Tag Archives: Duke Blue Devils

What A Sports Weekend!

Busy Basketball Weekend

The college basketball teams ranked No. 3-6 and 8, 10-14, 16-18, 19-21 and 23 are all playing on Saturday.  Then on Sunday the No. 1, 7, 9, 15, 19, 22, 24, and 25 teams have games.   And there are match-ups on ranked teams all over the place – some on television.

Saturday

  • Colorado at No. 2 Texas
  • Georgia at No. 3 Kentucky
  • No. 4 Purdue at No. 20 Wisconsin
  • No. 5 Duke at No. 17 Georgia Tech on ESPN
  • Marquette at No. 6 Villanova
  • No. 8 West Virginia at Notre Dame
  • No. 10 Kansas State at Missouri
  • No. 11 Michigan State at Iowa
  • No. 13 Connecticut at No. 12 Georgetown on ESPN
  • UNLV at No. 14 New Mexico
  • Miss. St at No. 16 Mississippi
  • No. 18 Gonzaga at Portland
  • Boston College at No. 21 Clemson
  • No. 23 BYU at UTEP

Sunday

  • No. 1 Kansas at No. 15 Tenn on CBS
  • South Florida at No. 7 Syracuse
  • Virginia Tech at No. 9 UNC
  • No. 19 Florida State at Maryland
  • No. 22 Washington at Arizona
  • No. 24 Butler at Detroit
  • No. 25 Temple at Rhode Island

That is every-single-team ranked in the USA Today Top 25 playing this weekend.  That is nuts.  But here are my picks of the bunch.

Duke at GT – GT had one of the best recruiting classes this year, headlined by the want to see GT’s super-freshmen Derrick Favors play.  Favors was the No. 2 recruit in the nation last year and while he is not getting the headlines like other freshmen (John Wall and Xavier Henry), Favors is averaging 12.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 2.2 blocks per game.

Kansas at Tennessee – Does anyone know what is happening or going to happen to the players arrested?  I think they are suspend indefinitely, so this match-up may not be as close as it would be with Tyler Smith in the line-up.  Still these are both talented teams, but Kansas is just bigger than Tennessee.  Update – Smith has been dismissed from the team.

Purdue at Wisconsin – I know that Big Ten basketball can be very painful to watch, but this is the Boilmakers first real road test at the toughest place to play in the Big Ten – i.e. Duke in ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

UNLV at New Mexico – I know nothing about either of these teams, but there is buzz surrounding both teams.  Should be a tough conference game.

NFL Playoffs Getting Started

The first round of the playoffs are also happening this weekend.  And there are two rematch from last week with Philly and Dallas and Green Bay at Arizona.  A lot people are picking upsets and home teams losing.  Here are match-ups:

Saturday

  • NY Jets at Cincinnati
  • Philadelphia at Dallas

Sunday

  • Baltimore at New England
  • Green Bay at Arizona

Every match-up really could go either way, but here are my quick thoughts.

  • New York beats Cincinnati, I have no real thoughts about this game.
  • But the Philly/Dallas game is very interesting.  Was what we saw last week real with Philly?  I am not sure.  But I think The Eagles go back to Dallas and upset the Cowboys.
  • New England could struggle without Wes Welker, but I am not confident in the Ravens offense.  So, I am picking New England.
  • Green Bay rolled over Arizona – or did the Cardinals roll-over when they knew there was nothing to play for?  I think Green Bay wins again.

The Vikings will play either Dallas, Arizona or Green Bay next Sunday.  I fear only the Cowboys – but the Cardinals beat the crap of the Vikings and it is very hard to beat a team three times in a season.  But the Purple are playing at home.

Minnesota Timberwolve GM David Kahn Podcast

I listen to a lot of podcasts – ESPN has a ton – and one that I listen to is the NBA Today with Ryan Rusillo.  He however is not the reason that I listen.  Rusillo just thinks to much of himself and kind of drives me nuts, but he gets a lot of good guests on the podcast.

he latest podcast features an interview with T’Wolve GM David Kahn and they discussed the team and his thoughts on the future of the team.  Click here to get to the NBA Today podcast page.

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Quick Hits: 1/06/10

Happy New Year.

Hope you all have enjoyed the holidays and all of the sporting events.

What a great time of the year.  The NFL is gearing up for the playoffs, college bowl season is fantastic, out-door hockey, and college basketball has started conference play.  Plus international soccer leagues are about to open transfer season and the NBA has been strong since the season started.

