Duke Basketball Playbook 2022-2023


Duke Basketball Playbook (DBP) (Season 14 Issue Zero)

Pre-Season Edition
“This is my team,” Jeremy Roach takes up the mantle of team captain in his junior season. 
Photo credit: Alyssa Ting | The Chronicle 

Last season’s DBP ended with:

Next Year – Going Out With Coach K or Hanging In With Coach Scheyer?

“This week, when I asked Bill whether he wanted to go out with Coach K, or do the DBP next year, he said he wasn’t ready to decide.  For me, it’s been a 13-year joy to work with Bill (and now Jeanne and Laramie – go to dukebasketballplaybook.com for our history in a single page).  It wouldn’t be the same without him.

“So to all you Tinkerbell fans out there, do you believe Bill will return with Cliffsnotes next season??”


Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Jon Scheyer is one of my favorite Duke players. Because of his legendary scoring in his high school career, he entered college dubbed by the press as “Jewish Jordan” and was graduated as an accomplished point guard, whose heady all-round skills helped Duke win the 2010 NCAA Championship. Whom, of all Duke players ever, would you want on the line to ice a game (Laettner, J.J. Redick, & Scheyer)? It is no surprise that Coach K selected Jon from amongst all his ex-players to be his replacement. He is smart and handles pressure well. I expect Coach Scheyer will continue to recruit the right players and put competitors on the floor who mirror his traits as a player.

This team appears to shoot free throws and the three better than some recent squads (both were Scheyer attributes).  


There may never have been a season like this in the history of Duke basketball.  Coach K had already been Duke’s head coach for five years and been to the NCAA Championship game before new coach Jon Scheyer was born (August 24, 1987).  

You get insight into Scheyer from his high school decision and career.  Scheyer refused to transfer from his small high school to a basketball powerhouse high school.  Little Glendale North in the Chicago suburbs relied on his scoring.  (He once scored 21 points in 73 seconds in the State Championship game).  At Duke, Scheyer transformed into the multitalented point guard (quarterback) of the 2010 National championship team.

The 2022-2023 Blue Devils have exactly one returning player who played significant minutes during the 2021-2022 season, junior Jeremy Roach.  Also returning is Jaylen Blakes, a backup sophomore point guard who averaged only 0.5 assists per game in his mop-up 4.5 minutes per game (93 minutes total) last season.

On the other hand, Duke has the top-ranked incoming freshman class, as well as four graduate transfers for experience and depth.  The freshmen are so highly regarded that Duke, with a new coach and only one returning veteran, is ranked 7th in the pre-season polls.  

Here is what we have to chew on so far as we draw closer to the season opener on Monday, November 7 against Jacksonville.  Countdown to Craziness (October 21, 2022) featured a 16-minute intra-squad scrimmage that was great to watch, but less than informative.  On October 29, the Blue Devils flew to Houston for a controlled scrimmage against the Houston Cougars (ranked 3rd in pre-season polls), which was not televised or broadcast.  No box score was disseminated, but word of mouth was the currency of the sports writers.  Finally, on November 2, 2022, the young Blue Devils faced off in a televised exhibition game against Fayetteville State (Div. II).  

Duke’s pre-season has been so far without Dariq Whitehead and Derek Lively, who are rated as the two highest ranked freshmen in the country this season.  Whitehead broke his foot early in the pre-season and is still in a boot, weeks away from returning.  I have watched him a couple of times and am very impressed.   [Here is what I wrote about him last year after the Nike Summit game: “6’6” listed as a small forward.  He is my new favorite player in the world!  He is a tenacious and aggressive defender (and showed it in the all-star game!!!).  He has an outstanding handle, using it to penetrate and dish … when he wasn’t drilling jump shots from deep and mid-range.  He scored 17 points (5-7 from behind the arc)”]  Duke has announced that Whitehead has grown to 6’8” and that Kyle Fillipowski has reached 7’0”.

Lively’s playing condition will be evaluated each morning and the staff isn’t predicting when he will be cleared to play.  There is much speculation that Lively will play on Monday against Jacksonville.

Duke v Fayetteville State on November 2, 2022

The Blue Devils started grad transfer Ryan Young (from Northwestern) at center, freshmen Kyle Fillipowski and Mark Mitchell at forward, with junior Jeremy Roach and freshman Tyrese Proctor in the backcourt.  The two reserves who played starter minutes were grad transfer (from Illinois) Jacob Grandison and returning sophomore Jaylen Blakes.  The first half was more informative than the sloppier second half (with many players on the court who I predict will not be part of the rotation when the fat is on the fire).  Duke led 50-22 at half.  Jeremy led in minutes played with 16; Mitchell and Proctor played 14.5 minutes; Young played 13 minutes; Fillipowski 12.5; and Grandison almost 12.  

The perimeter defense was amazingly good for this early in the season and is my most positive take away from the pre-season.  Fayetteville State was held to 22 points in the first half and 23 in the final stanza. We know Roach can defend and will run the team (8 assists against a single turnover).  Jeremy will be Duke’s most important player (especially if he can perform at the point as his coach did in 2010).  

Proctor, who turned 18 last April, is worth analysis.  He has been a star on the Australian Under-21 team and played on the World team in the Nike Summit last year (Whitehead, Lively and Fillipowski were on the American team in that game).  Proctor is 6’ 5” and a lightning quick one-on-one defender.  Mark Mitchell (6’8” power forward) was a star on offense, whose defense looked as good as Proctor’s.  Mitchell is Proctor’s equal for speed, and he is a scorer as well (he led Duke’s first-half scoring with 13 points on 4-6 from the floor, including 0-1 from deep; and 5-5 from the stripe).  Add Whitehead and Lively, and this could be the starting five.

Scheyer played two Bigs at times (Young and Fillipowski) and sometimes a faster team with just one big (briefly it was Mark Mitchell).  Duke’s substantial size advantage limits analysis.  Young had 10 first-half points (12 for the game). Kyle hit one 3, had a two-handed slam and 4 boards.  He is very smooth for 6’ 11”.  Both will play substantial minutes.

Jacob Grandison shot 41% from deep last season for Illinois, and he kept it up last night, leading Duke in scoring with 17 (6-9 from the field including 3-6 from deep and 2-2 from the line).  Against Fayetteville, Jacob  scored 10 in the first half on deep shots and attacking the basket. I predict he will play a lot!

Jaylen Blakes got a long run in the second half after an impressive first half.  He is fast and hustles every second.  Whether he gets big minutes during the season will depend on how he looks when he gets opportunities (and how the other backcourt players perform).  Scheyer is evaluating to see if Jaylen merits inclusion in the rotation.

Duke was 11-11 shooting foul shots!  Indeed, the only troubling statistic is that Duke gave up 9 offensive rebounds to Fayetteville State in the first half (14 for the game).  Scheyer mentioned the need to improve rebounding in his post-game press conference.

Duke’s “Closed Scrimmage” Against the Houston Cougars on October 29

Because Houston is expected to be a powerhouse this season (ranked #3 pre-season), the scrimmage is a better test of where the young Blue Devils are in team development.  A recent development from the NCAA, the “closed scrimmage” has no television cameras or fans; just the statistics released to the press.  Duke, using essentially the same rotation as in the exhibition game, was beaten rather soundly, 61-50, while shooting poorly (15 for 41, including 2-17 from 3land).  Ryan Young was 3-3 and Mark Mitchell 3-4 from the field, which means the remaining Blue Devils were 9-34.  A good reminder for this young team not to be mesmerized by its press clippings.

Season Starts

Jacksonville, followed by USC Upstate on Friday, November 11.  The first real test will come on Tuesday, November 15 against Kansas in Indianapolis in the State Farm Champions Classic.  

Other November highlights include the Phil Knight Legacy in Portland Oregon (first round on Thanksgiving: Oregon State; second round on Friday versus the winner of Florida v Xavier, and the finals on Sunday) followed by a visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium by Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 challenge on November 30.  Should be a fun and informative month! ….stay tuned

Next Play:  Jon Scheyer’s First Game as Duke’s official head coach on November 7 versus Jacksonville!!!

Here we go! Jon Scheyer’s first season as head coach.
Photo credit: Samantha Owusu | The Chronicle 
Duke Basketball standing roster for 2022-2023 (pre transfers/additions) 
Photo credit: @Duke_Recruiting

Duke 71 v. Jacksonville 44 (Season 14; Issue 1) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”(November 7, 2022)

Roach & Scheyer: Running the team, from court and bench. 
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Head Coach Jon Scheyer: “I just took a moment before going out there. What an opportunity, what a moment. This is a place I’ve grown up in, playing, coaching, and to be here as a head coach, I was not going to be anywhere other than this moment right now. And hopefully I can do that, going forward through the ups and downs. But for me tonight, that was my main focus.”  

And an impressive 71-44 debut it was with his young team dominating Jacksonville from the very first alley-oop slam dunk by an impressive Mark Mitchell.

To the best of my memory, the only thing I recollect about Jacksonville University’s basketball team was when Artis Gilmore led them to the 1970 finals of the NCAA Tournament at Maryland’s Cole Field House where they lost to favored UCLA 80-69. I happened to be sitting behind the UCLA bench at that game, and the Bruins two All-American forwards, Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe, had their hands full with Gilmore. Coach Wooden just kept a tight grip on his rolled-up program and gave a “what me worry, you guys are playing him, figure out how to neutralize this guy” look at his over-matched stars before finally calling a timeout, calming them down, and employing a full court press that made it difficult for the Jacksonville guards to get the ball to their 7’1’’ star. 

Fortunately, there was no Artis Gilmore on this Jacksonville team. He was one of only a few players who could have saved the Dolphins tonight in an impressive debut of Scheyer’s young squad.

Jeremy Roach, the sole returning starter from last year’s Final Four team is the only captain, and the acknowledged leader, of this Duke team. He demonstrated as much tonight. However, Duke was not at full strength.  Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively, the two most highly rated freshmen, are injured and did not play but are expected to do so shortly. 

The rest of the players all had their moments, none more than Mark Mitchell as a virtual Swiss Army Knife player who does a lot of things and does them very well. Seven foot Kyle Filipowski, who just turned 19 yesterday, played to his height and more;  Graduate transfer center Ryan Young, while not as impressive athletically,has a more sophisticated understanding of post play which should become beneficial to the big men. Ryan scored 12 points, finishing 6-of-6 from the field with seven rebounds, six offensive.  Kyle scored 10 with 12 rebounds.  Sophomore Jaylen Blakes has made a giant leap in skill level from last year and, more importantly, clearly has the coaches confidence as a ‘pit bull competitor’.

The entire team seems to accept that it is DEFENSE FIRST philosophy. Time will tell how this team progresses, but it was a most impressive start.

Miscellaneous Notes:

Johnny Tar Heel thinks that Duke was more impressive tonight than North Carolina was in beating N.C. Wilmington. Duke is now 91-27 all-time in season openers, having won 22 consecutive. In season openers that occur at home, Duke has won 30 consecutive times.

Duke new head coach, who made his head coaching debut, is the 20th head coach in  Duke’s history. 


The Jon Scheyer-era opened as expected, with Duke’s superior athletes overwhelming Jacksonville, but the Blue Devils were still sufficiently tested,  considering the new coach and 11 new players.  However, it is worth noting that Duke’s two most heralded freshmen, Derek Lively and Dariq Whitehead, are still injured and did not play.  Scheyer said at the post-game press conference that each would be available “sooner rather than later.” We will know more about this team when the Blue Devils journey to Indianapolis on November 15 to play Kansas.   Here is what we learned from the opener:


Duke started the same five as in the controlled scrimmage against Houston and as in the exhibition game against Fayetteville State: Ryan Young (grad transfer from Northwestern) and freshman 7-footer Kyle Fillipowski in the front court, with team captain Jeremy Roach and Australian freshman Tyrese Proctor at guard.  6’8” Freshman Mark Mitchell was a revelation both on the wing and in the interior.


Duke essentially played only 7 players; five others made brief cameos at garbage time (Duke led by 25 with just a couple of minutes left to play).  The two reserves who played almost starter minutes were Jacob Grandison (grad transfer from Illinois) and returning sophomore Jaylen Blakes.  Interestingly, Duke had the best production when there was only one freshman on the court (either Mitchell or Fillipowski).  That freshman was on the floor with grad transfers Young and Grandison, plus Roach and Blakes (the only two returning players from last year).

Jaden Schutt, a freshman, played 3 minutes in mop-up time, without scoring.  The big news for me, unmentioned by the announcers, was the 2:03 minute appearance by Christian Reeves, a 7-foot freshman.  Reeves had been scheduled to redshirt this year, but… apparently not.  In the past, he would have automatically lost a year of eligibility when he entered the game. Note however: the NCAA rule may be changing to allow the redshirt later in the year (NCAA already made that the football rule). The decision to play Reeves may have been a result of his excellent play in the 16-minute intra-squad scrimmage at Countdown to Craziness.


It is hard to find fault with a defense that allows only  44 points in the entire game, and truly only about 12 points in the second half.  With 7:21 left in the game, Jacksonville had scored only 10 second-half points.  Jacksonville finally earned points # 11 and 12 with less than 1:51 left (before Jacksonville scored 6 points during the remaining garbage time).   

Duke simply played excellent defense based on outstanding hustle and admirable effort.  Proctor, Roach, Blakes, and Mitchell were glue on the perimeter.   Duke looked out of sync and a bit slow in the first half while attempting to defend ball screens and drives and control Jacksonville’s offensive rebounding. The Blue Devil halftime adjustments, however, completely destroyed Jacksonville’s offense.  The Bigs took control of the backboards in the closing stanza. Great coaching!  


Ball movement and good passing were keys to the Blue Devils’ efficient offense.  Scheyer, I think you see that on the court, the way we shared the ball. We ended up with 12 turnovers, but we had 19 assists.”   Duke was 10-29 from deep but Grandison, Proctor and Schutt were 0-9.  The starters and Blakes were 10-20 (Roach 4-7; Mitchell 2-5; Fillipowski 2-5; and Blakes 2-3). 4-10 from the two Bigs, Fillipowski and Mitchell, is encouraging. Duke was really 10-20 (50%) which is  great distance shooting.  The three who were 0-9, dragging the  percentage down are really good shooters, so it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Duke led by 29 with 2:03 to go (67-41).  

In the first half, Jacksonville had cut the lead to 3 (25-22) with 6:42 to play when Roach and Mitchell led Duke on a 10-0 run to its 42-26 halftime lead. Mitchell (11), Roach (16) and Blakes (6) scored 35 of Duke’s 42 first-half points.

Here are the relevant statistics:

  • Roach (31:56), scored all of his 16 points in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three-point range. This was a tie for his third highest-scoring career game (19 points is Jeremy’s career high). He was 0-1 from the foul line, and 0-3 with 0 points in the second half.  However, while Duke needs Roach to be a scoring threat, that is not his most important value.  Scheyer, “Jeremy Roach really set the tone for us. That’s what we need him to do all year long. … Overall though, Jeremy just had a great floor game. Forget about the scoring and the passing. I just thought his presence and his poise were really key for us tonight.” 
  • Ryan Young (31:54), 12 on 6-6, 0-1 stripe; 7 boards (5 offense), 3 steals, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers.  He has been a hustling force on the interior and (for me, anyway) a pleasant surprise so far.
  • Mark Mitchell (29:34), 18 on 7-14 including 2-5 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe. 2 assists, a steal, and a block, with 0 turnovers.  11 in the first half on 5-10 including 0-1 from deep plus  1-1 from the stripe.  He has been the eye-opening surprise of the early going on both ends of the floor.  He has shown no weaknesses so far.  Mark wears # 25, which is a retired number (Art Heyman’s number).  Heyman was a freshman when I was a senior and was the first overall NBA draft choice after he graduated in 1963. Mitchell obtained permission from the Heyman family to wear it.
  • Kyle Fillipowski (25:29), Coach Scheyer, “we’ve emphasized, defend and rebound. And I thought he was a great example of that tonight. He started off probably missing a few shots he normally would hit, and he just stuck with it and made some big-time rebounds. And a couple of them translated into easy baskets on the other end.”  Kyle became only the fourth Duke freshman ever to record a double-double in a season opener — 12 boards, 10 points 4-8, including 2-5 from deep, 0-0 from the line.  2 blocks, 3 assists, but 3 turnovers.
  • Tyrese Proctor (25:35), 2 points – 0-8 including 0-4 (2-2 from the stripe); 4 boards, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers, plus a steal.  He is a good shooter; this was just an off shooting night for him.  He never let his bad shooting impact his defense or ball handling.  I predict he will be a scorer for the Devils this season.
  • Jacob Grandison (24:26), 2 on 1-4, including 0-3 from deep.  Grandison shot 41% from behind the arc last year for the Fightin’ Illini.  As with Proctor, this was a good shooter having a bad night.
  • Jaylen Blakes (21:18), 8 points on 2-3 from deep in the first half and 2-4 from the stripe in the second half, to go with 3 boards, an assist, and a turnover.  Jaylen has displayed great quickness and hustle in his bid for inclusion in the rotation.  Monday was a good step forward.


Duke’s next critical challenge will be to establish Derek Lively and Dariq Whitehead in the rotation and in the starting lineup.  Be patient, this will take some time.  Lively may indeed play on Friday and will almost certainly be ready for Kansas.  It would be desirable for Lively to have at least some court time prior to Kansas on November 15.  Whitehead (and Lively) were each dancing up a storm at Countdown to Craziness, so cannot be that far from playing.   Personally, I am eager to see Whitehead and compare to his high school all-star performance that so captivated me last year.

Kansas is the first game we evaluate Duke against a national contender.  Then, over Thanksgiving the Blue Devils will play 3 games against Big Time opponents in Portland (Phil Knight Classic) followed by hosting Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.  What a great November!

Mark Mitchell ferociously drives for a score.
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics

Next Play:  USC Upstate on Friday, November 11 in Cameron at 6:30 p.m.   ACCN.

Duke 84 v. USC UpState 38 (Season 14; Issue 2) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (November 11, 2022)

Lively makes an emphatic return to the Court 
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

I don’t know what you can really tell from early basketball games. Stetson beat Florida State; College of Charleston gave # 1 UNC more than the ‘Heels could handle for about 32 minutes; Duke clobbered both Jacksonville and USC Upstate. 

Even later in the year a great game is no guarantee of a deep tournament run..  After Duke rather easily beat UNC at Chapel Hill, not many people thought Carolina would not only beat Duke, but also barely be beaten in the NCAA championship game.

It is a shame that we don’t get to see the young players mature.  Surely, they would benefit from physical and mental maturation that comes with a few more years of college.  Had Laetner left after his freshman year, Duke would never have won two NCAA championships – and never known the joys of “THE SHOT” of a lifetime!  Laetner himself would never have played in the Olympics on the Dream Team.  Grant Hill would never have had the thrill of the pass that led to “THE SHOT”.  Hurley would never have had the satisfaction of beating UNLV in 1991 after having been humiliated in 1990 by 30 points.

But I digress. Duke, as usual, shows promise –perhaps the deepest talent of any team since the 1991-92. I know what I like to see in young players – smart playmakers who know when their team needs someone to make a play, and then makes it.  So far, that is Roach and Mitchell, perhaps Lively and Grandison, and the most improved player, Blakes. We have not yet seen Whitehead, the much ballyhooed freshman. 7-foot Fillipowski is talented but needs to get stronger. Grad transfer Young can teach the other centers about post moves.  Only Proctor has not shown much as a shooting guard, but he has a good resume.

Don Henson, my old tennis coach, told me early on that there were 3 levels of shotmaking – in practice, in a match, and on a big point.  The same is applicable to basketball.

Somehow I feel that Scheyer’s biggest coaching challenge will be deciding who to play with whom – and when.  


It is hard to get an accurate read on this year’s edition of the Blue Devils because in each game (an exhibition and two regular season games, so far) Duke’s athletes have been simply bigger, faster, quicker, and measurably better than the players on the other team.  The first meaningful evaluation will come on Tuesday, November 15 (the day after tomorrow) when Duke meets 5th ranked Kansas (the 2021-2022 National Champions) in the State Farm Classic in Indianapolis.  This should pit two teams full of talented players seeking a big early season win, and supply that realistic evaluation we have been seeking. 

Derek Lively II

I thought the most meaningful event in Duke’s slaughter (84-38) of the University of South Carolina Upstate was the first appearance of Derek Lively II, the 7’1” freshman who was rated #1 in the class coming out of high school.  Derek hurt his calf in an early practice this season, causing him to miss the scrimmage at Countdown to Craziness, the closed scrimmage against Houston, the exhibition game against Fayetteville State, as well as both regular season games.  Even though Derek appeared far from his best form, his return to the court is very good news for the 2022-23 Blue Devils.  In almost 15 minutes, Derek scored 4 points on a pair of dramatic dunks, while grabbing two boards, and blocking two Upstate shots (the only Duke player with more than a single block), while also making a steal.  Coach Scheyer said, “His biggest thing is just getting back in game shape. You know, he has a live body. Got those dunks running the floor. That’s something he can really do, and it allows us to play very fast. He [Derek] and Ryan [Young], they can also play together. They’re a heck of a one-two punch with both of those guys in the game. They play differently but they complement each other very well. And I think that going against each other has made them each better, and ready to contribute in a big way.”   

Derek made his first appearance of the season with 15:39 remaining in the first half and played for approximately 4 minutes before a respite.  Duke was fighting back from a 7-0 opening deficit and Lively delivered immediately with an opening splash.  The Blue Devils still trailed 7-5 when Derek set a screen for Roach, and then rolled to the basket where Jeremy hit him for a powerful dunk to tie the game.  On virtually the next play, Derek released his defensive position and sped down court where Roach made a perfect pass  to Derek for another power slam and a 9-7 lead.  Derek impressed with a steal and some good quick defense.  He returned to the game for another 3 minutes from 7:40 to go until 4:43 left in the first half, getting 2 blocks — one without leaving his feet!

At one point, Duke had 3 freshmen on the court up front (Lively at 7’1”, 7’ 0” Fillipowski, and 6’8” Mark Mitchell) with Roach and Blakes in the backcourt.  The announcers said that lineup would be the 8th biggest starting team lineup in the NBA.  Derek was back in the game with 2:04 to go in the first half. He corralled a rebound, but at 55 seconds before halftime, Lively got tangled up on a subsequent rebound attempt and came up gimpy.  That was a scary moment, as Livelywas removed immediately and did not return in the first half.  In all, he played 8:28 in the first half, scoring 4, on 2-2 shooting (dunks), plus a rebound, a steal, and 2 blocks – but two turnovers.

Happily, Derek returned to play at the 16-minute mark of the final stanza, and played 3:20 (committing one foul), leaving the game with 12:40 left in the half.  Lively re-entered again at 9:31 and grabbed a rebound before committing his second foul and leaving the game for the final time with 6:36 remaining.  He did not look as good in his 6:22 of second-half playing time as he had in the opening period.  When Lively exited the game for the final time, the Blue Devils led 77-34.

The Rotation

Jeremy Roach (25:21) scored 10 points (3-8, including 2-6 from 3land, plus 2-4 from the stripe.  Great floor game included 8 assists (only 2 turnovers), 2 steals, and a block.

Mark Mitchell (23: 38) scored 13 points (6-10, including 1-1 from deep) to go with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Only a single turnover.

Kyle Fillipowski (20:41) led Duke in scoring with 15 points (4-11, including 0-1 from behind the arc, plus 7-8 from the foul line).  Kyle notched his second double double of this 2 game season, adding 10 boards, an assist, two steals and a block. 0 turnovers.

Jaylen Blakes (19:39) scored 6 points (2-4 from the field, including 1-1 from deep, plus 1-2 from the stripe).  Jaylen is firmly in the rotation, playing excellent defense and showing exemplary hustle.  He added 2 boards, 2 steals, and a block without a turnover.

Jacob Grandison (19:33) was a double-figure scorer with 12 (5-9, including 2-6 from 3land).  Jacob added 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and an assist (2 turnovers).

Tyrese Proctor (19:08) is still trying to find a comfort zone.  He is a heralded player, who was anticipated to play well and be a starter, but Tyrese has shot the ball terribly (0-8 in the first game; just 2 points on foul shots).  And only 3 points in this game (1-4, including 0-1 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe). However, he is a very capable defender.  He had 3 assists without a turnover and made a steal.

Ryan Young (17:33) also scored in double figures even though his playing time was slightly reduced from the previous games when Derek Lively had been unavailable.  Ryan scored 11 (4-8 from the field and 3-4 from the stripe) and pulled down 8 boards and blocked a shot.

Derek Lively II, (14:52) scored 4 points on 2-2 (dunks), pulled down 2 rebounds, plus contributed a steal and 2 blocks.  Welcome back, Mr. Lively.

Jaden Schutt (12:33) another freshman, played double-figure minutes for the first time at Duke.  His previous appearances have been unimpressive cameos, but he was better in this game.  Jaden scored 5 points (1-4, including 1-3 from deep and 2-4 from the stripe) to go with 3 rebounds and a block.  However, I doubt he has shown enough yet to be in the rotation.

The Defense

Scheyer sounded pleased with the Duke defense. “We played a good defensive performance, out rebounding them, holding [Jordan] Gainey to five points. He’s a really good player.  I thought Jacob Grandison and Jaylen Blakes’ energy brought defensive intensity. They really sparked us; from there we were off and running. The big thing for us is turning our defense into offense. 

“We’ve spent a lot of time on defense. That has been our main focus, and I think we’re in a good spot. They [USC Upstate] had six assists and 23 turnovers – I thought we were really disruptive. … We have Jaylen Blakes, Jeremy Roach, Mark Mitchell, Tyrese Proctor, and guys that can really defend the ball, and then we have a big frontcourt. We’re learning how to play physical without fouling. I think we have the makings of being a good defensive team.”

Playing excellent defense against USC Upstate and Jacksonville is not the same as trying to contain nationally ranked Kansas.  It will be interesting to evaluate the defense – indeed the team – after the next game.

Next Play:  Kansas on Tuesday, November 15 at the State Farm Classic in Indianapolis at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Roach is Duke’s high flying valuable leader
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics
Mitchel is the biggest pleasant surprise of the season so far.
Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics

Duke  v. Kansas (Season 14; Issue 3) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (November 15, 2022)

Tyrese finally plays a superb half!  Duke needs a point guard who can give Jeremy a rest now and then.  If Proctor plays as he did in the second half, he could be it.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

After the first two games of the 2022-23, I wrote: “I don’t know what you can really tell from early season basketball games.” Well, now we can tell that  Duke’s young squad understands they aren’t in high school anymore. The best college teams (Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Gonzaga, North Carolina) play like men, the games are forty minutes long.  and every opponent wants to beat Duke. Unfortunately, the Blue Devils did not play well to start or finish the game, so they lost. But for about the middle thirty minutes the young Duke team gave the veteran Jayhawks all they could handle. The remaining ten minutes were signs of immaturity.

Fillipowski had a third game of double-doubles (17 pts. & 14 rebounds) and showed considerable tenacity and fight; Roach was Roach 3.0; Proctor was more impressive than in the first two games; Mitchell was somewhat neutralized; Lively was not as impactful as expected; Young appeared overwhelmed athletically; Blakes and Grandison were nonfactors.

Defense has been a priority with Duke’s teams for decades. It is somewhat disconcerting that this team could not stop Jaelen Wilson from scoring 25 points and then freshman Gradey Dick from finishing off the game for Kansas in impressive fashion. Time will tell whether or not this young squad learned some painful lessons and matures into a team that is more than the sum of their considerable talents, or whether they are more focused individually upon impressing NBA scouts.  Whatever the case, it will be fun watching this talented group play and develop.


Predictably, both coach and experienced commentators correctly said and wrote that early season games (even losses) against elite competition is how young teams improve.  Coach Scheyer: “There’s no question that’s the best form of learning. Just being in these moments, there’s no way to simulate it. That doesn’t mean I’m happy or I’m enjoying this loss by any means. You have to hate it and learn from it, grow from it.”  

An in-depth analysis is part of how the experience of playing an elite team helps a young team grow.  


The Blue Devil defense is a work in progress, and it showed, especially in the first half, while Duke tried to adjust to the speed of the Kansas game in contrast to their several past games against less-than-elite opponents.  Mark Mitchell had more trouble than we saw in the first games, as did Jeremy Roach.  I thought the best Blue Devil defenders were Tyrese Proctor and Kyle Fillipowski; each had good success keeping the Kansas player in front and preventing penetration.  They switched seamlessly.

Derek Lively II is still adjusting to playing again.  While he did show flashes of what Duke hopes he will become, the rust was obvious.  Kansas had 21 assists for the game while Duke had 8. The Jayhawks penetrated the Duke defense with skill and enthusiasm.  Still, Duke forced 15 turnovers (many were simply bad Kansas passes), but blocked only 2 shots (0 by the starters).  Ryan is too slow to defend efficiently at this level.  I predict his playing time will shrink as Derek approaches game-shape and gains experience.  These weaknesses are real but need to be considered in concert with some terrific switching and individual defense.  In short, while the weakness against such a good team was real, this edition of the Blue Devils did demonstrate the makings of an excellent defensive team. 


Duke had only 8 assists, but committed 18 turnovers, a disappointing number of which were indisputably offensive fouls (lowering-the-shoulder charges) on drives. Duke shot just 9% from 3land in the first half (1-11); 14% for the game (3-21).  The second half was very different from the opening stanza, and I believe an in depth look at the closing period is the most revealing evaluation of Duke’s offense in this game.  Both Proctor and Mitchell played well after fruitless first halves (neither scored in the opening stanza), while Fillipowski was close to dominant for long stretches – especially in the second half.

First Half

Jeremy kept Duke in the game, scoring 11 of his 16 points.  Kyle scored 7, Jaylen 5 and Ryan 4.  Derek had the other 2 points for Duke’s 29 first half points.  It was ragged for sure.  Duke had 11 turnovers against 2 assists.  The Jayhawks blocked 7 Duke shots and Duke committed 9 first half fouls (too many charges).  Duke should have been down by far more than 4 points.

Second Half

Four Duke players played almost the entire second half (Mitchell 20:00; Roach 19:37; Proctor 18:50; and Fillipowski 18:38). Ryan Young (8:50) and Lively (10:58) divided the center position.  Young had 2 points, a rebound, and 3 turnovers, while Lively scored 2 points, grabbed a pair of rebounds, blocked a shot, and had an assist.  Duke could not keep up with Kansas when Young was the center (explains why Ryan logged less than 9 second half minutes).  Both Scheyer (“I thought we got tired” in his post-game press conference), and I, believe that Duke’s collapse in the last 4:37 was caused, in part, by Blue Devil fatigue.  

I thought the fatigue really really caught up with Roach especially.  Roach was so great until he wasn’t.  He also played the whole game (minus 23 seconds — he was out for just enough time for Duke to turn the ball over).  Scheyer sent him right back into the game.  Offensive foul at 1:23; missed front end of a 1-and-1 with 48  seconds left.  Tired.

    First 15 Minutes

Scheyer, “I thought our guys showed great heart, great resiliency in that second half to gain the lead. And really made some big-time plays.”  Duke took over the momentum and made the important crucial plays.  Kyle was absolutely dominant (10 points and 9 rebounds), while Proctor (9 points and 3 assists without a turnover) and Mitchell (7 points and 3 boards) combined with Kyle to help Duke forge a 59-54 lead with 4:37 to go. However, “Winning Time” was a pure disaster for the Blue Devils.  Neither Fillipowski, Proctor, Mitchell nor Lively scored in the final 4:37 of the game!

    Final Four Minutes and Thirty Seven Seconds

Duke was outscored 15-5 in this stretch, with Roach scoring all of 5 Duke points – a clutch three-pointer with 2:02 to go, cutting the Kansas lead to one, and a layup with 15  seconds left, cutting the Jayhawk lead to an unfortunately still insurmountable 3 points (67-64).  But with the game on the line, Duke, including Roach, made bad play after bad play to (quoting Jimmy Breslin) “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory”:

4:08 remaining, Kansas scores to cut the Duke lead to 59-56;

3:44 Kyle misses a 3 pointer;

3:02 Roach misses a jump shot;

2:54 Kyle turns it over on a bad pass;

2:28 Mitchell turns it over (a really bad turnover; Duke just died from there on);

2:22 Gradey Dick (Star Kansas freshman) hit a 3 over a less than enthusiastic closeout from Kyle. Moving leisurely, he simply did not get close enough to contest Dick’s shot.  Kansas takes the lead at 61-59;

2:02 Roach’s clutch-answering 3 – Duke regains its last  lead at 62-61;

1:39 Dick makes a backdoor cut that led to a dunk when Proctor got caught watching the ball and losing his man, giving the lead back to Kansas 63-62.  Kansas never trailed again.

1:23 Roach turnover (offensive foul)

1:04 Dick scores on a drive (I think past Proctor) Kansas 65-62;

0:48 Roach misses the crucial front end of a 1 and 1; if he had made them both it would have been back to a 1-point Duke deficit instead of the 3-point deficit;

0:22 Kansas fast break for a layup past a foul by Lively.  Even though Kansas misses the free throw, the Jayhawks then lead 67-62;

0:15 Roach lays one up 67 -64 (but too little; too late, with only 15 ticks left – as Duke was then forced to foul);

0:09 Kansas hits the final 2 free throws for the final 69-64 score.

The Rotation

Duke played 8 men in the first half, but only six in the second half (+ Blakes, who played only 3 late second-half minutes after logging 15 minutes in the first half.  Scheyer believes Blakes is the steal maven, and Duke’s last hope in the game was for Blakes to make a steal or two).

Jeremy Roach (39:37) scored 16 points (6-17, including 1-5 from deep, plus 3-4 from the line.  That miss was crucial – the front end of a 1-and-1 with Duke trailing by 3 with only 48 seconds remaining in the game).  Roach had 5 of his shots blocked and turned the ball over 3 times (including offensive fouls), with only a single assist.  Jeremy acknowledged in the post-game presser how Kansas’s terrific defense contributed to his in-game struggles.  I thought he was ‘plumb tuckered out’ in those last crucial minutes.

Kyle Fillipowski (33:03) had his third double-double in as many games.  He grabbed 14 rebounds while scoring 17 points to lead the Blue Devils in scoring.  He was Duke’s best player against Kansas (6-18 from the field, including 1-6 from behind the arc, and 4-4 from the stripe).  He also showed a welcome aggressiveness. 

Mark Mitchell (30:30) scored 7 points, all in the second half. .   In his 10:30 first-half minutes he took only one shot (0-1) and had trouble acclimating to the speed and tenacity of the Kansas defense.  Then he came alive in the second half, shooting 3-6 from the field, including 1-2 from the stripe.  However, he collected only 2 rebounds, committing 2 fouls and 2 turnovers in the entire game.

Tyrese Proctor (28:09) scored all of his 9 points in the second half, after an 0-2 scoreless first half with 3 turnovers.  He did get (as Jay Bilas recounted) untracked with an excellent second half. Tyrese finally looked like the international star he is. He played 18:09 of the second half (3-7 from the field, including 1-3 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 3 assists, without a turnover, and 2 rebounds.

Derek Lively II (20:29) scored 4 points (2-3 from the field) to go with 5 boards (4 were offense), a block, and an assist.  He was clearly not used to the speed of such a high-level game but is slowly returning to form.  Duke needs him to live up to his high school reputation.

Ryan Young (19:37) scored 6 points on 3-4 from the field.  He grabbed 2 boards but committed 4 turnovers.  I thought he was unable to adjust to Kansas’s speed on defense, nor to defend against the Jayhawk drives and post moves.

Jaylen Blakes (18:24, but only 3:07 in the second half) scored 5 points, all in the first half (1-5 from the field including 0-2 from behind the arc and 3-3 from the stripe).  He had 3 boards but seemed almost too excited to be effective.

Jacob Grandison (10:11, all in the first half) didn’t score (0-4, including 0-3 from 3land) to go with a rebound and a turnover.  His absence on the floor in the second half was significant. Grandison obviously played so poorly in the first half that Scheyer lost confidence in him for the second half.  As a result, four starters played virtually the entire second half.  (Blakes came in at the end when Duke desperately needed steals — only for 3 minutes).  Duke’s lack of a bench in the closing period contributed to the exhaustion of the team at “winning time”.


Optimistic news: Dariq Whitehead was in uniform and in the pregame layup drill line.  He will not play against Delaware on Friday but might see his first action next Monday (November 21) against Bellarmine in Cameron.  

Duke gets another opportunity to play against elite competition in the Phil Knight Legacy in Portland, OR –  on Thanksgiving at 3 pm against Oregon State, followed by a Friday (November 25) game against the winner of the 1st round Florida v Xavier.  The tournament championship game on Sunday (should Duke win twice and qualify) could be against Gonzaga.  All good games for in-depth evaluation and for Duke to demonstrate major improvement.

Next Play:  Delaware on Friday, November 18 in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:00 p.m. on TV RSN.

Jeremy drives to the basket for either a spectacular layup or an offensive foul.
Photo Credit: ACC Network
Kyle was simply dominant on both ends of the court. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Duke 92 v. Delaware 58 (Season 14; Issue 4) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”

Tyrese settling in
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

After playing the perennial powerhouse Kansas, how do you take a game against a team named the Blue Hens seriously? Well, they are actually a well-coached team, which Duke found out in the minutes before the half when their lead was cut to 6 points. The second half the Blue Devils talent, depth, and size reasserted itself.

It was the first game Duke had all of their players available as both Lively and Whitehead were in, although not ready to display their “A” games. That’s expected, of course, given  their health. Whitehead finished with six points on 3-of-11 shooting in 15 minutes. He didn’t commit any turnovers. “I feel great,” Whitehead said. “I just feel like I need to get another game to get it back going with game speed, game repetition, stuff like that. But body wise I feel great.” Lively played just 15 minutes before fouling out. In addition, tying for the team lead with four assists, he scored five points and grabbed two rebounds. He also played a turnover-free game.

Duke fans should be prepared to be patient while the young players get healthy, mature, and get used to playing together, cohesively, against older players. They are not in high school anymore.

The success of this team will also depend on Coach Scheyer making the correct decisions regarding  which players to play—and when.


The most significant takeaway from Duke’s game against the Delaware Blue Hens is that Dariq Whitehead played in his first game since he broke his foot in August. He logged more than 15 minutes, and Scheyer smiled in the post game press conference noting that the team fed Dariq as if they were welcoming him back; he actually hoisted up the second most shots – 11 attempts.  His skill and physical gifts were obvious, even if he was, as expected, a bit rusty.

The second most significant takeaway was Duke’s potential backup point guards, Tyrese Proctor and Jaylen Blakes, playing terrific games, giving Coach Scheyer and Duke fans a hope that Jeremy Roach won’t have to play every minute in every game against elite competition.

Duke got some of its mojo back after the disappointing last 4:37 in the loss to Kansas!

The Defense

The last half of the opening period was not good news for the Blue Devil defense. In the last 9:30 of the first half, Delaware scored 20 points (that’s a rate of over 100 points per game) to Duke’s 13. With 5:38 left in the first half, Duke had been playing well and led by 13 (35-22). Suddenly, Duke stopped defending, and Delaware started scoring in bunches. With 3:02 left in the half, the Blue Hens trailed by only 5 points, having outscored Duke 11-3 in 2:36.  Duke led 42-36 at halftime, a too slim lead against an overmatched opponent.

In the second half, the Blue Devils limited Delaware to 22 points on 9 field goals in 26 shots, including 0-9 from deep.  The Blue Hens scored the last 4 points of the game at garbage time.  You could say Duke gave up only 18 second-half points. Duke forced 11 second-half turnovers (7 steals) and blocked a pair of shots.  Tellingly, Duke’s defensive pressure held the Blue Hens to only 2 assists on their 9 hoops.  The Blue Devils never let up on defense and simply took the Delaware hearts and spirit out of the game.

Scheyer On Duke’s defense and in-game adjustments: 

“I think the biggest thing is just the fact that we were solid in the second half. We were pretty spread out there in that first half. Probably a good amount of that’s on me, I wanted us to pick up, and I think that led to gambling and looking for steals. That’s not our defense, we need to be solid, disciplined, and with our size, protecting the paint. Give them credit, they hit some tough threes in that first half.  I thought we did a much better job of being disciplined, controlling the ball, and having an awareness for protecting our rim.” 

For the game, the Blue Devils had 8 steals (Dariq Whitehead had 2; Jeremy also had 2, while Mark, Kyle, Tyrese and Jaylen each had one) and 5 blocks (Kyle had 3; Derek and Ryan had one each)

The Offense

The Blue Devil offense was good for the first 10 and a half minutes of the first half before bogging down into missed shots, offensive fouls, and other turnovers.  Even so, Proctor had a scintillating first half, scoring 9 first-half points (3-6, including 1-2 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 7 boards and 3 assists.

The second half was a clinic, as Duke scored and defended at the highest level; Duke outscored the Blue Hens 50-22, shooting 48% (18-38, including 3-7 from behind the arc and 11-12 from the foul line.  At garbage time, the Blue Devils emptied their bench and led by 38 points (92-54) with 1:18 to go before Delaware scored their last 4 points.

Duke had 18 assists and only 10 turnovers, shooting 50 % from the field (34-68, including 6-14 from deep – Kyle was 2-5; Jaylen, 2-3; Jacob, 1-1; and Tyrese, 1-2 — and 18-21 from the foul line).  

Filipowski led the closing stanza surge with 11 second-half points (4-7 from the field, including 1-2 from deep and 2-3 from the foul line) and 5 rebounds (8 for the game; his first collegiate game without a double double.)  Mark Mitchell came alive, scoring 10 second half points (3-4 from the field and 4-4 from the foul line), while Jeremy Roach scored 7 of his 9 points in the closing period (2-5 from the field; 0-1 from 3land; and 3-3 from the stripe), but Jeremy did not have a single assist in the entire game. 

The Rotation

Jeremy Roach (28:45) scored 9 points (2-9, including 0-1 from deep and 5-5 from the foul line).  Jeremy did not have his best statistical game with 2 turnovers and 0 assists.  However, his defense on Delaware star Jameer Nelson, Jr. was superb and included 2 steals.  Coach Scheyer praised his game, “ I thought he did a really good job of running our team and making others better. For Jeremy, it’s about the little plays. I thought tonight he really was just making the winning plays…that play, the charge, which ended up [a foul] as he was in the cylinder, putting his body in the line, and then that offensive rebound. Those little plays that add up to winning! He has to set the tone for us every night with that, and I liked what he did there, especially in the second half coming out from halftime.”

Tyrese Proctor (27:49) had his best game of the young season, scoring 13 points (5-10, including 1-2 from 3land and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with an astonishing 10 rebounds (his first double double; is Kyle jealous?) and 4 assists.  After starting the season with subpar play, Tyrese has scored 22 points in his last 3 halves and is now,  therefore, solidly in the starting lineup. An ecstatic Scheyer gushed, “you could just tell pregame he was moving in a different way. He’s sped up his game; he’s worked on that. I thought he was a really determined driver, getting in the paint tonight. And then, 10 rebounds! He took a huge charge on [Jameer] Nelson for his third foul. Then, his scoring early – and did a good job of sharing and passing early, really set the tone for our team.”

Kyle Filipowski (25:14) was Duke’s highest scorer and quite possibly the Blue Devils’ best player (again).  Kyle scored 18 points (7-13, including 2-5 from behind the arc and 2-3 from the foul line) and ably defended Duke’s defensive back board (7 defensive rebounds of his 8 total) and 3 blocks.   He is so long, coordinated, and quick that he is very difficult to defend.

Mark Mitchell (23:00) scored an efficient 12 points on 6 shots (4-6 from the field, no attempts from behind the arc and 4-4 from the foul line).  He grabbed 3 boards, handed out an assist (a sweet one) and made a steal.  Two turnovers.

Jacob Grandison (19:20) had a hot shooting game after playing only 10 minutes against Kansas (he never played in the Kansas second half).  Jacob was Duke’s fourth double-figure scorer with 10 points on perfect shooting (4-4 from the field, including 1-1 from deep and 1-1 from the stripe) to go with 4 boards and a pair of assists without a turnover.  Scheyer appreciated Grandison’s maturity, “He didn’t play as much on Tuesday. … [However, Grandison] didn’t put his head down. He’s worked really hard for two days. I thought he was just absolutely terrific tonight. I’m really proud of the response and effort from our team.” 

Jaylen Blakes (17:48) demonstrated what a valuable reserve he is, injecting the Blue Devils with his special brand of high energy and disrupting defense.  He also carried his weight on offense against the Blue Hens, scoring 9 points (3-6 from the field, including 2-3 from 3land and 1-2 from the foul line) and handing out 4 assists.  He also garnered 3 boards and a steal (a beauty for an uncontested layup).

Ryan Young (16:05) scored 6 points (3-4 from the field) to go with 6 boards, 3 assists and a block.  He is very effective against this level of competition.

Dariq Whitehead (15:44) made his first appearance this year, and that might be the most important fact of this game. Dariq is not shy; he took the second most shots for Duke (11; Kyle took 13) Despite the obvious rust, Dariq scored 6 points (3-11, including 0-2 from behind the arc) to go with 2 rebounds and 2 steals.  Whitehead has an imposing body and is cat quick.  Our young coach agrees, “Dariq did well. He hasn’t even had a week of practice under his belt. We knew there will be some rust, but I think you can see his athleticism, his body, and he’s really a smart player. He’s very smart. He knows how to move without the ball and play offense… I really liked his effort. We were hoping to get him 15 minutes tonight. And we did get him 15 minutes and so happy with that result.” 

Kyle Filipowski added, “I’ve known Dariq and been playing with him since fourth grade. So, just being able to play with him again, seeing him do what he does best. It might not have been the best performance, but he’s getting there and it’s great to see him back out on the court.”

Dereck Lively II (15:02) fouled out in his brief appearance while scoring 5 points (2-3 from the field and 1-2 from the foul line).  He is very quick and defensive minded (but has to learn how the refs call college games).  A key statistic to demonstrate Dereck’s value, he had 4 assists from the post as well as 2 rebounds and a block.  You can see the rust receding.

Summing Up

Duke has one more game against unranked competition before heading to Portland OR for 3 Big games, in the Phil Knight Legacy, where they’ll be up against stiffer competition.   

Next Play:  Bellarmine on Monday, November 21 in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:00 p.m. on TV ACCN.  BTW, Bellarmine beat Louisville by a point on November 9, and lost a close game to Clemson last night; never underestimate a “lesser” team.

Great Expectations: Dariq returns from Injury
Photo credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics
Roach and Grandison consult, as each provided valuable minutes in this game.
Photo credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics

Duke 74 v. Bellarmine 57 (Season 14; Issue 5) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (November 21, 2022)

Jaylen Blakes has earned Scheyer’s praise  for anchoring Duke’s bench. Photo credit: Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Bellarmine is no cupcake opponent. Most bigtime basketball teams won’t schedule them because their “pass first” offense is too difficult to play against. The Blue Devils met the challenge by playing some of their best defense and offense of the year, with three players contributing double digits and eight players logging an assist.  Duke needed it all because the final score was deceiving. The Blue Devils had difficulty expanding a ten-point lead for most of the game. However, a combination of Duke’s athleticism and length made a challenging evening for the Knights, forcing them to rely on backdoor cuts and difficult looks to get within single digits.

Coach Scheyer played nine players for at least ten minutes. Once again, Kyle Filipowski led all scorers (with 18 points in 20 minutes) and Jacob Grandison (with 16 points in 27 minutes). Interestingly enough, Lively and Whitehead scored only two points each as they are clearly behind the others due to injuries. Blakely continues to impress with his high-energy play. All the other Duke players also had their moments – especially Filipowski, whose offense and feistiness are reminiscent of Christian Laettner. It remains to be seen how Kyle holds up against bigger, stronger opponents. 

The depth of this squad will come in handy as the season grinds on. Jon Scheyer and his coaching staff have had an impressive start to the season.

Other Comments:

Virginia beat Houston and North Carolina appears to be hitting their groove. The rest of the ACC has not been impressive.


I had and still have a good feeling about Duke’s performance against Bellarmine for several different reasons, not all of which made it to the various commentators’ accounts of the game.   Most importantly, the Blue Devils have discovered an excellent point guard to supplement Jeremy Roach while they are on the floor together, and to give Roach the necessary rest so he can be at his best when the game winds down, or ratchets up to “winning time”.  I am, of course, talking about the 6’5” young (turned 18 last April Fool’s day) Australian, Tyrese Proctor, who was to be a high school senior this year, had enough credits to graduate, and therefore was able to reclassify to play with this year’s edition – I think after Keels leaving for the NBA opened the possibility of Tyrese winning a starter’s position. It is turning out to be a great decision because he just might be Duke’s best freshman in a fabulous freshman class. (I will get to Kyle in a moment). Proctor has an infectious confidence that breeds trust from his teammates and coaches.  Tyrese has incredible athleticism to go with his spirit and determination, as proven by his rebounding ability, unusual for a guard (8 last night to tie Kyle for the most on the team) and his shot blocking (led Duke with 2 against Bellarmine).  Tyrese is a key component who will grow as the team grows.  Exciting to watch.

A second dramatic reason to feel good is the play of freshman phenom, Kyle Filipowski.  He played only half of the game against Bellarmine, and led Duke in scoring with 18 points, and tied with Proctor for the rebounding lead with 8 (the stat sheet said 8, but I thought he had more because he grabbed every rebound in the last minutes of the game at both ends).  He is an unusually good ball handler and passer, and he can score at all 3 levels – behind the arc, mid-range, or in the post, and he is an excellent offensive rebounder.  After having said all that, his commitment to growth is dramatic on the defensive end as well.  Scheyer said as much because few 7 footers apply themselves to defending the perimeter.  Kyle has done so and he can guard the opposition guards on the perimeter as well as their Bigs in the post.  So far, he has been a revelation.

Finally, there is the bench-spark combination of Jacob Grandison and Jaylen Blakes.  Grandison languished against Kansas, playing only 10 first-half minutes, without scoring.  Since then, Jacob has been on a tear.  Against Bellarmine, he led the Duke bench with 16 points on fabulous shooting (6-9 from the field, including 4-7 from 3land).  Blakes was not expected to be in the rotation, but he has demonstrated blinding speed and a larcenous streak when defending.  His improvement has been dramatic and he has now earned a spot in the rotation.

On the defensive end, Lively is earning his keep with his quickness, high basketball IQ, and length.  This edition of the Blue Devils has the potential to be an excellent defensive team.  How much of that potential will be realized is probably the most important factor in the overall success of the 2022-23 Duke team.


Jeremy Roach (33:01) had a superb floor game on offense and played excellent defense, though he was occasionally beaten on backdoor cuts.  More important than his 10 points (4-10 from the field, including 2-4 from deep) were his 5 assists, against only a single turnover.  Everyone – commentators and coaches acknowledge that Jeremy is Duke’s most important player!

Tyrese Proctor (30:56) has become a valued starter in the Blue Devil lineup.  Even on a poor shooting night (his only shot attempts were 9 from behind the arc; 2-9 for 6 points), Coach Scheyer had him in the game longer than all of his other players besides Roach.  Tyrese is a wonderful athlete as proven by his 8 rebounds (tied with 7’0” Filipowski for team lead), 2 blocked shots (to lead Duke in blocks), and 2 assists.  He runs the team when Jeremy is not on the floor.

Jacob Grandison (26:21) played the most minutes besides the two guards, even though he did not start.  Simple rule of basketball, if your shot is going in, you will be on the court longer.  Grandison was a star, scoring 16 points on dazzling shooting (6-9, including 4-7 from behind the arc).  Coach S praised Jacob and Jaylen Blakes as a great bench that might make Duke be even better than when the starters are on the floor, “Jaylen, and Jacob, they just bring a certain energy. They play the right way. They’re all about winning. Each game for Jaylen and Jacob, it can be rebound, bucket, deflection, they’re winners. And I feel good when they’re on the court. It can be when they’re in, we get better. And that’s something not a lot of teams have when you go to your bench, you can get better. For us, we have that.”

Dereck Lively (23:12) is logging more minutes than in his first few games back from injury, and his presence makes the interior defense imposing because of his length and quickness.  He is still not scoring (1-2 from the field for 2 points), but  he grabbed 5 boards, had a blocked shot, and 2 assists (one was a fabulous over the head pass out of the post to Mitchell in the corner for an open 3).  Coach is pleased even though he knows Dereck is not completely in game shape yet as he continues recovering from his injury, “Dereck every single game has taken big time strides going forward.  The next step is to when you are open, shoot it; when you have a guy closing, drive it.”

Mark Mitchell (21:15) had an excellent all-around game, though he was beaten more than once on backdoor cuts.  Mark scored 8 points (3-6 from the field, including 2-4 from deep) to go with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, a (sensational) steal, and a blocked shot.  He is an excellent one-on-one defender.

Kyle Filipowski (20:36) played only half the game (we wonder why), but led Duke in scoring with an efficient 18 points on only 8 shots (4-8, including 3-5 from behind the arc and a gaudy 7-8 from the foul line;) and grabbed a team-high 8 boards (tied with Tyrese).  He continues to be Duke’s unstoppable best player. 

Jaylen Blakes (19:17) scored 8 points (3-6 from the field, including 1-3 from 3land and 1-1 from the foul line), while grabbing a pair of rebounds and handing out 2 assists.  Scheyer appreciates Jaylen, “Jaylen is everything that Duke basketball is about. … when we started recruiting Jaylen, I didn’t know I’d be the head coach.” [Even though he played sparingly last year], “he got better. You didn’t necessarily get to see him all the time get better, but he worked his butt off every day, had a great attitude. He competed against Jeremy Roach, Trevor Keels and Wendell Moore, every single day. And now, here he is making a big impact.”

Ryan Young (15:26) is a great backup for Lively II.  As Dereck improves, Ryan plays a bit less.  He scored 4 points (1-1 from the field and 2-2 from the stripe), to go with 7 valuable rebounds and an assist.

Dariq Whitehead (9:56) played less in his second game back than he did in his first one.  His rust is apparent but so is his unmistakable talent.  He scored 2 on a layup, but missed his other 3 shots (all of which were from behind the arc). His almost-10 minutes were divided into very short stretches.  He is not yet, but I predict he will be a genuine force before the season ends (think AJ from last year).


