Category Archives: Duke Blue Devils

Quick Hits 4/10/09

Draft Declarers – Round 3

  1. Jeff Teague, guard from Wake Forrest
  2. DeMar DeRozan, guard from USC
  3. Taj Gibson, forward from USC
  4. Daniel Hackett, guard rom USC
  5. Jrue Holiday, guard from UCLA
  6. Jordan Hill, forward from Arizona
  7. Nic Wise, guard from Arizona
  8. James Harden, guard from ASU
  9. Jonny Flynn, guard from Syracuse
  10. Paul Harris, guard from Syracuse
  11. Eric Devendorf, guard from Syracuse

Rumor has it that DeRozan, Hachett, Holiday, Harris and Devendorf have all hired agents.  The Syracuse boys are making a mistake is that pans out.  Neither Harris or Devendorf guaranteed to be drafted and the Orange have a great chance at making a run to the Final Four next season if they return with Flynn.

There is a ton of talent in this group, but other than the the players from the PAC-1o (minus Wise), everyone should come back for another year.  I understand the desire to leave the craziness of Arizona, and USC is the OJ Mayo/Reggie Bush “Amatuer” Sports Prep School, so it is natural that the three best players want to jump – they may have a couple years ago.

I have also read that PITT forward and Big East Co-Player of the DeJuan Blair has hired an agent.  That is a mistake.  There is little chance of him being a first round pick, but I am sure he is being sold on the idea that the media is calling this a “weak draft” and he better strike while he is hot.

Good Luck.

Duke Fans Meet John Wall

This could be your point guard future.

If Wall signs, Duke would have 3 out of the top 17 draft picks in 2009 classes.

ESPN 2009 Top Recuiring Classes

ESPN was had a list of the top-25 classes coming in next year. It looks to not have adjusted for the coaching moves and recruits de-committing.

A couple highlights.

1. UNC

2.  Texas

3.  Florida

6.  Duke

7.  Indiana

10. Minnesota

Why Duke’s Gerald Henderson Should Not Go Pro

I’m proud to say I’m a fan of Duke basketball.  It started when Christian Laettner hit the last shot in the best game in college basketball history.  I like seeing Duke succeed, and I like seeing Duke players do well in the NBA (which is not always the case).  So, with both of those motivations in mind, Gerald Henderson should stay at Duke for his senior year.  As usual, a list will help us figure out why.henderson1

1.  His NBA Stock

Henderson has NBA athleticism.  The man can hop like few people I’ve seen at his height.  This year it was fun to see some of his skills develop, specifically his jump shot.  Also, he developed an ability to take games over this year, largely in part to not needing to depend on his penetration.  Staying another year will allow him to improve those parts of his game and raise his stock as a draft pick.

2.  Duke Would be Awesome

The Blue Devils will be in good shape next year with scoreres Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith, Lance Thomas, Elliott Williams, and two big incoming freshmen in Ryan Kelly (who is 6’10″ and won the McDonalds 3-Point Contest) and Mason Plumlee.  If Henderson stays, Duke could run away from the rest of the ACC.  They are only losing Greg Paulus and David McClure, which is okay by me.  The only thing that could keep them from winning the ACC is if Wake’s big 3 decide to come back. 

3.  National Championship

If Henderson decides to listen to my advice and come back to Duke, they could win a national championship.  It has been a few years since Duke has been to the Final Four, and I hope Henderson took notice of what happened at UNC this year.  A bunch of upper-classmen came back to win and, indeed, they did. 

If you’re reading this Mr. Henderson, I advise you to come back to Duke for one last hoorah.     

Sweet 16 – Day 1 Preview

Big night of basketball ahead of us.  Some very nice match-ups and potential for…what’s the word….yes, madness

Game 1:  UConn vs. Purdue

The Big East can be defined by superior athletes, the Big 10 can be defined by half-court offense and a lot of white guys (maybe half-court offense and white guys are synonymous).  Purdue has had a nice tourney so far, but I don’t see it going any further than tonight.  I really like JaJuan Johnson and their coach, but they can’t handle UConn’s power.  Although…it will be interesting to see how UConn handles the latest recruiting allegations.  levance

Prediction:  UConn 84, Purdue 71

Game 2:  Pitt vs. Xavier

Pitt has had close calls in both of the early rounds and I think this has a chance to be a great game.  Xavier is actually taller than Pitt at just about every position, and they’ve got a big-time stud in B.J. Raymond.  Although my heart wants to pick Xavier, I’m gonna take Pitt for my bracket’s sake.  I don’t think the Muskateers have an answer for Pitt’s poing guard Levance Fields

Prediction:  Pitt 74, Xavier 72

Game 3:  Memphis vs. Missouri

I think Memphis is going to the final four.  I think they’ll win by 15 tonight. 