But let’s start with my favorite NFL Team – The Minnesota Vikings. Who are now taking the week off to rest before their match-up next weekend.

The Vikings beat-up a tired, ready-to-be-done New York Giants, 44-7.  Yes – we are back on track! I would be very careful about getting to comfortable with a win against a team that had a 0% chance of making the playoffs.

Let’s recap:

After the Vikings started 10-1 and gave a win away to the Steelers, they lost 3 of their last 5 games and really showed flaws – but we will not getting to that now.

Let’s look at their schedule.

  1. Of the thirteen different teams the Purple played in the year, only five had winning records. The Packers (11-5), Steelers and Ravens (9-7), Cardinals (10-6), and Bengals(10-6).
  2. Twelve wins were against teams with a combined record of 66-94, highlighted by wins against Green Bay (2 wins), Baltimore, Cincinnati, and two 8-8 teams in the 49ers and the Giants.
  3. Four losses to Arizona, Chicago (7-9), Carolina (8-8) and Pittsburgh with a combined record of 34-30.
  4. Total combined record of all opponents = 93-115*.

*Some of the numbers may look off – but I only used the records of conference opponents once.

I know you can only play the teams on your schedule, but there has to be more concern about a team that has played so inconsistently against poorer teams.  The Vikings have weapons all over the field – yet there now is an uncertainty that was not there in the first half of the year.

Losing E.J. Henderson was huge, Antoine Winfield missed a good deal fo the season, and Bernard Berrian is finally healthy.  Bryannt McKinnie is playing better of late, but was awful for a while.  The offensive line as a whole needs to give Brett Favre time.  Jared Allen looks like every other defensive end in the league, not like Allen who was an MVP candidate.  That falls on the defensive cordinator for not scheming enough to get Allen away from double and triple teams, because you know Allen’s motor is not problem.

We still have Favre, AP, Percy and Rice – the Sydney Edition – and very good defense.  Yet, I have this feeling that the Cowboys or Eagles are going to come to the Dome and blow it up.

The thought of the Vikings woes have not kept me up at night – I have a six-week-old baby girl to do that for me – but there has to be concern running through this organization.  Head Coach Brad Childress has never been in this situation – a first round bye.  A lot will be said about what kind of coach he really is with this much time to prepare.  Childress – prove you are worthy of the contract extension.  Because I don’t think you deserved it.

Best College Basketball Program Of The 2000’s

I started this around Christmas, and totally forgot about it.  But this decade has been quite the decade for College Basketball  powerhouses to reestablish themselves and new ones to appear.

So here the suspects: Michigan State (Champs in ’00), Duke(’01) UConn (’04), UNC (’05 and ’09), Florida (’06 and ’07), and Kansas(’08).  I did not include the ’02 Maryland and ’03 Syracuse – no real reason to explain.

And here are the Top Five.

Honorable Mention: UConn – The Huskies have been monsters in the Big East and had a great team in ’04.  But they were a George Mason run away from their second title of the decade in ’06.  Can you imagine that game Florida Vs. UConn?  Just to get to the Championship game.  So much NBA talent – head – going –  to – explode.

5.  Duke – Winning in 2001 with arguable the best team of the decade – Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Nate James and Chris Duhon.  Had more wins in the 2000’s than any other program with 291, won 7 ACC Tourney Championships and four regular season Championships.  But played in only two Final Fours and came up very short later in the decade – by Duke standards.

4.  Florida – I know what you are thinking how can the only back-to-backers in the decade be 4th.  A couple of reasons.  The “What have you done for me lately” mentality kicks in hard since the last title.  Only won three SEC tourney championships, but only one outright SEC regular season championship and two co-championships.

3.  Kansas – Consistency kills.  From Roy Williams to Bill Self, the Jayhawks never slipped.  Never fell into the funk that Florida did.  One very good team with Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison that played in two Final Fours and then one great team in the 2008 Jayhawks, led by Bradon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, Darrel Arthur, and Darnell Jackson.  They also dominated the Big 12, like no other powerhouse dominated their conference with seven total regular season Championships.