The trip to Portland will give us much to evaluate.  It will be the Blue Devils second road trip.  Scheyer: “We know it’s going to be three high-level games, no matter what the outcome is. I’m excited and I just want to go for it. I think we learned a lot in the Kansas game; we can’t go into it tentative or unsure, we need to go after it and then see what happens.” 

Duke has played excellent offense so far this year (except those last 4:37 against Kansas).  Against Bellarmine, the Blue Devils had 18 assists on 25 made field goals. Duke was also 10-11 from the foul line! Kyle was 7-8 for Duke’s only miss. The Coach: “We have made some really unselfish plays, sharing the ball. … the quality of shot is something we talk about consistently. And tonight …  we had great quality in our shot selection.” 

We will learn more about this 2022-23 team in Portland.   Good coaching requires creating the right way to win against different opponents.  Scheyer emphasizes that there are many ways to win, “It won’t be the same strategy on Friday.  Each game is different.” 

I said I had a good feeling about this Bellarmine game, and I admit to having a good feeling about this season’s team. Their improvement is palpable, and you can feel the good vibes from the players.

Next Play: Phil Knight Legacy Tournament in Portland Or! 

  • Thursday November 24 (Thanksgiving Day) at 3:00 p.m. vs. Oregon State on ESPN;
  • Friday, November 25, if Duke beats Oregon State, the Blue Devils will play the winner of Xavier v. Florida  at 3:00 p.m. on ESPN; or if Duke has lost to Oregon State, the Blue Devils play the loser of Xavier v. Florida at 6:00 p.m., on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. 
  • Sunday November 27 has 4 games scheduled: championship game at 3:30 on ABC; Third Place game at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. The fifth place and 7th place games will be played but no details have yet been released.

DBP edition covering the Duke games played on November 24 and 25 will be disseminated on Saturday, November 26, a post-tournament edition will cover Sunday’s game and be sent out early next week.

The freshmen are learning and improving.  They are good.  This photo depicts who everyone understands is Duke’s most important player, Jeremy Roach!!!
Photo credit: Duke Athletics
Jacob Grandison has found his shot, which makes the Duke bench efficient and dangerous.
Photo credit: Duke Athletics

Duke 54 v. Oregon State 51; Duke 71 v. Xavier 64 (Season 14; Issue 6) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. Games #6 and 7 (November 24 and 25, 2022)

Jeremy’s bravura performance was simply dazzling.  Photo credit: Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:


A disappointing effort. Duke couldn’t throw a basketball from a boat in the middle of the ocean and hit water. I thought the most interesting move was Coach Scheyer finishing the game with the two veterans,Young and Grandison, on the floor with the youngest player,Filipowski; they all delivered at winning time. Kyle also made the defensive play of the game! In a defensive switch, he ended up with the point guard, stayed in front of him on a drive, and stole the ball in the lane. In addition, he hit the go-ahead three. So far, he is the most versatile and valuable freshman.


Different day, different Duke team. The Blue Devils scored 71 points hitting 50 percent from the floor, including 5-11 on threes. The big difference was the play of Duke’s point guard Jeremy Roach, who had 21 on 9-15 (2-4 from deep). More importantly, when Duke needed a play, which happened often because Xavier just didn’t quit, Roach consistently made big plays, and not just scoring plays either. He also had 4 rebounds, 5 assists & 2 steals. When Roach plays like this, Duke can compete with any team!

It was also a better balanced team effort.  Kyle Filipowski and Ryan Young didn’t carry the team this time, as they did Thursday against Oregon State. The scoring was much better distributed: Filipowski had 12, while Young had 8. Filipowski had 4 rebounds while Young added 6. And Mark Mitchell, who was essentially a non-factor Thursday, sure was excellent against Xavier. He put a lot of pressure on Xavier’s defense and finished with 16. Blakes was an energizer bunny both days. Whitehead showed more signs of improvement and finished with 5 points.  Lively was a major factor defensively. His shot-blocking skills are becoming quite formidable, but point-blank dunks are his only sure shots and his 0-4 foul shooting makes him a liability in close games. Unless Proctor starts to score more consistently, he appears to be a candidate for the odd man out.

Other comments:

North Carolina, which has been ranked first in most polls but has not been playing that way, was beaten by Iowa State. They can and will play better.


What an interesting and complex first two games of the tournament!  Lots of unexpected early season results across the country (UNC got a scare from the University of Portland Pilots and then lost to Iowa State).  The complexity of Duke’s offensive disaster against Oregon State, their heart and effort against Xavier, and Duke’s consistent defense, make us want to pay close attention  in the championship game on Sunday and see how Duke deals with the Purdue Boilermakers (ranked #24) and their huge (7’4” 295 lb.) center, Zach Edey, who is averaging 23 ppg. In the semi-final late on Friday night, Gonzaga (#6) clearly had no answer for Edey, the Boilermaker offense in general,  or for their defense for that matter, losing 84-66.  The post-tournament DBP will have a full analysis of what we have learned of the 2022-23 Blue Devils from their string of Phil Knight Legacy games.

This 2-game edition of the DBP will cover the defense, the Jekyll-Hyde offense against Oregon State, and the steadfast effort that beat a good Xavier team.  The “Rotation” will cover both games for each player ordered by playing time against Xavier.

The Defense

Duke’s calling card this season will be defense.  Duke has held each of their seven opponents this season to less than 70 points, and five to less than 60. The Blue Devils held Xavier to a season-low 64 points – the Musketeers were averaging 85.8 points entering the game. Moreover, Duke held Xavier’s leading scorer, Jack Nunge (a 7’1” bruiser of a center, who can efficiently score the 3), to a season-low five points (1-of-13 shooting). Nunge’s previous scoring low this season was 14 points, vs. Indiana. 

Mark Mitchell in the post Xavier game press conference: “I think yesterday we didn’t have our best performance. I think today we tried to come in and lock in on the scouting report. We knew [Nunge] was their most important player, we just tried to come in and shut him down and do everything we could to stop him.” And they did!

Against Oregon State, the defense gave up only 51 points in the game – 27 in the first half and 24 in the closing period.  Duke allowed 5 (of 13) from deep in the first half, but only 1-8 in the second half.  The Blue Devils forced 11 turnovers (but could not really disrupt the Beaver offense).

The defense has been simply outstanding at “winning time”.look at this stat!:  After Duke holding Oregon State without a field goal for the final 5:03 of regulation, the Blue Devils did not give up a point to Xavier in the game’s final 5:51!  As Scheyer pointed out, scoring the crucial hoop is not sufficient by itself because, “you, of course, have to follow it up with a stop, and we did that enough times to get some separation and never let them really get the lead, which was a big deal.”  It was a profound contrast to the Kansas game. 

Good overall defense; maybe even very good, but not yet great. Duke gave up points in the paint, mostly on drives.  While the defense is still a work in progress, the potential for Duke to be outstanding defensively this season is palpable. As Scheyer exulted after the Xavier win, “And the last huddle, I think there was 3:30 on the clock, they were the ones talking. Our guys were, ‘Hey we’ve been here before, we know what to do’. And they came out, all five guys were locked in, and I thought we came up with some big-time rebounds.”

The Offense

Jeremy Roach played both a brilliant Dr. Jekyll (against Xavier) and a despicable Edward Hyde (versus Oregon State).  Consequently, Duke was a disaster on offense against the Beavers, and an efficient commando unit against Xavier.  Let us note that Scheyer has been a brilliant bench coach, getting the most out of his somewhat inconsistent team to reach the championship game of the Legacy tournament.

Oregon State

Duke shot 26.7% from the field (17% from behind the arc) for the game – which constitutes a flat disaster.  It is the lowest percentage of shooting in Duke basketball history for a game won by the Blue Devils.  Duke outscored the Beavers 29-27 in the first half, when Jeremy Roach hit his only 3 pointer with 15 seconds left in the first half.  While the Blue Devils achieved just minimal production in the opening period, the second half was even worse.  Duke only scored 25 second-half points (6 – 29 from the field, including a clanking 1-14 from 3land.  The “one” of the 1-14 was Kyle Filipowski’s to tie the score at 45 with 8:22 left in the game).

    The Good

By some stroke of luck, Duke found a way to win while playing terribly.  In the final 7:35, the Blue Devils outscored the Beavers 9-4.  Roach broke the tie with a jump shot (47-45 with 7:32 to go); Kyle Filipowski made 1-2 from the line, and after a flurry of Duke and Beaver misses, also made 2-2 from the stripe (Duke led by 50-47 with 3:23 remaining). After the Beavers made 2 free throws (foul by Tyrese Proctor), Kyle scored on a splendid offensive rebound (52-49 with 34 seconds left in the game); The Beavers made 2 more foul shots with 16 seconds left (foul, again by Tyrese – Duke still led 52-51).  Jacob Grandison had been 0-4 from the field when he was fouled with 11 seconds remaining.  He made them both for the final score – 54-51. The defense forced the Beavers into a difficult shot that missed, which preserved  Duke’s win.

In the second half, Ryan Young and Kyle kept Duke in the game when literally no other Blue Devil was scoring.  Filipowski played 16:43 second-half minutes, scoring 13 points (3-7, including 1-3 from behind the arc and 6-7 from the stripe) to go with 8 rebounds, an assist and a steal.  The steal was a highlight!  Kyle was switched onto guarding Jordan Pope, Oregon State’s star freshman point guard on the perimeter.  Pope drove and Kyle not only stayed in front of him, but stole Pope’s dribble!  And Kyle may not have been Duke’s best player in the second half.  Ryan Young logged 17:38 in the closing period (Dereck Lively played only 2:22 in the second half) scoring 7 points (2-3 from the field and 3-4 from the stripe) to go with an eye-opening 11 second-half rebounds (7 offensive !!!) and a block.  He dominated the glass.

    The Worse than Merely Bad

An in-depth dive into that frustrating but hard-fought second half is illuminating. Duke’s second-half offense had the worst outside shooting since I started watching as a freshman in 1956.  Jeremy played all 20 second-half minutes, scoring only the go-ahead basket (2 points on 1-8 shooting, including 0-4 from behind the arc).  Worse, Roach failed to record a single second-half assist, all while committing 3 turnovers.  Tyrese Proctor was even less productive in his 15:03 – 0-5 from the field, including 0-4 from 3land, without getting to the foul line.  And, Tyrese committed 3 fouls and a turnover!  Blessedly, both Tyrese and Jeremy played excellent defense. Jaylen Blakes replaced Tyrese, logging 6:48 (valuable for his disruptive defense, but also without a statistic).  To add to Duke’s shooting woes, Mark Mitchell was 0-3, including 0-2 from deep in his 3:51 of second-half playing time, while Jacob Grandison was 0-2 in his 13:04 of second-half playing time. In 4:31, Dariq Whitehead was 0-1. Omitting inside shooters Ryan, Kyle, and Dereck, the other 6 Duke players were a combined 1-19, including 0-11 from deep. Moreover, Duke’s transition game, based on disruptive defense, was non-existent because there was no disruption. — It left this commentator speechless.


Jeremy set the tone, re-establishing himself with a bravura performance, after his dismal Oregon State game.  When Jeremy is bravura, Duke is bravura.  Mark Mitchell came alive, and Kyle was a stalwart.  It was a very good performance, but it is troubling that  there are still so many in the rotation who are not living up to their offensive potential, or who are inconsistent.  Tyrese has struggled, but occasionally has broken out.  Grandison has vacillated between sensational and irrelevant.  Blakes has energy, but not a high shooting percentage, whether it is on his drives or his deep shots.  But you can see his potential. 

 Lively has not yet come close to finding his offense.  I saw him twice last year, and he was a deadly accurate shooter from the foul line region. In two all-star games, he was 8-8. When he is a scoring threat from the high post, his passing gets even better.  He will get back there, but he may have a long path.  Dariq could be Duke’s best player, but he is coming back slowly.  He is shooting from deep but has not yet reestablished his handle and ability to drive efficiently.  


Jeremy Roach vs Xavier (35:22) had his best game since coming to Duke!  It is significant that it came after one of his worst,  in the tournament opener against Oregon State. He backed up that poor effort with one for the ages!   He scored 21 points (9-15, including 2-4 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe) to go with 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.   Scheyer understood how Jeremy’s great game is so important for this team’s development: “I thought just the poise in key moments, Jeremy put us on his back and said ‘alright’. Whether it’s for him or for somebody else, he got some really good looks, really good quality looks. … We need him, what did he play today — 35 minutes? We need him to score, to create, to defend the other team’s best player. . … And the thing that I loved for him today was that he was just him. And when he’s that way, to me, he’s the best guard in the country! He controlled the whole game, created for others. He had five assists, I actually thought he could’ve had eight, nine assists, we missed a couple bunnies that he dumped off. … I think this is what we’ll see going forward from Jeremy.” 

Jeremy Roach vs Oregon State (35:34) did not have his usual stellar game, scoring 7 points (3-14, including 1-7 from behind the arc, without attempting a free throw) while handing out 4 assists and making 2 steals.  However, Jeremy committed 4 turnovers and 3 personal fouls, while snaring only a single rebound.

Kyle Filipowski vs Xavier (32:59) had a good scoring first half (10 points) and a good rebounding second half (only 2 points but 4 key defensive boards). He scored a total 12 points (4-10 from the field including 1-3 from 3land and 1-2 from the stripe) to go with an overall floor game on both offense and defense – 4 rebounds, 4 steals, an assist and a block.  Kyle was less of a scoring factor, but still a major force.

Kyle Filipowski vs Oregon State (31:11) has his 4th double double in 6 games, scoring 19 points (5-13, including 1-5 from behind the arc, and 8-9 from the foul line) to go with 14 rebounds (5 offensive), an assist and a truly fantastic steal.

Mark Mitchell vs Xavier (31:00) dramatically returned to his early season form after a couple of games where he was not impactful.  Against Xavier, Mark scored 16 points (6-11 from the field, including 1-2 from behind the arc – the one was crucial – and 3-4 from the foul line) to go with 5 impressive rebounds and a blocked shot.  Mark was Duke’s savior and high scorer in the second half (12 points) on offense, a crucial defender of Duke’s defensive backboard, and dedicated perimeter defender.  What a great game Mitchell played!

Mark Mitchell (11:14) vs Oregon State had his least productive game as a Blue Devil, scoring only a single point (0-4 from the field, including 0-2 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe) with 0 rebounds, assists or steals.  He played very little in the second half.

Jaylen Blakes vs Xavier (24:30) played starter’s minutes in the second half (15:34), while Tyrese Proctor, the starter, played only 5:50  in the closing stanza.  Blakes was inserted for his legendary disruptive and aggressive defense, which basically won the game for the Blue Devils.  Blakes scored 5 points (1-5 from the field, including 0-1 from deep and a crucial 3-3 from the stripe at “winning time”).  He notched 2 rebounds, an assist, and a steal.  However, statistics do not tell all about Jaylen’s game.  His energy was his gift to the defense. Jaylen’s high school coach told Scheyer during Blakes’ recruitment, “Hey man, I’ve got a special kid here. I know you’re going to have a bunch of one-and-done guys, but you may want to look at him as a future Duke basketball captain. He’s a four-year guy. A culture carrier.”  What a great predication.

Jaylen Blakes (16:40) vs Oregon State failed to score (0-3 from the field, including 0-2 from deep) but was a defensive spark plug.  He had an assist and a steal (and a couple of almost steals).

Ryan Young (21:15) vs Xavier was a major contributor to Duke’s interior play on both offense and defense. He rebounded, and scored in the post.  He was Duke’s “other Big” (with Kyle) in the second half (playing 12:39 while scoring 4 points and grabbing 4 boards.  This contrasted to Dereck’s 7:21 without scoring and kept Dereck on the bench while Ryan played center.  Ryan has been valuable all year, but his work in the first two games of the Phil Knight Legacy has been his best work of the year!  Ryan scored 8 (3-5 from the field and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 6 rebounds (5 offensive).  For the season, Ryan is 24-33 from the field for a 73% shooting average.

Ryan Young vs Oregon State (29:37) played his best game as a Blue Devil, scoring 11 points (4-5 from the field, including 3-4 from the foul line) to go with an astounding 15 boards! (8 offensive), plus a blocked shot and an assist.  MVP.

Tyrese Proctor vs Xavier (18:09) had another scoreless game (0-2 from the field, including 0-1 from deep) with 2 assists and 2 turnovers.  He continues to defend efficiently on the perimeter.  Tellingly, he spent more time on the bench in the second half and was not on the floor in the last 7 minutes of the game.

Tyrese Proctor vs Oregon State (29:37) had an excruciating game right after his best game (against Bellarmine).  Ok, we know – freshmen are notoriously inconsistent.  Tyrese scored only 5 points (1-7 from the field, including 1-6 from deep plus 2-2 from the stripe) to  go with a pair of rebounds and a turnover.  Blakes replaced him at “winning time”.

Dereck Lively II vs Xavier (15:59) regressed a bit against the size and strength of Xavier’s front line.  Disastrously, Lively picked up four fouls in his short stint trying to defend. Lively scored 2 points (a dunk; he missed a short hook shot to go 1-2 from the field and a disappointing 0-4 from the foul line).  The only reason he saw the court at all in the second half is that Ryan Young also had 4 fouls.  For the game, Dereck grabbed 4 tough rebounds, blocked 2 shots, and had a steal.  He is improving, but slowly.

Dereck Lively II vs Oregon State (10:23 but only 2:22 in the second half) regressed in this game, scoring only 2 on a dunk (his only shot of the game).  He had a steal and a block but spent time on the bench because of Ryan Young’s breakout game.

Dariq Whitehead vs Xavier (10:26) is also using his playing time to regain his pre-broken foot form. Dariq’s shot seems to be back as is his rebounding.  What has yet to return is his ball handling and driving ability.  He is not yet getting past his defender, and he is also having trouble on the defensive end (2 fouls in his short stint, one was on a 3-point shooter).  When – or if – Dariq and Dereck reach the form each exhibited in high school, the Blue Devils will morph into a juggernaut.

Dariq Whitehead (17:08) vs Oregon State continued to look both rusty, yet improved from his first game back.   He scored 7 points (2-9 from the field including 2-6 from behind the arc and 1-3 from the foul line) and garnered 3 rebounds.  When he starts scoring like he did when he was healthy, Duke’s offense will frighten opponents. 

Jacob Grandison vs Xavier (10:20) scored only 2 points (1-1) in his brief appearances in each half.  He was a star in earlier games, but played sparingly against Xavier.  This may be Duke’s strength, the deep roster that can find the winning combination regardless of what the adversary throws at them.

Jacob Grandison vs Oregon State (18:36) – super sub did not have a super sub night, even though he made 2 very crucial foul shots at game’s end.  Those two foul shots were Jacob’s only 2 points of the game (0-4 from the floor, including 0-1 from 3land).  Jacob contributed 5 critical rebounds and 2 assists.


Too soon.  A more complete assessment will be in the post-tournament issue early next week.  What we can say is that this team has heart and appears to be developing chemistry.  The highest grades for consistency may go to Jon Scheyer and his coaching staff.  He has met almost every issue that arose with a creative answer using all of his players.  In short, the team has been better than merely the sum of its parts.  Purdue and Zach Edey will be a test for these young Blue Devils.  More after that game.

Next Play: Sunday, November 27 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.  The Championship Game of the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament when Duke faces Purdue (who flattened Gonzaga 84-66 (GULP!) late Friday night in the other semi-final)

Scheyer (and everyone else) understands that Jeremy is Duke’s most important player.
Photo credit: Duke Athletics
Mark  Mitchell had a hot hand for the Blue Devils, sparking them in the second half.
Photo Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Duke 56 v. Purdue 75 (Season 14; Issue 7) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. Game # 8 (November 27, 2022)

Duke players cheer on their teammates, all to no avail.  Will this team grow into its potential? 
Photo credit: Nat LeDonne, Duke Athletics
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Purdue’s talented, well coached team taught Duke’s young players a painful lesson about hustle, spacing, ball movement, rebounding, relaxing, and making shots– even free throws. Of course, center 7’4” Zach Edey made a lot of it easier for the Boilermakers but, just the same, it was a lesson nonetheless, and we will know after Wednesday’s game against Ohio State whether it was a lesson well learned or an incapacitating one.  Also, Roach’s ankle injury is of concern, but it gave Proctor an opportunity to show his skills at the point. 

If you haven’t noticed, Duke’s football team, which had fallen to less than an afterthought (over the last two seasons, Duke has lost 17 of its 18 ACC games. The Blue Devils haven’t finished with a winning record in league play since 2014) in a less than stellar ACC Conference, beat Wake Forest.  Duke’s new Head Coach Mike Elko and his assistants have taken basically the same group from last season and done an almost unimaginable job in going 8-4 and discovering a quarterback, red shirt sophomore Riley Leonard, who is playing sensational football.


Duke is about to enter the heart of its season with games against Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge on November 30 and the ACC season opener against Boston College on December 3, before playing highly ranked Iowa in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6.  Then, after the Christmas break, the Blue Devils compete exclusively in ACC league games.  So, coaches, players and fans were hoping for a game against Purdue in which the Blue Devils demonstrated their readiness to compete in the heart of their season.

The disappointment from watching Purdue’s complete destruction of every aspect of the Blue Devil game is profound.  But, before taking drastic action, let us remember Duke has suffered some astoundingly embarrassing defeats in seasons that ended up wonderfully successful.  For example, Scheyer will remember his 2010 National Championship team getting pounded by Georgetown on National TV with President Obama in attendance.  Still, it is hard to temper the negative feeling from the shellacking Purdue handed the Blue Devils last night.

The Offense

While the Blue Devils played a mediocre first half on offense (scoring 35 points), the defense was so porous that Purdue scored 46 first-half points so that Duke trailed by 11 points. With 2:28 to go in the opening period, the Blue Devils had scored only 28 points and were 18 points behind.  Kyle Filipowski  (11 first-half points on 4-7 from the field including 2-3 from deep and 1-1 from the line), Jeremy Roach (10 points on 4-5 from the floor and 2-3 from the stripe), and Tyrese Proctor (8 points on 3-6 from the field, including 0-2 from deep, and 2-2 from the stripe) were the three Duke players that kept the Blue Devils within 11 of Purdue at half.  Young, Whitehead, and Mitchell each scored 2 points while Grandison, Blakes, and Lively did not score. That is 6 of the 9 players in the rotation scored collectively only 6 points! No team can win with ⅔ of the roster virtually absent from scoring.  Duke had only 8 assists in the entire game.  Mediocre may actually be a bridge too far.

The second half was much worse – it was actually worse than the disastrous second half against Oregon State (where Duke scored only 25 points, but held the Beavers scoreless for over 5 minutes to outscore Oregon State by 9-4 for the win).  Here is a stat to make one’s hair stand up straight: only one Duke player had more than a single field goal in the closing period!!  

When Jeremy limped off to the locker room with a toe or ankle injury at the end of the first half, the announcers flashed back to Kyrie’s serious injury in 2011.  Duke fans were relieved when Jeremy was able to play the second half (all 20 minutes).  However, Jeremy  was not himself – he scored 4 points (but was only 1-8 from the field, including 0-3 from deep and 2-3 from the foul line.  Tyrese Proctor was heroic, also playing all 20 second-half minutes, while scoring a team high (for the closing half) of 8 points on 4-7 from the field, including 0-2 from 3land.  He had 5 rebounds, and an assist.  Most importantly, he took over Roach’s point guard duties for most of the second half. Between Tyrese and Jeremy, they accounted for 12 of Duke’s 21 second-half points. The remaining 9 points came from Kyle (3 points on 1-4 from the field and 1-2 from the stripe), Dariq (4 points in his 10:13 of second-half playing time, 1-3, including 0-1 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the stripe), and Ryan (2 points on 2-2 from the stripe, but 0-2 from the field).  Duke had only 2 assists in the final period, and missed every single 3 point attempt (0-11; Jeremy 0-3, Mark 0-2, Tyrese 0-2, Dereck 0-1, Kyle 0-1, and Jaylen 0-1).

And still, the Blue Devils had their second-half moments before completely falling apart.  With 15:31 left in the game, Purdue led by 17 (58-41) when the Blue Devils made a move. Duke reduced the Boilermaker lead to 7 twice – once with 9:00 remaining, and once with 7:01 (63-56) left, before the wheels completely fell off.  The Blue Devils did not score in the final 7 minutes of the game, while Purdue scored 12, making the final margin.  

In those 7 minutes, Mitchell missed; Whitehead turned it over; Proctor committed an offensive foul; Roach missed from 3; Filipowski missed from 3; Mitchell turned it over; Filipowski missed a jumper;  Roach committed a foul; Filipowski fouled out; Roach missed a jumper; Young committed a foul; Roach missed a free throw; Proctor missed a jumper; Mitchell missed a jumper and Roach missed a 3 pointer! That was Duke’s desultory offense in the last 7 minutes (“winning time”). Purdue did to Duke what the Blue Devils did to both Oregon State and Xavier.  Yuck!

The Defense

Duke’s hard-switching man-to-man defense was simply dissected. Purdue’s sharp passing, accurate shooting of wide-open shots, and an absolute domination of the paint by Boilermaker center, the 7’4”, 295 lb. Zack Edey (21 points on 7-13 from the field and a critical 7-8 from the stripe), who controlled both rims (12 rebounds, 5 offensive) while drawing 8 Duke fouls.  Lively and Filpowski each fouled out.  

Purdue shot 58 % in the first half, including 3-3 from deep. The Blue Devils had defensive success for a brief 8-minute period in the second half, when Duke switched to a zone defense with some full court pressure.  But Purdue hit a few perimeter shots against the zone that Duke could not answer. Scheyer “It’s something we have to be ready to go to. We spend a lot of time building our habits with our man-to-man defense, so we’ve practiced it [the zone defense] a couple of times. We’ve had it in our back pocket just in case and I thought our guys did a good job on the fly to pick it up. The thing with them [Purdue] is they move so much … they get really good movement, and they screen hard and cut hard. I thought it helped slow them down and our press was good for us also.”

The Purdue game is the first game this season where Duke gave up at least 70 points; Purdue’s offense was far superior to Duke’s defense.


Jeremy Roach (37:10) scored 14 points (5-13, including 0-3 from behind the arc, and 4-6 from the stripe) to go with 3 boards, 2 steals, 2 assists and 2 turnovers.  He had 10 points in an effective first half, before he was injured.  While he did return, he was not the same star as he had been in the first half and against Xavier.  The injury impacted his second half play.

Tyrese Proctor (36:20) had his best game at Duke so far, scoring 16 points (7-13 from the field, but 0-4 from deep, plus 2-2 from the foul line).  He handled the  point guard duties (3 assists w only 1 turnover) nearly as well as Jeremy  He was the only Duke player to score more than one field goal in the second half (he  scored 4 buckets for 8 second-half points).

Kyle Filipowski (30:53) scored 14 points (5-11, including 2-4 from deep, and 2-3 from the stripe) to go with 5 boards, a steal and a block.  However, Kyle scored only 2 points in the second half.  He turned it over twice before fouling out.

Mark Mitchell (25:03) was not effective, scoring only 2 points (1-6, including 0-2 from deep without getting to the stripe).  He had 3 boards and an assist with a pair of turnovers.

Dereck Lively II (21:46) failed to score (0-3, including 0-2 from deep that did not even draw iron!  What!).  Dereck grabbed 5 rebounds, blocked a pair of shots, and had 2 steals before he fouled out trying to guard the Purdue big guy, Zach Edey.

Dariq Whitehead (16:11) was Duke’s 4th leading scorer –  with only 6 points (2-7, including 0-2 from 3land, and 2-2 from the foul line) with a rebound and a turnover.  He’s only been back with the team for 9 days from his broken foot. 

Ryan Young (14:53) picked up 2 quick fouls in the first half guarding the Purdue “Hulk”, but he adjusted, and  committed only one more foul.  He scored 4 points (1-3, and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 4 rebounds,  All of the Blue Devil Bigs were totally dominated in the paint.

Jaylen Blakes (8:42) failed to score (0-2 from behind the arc, as well as 0-2 from the stripe) with 2 rebounds and an assist.

Jacob Grandison (8:38) also failed to score, without even taking a shot.  He had an assist and a turnover.


The two players who made this year’s freshmen class so special are Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II.  Neither of those two (expected to be superstars) are contributing to Duke’s trajectory… yet.  It’s time for each to remove the Clark Kent disguise and become the Superman  that Duke recruited.

Dereck Lively II was everyone’s pick as the #1 player in this year’s incoming college class.  While he had a calf injury that delayed his development,  Derecke has been back playing for a substantial time now.  He is defending better as he plays more (he even had his moments against the Purdue behemoth, Zack Edey, but was no real match for him).  To put the point dramatically, Lively played more than 20 minutes without scoring, and fouled out trying to defend Edey.  Lively has 9 baskets for the year, each one a dunk.  Against Purdue, Dereck took two 3-point attempts without drawing iron. When I watched Dereck last year in all-star games, he was an excellent mid-range shooter.  For Duke to be an ACC contender, let alone a National contender, Lively will have to morph into the player he was last year.

Dariq has only been back for 9 days, and the team has not been able to practice much during that time.  While Whitehead has demonstrated lots of rust, he is also making palpable progress.  His perimeter shot (devastating in high school) is returning, and he is slowly rounding into rebounding form.  However, his handle, quickness, and coordination are not back yet.  He is fouling on defense more than he will later in the year.  Last year, he was a great driver and passer (he was so good, I thought he might end up as Roach’s backup at the point), but he cannot yet get to the rim, and he is still turning it over.  I predict he will be one of Duke’s best players by mid-season.

However, until these two who were expected to be Duke’s best two players, start  consistently playing like college superstars (like Kyle has done), this year’s Duke team will struggle. But if they grow it will be a rewarding season.

Next Play: Wednesday, November 30 vs. Ohio State in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:15 p.m. —  ACC-Big 10 Challenge on ESPN.

Dariq Whitehead, returning from injury to stardom? 
Photo credit: Nat LeDonne, Duke Athletics

Duke 81 v. Ohio State 72 (Season 14; Issue 8; Game # 9) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. November 30, 2022)

The elite brotherhood: celebrating a stellar assist from Jeremy to Derek. Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Scheyer: “We didn’t practice on Monday, because we were getting back from Portland and had a one-day prep. Our focus was just to take what we learned against Purdue and bring it tonight.”

What did this Duke team learn in Portland?  Based on how the Blue Devils played against Ohio State, they learned how to play tough, all the time; to manage a game, and finish off a talented opponent; and learned what a pleasure it is to play in Cameron with the Crazies as a sixth man.  The team is  still a work in progress, and compared to Indiana, which handled North Carolina impressively, has further to go to become a top contender.

Coach Scheyer’s assessment: “I thought, including the Xavier game, that was the best we managed a game. We were playing games, and now we’re learning how to win games. When you have a lead, you don’t play the same way if it’s a tie game or if you’re down.  Jeremy, I thought he did a really good job, Tyrese [Proctor], Jaylen [Blakes], when he was in, just controlling our team.  And in those moments, they make a little bit of a run, we have to really execute.  And working on the offensive end, I thought we did that.  And then down the stretch, some crucial stops were really important for us.”

On Whitehead and Lively finding their rhythm after missing portions of the preseason: “I hope for all of these freshmen, not just you guys [in the media] but anybody, is patient with them. Because like Dereck and Dariq, they missed the most crucial part of any time of the year for freshmen, and that’s the preseason. Dereck missed over a month, and Dariq, almost three months. And, so for them, they’ve been working hard, and it’s gonna take them some time; for Dereck, it’s only been a few weeks.  And I just love the mindset, how he keeps working.  I felt the way he fought on defense in the Purdue game, he took a huge step.  And then tonight, he did the same thing against [Zed] Key.  And then for him, it’s just getting comfortable, developing his offensive game.  And in fairness to him, we’ve missed him.  One of the best things he does is he puts pressure on the rim in pick and roll. And our guards, Jeremy hit him on the lob.  He hit him on a couple plays tonight. That’s something we need to look for more.  And so again, he’s just gotta stick with it.  Really proud of his effort.  I thought it was a huge jump.  He’s rebounding in traffic more.  We just need to keep rolling with all of them.”

Again, Kyle Filipowski was the best player. The Blue Devils are just better with him on the floor.  Dereck Lively is indispensable defensively, and improving offensively.  Ryan Young has been a pleasant surprise at both ends.  Jeremy Roach has continued his maturation from late last year.  Procter has improved from an unimpressive start.  Only Mark Mitchell, after a good start, has disappointed as the competition has gotten better, and is probably the odd man out when Dariq Whitehead, who could take this team to another level, is ready.  Grandison and Blakes have also had their moments.


That has happened to the Tar Heels?

When was the last time North Carolina lost three basketball games in a row?

When was the last time the #1 basketball team dropped out of the poll?

Don’t get smug. Just like last year, North Carolina will get better as the season progresses—especially when they play Duke.


We are beginning to discern how Scheyer is developing the 2022-23 Blue Devils as a 9-player commando unit.  Each game, every strategy, who plays more and less, will be different depending on how Scheyer evaluates his team’s needs as the game flows on.  “We played nine guys, and all nine of them made some winning plays.  … When you have a lead, you don’t play the same way if it’s a tie game or if you’re down.”  Ohio State’s last lead in the game was 12-11, after less than 5 minutes had elapsed.  After that, the Blue Devils never let them take it again!

It surely was not a perfect game, but it was a good one, where Duke played a gutsy second half that secured the win.  Duke was also superb in the first half, holding the Buckeyes to 29 points, while the Blue Devils scored 39.  In the second half, the Blue Devils turned gritty and showed an admirable character by hanging tough and scoring even though Ohio State was blazing on offense. Even though the Blue Devils could not stop the Buckeye attack, the Devils never backed down, and kept the blazing Ohio State offense from ever getting  closer than 5 points (which the Buckeyes did 3 times).

The Blue Devils clung to the lead with their own blazing offense, and in the face of major adversity.  Both Kyle Filipowski  and Lively were saddled with four fouls for much of the closing period. Duke was not less than heroic, clinging to the lead even with their Bigs in foul trouble for the later portion of the game.  The heroes:  Ryan Young was fantastic; Roach was beyond stellar and gritty; Proctor did not miss a foul shot (6-6) in the clutch; and, Kyle made the play of the game with the lead down to five and the Buckeyes having  the momentum.  Filipowski dribbled behind his back on a drive to the basket, making a beautiful layup, and getting fouled.  Then, he made the foul shot, and Duke was on the road to a terrific “winning time” with just over 2 minutes to go.

Jeremy personified “hero”!  He didn’t practice at all after Portland because of the toe injury he suffered against Purdue; yet, he played all 20 minutes of this tight second half against the Buckeyes, demonstrating leadership, heart, and what a courageous winning attitude can accomplish. He had 10 of his 13 points in the second half, drew 5 Ohio State fouls with his acrobatic drives, going 6-8 from the foul line, as well as dishing out 5 second-half assists. It was yet another – maybe the most impressive so far – of his bravura performances!


Jeremy Roach (33:36) played a wonderful game on both offense and defense, especially after not having practiced since he was hurt against Purdue.  Even though he is not completely recovered, he led by example.  He scored 13 points as he drew 6 Buckeye fouls and was 7-9 from the foul line.  Jeremy was 3-6 inside the arc but 0-3 from deep. Critically, Jeremy willed Duke to victory in the second half, playing all 20 minutes, scoring 10 of his 13 points (2-5 from the field, including 0-1 from deep and a gaudy 6-8 from the stripe!) to go with a pair of important rebounds, and 5 assists (but 3 turnovers).  His driving drew 5 Ohio State fouls.  His leadership and heart were fully on display as Duke never let Ohio State get closer than 5 points.

Kyle Filipowski (30:26) led Duke in scoring with 16 points (6-11, including 4-6 from the stripe – without a 3 point attempt), to go with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.  Kyle made the winning play of the game when the Buckeyes cut Duke’s lead to 5 with 3:06 to go in the game (72-67).  From the perimeter, Kyle drove, going behind his back to get to the rim for a layup, and then a foul shot, for an 8-point Duke lead with only 2:30 left.  He committed 3 second-half fouls (he picked up his 4th foul for the game with 10:45 left and went to the bench).  However, he re-entered with 6:45 to go and played the rest of the game with winning panache (and without committing more fouls).

Tyrese Proctor (27:07) teamed with Jeremy to give Duke a reliable backcourt, penetrating the Buckeye defense.  Proctor scored 12 points (2-8 from the field, including 2-3 from deep, and a critical 6-6 from the stripe), to go with 3 rebounds and an assist.  He drew 5 Ohio State fouls.  He was also an aggressive defender and rebounder.

Jacob Grandison (25:55) played an integral role in this victory, scoring 9 points (on 3-5 from the field, including 1-2 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 4 big boards and 2 steals (against 2 turnovers).  His defense, found less than stellar  early in the season, was dramatically improved.  He played starter’s minutes.

Ryan Young (21:47) played more minutes than Dereck Lively because of Lively’s foul trouble (Dereck committed his 4th with 8:39 left in the game), and was both effective and valuable.  He scored 10 points (3-4 from the field and 4-4 from the stripe) to go with 5 rebounds and two assists.  It was in the second half that Ryan was a (and maybe the) star.  With both Lively and Filipowski playing fewer minutes because of foul trouble, Young scored 8 second-half points on perfect shooting (2-2 from the field and 4-4 from the stripe) with 3 key, tough rebounds.  Ryan, who transferred from Northwestern, thrives on the physicality of Big 10 basketball.

Dereck Lively II (17:41) had his best game at Duke so far, scoring 11 points on 4-5 from the field and 3-3 from the foul line.  He was a force on the interior, grabbing 5 rebounds, blocking a pair of shots (and altering others at the rim), with an assist, a steal, and a turnover.  Interestingly, Scheyer did not re-insert Dereck after he had committed his 4th foul, as Scheyer did with Kyle.  The result is Lively played less than 8 second-half minutes, even though he was 3-3 from the field and 1-1 from the stripe for 7 of his 11 points. Those 8 minutes may be the best Lively has played at Duke, but, unlike his trust in Kyle, Scheyer clearly didn’t think Dereck’s sophistication was up to being able to avoid the fifth foul (and so played Young instead).

Jaylen Blakes (15:21) is a defensive energizer bunny and moves the offense as well.  But he is not scoring (2 points on 1-5 from the field, including 0-2 on wide open 3-point attempts; no free throw attempts).  Jaylen played only 2:17 in the second half (which may be part of the reason Duke allowed 43 second-half Ohio State points).

Mark Mitchell (15:17) as Scheyer said, didn’t have his best stuff, but he hit a key 3 pointer and guarded Ohio State’s best player.   Mitchell scored 3 points on 1-3 from the field, including 1-2 from deep, to go with 2 boards, an assist, and a pair of turnovers.  He does seem to go from great game to invisible.

Dariq Whitehead (12:50) played an excellent first half, scoring 5 points in 10 minutes (2-3, including 1-1 from deep) and a pair of rebounds.  You can see the rust slowly coming off, but you can also see where the rust is still prominent (like in his dribble drives to the basket).  He played only 2:50 second-half minutes, missing both of his shots.  Scheyer: “Dariq took really good strides in the first half; his 3 and his offensive rebound.  How do you win?  You win by rebounding by defending and by making others better and these guys [Dariq and Dereck] did that tonight.”


The Duke women’s coach, Kara Lawson, made an insightful point about elite competitors.  Her team smashed Northwestern yesterday in the women’s ACC-Big 10 Challenge, holding Northwestern to 12 first-half points by playing amazing defense, to lead by 20 points at the half.  In the second half, Duke coasted, allowing Northwestern to score 23 fourth-quarter points (cutting the Duke lead to a, still substantial 15).  In the post-game press conference, Lawson was dramatically disappointed with her team’s second-half performance.  One of the reporters suggested it was just human nature to let up a bit when a team was in such complete control of the  game.  Lawson’s response is worth considering:

“Yes, I think it’s human nature for average people, but I don’t think it’s human nature for elite people, elite competitors.  I think when you are an elite competitor, you don’t care what the score is; you don’t care if it is practice or a game. You have a lot of pride in how you play.  We have to improve in that area.”

Kara was an elite competitor as a player.  On the men’s team, Jeremy has fully earned recognition as “an elite competitor”.  Jeremy leads a 9 man commando unit that is morphing into a gritty unselfish cohesive (almost) team.

The Blue Devil defense has been more consistent than the offense, but the offense was at its season best against Ohio State.  Duke is  heading into the ACC regular season with optimism.  Each year the Duke goals are the same: win the ACC regular season title; win the ACC tournament; win the National Championship (I am enough of a realist that making the Final Four feels like a truly great season).  The Ohio State game was a nice step toward having a team that can accomplish one or more of those goals – And, it was a whole lot more fun to watch than the Purdue game!

Next Play: Saturday, December 3 vs. Boston College in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 4:00 p.m. — ACC-regular season opener on ACCN.

A Lively Dunk.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Scheyer surveying his commando squad. 
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
To the basket! Jeremy drives.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Kyle on his way to clinch the game with a late layup.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 75 v. Boston College Eagles 59 (Season 14; Issue 9; Game # 10) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. December 3, 2022

Jacob Grandison lines up another basket his 3 pointers have been an antidote to Duke’s otherwise disappointing perimeter shooting
Photo Credit: Ethan Hyman
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

As expected, Duke utilized their size, depth, and talent to take care of business in Cameron against an undersized and shorthanded Boston College Eagles. It might be easy to say that this precocious Blue Devil team is underperforming, but I think Coach Scheyer has done an outstanding job putting this team together and is doing a fine job managing their playing time. He substitutes in waves. Certainly Ryan Young and Jacob Grandison have become surprising additional contributors of both talent and maturity to the team. For a more complete assessment, read today’s Duke Basketball Report com. [Alan’s comment; The DBR assessment just skims the surface compared to the assessment in Alanalysis and Rotation below 🙂 – The Editorial staff agrees! ]

The freshmen were the main contributors on offense, but the veteran trio of Jeremy Roach, Ryan Young and Jacob Grandison played significant roles in setting the team right. Roach was a steady hand at the lead guard spot, Young deployed his clever fundamentals early on, and Grandison provided some much-needed 3-pointers.”They’re always ready for us. Always ready.” Scheyer said of his veterans: “Any given moment, any responsibility … It’s their toughness.  It’s the winning plays. They’ve learned from their experience in their college careers what it means to win.”

Early Injuries to Lively and Whitehead have also slowed the development of the team, but both have demonstrated glimpses of having NBA skills. While I agree with Alan that the interior defense is impressive,  I feel their perimeter defense needs attention. Some teams like Carolina (late last season version) will get hot and beat them with threes. Also, Mark Mitchell must have read my commentary on his play in recent games – that he has been impressive against smaller players, but not against better, bigger competition. I also said, “I hope I am wrong, because he is a talented versatile player.” Last night, Mark seemed to be making me eat my words by leading Duke in scoring and shooting lights out (6-7 from the field). However, consistency is important at higher levels of competition.  


Jon Scheyer is building a team in his first season that is intriguing, and different from the Coach K method.  Duke has shown a 9-player rotation that is very flexible offensively, depending on how Scheyer and his staff determine to attack the adversary’s defense. On defense, this rotation is most often stunning, if not yet as consistent as it will be.  Against BC, the first half was a defensive gem. However, Duke women’s coach,Kara Lawson, would have criticized the lack of defensive aggression from time to time in the second half, where the Blue Devils gave up 36 points after holding the Eagles to 23 first-half points. B.C. scored more points in the second half than Duke had scored in the first half (36-35). Scheyer: “Proud of the overall effort, our defense was really good. Finally, we could string some stops together, and that translated into some good offense for us.”  Kara seems to be more of a hard truth teller than Scheyer.

Here, in a Scheyer nutshell, is his philosophy for maximizing the talent on this roster, “We can come in waves, and our first group started out; I thought we were okay. Then I thought, when we subbed, we got some more energy.  That makes the guys, when they’re coming back in, have more energy.  We have a lot of different lineups.

Really, each one of our guys have played, stepped up, and contributed. That’s going to be who we are all season. … [We’re a] versatile group, incorporating full court pressure, whether it be zone or man, and using our depth is a big thing. Using our size and length protecting our rim … We really value what we’re doing; the ability to score in different ways. We had nine guys score tonight. You’re not going to have that all the time, but with this group, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens many more times the rest of the year.”

Scheyer concludes, “Using our depth is a big thing, we have to continue to figure out who has the hot hand that day. … The ability to play differently with different lineups, I think, is really an advantage.”

The Defense

After a bit of a lackadaisical start (compared to the rest of the dynamically defensive first half), the Blue Devils played locked-down defense.  BC scored its 11th first-half point after 6:55 had elapsed in the first 6:55  to lead Duke by 3 (11-8).  Twelve minutes and 35 seconds later, the Eagles had managed only 9 more points, and trailed Duke 35-20.  Almost every Blue Devil played double-figure minutes in the opening period (except Ryan Young who appeared for a scintillating 7 minutes and Dariq Whitehead who had only a 5:20 cameo).  B.C. was held to 9-33 from the field (27%), including 1-10 from deep (Duke contested virtually every Eagle 3 point attempt).

Duke’s defense relaxed a bit in the second half where the Blue Devil lead was never less than double figures.  The Eagles were 15-31 from the field for almost 50%, and out rebounded the much taller Blue Devils 15-11, and on the offensive boards by 7-2.  This is where Kara Lawson’s admonition (in the Ohio State DBP) that elite competitors bring it every minute, regardless of the score or whether it’s a game or practice. It’s pride in how you play the game.  Scheyer might make Kara a guest lecturer in the men’s locker room.

The Offense

The offensive display was welcome after the poor shooting halves in the Purdue and Oregon State games..  Duke shot 53% from the field (28-53, including 8-20 from deep and 11-13 from the foul line) and, tellingly, had 19 assists on the 28 field goals, the mark of a cohesive unselfish offense.  Only 10 turnovers.  Very efficient.

As soon as Bill wrote that Mark Mitchell would be the odd man out of the starting lineup when Dariq Whitehead returned to his best form, Mark led Duke in scoring for the game, with one of the best offensive halves played by any Duke player this year!  He was the only double-digit scorer for Duke in the closing stanza, with 13 points in 12:13 on perfect shooting (5-5 from the field including 2-2 from deep and 1-1 from the stripe).  The entire team was lethal, shooting a dazzling 58 % (14-24, including an excellent 5-10 from behind the arc as well as a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line). 

Filipowski (nicknamed Flip) scored an efficient 7 second-half points in 10:48 on 3 shots (2-3 from the field, including 1-1 from 3land and 2-2 from the stripe).  Tyrese Proctor also scored 7 points, on 3 attempts in 11:20 (2-3 from the field, including 1-2 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe).  Dariq had a significant second half, playing 11:11 while scoring 6 points (3-5 from the field).

Only Ryan and Dereck Lively (D-Live is, of course, his nickname), who each played 6 ½ minutes, did not play double digit minutes in the second half.  Ryan didn’t score; D-Live was 1-1 for 2 points. Duke played a significant stretch with Flip as the center; that worked better on offense.


Jeremy Roach (27:45) scored 6 points (2-8, including 2-5 from behind the arc) with a rebound and 3 assists – and some suffocating defense.

Kyle Filipowski (25:28) had his fifth double-double of the season so far (10 games), scoring 13 points (4-10 from the field, including 1-3 from deep and 4-4 from the foul line) to go with 10 boards, an assist, and a steal. Scheyer has been enthusiastic about all of Flip’s developing game, but has especially  emphasized his rebounding and defending.

Jaylen Blakes (23:59) only scored 2 points (1-3, including 0-1 from 3land), but he handed out 5 assists, and made a steal.  The Coach praised Jaylen in his post game press conference, “I just want to say Jaylen Blakes, man, he’s done a big-time job for us. He’s coming in every game giving us energy.”

Tyrese Proctor (23:51) scored 9 points (3-6, including 1-4 from 3land and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 3 assists, without a turnover.  He is playing like an efficient point guard. 

Jacob Grandison (22:04) is establishing himself as Duke’s best long-range shooter.  He scored 10 points (3-6 from the field, including 2-4 from behind the arc).  Jacob had his best all-around game by adding 6 defensive rebounds, handing out 3 assists and blocking a shot; he is playing better defense than early in the season.  Grandison has scored in double figures in four games.   In four previous years – two with  Holy Cross and two with Illinois, Grandison was a scorer, but that isn’t his main concern at Duke. “What really matters is win, win, win,” Grandison said. Grandison now has double-digit point totals in 60 of his career games.

Mark Mitchell (21:51) had his best game at Duke so far.  He led the Blue Devils in scoring, with 15 points (an astounding 6-7 from the field, including 2-2 from deep, and 1-3 from the foul line), to go with 4 boards, an assist and a blocked shot.  Mark said, “I got going on the defensive end a little bit, got a block, got a couple of stops, and I think that just fueled me to play offense.” 

Dereck Lively II (19:15) had another excellent outing, as he continues his comeback from his calf injury.  He scored 8 points on 4-5 (all next to the rim) and blocked 3 shots.  He also had 2 tough rebounds. Scheyer: “Dereck Lively had three blocked shots, but he impacted way more than just the three blocks by just his being in the game. You can see his activity and confidence is growing each and every day.”

Dariq Whitehead (16:31) continues to play a bit more and a bit better as he returns from his broken foot.  He scored 6 points on 3-5 shooting close to the basket.  He also had 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He is still turning the ball over when he is aggressive on offense (3 turnovers).  Scheyer: “Dariq did some really good things. He’s still getting back in the flow.”

Ryan Young (13:44) scored 6 points on perfect shooting (2-2 near the rim and 2-2 from the stripe).  He is a great sub for Lively, grabbing 4 boards, blocking 2 shots, with an assist and a steal.


Another worth-watching test these Blue Devils will undergo will be in the World’s Most Famous Arena against the Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1 so far this season), who have already beaten ACC teams Clemson and Georgia Tech.  Iowa’s only loss was to the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University (TCU) in the finals of the Emerald Classic, before beating Georgia Tech in a regularly scheduled game.  (The Hawkeyes were ranked before their loss to TCU)  The Iowa star, Kris Murray (6’8” forward), scored 31 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against Georgia Tech!  Murray (and the Hawkeyes as a team) will challenge  the Blue Devil defense.

Next Play: Tuesday, December 6 vs. Iowa at Madison Square Garden (NYC) in the Jimmy V. Classic, at 9:30 p.m. EST, on ESPN

Mark Mitchell goes airborne.
Photo Credit: Ethan Hyman
Mark Mitchell, spurred by Bill’s criticism, was Duke’s high scorer.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Grandison struts his stuff.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 74 v. Iowa Hawkeyes 62 (Season 14; Issue 10; Game # 11) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. December 6, 2022

Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke played their best game of the year tonight in Madison Square Garden in beating Iowa (6-1) 74-62!  Jeremy Roach had the best shooting game of his career. Mark Mitchell must read the DBP; since I had written that his recent unproductive play made him the odd man out, when Darig Whitehead fully recovers from surgery and gets in game condition, Mitchell has played his best basketball.  The same is true of Proctor the last few weeks. With a nine-man rotation, Coach Scheyer has multiple options at his disposal to answer an opponent’s challenge. So, while I am on a roll, I must mention that Kyle Filipowski has cooled off somewhat in his offense; missing the front end of one- and- ones is a recipe for losing.

 The Blue Devil defense and rebounding made it difficult for the Hawkeye players to rally from a deficit for most of the game! Just regard the Mitchell and Whitehead defense on Kris Murray, who is averaging 21 points a game and was coming off a career-high 31-point game against Georgia Tech a week earlier.

Scheyer said: “I think our offense will just continue to develop through the course of the season, … but the defense is the base of who we are. The two things I always connect to Duke basketball – playing defense and sharing the ball. And we’ll continue to emphasize that, but just proud of the effort.”

So far, so good for Coach Scheyer’s start of the difficult task of replacing Coach K. Replacing a legend is a daunting task! Just look at UCLA since John Wooden retired.  And when was the last time Carolina lost four games in a row? 


Duke chose the World’s Most Famous Arena to play its absolutely best game of the season.  It was the team’s best game because Jeremy Roach (22 points), Mark Mitchell (17 points), and Dariq Whitehead (8 points, 3 assists, and 6 rebounds) each had a “best game of the young season”.  In addition, Kyle (Flip) Filipowski had his 6th double double in 11 games (12 points; 10 rebounds). When Dereck (D-Live) Lively II got into early foul trouble, Ryan Young picked up the interior rebounding (11 rebounds) and defense (3 blocks).  Duke had 7 blocked shots (Ryan’s 3; 2 by D-Live in his short stint; 1 by Dariq; and 1 by Mark). 

In fact, Duke looked so good  that Bill voiced to me that Iowa looked like they must be just a terrible team.  Of course, as Bill knows, the Hawkeyes are a good team, contenders in The Big 10, one of the nation’s toughest conferences.

The Blue Devils were superb defensively, and cohesive and efficient on offense. The Iowa Hawkeyes came in averaging 86.4 points per game, but could score only 62.  Duke held an opponent to under 65 points for the eighth time this season.  Both Coach K and now Coach S have a defensive philosophy of shutting down the best player on the opponent’s team. Scheyer assigned Mark and Dariq that task, which they accomplished brilliantly.  Kris Murray, Iowa’s All-American candidate, averaging over 21 points per game, was held to 8! 

Duke was efficient on offense, despite some lapses.  The Blue Devil lead was always safe, but the Hawkeyes stayed close, and frequently reduced the double-digit lead to single digits, but without ever threatening Duke’s lead.

The Defense

Scheyer: “What it comes down to in March, is you need to get stops.”  The coach praised his guards for tough on-the-ball defense making penetration by the opponent difficult, and included praise as well to Flip, D-Live, and Ryan for protecting the rim and defensive backboard.  Scheyer believes the defense is also enhanced by the size of perimeter defenders like Mark, and Dariq, who did such a dynamic defensive job on Kris Murray. Tyrese has become a worthy perimeter defender, who is 6’5”.

