Duke Basketball

Duke season comes to an end

It has been almost a week since we watched Duke fall to Mercer in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. Duke fans sure wasn’t expecting it but it came happened and for the second time in three years a Duke team didn’t make it out of the 2nd/3rd round set of games. To just put it out there, the 78-71 loss was pretty damn embarrassing in my opinion.

The 14th-seeded Mercer Bears with a starting lineup of five seniors played Duke strong through out the first half and then pulled ahead in the last five minutes of the game when their leadership took over. Duke on the other hand and no one step up and take over the game. Rodney Hood? Nope, Jabari Parker? Nope. Both players never got it going in a very disappointing loss.

The two guys that did play well were Quinn Cook – 23 point and Rasheed Sulaimon – 20 points.

In the end however it was the Mercer leadership that won. A team with five seniors coming up with the biggest win of their careers in their final season of play. That sounds like a Duke team where we used to have Seniors playing meaningful games and leading their teams to victory.

So will Coach K stop with the one and done type players? Not according to his press conference. He said we will still recruit the best high school players out there no matter if they plan on leaving after one year, or staying all four years and graduating. The incoming recruiting class has four highly rated players including Jahill Okafor who is expected to definitely be a one and done type player. The one plus for Okafor though, is that he is a big man that can play down low. Something Duke is missing when they are so guard orientated. When the three ball isn’t dropping, hopefully Okafor will be be scoring down in the paint.

In the end, it was another lousy season for a Duke fan. I’m sure the coaches and players feel the same way. Any time you are getting knocked out by Lehigh or Mercer, it is a lousy season…

@JustDukeCom

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Category: Duke Basketball, Duke Basketball Game Notes

Duke the #3 seed in the Midwest region

Duke had a long shot chance of possibly grabbing a number one seed on Sunday had they beat Virginia in the ACC Tournament championship but that didn’t go as planned as Virginia controlled the game with a tight defense, crisp passing and was able to get to the free throw line as they beat the Blue Devils 72-63.

So with the loss, the selection committee put the Blue Devils in the stacked Midwest region and gave them a number 3 seed. The first game will be played Friday March 21 at 12:15 p.m. at PNC Arena in Raleigh vs Mercer. Mercer is the 14 seed and comes into the tournament with a 26-8 record and a 14-4 record in the A-Sun conference. As a team, Mercer averages close to 80 points a game so Duke is going to have to play some tight defense to pull out the win.

Wichita State received the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, followed by No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Louisville. A win over Mercer would propel Duke to the NCAA Third Round where they would face the winner of sixth-seeded UMass and the first-round match up of Iowa and Tennessee. That Iowa/Tenneesee game would be a fun to watch!

We will be tweeting during the entire tournament so follow @JustDukeCom on twitter and join in!

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Category: Duke Basketball, Duke Basketball Game Notes

Round one to the bad guys

The first matchup in the heated rivalry between Duke and North Carolina went to the bad guys as they took a late lead and knocked down their free throws in the final minutes to beat Duke 74-66. As a Duke fan, I know these games are typically close and one stretch of game in the second half usually is the different. Thursday night was no different in the Dean Dome.

Duke went scoreless over a eight minute stretch in the middle of the second half. The scoring drought was primarily caused when UNC went to a zone that had the Blue Devils jacking up three pointers that were not dropping. For some reason, I have to question why Andre Dawkins was not in the game during this stretch when Carolina started playing the zone.

A few other factors in the 8 point loss was the lack of fire on the defensive end of the game for Duke. They didn’t seen to play with fire and really go after rebounds or box out. I can really only think of Marshall Plumlee who rebounded well and showed some aggression while playing down low. That kid really stepped up his game last night. For the other guys, not so much.

So round one goes to the Tar Hells with round two being played at Cameron. I expect a totally different team to show up to even up the series this year. Play with some fire and intensity for 40 minutes and never take your foot off the pedal. It’s time to learn how to finish off teams in the second half.

@JustDukeCom

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Category: Duke Basketball, Duke Basketball Game Notes

Duke falls at Syracuse

It wasn’t the ending we were hoping for Saturday night when Duke traveled up to Syracuse to play in front of 35,000 people in the dome but there were a lot of good things to come from the loss. The team fought, fought and fought to the final horn and did so with out Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson on the bench after fouling out.

There were a lot of iffy calls that Duke fans thought went against the Blue Devils. The main one was when Rodney Hood went to dunk it and was fouled across the arm but the whistle never blew. Hood would have had a shot to tie the game with one free throw or put the team ahead with two free throws. The no call was pretty much the end of the game.

Despite the call, the guys seemed to grow this last week with the road win at Pitt and the close game at Syracuse. Coach K is getting the lineup how it needs to be for the most part and rotations are shaping up. Losing a conference game like this is fine, just gotta learn and build from it so you are stronger come March when the games really matter.

P.S. Rasheed Sulaimon you are a beast!