2. Michigan State – One National Championship, four Final Four’s (with the ’99 Final Four, they made three appearances in a row.  Only other team to do that is UCLA in the last ten years).  Fall victim to the fact that they never dominated a conference that was very weak for most of the decade, winning only three regular season Championships and only one tourney crown in 2000.  The 2005 team is one of my favorite teams of the decade with Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, and Drew Neitzel which beat Adam Morrison’s 43 points and Gonzaga in triple-overtime in the Maui Invitational.

1.  North Carolina – Two National Championships, four Final Fours, and probably has built the biggest and best recruiting/NBA pipeline ever.  UNC does not rebuild – they “reload”.  But then you have the Matt Doherty fail.  Doherty took the team from No. 1 in the country in his first season to 8-20 in his second to 17-15 in his third.  He had players, the same players the Williams won with in 2005.  We can not forget Tyler Hansbrough.  Without him, 2006 would have been difficult.  This program has returned to dominance and there is not end in sight.

Coach of the Decade Award – Tom Izzo.  Roy Williams would be a very close second, but Izzo just wins.  And like many of the top coaches, his passion is obvious.  Izzo has also become such a part of the community like that make the fans love him even more.

College Basketball Mini Hits

  • Evan Turner is expect to be back tonight against Indiana, earlier than first thought.  And all is right in the Buckeye nation.
  • No. 4 Purdue beat the Gophers pretty handily, 79-60.  The first half was close only because the Boilermakers could not shot the ball.  That changed in the second half.
  • No. 2 Texas was pushed by Arkansas 96-85.  Even with foul trouble, Damion James won the game with a couple big jump shots to seal the game. 
  • UNC lost to Charleston 79-82.  While it is big for Charleston, it is still early January.  Everything will be OK.  UNC will be just fine, they just need to get healthy.

Landon Donovan Has Arrived In England

The US Soccer golden boy is set to begin his 10-week loan with Everton which is a soccer club in the English Premier League.

“I am ready to enjoy it and I want to personally get myself sharp while I am here,” Donovan said Tuesday. “Tim Howard has had nothing but great things to say about this team so I am excited. Going into a World Cup year this experience will keep me sharp.”

The loan is great for Donovan as he has come into his own as a player.  With his showing with the US in the Confederations Cup and with the LA Galaxy, Donovan is looking to replace the issues he has had in Europe with a good spell with Everton.

This loan also increase the amount of attention surrounding the US National Team’s opening group stage match against England in South Africa this summer.  SideNote:  ESPN will be showing World Cup games in 3-D.  WHAT?

Donovan will need sometime to get back into shape, but this is a great situation for him.  Donovan is a very sensitive person, and his play fluctuates with his emotions.  So having Howard there is key.  A fellow American who has seen Donovan play to the best of his ability and can be there to give guidance if needed.

Click here for the entire article.

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.

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.

Tuesday Night Hoopla

78849124KC010_MARYLAND_V_DUThis Game Should Have Been Better

Two minutes.  Jon Scheyer made a three-pointer after two fast paced hard fought minutes.  Two minutes later, Purdue finally scored when Chris Kramer final hit a jumper to make the game 7-2.  It would seem that the Boilermakers were a little to hyped to play Duke Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

In the second half Purdue had another scoring draught of over four minutes and if JaJuan Johnson had not scored eight points in a row, Purdue would have not scored until 10:48 left in the game when E’Twaun Moore hit a jumper.

In the match-up of  star 6’8” sophomore forwards, Duke’s Kyle Singler out-played Purdue’s preseason Big-Ten player of the Year candidate,  Robbie Hummel.  Even if the stat lines don’t look as such.

I must admit, even as a Dukie, I did not buy into Singler until a few games into the season.  Working hard over the summer to add 10 pounds of muscle, Singler looks the part of a McDonalds All-American.  And the game at Purdue furthered my belief that he can lead  and make playes in big games when needed.

Coaches will say that no game is more important than any other.  That’s crap.  And you get see the evidence all over the court Tuesday night.  Players were diving for loose balls, attempting to take charges, giving hard fouls.  Even Singler seemed to be amped up for Duke’s first real test of the season.

Singler finished the evening with 20 points and 12 rebounds – six offense – and hit shots when his team needed them.  Singler was all over the place with hustle plays and guarded Hummel and did not allow any east shots.

Hummel was completely invisible until halfway through the second half and then he ended with 15 points and 8 rebounds.  But his play did not affect the game nearly as much as Singler.  For that matter, all Purdue players games did not affected the out come as much as Singler as Purdue looked rushed in their offense and over-matched by Duke’s talent.