The Scheyer defense was to shut down Iowa’s best player, Kris Murray.  Mark provided this insight, “ We just had a gameplan to come in and try to stop him  [Murray]. We knew he’s a talented player, I tried to keep him off the glass as much as we could, I knew he averages a lot of offensive rebounds. We just tried to defend him as a team, not let him get any easy looks and just pressure him all night and make it hard for him.” Murray said after the game, “Every time I drove, they showed multiple defenders.”  Defense has been and will be the Blue Devil’s greatest challenge; they are meeting it dramatically so far.

The Offense

The Blue Devils are sharing the ball and taking care of it.  Duke had 13 assists on 28 made field goals, against only 9 turnovers, while scoring 37 points in each half.  Five players carried the offensive scoring because the other four were not scoring.  Blakes (0-2) failed to score, Young (1-2) and Lively (1-1) notched only 2 points, while Grandison scored a 3 while missing his other 2 shots.  Every one of Duke’s 9 players in the rotation has played multiple excellent games; at times, players have an off game, but the collective has been powerful. Duke’s offense against Iowa was the Blue Devils’ best offense of the year, and leaves mouthwatering potential if and when Dariq and D-Live are fully healthy.  


Jeremy Roach (36:51) gave us yet another bravura performance as a clutch scorer, as a skilled defender, but most importantly, as the leader of this young team!  Jeremy scored 22 points — 11 in each half – to lead Duke in scoring (8-18 from the field, including 3-6 from behind the arc and 3-3 from the foul line) to go with 3 assists and a pair of rebounds.  His acrobatic drives drew 4 Hawkeye fouls. One event illustrates his value as a leader – the glue that makes the Blue Devils go.  With 1:54 left in the game and Duke ahead by 12 (68-56), Scheyer felt the game was safe and took Roach out. Scheyer reversed his decision 43 seconds later as the Hawkeyes reduced the Duke lead to 8 by creating turnovers.  Jeremy re-entered the game and immediately restored order, pushing the Duke lead to 14 (74-60) with 13 seconds left.  Iowa scored a meaningless last second basket for the final 12-point margin.  Jeremy’s star is shining brightly.  We as fans get the old time pleasure of watching a young man grow from an underperforming newcomer to a formidable veteran – because he stayed in school.

Tyrese Proctor (28:55) is improving quickly as Jeremy’s backcourt mate. Tyrese scored 8 points — 7 in the first half – establishing himself not only offensively, but also as a tenacious on-the-ball defender.  Proctor was 3-6 from the field, including 1-3 from deep; he was 1-2 from the stripe, to go with 3 assists without a turnover, and a steal.  In the post-game press conference (Scheyer had Mitchell and Roach with him), Jeremy praised Tyrese, “He’s been a natural point guard his whole life. He takes pressure off me and off my legs.  I’m thankful for him.”

Mark Mitchell (28:52) played his best game (again) at both ends of the floor.  On offense, Mark scored an efficient 17 points — 13 in the second half – on 8 shots (6-8 from the field, missing his only shot 1 from deep; and 5-5 from the foul line).  He led the Blue Devils in scoring in the closing period.  Mark’s defense was superb.  He was the primary defender guarding Kris Murray.  Mitchell was the major defensive stopper that held Murray to 8 points on 3-9 shooting.  He well deserved to be at the press conference with Jeremy.

Ryan Young (25:27) played more minutes than usual because of Dereck Lively’s foul trouble.  Ryan scored only 2 points (1-2 from the field), but led Duke in rebounding with 11 (2 offensive) and blocked 3 shots in his valuable defensive effort.  Ryan proves his worth to this team almost every game.  He not only played more minutes than Lively, he also played more than Filipowski.

Kyle Filipowski (25:15) quietly achieved his 6th double-double, in only the 11th game of the season, scoring 12 points (5-15, including 1-4 from 3land and 1-3 from the stripe) on less than stellar shooting, and grabbing 10 rebounds (4 were offensive).  It seemed as if Flip is not playing as well as he had in previous games, but then you look up and he merely had a double-double.

Dariq Whitehead (20:45) played his best game so far, scoring 8 points (3-7 from the field, including 1-3 from behind the arc and 1-1 from the stripe).  The rust is coming off game by game.  Dariq guarded Kris Murray, when Mitchell was not, and was quite effective.  His passing is sharpening up as he demonstrated by handing out  3 assists and only one turnover (offensive foul on a drive).  Even better, Dariq showcased his athleticism by hauling in 6 tough rebounds.  It is recognized that he has the potential to raise the level of this team as he sheds his rust.  Very encouraging.

Dereck Lively II (13:22) committed two early first-half fouls that severely limited his playing time and impacted his aggressiveness.  He and Jeremy combined for a sweet pick and roll, where D-Live dunked impressively.  That was his only field goal attempt and his only 2 points.  He had a single rebound.  A bit disappointing.

Jacob Grandison (7:20) hit his first shot, a 3 pointer, when the Hawkeyes left him wide open for his only 3 points of the game (1-2 from the field).  He also grabbed a rebound and blocked a shot.  His limited playing time was not about Jacob playing badly, it was just that others were doing the job.  That is how Scheyer is developing his team.

Jaylen Blakes (6:01) in spite of his high energy on defense, he had another scoreless game (0-2, including 0-1, without a foul shot).  He grabbed 2 defensive rebounds and handed out an assist.


The schedule now gives the Blue Devils time to practice, which should greatly benefit both Whitehead and Lively, who have been short on practice time.  They missed the pre-season.  By the time they saw the court, Duke was already playing a string of games, without time to practice together.  Finally, they will have that needed time.  After the game against Maryland Eastern Shore this coming Saturday, Duke has 10 days before an ACC game at Wake Forest (on Tuesday, December 20), followed by an 11 day hiatus before Duke hosts Florida State on the afternoon of New Year’s eve.

With former teammates Trevor Keels and Mark Williams, NBA rookies with the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets, respectively, sitting courtside, Jeremy Roach was observed trading comments with each.  I hope the NBA rookies were suitably jealous because Jeremy is basking in the limelight  while Keels is toiling in the G-League and Williams is watching basketball from the bench.

Next Play: Saturday, December 10 vs. Maryland Eastern Shore in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 5:30 p.m. on ACCN.

Duke Blue Devils 82 v. University of Maryland Eastern Shores Hawks 55 (Season 14; Issue 11; Game # 12) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”. (December 10, 2022)

Bill’s CliffsNotes

As a precautionary measure, Jeremy Roach, the team’s most essential player, sat out the game to rest his toe injured in the Purdue game. He has played, but not practiced, since then. Consequently, Coach Scheyer started five freshmen and gave Tyrese Proctor an opportunity to run the point, which he did quite well.  This game was a mismatch and, if it were a prize fight, would have been stopped at the half.  The Hawks never gave up but were no match for Duke’s size and talent differential.

The Blue Devils dominated the boards but committed 19 turnovers—an unacceptable number. They made 40% of their threes. Let’s hope that is a trend. On successive possessions, Dariq Whitehead drove the lane for a dunk, then faked a drive from top of the key and hit a three.  Once at full strength, Whitehead will make Duke a better team at both ends of the floor.  Scheyer said of Whitehead, who started in place of Roach: “I want him to just get out in transition more, attack the basket, and I don’t think he’s shown yet, I think you’ll see soon just what a defender he can be too.”

Randolph Childress, the great shooting guard for Wake Forest and the MVP for the 1995 NCAA tournament, was the color announcer for the game and made several cogent remarks. He commented that this break before the new year is a good opportunity for the young team to heal, and the players to work on their game skills.

Miscellaneous Comments:

  • Jaden Schutt, a Duke freshman shooting guard, who was the 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois, might be someone to keep an eye on. If he stays around, he might become a valuable player — if not this year, in the future. Three point shooting is not a strength of this Blue Devil squad.
  • North Carolina looked a lot better beating Georgia Tech handily Saturday than they did in their four previous losses. The Tarheels will be a tough out for any ACC team, as will Virginia, always a difficult opponent.

Jeremy’s Injury and Absence

The Blue Devils faced the Hawks, a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) team with a mediocre 3-6 record coming into the game.  Duke’s talent and size advantage pressaged a mismatch. However, Jeremy Roach didn’t play – which made for a different game.  Coach S explained the Jeremy situation, “He’ll be ok for our next game.  He just has been playing through pain.  He hasn’t been able to practice; he hasn’t been able to do extra work.  This is the one chance we have for him to get back to 100%.  He won’t do anything for the next couple of days.  He’s already progressing healing-wise.”

Average or Elite Competitors?

In Jeremy’s absence, the Blue Devils committed a horrendous 19 turnovers (14 were Hawk steals from careless Duke ball handling and their dramatic lack of intensity).  Scheyer saw the problem, and acknowledged that solving it was his responsibility.  “I thought tonight in the first half they brought the fight to us more than we brought the fight to them.  That’s what I wasn’t as happy with.  That’s on me. That is our preparation, and what we have to do to get ready.”  It was obvious that Duke behaved  (in Kara Lawson’s words) like average players, rather than elite competitors who don’t care about the score, who the opponent is, or whether it is a game or practice.  Elite competitors play all out because of their pride in their craft.  If our new young coach can instill the mindset of elite competitors in this (or any) team, he will be a great coach.

Scheyer’s Optimism is Justified

Duke played 12 games in 33 days to open the season, which left little time in practice to work on anything besides getting ready for the next game.  Duke does not play again until December 20, and so – after exams – the Blue Devils will finally be able to work on improving what the team has and adding to its offensive and defensive repertoires, while continuing to integrate Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead into the team.  Dariq broke out dramatically in the second half against UMES .  His return to, as Scheyer put it, “being himself” has the potential to take Duke to a higher level.

The defense has been ahead of the offense so far this season.  Duke’s length has enabled the Blue Devils to protect the rim and rebound effectively at both ends of the floor.  The perimeter defense has been outstanding.  Scheyer is eager to test his defense against conference opponents.

The coach plans to add some offensive creativity now that there is time to do so.  Coach K used to say he coached 3 things: offense, defense, and communication; Scheyer clearly heard him.  “We’re learning what it takes to win. The talent has been there, the unselfishness has been there. Now it’s the plays, the loose balls, the talking on defense, how to work to get open. All the little details; they’re embracing what they’re seeing, and I think their confidence is improving, and our confidence is growing. We have a long way to go and a lot to work on, but I do feel we’re night and day already from who we were to start the year until right now.” 


Tyrese Proctor (26:00) ran the team in Jeremy Roach’s absence.  He (tied with Dariq Whitehead) led Duke in scoring with 15 points (5-9 from the field including 2-4 from 3land, and 3-3 from the foul line).  Four turnovers diminished an otherwise worthy performance.  Scheyer: “The thing with him is that he’s really smart, he’s really unselfish, and the next step is just taking what he knows and talking more. I want him to talk more and to use his voice, because he sees things that others don’t or can’t, and he really carried the load for us with ball handling responsibilities.  …  When Jeremy [Roach] comes back we feel like the two of those guys can play off one another very well.”

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (25:37) scored 12 in the first half, 14 points total, , (6-11, including 0-2 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 7 rebounds, 3 steals (team lead), and two  assists.  Flip committed 4 of Duke’s 19 turnovers.

Dariq Whitehead (24:56) had his longest stint on the court and his best game at Duke.  He (and Tyrese) led Duke in scoring with 15 points (6-14, including 1-5 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 2 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a blocked shot.  Dariq had a frustrating first half, scoring only 2 points on 1-6 shooting.  Then came a breakout second half.  In 12 minutes, Dariq scored 13 points (5-8, including 1-3 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe).  He was the Blue Devils’ only double-digit scorer in the closing period.  Coach S is rightfully excited, “he’s a complete player: defender, and can really pass. …With his size and athleticism, he can guard multiple positions.”

Jaylen Blakes (22:24) teamed with Tyrese in the backcourt as well as running the team by himself at times.  He is such an energetic defender, who can dazzle with his quickness.  He scored 6 points (1-2 from 3land and 3-4 from the stripe).  “Jaylen plays hard all the time, and it’s infectious. It translates to the rest of the group”, enthused his coach.

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (21:28) scored 5 points (2-5 from the field, including 1-2 from 3land) to go with 5 gaudy rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.  Scheyer linked Jacob with Jaylen in his praise, “When they go in the game, they may not make every right play, but who does? Jake, you can tell with him, he’s a really calming influence.  He’s a great passer, I’ve got to get him where he’s shooting more open shots.  He’s really unselfish, and he just plays hard all the time.”

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (20:30) played an impactful game, with 9 rebounds and 5 blocks.  He scored 8 points (3-8 from the field, including 0-2 from 3land and 2-2 from the stripe).  His size advantage wore the Hawks down.

Jaden Schutt (18:48) played his first significant minutes this year.  The freshman brought with him a reputation as a lethal perimeter shooter.  He enhanced that reputation by making all 3 of his 3-point attempts (his only field goal attempts) for 9 points.  He also grabbed 5 rebounds and handed out an assist.  Scheyer was pleased, “Jaden Schutt, he’s worked, you guys haven’t been able to see it, but he’s worked before practice, after practice, he’s been the best player on every team we scout, and that’s a role that a lot of big-time players have had here. I was in that role.” [In practice , players emulate the opponent (based on scouting reports).   Most teams have a star.  It is a special role to be the Duke player who emulates that star in practice. Jaden has been selected to do that (as Scheyer was at times when he was a player)].

Scheyer continued on to highlight Schutt’s importance beyond just scoring, “The first play he made was an offensive rebound; it wasn’t a shot, it wasn’t a three, it was an offensive rebound and that got us going.”

Mark Mitchell (16:48) disappeared again into a disappointing game.  He managed only 2 points (1-3 from the field without a 3-point attempt or a free throw).  His 3 careless turnovers limited his playing time, although he grabbed 4 boards and passed for 2 assists in his shorter-than-usual stint on the court.

Ryan Young (12:18) played a bit less than usual but was his consistently impactful self.  He scored 4 points (2-3 from the field) to go with 3 defensive rebounds.


The schedule now gives the Blue Devils time to practice, which should greatly benefit both Whitehead and Lively.  Duke has 10 days before the ACC opener at Wake Forest (on Tuesday, December 20) followed by an 11-day hiatus before Duke hosts Florida State at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Eve Day.

This young team’s first road game, against Wake in Winston-Salem, will be a dangerous test. Road games are different from neutral site games.  The freshmen will be facing a hostile crowd and a Demon Deacon team smarting from a bad loss to LSU on a last-second shot, after blowing a huge lead.  ACC road games are a whole different kettle of fish, and will be baptism by fire for the freshmen. 

 The Obvious ACC Contenders

Despite the ACC’s 8-6 win in the final “ACC-Big 10 Challenge” (Nov 2022), the ACC has been viewed as a “weak” conference.  For example, the ACC has only 2 teams in the top 25 – Virginia (8-0) at # 3 and our own Duke Blue Devils at # 15.  Virginia Tech (9-1, with wins over power conference teams Penn State and Minnesota, deserves to be ranked), Miami (10-1), and UNC (astoundingly the first pre-season # 1 to fall completely out of the top 25, resulting from 4 consecutive losses, after 5 opening wins) received votes, but not enough to be in the top 25. Only Boston College (5-6), Louisville (a shocking 0-9), and Florida State (2-9) have looked completely inept so far.  The remaining 7 teams – Clemson (8-3), NC State (8-3), Notre Dame (8-2), Wake Forest (7-3), Pittsburgh (7-4), Syracuse (6-4) and Georgia Tech (6-4) — will be ACC-tough, especially at home, but not contenders for National honors.

Before anyone counts UNC out, let us remember how much trouble Hubert Davis had with his Tarheels from November until February last year.  UNC was a major disappointment until the ‘Heels transformed, beating Duke on both Senior Night in Cameron and in the Final Four, denying Coach K the Hollywood ending that we had all hoped for.  Last night, UNC looked like a ranked team as the ‘Heels blasted Georgia Tech 75-59, with Bacot returning to form to score 21 points and grab 13 rebounds.

It will be illuminating to see how Scheyer handles his current 9-player rotation. We are used to the Coach K years, when the rotation shrunk as ACC play became more intense; the later in the season, the leaner the rotation.  Duke’s next game, on the road against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest, will give us the first inkling of how Scheyer’s early-season philosophy will succeed in ACC play.

It has the potential to be a scintillating ACC regular season! 

Next Play: Tuesday, December 20 vs. Wake Forest in Winston-Salem at 6:30 p.m. on ACCN

Duke Blue Devils 70 v. Wake Forest Demon Deacons 81 (Season 14; Issue 12; Game # 13) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (December 20, 2022)

“We have to play like Ryan and Jaylen did tonight. And I thought they set a great example. But we need everybody to play that way.”
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke played Wake Forest, which had squeaked by Appalachian State 67-66 Wednesday on a last second basket, before suffering an ugly 81-57 loss at Rutgers three days later. Duke was without both center Dereck Lively and forward Dariq Whitehead, who were left in the infirmary while recovering from the flu. The way the rest of the team, except Jaylen Blakes, played, they all should have stayed in bed. The remaining Blue Devils played as poorly as any team I can remember. They trailed the Demon Deacons by double digits most of the game. 

Johnny Tar Heel speculated that during Exam Week Carolina, losers of four straight before beating Ohio State, had a personality transplant with Duke. I thought that unlikely, because Duke players actually take their own exams, while it is well documented that Carolina players have a tawdry history of….. 

All jokes aside, it is disappointing that none of the remaining players stepped up to fill the void of the missing players. Kyle Filipowski, in particular, has been inconsistent lately, and not only failed to achieve a double-double, he scored only 9 points and retrieved only 4 rebounds.  He was 0-6 from behind the arc.  The team as a whole shot threes and free throws poorly, and without Lively protecting the rim, the Deacons dominated the paint—plus the Joel Coliseum has usually been a tough venue for the Blue Devils. 

Last night, Miami beat Virginia, so all the usual suspects now have a loss.  Time will tell whether this Duke loss to Wake was a one-off anomaly, or whether this group of freshmen is overrated.


Even though Scheyer had proclaimed in his Monday pre-game press conference that, “Jeremy [Roach] is in good shape. He’ll be ready to go for tomorrow night and Dariq [Whitehead], Dereck [Lively II], the same.  We’re as good health-wise as we’ve been all season.” Lively and Dariq got sick and did not even travel to Winston-Salem with the team, while Jeremy showed evidence that his toe was still adversely impacting his performance.  And a genuinely terrible performance – by the whole team – it indisputably was.  

Ryan Young put his finger on the fatal flaw, “we came out lethargic tonight, they jumped on us, and we never could dig ourselves out of the hole that we put ourselves in in the first half. It keeps on coming back to effort and not wanting it as much tonight. They were able to get in our paint pretty easily, and they were able to get to the free throw line very easily against us.”  

The Blue Devils, who have been one of the nation’s outstanding rebounding teams, were outrebounded by the Deacons.  Ryan: “It’s inexcusable. It [rebounding] is toughness and it’s effort. It’s not much else that goes into rebounding. And it was embarrassing that we couldn’t win that tonight. As Coach mentioned, they out toughed us and they came out right from the jump and they wanted it more than us.”

Scheyer acknowledged in his post-game press conference, “They were the hungrier team, and [you could tell] their sense of urgency. For us, we didn’t have that. They outrebounded us. I thought the free throws were key, you know, they got to the free throw line, they made 22 out of 26. That’s on us. They drove the ball stronger than we did, and we probably fouled a few times when we shouldn’t have. When we missed some shots, that impacted our defense and (we were) taken aback by it. Our defense has always started with guarding the ball. And they just drove us like crazy, and just got in our paint at will.” 

It looked like the first day of practice after summer vacation.  The Blue Devils lacked any semblance of cohesion on defense (gave up 81 points, 42 in the second half) and could not get a stop when one was needed. Worse, Duke committed 14 fouls just in the second half.  Jaylen Blakes fouled out, Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach each finished with 4 fouls.  

The Blue Devils simply could not shoot accurately. The best Duke-3 point shooters  were collectively 2-19 from behind the arc  Filipowski (0-6), Tyrese Proctor (1-5), Jacob Grandison (1-5) and Roach (0-3 – not counting the only one he made, which was meaningless with 22 seconds left in the game).  

The Blue Devils could not hold onto the ball.   Duke would get a steal and then give it back through consistently careless ball handling.  The 13 second-half turnovers seemed like more.

The Defense

As both Ryan and Coach acknowledged, the Blue Devils defense was virtually non-existent. Tyree Appleby, the Wake Forest point guard, drove past Jeremy as if Jeremy were standing still – which he was. Duke committed 14 second-half fouls and put the Demon Deacons in the bonus with less than 7 minutes having elapsed in the second half.  Wake was 15-16 from the foul line in the second half, and shot almost 50% from the field (49.1% for the game; 52% in the second half when the Demon Deacons scored 42 points).

The Offense

The Blue Devils had a disappointing first half, shooting under 40% including 3-15 from behind the arc, and shooting only 5 free throws.  Duke’s offense picked up in the second half (scoring 40 points on 50% shooting (14-28, including 5-12 from deep, and 7-9 from the stripe).  Thirteen turnovers for the game – 8 in the second half –  kept Duke from mounting a wished-for comeback as the game wound down.


Jeremy Roach (35:12) scored 9 points (on 3-7 shooting, including 1-4 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the stripe).  His one successful deep shot was meaningless, coming 22 seconds from the end of the game, and reducing the Wake margin of victory from 14 to 11.  I think Jeremy is still hurt and that adversely impacts his quickness.  He could not defend, committing 4 fouls (3 of the Blue Devils’ 14 second-half fouls) as well as 5 turnovers (only 2 assists).  Duke’s offense misfired badly in the first half when Jeremy was 0-4 from the field (0-3 from deep) in almost 17 first-half minutes.  

Ryan Young (34:37) came within a rebound of a double-double.  He scored 10 points (5-6 from the field, without a foul shot or a deep shot attempt) to go with 9 boards, 3 assists without a turnover, plus a steal.  Scheyer said, “I thought he really battled. We didn’t give him the ball enough.”

Mark Mitchell (32:21) was Duke’s second leading scorer with 14 points (4-8 from the field, including 2-3 from 3land and 4-5 from the foul line) to go with 4 boards, an assist, a steal, and a turnover.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (27:12) had a subpar game for him.  He scored only 9 points on 14 shots (4-14 from the field, including a disastrous 0-6 on wide open deep shots, plus 1-3 from the stripe).  He had almost as many turnovers as rebounds (5 turnovers; 6 boards) and committed all 4 fouls of his game-fouls in the second half, where Duke’s defense consisted primarily of fouling Wake players.  

Jaylen Blakes (25:45, 15:19 in the second half before he fouled out in the last minute of the game) played his best game at Duke, leading the Blue Devils in scoring with 17 points (6-7 from the field, including 3-4 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 3 assists (1 turnover) and 3 steals.  Blakes scored 10 second-half points on perfect 3-3 shooting from the field, including 2-2 from deep, plus 2-2 from the stripe. Scheyer acknowledged Blakes’s great game, “Jaylen Blakes really guarded and gave us great energy. We have to play like those two guys  [Ryan and Jaylen] did tonight. And I thought they set a great example. But we need everybody to play that way.”

Tyrese Proctor (24:02) didn’t shoot well and played fewer minutes (9:25) in the second half after 13 minutes in the opening period.  For the game he scored 6 points (2-7 from the field, including 1-5 from 3land and 1-2 from the foul line).  His defense was spotty, some good steals, but Wake penetrated the Blue Devils’ perimeter defense at will.

Jacob Grandison (19:01) had a difficult shooting game, scoring 5 points, all in the first half, on 9 shots (2-9, including 1-5 from deep) with 2 assists and a rebound.  He made his first 2 shots early in the first half, and played only 8:22 in the second half missing both (1 from deep) of his attempted shots.  Jake started out strong and then he fizzled.


Miami is 3-0 (12-1 overall) ranked 22nd in the latest poll 

Pittsburgh is 2-0 (9-4),

Virginia Tech is 1-0 (11-1) ranked 21st in the latest poll

Clemson is 1-0 (9-3)

UVA is 1-1 (8-2) ranked 6th in the latest poll

Wake is 1-1 (9-4)

Duke is 1-1 (10-3) ranked 14th in the latest poll (will drop in next poll)

UNC is 1-1 (8-4) is unranked but was pre-season # 1.

Syracuse and Fla. State are 1-1, while Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, BC, NC State and Louisville are all winless.  Among them, only Notre Dame will be a contender by March.


Conference road games are just different.  Both UVA (6th nationally) and Duke (14th nationally) lost ACC road games on Tuesday –UVA to Miami, and Duke to Wake.  Of course, disastrous starts have been overcome before, and Duke is still developing the team that will compete for conference and National honors.  As Scheyer pointed out, Duke has not had its full team for almost half of the 13 games, and has never had this year’s squad at full (in game shape) strength yet.  The potential is still obviously there.  Whether it will be realized is the question of the season, and why we will return for the 

Next Play: Tuesday, December 31 vs. Florida State in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 1:00 p.m. on ESPN2.

Jaylen played his best game ever, leading Duke in scoring and in hustle.  
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 86 v. Florida State Seminoles 67 (Season 14; Issue 13; Game 14) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (December 31, 2022)

Ryan Young scores around the basket with both hands and uses the backboard like an artist.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke’s schedule provided a late Christmas present for the Blue Devils this year—after a disappointing loss at Wake Forest (a team they have owned recently), playing a subpar Florida State (a team they have recently  not owned), in the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium. And Duke clearly needed a break. They have played more college games this year before Christmas than any team in the country. 

The Blue Devil starters were so sluggish on offense that coach Scheyer substituted in Ryan Young (and kept former reserve Jaylen Blakes in the game) to cure the starting team’s shortcomings. They did not disappoint. Both had outstanding games. As Scheyer said: “We had a few lineups on the court, we just had a roll and went with it, but I thought our defense was back to where we needed to be. Offensively we really shared the ball well. Ryan Young obviously had a big-time night, not missing a field goal, not missing a free throw. Just his rebounding, you feel like when a shot’s taken, he’s going to come up with the ball. …

“Look, this is…for any of our guys, it’s never smooth sailing. It just isn’t, and so for Dariq Whitehead I think he’s gotten a lot tougher in this stretch. … Any of our guys, any of our freshmen have gone through ups and downs already. Any freshman who’s ever come through here has gone through that and they’re going to be better for it. Just fighting through it is the only way to do it, and that’s what Dariq is starting to do. I’m really proud of him for it.”

For my taste, Duke is a different team with Whitehead on the floor. The same goes for Blakes, who brings an attitude and energy both offensively and defensively that we have rarely seen– and this group needs to be a contender. And with Kyle Filipowski seemingly regressing and Dereck Lively not demonstrating much offense, we need more consistency and diversity in scoring.

It also is apparent that this is a deeper squad – 9 players getting significant playing time – than any recent ones, so coaching decisions of whom to play when will be crucial to its development and success. It will be an interesting season!

Next play!


The color announcer intoned, “the answer to every question today is Ryan Young.”  He could have added Jaylen Blakes to that sentence.  Those two players– not usually starters — scored 37 points between them.  Add to that Dariq’s 16 points off the bench and there is a substantial amount of Duke’s scoring.  Coach Scheyer is still developing cohesion and experimenting with which combination of players on the floor make the Blue Devils a nationally competitive team.  Jaylen’s last two games (Wake Forest and this one) are his effort to remain a starter.  In the first half, Duke starters Dereck Lively, Kyle Filipowski, and Mark Mitchell entirely failed to score. 0!  The Big Goose Egg! Lively didn’t even take a shot. Jeremy Roach wasn’t much better, going 1-7 (1-4 from deep) in the first half.  

As Bill has emphasized, Scheyer’s most important decisions will be who to play and when to play them.  The coach had this to say about his decision to start Blakes: “Well, I think for us as we go on in the season we may start different groups, and tonight this was, we felt, the best thing. Jaylen, his energy, his confidence, and his defense has been rock solid for us and made that switch and credit to him to make the best of that opportunity.”

The second most important challenge for the new coach is teaching his team to be consistent in their effort.  Take the Blue Devils’ defense last night for example.

The Defense

The defense was a tale of two halves.  Duke’s defense in the first half was simply superb. The Blue Devils forced at least three shot clock violations and there were several times that FSU had to chunk up a shot as the clock expired.  Duke held the Seminoles to 25 first-half points on 36% shooting and allowed Florida State only 6 free throw attempts.  

Contrast that to the Blue Devils’ shoddy second-half defense, which  allowed  42 second- half Seminole points on 50% shooting from the floor, and put Florida State on the foul line for 20 free throws (for 17 second-half points from the foul line!)  The Duke defense was as bad in the second half as it was good in the first half.  Scheyer has work to do.

The Offense

What do we make of Duke’s usual starters being so ineffective?  Roach was 2-10, to score 9 points – and he was the most successful of the starters.  Mitchell was scoreless in the first half, pouring in 8 second-half points.  Filipowski was also scoreless in the first half and finished with 6 points.  Lively II didn’t even attempt a shot in his 12 and a half scoreless minutes.

What do we make of Duke’s usual reserves being so effective?  Ryan had a night for the ages with 20 points; Jaylen in his first starting assignment scored 17 while running the team well; and Dariq continues improving dramatically.  All very effective. Among the three of them they scored 32 of Duke’s 42 first-half points.  Ryan was the embodiment of efficiency scoring 20 points on only 7 shots.  Jaylen injected needed energy as well as shooting 67% from deep.  Dariq’s development may be the most important aspect of all for Duke.  Scheyer on Whitehead, “I thought he had his best two days of practices. … You can tell he gives us a different dimension and we need to follow that up with consistency and building in practice but give him credit.” 

Both Proctor and Grandison are also contributing, in differing ways.  Grandison is still Duke’s best 3 point shooter, while Proctor is a good backcourt backup at both ends.

The potential is surely there, but without any guarantee that Duke will realize that potential enough to make a run at ACC and National honors.


Jaylen Blakes (30:06) started his first game at Duke and rewarded Scheyer’s judgment with an outstanding performance.  It was the second straight game that Blakes tied his career high, scoring 17 points (6-11 from the field, including 4-6 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe).   Jaylen also contributed 3 assists (only a single turnover) and a steal. His play is making a good argument for him to remain a starter.

Jeremy Roach (29:17) did not yet look like his pre toe injury self.  His first half was disappointing, scoring only 3 points (1-7 from the field, including 1-4 from deep).  He steadied on offense in the second half and finished the game with 9 points (2-10 from the field, including 2-5 from behind the arc and 3-4 from the foul line) to go with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and only one turnover.

Mark Mitchell (28:01) played an excellent second half, scoring 8 points, after failing to score at all in the first half (3-6 from the field, including 1-2 from 3land and 1-2 from the stripe).  Mark contributed 3 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, and 2 assists (against 3 turnovers).

Dariq Whitehead (27:58) played his longest in a game and is rounding into star form.  Dariq scored 16 points (on 5-11 from the field, including 2-6 from deep and 4-4 from the stripe) to go with a steal, a rebound, and 2 assists.  Dariq is still regaining his form from a year ago.  If he can do that, Dariq will give the Blue Devils a valuable added dimension.

Ryan Young (24:23) had what had to be the game of his life.  He made every shot he took, while leading Duke in scoring with 20 points (7-7 from the field and 6-6 from the foul line)!  Ryan grabbed 12 boards and handed out a pair of assists without a turnover.  Florida State had no answers for Ryan’s amazing game.

Tyrese Proctor (20:37) provided bench support in the backcourt for the two starters (Roach and Blakes) by handing out 3 assists without a turnover.  Tyrese scored 4 points (1-4 from the field, including 0-1 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the foul line).  

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (17:39) seems to have regressed on both ends of the floor.  After failing to score in the first half, Flip scored 6 second-half points (3-4 from the field with a miss on his only attempt from deep) to go with 5 rebounds and 2 assists.  Flip’s playing time was limited by his foul trouble; he finished the game with 4.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (12:34) had his minutes curtailed by Ryan Young’s amazing performance at center. In his brief time on the court, D-Live committed 3 personal fouls, blocked 2 shots, snared a rebound, and turned it over once.  He not only failed to score in the game, he did not even attempt a shot.

Jacob Grandison (9:25) scored 6 points going 2-4 from deep (his only shot attempts) with an assist.  Grandison is being beaten on defense, which is why he is playing as little as he is in spite of his good shooting.


UNC, the nation’s #1 team in the pre-season polls, has been inconsistent.  After being the first #1 team to lose 4 games and drop out of the top 25, the Tarheels flourished and returned to the rankings at # 25 last week.   Jeff Capel’s Pitt Panthers remained undefeated in Conference play by beating UNC on Friday in Pittsburgh.  Conference road games are just different. 

There are no ACC teams ranked in the top ten. Ranked ACC teams are: Virginia 13th in the AP poll and 12th in the Coaches’ Poll; Miami 14th in AP, 16th in Coaches’; Duke 17th in AP, 14th in Coaches’; North Carolina 25th in AP and 2nd in “others receiving votes” category in Coaches’’. Virginia Tech received votes but no ranking in both polls.

Miami, Pitt, and Clemson remain unbeaten in the conference.  Wake won at home against Virginia Tech, while the UVA Cavaliers won on the road against Georgia Tech.  All games for the Blue Devils until the NCAA tournament are conference games.

Next Play: Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C. at 7:00 p.m. on ACCN.

Jaylen injects energy and athleticism into the Duke starting lineup.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Dariq is the x-factor that gives Duke an extra dimension and higher potential.
Photo credit:GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 60 v. North Carolina State Wolfpack 84 (Season 14; Issue 14; Game # 15) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 4, 2023)

Bill’s CliffsNotes:

After the Wake Forest game, I wrote that “the Blue Devils played as poorly as any Duke team I can remember.” Well, after the N.C. State game last night, I take that back – this time, THEY PLAYED WORSE, MUCH WORSE !  The margin of the loss is difficult to rationalize. It is a tossup as to whether the Blue Devils were worse offensively or defensively and whether N.C. State played better offensively or defensively. The questions are: Is this State team this good or Duke this bad? How has this Wolfpack team lost three ACC games? What happened to the Duke team which played some of the best teams in the country competitively before the exam break? Are these highly touted freshmen overrated or NBA ready and just bored with college basketball?

Some of the answers: ACC home games are difficult for visitors to win. On any given night, even an inferior team, with a hot shooter from the three point line can be a real catalyst for an upset. There are a lot of good, but unheralded players who in any given game can be the difference between winning and losing. Everyone plays their best against the highly ranked and highly publicized Duke and North Carolina. Johnny Tar Heel thinks Blue Devil women’s coach Kara Lawson (14-1; 4-0 in the ACC) should coach the men’s team.

If this embarrassing loss wasn’t a wakeup call, what will be?

Next Play!!

Editorial Board note: The editors are in such a funk after Duke’s abysmal road performance that – in Coach K-like discipline, when he took away the players’ locker room privileges – there will be no pictures of Duke players in this issue.  Rather we honor the Duke womens’ team and coach as well as Johnny Tarheel’s admiration.  We note that the Blue (She) Devils won their second consecutive ACC road game, last night, beating Wake Forest 60-50.  The team is 14-1, and 4-0 in the ACC. 
Kara Lawson, who is working miracles with the Duke women’s team Photo Credit: The News & Observer

The refrain still rings true; conference road games are just different.  Last week, in its first conference road game, Duke was crushed by Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.  Last night, the Blue Devils were crushed 84 to 60 in their second conference road game, by the North Carolina State Wolfpack (1-3 in the ACC coming into the Duke game) .

Despite Duke’s unbelievably bad start – Duke did not score at all in the first 7:40 of the game (15-0) and 10:10 had elapsed before Duke scored points 3 and 4 (20-4) – there was a turning point to the game.  N.C. State led by 18 with 8:37 still left in the opening period when the Blue Devils began what appeared to be a rally.  Despite turnovers by Proctor and Lively, and a missed jumper by Roach, Duke still cut the lead to 12 (26-14) with 5:11 left in the half on a pair of 3-pointers by Dariq Whitehead, a put-back by Mark Mitchell and a fast break layup by Kyle (Flip) Filipowski.  Mitchell then made a steal giving the Blue Devils possession and a chance to cut the lead to 10 or single digits.  Instead, hope plunged off the cliff!

The Wolfpack hit a deep 3.  Dariq turned it over in the backcourt when Terquavion Smith (Wolfpack star freshman guard who scored 24 for the game) deflected the inbound pass.  The ball was loose, but nobody went for it because it seemed to be rolling out of bounds.  However, Smith hustled and scooped it up before it hit the sideline. He was WIDE open, and I thought he smiled before splashing his 3.  The Wolfpack lead had grown back to 18 in just 44 seconds.  Duke was never again even in the game competitively.  When the Wolfpack hit their final 3-pointer of the first half at the buzzer, the lead was 22 points.  N.C. State scored 44 points in the first half while the Blue Devils managed only 22 points.  Ouch!

The second half provided no solace for Blue Devil fans.  Duke trailed by as many as 29 points twice, and was never closer than 20 points behind after the first minute of the second half!  Scheyer’s face on the bench told the story.  He looked like he had been hit with a knockout blow.  His press conference was somewhat rambling and yielded nothing worth quoting.  

The Defense

There is not much to say on behalf of a defense that put up very little resistance in virtually handing over 84 points, including 44 in the disastrous first half.  Duke allowed the Wolfpack 15 more first-half shots from the field (18-39, including 6-15 from deep) than the Blue Devils attempted (7-24, including 2-6 from deep by Dariq).  N.C. State out-rebounded Duke and grabbed 9 first-half offensive rebounds.  The Blue Devil defense forced only 4 first-half N.C. State turnovers (compared to 13 first-half Duke turnovers).  

Duke allowed 40 second-half points and could not get the stops necessary for Duke to cut into the Wolfpack lead, let alone mount a comeback.  Smith (24 points), Jarkel Joiner (21 points) and E.J. Burns Jr. (18 points in 16 minutes) ran roughshod over the Duke defense, scoring 53 of State’s 84 points.

The Offense

The Duke attack stalled out dramatically in the first half, with Duke scoring only 22 points.  The Blue Devils committed 13 first-half turnovers, and 21 for the game. Duke had 9 shots blocked in the game by the smaller Wolfpack. 

One result from such desultory offense is that N.C. State attempted 22 more shots than Duke during the game!  The Wolfpack shot 33-70 for the game while Duke was 19-48.

Only Flip in the second half (12 points), and Dariq from the perimeter (4-7 from deep) were bright spots for Duke.  Roach hardly played in the second half and was a liability on both ends of the court.  Blakes scored only 2 points after 17-point outbursts in his previous 2 games.  In the first half, the starters scored only 10 collective points (Mitchell and Roach 4 each; Flip scored 2; Lively and Blakes were scoreless!)  Ryan Young and Dariq each scored 6 off the bench.  Tyrese Proctor and Jacob Grandison also failed to score in the opening period.


Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (27:31) scored 14 points to lead Duke in scoring.  He seemed to break out of his recent slump to come alive in the second half, where he scored 12 points in 13:14 minutes of play, half from the foul line (3-6 from the field and 6-8 from the stripe in the closing period).  For the game, Flip was 4-10 from the field, including 0-2 from deep plus 6-8 from the stripe to go with 8 boards (7 in the second half).  He committed 3 of Duke’s 21 turnovers.

Mark Mitchell (25:19) scored 6 points (3-6 from the field; 0-2 from the stripe) to complement 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 3 assists, a block, and a steal.  He also committed 2 turnovers and had 3 of his shots blocked. 

Jeremy Roach (22:44, but only 3:12 in the 2nd half) scored 4 points, all from the foul line (0-8 from the floor, including 0-2 from deep) with only one assist, a steal and a turnover.  Jeremy did not beat anyone off the dribble or defend penetrating guards.  I believe his toe is a serious problem that does not seem to be getting better.

Dariq Whitehead (22:33) scored 12 points on four 3-pointers, 2 in each half.  The freshman is playing more and with more confidence but is clearly not yet all the way back.  Dariq was 4-8 from the field, 4-7 from deep, with 3 rebounds and a steal.  His stat line was marred by 4 turnovers.

You could see that Dariq thought that he could lead Duke back all by himself when he made 2 deep shots in a row in the first half; however, his body wasn’t ready to keep up with his last year’s superstar mind.  This does suggest, though, that he still has the ability to become that force again this year. 

Tyrese Proctor (21:19, 15:17 in the second half) scored 5 points, all in the second half.  For the game, Tyrese shot 2-5, including 0-1 from behind the arc and 1-2 from the stripe.  He grabbed 3 boards and handed out a single assist, but turned it over 4 times.

Ryan Young’s (20:26) playing time was limited because he was in foul trouble throughout, ultimately fouling out in the course of trying (and failing) to guard State’s huge D.J. Burns, who lit Young and the Blue Devils up for 18 points in the post in only 16 minutes.  Interestingly, his replacement at center was not D-Live,  but rather it was Flip.  Ryan is tough, scoring 11 points (4-4 from the floor; 3-5 from the foul line) to go with 3 rebounds and 2 assists (2 turnovers).

Jaylen Blakes (17:45) came back to earth in this game scoring only 2 points (1-3, including 0-1 from 3land without a foul shot attempt) after having scored 17 points in each of his previous two games.  He had a steal and two rebounds but committed 3 turnovers without an assist.

Jacob Grandison (14:13) scored only 2 points (2-2 from the stripe; he missed his only field goal attempt, a 3-pointer.)  He grabbed a board and handed out an assist.  His inability to defend is curtailing his time on the court.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (12:28, only 3:50 in the second half) did score in the game.  One point!!  (0-1 from the field and 1-2 from the stripe) without a rebound or a blocked shot.  He is starting to remind me of Chris Burgess.


On Tuesday, Virginia lost on the road at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame lost on the road to Boston College. Last night, Miami lost on the road to Georgia Tech; Wake Forest lost at UNC; while Duke was destroyed in Raleigh against the Wolfpack.  

Conference road games clearly are different.  

Unranked Clemson (who won on the road at Virginia Tech last night) and Pittsburgh are undefeated (4-0) in ACC play. Miami is 4-1, while Syracuse (who won on the road at Louisville) is 3-1.  7 teams (Duke among them) are 2-2.  N.C. State is 2-3.  The technical schools, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are 1-3.  Notre Dame and Louisville are winless at 0-4.

No seasonal goals for the Duke Blue Devils are yet foreclosed. It will be an illuminating aspect of the season how Duke responds to this truly awful loss.  This is Scheyer’s first critical test as the head coach.  

Two of Duke’s next 3 games are conference road games.

Next Play: Saturday, January 7, 2023, at Boston College in Boston, Mass. at 1:00 p.m. on ACCN

Duke Blue Devils 65 v. Boston College Eagles 64 (Season 14; Issue 15; Game # 16) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 7, 2023)

Flip finally plays winning basketball in the last seconds of this game.
Photo Credit: Goduke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Jeremy Roach watched the game from the bench with a walking cast protecting his slow-healing injured toe, but his integral value to this Duke team became apparent in this game as Duke very nearly blew an away game against an ACC bottom feeder.  The Blue Devils, who led most of the way and were up fourteen points in the second half, still almost managed to lose by, among other things, not making a shot from the floor for ten or so minutes, which included missing an uncontested fast break dunk and failing to get the ball in from out of bounds. Fortunately, Kyle Filipowski (Flip), who is emerging from a multi-game slump, made a basket and two foul shots which were the margin. But still, the immature transgressions and inconsistencies of this team are almost inexplicable.

Ty Proctor is not yet an adequate replacement for Roach.  Blakes’s activism is a positive asset on both ends of the floor.  Ryan Young is a polished offensive player, who plays above his athleticism, but his minutes keep Dereck Lively from getting the valuable experience he needs against the better big men Duke will face.  Flip needs to take some lessons from Young on low post moves.  Mark Mitchell needs to be more assertive.  Whitehead needs to be on the floor more, and the zone needs to be deployed more until this squad plays the man-to-man better.

North Carolina State said their strategy was to punch Duke in the mouth from the first tip. The ACC is a tough league. Duke needs to take on some of The Wolfpack strategy figuratively, not literally, and play smart, determined basketball for a full forty minutes!


Conference road games are just different.  Even a lackluster win on the road against a so-called “ACC bottom feeder” [Bill may eat those words before this season ends] is a relief.  After all, Duke was crushed by both Wake Forest in its first conference road game and truly humiliated by the North Carolina State Wolfpack in their second.  Relief was the emotion when BC’s final shot missed, and the ball went back to Duke with only .5 showing on the clock.  It was over, except for the memory of BC’s final basket of the first half – full court pass over Dereck (D-Live) Lively II’s lax defense, to Eagle 7-foot center Quentin Post for a short jump shot that cut Duke’s lead from 6 to 4.  It just wasn’t over until it was OVER!

The issue, of course, isn’t the feeling of relief; it’s the “lackluster” play.  Why is this group of heralded youngsters and experienced veterans (2 returnees and 2 grad transfers) failing to gel and develop consistency and cohesion?  The overriding assessment is “inconsistency”.  For every terrific play made, there has been a gaff.  For every assist, a turnover.  Inconsistency is the plague.

It is undeniable that the Blue Devils have regressed since Jeremy’s foot injury reduced his efficiency and curtailed his playing time.  Duke was developing and jelling until Jeremy’s injury reduced his efficiency.  Scheyer: “We need Jeremy to get well. If that means it’s a week, if that means it’s two weeks, whatever time that means. I would be shocked if he plays the next game, but we’re not ruling him out yet for that.”  It seems fair to believe that as Jeremy’s toe goes so goes Duke’s season.

Coach S’s offensive strategy was clear. Because Duke was longer and deeper (and less than deadly from 3land, so far), the Blue Devils were going to beat BC up on the interior.  Duke started 1 guard (Tyrese Proctor), 2 tall wings (Mark Mitchell and Dariq Whitehead) plus 2 Bigs (Kyle “Flip” Filipowski and Ryan Young).  The strategy played better in the first half than in the closing stanza.  

The Offense

Duke scored only 28 second-half points, 16 from the floor on 7-24 shooting, including 2-7 from behind the arc (Dariq 1-4 and Tyrese 1-3) and a game winning 12-13 from the foul line (Mark 5-6; Dariq 2-2; Ryan 2-2; and Flip 3-3 including 2-2 with 12 seconds left for the 1-point winning margin).  

Duke led by 14 (52-38), with 14:41 left in the game before an epic offensive drought surfaced.  In the next 13:31, Duke maintained its shrinking lead by making foul shots.  But the offense morphed into a frustrating disaster.  Duke was 1-11 from the floor, with 9 turnovers in that section of the second half!  It just doesn’t get any worse than that.

Scheyer explained, “I thought their three-quarter court [press] slowed us down. Give them credit for the switch, the zone really took us out of our rhythm.”  So did Duke’s terrible shot selection, sloppy ball handling, and demoralizing plays.  The most graphic of those was a great Duke steal and pass ahead to Dariq for a wide-open dunk … and …Clang! Dariq just missed it!  

Duke’s backcourt – Tyrese, Jaylen, and Jacob – collectively scored only 8 points in the game.  Tyrese (2-10, 2-5 from deep) scored 6 while Jaylen was 1-3, for 2 points.  Jacob was scoreless (0-2).  On the other hand, Dariq was successful from the perimeter in the first half, with 11 points in the first 12 minutes of the game.  But that was truly it for Duke’s offense from the perimeter.  

Nevertheless, Duke won and is 3-2 in the ACC while BC lost a home game and is 2-3.  That is still the most important takeaway from the game. Here is a bit more optimism: 

Mark Mitchell: “Not everything was going our way, but I think we just tried to fight, really. Getting offensive rebounds, that’s just pure fight, pure will. And that won us the game, and stepping up and hitting those free throws was a big thing by Flip .  I think we grew up in the last 45 seconds.” (Emphasis added).

The Defense

The plaguing inconsistency was on display by the Blue Devil defense, which was at points in this game both  effective and torched.  As the Duke lead dwindled in the second half, “torched” was prevailing.  Then the Blue Devils went to an effective 2-3 zone defense.  Scheyer: “We’re a man-to-man team, that’s what we want to play, but depending on the opponent and the swing of the game, just to have a different defense, and this game it was our 2-3 zone.  But it can be other defense as well, just be able to have a different punch. A different pitch. I thought our guys did a good job, it was pretty hectic at the end, but just being able to react. Going man, the last couple of possessions, they were starting to get a rhythm against our zone.”  Scheyer is trying to explain that even though the zone worked better than his exploited man-to-man, for the last 2 minutes, he returned to a man-to-man defense.

Mark Mitchell made the block of the game, with 38 seconds remaining, and the Blue Devils leading by a point.  BC’s scintillating 6’2” guard, Jaeden Zachery (who had already blocked 7-foot Flip’s jump shot), got free and drove the lane for what seemed a sure layup, to give BC its first lead of the game.  Mark came seemingly out of nowhere for a sensational block to (temporarily) maintain Duke’s 1 point lead.  Mark: “I saw [our bench] on the sidelines, telling me Zachary was about to drive it. I kind of went a little late. and he went, and I just tried to make the play on the ball.  And I got there.  So, I was just trying to not let him get an easy basket off.” 


Mark Mitchell (35:03) played the most minutes in a game at Duke by far, scoring 14 points (4-6 from the field, without a behind the arc shot, and 6-7 from the stripe) to go with 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, with only (by comparison) 2 turnovers.  He never stopped competing.

Dariq Whitehead (32:51) led Duke in scoring in his best offensive output of the season, in his longest time on the court in a game.  Dariq scored 18 points on 6-12 shooting from the field, including 4-8 from behind the arc (3-4 in the first half) and 2-2 from the foul line, to go with 3 boards and 2 assists.  Dariq’s first half was so impressive – 13 points on 5-6 shooting (3-4 from deep, his first 3 attempts) with 2 boards and an assist.  Just a single turnover.  

His second half exemplified Duke’s inconsistency and showed that Dariq is not yet in game shape to play 33 minutes.  In the closing period, he logged 18 minutes, but was only 1-6 from the floor, including 1-4 from deep, plus 2-2 from the stripe, for 5 points.  He had just a single rebound and 1 assist, but 2 turnovers (both offensive fouls by hitting defenders with his shoulder when starting his drive).  However, taking the long view, Dariq is getting there fast.

Tyrese Proctor (32:29) ran the Duke offense in Jeremy Roach’s absence, with 3 assists and 2 turnovers.  The best news was Tyrese was 2-5 from behind the arc; the bad news was 0-5 from inside the arc, shooting 2-10 for the game. On defense, he was unable to stop BC guards from penetrating.  His 6 points was 75% of Duke’s backcourt scoring.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (32:09), like Dariq, was a model of inconsistency.  His stat line looks impressive. Flip scored 15 points (on an unimpressive 4-15 from the field, including 0-2 from deep, but a valuable 5-5 from the stripe including the 2 pressure-packed game winners), to go with 9 boards — 1 rebound away from a double-double — and 3 blocked shots.  But then there are those 5 turnovers, and the moment when a 6’2” guard blocked his jump shot. 

Flip carried Duke in the final period, scoring 11 of his points in the second half, including 3-3 from the stripe.  He is a talent, but Flip is also learning that some of his offensive moves that scored in high school are just turnovers at this level.

Ryan Young (28:03) played center, with Flip being the other Big on the floor.  Ryan scored 7 on 2-5 shooting, plus 3-3 from the foul line, to go with 8 tough rebounds and 5 excellent assists, without a turnover. Ryan also contributed a steal. Scheyer: “Ryan gives us a lot of poise. He didn’t score like he normally does, but to have five assists and no turnovers.”

Jaylen Blakes (18:05) played fewer minutes than expected, given Roach’s absence.  He scored only 2 points on 3 shots, without an attempt from deep or from the stripe.  He had an assist, a steal, and a rebound.  He was on the floor when BC, trailing by a point, had the ball with 12 seconds left to win the game.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (11:57) continues to confound.  Ryan Young replaced last year’s #1 recruit out of high school, in the starting lineup and in the vast majority of playing time.  Critically, D-Live had no success guarding BC’s 7-foot center, Post.  He scored 3 on a dunk plus 1-2 from the foul line.  In his 12 minutes, D-Live had a block, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers.  Surprisingly (to me), he was not on the floor in the last 12 seconds.

Jacob Grandison (9:23) has virtually disappeared from the rotation after his early season hot shooting.  Grandison failed to score (0-2 from deep), with a turnover and 2 boards.


On Saturday, only Duke and Wake Forest won on the road.  Wake beat Louisville (2-14; 0-5 in the ACC), which was predictable. UVA, UNC, and Florida State won at home.

Unranked Clemson is the last undefeated (5-0) in ACC play. Miami and Pittsburgh are 4-1.  Six teams (Duke among them) are 3-2.  N.C. State is 3-3 while BC is 2-3.  The technical schools, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are 1-4.  Notre Dame and Louisville are winless at 0-5.

No seasonal goals for the Duke Blue Devils are yet foreclosed. 

Next Play: Wednesday, January 11, 2023, vs. Pittsburgh (and Jeff Capel) in Cameron Indoor Stadium. at 7:00 p.m. on ACCN.

Mark played 35 minutes of intense competition on both ends of the court.
Photo Credit: goduke.com
Dariq flaunts his potential as his playing time increases, but still lacks stamina.
Photo Credit: goduke.com

Duke Blue Devils 77 v. Pittsburgh Panthers 69 (Season 14; Issue 16; Game 17) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 11, 2023)

YOUNG GUNS Mitchell, Lively II, Filipowski and Whitehead (from left to right)
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke may have grown up tonight, against an improved and talented Pittsburgh team. After being outscored, and schooled on how to run an offense in an ugly 43-36 first half, the Blue Devils proved, for the first time since exams, that they have the maturity to ‘take a licking and keep on ticking’, by playing Real Duke Basketball and outscoring the Panthers 45-26 in the second half.  Kyle (Flip) Filipowski was not the only star—only the most consistent one (a pleasant change). It was a team effort: Flip achieved a career-high (so far) game of 28 pts and 15 rebounds. However, in the second half, substitute point guard Ty Proctor, filling in for the still unable-to-play Jeremy Roach, also performed admirably–as did Whitehead, Lively, Young, Mitchell, Blakes, and Grandison who each had their moments that Alan will explain more fully.  By the way, there is one area, foul shooting, in which this team has consistently excelled—nearly 80% for the season.

