

In general, this Clemson team has a goal: to prove that last year’s Sweet Sixteen run was no fluke. They’ve beaten the teams, certainly, that they should beat with a few losses intermittently, but in general is a strong group. Marcquise Reed has returned from a knee sprain, giving them back their best player after a little under a month out. This Clemson team will certainly be a competitor in the ACC and will be no easy game for anyone. Clemson will play Duke on January 5.

Record: 10-3

Syracuse: Up and Down

They beat Ohio State, they lose to Old Dominion. They defeat Georgetown, they get beaten by Oregon. This season hasn’t been anywhere close to consistent for the Orange. Tyus Battle has continued to be a force after returning to New York for another season, but in general this team hasn’t quite found its identity. Hopefully for ‘Cuse fans, they can do so during ACC play.

Record: 9-4

Florida State: Top-10 Power

The Seminoles are set to have a pretty good season, their current #9 rank supported by quality wins over LSU and Florida (a rout). Phil Cofer is back from the squad that made the Elite Eight last year alongside Terance Mann who can both be major producers on the offensive end of the court. The ‘Noles, however, will get their first major test against #4 UVA on January 5.

Virginia: Final Four Contender (But Still, UMBC)

Well, get ready, because the Wahoos are just as good as they were last year. With lockdown defense, they can contend with anybody provided that they make something happen on offense. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome can do so at least most of the time, as well as (only) NBA prospect De’Andre Hunter. They are going to be a major favorite- though probably second to Duke- for the ACC crown and will be able to contend with anybody in the NCAA. As of now, they’re undefeated (though the strength of schedule is not there); however, Virginia has a history of choking when it matters most: March.

Record: 12-0


The remaining teams, their records, and their upcoming schedule:

Notre Dame

Record: 10-4

Next: vs. Syracuse, Saturday 12pm

Boston College

Record: 9-3

Next: @ 10 VA Tech, Saturday 12pm

Louisville

Record: 9-4

Next: vs. Miami, Sunday 6pm

Miami

Record: 8-4

Next: @ Louisville, Sunday 6pm

Georgia Tech

Record: 7-5

Next: vs. Wake Forest, Saturday 2pm

Wake Forest

Record: 6-5

Next: @ Georgia Tech, Saturday 2pm

Bleed blue. Get this: we finally get to watch our team play again! Duke takes on their first ACC foe in Clemson in Durham on Saturday at 8pm.

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!

As Allegations Mount, Louisville Basketball Fears the Worst

Literally. Louisville Basketball is fearing what is often referred to as the “death penalty” for the program as the FBI investigations continue, the repeat-violator legislation and worst sentence the NCAA has on hand which usually means a ban from competition of at least one season, if not more. I’m sure the NCAA is tired of the bad publicity (though Louisville only revealed their problems), and really they don’t deserve the be off the hook at all. Multiple assistant coaches are being accused of making multi-thousand dollar payments to relatives of recruits across the board for the program.

louisville-countersues-rick-pitino-lawsuit.jpg
Source: SportsIllustrated <https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/12/14/louisville-rick-pitino-countersuit-ncaa-fbi-investigation&gt;

The “death penalty” has happened before: SMU Football, who was in a similar situation, was axed in the 80s when investigations found the program so riddled with corruption that the penalty had to be used. The full sentence was not carried out: had that happened, they wouldn’t have played from 1987 until 1989, amongst other worst-case punishments. However, the 1987 season was canceled and the four scheduled home games in 1988 were also eliminated. The committee said that they felt the disciplines were fully necessary because of “a program that was built on wrongdoing, deceit, and rule violations”. Only conditioning drills were allowed during the 1987 calendar year, and an existing ban on televised games and bowl games was extended to 1990. In addition, absolutely no off-campus recruiting was allowed until the August of 1988. You can read more on the scandal here, but the penalty was at the root of a twenty-year span in which SMU had just one winning season and no bowl selections until 2009. It’s widely considered one of the worst NCAA infractions and disciplinary actions to date.

 

“We’re looking at the death penalty, no question about it. … We’re in serious trouble.

–Jerry Eaves, former U of L player (1978-1982)

No one knows what will happen to Louisville, but we all know that the potential for it to be drastic is very, very high. Bleed blue.

Grayson Allen, Donovan Mitchell Go from Rivals to Teammates to Friends

After he played at Louisville, I’ll admit Donovan Mitchell wasn’t my favorite player. He was always getting at it with Grayson. He played for Rick Pitino, for goodness’ sake, whom I most certainly did not care for. I feel bad about that now because as I’ve seen him grow in the NBA, the ESPY award winner (Breakthrough Athlete of the Year) is a really nice guy. Now, that’s been validated by his mutual respect and friendship with new teammate Grayson Allen. Grayson, one of my personal favorite Duke players ever, who’s now gone from college basketball senior veteran to NBA rookie, has a bit to learn this season and Mitchell, who is entering his second season, will be a good mentor.

The Rivalry

Mitchell made most of his impact at Louisville during his breakout sophomore season in 2017 when Grayson was a junior. As you can see in the video above, things got a little scrappy between the two of them, but it all worked out in the end.

There was this incident, among others. Duke and Louisville split their games during that year, one of which was during the 2017 ACC Tournament Quarterfinals at the Barclays Center, a tournament which Duke would go on to win. The quarterfinal game was tight and emotions ran high, so Allen and Mitchell, both central figures for their respective teams, crossed hairs and defended each other at different times during the game. After the 2017 season, Mitchell declared for the NBA Draft while Grayson returned to Duke for his senior season. Mitchell was runner-up for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award and lost to only Ben Simmons of the 76ers. He won the ESPYs Award for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year.

The Draft

Despite their college rivalry, Mitchell attended Grayson’s workout for the Jazz and was visibly impressed.

But the one thing about Grayson is I always respected him. When people ask me who the toughest guy I had to go against in college basketball, it’s him. It’s hard when you have all the negative connotations with your name, especially in college. You see it on ESPN and then you’ve got to go to class and you’ve got to walk and see everybody on campus—and you still get 30 points a game? That’s impressive to me. That’s where he got my respect. After that game my sophomore year, I told him how much I respected him.

– Donovan Mitchell

It was later revealed that Mitchell contacted Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey with a text saying “Grayson at 21?”, and was vocal in his support of Grayson. Obviously, the Jazz trusted their star player and selected Grayson at #21.

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A message from @graysonjallen to the fans!

A post shared by Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) on

It was one of the best moments in the draft when Donovan Mitchell surprised Grayson during his interview.

Mentorship

While Grayson is older than Mitchell in age, he does not have any NBA experience. It seems as though Mitchell will be a good mentor for Grayson whilst he adapts into the NBA life. In the big leagues, chemistry is rare. When you have chemistry like this between two very talented players, it can mean something special for a team that already advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year. The Jazz were bounced by the Houston Rockets last year.

He’s just giving me some tips for Summer League, an idea of what to expect with the pace of it, all sorts of stuff. He had a pretty good Summer League last year, so he knows what he’s talking about.

– Grayson Allen on Donovan Mitchell

Bleed blue, Duke fans. I have a LOT of guys on a lot of teams to follow in the NBA this year, but it’s never a burden to see these guys grow and progress.