@JustDukeCom

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Category: Duke Basketball, Duke Basketball Game Notes

Duke beats Pitt in the Zoo 80-65

It took a good second half but Duke went into Pittsburgh and beat the Panthers 80-65 in what Pitt students call “The Zoo”. The second half had the Blue Devils outscoring Pitt 46-33 which propelled them to a 80-65 ACC road victory.

The three point shot was key late as Andre Dawkins got hot and knocked down three after three to extend the lead. Dre finished with 20 points as he came off the bench to spark the Blue Devils. If he keeps shooting like this, we just might see him in the starting lineup soon as other guards have struggled to shoot the rock.

Freshman Jabari Parker got back to his usual self and led the team with 21 points. It was the Jabari show in the first half and the Dawkins show in the second half. A great combination to go along with Amile Jefferson and Rodney Hood who both also scored in double figures for Duke.

This was a big road win for the team. They continue to learn how to play together and do it on a hostile environment was huge. “The Zoo” fans really wanted to beat Duke as it was the first meeting since joining the conference but Duke showed who the better team was and came out on top to give Pitt their second conference loss.

 

@JustDukeCom

 

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Category: Duke Basketball, Duke Basketball Game Notes

Duke bounces back with win over Virginia

It wasn’t pretty but finally Duke got back in the win column with a 69-65 win over visiting Virginia on Monday night.

Debuting their lowest ranking since the last time they fell out of the AP Top 25 in February 2007, they let an 11-point lead with 3 1/2 minutes completely slip away before finding a way to avoid a third loss in four games. They held on mostly due to Rasheed Sulaimon who got a nice to bounce on a three point attempt and a couple of big rebounds by Amile Jefferson. Sulaimon finished with a season-high 21 points

There had been a lot of talk heading in to the game as to why the team had been struggling as of late. Was  Jabari Parker pressing as plays more games as a Freshman? What happened to the lock down defense that Duke has been known for? It wasn’t either of those as Coach K explained in his press conference after the game. He put all the blame on himself saying he hasn’t coached the best since his brother passed away in December. You can’t fault Coach for that, as a team the assistant coaches need to step up and the players definitely need to step up. Lets hope that the win over Virginia get the guys motivated and headed in the right direction as we get into the meat of conference place.

You may have noticed there hadn’t been any new posts for a while. I had been extremely busy with family matters and a little bit of traveling I wasn’t even able to watch the two games before the game vs Virginia. I should be back posting more and tweeting as well over at @JustDukeCom

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Category: Duke Basketball, Duke Basketball Game Notes

Duke with a 80-63 win over UCLA

Duke got back to their winnings ways of dominating in the second half and cruised pass the UCLA Bruins 80-63 as the two teams faced off in New York City. The game was tied at the half 37-37 but a strong second half performance by Jabari Parker, Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson had the Blue Devils pulling away late in the in the game for a convincing 17 point victory.

Jefferson ad Sulaimon played a great second half and came up with some big time buckets and defensive stops / rebounds. If the Blue Devils can get that kind of performance out of those two, look out as we head into conference play.

Parker once again shined with 23 points 10 rebounds and five assists. As we have seen all season, Jabari is basically a man out there playing against boys. As long as the Freshman can stay healthy, he could possibly be the player of the year in my opinion.

I can forget to mention Quinn Cook who dished out five assists, had seven steals and chipped in with 14 points of his own.

Great win on a neutral court against a pretty good team that is good enough to make a run in the tournament.

Duke moves to 9-2 on the season and will be in action December 28th against Eastern Michigan.

@JustDukeCom

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Category: Duke Basketball, Duke Basketball Game Notes

Kansas gets the better of Duke 94-83

It was an ugly night at the free throw line for Duke as they shot just 16-of-28 from the charity stripe in a 94-83 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks. The game was being played in Chicago at the United Center where Coach K and the guys typically play very good basketball but Tuesday night was a different story with the bad free throw shooting and bad defense vs the Jayhawks.

The game was being billed at Jabari Parker vs Andrew Wiggins as the two freshman who are expected to be top 3 picks in the next NBA draft were going against each other. Parker stole the show to start things off by knocking down three’s and throwing down a one handed alley opp from Quinn Cook but it was Wiggins who had the final say later in the second half when he took over the game. Wiggins scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, outplaying Parker down the stretch. Parker did finish 27 points, nine rebounds and two steals but it wasn’t enough and he would foul out on a Wiggins dunk.

As a Duke fan, I expected more of a supporting cast behind Parker. I really expected Rodney Hood to step up and have a bigger game than he did but he finished with just 11 points. Amile Jefferson knocked down some big shots down low and chipped in with 17 points.

For this Duke team to be a top contender, Parker is going to need more help and the guys are going to have to knock down their free throws. Free throws are going to be a HUGE part of scoring this year as the refs are calling any hand checking and forearms in the back down on the block. To me, it’s slowing the game down, frustrating fans and taking any sort of rhythm from teams. The players are going to have to make changes, or games are going to turn into snooze fests.

Follow us over on Twitter at @JustDukeCom as we live tweet during games with the #DukeGang

 

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Category: Duke Basketball, Duke Basketball Game Notes

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