Now let’s see if this was a one-off anomaly by precocious but inconsistent teenagers—or not. The next game is at Clemson, who is leading the ACC Conference in an upside-down year. Carolina was handed its third defeat Tuesday night at Virginia.  Incidentally, home teams have won nearly 80% of the conference games this year.

Not to be overlooked is that this game was played at home in front of The Crazies, who were the sixth man. Coach Scheyer: “A vintage Cameron night. It was the first time in Cameron when the team couldn’t hear me. There have been many moments with Coach K when that has happened, where someone is two feet away and you can’t hear. We got to that level tonight.” And as Pitt Coach Capel (who ought to know since he both played and coached at Duke) explained, he knew things wouldn’t be that easy, “As someone who both played and coached in hundreds of games at Cameron Indoor Stadium, this building is never out of it. You anticipate a run at some point. They made a run, the crowd was going all game, and when they [the Crazies] got going, I think those guys [on the court] fed off it.  It gave them an extra boost to be a step quicker to get that 50-50 ball.”

The bottom line is that for twenty minutes, this young group played up to their high school reputations.  Let’s see if they really have matured and can overcome the (hopefully temporary) loss over their point guard and leader—Jeremy Roach.


The Duke theme this season (as we’ve been writing) has been “inconsistency”.  This theme continued against the Pitt Panthers. The Blue Devils played a simply awful first half, giving up 43 points and trailing by 12.  The first-half performance resembled the Blue Devil humiliations at the hands of N.C. State, Purdue, and Wake Forest.  Then Duke put together a second half that was its best of the season (outscoring Pitt by 45 -26… even while going only 1-11 from behind the arc).  

Scheyer said, “they made some really difficult shots that knocked us back in the first half …  we fought and competed in the second half.  Our rebounding was huge, and I thought in the second half our switching and our defense – I don’t know what the exact numbers were, but we held them to 10 or so points for a while there in the second half.” 

The second half was like a different team was playing. Duke still trailed by 12 (48-36) with 18:09 remaining in the game, when the amazing winning run began.  With 4:32 remaining in the game, the Blue Devils led by 11 (69-58), having held Pitt to scoring only 10 points in almost 14 minutes, while themselves scoring 33 points. The offense and defense came together cohesively and dramatically!  It is the type of breakout performance that can lift a team for the entire season.

D-Live (again in foul trouble), re-entering the game with 13:34 left and Duke trailing by 8 (52-44), sparked the Duke defense.  Scheyer praised his ability to switch onto guarding smaller players on the perimeter.  The Duke switching defense stopped Pitt cold. 

On offense, first Flip, then Tyrese scored to bring the Blue Devils within 2 points, before D-Live tied the score at 52 on a neat hook shot, with 10:26 left in the game.  Duke never trailed again.  D-Live then contributed a block, 2 rebounds, and an assist before committing his 4th foul and leaving the game with 7:23 left. The Blue Devils were ahead 59-52.  Astoundingly, Pitt did not score in the 6-plus minutes that D-Live was on the floor!  Duke maintained its lead as the teams traded baskets to the end of the game.  Duke 77 v. Pitt 69. 

The Offense

In the first half, Duke shot an embarrassing 10-33 from the field, including 5-16 from behind the arc (Whitehead 2-5; Filipowski 1-1; Proctor 1-3; Grandison 1-4; Blakes 0-2; and Mitchell 0-1).  Worse, Duke had only 7 assists but 12 turnovers (7 Pitt steals and 5 offensive fouls)!  Duke committed 9 first-half fouls (D-Live, Tyrese, Dariq, and Flip all had 2 fouls each in the opening half).  D-Live fouled out while Dariq and Tyrese finished the game with four fouls. It was a humiliating first half.

The second half was an offensive breakout.  Duke was 14-33 from the field, but only 1-11 from deep; thus, the Blue Devils were 13-22 from inside the arc. And that went with a spectacular 16-18 from the foul line!  Duke penetrated and drew Pitt fouls (12 in the second half).  Flip scored 16 second-half points, including 8-9 from the stripe. Tyrese ran the offense and scored the critical points to maintain Duke’s winning margin. It was a coming out party that breeds optimism for the season and postseason tournaments.

The Defense

Duke gave up 43 first-half points, looking a lot like the defensively-challenged team that was blown out by N.C. State, Wake Forest, and Purdue.  The Blue Devil turnovers put Pitt in transition without allowing Duke to set up its half court defense.   That was part of the problem.  Pitt shot well, even when the shot was contested.  Still, Duke was just discombobulated.

The contrast was palpable as Duke allowed Pitt only 26 second-half points when the Devils went to a defense switching-every-ball screen.  Scheyer: “we felt like this was actually going to be a coming out game for Dereck because we’ve envisioned switching with him, and he made some big time plays in this game. His switching, I thought, really bothered them. … Instead of them running offense, they end up playing one-on-one. Sometimes they’re going to hit, but other times, if we stay disciplined, it’s tough to make those shots over our length. …We were better when he was in the game.  He had some fun tonight.  He just went after it tonight.  It would have been even better if we could keep him out of foul trouble.” 

Indeed, it was not just Dereck in foul trouble–Duke committed 12 second-half fouls (2 each by Dariq, Ryan, Tyrese, D-Live, and Jaylen), which put the Blue Devils in danger. Duke’s foul trouble impacted the rotation late in the game.


Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (34:55) had his best game of the year (7th double-double of the season) scoring a career-high 28 points (8-14, including 1-4 from behind the arc, and a gaudy 11-13 from the stripe), to go with 15 rebounds (11 in the second half).  He also contributed a pair of assists, a steal, and a block.  Flip had 4 turnovers, but 3 were in Duke’s desultory first half.   He dominated the game in the closing period.

Mark Mitchell (34:25) scored 10 points (8 in the second half) and grabbed 9 rebounds while playing tough defense in the second half.  Mark was 2-9 (0-5 in the opening half), including 0-2 from behind the arc and a perfect 6-6 from the foul line to go with a steal and an assist (but 4 awful turnovers).

Dariq Whitehead (30:36) only scored 6 points (2-11, including 2-7 from deep without a free throw attempt) while turning it over twice.  However, he played excellent defense, while grabbing 5 boards.  He was in constant foul trouble, with 2 in the first half and finishing with 4 fouls.  Dariq was scoreless in the second half; he’s not quite all the way back to full game shape.

Tyrese Proctor (27:22) also had what might be his best game at Duke, even though he picked up 2 fouls in the first 5 minutes of the game.  He finished with 4 fouls but controlled the Duke offense in the second half.  Tyrese scored 14 points (9 in the second half) on 4-9 from the floor, including 1-4 from deep and a critical 5-5 from the line to go with 5 assists without a turnover.  Scheyer: “He obviously made some big scoring plays down the stretch, but when your guard has five assists and no turnovers that’s pretty good. … He’s in control of the team, I think that’s the biggest thing that he did, and he really competed and guarded on the defensive end.” 

Jacob Grandison (20:51) played one of his best defensive games this season, with 2 critical steals as Duke made its winning move.  Jacob scored 6 on 2-6 from 3land, one in each half.   He was on the court at “winning time”, which is Scheyer’s method of high praise.

Ryan Young (20:14) helped Duke dominate the back boards with 10 rebounds (7 offensive), while scoring 7 points (all in the second half) on 3-6 from the field for the game, and 1-3 from the stripe.  He was 0-2 from the field and 0-1 from the foul line in the first half.  His play was emblematic of Duke’s terrible first half and marvelous final stanza.

Jaylen Blakes (19:19) played a valuable floor game even though he failed to score a single point in this game (0-5, including 0-4 from deep, without a free throw attempt.  He had a single assist against 3 turnovers.  He logged only 7 second-half minutes.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (12:18) fouled out, logging only minutes in each half, but it was one of his best games at Duke.  In his short stint, D-Live scored 6 points (3-6 from the field, connecting on a smooth hook shot, without a deep shot or free throw) to go with 4 boards, a block, an assist (a beautiful bounce pass to the cutting Flip), and a steal.  Dereck was inserted, with 3:07 to go and 4 fouls, to protect the rim and Duke’s lead, but he fouled out with 3:02 left. The stretch in the second half may be the harbinger of D-Live’s return to star form, which would change the trajectory of Duke’s season.


On Tuesday, the home teams won – UVA topped UNC (now 0-4 on the road)  while Notre Dame won its first ACC game, nipping Georgia Tech 73-72.  Last night, all five home teams won, with Clemson (Duke’s next opponent) beating Louisville to remain unbeaten in the ACC (6-0).  Syracuse beat Va. Tech; Wake dumped Florida State; and Miami beat BC.

Clemson (6-0), though unranked in the polls, is first in the ACC.  Miami is second in the ACC at 5-1.  There are five teams (Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia,  Syracuse, Pittsburgh) that are 4-2. .  UNC,  N.C. State, and Florida State  are 3-3. BC is 2-4, while the technical schools– Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech – plus Notre Dame are 1-5.  Louisville is winless at 0-6.

No seasonal goals for the Duke Blue Devils are as yet foreclosed. The game on the road against unbeaten (in league play) Clemson, will be another cliff to climb … or plunge off of. 

Next Play: Saturday, January 14, 2023, vs. at Clemson in Death Valley at 5:00 p.m. on ACCN.

Scheyer and Jeff Capel – Two coaches from the Coach K tree, who played for him and coached with each other under Coach K . Photo credit: Goduke.com
Flip eats up the plaudits of The Crazies for his 28 point, 15 rebound performance against Pittsburgh
Photo credit: Goduke.com

Duke Blue Devils 64 v. Clemson Tigers 72 (Season 14; Issue 17; Game # 18) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 14, 2023)

Come on back” (we need you!)
Photo credit: Lance King
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

While Duke’s young team competed well for most of both halves, Clemson’s young men closed both halves with the maturity of an experienced team in the friendly confines of Littlejohn Coliseum. Chalk up another one for staying more than one year and learning tough lessons!  Laettner and Hurley were different players in their last two years than they were in their first two at Duke. Two players who are not named, Jordan and Bird, can’t take over fifty per cent of the shots for a team and consistently win; Duke attempted 63 field goals, 37 of them by Flip and Tyrese combined.  Kyle Filipowski took 22 shots to score his 18 points while Tyrese Proctor scored his 17 points on 15 shots. Whitehead has an NBA body and skills, but 2 points in 28 minutes in a close game does not validate that assessment. Proctoor has improved significantly each game that Roach has missed,, but he should not be the one creating a shot with the game on the line. Young vs. Lively is a tough call. Young is an experienced, heady player who produces above his athletic level against all exceptexcept elite big men. Lively brings another level of athleticism to rim and lane protection against all competition, but he needs playing time to mature. Mitchell needs to be more assertive offensively. And on and on!

It is easy to second guess coaching decisions –  – rather I am trying to understand why Duke gets the cream of the recruiting crop, but then only does very good not great. Even Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett and Co. blasted a talented Kentucky team early in their freshman year, but lost to an experienced Michigan State and did not make the Final Four at the end of that same year. And speaking of Kentucky, the only team who attracts as many one-and-done talents as Duke, is reportedly unhappy* with their Coach Calipari–and vice versa.

Welcome to the new era of College Basketball. The bottom line is that with the transfer portal and college athletes getting compensated (paid for image & likeness) coaching is a tough profession and getting tougher all the time.   

*A college basketball fan sent this message to John Calipari: “Please go to Texas.” 


On December 8, 2022, the Blue Devils played what this DBP said was their best game of the season, beating Iowa in Madison Square Garden.  Not coincidentally, Jeremy Roach had his best game of the season against Iowa against Iowa, scoring 22 points and looking as if he was having a season for the ages.  But, Jeremy’s toe kept him from playing well, and now from playing at all. kept him from playing well, and now from playing at all.  His injury has not yet healed, and the Duke season has simply unraveled since then.  Duke has great difficulty playing well for both halves.  Inconsistency has been a theme of our analysis.  After the last game against Pittsburgh, we wrote: 

“The Duke seasonal theme of “inconsistency” continued against the Pitt Panthers by playing a first half (giving up 43 points and trailing by 12) that resembled the Blue Devil humiliations at the hands of N.C. State, Purdue and Wake Forest, while playing a second half that was its best of the season (outscoring Pitt by 45 -26 – while going only 1-11 from behind the arc).”

While Duke trailed the Clemson Tigers by only a single point with 3:57 left in the game, it photographed that the Blue Devils’ scoring drought, from that point to the final buzzer, was the Achilles heel.  However, scrutiny of the entire second half reveals that the Tigers disemboweled the Devils in the second half the way the Panthers previously had in their first half.  Duke scored only 30 points in the second half (0-12 from behind the arc), just 20 from the field (10-33) while adding 10 points from the foul line where they shot 10-13 (5-8 from the foul line were Duke’s only points in the final minutes). The Blue Devils managed only 3 assists in the closing stanza.  

The Duke defense was no better than the Blue Devil offense, allowing the Tigers to score 42 second-half points on 50% shooting (15-30).  Being outscored by 12 was precisely what had happened in the first half against Pitt.   The second half against Clemson sadly resembled the full game humiliations that Scheyer’s team has suffered against Wake Forest and N.C. State (on the road), and Purdue (on a neutral court).

Duke is now 1-3 in ACC road games – with 2 of the next 3 games on the road.  After a home game against Miami, Duke travels to Blacksburg (Va. Tech) and Atlanta (Ga. Tech).  Wins on the road are required for Duke to have a good season. [The Editorial Staff implores Coach S and his team “so, get on it!!”]

This loss is actually much worse than it appears.  Jeremy, how does your toe feel???

The Offense

Duke led 34-30 at the end of the first half (by 7 with 1:43 left in the half), shooting 46% (14-30, including 3-8 from deep and 3-5 from the stripe), with 6 assists and 6 turnovers.  Not great, but so much better than the desultory second half would turn out to be. 

The closing minutes of the second half are a terrible tale.  With 5:07 left in the game, the Blue Devils pulled to within 2 points when Mitchell made a put back (after he missed at the rim and got his own rebound), 58-56.  From that point, Flip missed a 3, Tyrese missed a jumper, Flip went 1-2 from the stripe, Tyrese turned it over and then missed a free throw before Flip had his shot blocked.  60-57 with 2:43 left.  Dariq committed a foul, Mitchell turned it over, before each team made about the same number of foul shots to complete Duke’s disastrous 8 point loss.

The Defense

The theme for the Duke defense since ACC play began has been Scheyer’s post-game lament in his press conference, “I think it came down to them getting in our paint too easily!”  We have heard that lament frequently.  The Blue Devils not only miss Jeremy’s leadership on offense, but because Jeremy is their best on-the-ball defender, he was also Duke’s leader in preventing penetration by quick driving guards.  

Scheyer added, “[Clemson is] physical, their pick-and-roll defense is good as anybody that we’ve played. And it’s, for us, learning how to play through that. You’re going to play really good defenses, and down the stretch, knowing how to manufacture points for each other, it’s not going to be as much on your own getting one. And we’re still learning that.”


Tyrese Proctor (36:59) was only out of the game for 3 minutes (all in the first half), as he was the point guard for all 20 minutes of a flawed second half.  In just two first-half minutes (from 5:37 left in the first half to 3:58), Proctor scored 9 straight points (2 shots from deep and a traditional 3 point play on a drive) to take Duke from a point behind to a 4 point lead (26-22), but then didn’t score for the rest of the half.  For the game, Tyrese scored 17 points (5-15 from the field, including 2-9 from behind the arc and 5-6 from the line) to go with only a single assist against 3 turnovers.  He grabbed 5 boards.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (35:11) notched yet another double-double, scoring 18 points on 22 shots (8-22, including 1-5 from deep and 1-3 from the foul line), while hauling in 14 rebounds (5 offensive) plus a blocked shot.  He turned it over 4 times.    

Mark Mitchell (28:18) was 4-8 from the field to score 8 points (without a free throw attempt and 0-1 from behind the arc).  He had 2 rebounds, a steal, and a turnover.  He played very solid defense on Clemson’s star, Hunter Tyson, holding him to 7 points.

Ryan Young (24:39) is still starting ahead of, and playing more minutes than, D-Live, who was last year’s #1 rated recruit.  Ryan scored 10 points on 3-4 from the floor and 4-4 from the stripe, blocked a pair of Clemson shots, but grabbed only 2 rebounds (1 offensive).  He contributed an assist, a steal, but also committed a turnover.

Dariq Whitehead (24:06) did not turn the ball over, which was his best statistic of the game, even though he had 2 assists and a steal.  What Dariq didn’t do was score the ball as Duke needed him to do.  He scored only 2 points (1-6, including 0-3 from 3land without a foul shot attempt).

Jaylen Blakes (18:51) scored 5 points (1-4, without a shot from behind the arc and 3-5 from the stripe) to go with 5 boards and 2 assists without a turnover.

Jacob Grandison (17:08), Duke’s most accurate long-distance shooter this year, failed to score a point! (0-2 from deep), but grabbed 3 boards and distributed an assist.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (14:48) was improved from recent outings in his 8:38 first-half minutes, where he scored his 4 points (2-2), with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal.  Still, committing 2 fouls and 2 turnovers in that short stretch will keep him behind Young in the rotation.  In the second half, D-Live retrieved 2 more rebounds, without committing another foul.  It is hard to believe he will be yet another one-and-done while his play continues to be this disappointing.


The stretch from December 8 against Iowa at Madison Square Garden to now has been… disappointing.  Jeremy’s injured toe brings back memories of Kyrie’s lost season in 2010-11, when Duke was favored to repeat as NCAA champions, s until Kyrie’s injured toe kept him on the bench. The anticipated return to form of Dariq Whitehead and D-Live from injuries is happening only slowly with Whitehead and not at all, it appears, with Lively II.  All 3 of these circumstances are contributing to the current pessimistic state of affairs.

We offer some insight from Kara Lawson, the Duke women’s coach who so far has been producing amazing results, while expressing disappointment in her team’s play despite their almost miraculous run to National prominence.  Give a listen to Kara after her team beat Clemson, to remain undefeated in ACC play (and 15-1 overall):

“I didn’t feel like we played well, but I’m proud of them for fighting in the second half. I was more proud of their second half than I was their first half; I think we were noncompetitive in the first half and that was very frustrating to see, but in the second half  I thought we played with a little more fire. … our defense was poor, and we need to be better on that end, and so we’ve just got a lot to work on that end. We had some breakdowns and thankfully Kennedy [Brown] and Mia [Heide} were back there to save layups after guard after guard was getting beat off the dribble. We just have to be better one on one defensively if we expect to win more games in this league.”  

Clemson scored only 56 points – not exactly a shoddy defensive performance.

“When I say that, please understand me, I’m not saying that we were awful. I’m just saying that there are so many correctibles and that we could be better. What you’re trying to do as a coach is you’re trying to, through a win, still have them be sharp and understand that there are correctibles, because winning is like taking like an Aleve or a Tylenol. It dulls the pain that you have but it doesn’t fix the problem. Winning will do that; you think everything’s okay and we’re doing good enough, and then you start to slip. And so that’s my job, to keep us sharp!”

The Duke men have not been sharp since Jeremy’s injury.

Next Play: Saturday, January 21, 2023, vs. Miami in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN.

Back to the drawing board!
Photo credit: Grant Halverson

Duke Blue Devils 68 v. Miami Hurricanes 66 (Season 14; Issue 18; Game #19) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”(January 21, 2023)

Jeremy demonstrates what team leadership is all about as the freshmen concentrate intently.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke had almost everything going for them today: playing a formidable, well-coached, but relatively small, Miami team in Cameron (where Duke is undefeated this year); Isaiah Wong, best player for the Hurricanes, weakened by an illness; a week of rest; and Jeremy Roach, their veteran point guard and leader, playing for the first time since January 4. The Blue Devils needed all of that plus a miracle three-point shot from mid court by Whitehead as the shot clock expired for the margin of victory. Still, a win is a win. But it’s getting a little late in the season for these highly rated freshmen not to be playing well enough to win more comfortably at home. Duke fans expect more, even though these are predominately precocious teenagers masquerading as grown men.  And if you ever raised teenagers, just remember how frustrating that was.

Unlike good Duke teams of the past, this team rarely makes those patented runs that separated the Blue Devil score from that of their opponent. This group has not demonstrated the killer instinct to put an opponent away. Today was a good example – they would go up five or six points, then not execute either the offense or defense effectively and lose their opportunity.  It’s a simple game: make shots and make stops!  Otherwise, the game can be determined by a lucky shot or play. Finally the entire team –  not just  Filipowski or Young – appeared to understand how to play Duke Basketball by rebounding, diving for loose balls, not getting discouraged when the shots don’t fall–and playing hard for a full forty minutes. They aren’t in high school anymore but wear a Duke uniform with a target on their back.

Young is an admirable, mature player who plays above his athletic level and is a good role model for Filipowski and Lively, both of whom appear to be fulfilling their potential — albeit at different rates.  Whitehead is too skilled not to be a first or second option offensively.  Mitchell is a lock-down defender who needs to be more assertive offensively.  Procter, who skipped his senior year of high school (and sometimes plays like it), has demonstrated genuine potential, and has benefited from Roach’s absence, but is not yet the starting point guard for a championship contender.  Blakes brings a needed energy and enthusiasm to the floor.  Grandison, a  25 year old grad student, is a valuable spot player and scorer.

It is easy to forget that as a freshman, and for the first part of his second year, Jeremy Roach was not yet the player that he is today.  It took time. It always takes time! That is the frustrating crux of the One-and-Done culture. Schools like Duke and Kentucky are reduced to finishing schools for precocious high school basketball players waiting to become millionaires. Some make it, others don’t. 


Duke made one more winning play than the Hurricanes did; the game was that close. It was tied 38-38 at the half.  There was only one lead change in the second half when the Hurricanes hit 2 shots in a row to lead the Blue Devils 47-45. Even though Duke led for almost the entire second half, they couldn’t get the separation needed to make it a comfortable lead. The Blue Devils led by as much as 8 during the closing half, and, critically, by 7 (64-57) with 5:19 left in the game after Tyrese made a 3 from the corner on a pretty assist from Jeremy. What a difference Jeremy is starting to make in just his first minutes (more than 27 of them) back! 

Isaiah Wong, Miami’s star, countered with a deep 3 (64-60).  In the next Duke possessions, Jeremy missed a jumper and Grandison threw a bad pass.  Norshad Omier, Miami’s high-scoring Big, cashed an offensive rebound, which became a three-point play when he converted the foul shot (64-63 with 2:54 left in the game).  Roach had his shot blocked ……but then he stole the ball back! and got it to Flip, who was fouled and made both free throws (66-63 with 2:05 left).  Roach fouled Omier, who made 1 of 2 (66-64 with 1:45 to go).  Grandison missed a jumper, which the Hurricanes rebounded, and fired up the jump shot to try and tie the game with 54 seconds left.  The game turned on the results of that Hurricane miss.  

Setting the scene for the play of the game: first, the Hurricanes retrieved the offensive rebound but missed a second jump shot; Omier got that offensive rebound too, but missed the layup. The game turned on the rebound of that Hurricane miss at 66-64.  Ryan Young finally corralled the rebound of the game with 40 seconds left; it was not only the rebound of the game, it was the play of the game!

Flip then hit 2 clutch free throws to put Duke ahead by 4 (68-64) with only 19 seconds left, lifting Duke to an almost-secure position.  But, the Blue Devil back court then missed crucial foul-shot-opportunities to ice the game.  With 10 seconds to go, and Duke leading by 4, Jeremy missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  The Hurricanes rebounded the miss and scored immediately to have one more chance (68-66).  Proctor, fouled with 3 seconds left, also missed the front end of a 1-and-1.  If the Miami desperation 3 point shot had gone in, Duke would have lost.  Your guards must close out the game at the foul line when the opportunity is there.

The Defense

While the Blue Devil defense struggled in the first half, giving up 38 points, Duke held the usually high-scoring Hurricanes to only 28 second-half points by mixing it up on defense.  Duke went to its zone often, interspersing the 2-3 zone it had shown in other games with a new 1-3-1 (used sparingly, but to good effect).  After the first two minutes of the second half (when D-Live and Ryan each picked up their third foul), Duke only committed 4 fouls for the rest of the game.  That’s a sign of excellent defense.

Scheyer: “I thought we had to change our defenses up. Miami is an explosive team. You never relax when you’re playing against them and hold them to 66 points.… but our defense has been our backbone and I think we are the type of team we have to gut it out and scrap and crawl and we did that. 

“They’re a tough team to control the ball one-on-one. They have literally four guys that can create at all times. Omier is a load in the post. So just being able to switch it up and give different looks — when Ryan’s on the floor it’s different than when Dereck’s on the floor.  In the second half, to hold them to 28 points, that’s a big deal. That’s not an easy thing to do.

“Dereck Lively, he’s been working his butt off every day with Coach [Amile] Jefferson. He keeps getting better, and for him to have six offensive rebounds, 10 rebounds overall, five blocked shots.” 

Men's basketball vs. Miami
Flip earned his 9th double-double of the season and his third in a row with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Photo Credit: GoDuke.com


Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (34:27) was Duke’s best and most valuable player, notching another double-double with 14 boards and 17 points (5-12, including 1-3 from behind the arc and 6-8 from the stripe – the last two being the winning shots).  Flip played solid defense, with a pair of steals and a blocked shot.  On offense, he had 2 assists without a turnover.  Game ball!

Tyrese Proctor (Ty) (29:49) played an excellent game, especially in the second half, where he logged almost 18 minutes.  Tyrese scored 11 points (4-9 from the field, including 3-7 from deep, and 0 for 1 from the foul line).  In the second half, Tyrese handed out a pair of assists without a turnover.

Jeremy Roach (27:24) played in his first game since January 4.  His presence provided an emotional revival for  his teammates and coaches –  not to mention us – readers  and  fans.  Jeremy scored 14 points in his return, on 6-10 from the field, including 1-3 from deep, plus 1-3 from the stripe.  He had 4 assists, 2 steals and a rebound.  Two turnovers. Jeremy will be even better when the rust from not playing dissolves.  He looked less rusty than could have been expected.  A big whew – Welcome back, Jeremy!

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (24:14) played his most minutes yet while at Duke, displaying deft passing skills (6! assists) to go with making a pair of  3-pointers for his 6 points (2-7, including 2-5 from deep).  His defense is improving and he was on the court when the game was on the line at the end.  Scheyer praised him, “Jake is just a calming force. He makes really easy plays. Ball doesn’t stick with him. He’s the best post passer that we have.  He’s always a threat.  He shot 40 [percent] from three today still, but he’s a guy you have to guard.  He’s capable of having a five, six three game which I believe he’s got in him still.  And he battles, he knows how to compete. He’s battle tested. He’s been in big-time environments, and I just thought when he was in there, he made us better today.” 

Dariq Whitehead (23:40) scored 10 points (3-9 from the field, including 2-3 from deep, and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 3 boards, 2 assists, and a blocked shot.  However, Coach Scheyer played him for fewer than 9 minutes in the second half, where his only points came on a wild desperation fling from very deep as the shot clock expired.  It hit the backboard and went in to bring Duke from behind 47-45 to a 48-47 lead.  To consider how slim Duke’s margin of victory was: if that heave had missed, Duke would have had only 65 points and lost the game.

Mark Mitchell (20:10) had one of his intermittent, low-scoring games, only 2 points (1-4 from the field, including 0-1 from the foul line), with a steal.  Mark played some excellent defense and grabbed 5 rebounds.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (18:16) played his best game at Duke so far, with 10 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.  He scored 6 points on 3-9 shooting.  It’s worth looking closer.  D-Live played only 4 minutes in the first half, but scored 4 points (2-5) and grabbed 4 boards.  However, he picked up 2 fouls (again) and added the 3rd foul before 2 second-half minutes had passed.  It seemed like the story we have been seeing all season.   But Dereck played the rest of his 14 second-half minutes without fouling, while blocking 5 Miami shots and securing 6 rebounds.   He played twice as many minutes as Ryan Young in the second half because of his dramatic contributions. This feels like a breakthrough development both for D-Live and for Duke’s offense and defense – a positive for the Blue Devils’s future this season.

Ryan Young (16:43) was in early foul trouble – 2 in the first half and his 3rd in the first minute of the second half.  He scored only 2 points on 2 attempts but was a stout rebounder (5) and defender (a blocked shot), and steady on offense (2 assists, but 2 turnovers).

Jaylen Blakes (5:17) broke his nose in practice last week and tried to play with a mask.  He failed to score in his short time on the floor in the first half and did not play in the closing period.


Four positives: 

  1. Jeremy’s return and relative effectiveness;
  2. Dereck Lively’s second half – 14 minutes on the court, playing with 3 fouls and not fouling again, while blocking 5 shots and grabbing 6 boards; 
  3. Kyle Filipowski’s overall play, especially in the clutch; and
  4. Duke won and is now 14-5 on the season and 5-3 in ACC play.

Beating Miami was critical for Duke after the Clemson loss.  However, Monday’s game at Virginia Tech may be even more critical.  Duke has had three very bad road losses, and Blacksburg has been a horror show for the Blue Devils over the years.  Another road loss would be seriously deflating.  

Va. Tech barely lost last night at Clemson.  The Hokies led by a point and were shooting 2 free throws with 9 seconds left.  When the Tech player missed his second free throw, Va. Tech led by 2 points instead of 3.  Clemson then hit a 3, literally at the buzzer, to win.  Heartbreaking loss for Va. Tech.  Tech will be fired up from that heartbreak when Duke meets them on the court in Blacksburg. 

In the ACC, Clemson, (8-1) leads the league, with UVA (7-2) in second.  There are 5 teams at 6-3 (Miami, UNC, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Pittsburgh), while Duke is 5-3.  Florida State and NC State are each 5-4.

None of Duke’s goals for the season have been foreclosed, but Clemson leads Duke by 2 ½ games for the regular season ACC title, and holds the tiebreaker by virtue of the Tiger win over the Blue Devils last weekend (if teams are tied, the first tie breaker is who won the head-to-head games. As Duke only plays Clemson once this season, Clemson holds the tie-breaker as a result of the win in Death Valley).

Next Play: Very quick turnaround to Monday, January 23, 2023, at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

“I’m back! Let’s go!” Photo credit: GoDuke.com

Men's basketball vs. Miami

Men's basketball vs. Miami
It was a welcome sight for all Duke fans to see Jeremy again running the team. Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 75 v. Virginia Tech Hokies 78 (Season 14; Issue 19; Game # 20) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 23, 2023)

Flip continues dazzling play with his 9th Double-double (4th in a row)!
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

If there is such a thing as a pyrrhic loss, Duke had one tonight in Blacksburg. They not only lost a winnable game but, more importantly, they lost Dariq Whitehead just as he appeared to be emerging as a functioning, crucial component of the Blue Devil team. Dariq watched the end of the game from the breezeway to the dressing rooms on crutches, which is not a good sign.

Filipowski had another double-double (29 points & 10 rebounds) plus a punch in the neck and/or mouth and was brought to his knees by a Hokie player celebrating too vigorously in the last minute of the game. Referees stopped play and went to the monitors. No foul. They determined it was not intentional. No matter, it added insult to injury and negated a possible fast break opportunity in the last minute of a close game.

The only thing consistent about this Duke team is their inconsistency: up seven at the start, down seven at the break. Flip had another career game, but the supporting cast did not support him for a full forty minutes. Tech outshot Duke 57-43% from the floor; 53-39% for threes: 67-63% from the line–not numbers of a good defensive or offensive team.

Bottom Line: Prospects for the rest of the season are not what they were at the beginning of the season.


Coach Scheyer’s post game analysis: “Our guys really competed, really battled, put ourselves in a position to win that game coming back from down 13. And really, at halftime, just for us to dig down and get some stops, trust the pass, work together, I thought we had some beautiful connecting passes. But ultimately, just really one play short.”  

The Blue Devils trailed for almost all of the latter part of the second half despite Kyle (Flip) Filipowski’s spectacular performance (29 points, 15 in the second half).  With 38 seconds left in the game and the Blue Devils trailing by 3 (75-72), Flip drove, drawing the Hokie defense to him and setting up a superb pass to Tyrese (Ty) Proctor, who drained a 3 pointer to tie the score at 75.  

The Hokies then made their one play to win the game, when M.J. Collins (6 points in the game) got loose in the lane to sink an open 12-foot jumper giving the Hokies a 2-point lead.  But, Duke still had a chance.

As the Hokies’ celebrated Collins basket, a Hokie fist bump of triumph turned into a solid punch to Flip’s face.  Scheyer: “he got hit so hard that he was throwing up in the huddle. He was full-out throwing up, but he wasn’t about to be out for a second. He was ready to come back in, and we ended up drawing up the play, and put the ball in his hands.  He’s a big-time warrior, man.  He’s a competitor.  He hates to lose.  I thought you could see that tonight.  He really put us on his back and willed us to put us in a position to win that game.”

The one play that would have won the game, that Duke didn’t make, as Scheyer described it: “We wanted the ball in Flip’s hands, good things happen, really almost every time he touched it — we get either a wide-open shot, or he got a great look himself.  And he made a read, made a really good pass to Tyrese. They happened to get caught up on that initial action, and Tyrese is wide open. It hits the back rim, but it’s right there. Sometimes it goes in, and sometimes it doesn’t.” 

Good teams win close games, while bad teams lose close games.  Mediocre teams tend to win at home, lose on the road, ending up in the middle of the pack.  The Blue Devils have now lost 4 ACC road games while winning only at Boston College.  One of Duke’s pre-season goals was to win the Regular Season ACC title.  Given that Clemson has a 3-game lead and holds the tiebreaker, not to mention UVA’s 2-game lead and high national ranking, the Blue Devils seem out of contention for the ACC regular season championship.  There are 5 teams at 6-3 and 2 others tied with Duke at 5-4.

The Blue Devils’ season going forward needs to  focus on the effort to gel, and to become formidable for their other pre-season goals — namely, post-season championships.

The Offense

Duke scored 38 first-half points and 37 in the closing stanza.  The distribution of Blue Devil scoring in the second half illustrates a problem with the offense when two players are scoring ⅔ of Duke’s points. Flip (15) and Ty (10) scored 25 of Duke’s 37 points.  Ryan Young and Mark Mitchell each tallied 4, while Dereck (D-Live) Lively II, and Jeremy Roach scored 2 points each, in the second half.  The Blue Devils need significant scoring from the roster outside of Flip and whoever else is hot that day.

Jeremy Roach’s return has not been as impactful as expected.  He is not yet in game shape, and his shot is off (0-4 from deep on uncontested 3s).  Duke’s offense will get better (even without Dariq) if Jeremy can return to the form he showed before his injury.

Dariq’s shooting has returned, even if his handle and ability to finish consistently on his drives has not yet.  If he is badly injured and misses substantial time or the remainder of the season, the Duke offense cannot help but suffer.

The Defense

What can you say about a defense that gives up 45 first-half points?  Duke has allowed a series of 40-point halves against good ACC teams on the road – sometimes 2 in the same game – (Wake Forest, N.C. State, Clemson, and now Virginia Tech have scored 40 or more against Duke in one or both halves).

The Hokies shot over 50% for the game, both from the field and from behind the arc.  They torched the Blue Devils in the first half before the Duke defense adjusted.   Scheyer: “They’re 7-of-10 in the first half [from 3land]. So, you have to adjust. And we ended up switching, probably a little bit more than we would’ve liked to, and [Grant Basile, the Hokies’s star Big] took advantage of those switches. He’s a really good player. … Too many times we got caught without talking. You have to talk really well on switches, when they screen, and they get all of these zoom actions. But I thought in the second half, we really dug down, held them to 33 points and did a better job. And they still, they almost shot 50 [percent] from the field.” 

Duke always emphasizes on-the-court-communication among the players, especially when playing defense. But that communication seems to fade when the game tightens. Maybe the players get too hyperfocused on their individual effort. For a team claiming its calling card is Defense, it is indisputable that the Blue Devil defense has been disappointing, to say the least, in ACC road games. 


Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (33:53) was Duke’s best and most valuable player, notching yet another double-double! with 10 boards and 29 points (9-17, including 4-8 from behind the arc, and 7-9 from the stripe).  Flip played solid defense with a pair of steals and a blocked shot.  On offense he had 2 assists with a turnover.  Game ball! Again!  He just put the team on his back and gave it his all.

Mark Mitchell (31:59) scored 8 points (1-3 from the field, including 1-2 from behind the arc and 1-2 from the foul line).  Mark played some excellent defense, probably logging more minutes than he would have if Dariq had not been severely injured early in the second half.   

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (31:27) played an excellent game, especially in the second half where he was on the court every second and scored all 10 of his points (4-12 from the field, including 2-6 from deep) to go with 6 assists, a steal, and a blocked shot, with only a single turnover.  In the first half, Tyrese was 0-2, including 0-1 from deep, while handing out 3 assists. Only one turnover. With 38 seconds left in the game, Ty made a wide open 3 on a superb pass from Flip to tie the game at 38. But with 13 seconds left, and Duke trailing 77-75, he missed yet another wide open 3 on yet another wonderful pass from Flip.

Jeremy Roach (31:18) is not yet back in game shape but was forced to play almost 18 second-half minutes as a result of Dariq’s injury.  His rust was apparent because Jeremy scored only 6 points (3-9 from the field including 0-4 from deep, on uncontested shots).  Worse, he missed his only free throw, the front end of a 1-and-1 with Duke trailing by 3 points late in the game.  He had 3 assists (all in the first half) and 2 rebounds.  Jeremy tried to lead, but kept missing open shots and that crucial front end foul shot.  Jeremy is there, but not yet there.

Ryan Young (26:30) played the majority of his minutes with respectable offense statistics.  He scored 8 points (4-6 from the field), to go with 8 boards, 2 assists, and a steal.  But on defense, Ryan had the primary task to guard the star Hokie Big, Grant Basile, who nevertheless flourished in the paint on offense, scoring 24 points.

Dariq Whitehead (17:34) scored 10 points – all in his 14:33 first-half minutes before he suffered what may be a serious injury early in the second half.  Dariq hit both of his 3-point attempts and was 2-4 from inside the arc.  An assist and 2 turnovers.  Dariq’s injury is troubling, if not downright scary for Duke’s future this season.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (13:30) after playing well for substantial minutes against Miami, D-Live played only sparingly against Va Tech.  He scored  4 points on 2-3 shooting and  grabbed 2 boards, but committed 2 fouls.  The announcers offered no explanation for D-Live’s reduced minutes, but it may have had to do with match-ups. He had no success slowing the Hokies and Basile’s offense. 

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (9:07) after earning Scheyer’s praise for his 24 minutes played against Miami, Jake played little, failing to score (0-1 from deep).  He had an assist and a rebound.   

Jaylen Blakes (4:52) is still not recovered from his broken nose.  He failed to score in his short time on the floor in the first half and did not play in the closing period.


Duke must start winning ACC road games in order to save the season! No other way exists.  There are 11 ACC games remaining, 5 on the road (Georgia Tech, Miami, UVA, Syracuse and UNC).  All those teams, except for Georgia Tech, are ahead of Duke in the ACC standings.

Next Play: Saturday, January 28, 2023, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga. At 3:00 p.m. on ACCN.

A terrible sight for Duke fans to behold.  We are all hoping Dariq will be able to play again this season.  Photo credit: USATSI

Duke Blue Devils  86 v. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 43 (Season 14; Issue 20; Game 21) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 28, 2023)

Swish! Roach is back! Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Raise your hand if you thought that Duke would be without their highly rated freshman Dariq Whitehead, be on the road where they have only won one game in ACC play, and play their best game of the year winning 86-43.  Even with Georgia Tech being one of the worst teams in the league, and their coaching staff making an interesting choice  to focus more on defending against Duke’s big men (that backfired, giving the Blue Devils threes), the circumstances made it a real challenge. But it was a challenge the Devils embraced, as Jeremy Roach hit two straight threes to start the game, and even Dereck Lively made one.  It was that kind of game! as Duke kept playing with enthusiasm and efficiency–making shots and getting stops (and rebounds).  Lively, who started in place of Ryan Young, had 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals.  Bottom line is that after a frustrating and disappointing run of games, and another injury, Duke recovered to play their best basketball. Now let’s see how they deal with better teams of the ACC that they will face to finish the season.

Other Comments:

Billy Packer died this week. He was a terrific point guard for Coach Bones McKinney at Wake Forest, where he teamed with center Lenny Chappell and Dave Budd to make the Demon Deacons a formidable force in ACC and NCAA play. “Packer did all the talking and I did all the work,” Chappell wryly (and inaccurately) joked in an interview before Wake Forest played in the first round of the 1996 N.C.A.A Tournament. I had an opportunity to talk to Billy in 1959 and he said Duke was his first choice and was recruited, but was never extended an offer from then Coach Harold Bradley.  Too small to make the NBA, Billy became a college television announcer and analyst, teaming with Jim Nance at CBS where they did decades of NCAA Final Four Games. He was knowledgeable and incisive in his explanation of what you were seeing, and made many fans, including me,  for college basketball.

Coach Scheyer: “we’re at our best when Tyrese is doing this.”  Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

Duke, as the road team, doubled Georgia Tech’s point total.  Georgia Tech may be deficient (8-13; 1-10 in the ACC), but no matter who the opponent, Duke scoring 86 points (43 in each half) while holding the other team to only 43 points, is a prodigious feat.  As Coach Scheyer said, “I thought it was probably the best collectively on defense that we’ve played. And then on the offensive end, to share the ball and get 24 assists, to hold them to 43 …” 

As a team, the Blue Devils were amazingly cohesive and organized.  The backcourt ran the show.  Tyrese Proctor is growing as a point guard so fast it is hard to remember how young he is, and how green at the start of the season.  He distributed 8 assists (a handful of beautiful lobs to Dereck (D-Live) Lively II for gorgeous throwdowns), without committing a turnover. Coach S was enthusiastic, “Talking about getting better, Tyrese from the start of the season to now has just grown tremendously. And we’re at our best when Tyrese is doing this. And we have weapons on the floor, and I thought he put them in a great position to be really successful.”

Jeremy Roach made an eloquent statement, hitting a brace of 3-pointers from deep on Duke’s first two shots of the game.  Jeremy was 4-7 from behind the arc for the game. “Jeremy played just an incredibly solid game, and when he’s ready to shoot like that, he’s heard me say it all the time, I think every shot he shoots is going in.  He and Tyrese [Proctor] had really good control over our team,” Scheyer opined.

The frontcourt was unstoppable on offense and controlled the paint and the backboard at both ends.  Kyle (Flip) Filipowski continued his superb play and leadership (18 points and 7 boards), D-Live showed what he can do at both ends, scoring 9, grabbing 10 boards, and blocking 3 shots.  He even made his first 3-pointer of the year.  If D-Live is trending back to the player he was last year, that is great news for Duke.  As the coach said, “like he’s on a launching pad right now. And he’s got a chance to take off, and today was the start of it. Ryan Young was a great substitute for D-Live, scoring 10 points on 5-6 shooting.”  Ryan is clearly appreciated by his coach, “Ryan has been so solid, we need him to stay ready for us. And he’s going to be in there.”

The other piece of excellent news is that Dariq’s injury is not as serious as feared at first.  It’s not an Achilles problem.  It is a ligament strain that forecasts his return to the rotation within a reasonable time.  Coach Scheyer reports, “Dariq’s progressing really well. Just fortunate that it wasn’t worse. It was scary at the time when he went down. And we want to make sure with him that we give him the right practice time to get back on the court where he can actually – we don’t want to just throw him out there where he hasn’t had a chance to get reps in practice.   He hasn’t been able to do more than what he did on the court today [Dariq was in uniform, and took shots in the warmup, but he is not yet jumping].  But obviously, he’s out there working every day with our medical team and strength and condition team, and we’ll just continue to take it day-by-day with him and make sure we don’t rush it with him, but also, we want him back as soon as possible.” 

All the news from this game is good.  The offense was smooth, with great ball movement and over 50% shooting.  Duke’s defense was even better than its offense.  The Yellow Jackets scored just 43 points, only 18 in the second half.  And, even better, Duke never committed enough fouls for the Yellow Jackets to reach the bonus; no Duke player had more than 2 fouls for the game.  That is the mark of tough, good defense.  The Blue Devil Bigs made life intolerable for Georgia Tech in the paint, while the perimeter closed down any hope of open shots from deep.

The test is to play like this against the best teams in the ACC and in the postseason. The Blue Devils’ challenge now is to be consistently at this high level against quality teams. 


Jeremy Roach (27:36) played more minutes than any other Duke player, and looked back in charge!  He nailed Duke’s first 6 points with a pair of 3s in the first two minutes of the game.  He nailed two more 3s in the second half to account for his 12 points (4-9 from the field including 4-7 from behind the arc).  Jeremy played great defense against Georgia Tech’s best guard, holding him to 5 points.  Jeremy grabbed 5 boards.

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (27:05) played a superb floor game handing out 8 assists without a turnover.  He scored when it was appropriate (7 points on 3-6 from the field, including 1-3 from deep).  The Duke backcourt was in control and made the game smooth and fun.  

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (26:47) was again Duke’s best and most valuable player, scoring 18 points (6-9, including 1-3 from behind the arc and 5-6 from the stripe).  Flip played solid defense, blocking a shot and intimidating Tech at the rim.  Flip dominated the first half, scoring 14 of his 18 points in the opening stanza, as Duke opened a large lead.

Mark Mitchell (25:55) scored 11 points (4-10 from the field, including 0-1 from behind the arc and 3-5 from the foul line).  Mark grabbed 6 boards and handed out 4 assists. Mark also played excellent defense.   This time, he had a good game and if he can consistently do that his value will continue to grow.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (23:30) played his best game at Duke – (even better than he played against Miami), scoring 9 points on 4-6, including a wide open 3 — he was 1-2 from deep, firing up but missing a second 3 in the final half — he is finally beginning to shoot 3s, like he did last year.  D-Live grabbed 10 boards and committed only 2 fouls; he appears to be learning how not to foul out. Scheyer: “I thought he did a great job of playing without his hands, not putting his hands on guys. We need him in the game, but we’ll see if we can do that again coming up.” 

He enhanced the efficiency of Duke’s defense and blocked 3 shots.  This was not less than a transformation.

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (19:41) led the bench in minutes played and points scored (tied with Ryan Young, each scoring 10 points).  Grandison was 4-6 from the field, including 2-4 from 3land.  Jake played  excellent defense also, contributing 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

Ryan Young (10:20) played the role for which he was recruited, giving D-Live a breather without Duke losing efficiency in the paint.  He did a simply great job at that, scoring 10 points (5-6 from the field) to go with 2 boards and an assist.  

Jaden Schutt (12:49) played enough at game’s end to warrant making it into the rotation.  He scored 4, on 2 excellent drives, after missing 3 from behind the arc (his high school reputation was as a deep shooter).  He may yet ascend to earn playing time when the game is on the line, according to Scheyer, “He’s improved, I’ve been able to see that throughout the course of the year.  He’s kept a great attitude, even though nobody likes not-playing. He gave us some really good minutes today.  Didn’t hit a three, but I thought every one he took was going in. I’ve seen that many times in practice. “

Jaylen Blakes (12:30) is getting better from his broken nose and is looking like his energetic self.  Jaylen made a spectacular steal late in the game leading to a layup, and completed the 3-point play when he cashed the foul shot.  He only had those 3 points, but he also adds depth and value to the roster.


Duke is now 6-4 in the ACC. There are 6 ACC teams ahead of Duke in the standings: Clemson (10-1), Virginia (8-2), Pittsburgh (8-3), UNC (7-3) NC State (7-4), Miami (7-4), Syracuse is 6-5. UNC next Saturday  

Next Play: Tuesday, January 31, 2023, v. WAKE FOREST in Cameron. At 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

Duke Blue Devils 75 v. Wake Forest Demon Deacons 73 (Season 14; Issue 21; Game 22) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (January 31,2023)

Roach guides his talented freshmen teammates.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes chose to play Basketball Russian Roulette by fielding a small lineup against a taller Duke team – undefeated in Cameron so far this year.  Fortunately, Duke has improved since the Demon Deacons beat them decisively earlier in January at Joel Coliseum.  Mainly, Jeremy Roach has moved to shooting guard, where he is flourishing (when healthy), and Tyrese Proctor has dramatically improved at running the point (he had his best game yet tonight). Even so, the Deacons got hot in the last few minutes and closed their double-digit deficit dramatically.  However, Filipowski iced the game with a three, and then a dunk when Grandison threw a long strike while putting the ball in play from out of bounds..  Also, Duke has been strengthened by starting Dereck Lively, who apparently has paid attention from his seat on the bench to how the clever Ryan Young operates in his place at center.  These improvements – including the Twin Towers of Lively & Filipowski staying out of foul trouble –  make for a better team. Going forward against a team that seems to have had Duke’s number the last few meetings—the North Carolina Tar Heels– will be a better test.

This has been a frustrating, inconsistent year for the talented, but young and often immature, Duke team. To start the season, Lively and Whitehead were injured and not available. Then Roach, their most critical player, injured his toe against Purdue, followed by Whitehead injuring his leg against Boston College. If the players can recover and avoid further injuries, the Blue Devils should be a more consistent, formidable contender going forward.


  • Wake Forest’s Tyree Appleby is about as lethal a guard as there is in the ACC.  In addition to 27 points, he hit a three well after the buzzer, ending the game from what can best be described as the furthest reaches of Steph Curryland. He is six feet tall and can dunk; however,it took him three seasons to average double digit points.  He played at Cleveland State and Florida before transferring to Wake Forest for his fifth season.  This transfer portal and extra Covid year are making a mockery of college basketball.  But it further points out the age and experience differential between Duke freshmen, who look like men but are still boys, and their opponents, some of whom are, literally, grown men.
  • Coach Scheyer made an interesting and savvy adjustment on the final, crucial inbounding play to end the game.  Mitchell, who played a scrappy, blue-collar game, couldn’t make the inbounds pass and called time out. Scheyer replaced Mitchell with the more experienced grad student Grandison to make the pass in; he made a terrific pass (flip in) to Filipowski (who, incidentally, had another double/double game, and made all the points in the last minutes) for a dunk to seal the game.
  • This game demonstrated again how the three point line has changed basketball. Trading threes for twos, or threes for stops, can negate size and make for uneven but exciting games. 
Scheyer confers with his leader on the court.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

A win is a win in the ACC; Duke held serve at home against Wake, after being badly beaten by the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem.  The Blue Devils looked excellent for almost 35 minutes, but they spent the final 5:28 watching  the 14-point lead shrivel to the final margin of 2 points.. Still, it never seemed as if the Blue Devils were in danger of losing, but the sloppiness at crunch time is nevertheless troubling.  Scheyer, “I felt we were in pretty good control down the stretch.  Jeremy’s steal and Tyrese’s tip-in was a big-time play. [Jeremy’s best play was this amazing steal of a pass meant for Appleby, where he had to spin to gain control of the ball.  He didn’t cash the layup, but Tyrese tipped the miss back in for a spectacular play!!]  Flip obviously hitting the three and then heads up play by Jake and Flip to connect and hit him long to finish.”  [The Grandison long pass to Flip for the dunk combined with Flip’s 3-pointer and Jeremy’s steal are the 3 winning plays Scheyer described]  Stellar moments, for sure.

Duke led 68-54 with 5:28 left in the game and looked exceedingly safe until Duke started to unravel.  With 5:09 left in the game, Ryan Young committed his second foul, and the team’s 9th.  Wake’s best player, Tyree Appleby (27 points in the game), made both foul shots.  68-56.  Kyle (Flip) Filipowski missed a 3-point attempt.  Wake rebounded and scored a 3 (68-59).  Young committed an offensive foul (his 3rd; Duke’s 10th).  Roach missed a jumper with 3:38 left; Proctor missed a 3-pointer before Wake scored on a fast break with 2:55 remaining (68-61).  Duke finally scored on a layup by Flip on a sweet assist from Mark Mitchell (70-61 with 2:37 left).  Wake’s Monsanto hit his 2nd straight 3-pointer with 2:08 left in the game (70-64).  Flip missed a 3 pointer (wide open) with 1:35 remaining. Appleby scored on a drive, and he was fouled by Roach on the play, with 1:23 left in the game (Roach’s 4th and Duke’s 11th).  Appleby missed the foul shot (70-66 with 1:23 left).  Then Duke won the game!  Flip hit a big 3-point shot on a wonderful pass from Proctor (73-66 with 47 seconds left).  Proctor drew a foul and, after a timeout, Grandison threw a full court inbounds pass to a streaking Flip for the dunk (75-66 with 39 seconds to play). 

But the Deacons were not done. Wake missed a pair of 3s but collected 3 offensive rebounds – the third was an Appleby put-back. (75-68 with 18 seconds left).  Wake had to foul, and Mitchell went to the line for a one-and-one with 12 seconds on the clock.  When Mitchell missed the front end, the Deacons scored on a fast break (75-70 with 5 seconds left).  Flip was fouled and he missed the front end of a one-and-one.  Appleby hit an incredibly long 3 at the buzzer for the final 75-73 score.

Jeremy Roach had a wonderful first half, scoring 17 points — 21 for the game in 37 minutes.  Scheyer, “We need Jeremy in attack mode and that’s what we need to continue him to do.”

Maybe the best news from yesterday is Dariq Whitehead’s speedy recovery from what looked like a devastating injury.  Scheyer suggested he might play against UNC on Saturday. “It’s too early to say for Saturday, but he’s recovered really well.”

The Defense

Duke gave up 39 second-half points, which is not great defense.  Duke held the Deacons to 34 first-half points.  Not gaudy, but a win.  The greatest defensive concern is that Blue Devil players cannot stop consistently fouling.  Duke committed 20 fouls in the game.  D-Live and Roach committed 4, while Ryan Young, Proctor, and Flip each committed 3.   The Blue Devils’ 11 second-half fouls are especially troubling. Scheyer identified the fouling as a place where Duke has room to grow.  Another concern was the 8 offensive rebounds that Wake grabbed in the second half.  On the positive side, Scheyer mentioned Lively II.  “D-Live to have 3 assists and no turnovers, four blocked shots, he’s just getting better and better.”