I have never been on to beleieve that stats alone can tell the whole story of a game.  Well, Tuesday night it certainly did.  Two key stats showed how lopsided this game truly was; Duke out rebounded Purdue 43 to 26.  And the Boilermakers shoot 2 for 13 from the three point line and Duke shoot 8 for 22.  Schyer also finished with 20 points.

Colt – 45

Ralph Sampson’s kid is coming to Minnesota.  Tubby Smith had instantly proved his importance to the Gopher Nation as Sampson highlighted the 23rd best recruiting class in the country, but there was another tall post player who was a part of the recruiting class.  And that player has started all seven games and Tuesday night in the Gophers toughest game this season, he had the best game of his short career.

The 6’10” 235-pound Colton Iverson came in to his senior his under the radar in Yankton, South Dakota.  Not many people knew who he was and even fewer knew less about his game.

Iverson stock rose to be ranked among Top 150 recruits after a strong senior season when he averaged 17.5 ppg, 12.9 rpg and 2.7 blocks and a summer where his AAU team won the Hoosier Shootout and he won the tourney’s MVP. His stock so much that even Billy Donavan and the Florida Gators were interested.

In the Minnesota’s  win against Virginia, the Gophers looked for Iverson on offense and he responding finishing 5 for 6 from the floor, 4 for 6 from the foul line for 14 points.  He also grabbed seven rebounds and four of which were offensive.

Iverson altered more shots than he blocked (2) but along with Ralph Sampson and Damian Johnson, the Gophers frontcourt finished with seven blocks, 14 rebounds and 20 points.  Compared to the four best Cavalier post players who had 11 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks.

Quick Hits

Miami’s Jack McClinton’s best shot of the night?  After starting off the game 4-4 from distance, McClinton took a shot at Ohio States guard Anthony Carter and slapped Carter in the face.  After a quick conference with the refs, McClinton was ejected.  Ohio State won 73-68.

The Memphis Tigers blew out  the Marist Red Foxes 100-61.  Here is the stat-line for Memphis guard Tyreke Evans: 10 for 13 from the floor, 2 for 4 from behind the arc, 2 for 6 from the chariot stripe – weak, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, and 24 points.   Marist was tough.

In the same “why the hell are you playing each other” vein,  Notre Dame beat South Dakota 102-76.  Notre Dame’s Randy Ayers finished with 35 points, 6 rebounds, shot 9 for 14 from distance and 12 for 20 from the field.

New Jersey Institute of Technology lost again.  Stony Brook outscored the Highlanders, 60-39.

By the end of the Tuesday the ACC/Big Ten Challenge was all tied-up at 3-3.

ACC Men’s Basketball 2008-09 Preview, Part Four: UNC, Duke, ‘Canes and All-ACC Awards

Player of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

Freshmen of the Year: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

All-ACC First Team
G Ty Lawson, UNC
G Jack McClinton, Miami
G James Johnson, Wake Forest
F Gerald Hernderson, Duke
C Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

All-ACC Second Team
G Tyrese Rice, Boston College
G K.C. Rivers, Clemson
G Wayne Ellingson, UNC
F Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F Kyle Singler, Duke

Honorable Mention

G Jon Scheyer, Duke, F Danny Green, UNC, G James Dews, Miami, G Greivis Vasquez, Maryland, F Rakim Sanders, BC, G Lewis Clinch, GT, F Trevor Booker and G Terrance Oglesby, Clemson, G A.D. Vassallo and F Jeff Allen, VT

1. UNC #1 on Bleacher Report top 25
2. Duke #8
3. Miami #17
4. Clemson
5. Wake Forest #22
6. Virginia Tech
7. Georgia Tech
8. Boston College
9. Maryland
10. North Carolina Sate
11. Florida State
12. Virginia
Conference Rank: 1
North Carolina Tarheels

Head Coach: Roy Williams
2007-08 Recap: 36-3 (14-2 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: C 6’9” Alex Stepheson, G 6’3” Quentin Thomas
Key Additions: G 6’1” Larry Drew, F 6’10” Ed Davis, C 7’0” Tyler Zeller

Starting Line-up
G Ty Lawson 5‘11” Jr. 12.7 ppg, 5.2 apg
G Wayne Wllingson 6’4” Jr. 16.6 ppg, 4.5 apg
F Marcus Ginyard 6‘4” Sr. 6.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg
F Deon Thompson 6’8” So. 8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Tyler Hansbourgh 6’9” Sr. 22.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg

Tyler Hansbourgh came back to complete the mission. After winning every award and it being announced that his jersey will be retired at UNC, Hansbourgh could cement himself as one of the greatest college players ever.