Prediction:  Memphis 79, Missouri 64

Game 4:  Duke vs. VillanovaGerald Henderson

This should be the game of the night.  It has the biggest upset potential (even though it’s a 2 vs. 3 game), and has some great athletes on display.  Duke has a 3-headed scoring machine in Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, and Kyle Singler.  ‘Nova has a stud in Daunte Cunningham that could really give Duke some problems inside with his athleticism.  In recent history, Duke has had trouble with teams who are filled with athletes, and that certainly qualifies with ‘Nova’s roster.  But even though ‘Nova may have a more athletic squad as a whole, the best athlete in the tourney not named Blake Griffin happens to be Gerald Henderson

Prediction:  Duke 71, Villanova 65

High School Update:  For those of you who don’t know, I live in Hopkins, MN, which is home to one of the top-5 (ranked #4) high school boys basketball teams in the country.  Yesterday they won their first round game of the state tourney by 42 points.  Their entire starting line-up is going D-1, as well as a couple of reserves.  People are claiming (and legitimately so) that this Hopkins team has the best starting 5 in Minnesota high school basketball history.  I’m already planning on attending their state championship game this Saturday.

Conference Tournaments

Mission Possible

It was hard watching the North Dakota State game last night’s game against Oakland for the Summit League tourney championship.  The first half was like watching players I had never seen before in the Bison uniform, they were lazy, lacking the energy and confidence we have been used to here in Fargo.Ben Woodside

In the second half, Saul Phillip’s team finally found their confidence and came back from 16 points down to take the lead on a Ben Woodside jumper with 3.3 seconds left in the game.  The win gives the Bison it’s first NCAA birth in the school’s first year eligible.  NDSU’s win is the first of it’s kind since 1972 when Louisiana – Lafayette made the jump to D1 tourney bid.

Congratulations to the Bison and I know former Bison coach Tim Miles is has to be beaming today.  Miles, currently coaching at Colorado State, was the architect behind the Bison vision to red-shirt this year’s senior when they were freshmen, ultimately planning for last nights game five years ago.

Now, I am not sure Woodside and the Bison can be this year’s Steph Curry and Davidson, but I do expect them to competitive as a 12 or 13 seed.  I would expect them to push whom ever they meet in the opening round.

Remember a couple seasons ago?  The Bison, lead by this years starters, beat an Alando Tucker lead Wisconsin team and a Marquette team with the same three guard combo that the Golden Eagles this season.  Both teams were ranked when they lost to the Bison.  They also pushed a talented, but under achieving, USC team before losing by 4 points this season in a game the Woodside did not play well.

All of Fargo is happy that Woodside is getting more publicity, this kid is as fearless as he is talented and should be given a chance at the next level.

For the second time in less than, ESPN’s Andy Katz wrote a blog post on the Bison.

Big Ten

I have no expectations for the Big-Ten tournament, because I have no clue which versions of teams will show up.  As I write this, West Virgina is rolling over Notre Dame in the Big east tourney by 15 points.

Each Big-Ten has a “not so subtle” Jekyll and Hyde issue, with the Michigan State Spartans doing the best job at control the ugly and disgusting side of their teams play.  That being said, they were embarrassed by Northwestern at MSU.

Every team had horrible loses and impressive wins and could go all the way, but I do expect MSU or Purdue to win the whole thing.

Minnesota and Michigan need to win two games to be considered a “tourney quality team”.  Both had great starts to the season, and both let a great opportunity to cement a return to Big-Ten “top level” competition – I expect them to be there soon.

Penn State and Northwestern are both one win away from the tourney.  Both have beaten top tier Big-Ten teams and really should be given a look if they win one or not.