The Offense

The Blue Devils shot 50% from the field for the game (27-54 — including 6-17 from deep – plus 15-20 from the stripe).  Duke scored 41 first-half points but scoring tailed off in the closing half – only 34 and failed to close out the game definitively. 

Roach (17 points) and Proctor (7 points) carried Duke’s scoring in the first half; Flip (11 points) and Proctor (10 points) carried the Blue Devils in the closing stanza.  While Duke handed out 13 assists, the 14 turnovers are a continuing, albeit consistent, problem. 

Flip flips it in!
Photo Credit: GoDuke.Com


Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (37:54) notched another double-double with 11 rebounds, while scoring 16 points (6-14, including 1-4 from behind the arc and 3-5 from the stripe).  Flip played solid defense blocking a shot and intimidating Tech at the rim.  Flip dominated the second half, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the closing stanza.  His lone 3 and the dunk on a fabulous inbounds pass from Grandison were Duke’s key winning plays. 

Jeremy Roach (37:22) played more minutes than he has since his injury, and looked as if he was back in charge – especially in a glorious first half, where he led Duke’s offense with 17 points on 7-10 from the field and 2-3 from deep.  He scored 21 for the game (9-16, including 2-3 from 3land and 1-2 from the foul line). Jeremy guarded Wake’s best player, Tyree Appleby.  It was nice to watch them clearly having fun competing against each other, but Appleby did manage to score 27 points.  

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (31:07) played a superb floor game scoring 17 points (6-11 from the field, including 3-7 from deep plus 2-2 from the line).  Ty’s second half was perhaps his best half of the season.  He scored 10 in the second half to save the Blue Devils.

Mark Mitchell (32:27) played a quiet, valuable game, without much offense.  He scored only 5 points (1-4; 0-1 from behind the arc and 3-4 from the foul line), but had 8 rebounds, an assist, and played hard defense with a pair of steals.  

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (20:14) scoring 7 points on 2-4, including a wishful 0-1 from deep, and 3-4 from the stripe.  D-Live grabbed 6 boards and blocked 4 shots, but was once again in foul trouble (committing 4) which limited his playing time. When D-Live was on the floor, Duke scored 10 more points than Wake did.  He enhanced the efficiency of Duke’s defense and blocked 3 shots in the second half to help preserve the Duke lead.  

Ryan Young (18:44) played almost half the game, as a result of D-Live’s foul problems.  He did a good job on offense, scoring 9 points (3-4 from the field and 3-3 from the stripe) to go with 4 boards and 2 assists.  He committed 3 fouls and had trouble defensively with the Wake Bigs.  When Ryan was on the court, Duke scored 3 fewer points than the Deacs did.

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (10:09) was one of 3 Duke players who failed to score (0-1 from deep, with a rebound and two assists).  One of the assists was really the game winner – when Grandison made the great inbounds pass to Flip who was racing for the basket and a crucial dunk to give Duke a 9 point lead with only 39 seconds left in the game.

Jaylen Blakes (7:53) also failed to score or even take a shot, while committing 2 fouls. It was not his finest game.

Jaden Schutt (3:50) was handed a first-half opportunity to see if he could add to Duke’s outside shooting.  However, he did not get a shot up, while committing a foul.  He did not play in the second half. 


Scheyer: “We came out and really competed for the whole game. There wasn’t a drop off with that.  We made mistakes and maybe turned the ball over, missed some stuff at the rim, but the competitiveness and the job we did on the backboards [Editorial staff: except for those 8 second-half offensive rebounds] was a big difference.

The Blue Devils need to hold serve against the Tarheels in Cameron.

Next Play: Saturday, February 4, 2023, v. UNC in Cameron. At 6:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Ty- on point! becoming the full package: ball handling, scoring, and leadership.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 63 v. UNC Tarheels 57 (Season 14; Issue 22; Game # 23) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (February 4, 2023)

D-Live Flying high, with a great block out by Grandison. Photo Credit: News & Observer/ Ethan Hyman & Robert Willet
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

After several injuries and a disappointing start to the ACC season, Coach Scheyer made a couple of changes to the Blue Devil line-up  as well as changing how much playing time his bench gets.  The changes produced an impressive win against a struggling, but always dangerous, North Carolina squad, four members of which started for, and almost won, the NCAA Championship last year. By rearranging the Duke players on the deck of the proverbial floundering Titanic, the coaches may have found the key combination to this young team.  Moving Proctor to full time point guard to give Jeremy Roach time to heal, and lo and behold Tyrese became a much more productive contributor, and Jeremy (four 20 point games), a very effective shooting guard. Secondly, he started and gave more playing time to Dereck Lively (8 blocks & 14 rebounds) who has matured into a wonderful rim protector and rebounder. [Editorial Staff: some of those changes were necessitated by Dariq’s injury.]

Teaming Lively with Filipowski gives Duke two tall, tough defenders and rebounders (with Ryan Young as a savvy replacement for either player) who are prone to committing too many fouls.  If this team can find a consistent offense, they will be a formidable contender as the ACC does not yet have a dominant team this year.

I watched the game with Johnny Tar Heel. He commented that Carolina’s departed versatile power forward Brady Manek was the key to last year’s team and that his replacement, Pete Nance, has proved to be anything but.  It is interesting how one player can upset the chemistry and effectiveness of an entire basketball team.

Nationally, Purdue appears to be the best, but was beaten by Indiana yesterday. The rest of the season will tell the tale of which teams have learned the most, have avoided major injuries, are the toughest, and are playing the best basketball.


Duke’s best performance of the season came in the same game as Dereck (D-Live) Lively II’s best performance of the season.  There was no coincidence involved.  D-Live dominated the paint, and eventually gained the advantage over Tarheel super star Armando Bacot.  In the first half, D-Live blocked 4 shots and garnered 4 offensive rebounds, but could not stop Bacot.  Armando scored 12 of his 14 game-points and grabbed 7 of his 10 rebounds in the opening stanza.  The key to D-Live’s first half was committing only a single foul in his 16 minutes! 

The second half, however, belonged totally to D-Live. He held Bacot to a single field goal (1-4 in the second half) while out scoring Bacot 4-2.  D-Live was 2-2 on dunks for his 4 points — the second dunk put Duke ahead 59-57 with only 1:35 remaining in the game.  Bacot retrieved only 3 second-half rebounds; he turned it over once without an assist, a steal, or a blocked shot.  In contrast, Lively dominated the backboard, hauling in 10 second-half rebounds (5 on offense), and blocking another 4 Carolina shots (several of the blocks were simply spectacular).  Basically, Lively II took Bacot out of the game in the second half.  If we remember Bacot’s absolute domination of Mark Williams in the National Semi-Final last year that cost Duke the game, D-Lives’s achievement gains even more stature. 

Jeremy Roach played like a captain.  He showed his young teammates what being superb in the clutch is all about on both offense and defense.  The game was tied at 55 with 5:24 left in the game, and again at 57 with 3:58 remaining.  The Duke defense (and some bad Carolina plays) limited the Tarheels to 4 points in the last 6:20 of the game.  That is team defense.  Carolina finished with the same 57 points as the team had had with 3:58 left in the game.  And, the Blue Devils did it without fouling (UNC was limited to 2-3 from the foul line for the game).

With  4:20 left in the game, Jeremy made a driving layup to break the 55- all tie; he was also fouled, but missed the foul shot. 57-55 Duke.  Nobody scored for a bit.  D-Live blocked a UNC driving layup on a play where Flip was injured while also going for the block, with 4:09 left in the game.  Flip had to come out of the game.  Carolina tied the score at 57 – 3:57 left.  Roach had his layup blocked (3:42 left) before Carolina missed another jump shot 5 seconds later.  Lively II corralled that rebound, but Proctor turned it over on a bad pass with 3:04 remaining.  Flip stole the ball and was fouled with 2:41 still to play, but missed the front end of a one and one.  Tyrese blocked a Davis drive and Flip collected the ball to set the scene for Duke’s winning plays.

With 1:57 to go Flip missed a layup, which D-Live rebounded.  Roach missed on a drive 20 seconds later, but D-Live again grabbed the offensive rebound and slammed it home for a 59-57 Blue Devil lead with 1:35 left in this exciting game.

If D-Live’s dunk with 1:35 left to put Duke ahead was not the play of the game, then the play that occurred in the last minute of the game was.   After D-Live’s dunk, Carolina called a timeout, trailing 59-57.  With 1:05 left, star UNC guard, Leaky Black (13 points, including 3-6 from deep), launched a 3-pointer that missed.  Kyle (Flip) Filipowski rebounded his miss.  With only 38 seconds left, Flip drove to the basket, but missed. …….. Here comes the Play of The Game: Flip rebounded his own miss, and Duke called time out to regroup, with 16 seconds left on the shot clock.  With 23 seconds left in the game, and the shot clock winding down, Duke’s captain spectacularly iced the game for the Blue Devils.  Jeremy used a screen and drove to his right and down the lane.  Bacot slid over to block the shot, but Duke’s captain shifted to his left and dropped in a gorgeous layup with his left hand.  Duke 61 – UNC 57.  Jeremy closed out the game going 2-2 from the stripe with 9 seconds left.  Jeremy was clutch on both ends of the court.

Tyrese Proctor’s play at point guard continued to be scintillating.  He scored 11 points and handed out 5 assists.  His control of the offense has let Jeremy reach toward his potential as a scorer – 20 points to lead Duke in scoring against the Tarheels.  The Captain played all 40 minutes of the game with energy and aplomb.  To the great relief of Duke fans, his toe seems to be healed.

The Defense

Duke allowed the Tarheels only 25 second-half points, which is great defense.  D-Live gets much credit for that result from his domination of the paint and protection of the rim.  The greatest defensive improvement is that Duke played effective defense without fouling.  Duke committed only 11 fouls in the game – and the last 2 in the game’s waning seconds were intentionally committed to drain time away from UNC’s offensive effort; so really 9.  UNC never made it to the bonus in either half, taking only 3 foul shots for the entire game!  Carolina has averaged 18 foul shot attempts per game, scoring above 14 points per game from the foul line.  Limiting UNC to a pair of points from the foul line was great defense. 

At the press conference after Duke beat Pittsburgh last Tuesday,  Scheyer prophetically said,  “D-Live to have 3 assists and no turnovers, four blocked shots, he’s just getting better and better.”  He certainly was “better and better” against Bacot and UNC.

The Offense

The Blue Devils were 24 -61 from the field, including 4-11 from deep, plus 11 – 15 from the stripe.  Duke scored 33 first-half points, but only 30 in the second half.  Critically, Duke closed out the game definitively and dramatically for the win.

Roach (20 points), Flip (14 points), and Proctor (11 points) carried the Blue Devils on offense.  While Duke handed out 10 assists on 24 baskets, the 12 turnovers are a continuing problem.

Jeremy’s winning left handed layup with 23 seconds left in the game. Photo Credit: News & Observer/ Ethan Hyman & Robert Willet


Jeremy Roach (40:00) is back!  Captain Jeremy scored 20 points, 10 in each half, including the outcome-determining last 4 of the game.   Jeremy shot 8-20 from the field, including 1-2 from deep,  plus 3-4 from the foul line.  Jeremy  aggressively guarded Wake’s best guard, R.J Davis.  Duke’s captain had 7 rebounds; Duke outrebounded UNC 46-40.  He played with heart and leadership, and never came out of the game, not even for a minute, an excellent example for the team from The Captain. 

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (37:45) played a superb floor game, scoring 11 points (5-13 from the field, including 1-2 from deep).  Ty’s confidence is growing visibly as he takes charge of running the offense.  He handed out 5 assists.  He is a tenacious defender, exemplified by his 2 steals and a block.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (35:00) scored 14 points (4-14, including 1-3 from behind the arc and 5-7 from the stripe).  Flip grabbed 7 boards and played solid defense, blocking 2 shots, and joined with his fellow 7-footer D-Live to intimidate the Tarheels at the rim.   

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (33:38) played what is undoubtedly his best game since coming to Duke.   He was finally the eagerly-awaited Freshman super star! as his 14 rebounds and 8 (yes, 8) blocked shots demonstrates.  He held even with UNC’s star big man, Armando Bacot (already the leading rebounder in the history of Tarheel basketball), and began to dominate him as the 2nd half wound down.  D-Live committed 2 fouls while blocking 8 shots.  In addition, he scored 4 on a pair of dunks – the second dunk broke the 57-57.  He and Jeremy willed the Blue Devils to the win. 

Mark Mitchell (27:58) played yet another quiet, but valuable, game.  Mark does a bit of everything.  He scored 6 points (2-5 from the field, plus 2-3 from the foul line).  Mark had 8 rebounds and an assist.  He played aggressive defense.  He is what has become known as “a glue guy”.

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (17:25) scored 6 points in a valuable role off the bench (2-5, including 1-3 from deep, plus 1-1 from the stripe). He made a great pass to Ryan Young for an assist and a sweet hoop.

Ryan Young (5:59) was 1-1 from the field for his 2 points and garnered a pair of rebounds.  His playing time was dramatically curtailed as a result of D-Live’s spectacular performance. 

Jaylen Blakes (2:15) failed to score or even take a shot (again), while handing out an assist.  His broken nose is obviously adversely impacting him, which has reduced his playing time.


If  Dariq can return to his form of last year, as D-Live did against the Tarheels, and D-Live continues to play at the level he did in the second half against Bacot and UNC, the season’s prospects – which darkened dramatically when Dariq went down in the Boston College game while Jeremy was slow to return to form post-injury — have brightened. D-Live seemed transformed.  He was so athletic, moving like a lead ballet dancer with a high basketball IQ.  Duke ascends into being an elite team if and when D-Live’s level of play is consistently what it was in the second half.  There is still a potential for this to be a season to remember.

Moreover, Duke is only one game behind in the loss column  in the hunt for the ACC regular season title –Clemson and UVA both lost yesterday, and now have 3 losses: Clemson (10-3); UVA and Pittsburgh (9-3); NC State and Miami (9-4); while Duke is 8-4; and UNC (7-5).  A regular season championship, which looked impossible just a couple of games ago, is again within Duke’s reach.

Perhaps the most important game of the season was not UNC, but rather will be this coming Monday night (only a day of rest) in Coral Gables against a surging Miami team that beat UVA while Duke was beating UNC.  A loss would take all the air out of Duke’s balloon (newly infused by the performance against the Tarheels).

Next Play: Monday, February 6, 2023, at Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

Two former players who bring their understanding of the true significance of college basketball’s best rivalry to their coaching. Photo Credit: News & Observer/ Ethan Hyman & Robert Willet

Duke Blue Devils 59 v. Miami Hurricanes 81 (Season 14; Issue 23; Game 24) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (February 6, 2023)

Duke Blue Devils women’s head coach Kara Lawson speaks wisdom.  Photo credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Welcome to big-time college basketball. A rule of thumb in sports is this: the game after a big, emotional win is a very difficult game, one which validates the quality, focus, and maturity of a team.  You often see it in tournament basketball — especially with a short two-day turn around.  Certainly, Coach Scheyer and his staff know this all too well–they have been there and done that.  Obviously, his players, if they did, were not prepared for a team as talented and well coached as the Miami team, which beat them in every phase of the game at every position, from the opening tip until the final buzzer.  Whoever scheduled this away game two days after the Duke-UNC game, didn’t do the Blue Devils any favors.  But that is beside the point.  Life and schedules are not always fair.  You must give Miami Coach Jim Larrañaga and his players all the credit.  You don’t often see a college basketball team give away this much height, and play all phases of the game this impressively, for forty minutes of an epic 22 point win, against a team that the Devils beat just a few weeks ago.

Lesson learned.  Suck it up.  Next game!


Jim Carroll wrote a book about his counter-culture life as a high school basketball star in New York City.  He later became a well-known musician, who was friends with Patty Smith.  His high school team was a powerhouse.  The team went to Central Park before games to buy illegal uppers and downers – the uppers for before the game, the downers for after.  Carroll writes about one time where they mixed up the pills and took the downers before the game.  It felt as if their feet were stuck to the floor, and they moved in slow motion.  The Coach had to replace the starting lineup early.

Duke’s performance against the Hurricanes in Coral Gables floated that story to the top of my mind.  Miami’s opening run in the first nearly 3 minutes was emblematic of the entire game.  In that time, Miami led 13-1, made shots, stole the ball from the Blue Devils, and generally made it look like professionals playing against a Junior High team.  Was it that bad?  Yes, it was. Duke committed 21 turnovers.  With 5 seconds left in the game and nothing going on, Blakes lost the ball while dribbling.  Duke had Miami players simply rip the ball out of their hands, after grabbing a rebound or starting a drive.  Miami got every 50-50 ball. That’s the way the game went….. all night.  It was, for me, and I hazard to say for every other Duke fan, painful to watch, which is why I would rather write about Jim Carroll than about this game.  

The Defense

Duke gave up a pair of 40-point halves (41 in the second) – allowed the Hurricanes to shoot 48% from the field and 41% from behind the arc.  Miami was 10-11 from the stripe.  Miami grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, outrebounding the – much taller – Blue Devils 38-31.  Duke did collect 12 offensive rebounds, but failed to score on put backs with any consistency.  Miami scored at will.

The Offense

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II tied with Ryan Young to lead Duke in scoring with 11 points.  Kyle (Flip) Filipowski scored 9 first-half points and grabbed 9 first-half rebounds.  Those were also his totals for the game.  He looked to me as if his effort against UNC and the punishment he took in that game took the gas out of his tank for this game.  The second half is the first time D-Live and Ryan have playing at the same time. Possibly trying to make up for Flip’s state of exhaustion?

The backcourt was abysmal.  Jeremy Roach and Tyrese (Ty) Proctor each had 5 turnovers and Jaylen Blakes had 3.  Ty scored 3, Jeremy 10 (but only 3 in the first half).


Jeremy Roach (31:09) scored 10 points, but was outplayed by the Miami backcourt on both ends of the floor in each half.   Jeremy shot 3-8 from the field (1-6 in the first half), including 1-3 from deep, plus 3-3 from the foul line.  Duke’s captain handed out 4 assists against 5 turnovers.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (28:07) scored 9 points (4-12, including 1-4 from behind the arc, without a free throw attempt).  Flip grabbed 9 boards, handed out 2 assists, and had 4 steals. He committed 3 turnovers.  He left the game when he committed his third foul early in the second half and did not return.  

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (26:27) tied for being Duke’s leading scorer with 11 points (5-6 from the field, including 0-1 from 3land, plus 1-2 from the stripe).  He did hold on to 6 boards and blocked 5 shots.  The good news is that he only committed 2 fouls.

Mark Mitchell (24:10) played yet another quiet game.   Mark does a bit of everything.  He scored 5 points (2-8 from the field, including 0-1 from deep, plus 1-1 from the foul line).  Mark also had 3 rebounds, two steals, and a block. 

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (23:01) scored 2 points in a valuable role off the bench (0-3 from the field, including 0-2 from deep, plus 2-2 from the stripe. He garnered 4 rebounds and handed out 4 assists.

Ryan Young (17:47) was tied with D-Live for being the Blue Devil scoring leader with 11 points (5-6 from the field, plus 1-1 from the stripe) to go with four rebounds and an assist.  He did turn it over 3 times. 

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (18:55) was off his game, scoring only 3 points (1-6 from the field, including 1-3 from deep).  Tellingly, Ty did not take a foul shot.  He handed out 4 assists but committed five turnovers.  Miami drove around him to the basket at will. 

Jaylen Blakes 16:59) scored 5 points (1-4 from the field, including 1-3 from behind the arc, plus 2-3 from the stripe).  Jaylen contributed 3 rebounds and 2 assists, but 3 turnovers.

Jaden Schutt (11:24 ) was 1-2 from deep for his 3 points, to go with an assist.


After the UNC game, we wrote, “perhaps the most important game of the season was not UNC, but rather will be Monday night (only a day of rest) in Coral Gables against a surging Miami team that beat UVA while Duke was beating UNC.  A loss would take all the air out of Duke’s balloon (infused by the performance against the Tarheels).”   If you listen closely, you might be able to hear the air escaping.

My new favorite coach, Duke women’s basketball coach Kara Lawson, imparted great wisdom in a press conference.  The women lost to UNC and then played Syracuse and won.  Her comments were profound. “no one goes undefeated in life.  How you deal with the loss is what matters.” She said that after a loss, you should own the bad feelings, but then it was time to move on.  “Everybody loses … in basketball and in life.  If you stay with the loss, it can linger, one loses confidence, and the loss builds into a losing streak. That’s what we teach our team.  And, yeah, we also teach Xs and Os.”

Next Play: Saturday, February 11, 2023, at UVA in Charlottesville. at 4:00 p.m. on ESPN.

Duke Blue Devils 62 v. Virginia Cavaliers 69 (Season 14; Issue 24; Game #25) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (February 11, 2023)

Bill’s CliffsNotes:

This Duke team can’t seem to catch a break.  Playing at Charlottesville against a typical Tony Bennett veteran team, which consistently punches above its weight class (in more ways than one), Duke got the business end  of what the ACC termed “an incorrect adjudication of the playing rules.”  This resulted in the game going to overtime, where No. 8 UVA won 69-62 – an outcome which enhances the Cavaliers’ chances of winning an ACC regular-season championship while simultaneously damaging Duke’s hopes of earning a top four-seed and a double-bye for the conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C. next month. 

“A foul was called onVirginia’s Ryan Dunn during a shot attempt by Duke’s Kyle Filipowski as time expired,” the ACC statement said. “Upon the officials’ review of the play,it was determined that the foul committed occurred after the clock reached 0.0.  However, the play should have resulted in two free throws for Duke.” (If Thomas Jefferson were still alive, he surely would have rectified the situation and awarded Kyle the free throws. Even Johnny Tar Heel said it was the worst, most crucial call he had ever seen!) That does not account for the play clock starting too soon.  And that doesn’t mean Filipowski would have made one or two free throws – he had not scored a point in the game, but shoots 76.6% from the foul line and never got the chance to win the game. Time had expired.  The game went into overtime, and the Blue Devils lost that quite decisively.

For the second game in a row, Duke had an unacceptable 20+ turnovers but, on the other hand, the Cavaliers missed 13 free throws.  When Duke was up by 7 points in the first half, they had three possessions in a row where they made several consecutive turnovers without getting off a shot.  That is one of the reasons this team rarely makes the kind runs, which, in the past, have determined close games.  And how does Roach score like an All-American in one half and disappear in the next?  And why does seven-foot Filipowski have so many shots blocked and make so many offensive charges?  Jon Scheyer was one of the smartest and most productive players in Duke history.  Surely, he knows the answers…..

I guess you could say Virginia is more than the sum of their parts, and Duke is less than the sum of their parts. The good news: perhaps some of the freshmen will look at the season, and their play, and decide that “one and done” is not in their best, long-term interest.


As a criminal defense lawyer, I have vast experience in absorbing “result-oriented” decisions.  A result-oriented decision is one made where the facts and applicable rules give way to the arbiter’s desire for a given result. While I am used to it in my profession, I was flabbergasted by the referees at the end of regulation.  

As we all saw in exquisite close-up detail  (reproduced above) there was still time left in the game when Flip was fouled.  This is critical when we examine the ACC’s ruling below.  

It calls to mind the old saying that “one picture is worth 1,000 words”.  In a tie score game, Kyle (Flip) Filipowski was fouled – in the act of shooting – while there was still time on the clock.  The correct decision was obviously to have  awarded him 2 foul shots.  In all likelihood that would have sent the UVA fans home in sadness (if Flip made just 1 of the 2 foul shots he had earned).  The “result-oriented” decision – dramatically impeached by visual evidence – gave Virginia an overtime.  My lawyer instinct was “objection!” or file an appeal – available in law but not in ACC basketball.

Scheyer: “Well, they told me after the fact that the call was made after the buzzer. And you can see the ball left his hands before point-zero.  So, I don’t know exactly what the rule is.  I’d like to get some clarification, understand.  But the call was made, so I don’t know how the call can be taken away.  But again, I just would like clarity.  Jacob Grandison hits a big-time three to tie it.  You have a chance to win. And to attack the basket like that, that’s a big-time move.  To not be rewarded, I feel for Flip and our team.  And then you have to move on in overtime.  And we needed one more stop that we couldn’t get down the stretch in overtime.”  Duke trailed 63-62 with 1:11 seconds left in overtime when the Blue Devils did not get the needed stop.  Instead, Virginia’s Arman Franklin’s 3-pointer with 40 seconds left was the shot of the game, and sent Duke to defeat.

This was not a controversial block-charge call, where mistakes are frequently made.  There is a huge difference between a bad call and a “result-oriented” decision.

 (… Buckle up for the Alanalysis Legal Seminar)  

The ACC tries to dodge the appearance of a “result-oriented” decision in favor of the “ bad call”  by deeming it an incorrect interpretation of the rules – but begins with a glaring factual error.  “The referees stated that the foul occurred after the clock hit 0.0”   That is pure, unadulterated bovine excrement as the photo shows indisputably that there was still time left on the clock when the foul was committed.  Using the false premise that the foul was committed after time had expired but while the ball was still in flight, the ACC created the “bad call” story of a rules violation, which, of course, contains no remedy for the error.  

“Rule 5, Section 7, Article 3c:  when a foul occurs so near the expiration of time that the official timer cannot stop the game clock before time expires, or the foul occurs after time expires but the ball is in flight during a try, the period shall end when the free throw(s) and all related activity have been completed..”

A.R. 130, Section 2 – “Where the shooter A1 releases the ball, time expires, A-1 is fouled while the ball is in flight and the try is unsuccessful, since the try was released before the expiration of time and since the foul occurred after time expired but while the ball was in flight and A1 was an airborne shooter, A1 shall attempt two free throws even if the first is successful.”

So, per ACC’s rules, Flip still should have gotten the foul shots, but “The conference considers the matter closed and will have no further comment.”


The Good

The Return of Dariq Whitehead

After missing 4 games, Dariq played more than 25 minutes and scored in double figures – 10 points.  It’s been an injury plagued mess of a season for Dariq, but there is still time for him to lift the Blue Devils into being a tough out in the postseason.  It’s time for him to blossom.

Scheyer: “I’ll tell you what … Dariq, to come back after not playing for a couple weeks, in this environment, against their defense, and to give us that lift says a lot about him. We want him to really be ready and feel confident to play.  To come out and hit those shots and be able to create.  He played more minutes than I thought he even could tonight, so that’s encouraging.  He needs to use this as a launching board to just go from here.  But I’m really proud of him for coming back and stepping up and again, making plays to give us a chance to win that.” 

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor’s Growth

Ty and Jeremy Roach were Duke’s scoring in the first half (20 of the Blue Devils’ 27 points – 8 for Proctor in 16:26).  With Jeremy in foul trouble (he fouled out with 3:15 left in OT), Ty played every minute of the second half and the overtime.  He scored all 4 of Duke’s overtime points, including a nifty drive to the basket, to bring Duke within a point (63-62) with a little over a minute left.

The Return of Duke’s Fighting Spirit

Unlike the last game against Miami, where the Blue Devils rolled over and played dead for 40 minutes, Duke never gave up, and played hard, with genuine passion, every single minute. 

Scheyer: “Our guys, they battled their asses off for 40 minutes.  Did some really good things, there’s of course some things we could’ve done better, but to put ourselves in a position to win and it was disappointing. …   But still, putting ourselves in a position to win, we competed like crazy. We battled like crazy, and we were able to overcome some of those mistakes.” 

The Bad


Flip has been Duke’s best player all year, and one of the best freshmen in the country.  Yet, he has now played three full halves in a row without scoring a single point!  He was scoreless in the second half against Miami, and he failed to score a single point against the Cavaliers.  

Scheyer: “He just didn’t have that same pop that he normally does. And for whatever reason, had a hard time getting out of it.  You still think though, he’s going to make a play. Every time, even when he hasn’t played as well, he comes through. And at the end of the game, we wanted him in, he made a big-time play attacking the basket, and there’s no doubt he’s knocking down those free throws, in my mind. That’s the kind of competitor and who he is as a person. But obviously, it was a tough night for him that he couldn’t quite shake.” 

Flip is committing turnovers, having his shots blocked, and doesn’t seem to be the same player he has been since the season began.  If it is more than a slump –profound exhaustion or worse – it is very bad.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II 

After a breakout game against UNC that had the announcers searching for adjectives (and Bill Russell statistics), and a solid game against Miami (11 points), D-Live returned to his fouling ways, scoring only 2 points, while earning him a prolonged seat on the bench.  In under 6 minutes, he committed his first 2 fouls, which caused Scheyer to take him out for the remainder of the first half.   He played less than 5 minutes in the second half (3rd foul) and not at all in the overtime. The result was that D-Live simply did not impact the game.  He didn’t take a shot from the field, scored only 2 points (2-2 from the stripe) in the game, without a blocked shot.  It’s amazing Duke came as close to winning as they did with their two star freshman contributing just 2 points.  D-Live has demonstrated his ability to impact a big game.  He needs to do it consistently if Duke is to save its fast-crumbling season.

The Overtime

Ty, Dariq, and Grandison played all five minutes. Ryan played  4:15.  Mark Mitchell played 2:04, Roach 1:45, and Flip 1:56.  Duke  had 10 overtime possessions. Duke committed turnovers on its first 3 possessions of the overtime – offensive foul by Flip, a travel by Proctor, and a charge by Roach (his fifth). The Blue Devils trailed 63-58 with 2:58 remaining.  Ty scored on a layup with  2:45 left for Duke’s first overtime points.  63-60. Grandison stole the ball, but Ryan missed a layup (his only shot of the overtime).  2:07 remaining.  UVA missed; Ryan retrieved the rebound with 1:40 left. Ty made his second driving layup to make the score 63-62 with 1:11 left.  After Franklin swished his game winning 3 with 40 seconds left, Duke trailed 66-62, and Proctor lost the ball for a turnover with 34 seconds left. The Blue Devils had to foul.  When the Cavaliers missed the second free throw, Ryan got the rebound. Tyrese missed a 3 with 22 seconds left, but Flip corralled the offensive rebound and was fouled.  He missed the front end of the 1-and-1 with 18 seconds left.  Ty missed a driving layup with 9 seconds left and Dariq threw up a desperation 3 that missed with 3 seconds on the game clock.  Not counting Dariq’s late 3-point miss,  Duke had 10 possessions (11 if Flip’s offensive rebound is considered) and took only five shots, but turned it over 5 times.   Flip missed Duke’s only overtime free throw (UVA shot 10).  10 possessions; only 5 shot attempts and only 4 points.  Bad.

The Ugly

Turnovers on Offense

The Blue Devils turned the ball over 22 times – 8 by the starting backcourt: Jeremy Roach 5 and Ty 3 (all in the first half).  Flip turned it over 5 times (seemed like more).  Duke out-rebounded UVA by 15 (39-24) but turned it over 13 times more than Virginia did.  So, the Blue Devils earned 5 fewer shot attempts.  It is amazing Duke almost won despite the turnovers.

Scheyer: “The fact that we put ourselves in a position to win despite the 22 turnovers, it’s not going to be a winning recipe for us. And that’s on us. Our guys, we need to do a better job of that.  … too many gifts for them.” 


Duke committed a whopping 24 fouls in the game.  Allowing that Duke was forced to foul twice in the last 18 seconds of the overtime, 22 fouls is still a disaster.  The Blue Devils fouled 10 times in the first half, 7 in the second half, and 7 (really 5) in the overtime.  Duke commits many offensive fouls (that are not controversial) which escalates the turnover amount (an offensive foul is recorded as a turnover).  When the Blue Devils avoid fouling (as against UNC), Duke’s defense is excellent.

The Defense in the Paint

UVA scored 42 of their 69 points in the painted area beneath the foul line, 18 more points than Duke scored in the paint.  It is obvious and statistically corroborated that the Blue Devils do not defend in that area nearly as well when Ryan Young is playing center as they do when D-Live does, as he did against UNC and Armando Bacot.

Scheyer: “We gave them a lot of layups. Another number for me, 42 points in the paint, not a good recipe.” 

Lack of Balanced Scoring on Offense

Mark Mitchell (3 points), Flip (0 points),  D-Live (2 points). and Ryan (6 points, all foul shots) constitute 4 players, three of whom played more than 27 minutes, contributing only 11 points.  


Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (41:26) was the glue for Duke in a helter-skelter game.  After sitting out 3:34 in the first half, Ty played every minute of the game after that – 20 minutes in the second half and all 5 minutes of the overtime.  He scored 14 points (6-12 from the field, including 2-5 from deep, without a free throw attempt.  He scored all 4 of Duke’s points in the overtime (2-4 from the field, but 0-1 from deep), with 2 turnovers in the overtime.

Jeremy Roach (31:21) was Duke’s high scorer with 16 points, (7-11 from the field, including 2-5 from 3land, without a free throw attempt), but scored 9 of his points (9 of Duke’s first 11 points) in the first 8:46 of the game, and 12 of his 16 in the opening half.  Jeremy had 5 turnovers and 2 assists without a rebound.   The Captain was in foul trouble the entire game – 2 in each half; fouling out after 1:45 had gone by in the overtime.

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (31:19) scored 11 points in a valuable role off the bench (4-7 from the field, including 3-6 from deep, without a free throw attempt. He garnered a rebound and had a steal.  He made Duke’s biggest shot of the game, a 3 from the corner to tie the game at 58 with 51 seconds left in the game.  He played all 5 minutes of the overtime.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (29:51) had a nightmare of a game.  He was scoreless (0-6 from the field, including 0-1 from 3land and 0-2 from the stripe). Flip grabbed 6 boards, handed out an assist, and blocked a shot. He committed 5 turnovers.  Flip has not scored in 60 minutes of play, having been scoreless as well in the second half against Miami.  He is a ship that has to be righted if Duke is going to have any postseason success.  

Ryan Young (27:49) was Duke’s anchor in the middle for a majority of the game.  While he did not score from the field (0-2), Ryan was 6-6 from the stripe for his 6 points.  He was a valuable rebounder with 11 (4 offensive) to go with 3 assists and 2 turnovers.  Ryan was 0-1 with 3 rebounds in his 4:15 of the overtime, while  committing his 4th foul in the overtime.  

Mark Mitchell (27:21) played yet another quiet game.   Mark did a bit of everything but scored only 3 points (1-4 from the field, including 0-2 from deep, plus 1-2 from the foul line).  Mark had 8 rebounds, a steal, and a block.  Two turnovers.

Dariq Whitehead (25:05) returned to playing after missing 4 games, which was high on the list among Blue Devil bright spots.  He scored 10 points (4-7 from the field, including 2-4 from 3land, without a foul shot attempt) in a much longer time on the floor than was anticipated.  Dariq played all 5 minutes of the overtime.  

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (10:35) committed 2 fouls early in the game and was inexplicably not a factor. D-Live scored 2 points (without a field goal attempt; 2-2 from the stripe).  He did hold on to 3 boards but did not block a shot. D-Live played only 4:15 in the second half and not at all in the overtime.  


While Duke did not deserve to lose to UVA, neither were the Blue Devils (in Coach K’s vernacular) “worthy of winning”, given the turnovers, the fouls, and sloppy play.  

Inconsistency continues to plague the 2022-23 edition.  Jeremy is brilliant and then not; Flip is ACC rookie of the week multiple times and then doesn’t score at all for 3 consecutives halves. D-Live stars against UNC (8 blocks, 14 boards in 34 minutes, while committing only 2 fouls) and then warms the bench without meaningful contributions in a crucial game against UVA.  

The season is a long way from being over for such a young team.  Will Scheyer be able to banish the inconsistency and blend the obvious talents of his players into a force in the postseason?  That begins with the…

Next Play: Tuesday, February 14, 2023, vs Notre Dame in Cameron Indoor Stadium. at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

Duke Blue Devils 68  v. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 64 (Season 14; Issue 25; Game #26) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (February 14, 2023)

Special guest stars!  A wonderful gesture of respect for Mike Brey and his years at Duke. Photo credit: Rob Kinnan/ USA TODAY Sports
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Duke Basketball returned to normal in Cameron tonight as the Blue Devils beat Notre Dame. Coach K and wife Mickie were in the house!  The reason may have been that Irish Coach Mike Brey, the winningest coach in Irish history, had been an assistant to Coach K during the heady years of the early 1990’s when Duke ascended to the stratospheric heights of the intercollegiate basketball world. No matter their record, Notre Dame has always been a tough out for Duke, and tonight was no different, as the Irish are well coached (even if they are undersized and having a disappointing season).  

Kyle Filipowski took full advantage of his height differential and often posted down low for his critical 22 points, as no other Duke player scored in double digits. However, for the second straight game, Coach Scheyer drew up the perfect game ending play—only tonight the referees did not disallow it– when he spread the floor, gave Captain Jeremy Roach the ball at the top of the key to drive the lane, with forwards Mitchell and Whitehead in each of the far corners.  Roach drove the lane, was challenged, and passed to an open Mitchell in the left corner. Mitchell drained a three to ice the game! 

The Blue Devils did not play a perfect game, but they led for 32 of the 40 minutes and made about half as many turnovers (10) as they did in losses to Miami & UVA.  Now they must play like this on the road.


The Big Picture: Duke bounced back with a win!  And Kyle (Flip) Filipowski bounced back with a 22-point performance, after not scoring a point in his last 3 halves of play. 

However, it wasn’t pretty, with Duke again losing a 14-point lead (42-28 with 15:37 left in the game) and needing (and getting) dramatic winning plays.  The last double-digit Blue Devil lead was with 8:22 left in the game (52-42) before Irish Dane Goodwin put on a show; he scored 5 in the next 2 possessions to cut the Duke lead to 5 (52-47 with 6:26 remaining).  After Flip added a layup, Goodwin scored on a layup and a free throw (54-50 with 4:25 remaining).  Flip and Dane traded baskets (56-52 with 4:29 left in the game) before Tyrese (Ty) Proctor made an acrobatic driving layup.  Then, Jeremy Roach also drove for a dramatic layup.  The Fighting Irish scored on a layup, which was matched by Flip’s 2 free throws.  Duke had an 8-point lead (62-54 with 2:17 on the clock) before things got really tight.

Duke failed to corral a defensive rebound, allowing Dane Goodwin to grab an offensive rebound and find a teammate for a 3-pointer.  62-57 with 2:03 left in the game.  Flip had a layup blocked, which Goodwin rebounded and made an assist to a teammate for a deep 3 (62-60 with 1:27 to go).  Roach was fouled with 55 seconds left in the game.  He made the first but missed the chance to extend the Blue Devil lead to 2 possessions when he missed the second foul shot. 63-60.  Then Scheyer made a dramatic substitution removing Grandison and Dariq Whitehead in favor of Dereck (D-Live) Lively II and Mark Mitchell.

Goodwin rebounded Jeremy’s missed foul shot before Notre Dame hit a driving layup, cutting the Duke lead to 63-62 with 36 seconds left.  Scheyer did not call a timeout, rather trusting Jeremy and Flip to get a score.  Jeremy drove and dished it off to a wide-open Mark Mitchell in the corner for the game’s biggest play – swish for 3 points to give Duke a 66-62 lead with 12 seconds left!  Scheyer, “I don’t think Mark has played his best as of late, and every day he [shoots an extra] 100 corner threes, and he works religiously on shooting before and after practice.  Our coaches do a great job with him.  So, to come back in late, they plug off of him in the corner, Jeremy kicks it to him.  That is a big-time shot!”

But, the Irish were not quite done, missing a layup, but grabbing an offensive rebound to score.  66-64 with 3 seconds left.  Ty was fouled and stepped to the line for 1-and-1; if he missed either, it would open the door for a last desperation-shot to tie or win.  Ty hit both free throws without touching the rim!  Final score Duke 68 Notre Dame 64.  Not pretty, but a win.


The Good

Flip’s Return to form 

Flip has been pummeled in recent games, frequently landing on the floor, punched in the face, etc. That may have contributed to his not scoring for 3 complete, consecutive halves.  Against Notre Dame, Flip seemed his old self, leading Duke in scoring with 22 points. 

Scheyer: “Flip coming off of a really tough game at Virginia to bounce back the way that he did, to carry the load throughout was huge….He handled it great.  I think that the toughest part: he didn’t even practice these last two days.  He could hardly walk on Sunday; yesterday, it was better, where he could do some light jogging, and spot shooting, but he couldn’t even go contact or five-on-five.  So, to come out, he just looked great to start the game.  He’s such a difference maker for us, the attention that he gets.  He’s resilient.  He’s been The Guy since day one of this summer. It has not been smooth sailing; he has had his ups and downs, and he’s taken coaching every step of the way.  He continues to work, and he just wants to win.  I thought you saw that tonight and really, they had to change their defense because of him.” 

The Defense in the First Half

The Blue Devils held the Fighting Irish to 23 points on 10-28, including 1-11 from deep.  Duke committed only 4 first half fouls.

Mark Mitchell’s Second Half

After a scoreless first half (6:35 on the court, missing his only shot without a rebound), Mark simply blossomed in the closing period.  In a bit over 8 minutes, he scored 8 points (2-3 from 3land and 2-2 from the stripe) to go with a pair of rebounds.

The Bad

The Second Half Defense

Once again, Duke allowed a 40+ point half! The Fighting Irish scored 41 second-half points on 16-33 from the field, including 5-10 from 3land.  Dane Goodwin was unstoppable (until Ty guarded him), scoring 19 of his 25 points in the second half, on perfect 8-8 shooting, including 2-2 from deep.

The Ugly

Blowing a 14-Point Lead in a Home Game Against a Not Great Team to Allow The Game to Go Down to the Wire

To almost let the game get away, at the moment when Coach K came to his first game this year (to honor Mike Brey’s last game at Cameron) made it that much worse.  

Brey was a Coach K assistant from 1987 to 1995, during which Duke went to five final fours, winning 2 National Championships. This may have contributed to ND’s gallant effort. 

The expression on Coach K’s face during the game said much about Duke’s performance.


Jeremy Roach (36:49) scored 9 points, (3-12 from the field, including 0-5 from 3land, plus 3-4 from the foul line), in a checkered performance.  He made crucial shots down the stretch – with 2:53 left, he made a driving layup  to stretch the Blue Devil lead to 8, but then missed the second free throw and, thus, the chance to give the Blue Devils a 2 possession lead with 55 seconds left.  He made a brilliant pass to a wide-open Mark Mitchell, who made his 3 from the corner, with 12 seconds left, to clinch the game.  Jeremy had 3 assists with 2 rebounds – one was a spectacular offensive rebound and then a short jumper for a score.   

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (35:02) was the glue for Duke after a shaky start; he scored only 6 points (2-6 from the field, including 0-1 from deep, plus 2-2 from the foul line) – but what a 6 points they were! —  2 driving layups to stop Notre Dame runs, and then, with Duke ahead by only 2 with 3 seconds left, he swished both free throws to ice the game!  Scheyer was admiring, “Tyrese [Proctor] at the end, two free throws. I don’t even know if it hit the rim, went right through the net.”  Unnoticed, but crucial –late in the game Ty switched onto the Notre Dame scorer, Dane Goodwin (25 points), who was torching Duke, regardless of who guarded him.  Because of Proctor’s amazing defense, Goodwin not only didn’t score again, but he also almost didn’t touch the ball. 

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (30:53) had a superb “comeback” game.  After 3 halves without scoring, Flip put up 22 big points to lead Duke in scoring (9-16 from the field, including 0-3 from 3land, plus 4-4 from the stripe). Flip grabbed 6 boards, handed out 3 assists, and blocked a shot.  He committed 2 turnovers and had 3 of his shots blocked.  His fighting spirit is back!

Dariq Whitehead (27:21) is playing his way back into shape, and is the heart of what Duke can be by the postseason.  He scored 9 points (3-7 from the field, including 3-4 from 3land, without a foul shot attempt) in substantial playing time. He still plays better in his first half (3-3 from deep for all 9 of his points), which may mean he is not yet fully in shape.  Dariq had 4 boards, 2 assists, and a steal.  He was on the floor at “winning time”.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (26:31) committed his first foul in the first minute of the game, but then only one more in the entire game. (He might be learning to stop his penchant for fouling).  D-Live scored 6 points (3-5 from the field, including 0-1 from deep, without a free throw attempt).  He did capture 6 boards and blocked 2 shots.  

Mark Mitchell (14:53) made the shot of the game! – a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner with 12 seconds left, to increase Duke’s lead from 1 to 4 points.   Mark scored all 8 of his points in the second half (2-4 from the field, including 2-3 from deep, plus 2-2 from the foul line).  Mark also had 2 rebounds.  He said after the game, “I worked on that shot all week, and I’ve been in the gym late nights, after practice, before practice, so when the time came, my work showed.  … I’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately, so it felt good to hit one like that, especially when you work on it a lot.  Your work will eventually show.  Whatever you do in the dark will eventually come to light, and it did in that moment.” [Editorial Staff: Couldn’t have said it better.]

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (14:52) scored 2 points in a valuable role off the bench (0-2 from the field; 0-2 from deep; 2-2 from the stripe). He handed out 4 assists, garnered 3 rebounds, and had 2 steals.  He was on the floor for 4 of the final 5 minutes of the game.

Ryan Young (9:10) had an amazing stat line for his short time in the game. Ryan was 3-4 from the field (0-1 from the foul line) for his 6 points.  He was a valuable rebounder, leading Duke in that department, with 8 (4 offensive) in only 9 minutes!  

Jaylen Blakes (4:29, all in the first half) again failed to score (0-2, including 0-1 from 3land).  He has not contributed much since he broke his nose.


Inconsistency continues to plague the 2022-23 edition.  Jeremy is brilliant (great layups) and then not (3-12 with a crucial missed free throw); Dariq is 3-3 from deep in the first half, and then doesn’t score again.  Ty has a scoreless first half with turnovers, and then is a star at crunch time in the second half.  

To steal the title of John Feinstein’s book, this is still a “season on the brink”, and continues with the…

Next Play: Saturday, February 18, 2023, at Syracuse at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN.

Duke Blue Devils 79 v. Louisville Cardinals 62 (Season 14; Issue 27; Game 28) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (February 20, 2023)

Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell are reaching their potential and taking Duke with them.
Photo Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

I don’t want to get carried away, but it seems as though this young group of Blue Devils is finally maturing, and, at times, playing some very impressive basketball – by accepting their roles, trusting each other, and playing together.  As Coach Scheyer said of the team’s overall play: “I could go on and on about each of our guys.  They all stepped up.”

As we know, teenagers mature at different rates.  Filipowski has been the most precocious.  Because of injuries and other factors, it took Dariq Whitehead, Dereck (D-Live) Lively II, Tyrese (Ty) Proctor, and Mark Mitchell more time to be consistently productive.  Tonight, Mark’s talents were on full display.  Coach Scheyer says of Mitchell:  “He’s been so consistent as far as from a work standpoint, and it’s translated to what he does on the floor.  He can guard one through five, literally, Offensively, he can hit open threes, slashes, rebounds. He does it all.” 

Of the transfers, Ryan Young has been ready from the first opening tip.  Jacob Grandison   a reliable, all-round, utility sub.  Sophomore Jaylen Blakes impressed earlier, but has recently been hampered by a broken nose.  Captain Jeremy Roach is the reliable, steady Junior who has made a rather seamless transition to shooting guard as well as backup point guard.   And let us not forget the coaches, first-year Coach Scheyer and his excellent staff, who have managed 20 wins so far through all the injuries, inconsistencies, and lineup changes. 

If this trend continues and Duke stays healthy, they could be a surprise contender rather than simply a pretender.

Ryan Young is Duke’s Super Sub.  He scores, rebounds, and plays excellent defense.  His plus-minus against Louisville was + 24 in just over 14 minutes.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

It is hard to believe, but Duke’s biggest game of the year will be this Saturday against Virginia Tech, the second of three consecutive home games.  The win against Louisville leaves Duke tied with NC State for fifth place (11-6) in the ACC conference – just a half game behind Clemson (11-5) for fourth place and a double bye in the ACC tournament.  

On Wednesday, Clemson hosts Syracuse, while Wake Forest visits NC State.  If both Clemson and NC State win, Duke will again be half a game or a full game behind the winner.  Then comes “Showdown Saturday” when Clemson hosts NC State while the Blue Devils face Virginia Tech.  


The Good

The Defense 

Duke held the Cardinals to 29 second-half points!  Duke switched seamlessly, making the Cardinals work for every point.  The Duke intensity never slackened, but, thankfully, Duke’s frequent fouling did.  Duke committed only 11 fouls in the entire game!  The Blue Devil perimeter is efficient, and Duke’s Bigs are protecting the rim.  Scheyer: “our starting perimeter – and we come in the same way off the bench –  Jeremy, Tyrese, and Mark – that’s a big-time defensive group. That’s why our numbers have been really good on that end.”

Scheyer on Ryan Young – “we were plus-24 when he was in the game [meaning Duke scored 24 more points than Louisville during the time that Ryan was on the floor]. He and Dereck have a great one-two punch. We have two great guys there.” 

The Offense

19 assists on 29 field goals with only 6 turnovers shows dramatic improvement in a crucial area.  The Blue Devils are sharing the ball and making the offense look smooth.  The result was wide open shots, 29-59 including 9-22 from 3land. When the passes are plentiful and accurate, the ball tends to go in and the game is aesthetically pleasing.  The scoring was so balanced that Louisville could never concentrate on stopping just one or two Blue Devils.  All the starters scored in double figures: Roach led the scoring with 14 (12 in the second half). “Then Jeremy [Roach], to close, I thought he was really good,” said Scheyer.  Mitchell and Filipowski scored 13, Proctor 12, and Lively II reached double figures with 10 points.  

The bench contributed as well: Grandison scored 9 on 3-5 from deep, Whitehead 5 (with great defense and ball handling), and Young 3 (but also with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks!).

It was a complete team effort.


Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (35:14) was again the glue in the backcourt for Duke, both offensively and defensively, handing out 3 assists, grabbing 4 rebounds, and making a steal.  He scored 12 points (4-13 from the field / 4-8 from deep).  Scheyer: “Tyrese – coming in, the last couple of weeks – he’s been, percentage-wise, in the 90th percentile in the country when he’s guarding the ball. He does a great job. Anybody gets scored on, but he makes life really difficult [for the opposing team]. He’s incredibly disciplined, he has great balance, really good attention.  He did a great job tonight.  [Louisville high-scorer El] Ellis is going to score and all that, but we have a lot of confidence in him [Ty].”

Mark Mitchell (31:47) scored 13 points (5-8 from the field, including 0-1 from deep, plus 3-3 from the stripe).  Mark had another all-around game, contributing great defense and reliable offense. He handed out an assist without a turnover; made 2 steals, and blocked a shot.  His value is increasing.  Only Ty played more minutes against Louisville.

Jeremy Roach (30:12) was Duke’s leading scorer with 14 points (6-9 from the field, without an attempt from 3land, plus 2-4 from the foul line), in a superb performance.  He scored 12 in the second half. The Captain had 6 assists without a turnover.   Jeremey has not been efficient recently from 3land, so he stopped shooting 3-pointers – and was a star.

Dariq Whitehead (26:36) Scheyer: “it was one of Dariq’s best games actually. I know he didn’t shoot the way he has been, but he didn’t let it impact his game. He made some really nice passes; I thought his defense was really good.” Dariq scored 5 points (2-9 from the field, including 1-6 from behind the arc).  He grabbed 3 boards, made a steal and handed out an assist, without a turnover.   His improved defense, solid ball handling and increased minutes are great signs for this team. 

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (25:16) blocked 2 shots and anchored Duke’s interior defense.  He grabbed 4 boards (2 offensive) while scoring 10 points (3-4 from the field, including 0-1 from 3land, plus 4-6 from the foul line).  He is a unique asset and is starting to thrive.  Recently, D-Live has not been in foul trouble, which is one reason he has become so effective.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (22:42) scored 13 points (5-7 from the field, including 1-2 from 3land and 2-3 from the stripe). Flip grabbed 7 boards (4 on offense) and handed out 3 assists and made a steal. He committed 3 turnovers. He is being doubled every time he tries to spin, his signature move.  Teams prepare diligently to play their opponents. Coaches scout those opponents and watch film; clearly word is out about Flip’s proclivities. . In short, this ain’t high school!

Ryan Young (14:44) was the perfect backup for his short time in the game. Ryan was only 1-3 from the field, plus 1-2 from the foul line, for his 3 points, but his other contributions were amazing.  He snared 6 rebounds, handed out 3 assists without a turnover, and blocked a pair of shots.  That’s worth a wow! 

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (13:29) scored 9 points in a valuable role off the bench (3-5 from deep, without an attempt from the stripe). He grabbed 3 rebounds and handed out an assist.  He is now the primary backcourt backup to both Ty and The Captain.


Again, only a single day between games — just like an NCAA tournament weekend. Duke gave a far better performance against Louisville than last time, when the Blue Devils traveled to Miami and were badly beaten. 

Now, Duke has 2 more home games to complete February – Virginia Tech and NC State.  Then the season concludes in Chapel Hill.  A loss to Virginia Tech would be devastating to Duke’s chances for the double bye, and is a classic “trap game”.

The Blue Devils finish the regular season the following week, first hosting the rival Wolfpack on Tuesday– the winner might lead for the coveted 4th seed –  before concluding the season Saturday against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.  You  see why the Virginia Tech game is a classic “trap” game.  Devils, beware!

While Duke’s chase for the double bye is daunting, the Blue Devils are giving every appearance of having taken the next step of development as they have been playing their best basketball of the season in the last two games.  Reality check: neither Syracuse nor Louisville are elite teams.  NC State is playing like an elite team.  The Tarheels can save their disappointing (so far) season by dispatching the Blue Devils at season’s end (again). However, Duke still has a chance for one of the top 4 seeds.  Stay tuned for an exciting finish to this season!.

It’s all about the progress the Blue Devils are making to prepare for the ACC and NCAA tournament, which continues with the crucial…

Next Play: Saturday, February 25, 2023 v. Virginia Tech in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN.