Even at only 5’11”, there is no more important player on this team then Ty Lawson. While Hansbourgh gets the accolades, it is Lawson that drives this team. When he was out a handful of games last season, UNC looked slow and uncomfortable in their offense.

Smooth shooter Wayne Ellingson is the Tarheel’s first option on the perimeter. While shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc, Ellington will have to focus on defensive.

Marcus Ginyard is the defensive stopper and has guard most players from point to power forward.

The Tarheels are expecting improvement from Deon Thompson. After Alex Stepheson transferred, Thompson’s play must become more consistent.

Sixth man extraordinaire, Danny Green even though he is the only player off the bench that provides double digit scoring, it is his hustle and defense are what make him a Carolina favorite.

In the backcourt the Tarheels have experience at back-up in Bobby Frasier and we should see Larry Drew III as the “point guard in training” to replace Lawson when he leaves.

The freshmen forwards each have their specialty; Ed Davis is the rebounder and Tyler Zeller is the shooter. They bring in added height and depth to a rather short frontcourt.

FORECAST
Roy Williams has to be pacing in anticipation of the 2008-09 season. The Tarheels roster is stuffed full of talent and the expectations are higher that they have been since Williams has been on the UNC bench.

If there is a weakness one this team, it is that they are not a very tall team. There two tallest players are incoming freshmen Davis and Zeller, neither are going to be expected to add much more than five fouls and garbage time. Drew could see some time if Lawson gets hurt.

The only thing that could keep the Tarheels from bring the championship back to Raleigh would be injury – and a couple good teams!

Conference Rank: 2
Duke Blue Devils

Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
2007-08 Recap: 28-6 (13-3 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: G 6’4” DeMarcus Nelson, F 6’6” Taylor King
Key Additions: G 6’4” Elliot Williams, F 6’1” Miles Plumlee, F 6’8” Olek Cryz

Starting Line-up
G Nolen Smith 6‘2” So. 5.9 ppg, 1.3 apg
G Jon Scheyer 6’5” Jr. 11.7 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Gerald Henderson 6‘4” So. 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F Kyle singler 6’8” So. 13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F Lance Thomas 6’8” Jr. 4.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg

At 6’4” he is the Duke player the takes the jump ball at tip-off. Gerald Henderson is a phenomenal athlete, and his basketball game is finally catching-up. At times he is flash of the best player in the ACC and then other moments he is completely invisible. Henderson must find a personal comprise and also find ways, in the offense, to get his shots.

Sophomore guard Nolen Smith was declared the started my Coach K just a couple weeks ago. Smith is a budding offensive threat and a much better defender than people give him credit.

After living in the sixth man role for two years, Jon Scheyer gets the chance in the starting line-up. When he first came to Durham he was known as a distance shooter, but his game has evolved and is really a threat from anywhere on the floor.

Kyle Singler added twenty pounds of muscle to his wiry frame, which should help in the post. Teams must be track of him everywhere he goes on the court. He is a solid post scorer, good outside shooter, and is the main weapon in the screen and pop. His defense will be an issue as he will be match-up with bigger post players, depending on how is in the line-up for Duke.

The second forward or center spot is a tossup right now. Lance Thomas started last season, but he very well could be plucked from the line-up for 6’10” Miles Plumlee or 7’1” Brian Zoubek. No matter the decision, the three of them will be need for added muscle along with David McClure. Olek Cryz can get off the floor and thinks every shot should be a dunk.

Greg Paulus is going to play his begin his senior off the bench after starting since his freshmen year. Don’t let this fool you, he will split minutes with Smith and whoever is having the better game, will be in at the end. He is deadly from distance and is the most experienced player on the roster.

McDonald’s All-American Elliot Williams is explosive. He has the handle off a point guard and is not afraid to get to the basket. Finding him minutes is a must, but where. This season he will back-up Scheyer and Henderson – and then next season start in place of Henderson.

FORECAST
Since Josh McRoberts left a few seasons ago, Duke has been thin on the front line. But this season, Coach K actually has options. While all the offense will flow through Singler, there are many bodies to help with defense and rebounding.