Big East

PITT, UConn, Louisville, Marquette, West Virginia or Villanova?

I am hoping for another UConn/PITT clash, but this is the Big East tourney, so the legend of Gerry McNamara looms heavy over the Madison Square Garden.

Syracuse has played well strong down the stretch, Notre Dame has not.  PITT is almost unbeatable.  Unless you are Providence – who should be a given for selection Sunday.

UConn is a first round lose away from a No. 1 seed, and Louisville needs to win the Big-East tourney to seriously be considered a No. 1 seed.

I have no idea on WVU.  They are not very deep – actually, no team has a lot of quality depth in the Big East – I could be easily persuaded by good argument from a PITT or UConn expert. The Mountaineers do have stud junior De’Sean Butler who is a legit NBA prospect.

My dream is for Notre Dame to win the whole tourney, Luke Harongody deserves better than the NIT.  Without the tourney Championship, I am not sure they will hear their name called on CBS this Sunday.

ACC Tourney

Just like the Big-Ten, the ACC has a quality through out the conference.  You can call UNC and Duke “heavy favorites”, but they have been beaten by lesser teams this season – aka Boston College – aka Tyrese Rice and Headband Bunch.

Clemson is experienced and should be tough,  Wake Forrest is young, talented and capable of winning whole tourney, and then you have Floria State who came out of nowhere.

Every game will be close and I would not be surprised to see any of the top seeded teams lose in their first game or see them all advance.  I know, bold prediction, but I really don’t know what to expect – see Big-Ten Jekyll and Hyde effect.

UNC needs to find PG help while Ty Lawson recovers, Duke needs Kyle Singler to learn how to shot again, if WF is going to go deep Jeff Teague must play all tourney long like he did against UNC, or James Johnson needs to live up to the hype.

Clemson is very balanced, Boston College is not, and Miami is the most frustrating team in the conference, but still could get hot and ride James McClinton for a couple wins.  North Carolina state should be better, Virginia Tech always gives Duke problems, and Virginia went “Wee, Wee, Wee all the way home“.

Side Note- If any of the Memphis Tigers games are remotely close- the C-USA tourney is on their home court -  John Calipari should have to go the rest of March without hair product.

Notre Dame has pulled back with in single digits.  So you are saying there is a chance?  No, I’m not.

Good News and Bobby Knight

Dr. RolleMryon Rolle

Finally some good news out of the Florida State Seminole football program.  Safety Myron Rolle is putting the NFL on hold and hearding to Oxford work on his master in medical anthropology as a Rhode Scholar.  “How do you like them apples?”

Rolle is projected to be a 2ndor3rd round pick this season.  And he realizes that waiting until next years draft would more than likely drop his status.  But Rolle is unfazed about his decision to head back to the classroom. 

Here is a quote from the espn.com article;

I want to be a neurosurgeon,” Rolle told ESPN’s Joe Schad in November. “And I want to help impoverished nations build up their vaccination programs. I think in many poor countries, vaccination programs and mental health programs are wrongly pushed aside.”

Knight Watch

Bobby KnightThe last couple of evenings Sportcenter has featured a new segment called “Knight Watch”.  Former coach Bobby Knight “breaks down” some of the best in college basketball.  He took a look at Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin and Davidson’s Steph Curry.  Tonight will be the Duke Blue Devils after their game against Georgia Tech.

I watched the bits on Griffin and Curry, and this segment is crap.  Plan and simple.  I understand trying to use Coach Knight more and showcase his “expertise”.  But it is unreal.

Knight highlighted some interesting film clips, showed Griffin’s athleticism and then made the “expert” analysis that the Sooner stud is “the best sophomore in the country”. 

Are you kidding me?

The next evening, Knight declares Curry the best passer in the nation.  WHAT?  Now, I will say Curry is a better passer than many give me credit, but that is what the legendary coach comes up with.

Griffin is the most physically dominate player in the country right now, period.  Regardless of class.

Curry is an all-around great player and is second in many POTY races.  But I am not sure I would call him the best passer in the country.

I have not seen the Duke segment, but I suppose tonight Knight will call Duke’s offense “good” and their defense “defensive”.  And that the Duke away uniforms are intimidating.  Or some random crap. 