The Captain is the perfect team leader on both ends of the court. 
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com 

Duke Blue Devils 81 v. Virginia Tech Hokies 65 (Season 14; Issue 28; Game 29) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (February 25, 2023)

The Captain scoring on a drive while Mark looks on and Ryan lurks in case of a rebound. 
Photo Credit:GoDuke.com
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

From beginning to end, Duke played their best game of the season in an impressive defeat of a well-coached, dangerous Virginia Tech. This is the same team that beat the Blue Devils earlier this year in Blacksburg and essentially the same squad that won the 2022 ACC tournament, beating North Carolina in the semi-finals and then a Duke team (which had Paolo Banchero and three other NBA draftees) in the final.  

Two things were most impressive: 1) the precision and efficiency of the execution both offensively and defensively with all five starters scoring in double digits and 2) that Duke was never behind in the game. Not to be overlooked, Captain Jeremy Roach had a double/double of points and assists. As long as everyone stays healthy, it appears as though this Blue Devil team is poised to play their best basketball in March at Tournament Time. The path gets no easier as they face N.C. State and UNC next week to end the ACC regular season.

The freshmen are not only getting used to college competition, but they are getting used to playing unselfishly together.  Moving a more improved Dereck (D-Live) Lively II into the starting rotation, combined with the maturation of Tyrese (Ty) Proctor at the point and Mark Mitchell on the wing (as well as the availability of Dariq Whitehead, Ryan Young, and Jacob (Jake) Grandison as substitutes), makes this Blue Devil team not only more talented but also deeper than most of their opponents. Statistically, the bench has outscored the opposition by a larger differential than the starters.  However, I missed the memo to the referees that said it was OK to hit Filipowski in the nose, neck, or head for a mandatory nine count and not get called for a foul. I guess it was the same memo that said Duke has always been soft and now that Coach K has retired the Blue Devils would no longer get all the calls.

Well, it has been a wild and crazy ACC regular season where up is down and down is up. But both North Carolina and Duke won decisively last night. There is still a lot of basketball to be played this year. Hopefully, the trendline for Duke will continue.

Mark can do it all – shoot, slash, and defend.   This is the slash!
 Photo Credit:GoDuke.com

It is heartwarming to ingest one’s own words in the last edition (“Virginia Tech is a trap game”), because the Blue Devils fed them to me by playing at such a high level, destroying the Virginia Tech Hokies.  It was so much fun to watch a stressless rout!  The freshmen are playing like veterans – “growing up before our eyes” was one insightful comment.  Coach Scheyer is right when he enthusiastically reports that each of his highly ranked freshmen have improved dramatically:  “Each of them has gotten better. We spend a lot of time in practice working on individual work. Individual player development, which I think you can see the growth that our guys have made throughout the course of the season and, of course, understanding who you are playing with and how to play to each other’s strengths. I thought that was evident tonight.” 

Scheyer made another interesting point about his freshmen each morphing from the best player in high school to adapt to the rigors of Power Conference play. “Now teams have game plans and I also think that’s a huge thing for freshmen to adjust to. As you get into ACC play people have different game plans against you.”  Flip is learning that his spin move – unstoppable in high school and earlier in the season – began to end in strips and turnovers instead of baskets. Scheyer’s point is that Flip and all the freshmen are learning.

In the last 3 games – Syracuse, Louisville, and Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils have played like an elite team.  If Duke can maintain that level of play when the competition gets tougher (as it will in the tournaments), the postseason could be compelling.

Duke’s bench was quiet against the Hokies, scoring only 10 points (Ryan Young 4, Whitehead and Grandison 3 each) in briefer than usual playing time. s.  The starters all scored in double figures – led by the Captain with 19, then Mark Mitchell with 17, D-Live with 13, Flip with 12, and Ty with 10.  The Blue Devils passed the ball beautifully and handled the rock with care and aplomb.  The defense was superb.  In short, the trap game wasn’t!


The Good

The Defense 

When D-Live anchors the interior defense, Duke is different from other teams.  He is so quick at 7’1” that he can guard the other team’s perimeter players.  Duke, unlike most other teams, can then switch on every offensive exchange. If a Big cannot guard the smaller player, it makes it easy for the adversary to attack the basket. Duke’s ability to switch all 5 positions enhances the defense against the 3-point shot.  Scheyer: “We’re lucky to have bigs that can really switch too. On a lot of those hand-offs, top of the floor [the perimeter], we switched them, took away the three and then we have guards that can move their feet, keep guys in front, and that was a big key.”  Duke controlled the backboard (37-26) and never let the Hokies believe that they had even a slight chance of winning.

 The Offense

Duke handed out 19 assists on 30 made field goals, and committed only a modest 9 turnovers.  The Blue Devils are sharing the ball and making the offense look smooth, efficient, and cohesive.  The result was wide open shots, which produced a 57% shooting percentage (30-53, including 7-18 from 3land). When the passes are plentiful and accurate, the ball tends to go in and the game is aesthetically pleasing. The scoring was again balanced as it was against Louisville when all 5 starters scored in double figures. If the Virginia Tech defense concentrated on one offensive move or one Duke player, a different Duke player made a different move to score the basket or make a pass for the score. 

The balanced Duke scoring was impressive (again)!  Roach led the scoring with 19 (10 in the second half), followed by Mitchell with his best game of the year, scoring 17.  Lively II was 6-6 from the floor and 1-1 from the stripe for 13 points while Filipowski overcame a slow first half (2 points) to score 10  second half points (game total 12).  Proctor scored 10 points, 7 in the opening stanza.   

The coach was ecstatic, “Jeremey Roach was on another level. He’s been playing that way, 19 [points] and 10 [assists]. I thought he and Tyrese … played close to a perfect game. Their defense, they played both ends.”  It was a complete team effort on both ends of the court.


Jeremy Roach (34:27) played another outstanding game by leading Duke in scoring while handing out 10 assists and playing excellent defense.  The Captain scored 19 points (8-13 from the field, including 2-4 from behind the arc, plus 1-2  from the foul line). He scored 10 in the second half.  Jeremey had not been efficient from 3land for a while, so it was comforting for Jeremy to be 2-4 from deep.

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor’s (32:36) growth as a player mirrors the growth of this year’s team.  That is not a coincidence.  He is now the primary ball handler and guards the best perimeter player on the other team.  He scored 10 points (4-7 from the field, including 2-5 from deep).  He contributed 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and a fabulous steal. He limited Hokie star Hunter Cattoor to just 4 attempted shots.  Scheyer: “Give Tyrese a lot of credit. You have to be incredibly disciplined chasing him all over the court. Cattoor had 12 threes against us the last two times we played them, and we know very well how good he is. Tyrese wanted that challenge. … Credit to Tyrese and the job that he did, especially to start the game, on him.”

Mark Mitchell (31:23) played as well as he has all season, scoring 17 points (6-8 from the field, including 1-1 from deep, plus 4-4 from the stripe).  Mark had another all-around game contributing great defense and grabbed 8 rebounds while blocking a shot.  His value is increasing.  Scheyer: “Mark Mitchell’s best game. I thought Mark gave us a huge boost consistently throughout the whole game and we were able to avoid some foul trouble with Dereck and Flip in that first half .”

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (23:37) blocked 3 shots and altered others while he anchored Duke’s interior defense.  D-Live grabbed 7 boards and scored 13 points on perfect shooting (6-6 from the field, including 1-1 from the foul line).   Scheyer, “Dereck is unique. He is a difference maker with his ability to screen and rim run for a lob threat and play behind the defense. He is just a different kind of guy.”

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (22:29) had what commentators said was a subpar game for him.  That is a compliment, because if 12 points (3-7 from the field, including 0-2 from 3land and 6-7 from the stripe) to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals is sub-par, Flip’s par is truly terrific! Flip scored 10 of his 12 in the second half to help preserve Duke’s ample margin.

Dariq Whitehead (18:47) didn’t shoot the way he has been, scoring only 3 points (1-5 from the field, including 1-3 from deep).  He grabbed 2 boards, and made a steal.  The Duke bench overall was less involved than usual. 

Ryan Young (15:06) While Ryan was only 1-4 from the field, he scored 4 points  by adding 2-3 from the foul line.  His other contributions were substantial.  He snared 4 rebounds, handed out 2 assists without a turnover, and blocked a shot.  That’s great backup.  

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (12:37) scored 3 points off the bench on 1-2 from deep (without an attempt from the stripe). He also grabbed 2 rebounds.  Jake has become the primary backcourt backup to both Ty and The Captain – they each played big minutes, limiting Jake’s time on the court in this game.


The Blue Devils are finally arriving at their potential.  Much of the frustrating delay has been the injuries that kept key players on the sideline.  Finally, Scheyer noted, “this group has been able to play on the floor together. That is where you can really grow. For Jeremy, knowing how to play with Dereck, Tyrese, Flip, Mark, and Dariq or Jake …   For Jeremy he came back with a completely different team. I am just proud of him for playing aggressively but also playing instinctually…   Right now, we are connected. The assists were well over 2-1 [ratio over turnovers]. Our offense is pushing it more and flowing into things and that’s how I want to play.” 

Does Duke have a chance for one of the top 4 seeds (to get a double bye in the ACC tournament)?  Doubtful, but still a possible long shot.  Pittsburgh leads  the conference at 14-4 with games against Notre Dame and Miami.  Miami is 14-5 with a game against Pitt next Saturday. UVA is 13-5 (after losing its last 2) with games against Louisville and Clemson. Clemson is 13-5 with games against Louisville and UVA. Pitt, Clemson, UVA, and Miami are the four teams currently ahead of Duke for the double bye. Duke is in 5th place (12-6).  If Duke can beat NC State in Cameron on Tuesday and UNC in Chapel Hill on Saturday, we will see if Duke’s 14-6 record is good enough.  

Next Play: Tuesday, February 28, 2023, v. North Carolina State in Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

D-Live is, as Scheyer has said, “a unique asset”.  He was a perfect  6-6 from the floor.   
Photo Credit:GoDuke.com

Duke Blue Devils 71 v. NC State Wolfpack 67 (Season 14; Issue 29; Game 30) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (February 28, 2023)

Duke’s Big Men combine to keep NC State star D.J. Burns contained.
Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

The test of a really good team—especially at tournament time when it is single elimination — is finding a way to win when they aren’t playing their best.  When N.C. State came to Cameron tonight, this Duke team did it and clinched its first perfect home record in nine years.  So how did the Blue Devils get it done? Everyone played their role, especially Dereck (D-Live) Lively II, Kyle (Flip) Filipowski, and Captain Jeremy Roach — and they relied on their calling cards of sharing the ball, attacking, defense, and making free throws.  Duke shot 23-of-29 free throws, while the Wolfpack were only 7-of-8 from the foul line.  Proctor and Mitchell did their part too, which was critical.

This was a “Big Boys” game –7+ footers Filipowski and Lively controlled the glass for the Blue Devils, combining for 26 rebounds as Duke won the rebound battle ( 44-35), as they often do.  Even on a tough shooting night, Filipowski had a double-double, with 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.  But it was  “Little Man” Captain Jeremy Roach who carved up the Wolf defense early – and late – to bail out the inconsistent Blue Devil offense.

NC State coach Kevin Keatts, whose “live by the three, die by the three” Wolfpack team defeated the Blue Devils 84-60 in January, said after the loss: “That Duke team, they’ve grown so much.” Make no mistake – N.C. State is a good, tough team that plays with a chip on their shoulders (which is not always to their benefit) a lethal back court, and a talented, clever center transfer D.J. Burns, who can put points on the board either by shooting or passing. Tonight, Duke somewhat neutralized him by doubling him with Lively and Filipowski. 

On the other hand, Jarkel Joiner put on a show with threes from ‘Steph Curry territory’ including two in the last minute to put the game in jeopardy.  Roach and Proctor sealed the deal with perfection from the foul line.

“We’re trying to get a top-four [seed] going into the tournament, and this was a huge game for us,” Filipowski said. “We’ve had goals this whole season. And, I mean, we’re starting to get where we want to be.”

Next Play: The Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.

Good News: After the game, graduate center Ryan Young — who had four points and six rebounds in 10 minutes today — confirmed that he will return to Cameron Indoor next season for his final year of eligibility.  He will continue to pursue an MBA at the Fuqua School of Business.

Men's Basketball vs. NC StateTyrese is becoming a complete point guard and defensive specialist.  As he grows, so grows this Duke team 

Photo Credit: GoDuke.com


The Wolfpack shot the lights out in the early going to maintain a slight lead for the first 11 ½ minutes of the game before the Blue Devils tied it at 17-all with 8:22 left to play in the first half.  Duke then led for the rest of the game. In the first half, the lead reached as high as 7 points with 6 minutes left, before shrinking to 2. Duke led 33-29 at the half.

The Blue Devils looked in control for almost all of the second half, reaching a double-digit lead for the first time with only 3 minutes having elapsed.  NC State got as close as 2 points early in the second half, but otherwise the Blue Devils controlled the second half with leads of between 7 and 12 points.  Excellent defense and solid offense.  

With 1:47 left in the game, Duke led by 12 (65-53) with Proctor shooting a foul shot.  55 seconds later, the Wolfpack was back in the game, trailing by only 4 (65-61) with 52 seconds remaining in the game.  Clutch foul shooting by Captain Jeremy Roach and Tyrese (Ty) Proctor preserved the Duke lead that was only 3 points with 32 seconds left in the game!  Losing intensity with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game –not to mention  almost the lead – changed the level of supreme confidence that preceded NC State’s late charge.


The Good

The Defense 

Scheyer: “Our defense was the key to the game.  It’s been really what we’ve hung our hat on all year long.  Dereck’s job on Burns. Tyrese with Smith [were part of Duke’s effective defense].  We did a great job making them a half-court team. They’re fast. They [the Wolfpack] get down the floor as quickly as anybody we’ve played. … I thought [our] five guys were just moving together [defending].  We did a good job controlling the ball. The fact that we had more points from turnovers than they did speaks for itself.”

Burns was held to 13 points by D-Live, who was greatly aided by stealthy, surprise double-teaming at times from either Flip or Mark Mitchell.  Ty’s defense on Smith was awesome and is enhancing Proctor’s growing reputation as a defender.  The Captain was guarding Jarkel Joiner, who had a 26-point performance.  Joiner made shots that were, as Bill so eloquently put it,“ threes from Steph Curry territory.”  Despite Jeremy’s solid defense, Joiner’s 3s connected spectacularly.  Scheyer praised Duke’s avoiding fouling in the defensive effort and concurred about Joiner’s amazing shooting, “We played without fouling for the most part and give them credit, I thought in the first half, they made some tough shots and that’s what they do.”

Bottom line: NC State scored a meager 61 for the game, but, tellingly, had just 53 points with 1:47 left in the game. That’s great defense!

The Offense

The offense revolved around Captain Jeremy even though it was a complete team effort.  Scheyer on the Captain: “Jeremy’s a winner. He’s been through it. It reminds me of last year at the end with Jeremy in the tournament.  He’s done that for us in stretches all year long, and this is the most consistent that he’s played.  We ask a lot of him. … We need him to score and create, but he just has a knack for making timely baskets.  We put the ball in his hands, down the stretch to carry us and finish a game.  It’s just who he is.  He’s done it really since high school.  We need him to continue to do it.” 

 Coach Scheyer gets major credit for reshaping his team even as he developed Ty into a true point guard. (Coach K did precisely that with his senior captain in 2010 [Scheyer, of course ] ) This crucial development created the opportunity for Jeremy to do what he does best. Pretty good rookie coaching!

Even though Duke was simply dreadful from behind the arc (2-19; 10.5%), the offense was otherwise efficient.  The Blue Devils were 21-36 inside the arc and 23-29 from the foul line.  Four of the starters scored in double figures (Roach, 20; Mitchell and Proctor, 12 each; and Filipowski, 11).  Lively II and Whitehead scored 6 points each. 


The last 1:47 of the game, beginning with Ty’s missed free throw while Duke held a commanding 12-point lead, was troubling to say the least. The game was over!  And then it wasn’t!  Smith grabbed the rebound and fired up a deep 3.  Swish! Roach had a layup blocked, and Flip fouled Joiner, who made both foul shots.  Duke 65 v NC State 58 with 1:21 left.  Tyrese missed a driving layup, which Smith rebounded and fed Joiner for another long 3-pointer.  65-61 with 52 seconds remaining.  The Wolfpack was forced to foul.

The Captain sunk 2 clutch foul shots (1-and-1; so the first one was critical).  Duke 67-61 with 40 seconds left.  Joiner got NC State as close as the Wolfpack would get in the game when he hit a deep desperation 3.  67-64 with 32 seconds left.  NC State fouled Ty, who had missed his last foul shot–but he coolly nailed the front end of this 1-and-1 as well as the second shot. 69-64 with 18 seconds left.  Joiner at last missed a 3,  with 15 seconds left, and Ty retrieved the rebound and was fouled  Game  over, for real.  Proctor hit both free throws with 6 seconds left before Smith made a 3 at the buzzer to make the final score – 71-67 –appear closer than it actually was.

The ending was not good (perhaps even bad), but Duke made the key free throws and kept “ugly” at a distance.


Jeremy Roach (36:51) continued his outstanding play and leadership.  The Captain led Duke in scoring (again) with 20 points (9-19, including a disappointing 0-5 from behind the arc, plus 2-2 clutch free throws), while playing excellent defense.  Thus, Jeremy was 9-14 from inside the arc, scoring on acrobatic drives through the entire Wolfpack defense, helping to maintain the substantial Blue Devil lead.  The Captain scored 6 of Duke’s 10 points during the final four minutes of the game. He and Tyrese Proctor (who scored the other 4 on clutch free throws) are morphing into a reliable and cohesive backcourt. 

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (32:07) is now the primary ball handler and guards whomever is the best perimeter player on the other team.  He scored 12 points (2-8 from the field, including 0-3 from deep, but a gaudy 8-9 from the foul line – the last 4-4 in the final 18 seconds of the game to preserve the win).  He contributed 3 rebounds and an assist. Ty is justly earning high praise for his 1-on-1 ball defense.  This past January 4, Terquavion Smith lit Duke up for 24 points (including 4-8 from deep) when the Wolfpack creamed Duke 84-60 .  Last night, Ty limited Smith to 2-9 from the field, including 2-5 from deep, plus 2-2 from the stripe – for just 9 points.  He frustrated Smith into committing a stupid technical foul (pushing Ty and knocking him down).  Ty handled the Wolfpack pressure, bringing the ball up like a veteran senior, not an 18-year-old who would still be in high school (but for his reclassifying).

Mark Mitchell (33:58) is playing terrific basketball on both ends of the floor.  His defense and rebounding are among the reasons that he was on the court for longer than any other Duke wing. Mark scored 12 points (3-6 from the field, including 1-3 from deep, plus 5-6 from the stripe.) to go with 5 tough rebounds.  Mark is a critically important part of this team’s recent development (5 game winning streak).  In his last 3 games, Mark has scored 42 points (14.0 per game) on 14-of-22 shooting (.636) and 12-of-13 at the free throw line (.923), while grabbing 17 rebounds. His defense has been excellent.

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (32:13) notched his 13th double-double of the season, the most of any freshman in the country, even though he did not shoot well from the field. Flip scored 11 points (on only 2-11 from the field, including 0-3 from behind the arc, but a crucial 7-9 from the foul line).  He grabbed a team-leading 14 rebounds while drawing 5 Wolfpack fouls.  His defense, especially helping Lively II contain the Wolfpack Big, D.J. Burns, Jr, was a valuable asset.

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (29:29) blocked 2 shots and altered others while anchoring Duke’s interior defense.  D-Live grabbed 12 boards while scoring 6 points (3-4 from the field, including 0-1 from deep with the shot clock expiring).  D-Live’s defense against Burns was one of Duke’s defensive keys. Scheyer: “We ended up not really doubling much because Dereck just did a great job battling him.”  D-Live helped Duke control the boards and defend so effectively.  

Dariq Whitehead (17:15) scored 6 points (2-2 from the field, including 1-1 from deep, plus 1-3 from the stripe).  He also grabbed 2 boards.  Dariq is becoming Duke’s 6th man, injecting energy and talent when he replaces a starter.  He brings multiple skills to the role —  deep shooting, slashing to the rim, an effective defender against both guards and Bigs, and a formidable rebounder.  He still has the most growth potential for the postseason of any Duke player.

Ryan Young (10:31) Ryan contributed so much in such a short time. Consider just his second half, where he played only 3:54.  In that brief time, Ryan garnered 4 rebounds (2 offensive), handed out an assist, blocked a shot, and scored 2 points on 1-1 from the field. For the entire game, he scored 4 points on 2-2 from the field, he grabbed 6 boards (2 offensive), handed out an assist, and blocked a shot.  Scheyer: “It’s such a luxury for us to have Dereck Lively and to have Ryan Young who are two very different players. Ryan can be very physical when he’s in.” That’s valuable!

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (7:36) missed each of his three wide open 3-point attempts off the bench, without an attempt from the stripe.  He is now the primary backcourt backup to both Ty and The Captain, who each played big minutes, limiting Jake’s time on the court.


There are 5 teams that have the potential of finishing the regular season on March 4 with 14-6 records.  Pitt lost to Notre Dame and is now 14-5 with a game still to play against the Miami Hurricanes, also 14-5.  UVA is 14-5 with a game against last place Louisville.  Duke and Clemson are 13-6.  The Tigers play Notre Dame; Duke faces the Tar Heels.  Duke beat Pitt in Cameron and thus  holds the tie-breaker against Pitt. Duke split with Miami, with Miami winning by the wider margin. The Blue Devils lost to both Clemson and UVA, giving each the tie-breaker against Duke.  Wouldn’t it be a shame if Duke and UVA tie for the double bye and UVA wins the tiebreaker on that terrible end-game call that deprived Flip of his deserved foul shots?  

We await the results of ACC action among those 5 teams, but also concentrate on the upcoming  re-match with UNC.

UNC basketball has been raining on the Blue Devil parade since last season’s Senior Night game (Coach K’s farewell).  Then, The ‘Heels beat Duke in the National finals.  

The women have beaten Duke twice in February, denying the Blue Devils the regular season ACC championship.   It is likely that the Duke women will meet UNC for the third time this season on Friday, March 3 in the women’s ACC tournament right before the men’s …

Next Play: Saturday, March 4, 2023, v. University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill at the Dean Dome at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Men's Basketball vs. NC State
The Captain’s drives were acrobatic, controlled, and unstoppable.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com


Duke Blue Devils 62 v. UNC Tarheels 57 (Season 14; Issue 30; Game 31) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (March 4, 2023)

With a Devil Yell: Flip and the Blue Devil celebrate in Cameron (in preparation for celebrating in Greensboro). Photo Credit: Clutchpoints
Bill’s CliffsNotes:

Founded in 1789, the University of North Carolina is one of three schools to proudly claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States, in addition to being known as one of the most accomplished, admired, and desired state institutions in the country.

Trinity College, established modestly in 1838 was renamed several times.  Trinity eventually became Duke University when James B. Duke established the $40,000,000 Duke Endowment in honor of his father Washington B. Duke. Trinity was renamed in honor of the donor and his father, also to distinguish it from other Trinity Colleges and Universities. As it added a beautiful, Gothic style campus, a world class hospital, a law school, and others, it rapidly became perennially the youngest Top Ten School in the country. 

Thus, there developed an understandable jealousy between the two schools. Nowhere is this truer than on the basketball court. The nadir of rivalry was a 1961 fistfight and melee in Cameron between Duke’s Art Heyman and Carolina’s Larry Brown, both Long Island N.Y. natives and former friends. [Editorial staff notes: Mark Mitchell received permission of Heyman’s family to wear Art’s retired number this season] Tensions over the years and decades only escalated as Duke’s Coach K challenged UNC’s Dean Smith and his basketball program as the premier one in the country.

Regardless of their records, the basketball games are often decided by which team has the ball last, or which player has the hot hand, or who gets the calls.  Last year, Carolina beat Duke (who had all five of their starters selected in the NBA draft – 4 in the first round; 3 of the first rounders were picked in the lottery) not only on Coach K’s final game in Cameron! but also in the semi-finals of the NCAA Tournament. They eventually lost in the title game by a basket.

This year, the Tar Heels, with four of their five starters back from last year, have been, inexplicably, very disappointing. So disappointing that these defending champions are on the cusp of not making the 68 team draw for the NCAA Tournament! So, this game was crucial for the Tar Heels’ NCAA ambition.

The Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels in a hard-fought contest, even as they overcame a rare coaching error by Scheyer & Company, who let Dereck (D-Live) Lively II stay in the game early in the second half after he had committed his third foul. Predictably, the fourth foul came shortly thereafter.  Duke is not the same team without him.

However, Kyle (Flip) Filipowski went to work offensively by more or less carrying the scoring load (with a big assist from Jeremy Roach) to secure the win. Filipowski apparently decided to make a statement that he not only was the Freshman of the Year but was also the Player of the Year in the ACC with 22 points and 13 rebounds. 

Neither team shot particularly well – this was Duke v. Carolina in The Dean Dome in Chapel Hill and both teams defended intensely. UNC shot just 30.4 percent to Duke’s 37.9.  UNC had 8 assists and limited Duke to just 4. Rebounding was dead even, with 29 defensive and 10 offensive for each. 

Mark Mitchell’s stepped up play has contributed to the six game Blue Devil winning streak.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com

As Jay Bilas intones every year (accurately) “Duke v Carolina NEVER disappoints.”   That was certainly true last night, where we were treated to a great college basketball game.  It did not matter that neither team was ranked in the top 25.  It was Duke-Carolina.  It is worth adding that these are two teams capable of beating any college team regardless of ranking.

Scheyer thought it was crucial that Duke “matched their physicality to start. And our players made some big-time winning plays down the stretch.” 

D-Live committed the first two fouls of the 2nd half (his 3rd and 4th of the game) before 3 minutes had elapsed.   He remained on the bench for over 11 minutes, before returning with just 8:08 left in the game.


The Wonderful last 8:08 of the Game

With the Blue Devils trailing by 2 points (49-47), Scheyer sent D-Live back into the game with 8:08 left on the clock.  First, D-Live grabbed the defensive rebound when Leaky Black missed a Carolina jumper with 7:51 left.  Second, he scored a dunk on an assist from Tyrese. 49-49 with 7:23 left.  

Then came spine tingling excitement with each team scoring to take a 1-point lead when in possession.  Black and Flip traded baskets; then UNC guard Caleb Love and Ty did the same. Duke led 54-53 with 5:55 left.   Davis scored to give the Tar Heels a 55-54 lead with 4:20 to go.  Black fouled Flip, who made both free throws to provide Duke with the lead at 56-55 with 3:30 left in the game.

D-Live blocked Black’s shot, giving Duke possession with 3 minutes remaining.   Proctor and Filipowski both missed for Duke while Davis missed for the Tar Heels before Flip fouled Bacot.  Bacot made both to give UNC a 57-56 lead with 1:57 remaining in the game.  Flip was fouled and made both free throws to return the lead to Duke, 58-57 with 1:38 left.  Black missed a jumper, but retrieved his own miss, only to miss again on the put back.  Mark Mitchell grabbed the most important rebound of the game – 1:10 left.  Then the Captain stepped into the spotlight with a creative acrobatic drive using his left hand to give Duke a 60-57 lead with 48 seconds left in the game. 

Davis missed; Mitchell grabbed another crucial rebound, and was fouled with 19 seconds left in the game.  However, it was only the 6th foul that UNC had committed (therefore, non-shooting but still Duke’s ball).  UNC had to foul immediately (the Tarheel’s 7th) and Flip was now shooting 1-and-1.  With a chance to ice the game by expanding the Blue Devil lead to 2 possessions, with only 18 seconds left in the game, Flip shockingly missed the front end, which Bacot rebounded.

Love then had a chance to tie the game when he launched a 3-point attempt from the corner with just 8 seconds left. All of Dukedom exhaled with relief when it missed.  D-Live rebounded it and hit Flip with a full court pass for the winning dunk and margin!  62-57. It was a classic Duke-UNC finish!

Scheyer on Jeremy Roach’s game winning drive with 48 seconds left and the shot clock winding down: 

“I did say, ‘go get us one.’ We’ve got great trust in Jeremy. Doesn’t matter what happened for the 35 minutes before.  He and Flip have had a great two-man game. Jeremy wasn’t as decisive as he normally is, but on that last play, he was decisive. And he’s a winner.  Game’s on the line, he’s going to go.  You trust the ball in his hands.” 

On Kyle’s brilliant game: “big-time free throws. … But for Flip, we just went to him.  And he found a way to manufacture points when we needed them the most.” 


The Defense 

Scheyer: “Our defense has been top-10 in the country in the month of February. We’ve been as consistent as anybody in the country down the stretch. …   It was a little bit of a disjointed first half because of the foul trouble.  When Dereck is not on the court — and Ryan did a really good job keeping us afloat — it just changes our team on the defensive end.  And Flip, he’s been right there.” 

Duke held UNC to 26 second-half points, not to mention just 57 for the game.  That is simply excellent defense!  Duke’s defense, good in the early season, is improving dramatically.  Tyrese, D-Live, Mark, and Flip have all improved and have learned how to play defense together.  Dariq is also a real defensive asset. 

The Captain is the glue.  

The Offense

Credit the Carolina defense for making the Blue Devil offense look a bit ragged.  Flip was the difference with his 22 points and 5 offensive rebounds.  Ty with 13, and Mark and Jeremey each contributed 10.  It was just enough.



Duke’s first-half fouling – a total of 8, with 2 each on D-Live (limited to playing only 5:38 in the opening stanza), Ryan, and Dariq – was a barrier for the Blue Devils to overcome.  Duke was much better in the second half, not putting UNC in the bonus (7 fouls in a half), until only 19 seconds were left in the game.  Unfortunately, Duke’s first two fouls of the second half were each committed by D-Live, giving him 4 personals with 17:10 still left in the game.  However, to his credit, he played the last 8:08 without fouling out. Kudos! Dariq also finished with 4 fouls.

Defending Bacot

Ryan could not do it effectively when D-Live was confined to the bench.  The UNC superstar scored 17 points (4-8 from the field, plus 9-10 from the stripe) while garnering 11 boards and blocking 4 shots.  Bacot’s only points in the last 9 minutes of the game (most of which with D-Live back in and guarding him) were his 2 foul shots which gave UNC a 1-point lead with 1:57 to go in the game.

Jeremy’s Off-Night Brilliance

The Captain had a dreadful shooting night (4-16), but made the Shot of the Night with 48 seconds left, to stretch the Blue Devil lead to 3 (60-57).

Scheyer says to the Captain: “Go get us one!”
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com


Mark Mitchell (37:31) played the most minutes of any Duke player because he is playing terrific basketball on both ends of the floor.  Mark scored 10 points (4-8 from the field, including 1-1 from deep, plus 1-2 from the stripe), to go with 4 tough rebounds.  Mark is a critically important part of this team’s recent development (6 game winning streak).  In his last 4 games, Mark has scored 52 points on 18-of-30 shooting and 13-of-15 at the free throw line, while grabbing 21 rebounds.  Scheyer: “he probably had two of the biggest plays of anybody on our team all year.  He had two rebounds in traffic that were — both of them at a key time. And then he probably had the biggest basket of the game, we got down five. He had a great drive to cut it to three.”

Jeremy Roach (37:22) had a subpar shooting night, scoring only 10 points on 16 shots (4-16 from the field, including 2-6 from behind the arc without a free throw attempt, or an assist). The Captain had 3 steals! while playing excellent defense.   In the closing stanza, even though Jeremy was only 2-8 from the field, including 0-2 from deep, he scored the tough, crucial game winner when he slithered through UNC’s defense with an acrobatic layup that gave Duke a 3-point lead with 48 seconds left in the game.  Scheyer: “he’s a big-time winner.  He really helped us, in the middle of the second half, we just had a hard time scoring.”

Kyle (Flip) Filipowski (34:16) carried Duke offensively, notching his 14th double double of the season, the most of any freshman in the country!  Flip scored 22 points on 7-17 from the field, including 1-4 from behind the arc, but a crucial 7-8 from the foul line. (That one miss was a bad one).  He grabbed a team-leading 13 rebounds while drawing 7 Wolfpack fouls.  His underrated defense is a valuable asset.

Tyrese (Ty) Proctor (32:15) was Duke’s second leading scorer with 12 points (4-10 from the field, including 0-1 from deep, but a gaudy 5-7 from the foul).  He contributed 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Ty is justly earning high praise for his 1-on-1 on the ball defense.  Ty continues to handle pressure defenses, bringing the ball up like a veteran senior in college rather than a senior in high school, which he was scheduled to be before he reclassified.

Ryan Young (19:06) Ryan played more than expected because of D-Live’s early and enduring foul trouble.  He only scored 2 points on 1-2 from the field, but he grabbed 6 boards (2 offensive), and made a steal. Ryan cannot defend Bacot the way D-Live does; so, Bacot thrived while Ryan was in the game.  Scheyer gave credit to Ryan’s crucial role in this game, “When Dereck was not on the court, Ryan did a really good job keeping us afloat.”

Dereck (D-Live) Lively II (16:39) blocked 3 shots and altered others while he anchored Duke’s interior defense.  D-Live grabbed 6 boards while scoring 2 points on a dramatic dunk (1-1 from the field, his only shot attempt). However, his playing time was limited to the first 5:37 in the first half when he committed 2 fouls.  D-Live started the second half, but committed 2 quick fouls – the first after just 2 minutes had gone by in the second half.  Scheyer did not take him out then (as Bill points out) and Dereck committed his 4th foul about 48 seconds later. D-Live did not return until the last 8:08 of the game.  His return was one of Duke’s defensive keys to win the game. 

Dariq Whitehead (15:34) has not been as effective in his recent games.  He scored only 3 points (1-3 from the field, including 0-1 from deep, plus 1-1 from the stripe).  He also grabbed 4 boards.  Dariq is Duke’s 6th man, injecting energy and talent when he replaces a starter.  He brings multiple skills to the role — deep shooting, slashing to the rim, an effective defender against both guards and Bigs, and a formidable rebounder.  However, he has not displayed those skills in his recent games, including this one.  He had a dramatic turnover (kicked it away unforced, leading to an easy UNC layup) and committed 4 fouls in a truncated appearance. He still has the most growth potential for the postseason of any Duke player.

Jacob (Jake) Grandison (7:15) had his only shot blocked, a 3-point attempt without an attempt from the stripe.  His court time has shrunk as both Ty and The Captain are playing big minutes.


The regular season has ended, and it is now single elimination tournament time. 

Duke’s win over the Tar Heels gave Duke the fourth seed in the ACC tournament, and a double bye into the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 9!  Jeff Capel’s Pitt lost its hold on the regular season title by losing both of its last two games – to Notre Dame and Miami, respectively – finishing at 14-6.  The Miami Hurricanes won the title and # 1 seed with a 15-5 record (tied with UVA at 15-5, but Miami beat UVA in the regular season to get the #1 seed).  Duke and Clemson both finished at 14-6. 

Thus, the seeding for the ACC tournament is: 1) Miami; 2) UVA; 3) Clemson; 4) Duke; 5) Pitt; 6) NC State; 7) UNC and 8) Syracuse (omitting seeds 10-15 who play on opening day). 

It turns out that if the correct call (as the ACC later officially admitted) had been made at the end of the UVA game, and if Flip had made even one of his deserved two free throws, Duke, and not UVA, would have tied for the regular season title. (even though the only recognized ACC champion is the winner of the postseason tournament). To channel Duke women’s coach, Kara Lawson, who took the ACC to task about a men’s ball being used in the first half of a woman’s game, “these are important issues because they impact post-season seedings and invitations.  Important stuff.”

UNC basketball has been raining on the Blue Devil parade since last season’s Senior Night game (Coach K’s farewell), and then again painfully in the National semi-finals.  Winning last night at UNC’s Senior Night in the Dean Dome was a great way for the Blue Devils to get ready for this year’s postseason.

Next Play: is the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC, where Duke will play on Thursday March 9, 2023, at 2:30 on ESPN.  

Duke’s opponent will probably be #5 seeded Pittsburgh, if the Panthers beat on Wednesday the winner of Tuesday’s Georgia Tech v. Florida State game.  One of those 3 teams will be Duke’s opponent on Thursday, March 9th. The Semi-Finals (Friday, March 10) and Finals (Saturday March 11 at 8:00 pm on ESPN) are at night, should Duke qualify.

The DBP will publish only one ACC Tournament edition covering Duke’s games (as many as 3, if the Blue Devils reach the finals on Saturday, March 11; or as few as one, if Duke loses in the quarterfinals). 

D-Live’s volleyball-style block in the final minutes of the game.
Photo credit: GoDuke.com
Flip does his signature spin and uses his height to pierce the Tar Heel defense.
Photo Credit: Abigail Bromberger | The Chronicle 

ACC Tournament Edition DBP (Season 14; Issue 31; Games 32, 33, and 34) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (March 9, 10, and 11, 2023)

  • (Quarterfinals on March 9) Duke Blue Devils 96 v. Pittsburgh Panthers 69
  • (Semifinals on March 10) Duke Blue Devils 85 v. Miami Hurricanes 78
  • (Finals on March 11) Duke Blue Devils 59 v. UVA Cavaliers 49
Coach Scheyer and the team he developed hoist the well-earned Championship Trophy high
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
The ACC Tournament Edition

This one edition – the ACC Tournament Edition –  will cover all of the Duke games in the ACC tournament.  Alanalysis was written after each Duke win, but before the next game. “Next Play” encompasses the NCAA draw and schedule.  Cliffnotes is a Bill summary of this tournament and the season.

Bill’s CliffsNotes:

To quote Michael Corleone: “Revenge is a dish that tastes best when served cold.” Duke’s mid-season metamorphosis – from a disappointing pretender to a stone-cold contender that swept UNC in the final game of the regular season, and then finished off Pitt and former defeaters Miami and Virginia in dominating fashion in the ACC Tournament – was spectacular! The Blue Devils were behind only against Miami in the ACC Tournament (humorously known as The Duke Invitational as the Devils have won a record 22).

Although every player in the eight-man rotation made significant contributions, Duke was led by Captain Jeremy Roach and Kyle (“Flip”) Filipowski, the tournament MVP. Flip is the only Division I freshman in the last 25 seasons to have had 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and 3+ steals in a conference tournament title game! And Jeremy, the only non-freshman starter, and the Captain, was the steady closer.  It remains to be seen what the NCAA Tournament holds for the Blue Devils, but after their beat down by Miami in Coral Gables, and the stolen Virginia game in Charlottesville, who expected this kind of finish to the regular season and league tournament?

MVP Flip says he is ready for the NCAA!
Photo Credit: Duke Chronicle


Duke’s dominance in this tournament – as unexpected as it was sweet and complete!  The semi-final game against Miami was nip and tuck for the first 18 minutes of the game.  With 2:06 left in the first half, Dariq Whitehead was fouled while shooting a 3.  He made all 3 foul shots to give Duke a 36-34 lead, which Duke never gave up in that game.  Duke led for every second of the games against Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals and against Virginia in the finals.   Pitt got the lead down to 1, and Virginia reduced it to 2, but Duke never trailed in either game.

The Blue Devils met the challenge of playing 3 teams, each with their own particular style.  Scheyer, “We played three really good teams but also three different styles. Pitt is a great three-point shooting team, so they spread you and you have to really defend the three. Miami is one of the most athletic teams in our league but also the country. They really pressure the ball.  Obviously, Virginia is tough as can be, slower paced, they grind you. And to prepare for them in 24 hours and to defend them the way that we did, it’s a credit to these guys and their focus and their fight on the defensive end.”

Here is DBP’s game by game analysis, in order, starting with the Quarterfinals decimation of Pittsburgh, then the taut Semifinal against Miami, followed by the Championship victory over UVA.

THE QUARTERFINALS – Duke 96 v. Pittsburgh 69 (Thursday, March 9)

Without a doubt, this was Duke’s finest performance of the season to date.  As in all single elimination tournaments, it makes the next game the most important of the season.  For the Blue Devils, it will be a first game against an elite team since their 7-game winning streak began.  A Duke players-only meeting on February 6, after Miami had destroyed the Blue Devils 81 -59,  is described as a turning point for the season.  Although Duke lost the next game to Virginia in Charlottesville under “murky” (incorrect foul call) circumstances, you could see the team coming together and growing.  Seven straight, but not an elite team among the victims.  Miami is an elite team.  That makes the semi-finals against the Hurricane the most important game of the season.

The Offense

Duke ran an offense that was smooth and cohesive.   The Blue Devils scored 96 points, setting season highs for points, assists, and shooting percentage. Duke was 36-58 for 62.1%.  The Blue Devils handed out 27 assists on 36 field goals, and turned it over just 8 times — only 2 by the starters.  Tyrese (Ty) Proctor and Captain Jeremy Roach combined to hand out 16 of those assists.   The 27 assists set a tournament record. 

For the fifth straight game, at least 4 of the 5 starters scored in double figures.  Against Pitt, Kyle (Flip) Filipowski led Duke in scoring with 22 points (8-10 from the field, including 4-6 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the stripe).  He was unstoppable!  Shockingly, zero rebounds.  Dereck (D-Live) Lively II was 5-6 from the field, including 1-1 from behind the arc, plus 2-3 from the foul line for 13 points.  D-Live blocked 2 shots and grabbed 4 boards.  

Mark Mitchell scored 12 points (4-8 from the field, including 0-3 from deep, plus 4-4 from the foul line).  Mark garnered 5 rebounds, handed out an assist, and made a steal. Proctor scored 11 points (4-6, including 3-5 from behind the arc) to go with his 10 assists, 3 boards, and 2 steals.  

The Captain scored 9 points (he only scores when Duke needs him to, and the Blue Devils did not need his scoring against Pitt) on 3-5 from the field, including 1-2 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe.  He handed out 6 assists.  Whitehead and Grandison each scored 8 points off the bench.  It was easily Duke’s best offensive performance of the year  

Coach Scheyer was gleeful and proud of his offense, which he said is finally catching up to Duke’s defense.  Duke has been enjoying a terrific defensive season.  That continued against the Panthers.

The Defense

Even though Duke’s defense has been its calling card, and been very effective during the season, the Blue Devils are morphing into one of the best defensive teams around.  In the post game interview, Scheyer had 2 Duke players with him.  They are the two (mostly unheralded) players whose improvement is dramatic and has contributed to the team’s growth.  Ty Proctor and Mark Mitchell have ramped up their defensive intensity, which has made the Blue Devils a team flying under the radar.

Pitt was not able to generate any consistent offense. Pitt shot only 22-52, including 5-18 from deep.  Duke held Pitt scoreless from the field for the first 5 minutes of the game (to lead 12-0).  Duke led by as many as 18, finishing the half with a 16 point lead 48-32.  Then Duke held Pitt scoreless for another 4 minutes to begin the second half on another 12-0 run.  62-34 with 16 minutes left in the game.  Duke’s largest lead was 36 when Scheyer put the bench into the game with 6:10 left in the game. 

THE SEMI-FINALS  – Duke 85 v Miami 78 (Friday, March 10)

If the quarterfinals against Pittsburgh was Duke’s best game of the year, the Blue Devils’ win over Miami was Duke’s best victory of the year.  Admiration was mandatory for the Miami offense, and the individual Hurricane players’ ability to score against genuinely formidable defense.  Miami scored 42 second-half points, shooting 11-17 from inside the arc.  Duke kept the Hurricanes at bay behind the arc (3-14 in the second half), which won the game for Duke.  

Duke scored 41 points in the first half (and 44 in the closing stanza). They simply outscored Miami.  The game see-sawed in the first half with 7 ties and 12 lead changes.  After Dariq Whitehead made the first of his 3 foul shots, the game was tied at 34 with 2 minutes left in the first half.  Duke took the lead and never relinquished it after Dariq connected on his next two, for a 36-34 Duke lead.   Duke led 41-36 at half time.

While Miami clawed at the Duke defense to stay within striking distance – the Hurricanes were within a point — 66-65 with 5:15 left in the game – the Blue Devil offense was amazing at “winning time”.  Isaiah Wong, Miami’s star guard and ACC Player of the Year this year, picked up a crucial 4th foul with 5:12 left in the game when he fouled Dariq on another 3-point attempt.  Whitehead made all 3 (Duke 69 v. Miami 65).

Flip fouled, and Miami cashed both shots.  Duke by 69-67 with 4:57 remaining.  Flip scored on a floater; Miami missed.  Mark Mitchell was fouled and made both shots (Duke leads 73-67  with  4:12 left).  Miami scored on a dunk. (73-69 with 3:54 left in the game).  

Miami created a ‘jump ball’ by tying up Roach (Duke ball on the alternate possession), but then the Captain missed a shot on that possession.  Flip scored on an offensive rebound.  Duke led 75-69 with 3:05 left.  Wong assisted on a Miami jump shot followed by Miami blocking a Jeremy layup. 

Duke by 75-71 with 2 minutes to go when THE CAPTAIN won the game by launching a well-defended 3-pointer with the shot clock running down.  Swish.  Duke by 7, 78-71 with only 1:58 in the game.  Duke maintained that 7 point  lead to the ending, with free throws by Mark, Jeremy and Dariq, for the best Blue Devil win of the year!

The Good

The Offense

Despite Miami’s intense defense that has earned a reputation for creating turnovers (created 8 Duke turnovers in the first half) and getting deflections, the Blue Devil offense never wavered.  Miami forced 22 Blue Devil turnovers when they last met in Coral Gables, but was able to force only 4 second- half Duke turnovers, a revealing statistic. Huge credit to Ty and the Captain.

Five Duke players scored in double figures.  In 31:20, Flip notched his 15th double-double of the season (17 points on 8-9 from the field plus 1-2 from the stripe, plus 11 boards). Dariq Whitehead was the explosive 6th man, scoring 16 points – 4-8 from the field, including 2-3 from 3land and a crucial 6-6 from the stripe — in 18:35. He was a star!  So was Tyrese (37 minutes), who scored 15 points on an efficient 8 shots (5-8, including 3-5 from behind the arc and 2-2 from the foul line) to go with 5 assists, 3 boards, and a steal, with only 2 turnovers against a passionate Miami defense.  The Captain also played 37 minutes, scoring 13 points (3-9 including 1-3 from deep and a crucial 6-7 from the stripe.  Let us not overlook Mark Mitchell, whose improvement is both under the radar and dramatic.  Mark, in 34 minutes scored 14 points (4-9, including 1-2 from deep and 5-8 from the foul line) to go with 5 rebounds and a steal.

D-Live was the only player in the 6-man rotation who did not score in double figures.  In 34 minutes, he scored 8 points on 4-5 shooting, but he blocked 3 shots, handed out 3 assists and corralled 6 boards.  His value may be harder to measure, but is undeniably immense.   Now D-Live is looking comfortable on offense.

The bench was almost non-existent — Grandison played 3:21 in the first half without scoring, while Ryan Young played just 5 minutes and sunk 2 foul shots and grabbed 3 boards.  


The Defense 

It is hard to praise a defense that gave up 78 points in the game, including 42 in the hard-fought closing half.  Yet, Duke played intense, cohesive defense.  Jay Bilas, the excellent Duke alum color analyst, said several times, “that was excellent defense; it was just better offense.”  Miami is really good, and far better than the so-called “bracketologists” who predict a low NCAA seed.   The Hurricanes will not get a high seed, but might well win some gaudy victories in The Big Dance.


Both D-Live and Flip finished the game with 4 fouls.  The good news is that neither fouled out.

The Captain stretches to reach for his Championship.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

THE FINALS – Duke 59 v. UVA 49  (Saturday March 11)

The Blue Devils defended the Cavaliers in breathtaking fashion, holding Virginia to just 17 first-half points (6-22 from the field, including 1-7 from deep and 4-8 from the foul line).  Duke had 6 steals (forced 7 turnovers) while Dereck (D-Live) Lively II blocked 2 shots and altered many others at the rim.  The usually unflappable Cavaliers were in complete offensive disarray.  Duke led 24-17 at half time.

Duke led by as many as 14 points, and as few as 4 during the second half, but always had a lead of at least 2 possessions (4 points or more) and frequently  10 points.  Virginia pulled within 7 points (45-38 with 5:30 left in the game) before The Captain took over the game with 4:52 left.  Jeremy scored 11 of Duke’s last 14 points – in under 5 minutes! – to preserve the Duke lead.  Flip was fouled twice within a few seconds.  Both were 1-and-1s.Flip swished only one of a possible 4 points..   UVA again got as close as 4 points (49-43) with 40 seconds left, but never closer.  Mitchell made 2 free throws with 22 seconds left for the final 59-49 margin.

Jeremy scored 19 of his 23 game points in the second half, while Flip scored 9 of his 20 in the closing period.  Thus the Captain and Flip scored 28 of Duke’s 35 second half points! (Tyrese (Ty) Proctor scored 5 and Mark Mitchell was 2-2 from the foul line.  Jeremy Roach played one of the very best halves of his career to help win this championship.

The Offense

Flip recorded his 16th double-double of the season with 20 points (8-17 from the field, including 1-5 from behind the arc plus 3-5 from the stripe) to go with 10 rebounds and three steals.   He finished the tournament with 59 points across 3 games (avg 19.7 per game) and 21 rebounds (avg 7.0) and sinking 24-of–36 (avg shooting  66.7%) from the field.  For that amazing 3 game performance, Flip was named the winner of the Everett Case ACC Tournament MVP trophy, becoming the seventh freshman ever to win. It was the 21st time a Duke player has won that award (no other team has come close).  Remarkably for his height, Flip has led Duke in steals 6 times during the year, each time with 3 steals or more.

Flip made a couple of  spectacular plays midway in the second half, when UVA cut the Duke lead to 6 (38-32). He threw a cross court pass over top of a Virginia player from corner to corner, to Procter, who swished a wide open three, to restore a 9-point lead.  Flip followed up immediately by stealing the pass on Virginia’s very next possession and then racing full court for a dunk. Duke’s lead was back to 11 with 7:33 left in the game.

Jeremy (The Captain) Roach scored a career high 23 points – 19 points in the second half – on 7-of-12 shooting for the game, including 2-2 from deep, plus 7-of-7 at the free throw line. His 19 second-half points were the most by any Duke player in a second half this season.  Scheyer was appreciative and admiring, “He just willed us; he just absolutely willed us.”

Jeremy and Flip combined for 43 of Duke’s 59 points. Both made the sportswriter’s All-tournament “first team” (along with Isaiah Wong of Miami; Jayden Gardner of UVA; and Terquavion Smith of NC State).  D-Live was selected to the “second team” along with Jordan Miller of Miami, Arman Franklin and Reece Beekman of Virginia and R.J. Davis of UNC.

The Defense

Virginia entered the game, averaging 68.4 points per game for the season.  Duke has now held 30 of 34 opponents to below their season scoring average.  The 49 points Virginia did score were Duke’s fewest allowed in an ACC Tournament game since a 57-46 win over Virginia in the 2010 quarterfinals.  Duke allowed 17 points in the first half, the fewest allowed in any half, against any team this season. Duke held Virginia to 27.3% shooting in the first half, matching Duke’s best first-half field goal defense against any team this season.  

The Blue Devil’s awesome intensity on defense impressed the announcers and color commentators. They all kept commenting that this Duke team was NOT the same team as even 6 weeks ago, while also noting that the injuries which had plagued various Duke players throughout the season had delayed development.  Duke is finally healthy, and is now perceived differently than the Blue Devils were before such a dominating performance in the ACC tournament.  The Blue Devils have only lost once with a completely healthy roster.

Proctor and D-Live doin’ the dance of joy while the chorus gets ready to join.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com


It feels so right that Duke played UVA for the ACC Tournament crown after the referees botched the final call when UVA beat Duke in overtime in Charlottesville, February 11th.  So, it was poetic justice for Duke to play a terrific game to defeat UVA for the ACC tournament win!  

These last 9 games have been Scheyer’s time to shine.  He has built the backcourt, making Ty the primary ball handler with The Captain and Flip as the leading scorers.  He resurrected D-Live’s game and Duke’s interior defense.  

The 2023 ACC Tournament Champions are the Duke Blue Devils.  Duke was so dominant that for the entire tournament, they trailed for only 4:32 (against Miami in the early going).  Neither Pittsburgh nor Virginia ever had the lead in their games against Duke. 

The NCAA tournament awaits, and Duke, the 5th seed in the East Region, is at their pinnacle of confidence at this point in the season.

Next Play: is the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Thursday, March 16,2023 Duke plays Oral Roberts (30-4; 18-0 Summit League Champions, who are on a 17 game win streak) in Orlando, FL at 7:10 p.m. CBS. 

If Duke  wins that game the Blue Devils will play against the winner of Tennessee (4th seed) against Louisiana on Saturday, March 18.

The DBP will publish only one NCAA Tournament edition for each weekend that Duke plays (as Coach K thought of it, the tournament consists of  3 weekends of 4-team tournaments).  Duke will play until they lose – or win the NCAA national championship!

NCAA Tourneament Edition DBP (Season 14; Issue 31; Games 35 and 36) Alan Silber’s “Alanalysis” and Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes” (March 16, 2023 and March 18, 2023)

Final DBP for 2022-2023 Season

  • Duke Blue Devils 74 v. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles 51 (opening round)
  • Duke Blue Devils 52 v. Tennessee Volunteers 65 (second round)
No one will ever question Flip’s courage or competitiveness after he took Tennessee’s punishment and was not intimidated.
Photo Credit: Morgan Chu | The Duke Chronicle

NCAA First RoundTournament Edition

Alanalysis for Oral Roberts was written after the Duke win, but before the next game. “Next Play” encompasses the NCAA draw and schedule.  Cliffnotes is a Bill summary of this tournament and the season.

Bill’s CliffsNotes:

My son called me yesterday to say that he turned on the Duke-Tennessee basketball game and a street mugging broke out. It did in the first few minutes when a couple of Rocky Top thugs led by 24-year-old center Uros Plavsic beat up Filipowski by knocking him down and throwing elbows, putting a deep cut under his left eye. Proctor was knocked over by a ball swung at his face. Both got back in the game, undeterred in the face of attempted intimidation, but it was more than that.  It set the tone for officiating and made the game the Duke boys against the Tennessee men, who, in truth, ultimately had a basketball answer for every Blue Devil run. It’s a shame. The eastern brackets had more or less opened up because #1 seed Purdue was upset by #15 Fairleigh Dickinson Friday night as Duke wired Oral Roberts with no trouble.  

Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes previously coached at Clemson in the ACC where he won less than 50% of his conference games and is best known for his feistiness by taking a swing at North Carolina Coach Dean Smith and teaching his players all-round aggressiveness and physicality.  I would rather be beaten by North Carolina, who plays the right way, than a Rick Barnes team.  I prefer basketball played as a non-contact sport, a ballet of grace and style rather than an ugly “mud wrestling contest”. Tennessee played better this day, won most every metric, and deserved to win.  

Whatever, Duke made an impressive run to finish the season by winning ten games in a row and the ACC Championship before ultimately running into a mature Tennessee team who played their best game of the year and simply manhandled the freshmen laden Devils . The good news is that it might give some of the young Blue Devils second thoughts about whether they are ready for the NBA as talented “One & Done” boys.

The Captain had a season to be truly proud of.  Ty looks on in awe at the left.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Duke 74 v. Oral Roberts 51 in the First Round

The Blue Devils announced from the opening tip-off that there would be no overconfidence leading to the type of upset that befell # 1 seeded Purdue (lost to #16 seed Fairleigh Dickenson).  Duke’s defense was as good as it has been all season to start the game.  Oral Roberts did not score for the opening 4+ minutes, while the Blue Devils opened an 11-0 lead.  In fact, the Golden Eagles first points came with 8:04 remaining in the first half.  Duke 15 – Oral Roberts 2.  With only 1:06 left in the first half, the Blue Devils led by 20 (38-18).

The complexion of the game did not change in the second half.  Duke scored the first 8 points of the second half to take a 25-point lead (48-23) in the first 3:45 of the second half.  The Golden Eagles did fight back, and reduced the lead to as low as 14, but the Blue Devils closed the game out efficiently, leading by 25 with 2:47 left in the game.  

Scheyer then emptied the bench.

The Defense

What a defensive performance!  The Golden Eagles entered the tournament on a 17-game winning streak, averaging 84 points per game.  Duke held them to 51 points, 33 points below their average.

Max Abmas is the Oral Roberts star, who was averaging 22 points per game and had been the key player in the Golden Eagle’s run to the Sweet 16 two years ago.   Duke completely closed him down.  Tyrese (Ty) Proctor has been the defensive ace of the back court.  He hounded Abmas, but picked up 2 early fouls.  Mark Mitchell then hounded Abmas (4-15, including 2-9 from deep).  Abmas only attempted (and made) a pair of free throws. 

Duke controlled the interior.  Dereck (D-Live) blocked 6 shots and grabbed 12 boards in a dominating performance.  Kyle (Flip) Filipowski contributed 9 rebounds and 4 steals. Captain Jeremy Roach, Super Sixth Man Dariq Whitehead, and Proctor each made a steal.  Duke won the rebounding battle by a wide margin (46-32)

The announcers fell all over themselves as if just discovering how good this defense really is.

Mark Mitchell had a stellar season.  Duke really missed him against Tennessee.  Will he return for his sophomore year?
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

The Offense

Jeremy Roach led the Blue Devil offense, scoring 23 points for the second straight game.  The Captain was 9-17 from the field, including 1-5 from deep, plus 4-4 from the line in his 36:33 of playing time.  Remove his deep shooting and Jeremy was 8-12 from inside the arc as he drove to the basket on a variety of deft layups and floaters.

Dariq was Duke’s only other double figure scorer.  Whitehead scored an efficient 12 points on only 7 shots (5-7, including a gaudy 3-3 from deep). Mark Mitchell scored 8 (4-11, including 0-2 from behind the arc), while Ty scored 7 (all in the second half) on 3-11 from the field, including 1-3 from deep.  Flip scored only 6 (2-7), while D-Live contributed 4 points (2-3).  But Duke was so dynamic that their scoring was not needed.   

Duke’s two freshmen 7-footers protecting the Duke rim, part of what made Duke’s defense so good all year.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com
Duke 52 – Tennessee 65 in the Second Round 

A tale of two very different halves, with the same Tennessee success in each (27-21 in the first half; and 38-31 in the second half).  

First Half

In the first half, Duke led 21-18 with 4:51 left ….. and did not score in that half again.  The Volunteers hit a jump shot; Dariq Whitehead missed a 3-point attempt; Tennessee converted an offensive rebound to take a 22-21 lead with 3:48 left.  Each team missed its next 3 shots before Dereck (D-Live) Lively II committed an offensive foul.  Still 22-21 with 1:21 left in the half, when the Vols finally hit a 3 to make it 25-21. Then, the teams traded turnovers before the Vols grabbed yet another offensive rebound and hit another 3-pointer, as the first half expired.  27-21.  What a desultory way to wrap up the half.

While each team committed 8 fouls, Duke’s fouling was especially costly as the half wore on. Tennessee put Duke in the bonus early (committing its 6th foul with 9:46 to go in the half).  Duke did not commit its 3rd foul until there was only 7:07 left in the half. However, in those last 7 minutes, Duke fouled 5 more times, including 3 committed by Captain Jeremy Roach.  With 1:38 left in the half, D-Live picked up his second foul.  Ouch!

Not only did Lively IInot even attempt a single shot, but Ryan Young, who replaced D-Live for 3:57 in the first half (Ryan  didn’t play in the second half), also failed to score a point. or even take a shot.  

Duke’s main first half offensive woe was turnovers.  11 of Duke’s 15 game-turnovers came in the first half, Roach committing 4, Ty 2, and Kyle (Flip) Filipowski 2.  Much of the turnover problem was caused by the vaunted Volunteer defense, but many by Blue Devil carelessness.  21 points was Duke’s lowest single half scoring of the season: Proctor was 1-3 for 2 points; Roach hit a pair of 3s for 6 points, while Flip was 2-8 including 0-2 from deep and 1-2 from the stripe for 5 points.  The Blue Devils were 8-22.  Only Roach’s 2-2 from deep and Dariq’s 2-5 from behind the arc (12 of Duke’s 21 points) kept the Blue Devils in the game.

Ty in maximum effort with a touch of desperation as he scored 14 second half points against Tennessee.  
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com

Second Half

Mark Mitchell was injured but was not officially ruled out of the game until just before tip-off.  His absence caught up with Duke in the second half when the Blue Devils ran out of gas.  Dariq Whitehead has been a force off the bench during the winning streak, but never played more than 23 minutes in any game.  He scored 8 points in the first 11:35 of the first half.  He played over 16 minutes in each half, but never scored in the game again after those first 11 minutes.  He simply was not in good enough physical condition to play that many minutes..  In his 16:21 second-half minutes, Dariq did not attempt any shot, from the field, from deep or from the stripe.   D-Live played all 20 minutes in the second half without scoring – without attempting a shot from the field or a foul shot. 

That’s 36 minutes of Lively II and Whitehead, the # 1 and #2 rated high school players last year, without a single shot attempt!  

Each team was 13-27 from the field.  For the Volunteers, that included 6-11 from deep, while the Blue Devils shot only 2-11 from deep.  That 12-point difference in 3s is the Tennessee margin of victory.  Only three Blue Devils scored in the second half: Proctor was heroic, scoring 14 second-half points (5-10 from the field, but only 1-4 from deep, plus 3-3 from the stripe); Flip was 4-8, including 0-3 from deep without a free throw attempt; and the Captain scored 7 (3-8 from the field, including 1-4 from behind the arc without a free throw attempt).  The only bench support was Grandison’s 7:38, in which he scored 2 points.  

Olivier Nkamhoua scored 8 points in Tennessee’s 3-point win over the Ragin’ Cajuns from Louisiana (13th seed) last Thursday.  He scored 23 against Duke in the second half alone (8-10 from the field including 3-4 from deep plus 4-5 from the stripe).  Every time Duke scored to bring the lead down (on different occasions to 2; 4; and twice 5 – the last time with 5:04 left in the game), the Blue Devils could not get a stop. Olivier was a one-man wrecking crew.  Duke went to a zone defense when Roach picked up his fourth foul after only 5 minutes of the second half had been played. Nkamhoua was shooting uncontested shots.  By then, Duke was no longer the excellent defensive team it had been all year.  The Devils looked exhausted.

Jacob Grandison with Scheyer – The Brotherhood remains strong and in good, albeit new, hands.
Photo Credit: GoDuke.com


The Game

For all 36 of his game-minutes, D-Live did not attempt a shot or score a point!!  For his last 20 minutes of game action, neither did Dariq.  The scoring malaise for D-Live for the entire game and Dariq for the latter part of the first half and the entire second half was a shocking negative from which the Blue Devils could not recover.

Duke was 16-1 when all the players in the rotation were healthy and only 11-8 when key players were missing. Mark Mitchell, who is one of Duke’s best defenders and rebounders was scratched from the game because of a late injury.  The lack of depth that Mitchell’s injury caused was a real blow for the team.  It was like that for several of Duke’s vanquished opponents — UVA when they lost a starter for the season, and Miami when their star Big was injured in the first minute against Duke.  It is why talented depth is so important.  

Tennessee played its best game of the season and completely earned its Sweet 16 berth.  

The Season

The 2022-23 Duke Blue Devils hung a banner in Cameron by winning the ACC tournament.   That crown and the way Duke fought back from 8-6 in the conference to 14-6 to earn a double bye in the ACC tournament were not less than crowning achievements.

Jon Scheyer, first year head coach, developed a team that closed the season with a 10-game winning streak and went 16-0 in home games.  Not bad!  His most impressive accomplishment in doing that was the development of the backcourt – moving Ty to the point, allowing the Captain to play mostly off the ball as a scorer.  Scheyer also nurtured D-Live into a game-changing defensive force.

The disappointing second round loss was especially disheartening because of expectations and hopes – especially after FDU eliminated the # 1 seed in the Eastern Region (where Duke was placed).

For Bill and me and our superb editorial staff [Alan’s daughter and her mum], it was an exhilarating season with much drama. The drama began with preseason injuries to Dariq and D-Live, and heightened with  Jeremy’s toe injury.   The health problems delayed the development of this team, subjected Scheyer to Monday morning quarterbacking, and left the Blue Devils with an 8-6 conference record and almost no chance at the ACC title.  Then came the exhilaration of their 10 game winning streak, which included the 3 wins to become ACC tournament champions.   

Questions for Next Season

The most important one is: “will there be a DBP next season?” 

While almost every Duke player would improve, and improve their opportunities for future professional play, by returning to Duke (except Flip, who is likely ready for the NBA), experience teaches that most, if not all, will leave.  I wonder if Trevor Keels wishes he had returned for his sophomore year at Duke.  He played only in the G League until March.  He has so far scored 2 NBA points this season. He could not be buried any deeper on the Knick bench.

Big decisions to come from D-Live, Dariq, Jeremy, Proctor, and Mitchell.

See you next year??

Duke Basketball Playbook 2020-2021

Season 12 Issue 2 -Preseason edition


It is understandably strange to be writing my first DBP without Bill leading off, followed by my “Alan Adds”.  I never sent Bill my first draft without having read a draft of what his piece focused on.  In our partnership, my job was digging deeper into the statistics and to analyze and speculate on what they might mean.  But in the current new circumstance, “Alan Adds” is being retired until and unless there is something worthwhile adding to.  For now: Alanalysis.

My millennial daughter has made changes to the way you will receive the 2020-2021 DBP– they will come to you through GoogleGroups (please add Duke-Basketb…@googlegroups.com to your contacts so your spam filter doesn’t flag it).  Let me know if that causes any problems and bear with us as we iron out any bugs.

Early Schedule – Not Wednesday, November 25 vs Gardner-Webb at 8 pm because Duke’s opener against Gardner-Webb has been postponed due to a Covid breakout at Gardner-Webb. The player involved is fortunately asymptomatic. G-W’s Covid protocols now kick in as the university tries to contact trace and to contain the outbreak. There is no word yet on rescheduling the game and no guarantee it will be although both schools would like to. So as of now, the opening game for Duke shifts to Saturday, November 28, against Coppin State at 2 pm in Cameron Indoor followed by the season’s first “big game”: Tuesday, December 1, State Farm Classic vs. Michigan State at 7:30 pm.  

Getting to Know Our 2020-2021 Blue Devils 

We have much less information about our newcomers because the pandemic closed down tournaments and high school all-star games where we usually were able to watch them.  Much of what follows comes from what others have observed from our freshmen in high school, and from an 8-minute video of the first pre-season scrimmage.  I have put the uniform numbers in bold for TV watching.  Of course, we know even less about the other ACC teams.  The season has great potential for success and also failure.  In other words, a real toss up.

Only four players (mostly reserves, but all starters at one time or another) return: senior Jordan Goldwire (14), junior Joey Baker (13), and sophomores Matt Hurt (21) and Wendell Moore (0).  Both Moore and Hurt will start.  Moore was Pre-Season 2nd All ACC team and got 7 votes for predicted ACC Player of the Year.  Hurt, who has put on 20 pounds and appears much stronger than last year, got 3 votes.  JGold will be as important as any player next year.  Even Seth Greenberg figured that out, in an ACC network preview show.  JGold’s offense is apparently blossoming.  He led the White team in the Blue-White scrimmage with 17 points and 7 assists.  His blossoming into such a valuable player is why we all loved to watch four-year players develop; and why we are disappointed in the one-and-done era (part of what has disillusioned Bill). Baker has been stunningly good at some moments and stunningly sub-par at others.  In the scrimmage, he was deadly from the perimeter, looking very good.  Whether he will develop into a major contributor is yet unknown.

Duke has seven new players for next year – 6 freshman and a graduate transfer.  For the first time in quite a few years, Duke did not sign a recruit rated in the top 10 (although Jalen Johnson, was top 5 after his junior year in high school).  While there is no sure fire “one-and-done” player, there are 4 five-star recruits and 2 four-star players, according to ESPN’s recruiting analysis.  

The Five-Star recruits are:

 (1) Jalen Johnson 6’9” forward from Wisconsin

Even if not rated in the top 10 nationally, the ACC writers voted Jalen to Pre-Season First Team All ACC and runner up for Freshman of the Year (got 60 votes; lost by 4).  Jalen, who was the star of the scrimmage, is a tall, strong-bodied, versatile forward. He is equally able when taking direct control of the ball and in assessing the court-wide picture and making the right pass.  Jalen scored 25 points, plus 9 rebounds and 5 assists. He is not a point guard but plays like it at times.  If Duke’s front court starters are Jalen and Matt Hurt (as seems probable), his defensive rebounding and rim protecting abilities will have to be adequate or better.  

Jalen is one of the top prospects in his class and reputedly has a great combination of size and skill that you don’t see very often. He is an all-around player who you could see having triple doubles down the road with his ability to score, rebound, and pass. 

 (3) Jeremy Roach 6’1” point guard from Virginia.  Third rated point guard in the class.

Roach, who received 3 votes for ACC Preseason Freshman of the Year (the winner got 64), is a playmaking point guard with a wealth of tools at his disposal.  He is the one freshman I did watch last year and was impressed by his court presence and leadership.  He has been projected as the other freshman starter, but he has not been handed the ball the way Coach K has done with other top-rated freshman point guards in the past.   Reports from practice have praised his improved perimeter shooting.   He has been adept at creating offense for himself and others when the ball is in his hand and he also has shown a pretty good acumen for the defensive end of the floor where coaches say he communicates and rotates well.

(2) D.J. Stewart 6’2” shooting guard from Chicago.

D.J. is intriguing.  He received 4 votes for Pre-Season ACC Freshman of the Year and has been placed on the Wooden Watch List.  He has dazzling moves around the basket as a finisher.  He has an obvious sizzle.  In the scrimmage he and JGold were terrific together.  D.J. scored 16, with 6 rebounds (at 6’2”) and 5 assists.  He could be integral and a star, but his defense may decide how much he plays.  Note how small the backcourt seems to be.

 (5) Jaemym Brakefield 6’8” power forward from Mississippi.

Jaemyn is big, strong, skilled, and has earned being called a slasher.  The lefty has been described as a solid, though inconsistent, shooter with range to 17 feet. He scores in transition and with his face up game in the half court. By reputation he is an above average rebounder and can be effective defensively when he is active and engaged.

He can apparently do a little of everything on the floor. It has been said of him, “Once all of the pieces come together, he should be one of the best players in his class.”

 The Four-Star Recruits are:

 (15) Mark Williams 7’0” center from Virginia.  

Mark’s sister, Elizabeth, starred on the Duke women’s team for four years and has been a WNBA stalwart.  We hope Mark is for the Men’s team what Elizabeth was when she was a Blue Devil.  He may be a key, since he is the only freshman taller than 6’9” and all of the Duke bigs from 2020 have departed (White, Robinson, and DeLaurier graduated, while Carey was drafted in the NBA).  He has been a pleasant surprise in practice and looked very good in the scrimmage.  Of course, there is nobody with his length on the team as there will be on other ACC powerhouses.

 (34) Henry Coleman III 6’7” power forward from Virginia.

Although just 6’7”, Henry is a force on the interior with a big bruising body.  Coach K mentioned Justise Winslow and Matt Jones when describing the role he foresaw for Coleman.  He is reputed to be an excellent defender as well as rugged rebounder.  He has been a revelation in practice because of his strength.

 Graduate Transfer:

Patrick Tape 6’9” graduate transfer from Columbia U.

A 6-foot-9 Charlotte native, Tape averaged 11.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in the 2018-19 season before sitting out last season because of injuries, while finishing up his coursework at Columbia. Duke coaches have been enthusiastic about his defense and rebounding.  He is not expected to be an offensive force, though he was in the scrimmage. Tape must adjust to the superior level of competition he will face in the ACC.  He is an interesting question mark. 

This Season’s Prospects?

Who knows what to make of this mix?  Duke is picked second in the ACC behind Virginia, with Florida State and UNC making up the top 4.  Saturday night (11/20) on an ACC network show, three of the four hosts picked Duke for 4th (behind Virginia, Florida State, and UNC).  But so much is unknown that predictions seem at the very least unwise, if not as downright useless as presidential election polls.  This team has talent for sure, but a potential front court weakness (rim protection and rebounding as well as offense from the post).  As always, I believe the key will be how fast Duke can become a formidable defensive team.  

I look for Goldwire and Roach to start in the backcourt, along with Wendell Moore and Matt Hurt. Jalen Johnson comes in highly rated and will play (probably start).  Duke could become a pony team playing five out and relying on athleticism to defend (trapping and pressing). In the scrimmage the starters (Blue team) had Williams at center and JGold with the White team.  Duke needs Tape and Williams to be better than advertised.  Help could come from Coleman or Brakefield. In short, there is no way to even speculate at this point (beyond speculating whether there will actually be a season) about how the team will develop, and what its championship possibilities are.  

I believe we will all have fun watching.  It starts next Saturday.

Duke 81 Coppin State 71 (Season 12 Issue 2 Game 1)


Our first glimpse of the 2020-2021 Blue Devils was predictably checkered, but on balance disclosed more issues than bright spots.  It is difficult to assess the quality of the opposition that was Coppin State, which makes a revealing analysis difficult.  Coppin State is small, veteran, but finished only 7th last year in the MEAC Conference (10-20; 7-9).  Hardly an imposing opponent on paper; the game, however, was not played on paper, as the cliché goes.  There were moments when it seemed as if the ghost of Stephen F. Austin had circumvented security at Cameron.  

Duke used its tremendous size advantage to out-rebound Coppin State by 50 to 31.  Jalen Johnson looked All-World in the first half.  D.J. Steward truly dazzled above and beyond expectations.  Duke’s woes were with offensive continuity and defensive passivity, plus the rotation was shockingly short.

 Like Sergio Leone we will look at “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, but not necessarily in that order.

Critically Bad (Really Ugly)

Duke has a major point guard problem.  Coppin State had 12 steals! Duke turned the ball over 22 times – 13 of them in the second half, producing one of Coach K’s great post-game quotes, “If we don’t turn the ball over like we did today, we would be jumping up and down saying ‘wow’. But when you have 22 turnovers, you don’t want to jump because you might turn the ball over again, even though the game is over.”  It was that bad.

Goldwire was ineffective (a couple of nice assists early and then he fell apart) on both ends.  He picked up 2 first-half fouls with aggressive defense, but foul trouble and ineffectiveness limited his playing time to 24 minutes.  He committed more fouls (3) than points scored (2; 1-5 from the floor and 0-2 from deep).  He had 4 assists but 3 turnovers.  The real knock was when Duke’s lead began to crumble and leadership was needed to restore confidence and organization, JGold was clearly not up to the task.  Jeremy Roach had similar statistics (4 assists; 3 turnovers; 6 points (2-5; 1-3 from deep and a depressing 1-4 from the line) in 29 minutes; though his single 3 was crucial to restoring Duke’s lead.  

 Second Half Score: Coppin State 43 Duke 36.  Coppin State outplayed and outscored Duke in the second half.  Duke’s 17 point (45-28) first half lead dwindled to 6 after less than 8 minutes had gone by.  The lead see-sawed between comfortable (10 +) and the Stephen F. Austin ghost (Duke led by 6 with 8:33 left in the game).  Duke pushed the lead to 14 with only 3:40 left, giving Duke fans breathing room and comfort.  Breathlessness returned in a minute and 12 seconds when Duke’s lead had been cut in half.  Jalen Johnson, who is a wonderful passer, made a lazy pass when Duke was running clock, which was intercepted for an easy layup.  Roach missed a 3 and Coppin State converted a 3 before a clutch 3 by freshman star of the game, D.J. Steward, who put the game away 26 seconds later.

 Duke played lackadaisical defense, which failed to pressure Coppin State (Duke forced only 8 turnovers for the entire game), while producing a tsunami of fouls – 19 for the game.  Hurt and Moore each picked up their third before 4 minutes of the second half had gone by.  Each had his playing time limited by foul trouble: Hurt committed 4 fouls in 29 minutes, while Moore also had 4 in 26 minutes.  Both Goldwire and Roach each finished with 3 fouls.  In the second half, Duke failed to contest the Coppin State 3 point attack, yielding 7-16 from behind the arc. 

Duke was 4-10 from the free throw line.  Hurt 0-2; Roach 1-4.

The Good

Jalen Johnson’s first half, demonstrating charisma on the court (19 points and 19 rebounds in 35 minutes), and D.J. Steward’s energy, athleticism and leadership in 33 minutes (24 points; 10-18 from the field; 4-9 from 3land to go with 9 rebounds for the 6’2” guard) were The Good.    Johnson and Steward were the only Duke players to log over 30 minutes.  Noteworthy: Steward committed only a single foul and a single turnover against 2 assists, a steal, and a block.  He was a highlight by himself.  Johnson’s first half was crafted by the gods.  He did not miss a shot in the entire game (8-8 from the field; 1-1 from deep and 2-2 from the line).  In the first half, he scored 15 of his 19 and had 11 of his 19 rebounds to go with 2 blocks and an assist with only a single turnover in 17 first half minutes.  His second half was good, but more pedestrian (2-2 for 4 points with 8 boards and 2 blocks in 18 minutes) because he committed 6 second half turnovers. 

Mathew Hurt played well, but a bit inconsistently.  The 0-2 from the stripe was bad.  All Duke players were inconsistent on the defensive end.  Much defensive improvement – one might even say dramatic improvement – is a must on the defensive end if Duke is to be in contention for post-season honors.

The Rotation 

For a first game against a non-power team, the rotation was shockingly short.  Patrick Tape did not play.  Mark Williams and Henry Coleman each played only 1 minute in the first half.  Jaeman Brakefield played 3 minutes (1-2 from the foul line).  This left a rotation of only 7.  Coach K started his veterans – Goldwire, Moore, Baker, and Hurt + Jalen.  While Baker played 12 undistinguished minutes in the first half (2 points; 1-3 from the field, missing both open 3 point attempts, while corralling 4 boards), he was only on the floor for 3 second-half minutes (a missed 3 and a turnover).  Not a good start for Baker.  Coach K used basically 6 in the second half effort – D.J. 19 minutes, Jalen 18, Moore 17, Roach 16, Hurt 13 (foul trouble) and JGold 11.  D.J. was the star tallying 14 second half points.  Moore contributed 8.

Some Bad, But Not Ugly 

Wendell Moore had a checkered game.  He regressed into his last year’s problematic aggressiveness by driving into set defenses and fouling or turning it over.  He was not nearly as good as he was at the end of last year, but showed enough to make fans hopeful that he would reach some of his awesome potential soon.  Matt Hurt was inconsistent.  He and Baker were badly beaten on defense several times.  He was good and aggressive, but not efficient.   Improved play from each will be required if Duke is to morph into a contender.

Johnson dominated the interior on both ends.  But this was only Coppin State.  

Next Play: Michigan State

We will get a much better read on Tuesday (December 1) against Michigan State in Cameron.  The Spartans beat Notre Dame by 10 (same margin as Duke beat Coppin State by), but the games were totally different.  Michigan State simply blew Notre Dame right off the court.  With a little over 10 minutes to go in the game, Notre Dame trailed by 28 points, and The Spartans looked like the Los Angeles Lakers.  Tuesday will tell us more about the 2020-2021 Duke  team and the season.

Michigan State 76 Duke 69 (Season 12 Issue 3 Game 2) with Bill Miller as “guest” contributor


When this week’s AP writers’ poll came out with Duke ranked 6th and Michigan State 8th, I wondered which games the writers might have watched last Saturday. Based on what I saw, I thought Duke would be lucky to make a game of it. In fact, the Blue Devils almost did… but not quite. For the first five minutes, the young Duke team completely outfought and out-hustled the Spartans, looking smooth and athletic, while racing to a 13-3 lead. Duke never stopped hustling and fighting, but slowly sunk from being competitive to barely keeping it from being a rout. There was some good, there was some bad that will improve, but there was much that was ugly and troubling.

The Ugly

Duke has a serious point guard deficiency, though for the last 11 minutes of the game Goldwire came alive to shake off three halves of terrible basketball. Duke’s two point guards – Goldwire and Roach – played 24 collective first-half minutes without recording a point or an assist! Actually, the first point guard assist, and the first points from a point guard, came with 11:57 left in the game (from Roach to Goldwire for a 3). Then Goldwire morphed from astonishingly ineffectual to the senior leader Coach K had hoped for, scoring 10 in the last 11:57. His total is a bit inflated since his last 3 was at the game ending buzzer. Roach also hit a meaningless 3 — with 21 seconds left. Worse, Duke’s point guards finished with just 2 meaningful assists. Roach’s other one came with 11:51 left. Goldwire’s only assist came with 21 seconds left.

To compound the point guard deficiency, Duke received no scoring from the field from the rest of its backcourt. D.J. Steward, who scored 24 dazzling points against Coppin State, failed to score from the field in 29 minutes (0-7; 0-3 from deep) while Wendell Moore was even worse (o-9; 0-6 from deep) in 30 minutes. Moore had 2 assists, but 3 turnovers to go with 3 rebounds. D.J. had 2 assists, and only a single rebound (he had 9 against Coppin State) with a turnover. Add Joey Baker’s 0-3 (all from behind the arc) in his 12 minutes, before fouling out, and you have a disappointingly ineffectual backcourt.

The Good

Mathew Hurt! I thought Hurt was heroic, logging 36 minutes as Duke’s only effective big player, fighting on the boards with the bigger, stronger Spartans (13 rebounds), while scoring 21 points (6-14 from the field; 1-3 from 3land; but a gaudy 8-8 from the foul line). He defended, and simply played his heart out as Duke’s best player last night. His best game as a Blue Devil!

Jaemyn Brakefield unexpectedly had a breakout game, scoring 11 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, dishing out an assist, and zero turnovers, all in only 15 minutes. In six second-half minutes, he scored 5. This cameo should earn him more playing time, I predict.

Foul Shooting: Duke shot 80% — 34-30 (14-17 in the first half). Although awful from the field, Moore and D.J. were perfect from the line – 10-10 (Moore 4, Steward 6). Add Hurt’s 8-8 and you have 3 players who shot 100% on 18 attempts.

The defense: Duke was stout on defense. There can be no complaint about the Devil effort at the defensive end. Coordination will come slowly, but I thought the defense was a cause for some optimism. While Duke was narrowly out-rebounded 46-40 (offensive rebounds were virtually even), Duke did much better defending in the paint than I had anticipated. As Hurt tired (36 minutes without much help inside), the Spartans became more of an inside force (especially Julius Marble).

The Bad (but will get better)

Jalen Johnson. After an All-World first half against Coppin State, Johnson’s play has steadily descended to ordinary. His talent is obvious, but against Michigan State he was out of control. On offense, he forced the issue without success. He defended well sometimes, but other times seemed lost. Jay Bilas took Jalen to task when he lost watching the ball while guarding his man–a Spartan drove right past him for the layup! It was dramatic because Jalen’s back was completely turned away from the play. Foul trouble limited him to 7 first-half minutes (5 points on 2-5 from the field and 1-2 from the line with only a single rebound. He played 15 second-half minutes (without fouling), but was not an offensive force (6 points; 2-6 from the field, 0-2 from deep; 2-4 from the foul line with 3 boards.) Not the statistics of an NBA lottery pick. It was probably a good wake-up call after the unrealistic hype that Johnson’s magical first-half against Coppin State produced.

The Rotation
The big men on the roster are not getting playing time. Neither Patrick Tape nor Henry Coleman appeared in the game. Mark Williams played 4 first-half minutes, grabbing 3 rebounds, but missing his only shot as the first substitute off the bench for Jalen Johnson. Joey Baker fouled out in 12 minutes. Brakefield was scintillating in his 15 minutes. The playing time for the six, who were the heart of the rotation were: Hurt (36 min), Moore (30), Steward (29), Roach (26), Goldwire (26), and Johnson (22). I’m not sure what to make of the shortness of the rotation juxtaposed to the words about the need for a deep bench. I guess we will see. The absence of the bigs in the rotation is a surprising disappointment.

Next Play:

Friday night at 7 pm in Cameron against Bellarmine (I had to look it up)

The game, scheduled for Sunday at noon versus Elon in Cameron has just been Covid-Cancelled, so Duke is scrambling to adjust.


Note: Fortunately ( I think), shoulder surgery is not required, so I can still type. However, there are other non-physical impediments to my not making the commitment to contribute on a regular basis. So, from time to time, I will feel compelled to add some comments. If the editor is so inclined, he will include them with his coverage in Duke Basketball Playbook.

[editor’s note: the editor is obviously so inclined]

For about the first ten minutes, Duke played and looked like a talented contender. Then, the young team learned what Tom Izzo’s Michigan State teams are all about. Good, tough defense usually is the deciding factor, because it makes scoring so much easier as virtually all college players can run, jump, and score in the open court. Then, for the next thirty minutes, Duke played like a pick-up team that had never played together as there was point-guard-by-committee. Consequently, there was no rhythm to the offense as, sadly, there was no Tre or Ty Jones to make the offense flow and go. Running a half-court offense is the test of a mature, disciplined team– traits none of which the Blue Devils demonstrated tonight. Shooting 32% from the floor and 22% from three point land (of which two were garbage time prayers) plus 12 turnovers is not Duke Basketball. And for sure, Tom Rizzo’s Michigan State is not to be confused with Coppin State.

There is talent: Jalen Johnson, Matthew Hurt, DJ Steward, and Jaemyn Brakefield are skilled and have had their moments (but they are young). Disappointingly, Wendell Moore and Joey Baker looked no better than they did last year, in spite of heralded optimism from training camp. Neither senior Jordan Goldwire nor freshman Jeremy Roach has consistently demonstrated the kind of point guard skills we have been used to over Coach K’s forty some years.

Not having the Cameron Crazies (who are easily worth ten points) sure changes the feel, look, flow, and presentation of the game.

This might be a long year.

Other Comments:

  • I promised Johnny Tar Heel I would watch some of the Carolina-Stanford in the Maui Classic (temporarily being held a little east in Asheville, NC) to see if this year’s basketball team could outscore the football team (excluding the Notre Dame game). Unfortunately, Bill Walton was camping out with his dog near Asheville, so ESPN invited him to do the game. Going to Stanford Law School apparently made Bill think he was really, really, smart–a virtual Oracle of Delphi– and that everyone is interested in every thought he has ever had, some of which even included basketball. He just will not shut up until, to maintain sanity, muting the audio is the only solution to watching the game in peace.
  • Last week, our very own Alan Silber argued a case before the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Duke 76 Bellarmine 54 (Season 12 Issue 4 Game 3) with Bill Miller as “guest” contributor


Bellarmine may have been exactly the opponent that Duke needed to face after not being in the game for the entire second half in the loss to Michigan State, in spite of great effort. This year’s Blue Devils have demonstrated how much work needs to be done: 1) to make the offense cohesive; 2) the defense more united; and 3) to establish an efficient rotation. One could see Coach K begin. All 11 scholarship players played in one game in one game for the first time. Coach K mixed and matched combinations designed to give him information rather than to instantly create cohesion. Lots of good information to glean, some of which we catalogue here. Coach K played big lineups – Johnson (6’9”), Mark Williams (7’0”), and Matt Hurt (6’9”) started up front, with Goldwire (6’2”) and Moore (6’5”) in the backcourt. He played with pony lineups – one such combination had Brakefield (6’8”) as the sole big with Goldwire, Roach, D.J. Steward and Moore on the floor with him. The defense was consistently really good regardless of who was on the floor. Not perfect, but greatly improved and encouraging. However, Duke’s biggest conundrum needing to be fixed is Jalen Johnson. Coach K, rather brilliantly in my opinion, addressed that issue.

Jalen Johnson

Nothing worse could have happened to this heralded freshman than his “All-World” first-half against Coppin State. Media descriptions of Jalen’s inaugural college game trumpet his 19 points and 19 rebounds with his perfect shooting for the entire game, an “All-World” first game for a freshman. That analysis clouds an understanding of the problem: Johnson did not have an “All-World” first game; he had an “All-World” first half. The following four and a half periods were a descending nightmare for Johnson. In his 18 second-half minutes against Coppin State, Jalen managed only 1 shot from the field and 2-2 from the line for 4 second-half points in 18 minutes. Four points in 18 minutes does not an “All-World” game make. In my opinion, Coppin State put Jalen in a bad head space. Against Michigan State, Jalen felt enormous pressure to again be the Duke offense, as he was against Coppin State, and, as a result, forced every issue in an overly aggressive way. In basketball parlance, he did not let the game come to him. As a result, one could see Jalen’s overwhelming desire to bounce back against Bellarmine, which led to his same overly aggressiveness at the start of last night’s game.

Two minutes and 35 seconds after the opening tip, Johnson was yanked, having committed 2 fouls and 2 turnovers! Coach K sat him for the entire remainder of the first half. Moreover, Jalen wasn’t much better when he returned to the court at the start of the second half. He missed a 3 and committed a turnover (one rebound), resulting in his being returned to the bench after only 4 minutes and 19 seconds elapsed in the second half. Johnson remained on the bench for the next 6 minutes and 19 seconds, re-entering with less than 10 minutes remaining on the clock. Coach K is the Psychologist. Jalen was a new man upon re-entering the game. He grabbed a rebound, and then, on Bellarmine’s next possession, stole the ball to feed Steward, who hit Hurt for a layup (“hockey assist”). With only 8:47 left in the game, Jalen scored his first points, making a cut and receiving a good pass from JGold for the layup. Johnson was back.

In an explosive 2 minute and 53 second stretch, Jalen scored all of his 9 points (the last layup coming with 5:06 left and Duke leading by 23). Coach K took him out with just over 2 minutes to play after Jalen missed a 3, committed a foul and a turnover. Let’s keep that explosive 2:53 in Jalen’s head for confidence. I predict an excellent game for Jalen on Tuesday night against Illinois.

The Good

Matthew Hurt is a dramatically improved player on both ends of the court. Last night was one of those sparkling nights that good shooters sometimes enjoy–Matt shot 75% from the field for 24 points (9-12; 6-8 from behind the arc). His shooting percentage was high because he only took excellent shots. Bellarmine inexplicably left him open, and Matt made them really Hurt. Unlike last year, Matt more than holds his own on the boards and on defense; last night he had 6 defensive rebounds, a steal and a block. Duke becomes much better with a consistent star, and Matt looks like he will deliver. He is demonstrating that he deserved being named to the preseason Wooden Watch.

Mark Williams had a first half that makes us wonder why he isn’t playing more. Coach K started his long freshman for the first time, after he had been on the floor for only 8 combined minutes in the first two games. The gaudy Williams stat line from his 9 first-half minutes speaks for itself: 3 points (1-1 from the field and 1-1 from the line) to go with 5 rebounds and a couple of tap outs to give Duke an extra possession or two. 5 boards in 9 minutes is dominant. So too is 3 blocked shots in 7 minutes Add in his 2 assists and you’re on the road to an “All-World” half (if Williams had been on the court longer and continued that scintillating play). His second half wasn’t as spectacular, but he acquitted himself well: in 6 minutes, he was 1-1 from the field with 2 rebounds, a block and an assist. Total excellent statistics for the game: 5 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists in 15 minutes! What else does Mark have to do to earn playing time?

Jaemyn Brakefield not only shot well (4-4 from deep for 12 points, Duke’s second best scorer), but also played aggressively on defense and on the boards (6 boards; 3 on offense). Coach K said that when Brakefield first arrived he was dribbling too much: “When we started the season, there was a bit more dribbling and he’s not a kid who should dribble a lot. He didn’t function as well in it because he wasn’t going to his strengths. Even before we made some changes offensively, we told him his game will adapt to ours … not to change his game. His is more limited dribbles [sic], he’s a smart player and can space the court and he’s a good defender. He’s a tough kid. He’s easy to play with …”

Jordan Goldwire has had a rough start to a season where, as a senior, he is expected to provide leadership. His game started to return in the second half against Michigan State, and that uptick continued against Bellarmine. This good is less about the Bellarmine game itself and more about the visible trending to competence. In 32 minutes, JGold scored 7 (2-4 from the field; 1-2 from 3land; and 2-2 from the stripe) and added 6 assists, 4 boards and 3 steals. 5 of his 7 points came in the first half where he had only a single assist against two turnovers. He guided the team with more assurance in the second half with five assists and 0 turnovers.

The Ugly

If the backcourt wasn’t ugly, it was awfully close to it. The three other guards (besides JGold) were frustratingly ineffective. Wendell Moore logged 20 minutes, scoring only 2 points (1-7 from the field; 0-2 from deep; and 0-1 from the stripe), a single assist, and two turnovers. For a player named to the pre-season Wooden Watch List, he is underwhelming big time so far. D.J. Steward played 31 minutes, displaying lots of energy but leaving a virtual empty stat sheet. He scored only 4 points (2-7 from the field; 0-3 from behind the arc; and 0-1 from the line. His verve was obvious with 6 assists and 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block; but this energy also created his 4 turnovers. Jeremy Roach played only 15 mediocre minutes, disappointing considering how heralded a point guard he was in high school. He scored 4 (1-4 from the field; 0-3 from deep; 2-2 from the line) with 2 assists and 2 turnovers. Those 3 were a combined 4-18 from the field; 0-8 from deep and 2-4 from the foul line. That is truly ugly.

The Rotation

All 11 played; Patrick Tape (5 minutes) and Henry Coleman III (8 minutes) made their season’s debut. Joey Baker is playing his way out of the rotation. After 8 undistinguished first-half minutes, Joey was limited to 3 minutes in the second half. He made 1 three-pointer, but was otherwise invisible. Coleman is an amazing physical specimen who is graceful and can move. He had 2 clean steals, one he flushed; the other he blew the dunk rather spectacularly. He grabbed 2 boards and scored 4 in that cameo, demonstrating potential.

Goldwire (32 minutes) and D.J. Steward (31 minutes) were the stalwarts on the perimeter. Moore’s 20 minutes (split between backcourt and wing) together with Roach’s 15 minutes comprised the backcourt that will be truly tested against Illinois.

The frontcourt was anchored by Hurt’s 32 minutes, with others providing front court support: Johnson (15 minutes); Williams (15 minutes); and Brakefield (15 minutes). They each played well, but the question is whether it will be enough to stand up to the powerhouse teams.

Next Play: Illinois in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday, December 8 at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN. This game seems like an early season cross-roads game. Bellarmine is not a good enough opponent for an accurate judgment on Duke’s progress. Illinois (3-1; loss was to #2 Baylor) will be.


One of the most interesting aspects of Duke Basketball is observing how Coach K constructs each year’s team. Unlike the last few years of the one-and-done era, there is no future lottery pick –maybe not even a first round pick–around which he can construct a team capable of contending for a national championship. That is not to say there isn’t talent, just that this team is a “work in progress.” Initially, it looked as if there were too many similarly skilled/sized players competing for the same positions, but no outstanding point guard or big dominant center.

Then, holy Minute Bol, seven foot Mark Williams, brother of Duke great Elizabeth Williams, was jumping center at tip-off tonight. Not only that, the guy is no stiff: He is athletic, he can play, and is savvy, corralling rebounds and/or tipping them to open shooters. He certainly looked like more than a “project” tonight and gives the Blue Devils a much needed front line size option.

Matthew Hurt again was the most consistent player as he showed off his Larry Bird three point shooting skills. Unfortunately, some of Larry’s other skills– like having eyes in the back of his head—are missing, but then why complain, Hurt is not alone. There is only one Larry Legend.

I like playmakers and since, as much as I admire the progress of Jordan Goldwire he does have his limitations, and Jeremy Roach has not shown the skills for Division One prime time, this team needs multiple playmakers. Therefore, choosing among the talented but recently chagrined Jalen Johnson; exciting, multi-skilled DJ Stewart; sweet stroking Jaemyn Brakefield (three time Gatorade POY in West Virginia); and 6’9” 233 lb. stud grad student Patrick Tape; plus struggling sophomore Wendell Moore, who has mastered dribbling full speed into traffic and/or off his foot; and Junior Joey Baker, whose jump shot is somewhere still on vacation, is not a fool’s errand.

Bottom Line: Stay tuned. This may be fun!

Other Comments:

Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics, died in Los Angeles at 86. He was among the world’s greatest athletes. From 1955 through his Olympic triumph in 1960, he won a national decathlon championship in 1956 and a silver medal at the Melbourne Olympics that same year. In addition, he was also an admirable competitor and person. The deeply religious Johnson was always a vocal advocate for fair play and good sportsmanship. He eschewed drugs and alcohol and, in track races, refused even to try to anticipate the starter’s gun, believing that it was a form of cheating. Among other notable details:

  • Followed his hero Jackie Robinson to UCLA, where he also played basketball for the legendary John Wooden and was elected student body president.
  • His decathlon battle with C.K. Yang — his training partner at UCLA — ranks among the classic moments of Olympics history.
  • He, along with Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier and George Plimpton, subdued Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy’s assassin. However, it was Johnson who twisted Sirhan’s fingers to get and secure the shooter’s gun.
  • His younger brother Jimmy Johnson was a first round selection for the San Francisco 49ers, was named as a first-string cornerback on the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, and in 1994 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • Rafer was selected to carry the U.S. flag at the 1960 Olympics and lit the torch at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to open the 1984 Games.

Illinois 83 Duke 68 (Season 12 Issue 5 Game 4) with Bill Miller as “guest” contributor


I had an omen before tip-off last night because  I watched an early game where Coppin State played Georgetown (Duke had beaten Coppin last week  by 10, even though the Devils were outscored by 7 in the second half).  The Hoyas beat Coppin State 80-48.  Georgetown is not a ranked power house, but they toyed with Coppin State, while Duke had to fight to the end.had to fight to the end..  Coach K admitted the obvious in last night’s post-game interview, “We got beat by a team that is better than we are, and older, more mature. They kind of imposed their will on us. We are not as good as they are.” Duke played hard; no complaint concerning effort against Illinois is valid. In spite of sustained hard work and spurts of excellent defense (marred by some inconsistency), Duke was blown out and never really in the game.  The Illini raced to a 14-2 lead with less than 5 minutes having elapsed, and Duke never got closer than 8 points.  The lead fluctuated between 8 and 18.  It was painful to watch (easier with the sound off, I can attest).  

There was some Good on display last night, which creates hope for the future of the season (a season which seems more in doubt as games get canceled by the minute, but I digress).  There are conundrums that could fall to the Good or the Bad depending on whether they are solved.  And there was plenty that was just plain Ugly.

The Good

Mathew Hurt was extraordinary and had a second half that was strong on leadership.  After he picked up his third foul in the first half, Coach K pulled him.  He played only 12 first-half minutes.  But, Matt showed his leadership and maturity, playing 18 second-half minutes and being the best Duke player on the floor, while committing only one foul.  He not only snared 6 rebounds and shot 4-5 from the field when he was inside the arc, but also added a block and a steal without committing a turnover.  That was real leadership!  The only downside was 0-4 from deep in the second half; 0-6 for the entire game.  Matt led Duke in scoring for the game (19 points on 8-9 inside the arc; 0-6 behind) and tied with Johnson at 7 for the rebound lead .  He improves his defense with every game!

Jeremy Roach finally played up to his high school reputation and had his first excellent outing.  In 31 minutes, he notched 7 assists without a turnover.  He moved the offense and was himself a scoring threat (13 points on 5-11 from the field; 0-1 from deep; 3-4 from the stripe), plus contributing 4 rebounds.  He drove for points; he hit pullups.  If his scoring becomes more efficient, he may emerge as the backcourt leader.  Jeremy said in an interview that he had been deferring too much to teammates, and he was now back to his aggressive game.  A hopeful sign.

J.D. Steward’s second half was as good as his first half was crappy.  In his 10 first-half minutes he was a liability; 10 minutes (1-3; 0-1 from deep) for 2 points and 2 turnovers.  He was beaten more easily on defense than I had yet seen.  Then came his second half, where he logged 18 minutes and scored 11 points (4-6; 3-4 from behind the arc), with 1 rebound, 2 assists and a steal.  He was an asset when Duke went to the press (which was sometimes effective, but not consistently).

The Conundrums

J.D’s different halves could be included, but his second half was so good (and there was so little other good) as to save him.

Jordan Goldwire plays so hard and does so many good things – a scrappy defender, who brings some stability to the backcourt.  Last night he also turned it over and committed 5 fouls – all in the second half, fouling out virtually at game’s end.  His offense was simply non-existent.  He scored his 5 points in 23 seconds early on in the second half, but was otherwise scoreless in 36 minutes (0-7; 0-1; 0-1 without the 2 layups and free throw in those 23 seconds).  He made 4 steals and was all about effort.

Jalen Johnson is not playing the kind of basketball that his talent (and “All-World” first half against Coppin State) suggests he is capable of.  Coach K is clearly disappointed, limiting Jalen to 8 second-half minutes (without being in foul trouble) after his undistinguished 15 first-half minutes.  In 23 minutes, Jalen scored only 7 points (3-10 from the field; 1-3 from 3land; and 0-2 from the foul line).  At the opening of the second half, Coach K pointed out that Jalen had had an opportunity to score 7 points near the basket and produced 0 points.  Failure to convert those plays may have cost Jalen second-half playing time.

The Rotation became clearer, but still murky.  Mark Williams again started, playing 7 ineffective minutes (2 fouls and a turnover), demonstrating he is not ready to contest power players from elite teams.  He did not see the floor after that.  Patrick Tapé and Henry Coleman each got 2 first-half minutes (caused I think by Hurt’s foul trouble).  The players who logged more than 20 minutes on the court comprise the real starters: Goldwire (36), Roach (31), Hurt (30), Steward (28), and Johnson (23).  Jaemyn Brakefield was the most effective off the bench.  He grabbed 5 rebounds and blocked a shot in 18 minutes, to go with his 5 points (2-5; 1-2 from behind the arc).  Joey Baker played 16 minutes, scoring 4 points and hustling.

The Ugly

The Duke offense qualifies easily as ugly.  The Duke defense gave the Devils a chance with the press.  But every time the defense made a play that could have changed the momentum, the offense had a turnover or bad shot.  For example, D.J. came down court on a live ball turnover and looked for an alley-oop to a wide open Brakefield at the rim for an easy deuce.  But a defender blocked the pass (it was just not lofted high enough).  Duke’s shooting is simply awful.  In the first half, Duke shot 12-32, including 0-7 from behind the arc.  Illinois outscored Duke from deep in the first half by 18 points.  If you subtract D.J.’s 3-4 from deep, Duke was 2-17 from deep.

Duke’s second half foul shooting also stymied any hopes of a comeback (4-10).  At one point Hurt (2), Johnson (2) and Roach (1), collectively missed 5 consecutive free throws.

 Wendell Moore was a preseason selection for the All ACC second team and one of Duke’s two players on the Wooden Watch list (Hurt was the other).  He was hyped as one of Duke’s best players on both ends of the floor.  Last night he was on the floor for all of 7 minutes. Moore played 4 first-half minutes, going 0-2 and committing a turnover.  He played only 3 second-half minutes (0-1 and committed a foul).  His only positive statistic of the night was a single second-half rebound.  This is ugly and hurting the Devils in a fundamental way.

Next Play: Saturday (December 12) against Charleston Southern at 2 pm before the ACC season opens at Notre Dame on Wednesday, December 16, at 9 pm.

  • After losing just two non-conference home games in front of the Cameron Crazies in this century, Duke has lost two non-conference games in a week in a fanless Cameron Stadium. Either A) the Cameron Crazies impact on the games is very underrated  or B) this year’s team is not up to previous year’s standards. 
  • Coach K’s take: “This is not inherited wealth where we have what we have had. What we have had was really damn good and it has produced a lot of championship teams. We do not have that [now]. You have to earn that with a new group, and this group is one of the youngest we have had. It creates a new dynamic that is difficult. Also, when teams play against us, for them to come into Cameron, not just to play Duke, but when they come into Cameron, with fans or not, they’re ready to play. You’re not going to get anyone looking ahead. Our guys, they’ve not experienced that yet. They’re experiencing that right now. Hopefully, that makes us tougher and better.”
  • Illinois and Iowa (who beat Carolina) are very impressive basketball teams. Despite what Johnny Tar Heel thinks, UNC is big, talented, but young. At the end of the year—or sooner– they will be a very tough out. Duke, I’m not so sure. 
  • Was Matthew Hurt in the Patrick Mahomes’ barbershop commercial? If he was, I missed him. The Mahomes cut didn’t help Matt’s three point shot, he was oh-6 tonight.

December 11, 2020 Cancelled games announcement

Duke Basketball has made the decision to cancel the remainder of their non-conference games. Thus, the next Duke basketball game currently scheduled is against Notre Dame in South Bend on Wednesday, December 16 (ESPN @ 9:30 pm). The rescheduled game against the Gardner Webb Bulldogs was canceled, and previously postponed games against the Elon Phoenix and the Charleston Southern Buccaneers will not be rescheduled. The stated rationale is to let the players take a short break for the holidays.

Coach K had suggested that the colleges should not be playing now, but should wait for the vaccine and the diminution of the current COVID-19 infection rate.  What is written about his suggestion is not nearly as cogent as what he actually said.  Coach K has an amazing ability to analyze, to select just the right words to calibrate sharply what he is communicating.  You can get his words from the postgame press conference on www.dukebasketballreport.com.

Alabama coach Nate Oats questioned Coach K’s motives after the Duke coach called for a reassessment about playing college basketball during a pandemic, openly wondering whether the comments were triggered by a pair of losses for the No. 10 Blue Devils.  “Do you think if Coach K hadn’t lost his two nonconference games at home that he would still be saying that?” Oats said 
at a news conference Thursday, adding, “We 100 percent should be playing basketball.”  You know who he sounds like.

Meanwhile, Coach K continues to demonstrate true leadership.

Duke 75 Notre Dame 65 (Season 12 Issue 6 Game 5) with Bill Miller as “guest” contributor


 If we keep in mind that Michigan State and Illinois are potential Final Four teams, while Notre Dame’s talent is not close to ACC elite, Duke fans can enjoy and celebrate Duke’s surprisingly excellent performance at South Bend – a first conference away-game for Duke’s 7 new players (well, actually 5 for this game) — while still keeping perspective.  

 This game was much more important than a normal conference opener.  The combination of being soundly thrashed in two home losses in Cameron, together with the announcement that the jewel of Duke’s freshman class, Jalen Johnson, has badly injured his foot in practice and been declared out indefinitely (he’ll have another MRI in 3 weeks to see how he is healing) would test not only the talent, but the character of this starless 2020-2021 edition of the Blue Devils.  Duke produced an excellent performance to be celebrated.  This young Duke team responded to the adverse circumstances with leadership, offensive cohesion, and defensive intensity.  However, the “Fighting” Irish proved the participle in their nickname was warranted.  Every time Duke threatened to break the game open, the Irish fought back behind their amazing Dane Goodwin (25 points on 10-12; 4-6 from deep + 1-1 from the foul line).  Then, there was “the moment” that defined the game — and that Duke fans hope will define the season!

“The Moment”: 

The Irish stole the ball from Wendell Moore, which led to a Notre Dame 3, cutting the Duke lead to 5 (55-50) with 10:43 left in the game.  The home team had gained all the momentum.  Duke then produced the almost 6 minute long moment:  

Jordan Goldwire hit a jumper; Jaemyn Brakefield took a rebound the length of the floor for a layup.  D. J. Steward and Joey Baker replaced Jeremy Roach and Moore.  Brakefield stole the ball and hit D. J. for a 3.  Matt Hurt grabbed a defensive rebound and scored from the post on a jumper.  Roach returned, replacing Baker.  After a Goodwin 3 for the Irish, Brakefield fed D. J. for a layup.  Hurt and Goodwin traded jumpers.  Hurt hit another turnaround after ND had shredded the Duke defense for a layup.  Finally, Steward finished “the moment” with a steal, a layup and the free throw for a 3 point play the conventional way. 

In 5 minutes and 55 seconds, Duke had increased its lead from 5 to 17, effectively ending doubt about the outcome.  Coach K was beyond pleased, “It got down to five points, where there’s a lot of game pressure, and our kids made plays. We didn’t call a play, they just made some plays and then when they were pressing us, we never turned it over. It’s on my team. They got better tonight. I think, too, they’re becoming more and more comfortable playing with one another.”

The Rotation   

With Jalen unavailable, who would start and what the rotation would be was a pressing question.  There was much speculation, but I bet nobody correctly predicted that Patrick Tapé would replace Jalen in the starting lineup.  The rotation was more informative and revealing than previous games.  Duke played only 9 (Johnson and Henry Coleman III did not play).  I look at the “starters” more from who plays starter minutes than who actually starts.  For example, even though Tapé started, he did not play starter’s minutes  (6 first half minutes and 3 in the closing stanza).  Four players both started and played starter-minutes: Hurt (38 minutes), Roach (35 minutes), Goldwire (33 minutes) and D.J. Steward (29 minutes).  