Even though Duke lives by the three, the new distance will not hurt them. Most of their guys stood five feet behind the old line.

Caoch K will have this team play is signature pressure defense and but will look to find different ways to get all the players to their full potential on offense.

Conference Rank: 3
Miami Hurricanes

Head Coach: Frank Haith
2007-08 Recap: 23-11 (13-3 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: C 6’9” Anthony King, F 6’7” Raymond Hicks
Key Additions: F 6‘6” Fr. DeQuan Jones, F 6‘9” Fr. Cyrus McGowan

Starting Line-up
G Lance Hudle 6‘2” Sr. 8.0 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Jack McClinton 6’2” Sr. 17.7 ppg, 2.6 apg
G James Dews 6‘3” So. 10.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
F Brian Asbury 6’7” Sr. 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F/C Dwayne Collins 6’9” Jr. 8.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Who was the biggest impact player in the ACC not playing for a team in the Carolinas? That would be Jack McClinton. 6’1” he is a major threat from deep, is very capable of getting to the foul line and then shooting over 91 percent when he gets there, and is confident in the clutch. After considering jumping the NBA, McClinton came back to Miami and his stock should rise, along with the amount of wins for this team.

Super quick point guard Lance Hurdle is one of four key seniors on this team. Along with McClinton the offense starts with Hurdle. Hurdle must improve on his ability to deliver passes to the open shooter. Averaging only 2.4 apg with scorers like McClinton and James Dews, is ridiculous. Hurdle needs to connect to the rest of the offense in the natural flow of the offense to get easy and open shots.

James Dews is the last guard in this three-headed monster. He also shots over 90 percent from the foul line and 40 percent from the field. While he might have the stats of McClinton, he must elevate his game if this team wants to succeed.

Brain Asbury, another experienced senior for the Canes, should start at the beginning of the season. But Asbury has sixth man written all over him for the long of the season.

At 6’9”, Dwayne Collins is one of three players at that height. The Canes are not tall, but they take up space. He is a tough defender, great leaper, solid rebounder – especially on the offensive end – and can score on the block.

Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan is the most likely new face to compete for a starting spot.

Sophomore guard Eddie Rios is a starter in training and is a stellar ball-handler to take over next season

McQuan Jones will see plenty of playing time at the 3 spot. He is a very talented recruit and is the cornerstone for the future.

FORECAST
When would you have thought that the University of Miami would have a basketball team that has higher expectations that is football team?

Coach Haith knows that he is about to turn Miami from a cellar dweller to a top five ACC program.

Miami has talented pieces on offense, but it was their defense that was second in the ACC. If they can keep that a focus while getting a lift from the newcomers to the roster, this team should be ranked all season and make some of those Carolina teams very upset.

Duke Blue Devils Men’s Basketball 2008-09 Preview

Duke may have overachieved in the first half of last season, starting 21-1, then they either under achieved or played exactly like they were supposed to in the second half, finishing the season 6-5 and exiting the NCAA Tournament in the second round with a lose to West Virginia.
Going into the start of last season, there were many questions about Duke’s roster. Could junior point guard Greg Paulus show leadership and composure? How will Duke fair with its lack of quality big men? Can Duke’s offense be effective with the new “spread and launch” approach?

Some of those same questions apply to the 2008-09 season.

Duke lost its leading scorer and rebounder from last season in DeMarcus Nelson to the NBA and 6’6” freshmen Taylor King transferred to Villanova. But the Blue Devils brought in the 23rd rank recruiting class, headlined by McDonalds All-American guard Elliot Williams.

2007-08 Recap Record: 28-6 (13-3 ACC)
Postseason: NCAA Tournament – Lost in 2nd Round to West Virginia 73-67

Statistical Leaders
Points per game: G – DeMarcus Nelson – 14.5
Rebounds per game: G – DeMarcus Nelson and F – Kyle Singler– 5.8
Assists per game: G – Greg Paulus – 3.2

Key Players Out
DeMarcus Nelson 14.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 2.9 apg, and 1.5 steals pg
Taylor King 5.5 ppg, 2 rpg, 38% 3pt

Key Returning Players
Kyle Singler 13.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Gerald Henderson 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 blocks pg
Jon Scheyer 11.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.4 steals pg, 38% 3pt
Greg Paulus 11.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.5 spg, 42% 3pt
Nolan Smith 5.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 39% 3pt

Key Players In
Olek Czyz F 6-7 240 Freshman Reno, Nevada Reno
Miles Plumlee F 6-10 220 Freshman Warsaw, Indiana Christ School (NC)
Elliot Williams G 6-4 180 Freshman Memphis, Tennessee St. George’s

FRONTCOURT
The Duke front court could be separated into two groups; Kyle Singler and everyone else. The expectations and skill set for the two groups will be vastly different. Singler will carry the majority of shots and scoring for the frontcourt, while the other group will focus on defense and rebounding.