I have long thought Knight was passed his prime and is not relevant in college basketball and ESPN has unintentionally exposed that truth.

Gerald HendersonGerlad Henderson

On January 10th the Duke Blue Devils beat  the Florida State Seminoles 66-58.  Nothing too exciting there.

What was exciting?  Gerald Henderson scored a career high 25 points, grabbed five rebounds and had three steals.  My hope is that this is the start of something beautiful.  My fear is that this was a fluke.

Henderson has bever been a great shooter, but he was 9-for-14 from the floor, 3-for-4 from distance and 4-for-6 from the foul line.

Keep it going Gerald.  UNC and WF are coming soon.

 The Golden Gophers

Al NolenThe Minnesota Golden Gophers are ranked 17th in the country and are in a tied for 2nd in the Big-Ten.  They have beat Louisville, Ohio State andgave a boost to the Big-Ten in this years challenge with the ACC.

Tubby Smith has turned this program around faster than anyone – including myself – thought possible.

The Gophers are balanced on offense and in your face on defense.  A good deal of the sucess has to be attributed to the progression of point guard Al Nolen.  The 6’1″ sophomore is steady with the ball in is hands and harasses the ball defense.  His stats are a microcosm of what make this team go.

8 pionts, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals per game. 

According to Bigtennetwork.com, The Golden Gophers hold their opponents to 59 points a game, 38 percent shooting from the floor and 33 percent from distance.  The Gophers score 72 points a game, shoot 47 percent from the floor and 37 percent from distance.

The Gophers also grab the 2nd most offensive rebounds in the conference with 14.8 a game and are third in total rebounds with 40.5.

The Gophers have a tough match-up at Wisconsin tomorrow evening (1/15).

Duke’s Gerald Henderson: What Is He Waiting For?

We have seen flashes of brilliance.  A knack for making shots in crucial moments and his jump shot was closing on the rank of “consistent”.  His ability to read the court and defenders was improving and his shot selection was much better.  His basketball skills were about to catch-up to his athletic talents.

Gerald Henderson

Through Gerald Henderson’s career, his athletic gifts – specifically his vertical –  have elevated his status.  His ability to jump over and around defenders gave us the comfort that a blossoming into greatness would happen soon.

At the end of last season, Henderson was on the cusp.  All the signs pointed that way, everyone could see it, and we all jumped on the bandwagon.  Henderson was about to move from a potential big-time talent to a bona fide division one super-star.

But that hasn’t happened yet.

This season, we have seen those same moments of jaw-dropping athleticism.  Dunks over bigger players and blocks at the rim when it seemed an easy lay-up for the opponents.  Those moments are spectacular, they are memorable, and they will get Henderson on Sportscenter.

What makes the great players truly great?  They dig down deep and find ways to put those moments together.  Moments which turn into portions of games,  portions that turn into whole games of greatness.  And then maybe, just maybe, a season where everything “clicks”.

But that hasn’t happened yet.

Burden to Bare?

The expectations are here.  The criticism is coming on faster and heavier and Henderson knows something is out of whack.  So why is this different?  Why is this more difficult?  Henderson has risen to the occasion before.  He has been playing with high expectations his whole basketball career.  Both direct and indirect.

Henderson grew-up while  his father, Henderson Sr., won three  NBA Championships.  Two with the Boston Celtics and one with the Detroit Pistons.  During his 13 year career, Henderson Sr. played with many of the greatest players in NBA history.

Henderson Sr. wore the Celtics jersey with the greatest frontcourt of all-time; Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, and Kevin McHale.  He also suited up along side Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley Isiah Thomas, and Joe Dumars through out his NBA career.

As a  five-star recruit coming out of high school, Henderson was selected a McDonald’s All-American.   When recapping his play against players like Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Brandon Wright in the all-start type game in 2006, DraftExpress.com called Henderson “The most complete player on the floor”.

Rivals.com rated Henderson as the 11th best player in the country and 2ndbest shooting guard behindhis former high school teammate and current underrted UNC star, Wayne Ellington.  Of the ten players that were rated ahead of Henderson on Rivals.com, all but three, Ellington, Ty Lawson of UNC, and Chase Budinger of Arizona, are in the NBA.