2007-08 ACC Rookie of the Year Singler, leads a very thin and inexperienced front line for the Blue Devils. Singler showed leadership and the ability to play in the ACC last season, but needs to become a better defender and shot blocker if he wants to lead Duke to the Final Four.

Miles Plumlee, whose brother Mason is a five star recruit committed to Duke for the 09 season, will bring shoot blocking Singler is currently lacking and has the potential to develop into a solid player on both ends of the floor. He needs to add strength to his thin, lanky frame.
Freshmen Olek Ozyz is a Poland native who went to high school in Nevada. He comes to campus already breed with the “Duke hustle”, athleticism, and the toughness the front court was missing last season.

6’8” Junior Lance Thomas started 28 games last season, and is this most experienced front court player on the roster, and will compete for the starting spot. He is athletic and plays tough defense and, like Singler, will guard players taller than him.

Look for Coach K to try and plug-in 7’1” Brian Zoubek into the starting line-up when the match-up calls for it, but he needs to stay healthy and stay out of foul trouble. Zoubek will not do much offensively, his focus will be defense.

David McClure is the only other player that saw meaningful minutes last season. He might be pushed closer to the end of the bench by Plumlee and Czyz, but when he comes in, he bring the typical Duke tenacity.

BACKCOURT
Unlike the frontcourt, the backcourt has a wealth of talent that is able to do everything. Greg Paulus has been in the starting line-up since early his freshmen year and Coach K will put the ball in the senior’s hands again this season. Look for Paulus to increasing his scoring through an even better selection.

Nolen Smith had a better than expected freshmen year. Duke was able to take Paulus out of the game and still have a very good ball handler in the game to direct the offense. That was something lacking two seasons ago. Smith should see more time as Coach K looks to develop Smith to take over the point next season. He will have greater opportunity to be creative in the offense but needs to step up on defense to help support Paulus who is poor on the ball defender.

If there is a Duke player on the verge of breaking out this season, it is junior G/F Gerald Henderson. With Nelson gone, Henderson will be the only player left with the ability to create his own shot. There is very little he can’t do offensively. He is able to get to the rim – and finish – and his mid-range jumper has become more consistent each season. When Duke is shooting poorly from behind the arc, the Blue Devils will need Henderson to create one on one.

The only on possible option to create shots outside the spread and kick attack, is five star recruit Elliot Williams. Williams is an explosive athlete. Like Henderson, Williams is able to get to the rim and finish in traffic. His height and ability to play either guard spot will lead to match-up problems and will allow the Blue Devils to play many different line-ups. It is tough to say if we will start or not, but he will see plenty of minutes.

Sixth man and three point specialist John Scheyer has the ability to spread the court. Last season he showed moments that his game has developed passed just being a stand still shooter. Either way, when he is on the court the defense has to be aware.

FORECAST
Interior play is still a weakness for this team. Coach K will have to address this issue from the beginning of practice. This season there will be more options on offense. Duke will come at teams with barrage of threes in the spread offense and off the pick and roll with any of the guards and Singler.

Duke’s offense will create problems for the opposing team’s zone defense. If you drop the zone too far into the lane, it will allow for wide open looks behind the arc. But if you keep the zone stretched to guard against the three, the lane will be open for Duke’s quards get to the rim.

The Blue Devils will never be a “sleeper”, but with all the focus on the UNC Tarheels, Duke will not get national attention of their rivals from Tobacco Road and that is just fine with Duke.
With Duke returning many key players – 83% of their scoring – and the addition of depth and height of the freshmen class, look to the Blue Devils to once again compete for the ACC title and make a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament.

STARTING LINE-UP G Paulus, G Williams, G/F Henderson, F Singler, F Thomas

NEXT OFF THE BENCH
G Scheyer, G Smith, C Zoubek, F/C Plumlee, F Czyz, F McClure