Sophomore to Junior

This preseason, Henderson was selected to the All-ACC First Team with UNC’s Ty Lawson and Tyler Hanbrough, Boston College guard Tyrese Rice, and Miami guard Jack McClinton.  Henderson also appeared on the Preseason Wooden Award Top 50 as athlete to watch as a possible winner of the award.

There has been plenty of ups and downs this season.  In a tough game against South Illinois, Henderson scored a season high 20 points while shooting 50 percent from the floor and going six for seven from the foul line.

In Duke’s next five games, Henderson highest scoring output was 14 points facing 1-AA Montana and in Duke’s 76-60 win over Purdue  in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge,  Henderson had a season low 2 points.

In his defense, in that same game at Purdue, Henderson had nine rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal.  While Henderson is struggling to find offensive consistency, he is too talented and is finding  other ways to contribute.

I Think I Can

We always hear about players who are pressing.  Players pressing because the moment is so big, the other team is highly ranked – or a rival-  and they want to their individual play to reflect the importance of game.

As a Duke player, Henderson is no stranger to crucial games in front of a national audience.

Henderson personally extended the Blue Devils season when he went coast to coast to score a finger roll with11 seconds left in the game to beat Belmont in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament.  Duke plays in the ACC and you can see at least one of their games a week on ESPN.  To top it all, Henderson has played in the greatest rivalry in college basketball against UNC.

In the nine “biggest” games last season for Duke; 2 UNC, 2 Clemson (1 in ACC Tourney), 1 GT (ACC Tourney), 1 Davidson, 1 Wisconsin,  and 2 games in the NCAA Tourney (Belmont and West Virginia), Henderson performed above his season averages, averaging 14.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks in those games.  Henderson averaged 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 steals and .9 blocks a game through out the season. 

But why is he pressing?

College Education

I believe there are a few reasons.

Other than Grant Hill’s last two seasons, Duke will never feature a “one-man team”.  Henderson is on the most talent rich team Duke has had since 2004.  This years Duke team has multiple McDonald’s All-Americans and other top-tier talent, and Henderson is not the first option on offense.  Like a lot of talented players who are not utilized at every moment, Henderson’s attention goes in and out.  At times, he becomes invisible on the floor.

Duke uses a very fluid offense that favors no one player, other than Kyle Singler.  Coach K features him only because he is a versatile and talented “big-man”.  At times Duke will run a set to get Henderson the ball and let him create, but he is not called-on to carry a team like Stephen Curry does at Davidson.

Secondly, I do think Henderson is forcing the issue and not allowing the game to happen.  Whenever he gets the ball on the perimeter, he is in a hurry.  It looks unnatural.   There is almost the sense that Henderson needs to dunk on the entire opposing team to validate the Blue Devil fans belief in him.

Lastly, Henderson figured this would be his last season at Duke, so everything means more and needs to more memorable than before.  The NBA is calling and and Henderson wants to bluster his resume.

Like any good college student, he wanted to show interested employers that he not only spent the time in the classroom learning the theory.  But that he is talented and experience enough to put the theory into practice.

No Madness Yet

Coach K is not panicking – at least not yet.  No Duke player is in the top five of any major offensive statistical category in the ACC, but Duke is still the third highest scoring team in the conference at 81.7 points per game.  The Blue Devils are fourth in shooting percentage – even after the horrible game against Michigan.  They are also third in threes per game, making 6.1 three pointers a game as well.  But are only shooting 30.7 percent behind the arc, which is the 4th worst in the conference.

Everyone can take a breath deep.  Duke has only lost one game to a better than advertised Michigan team who also beat UCLA earlier this season.

Here is Henderson’s saving grace; everyone will forget by March.

Duke and Henderson will be in enough high profile games and have enough opportunities to erase all the worries and show that he is still a relevant player in college basketball and the NBA.  That he still has the potential to, and can, live-up to all the hype.  Ultimately, that his future is yet to be determined.

Years down the road, when Henderson has been drafted into the NBA and is making millions of dollars playing a game for a living.  We all will look back at these struggles and call this a journey.  A journey to the top of the mountain – a mountain he can probably jump over.