Jaemyn Brakefield played an outstanding 24 minutes to be Hurt’s most efficient partner up front.  He is the only other big (besides Hurt) who can score from the perimeter, with the 3 (he was 2-2), the drive, or in the post.  Tapé and Mark Williams (8 minutes – 7 in the first half; 4 points on 2-2 shooting with a rebound) have offense from the post and at the rim. Duke’s trio of small fast guards (Coach K, “we are awfully small on the perimeter”) played better than they have all season.  However, the backcourt got little effective support from either Joey Baker (15 minutes; 10 in the first half, but only 2 points) or Wendell Moore’s 9 minutes without a score or an assist — his reduced playing time resulting from his persistent offensive woes.

The Front Court

It is time for me to give Matt Hurt real praise; actually more than Coach K did.  Coach K said Matt was “close to having a huge game.”  Other than missing his only 2 attempts from behind the arc, he was Duke’s most valuable player in all aspects of the game.  The offense was much smoother than in previous games because it ran through the versatile big guy from Minnesota.  He played every  second of the closing stanza and sat only for a brief 2 minutes in the opening half.  He is an able defender and a much more efficient rim protector and rebounder than he showed last year (and he is doing this now without fouling).  Moreover, last night Matt demonstrated that he is virtually unstoppable from the post, drawing the defense from the perimeter shooters.  He rebounds in traffic and can smoothly deliver a scintillating assist.  Coach K: “Matt [Hurt], we got him the ball more and he’s close to having a huge game, but even him touching the ball forces the other team to help and that opens it up for other guys.”  How about Hurt’s 18 team-leading points on 8-17 shooting from the field and 2-2 from the line (0-2 from deep), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal in 38 minutes for a huge game? Come on Coach K, can we make that “very very very close” to a huge game!

Brakefield has played himself into the rotation and was actually more effective than Jalen has been all year, except for his “All-World” first half against Coppin State.  Even though it was Jaemyn’s first conference game game and first road game, he played like a veteran, scoring 10 points (4-8 from the field; 2-2 from deep), grabbing 5 boards, with a block.  He plays excellent defense and had one spectacular steal.  Coach K: “Brakefield had a hell of a game for us.”

Mark Williams and Patrick Tapé both looked effective in their cameo appearances.  No indication has been given as to why Henry Coleman III did not play.

The Perimeter

All 3 starters in the backcourt were efficient and earned positive praise.  Let’s start with the early season disappointment, Jeremy Roach, who has turned his season completely around, finally earning Coach K’s trust as proven by Jeremy’s 35 minutes on the court running the offense.  While Roach still has more room to grow (0 assists last night), his improvement in running the team and providing energy and offense was the best it has been so far this year.   He scored 14 points on 5-6 from the field (2 gorgeous drives), including 2-3 from deep and 2-2 for free throws. 

 Jordan Goldwire was his usual reliable self on offense and a tiger on the defensive end.  He scored 9 on 4-8,with 3-4 at the rim, but only 1-4 from deep (the only player with starter minutes that did not reach double figures). However, JGold was superb on defense and the glue on offense.  D. J. Steward was even more  dynamic and athletic than he has looked all year.  The Duke guards were faster than Notre Dame, and D. J. is the fastest of the Devils.  At times he looks downright beautiful as he dances in the air.  A revealing fact about D. J.’s athleticism: he led Duke in rebounding with 7 last night.  He scored 16 in 29 minutes (6-11 including 3-4 from 3land and 1-1 from the stripe) and had an assist and 2 steals.  Coach K: “[At the] end of [the shot clock], DJ hit a couple huge buckets – a three and a drive. He played really good defense too. … Jeremy [Roach] played like a veteran tonight … Our guard duo of Jeremy [Roach] and J-Gold (Jordan Goldwire) was excellent. DJ [Steward] responded. We played a very good game tonight and beat a really good team.”   

As noted above, Duke needs better perimeter support off the bench than either Moore or Baker have so far been able to provide.  I still have an expectation that Moore will turn his season around.

10th man: 

Henry Coleman III, the only healthy Duke scholarship player without playing time last night, has drawn high praise from Coach K about more than hoops.  Here is an example:

“The Virginia Business magazine released its 100 People to Meet in 2021, with Duke men’s basketball freshman and Richmond, Va. native, Henry Coleman III recognized as the youngest member on the list.  As an unprecedented year comes to an end, Virginia Business published the annual list to “Introduce you to 100 Virginians who make the commonwealth a more interesting and innovative place to live and work.” The list includes categories like Builders, Educators, Impact Makers, and more, with Coleman named in the ‘Angels’ section.  A 2020 graduate of Trinity Episcopal School, Coleman made an early impression on the entire Duke community in August when he spoke at a peaceful protest on campus in front of fellow student-athletes, coaches and professors.”

Next Play:  With the cancellation of the non-conference schedule, Duke does not play again until December 29, in Cameron at 8 pm against Jeff Capel’s Pittsburgh Panthers.  Have a happy holiday season.  Stay safe – next DBP should be December 30


Raise your hand if you saw this coming! After two pretty discouraging outings against Michigan State and Illinois and indefinitely losing Jalen Johnson, considered the most talented recruit, the Blue Devils went to South Bend and totally outplayed the Irish. Granted, this is not one of Coach Brey’s better teams, but Notre Dame is seldom an easy out.

What impressed me: Jeremy Roach played like the highly-rated point guard he was thought to be; D. J. Steward sometimes reminds me of a mini Earle the Pearl Monroe: Jaemyn Brakefield may be the most versatile player on the team; 7 foot Mark Williams is not a stiff. He has athleticism and touch. All he needs is bulk and strength. Matthew Hurt was the nexus of the offense that made a lot of good things happen. I think this team is a lot different than the recent one-and-done Super Star Juggernauts. If these players stay more than a long pit stop and sleepover, they could develop into a really interesting outfit. Watching Coach K operate is always fascinating. When the season is on the line, will he roll with his most talented five — Roach, Steward, Hurt, Brakefield and Johnson —  or mix and match?  Stay tuned!

What has happened to sophomore Wendell Moore’s offense? Is he morphing into Bill King? He is 1 for 19 from the field over Duke’s last three games. Same question for Joey Baker, who is no longer a defensive liability but, conversely, hasn’t been able to hit what had been his signature three.

The next challenge is for the young players to keep their minds focused and validate this win.


In this perhaps not quite as merry as usual Holiday season, please remember your local businesses and restaurants.  It is oh so easy to shop Amazon, but if we want our small local shops to survive, please Shop Local whenever you can — many have online ordering and curbside pickup or delivery. Have a favorite restaurant or pub or bookshop you’d like to be able to go to after the pandemic? Consider a gift card for someone on your list, or even to give to yourself. It is up to all of us to act the values we espouse. 

Cancelled Games Announcement: Duke v Pittsburgh & Duke v Florida State

December 28, 2020

The Duke athletic department just announced that Duke v Pittsburg will not be played tomorrow night as scheduled due to COVID-19 outbreak among the Pittsburgh traveling group.  Coach Jeff Capel has tested positive and is quarantining.  A perfect end to 2020. The Florida State game is still scheduled to be played in Tallahassee on Saturday, January 2, 2021 at 8 pm (ESPN2).  

Let’s hope 2021 will be different.

January 2, 2021

Three events transpired yesterday to put the Duke basketball season in doubt.  First, Coach K came into contact with a person who had tested positive and is in quarantine protocol.  John Scheyer was scheduled to coach Duke against Florida State in Tallahassee tonight.  Second, I wrote “was scheduled” because Duke’s contest against Florida State has now been postponed due to an outbreak in the Seminole program.  Third, three cases of the new “more contagious” variant of the virus have been diagnosed in Florida – 2 in Miami and one in Martin County.

Last month, the Duke women decided to withdraw from the season. Duke was (is) testing daily–the ACC only requires three tests per week.  Duke players asked the league to require daily testing of all competitors; when the ACC refused, Duke withdrew from competition.  Both Coach K and the Awesome Kara Lawson (first year women’s coach) have advocated pausing the season until the vaccines have had an impact, and restarting the season then — even if as late as May.  The Duke women are allowed to continue practicing in case things change.

Many decisions remain to be made … by teams, conferences, and the NCAA.

Duke 83 – BC 82 (Season 12 Issue 7 Game 6) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


After the emotional roller-coaster of yesterday’s insurrection in D.C., I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to watch a basketball game, let alone write about it. However, watching last night’s Duke – Boston College game proved to be the perfect escapist balm to restore stability to one’s soul. Bill and I spoke after the game. Bill: “What did you think?” Alan: “I didn’t. Not a thought; I just thoroughly enjoyed the all-out effort of this really warm and fuzzy team.” Duke’s ball-hawking swifties not only put it all out there under difficult circumstances, but they also showed us the sheer joy of the game – great plays, freshman gaffs – playing with admirable youthful exuberance. Perhaps showing us all the joy in life.


The circumstances were indeed difficult: 1) Coach K was quarantining in Durham, with Jon Scheyer stepping in as head coach for the game. 2) Jalen Johnson and Patrick Tape were out with injuries. 3) BC’s losing record (2-7) isn’t indicative of their quality — every loss was very close; they have real talent and are improving, making them a dangerous team. 4) And, of course, Duke had played only once since December 8 (beating Notre Dame in South Bend on December 16). As such, they proved to be beyond rusty in the opening 17 minutes of the game.

The Blue Devils were down 16 with 2:13 left in the first half when the rusty bumblers turned into the “fun team”. In some ways, this was the team envisioned pre-season: Duke’s returning players – Mathew Hurt, Wendall Moore, Jr. and Jordan Goldwire – as the team leaders, with D.J. Steward and Jeremy Roach supplying speed, pressure and pizazz in the backcourt. Only Johnson was missing from that pre-season vision of the team.

Hurt and Moore were (pre-season) on the Wooden Watch list for potential Player of the Year. Hurt’s performance has so far validated his selection, but Moore has struggled dramatically. From pre-season ACC second team, Moore had sunk to Duke’s second team, scoring only 19 points in the first five games of the season, while creating turnovers at a high rate. You love to see a guy who is trying so hard to just completely turn it around in one game. Moore did that and won the game for Duke last night scoring 25 points in 30 minutes, without even one turnover, while displaying excellent defense. He made the clutch defensive play at winning time when he took a charge that gave Duke the ball, negating a BC score. No doubt he was Duke’s player of the game!

Hurt played well after the rust wore off, but he was not the spectacular player who is the ACC’s leading ppg scorer. In 32 minutes he scored 17, while grabbing 11 boards. Hurt’s defense last night was not as intense as earlier in the season, but he was Duke’s rebounding mainstay against BC, which enabled Duke to hold even on the boards. His efforts were crucial as this small team has difficulty protecting the rim and defending the backboard, especially without Johnson.

The Rotation

With Jalen unavailable, the rotation was restricted to five who played starters’ minutes, without much bench contribution. Mark Williams played 6 minutes. Henry Coleman III was in for one play, in which he was so badly beaten on defense that he was immediately replaced and did not return. Jaemyn Brakefield logged 18 minutes without scoring (0-2 from behind the arc), contributing 2 steals, a rebound, but costing 2 turnovers. Joey Baker played 12 minutes and hit a 3 for Duke’s only bench points.

When Duke went to its “pony” team – Moore joining Steward, Goldwire, and Roach – BC began to cough up the ball at key times. Duke did this infrequently, but effectively. Duke’s trio of small fast guards play with all-out enthusiasm, especially when pressing or trapping on defense. Steward (14 points in 32 minutes) and Roach (12 points in 32 minutes) get to the basket on drives that are dramatic; whether the drive results in a hoop or a turnover keeps fans on the edge. Goldwire is solid. Logging a game high 37 minutes, he handed out 6 assists and 3 steals with only a single turnover. He also scored 12: 4-10; 1-3 from deep; and 3-4 from the line, including the two game clinchers with only 24 seconds left, which moved Duke’s lead from 1 to 3 (82-79). He is unquestionably the floor leader.

The three speedsters were, however, cold from behind the arc – collectively 2-10 (Steward 1-6; Goldwire 1-3; and Roach missed his only 3 point attempt). Nevertheless, Steward and Roach led Duke’s late first-half resurgence when they exploded in the last 2:13 of the first half and the first 2:25 of the second half, with Duke outscoring BC by 18, taking a 2 point lead after having trailed by 16. In those 4:38, Steward scored 8; Moore, 6; Roach, 6; and Hurt, 3.

Winning Time

For the next 15 minutes, the game see-sawed back and forth. Each team made great plays and committed grievous errors. The game was tied 10 times (9 times in the second half), the last time with only 1:42 left. Hurt, who had picked up his 4th foul with 4:05 left, hit a clutch 3 on a smooth assist from Roach, with 1:15 left. After BC cut Duke’s lead to 1, Hurt grabbed a key rebound, leading to a critical Duke possession. Steward almost turned it over, but a ref’s review gave the ball to Duke, with only 2 left on the shot clock. On the inbound, Roach found Moore, who hit a crucial acrobatic jumper to push the lead back to 3 (80-77) with 44 seconds left. BC did not go away; they scored to pull within one at the 24 second mark. With the shot clock turned off, BC had to foul. JGold was fouled immediately, but he made both clutch free throws. Now 82-79. Then, Steward made the winning play — BC’s cross court pass was lazy, and Steward made a great move to deflect the ball and cause a turnover. BC had to foul. Moore made 1 of 2 for a 2 possession lead (83-79) with only 11 seconds left. BC’s 3 at the buzzer couldn’t win the game for them, but did make the score appear closer than it was.


[CliffsNotes are a series of condensed study guides, for lazy and/or inattentive students, that present literary and other works in abbreviated form. Detractors of these study guides claim they let students bypass rigorous reading and understanding of the assigned literature.]

Duke hadn’t played in a couple of weeks—and it sure showed. Possibly the worst half of feckless offense and defense I can remember the Blue Devils playing, as they fell behind by 16 to a perennial ACC bottom feeder. When it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, Wendell Moore, who was about one-for-the-season, threw up a brick of a three that almost shattered the glass backboard, but luck was with him and it caromed in. Maybe Wendell just needed to see the basketball go through the net one time, because after that he seemed to make about every kind of shot, and played like the guy who won the amazing Carolina comeback game last year (eat your heart out, Johnny Tar Heel) and sparked this hard-fought win.

My guess is that the multi-talented (scoring, stealing, rebounding, defending, but passing needs work) Steward may develop into the go-to guy; Hurt is the wheelhouse of the offense that makes other scoring possible; Goldwire and Roach, steady contributors; Brakefield, a lethal sixth man; Jalen Johnson, a question mark; and, if Moore can consistently be half as productive as he was tonight, the team will go as far as its pressing defense and maturing talent can take them—which might be pretty good as the ACC is not as strong and deep as usual.

John Scheyer replaced Coach K, who is temporarily sequestered, as game coach and did an admirable job. Changing and staying with a pressing defense most likely avoided an embarrassing defeat. He probably will be deluged with head coaching offers.

Next Play: Saturday at noon against Wake Forest. Coach K hopes to be on the bench for that game.

Duke 79 – Wake Forest 68 (Season 12 Issue 8 Game 7) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Mathew Hurt … was the biggest story last night. 

The Wooden Award is given to the College Player of the Year in June.  Hurt, who like Wendell Moore, was named to the pre-season Wooden Watch list, was one of 25 players named to the mid-season watch list (no Moore; no surprise) based on his performance this year.  Before last night’s excellent [Coach K praised it as “workman-like”] outing, Hurt was averaging 18.5 points per game (1st in the ACC) on .512 field goal shooting (7th in the ACC) and a .400 clip from three-point range. He has also been the Blue Devils’ most consistent rebounder, bringing down 8.5 boards per contest (3rd in the ACC).  Last night, he was not less than heroic in his 31 foul-plagued minutes (4 total fouls) where he led Duke in scoring with 26 points (10-15 from the field: 4-7 from deep; 2-2 from the stripe) to go with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.  Coach K gently chided Hurt for imagining he was a point guard, when Hurt snared the defensive rebound and led the fast break into one of his 3 turnovers, but our Hall of Fame coach points to Hurt as the reason the Duke offense has come together after the losses in Cameron to both Michigan State and Illinois.

The change in offensive philosophy began on December 16, in South Bend against the Fighting Irish.  Coach K pointed out that in the early season, Duke was playing “five out”, leaving the middle open for penetration, and Hurt was shooting (40%) from deep.  It was clearly not working as shown by Duke’s ineffective early-season offense.  Duke has moved Hurt into the post, so the offense works through him (he is still popping out and making it difficult for bigs to guard him on the perimeter).  Coach K insightfully noted that, “when Hurt gets the ball, our shooters get extra room.”  Hurt is lethal inside if he is not doubled, and a good passer when he is.  Coach K also explained that Hurt is guarding the opponents’ big guys.  When Duke goes small (plays what I call its “pony team”), with the three swift guards and Moore (as the second longest Duke player at only 6’6”), Hurt is Duke’s most efficient interior defender.  

The Backcourt

Besides Hurt, the heart of the 2020-2021 Blue Devils has become the three-headed, lightning-quick Duke backcourt, comprised of the reliable senior Jordan Goldwire, and freshmen D.J. Steward and Jeremy Roach.  Pressing defense that forces turnovers, paired with transition offense, has been their calling card.  The three  rely upon dazzling quickness, speed, and constant energy on both ends of the court, and are on the court virtually all the time.  Against Wake, D.J. logged 39 minutes (20 in the second half), while scoring 21 (8-15 from the field: a dreadful 1-7 from deep; 4-6 from the stripe), grabbing 6 rebounds, handing out 2 assists (only 1 turnover), while blocking 2 shots (he’s only 6’2”!).  JGold played 38 minutes, scoring 14 (6-10: 2-3 from behind the arc) along with 5 assists (0 turnovers!), 5 rebounds, and 5 steals (leads ACC in steals).  Roach played 36 efficient minutes with 12 points (5-11 from the field: 2-7 from deep), 4 assists (2 turnovers), and 2 rebounds.  They hounded the Wake backcourt, which collapsed down the stretch at “winning time” (in my opinion, worn out from the constant Duke defensive pressure). Coach K emphasized the improvement because “they are now reacting by instinct instead of being slowed by thinking what they have to do.  They are getting in the passing lanes.”  Goldwire leads that charge, but D.J. and Roach are right there with him.

The Rotation

The four Duke starters described above scored 73 of Duke’s 79 points.  Besides those 4, Wendell Moore played 28 minutes (fifth most), scoring only 4 (1-7 from the field: 2-2 from the stripe), disappointing after his superb 25 point effort against BC.  Coach K pointed out in the post-game press conference that earlier in the year when Moore’s shot wasn’t falling, the rest of his game also suffered.  However, it was different last night.  Moore defended intensely and had a crucial steal while emerging as Duke’s leading rebounder with 8 boards.  It was his offense that was missing. He handed out only 2 assists against 4 turnovers. 

Duke’s bench was essentially Jaemyn Brakefield up front, and Joey Baker on the perimeter.  Brakefield played well in his 17 minutes, but failed to score.  He was a good defender though, with 3 steals and a block.  Baker played only 7 minutes, but had an important sequence: he blocked the shot, ran the floor, and laid it in athletically on the break for his only 2 points.  Moore’s 4 and Joey’s deuce were Duke’s only bench points.  Mark Williams had 2 brief stints early (he started), which comprised his only 4 minutes in the game.  His play wasn’t scintillating – 3 turnovers and 2 fouls in just 4 minutes.  Henry Coleman III played one minute at the end of the first half and took a crucial charge.

Winning Time

It was an entertaining game.  Duke was not able to contest Wake’s shooting in the first half, but forced 9 turnovers.  Even though Wake shot 45% in the first half; Duke led by 4 at the end of the opening stanza.  The game continued close with neither team able to separate.  The last tie was 55-55 with 11:26 to go.  Then, Duke’s superior athleticism took over as the backcourt hounded Wake defensively, and Duke, surprisingly, took over the backboard dramatically.  At one point, Duke had 12 shots on goal over five possessions. In the next 8+ minutes, Duke outscored Wake by 13 to lead 75-62 with 2:45 left.  Duke broke from the last tie on a layup (spectacular) by Steward, who was fouled and converted it to a three point play.  Baker’s great play followed.  With 4:07 left and an 8 point lead, Duke exploded.   D.J. made 3 foul shots, and Hurt swished a 3 from deep, for Duke’s 13 point lead with 2:45 left.  Wake was done.


[Cliffs Notes are abbreviated study guides for lazy and/or inattentive students, that present literary and other works in condensed, summarized form (with which I was more than a little familiar). Detractors of these study guides contend they let students bypass rigorous reading and deep understanding of the assignment ]:

Today, Duke played the Wake Forest Bad Haircuts, who had not won a game in Cameron since about the Muggsy Bogues era. Today was no different. Unfortunately, Wendell Moore apparently forgot what it looks like for the basketball to go through the basket and reverted to his pre-Boston College play, with  1-for-7  from the field, 4 turnovers, and 2 air balls. Fortunately, Matthew Hurt had an outstanding game; my man DJ Steward supplied a lot of flash and excitement in multiple ways, and the rest of the team, especially Jordan Goldwire, played disruptive, pressing defense and contributed offensively. For their size, this team has been a very efficient rebounding team.

If any player on this Blue Devil team, which may need a year to fully develop, has any ideas about declaring for the NBA draft, they might consider that none of the three players from last year’s team who decamped early for the NBA has played any significant minutes.  In contrast, Seth Curry, who stayed in college through graduation, signed a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers for $7.8 million over the next three years — and is now a starter. 

Next Play: Tuesday, January 12 versus Virginia Tech in Blacksburg at 7 pm on ACCN

Duke 67- Virginia Tech 74 (Season 12 Issue 9 Game 9) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


This Game Was No Fun For Duke Fans

It was not a joyful night watching Duke dramatic lack of defense in the first half (Virginia Tech scored 46 first half points on 64% shooting) and dramatic lack of offense at “winning time” in the second half (Duke drew within a single point – 56-55 with 12:52 left in the game and could score only 9 more points (I am not counting Roach’s 3 at the buzzer – this was a double digit loss even though the score says by 7).  Duke was 4-18 from deep in the second half; if you omit Roach’s last irrelevant 3 (Hurt was 2-3 in the second half), the futility of the Blue Devils from the bonus sphere spelled doom (Roach 0-4; Steward 1-5; Brakefield 0-2; Moore 0-1, didn’t hit the rim; Goldwire 0-2, also missed the rim with one).  Hurt is Duke’s only true threat, though  Roach was scintillating in every aspect of the game except long range shooting.  Finally, Duke’s scoring is not spread across the roster.  Consider the points scored in the minutes played by: Goldwire (1 point in 32 minutes); Brakefield (4 points in 27 minutes; he was making his first career start); Moore (4 points in 15 minutes – 2-6 from the field; 0-2 from deep and 0-1 from the stripe); Joey Baker (0 points in 13 minutes); and Mark Williams (0 points in 2 minutes).  

One more Duke bright spot to add to the play of Hurt and Roach – the return of Jalen Johnson.  He had 3 turns on the court for a total of 4 first half minutes, scoring on a layup for 2 points.  He is obviously out of shape, but his return will help this team.

However, the bottom line is this is not a good team right now, even though there are good players on the team, which has a Hall of Fame Coach.  This is a work very early in development.  How bad is the team right now?  Bad.  The 3 ACC wins coming into the game were against the three winless teams in the league.  Notre Dame, Boston College and Wake have yet to win an ACC game (0-9).  Virginia Tech is a good team, but closer to mid-pack ACC than title contender.  Neither Michigan State nor Illinois, that each blew out the Devils in Cameron, are among the top three teams in the Big Ten.  In short, this team is still waiting to achieve anything significant.

The Scoring

Hurt was heroic, scoring every way imaginable.  He played 38 minutes (all 20 in the second half) scoring 20 (8-16; 4-8 from deep, but 0-2 from the stripe) while pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking a pair of shots.  Roach was Duke’s high scorer with 22 points on 6-14 from the field but 2-7 from 3land with a gaudy 8-8 from the line.  However, the point guard registered only a single assist against 3 turnovers.  His play is improving as he gets more aggressive and more confident.  DJ Steward did not have a great game, scoring 14 in his 35 on court minutes (5-13; 2-8 from deep; 2-2 from the foul line).  He had a pair of assists and a pair of turnovers.  Two of his driving layups were sensational, but overall this was not one of his signature games.  Those three players scored 56 of Duke’s 67 points, while the entire rest of the team managed only 11 (Moore 4; Brakefield 4; Jalen 2; and Goldwire just 1).  If that doesn’t change, Duke is in for a long season.  

The Last 13 minutes

Duke had been down by as much as 18 in the first half, but battled back to trail by only a single point (56-55) with a little over 13 minutes to go.  Duke did not score for the next 4:14.  Hurt missed a 3; Moore missed a 3; Goldwire missed a 3; Steward missed a 3; Hurt turned it over; Roach missed a 3; Steward missed a 3; and Brakefield missed a 3 before Steward scored Duke’s next points on a sensational layup with 8:58 to go.  Duke was still only down by 4 (61-57).  After Cone hit a 3 for Tech, Roach missed a 3.  After D.J. pulled Duke within 5, JGold missed a pair of jumpers as Tech pulled ahead by 9.  Hurt hit a jump shot with 5:56 to go (68-61).  D.J. missed a jumper and Hurt misfired on a 3.  Goldwire was fouled; missed the first foul shot but gave Duke its 62nd point with the second shot.  68-62 with 3:43 left.  Goldwire missed a 3, but Roach was fouled on a difficult drive and converted both free throws.  Va. Tech 68 Duke 64 with 2:34 left.  This was a winnable game, but  those were Duke’s last points (again not counting Roach’s 3 at the buzzer since the game was over and Duke had lost).  In the telling last 2:34, Steward missed from deep; Roach missed a jumper; Hurt missed a jumper and Steward misfired again from deep with 42 seconds left. 74-64.

We have learned to love and have complete confidence in Duke basketball at what I call “winning time”.  This team will be trying to become Duke at winning time.  The players exist to do that – Hurt, Johnson, Moore, Roach, Steward, and Goldwire – but last night’s performance demonstrated the gap from where this team is now to where we hope it is going.   


[CliffsNotes are abbreviated study guides for lazy and/or inattentive students that present  literary and other works in condensed, summarized form (with which I was more than a little familiar). Detractors of these study guides contend they let students bypass rigorous reading and deep understanding of the assignment ]:

  • I don’t know why in the last five years or so winning at Virginia Tech has been so difficult for Duke teams. At first, I thought it was the venue and the raucous fans. Now, I have come to think they play with men and we are playing with boys. Whatever the case, you just cannot play well for twenty of forty minutes, spot an opponent 18 points, and beat a decent team.
  • Perhaps, it is the result of often seeming to be confused running a half-court offense, but if  you throw out Hurt’s three point shots, this team is not a good three point shooting team—and  their free throw percentage is also subpar.  Hopefully, this is a result of young players getting used to older, stronger, more experienced players in the ACC. For instance, staying another year has helped Hurt, who resembles a Danny Ferry with more range,  become a stronger, more polished player. Jeremy Roach is growing up right before our eyes. He is beginning to  like a third Jones brother. Notice that his year’s great Alabama team was seeded with senior players who passed on the NFL draft because they didn’t want to leave on the disappointing previous year. (Contrast that with the North Carolina stars who passed on participating in the first Tar Heel to a bowl game in years,  because they feared an injury would affect their draft status.)

Next PlayTuesday, January 19 away versus Pittsburgh at 9 pm on ACCN

Duke 73 – Pitt 79 (Season 12 Issue 10 Game 9) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Headlines: Jalen Johnson, who played his second “All World” half — the first being his first half against Coppin State in the first game of the season — was not enough to overcome Duke’s lack of defense — mostly a porous, foul-prone zone

Jalen Johnson’s return and absolutely amazing second half (18 points in 18 minutes with 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 assists and 0 turnovers) was the best (possibly only good) news for Duke.  Yet, he was not the Player of the Game!  That honor clearly belonged to Pittsburgh’s Justin Champagnie, who dominated Matt Hurt defensively in the first half (he held Matt to 4 first half points) while torching Duke for 31 points in 39 scintillating minutes (12-15 from the field, including 4-7 from deep; 3-6 from the stripe), grabbing 14 rebounds, and blocking 5 Duke shots).  Duke had no answers for him.  

Actually, Duke had no defensive answers in the first half, period. Even though the defense improved in the second half, Duke simply could not get stops when needed.  Several times, the Blue Devils prevented the first Pitt attempt, but failed to corral the rebound, giving critical second chance goals to Pitt.  When a team commits bushels of fouls on defense, it is a clear sign of defensive inadequacy.   Duke committed 37 fouls (17 in the first half), losing Johnson to his fifth foul with the game still very much in doubt.  Jeremy Roach also fouled out with 8 seconds left in what must be the worst half of a basketball game that he has ever played in his entire life (20 minutes; 0-6, including 0-3 from deep; 1-2 from the line, while committing 4 fouls)!

Duke reinforced my conclusion from last week — this is not a very good team right now, even though there are good players on the team, and it is coached by a Hall of Famer.  This is a work less mature in development than usual by this time of the year, because of playing so many fewer games due to COVID.  It is way too early to give up on this team, but the early returns are indeed disappointing. How bad is the team right now?  Bad.  Pitt will get a false sense of grandeur from beating Duke, because the truth is Pitt is barely middle of the sub-par ACC pack.  Even though  Duke was playing as poorly as the Devils did,  Pitt led by only  two points with 2 minutes to go in the game.  Pitt has much growing to do to become a post-season contender.   But not as much as Duke.

The First-Half Defense

After the Virginia Tech loss, Coach K installed a 1-2-2 – morphing into a 3-2 — zone defense for this game.  Duke started with the ponies on top – D.J. Steward, Roach, and JGold – with Hurt and another big in the back line (Brakefield started; committed 2 fouls in 3 minutes and never saw the floor again).  Jalen, when he entered the game, took that spot.  Coach K’s assessment of the zone’s efficiency is much more favorable than mine.  Pitt scored 43 first-half points, shooting wide open uncontested shots.  Champagnie scored 17 first-half points on only 9 shots. Pitt took advantage of Duke’s fouling to add 12 from the foul line on 17 free throws –Toney was 8-11 from the foul line.  Duke committed 12 first-half fouls — giving four Duke players two fouls each to begin the second half.  

The Second Half Provides Both Positive and Negative Insights About The Season

Jalen’s performance was jaw dropping.  He put this team on his shoulders, and virtually willed the Blue Devils back into the game (Duke was down 15 – 55-40 – with 16:39 left in the game).  Duke fought to within 2 points of the lead on 3 separate occasions – with 5:38 to go; with 2:03 to go; and with 1:21 to go.  The initial 30 minutes of this game was Matt Hurt’s first sub-par performance of the season.  Then, he became a force at crunch time, scoring all 9 of his second-half points in the last 10:39 of the game.  Wendell Moore was also good in the closing stanza, scoring 7 points in 18 minutes (His best statistic was 0 turnovers).  Moore was 3-5 from the field, including 1-1 from deep, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.  

It is the first game in which the pre-season expected-to-star players – Hurt, Moore and Johnson – all scored in double figures.  I designate one play as demonstrating the potential of the 2020-21 Devils.  With 5:38 to go, there was a furious scrum under the Pitt basket.  Hurt had a shot blocked but Roach grabbed the deflection.  His quick pass was intercepted for a breakaway Pitt layup, except that Moore made an unbelievable effort to chase the ball down and block the shot at the rim (breathtaking).  Moore then moved the ball up court, and passed it ahead to Jalen at the top of the key.  Jalen had been hot and had an open (good) shot.  He faked the shot and made a slick pass to Hurt in the corner (he had a better shot), who swished a 3 to bring Duke within 2.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

But the flaws were also exposed – especially in the backcourt.  D.J. played 17 second-half minutes without scoring or assisting.  Roach scored 1 in 20 minutes, with 2 assists and a turnover (while committing 4 fouls).  For the game, Roach had 3 assists against 4 turnovers, while D.J. had 2 assists and 2 turnovers.  Which brings us to Jordan Goldwire and senior leadership.  

For most of the season, JGold had been the glue for the offense and spark for the pressing defense, logging the most minutes of the guards.  It is indisputable that JGold had a terrible game against Virginia Tech in Duke’s last outing, scoring only a single point in 39 minutes.  Coach K is known for his motivational tactics with players.  I believe Coach K sent JGold the message  that this team needs him to play up to his potential for the team to achieve its potential by dramatically reducing his playing time.  Although he started, Goldwire played only 5 desultory first-half minutes, without a point, assist, or steal.  He missed his only shot and committed 2 personal fouls in that brief stint.  He played 4 minutes in the second half – 0 assists, rebounds or steals, but 2-2 from the field (one on a spectacular blind over-the-shoulder pass from Jalen) on open layups.  

The backcourt regressed on both ends of the court.  Duke didn’t press – the forte of the ponies.  Duke needs a JGold revival for there to be a Duke revival.  On the other hand, watching Jalen Johnson handle the ball, make great passes, and direct the offense might suggest that Coach K  make him the “point forward” or even point guard to run this team.  Neither Roach nor JGold has been satisfactory this year.

There also needs to be a revival of Duke’s defense, which has been consistent only in its prevalent fouling.  37 fouls in regulation is a catastrophe because it saps the ability to be aggressive on the defensive end and on the boards.  Jalen committed 4 second-half fouls trying to guard Champagnie, eventually fouling out with 2:16 left and the game very much in doubt.  Roach committed 4 second-half fouls.  The defense is clearly in disarray.  

“Winning Time”

We have learned to love and have complete confidence in Duke basketball at what I call “winning time”.  This team is trying to become “Duke at winning time”.  The players exist to accomplish that – Hurt, Johnson, Moore, Roach, Steward, and Goldwire – but last night’s performance demonstrated, yet again, the gap from where this team is now, to where we hope it is going.   Winning time is about getting needed stops, steals, protecting your defensive back board, and making key shots.  Duke’s last points were scored with 1:21 remaining; Roach and D.J. missed Duke’s remaining attempts.  Duke gave up second chance points, missed free throws, committed fouls, and could not get stops when it counted.  That has to change, and against teams that are better than Pitt.


[CliffsNotes are abbreviated study guides for lazy and/or inattentive students that present  literary and other works in condensed, summarized form (with which I was more than a little familiar). Detractors of these study guides contend they let students bypass rigorous reading and deep understanding of the assignment ]:

The Duke “boys” played the Pitt “men” last night, which Alan thoroughly covered. After about four minutes (Duke trailing 8-2), I called Alan and said that I couldn’t watch anymore. Apparently, Coach K felt the same way, and before I could hang up, called a timeout, and substituted Jalen Johnson, who had been rehabbing his injured foot. Characteristically, the Blue Devils fought back from a very steep deficit, but Pitt was too tough and too good for them. Poor shooting  and poor defense inhibited any chance of winning. However, Jalen Johnson alone (24 pts, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 blocks, 2 steals) kept the Devils competitive. I don’t want to go overboard off twenty minutes of basketball, but Johnson showed more versatility and offensive poise than Jason Tatum did at the same point in his career at Duke—and that is saying a lot. Clearly, the offense needs to run through him.

In the ACC, the best teams play hard and tough offensively and defensively—and consistently make shots. Right now only Johnson, Hurt, and Moore play above their size and weight. The others have to figure it out and that will determine the rotation.

Next Play: Saturday, January 23 away versus Louisville at 4 pm on ESPN

Duke 65- Louisville 70 (Season 12 Issue 11 Game 10) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”



Two middle of the pack ACC teams – Louisville and Duke — met last night in Louisville, each seeking to change its fortunes after 2 straight debilitating losses.  It was a tight 
competitive game between two non-elite teams. Duke turned out to be slightly worse.

As readers familiar with my bias know, I have advocated that postseason success is powered more by defense than offense (although this applies to the regular season as well).  In discussing the upcoming season in our first issue, I predicted this team would go as far as its defense would take it, after losing most of its offensive firepower from the 2019-2020 roster – Vernon Cary, Tre Jones, Cassius Stanley (all who left for the NBA and are now each languishing on the bench with scant playing time). The graduation of the late-developing Justin Robinson was also a serious loss to the team.

In my memory, I have not seen a K-coached team perform this miserably on the defensive end of the court.  Duke rolled out a zone defense against Virginia Tech because Duke’s man to man has been so ineffective against quality opponents.  Coach K said he hoped the zone would help stop the easy penetration of opposition guards, help Duke defend its backboard, and cut down on the Duke fouling.  That obviously did not work so well. Duke was so porous in the zone against Louisville, that Coach K elected to return to the ineffective man-to-man down the stretch.  Louisville’s 8-2 closing run to win the game was against the man-to-man defense.  In that space, Hurt committed his fifth foul with 1:50 to go and the score tied.  Duke scored to lead by 65-64 with 1:30 to go.  Louisville’s star point guard, Carlik Jones, for whom Duke had no defensive answers at winning time (with 5:16 left in a tie game, he scored 9 of Louisville’s last 11 points), burned Moore for the go-ahead bucket (66-65) with 1:18 left.  

The decisive play of the game came with 1:02 left, when Jalen committed an offensive foul (his 4th), turning the ball over to Louisville!  Duke finally got a stop, but Baker misfired on a wide open 3 that would have given Duke a 2 point lead with 33 seconds left.  With the shot clock turned off, Duke had to foul.  Jones was deadly, notching 4-4 from the line at closing time.  Duke could still have tied the game in the last 25 seconds when first Moore (18 seconds left) and D.J. (13 seconds left) bricked wide open 3 pointers.

Duke’s Defensive Malaise Is Compounded by the Fouling Propensity

Coach K at the post-game press conference: “We have to not foul as much.  In the last four games – it’s kind of crazy – our opponents have shot like 100 free throws and we have shot 50.  Are we using our hands too much?  We have to evaluate that.  It’s an extraordinary differential.  I’ve never had that with our program.  Most of the time we shoot more free throws.  But not that kind of a differential.  That’s too much.”   The statistics last night were beyond dramatic – Louisville SUNK TWICE AS MANY FREE THROWS AS DUKE ATTEMPTED!  Duke was 7-9 (5-5 in the second half) while Louisville was 18-24 from the stripe. 

The excessive fouling on defense is a sign of bad defense and impacts the game more than just allowing the opponent to score.  Matt Hurt, who had an almost “All World” first half (15 points on 6-8 from the field including 3-3 from deep; with 4 rebounds and 2 assists), fouled out at “winning time” in a tie game.  Jalen Johnson committed 4 fouls  in 21 minutes (bad), but his second half was awful – Jalen was limited to 6 second-half minutes, where he committed 3 of his 4 fouls.  Perhaps even more critical, is that fouling enervates Duke’s swarming pressing defense, which is designed to create live ball turnovers leading to fast break points.   How is this for a telling statistic:  Duke scored only a single fast break basket! Early in the season, the Duke defense disrupted offenses, making deflections, causing turnovers, and getting steals. Last night, the defense produced only 4 steals (Goldwire 2; Steward 1 and Baker 1).  It is fair to classify the Duke defense as dramatically ineffective so far.

What came through to me, as I watched Coach K’s press conference, is that he is as flummoxed as we are at the lack of progress that this team has made and is making on both ends of the floor – but especially on defense.  He said he needs time to study, think and figure out how to improve (what political-speak!).   He’d better think quickly. Last week, Champagnie of Pitt torched the Devils; this week it was Jones of Louisville.  The Devil defense has to be fixed or Duke will fail to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995!

The Offense

Matt Hurt was the offense, scoring 24 points in his 35 minutes before fouling out (9-13 from the field including 4-5 from deep and 2-3 from the line).  He also garnered 8 rebounds.  However, Matt was missing in action for an extended period of the second half.  He scored the opening layup to start the concluding stanza; and followed a D.J. goal with a 3.  After less than 2 minutes, Hurt had 5 second-half points (20 for the game).  He only scored four more points in the half (2 free throws with 6:19 left; and a field goal with 4:51 remaining in the game).  Matt is asked to do so much for this team, that I believe he wore down and was not a force at “winning time”.  Still,  Matt was easily the best Duke player in the game.

Jalen Johnson is proving an enigma.  He committed his first foul 50 seconds into the game.  While Jalen scored Duke’s first five points in the opening 2:28 of the game, his turnovers caused Coach K to limit Johnson’s first-half playing time slightly (15 first half minutes).  Jalen’s first turnover came in the first 26 seconds of the game, and was followed by 4 more first half turnovers (with 0 assists).  Johnson had one more first half basket giving him 7 points for the half (1-5 after his opening 5 points, missing his only long range attempt).  His second half was worse. Only 51 seconds had elapsed before Jalen committed his second foul of the game.  Thereafter, his 3 second half fouls limited Jalen to 6 minutes of playing time in the concluding period.  He scored Duke’s last points with 1:30 left on a layup to give the Blue Devils the 1 point lead.  Jalen’s second-half cameo included 1 rebound, but yet another turnover.  There is no doubt that having Jalen blossom into fulfilling the potential he showed against Coppin State (season opener) and Virginia Tech (most recent game) is essential if Duke is going to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

The Duke backcourt has been regressing in recent games.  Duke has no guard to run the offense.  Coach K has installed Jeremy Roach as the principal lead guard with support from the senior leader, Goldwire, and the preseason Wooden Watch candidate Wendell Moore.  Shockingly, Duke managed only 7 assists against Louisville. Moore led with only 3 in 34 minutes (2 turnovers); Roach notched a pair of assists in his 26 minutes while turning it over twice.  He did not score a single point in the game!  Goldwire had 1 assist without a turnover in his 27 minutes, while Baker also added one without a turnover in his 17 minutes.  

It is not just the turnovers and lack of assists that is limiting Duke, it is the failure of the Duke perimeter to penetrate and make the defense switch and try to adjust.  As Coach K said (echoing what I had said to Bill at half time), Duke is not moving the ball with purpose.  The ball moves, but around the perimeter without penetration.  The only move to the interior is the pass to Hurt in the post.  This is, said Coach K, a major reason Duke is not getting to the foul line.  D..J. was 4-4 from the stripe, the only backcourt player to attempt a free throw.  Neither Moore, Goldwire nor Roach attempted a free throw against Louisville.  Ouch!

Which takes us to D.J. Steward.  He is fun to watch, with lots of sizzle in his game.  But it appears that he too has regressed; just not as dramatically as the rest of the backcourt.  D.J. was Duke’s second leading scorer against Louisville with 13 points in 29 minutes (4-8 from the field, including 1-4 from deep) without an assist (2 turnovers).  He had a steal and a block while committing 3 fouls.  D.J. has the most potential on the perimeter ( Moore’s production has not come close to matching preseason expectations), but D.J. seems to have regressed also.  His sizzle is in the open court.  The zone saps aggressiveness, limiting D.J.’s effectiveness on defense and in the open court. 

Finally, Duke’s attempt to find an adequate big man in the middle — allowing Hurt and Jalen to be the forwards — seems to have  fizzled.  The candidates recruited were graduate transfer Patrick Tapé, as well as freshmen Mark Williams, Henry Coleman IV and to a lesser extent Jaemyn Brakefield.  None of those four have cracked the rotation for consistent double digit minutes.  None of the four seem to be even close to ready for ACC competition (though I feel Brakefield is ahead of the other three).  A competent big would give Duke an additional desirable asset on offense, in rebounding, and in protecting the rim.  So far, just a forlorn hope.

Conclusion So Far

There are some good players on the roster, many of whom will go on to a successful professional hoops career.  But for reasons both understandable (few games, injuries, COVID’s distractions) and perplexing (talented players failing to play to their predicted potential), Duke has dramatically failed to live up to preseason expectations (Duke was ranked in the top 10 preseason and is now on the brink of failing to qualify for the NCAA tournament).  Why?  The whole is less than the sum of its parts! — so far.


[CliffsNotes are abbreviated study guides for lazy and/or inattentive students that present  literary and other works in condensed, summarized form (with which I was more than a little familiar). Detractors of these study guides contend they let students bypass rigorous reading and deep understanding of the assignment]

  • We are used to seeing Duke basketball teams make more free throws than their opponent takes, have more assists than turnovers, shoot nearly 50% from the floor, 70+% from the foul line, and nearly 40% from three point land. Subtract Matthew Hurt’s numbers from the totals and obviously, so far this year, this team neither shoots well, nor defends on an elite level. Having said all that, they still somehow manage to be in a position to close out these games. Tonight, they had 3 open threes in the last seconds to tie or win the game.  Didn’t happen. Both Hurt and Johnson had fouled out and were spectators on the bench. Solve one or two of these issues, and there could well be a different outcome. 
  • Coach K: “Our kids were prepared. They played hard. They played winning basketball. I feel so bad for Joey (Baker) because he has worked so hard. We’re down by one and he has the shot that he has dreamed of and worked hard for and the thing is in and out and I feel bad for him. Again, if the basketball gods are good to him then we would have benefitted. We missed two wide open shots again — good shots – to tie the game. It was a one-possession game most of the whole game, so you can take a play here or a play there. We turned it over too much to start the game. I am disappointed for these kids because they are a good group. It has been a really tough year for a whole bunch of reasons. And their attitudes are so good and they have worked so hard in preparations and during the game, you’d like to see them get rewarded. We lost to a good team. They had that Jones (Carlik) who can really control the game especially at the end of the game. It was a tough loss for us.”
  • Hate to point it out, but as Bill Parcells famously said when his players contended they were better than their record. “You are your record.” I don’t know what goes on in practice, but, sadly, Joey Baker’s record as a three point shooter has regressed over three years. As a matter of fact, other than Hurt, who is terrific at 47%, only Brakefield, Goldwire and Steward barely break 30%, which is terrible. Years ago, my tennis coach Don Henson told me a truism that holds for all sports: “There are three levels in this game. You have to be able to hit a shot in practice, in a match, and on a big point.”
  • Jalen Johnson is the key to this team’s season but his inconsistency is troubling. Tonight, he had almost as many turnovers as points—that’s not enough points and too many turnovers. And he was not on the court in many of the important closing minutes. Unless there is a larger Jalen-attitude or team-chemistry problem, this may be a fixable situation.  Johnson has shown periods of multiple talents – if he can sustain his good play consistently that would make this a different team on both ends of the floor.  An offense running through Jalen keeps Hurt from being double teamed, opens shots up for others, and strengthens the team defensively down low.
  • It’s a bad year for the Basketball Bluebloods: This was the first week since 1961 that neither Duke, Kentucky, or North Carolina are not ranked in the top twenty.

Next Play: Saturday, January 27, in Cameron versus Georgia Tech at 9 pm on ESPN

Duke 75- Georgia Tech 68 (Season 12 Issue 12 Game 11) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”

ALANALYSIS:  Duke Basketball Playbook (DBP) 2020-2021 # 12


  1. Duke’s defense stopped fouling, committing only 10 fouls in the entire game, while drawing 17.  The Devils allowed Georgia Tech to shoot only 5 free throws (4-5) while the Blue Devils went to the line 22 times.  The result was both a wonderful first half and “winning time” defense.
  2. Jordan Goldwire demonstrated how a solid lead guard runs an offense.  It was his career best performance – exactly what this team needs!  JGold didn’t start, but logged 35 minutes, including all 20 minutes of the second half.  He had 7 assists against a single turnover, while providing a steady guide.  On defense, JGold finally — at “winning time” —  shut down Georgia Tech’s star, Jose Alvarado, after Alvarado had had his own way for the entire second half (18 second half points). And, oh yes, Goldwire made THE WINNING PLAY OF THE GAME – with 1:01 to go and Duke leading by a single point, Georgia Tech had the ball striving to re-take the lead. At that crucial moment, JGold stole the ball from Alvarado. Duke ball with a chance to increase the lead. Duke did just that when JGold made 2 clutch free throws. Then he sealed the deal, by grabbing an offensive rebound with 18 seconds left, which closed out the game.
  3. D.J. Steward (19), Jalen Johnson (18; 16 in the second half) and Hurt (17) gave Duke a solid triumvirate of scorers.
  4. Mark Williams played 12 minutes (6 points; 6 rebounds and a steal).  He is earning more time and giving Duke a presence in the middle – especially on defense. 

Duke’s Defense 

Coach K at the post-Pittsburgh game press conference last Saturday: “We have to not foul as much.  In the last four games – it’s kind of crazy – our opponents have shot like 100 free throws and we have shot 50.  Are we using our hands too much?  We have to evaluate that.  It’s an extraordinary differential.  I’ve never had that with our program.  Most of the time we shoot more free throws.  But not that kind of a differential.  That’s too much.”   Those statistics were beyond dramatic – Louisville had SUNK TWICE AS MANY FREE THROWS AS DUKE ATTEMPTED!  Duke had been 7-9 (5-5 in the second half), while Louisville shot 18-24 from the stripe. 

Duke’s adjustments after the Louisville game were obviously effective.  This time, Duke beat Georgia Tech  at the foul line (18-22) just 3 days later, holding the Ramblin’ Wreck to a mere 5 attempts .  In the first half, the Blue Devils committed only 6 fouls – 2 by Roach, who started, but played less than 4 minutes in the second half (15 for the game); 2 by Jalen, which essentially took him out of the game in the first half (8 minutes; 2 points); and 2 by Moore.

In at least the first half, Devils played their best defense of the year, limiting the Ramblin’ Wreck to 10-31 from the field, including 3-13 from deep (32%), and kept Tech off the line (2-3).   Defensive woes reappeared in the second half, as Alvarado torched the young Devils with penetration, shooting, and passing.  Alvarado was simply unstoppable, shooting over Duke’s ineffective contests and then driving to the basket for layups or dazzling assists.  Duke’s defense had no answer… Alvarado was 7-9 from the field in the closing period, including 2-2 from behind the arc.  He dished 4 second-half assists and had 3 steals – 2 of which were hustle swipes from a Duke post (Hurt once and Johnson once).  Alvarado kept the Ramblin’ Wreck in the game almost single handedly.  But that changed dramatically with the game on the line and the clock winding down.

Against Virginia Tech, Pitt, and Louisville, Duke had been torched by the opponents’ respective stars in the last minutes, leading to 3 consecutive conference losses.  Last night against Georgia Tech, with the score so close and Alvarado in full swing, I was visualizing a fourth loss in the same fashion.  However, JGold stepped into the breach.  He hounded Alvarado, and made him give up the ball.  JGold and Duke gave up an Alvarado 3 with 3:21 to go, but the Tech star never scored again.  Goldwire was Duke’s most valuable player – especially with the game on the line!

The Offense


Duke had four double digit scorers who racked up 65 of Duke’s 75 points.  D.J. Steward had a superb all-around game, while scoring 19 points in 37 and ½ minutes.  Steward was 5-12, including 3-6 from deep and, critically, 6-6 from the stripe.  He added 5 boards, 3 assists, and a steal, all without a turnover.  Matt Hurt likewise played 37 and ½ minutes, while scoring 17 points (6-11 from the field, but only 1-4 from deep and 4-6 from the line).  Matt was more valuable to the team than just his scoring —  he drew 7 fouls; he led Duke in rebounding with 8, and hit crucial difficult shots at crunch time.  

Jalen’s second half was his third “all world” half this season.   Being limited to a single field goal in the first half, Johnson flashed his “lottery selection” form in the second half with 16 points in 18 minutes.  After 1-3 in the first half, Jalen was 6-8 in the second, plus 4-6 from the stripe.  Johnson also grabbed 4 rebounds, while handing out 2 assists, and contributing 2 blocks and 2 steals, all without fouling.  While Jalen led Duke in the second half, Hurt also had 13 and D.J. 7, the three of them netting 36 of Duke’s 42 second-half points.  JGold’s 4 and Moore’s 2 were Duke’s remaining second-half scorers.

Leadership and Running the Offense

The fourth double digit scorer was Goldwire, who gets my “game ball” for this amazing all around performance.  JGold scored 11 in his 35 minutes (4-7 from the field, including perfect 1-1 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe) while handing out 7 assists against 1 turnover.  Coach K played him the entire second half because of his creative assists, reliable ball security, raptor-like defense, and, most of all, his compelling leadership.  JGold added 5 boards and 2 steals (one was the game winner).  Vindication after some serious struggles.  Duke will thrive with THIS JGold at the helm!

Future Potential

Mark Williams moved sharply ahead of the other big men, with 6 points and 6 rebounds (3 offensive).  Williams made the Tech defense contract in order to stop him from overpowering them down low.  Mark’s shooting range is still only one foot, but his potential – both personally and to the team – becomes apparent.

The Rotation

Matt and D.J. led the way with 37 and ½ minutes each, and JGold just behind with 35 minutes logged.  The remaining “starter minutes” were Wendell Moore with 29, and Jalen with only 24  —  as a result of being limited to only 8 first-half minutes because of his two quick personal fouls.  Duke used only two reserves for more than cameo appearances.  Mark Williams logged 12 potential-filled moments, and showed some excellent defense.  The other reserve was the slump-ridden Jeremy Roach.  

After his superb performance against Virginia Tech, Roach’s shot just stopped falling, and his floor game suffered as a result.  Against Georgia Tech, he logged almost 16 minutes, but less than 4 of those were in the second half.  His stats demonstrate why Coach K had no confidence in him with the game on the line.  Roach was (again) scoreless (0-3; all from deep) with 0 assists and 2 turnovers.  He contributed a rebound (in traffic) and a steal.  Duke needs him to return to his Virginia Tech shooting form.

In his press conference, Coach K complimented both Goldwire and Moore as providing great ball handling and much needed and valued leadership.  Moore’s play did not merit his inclusion with JGold, in my opinion.  K’s  praise, I believe, was more motivational for the future than an accurate assessment of Moore’s performance against the Ramblin’ Wreck.  In his 29 minutes, Moore scored only 4 (1-5; 2-2 from the line) while handing out 3 assists, but committing 4 turnovers and 3 personal fouls.  He grabbed 4 defensive rebounds, but had no steals.  Moore’s inconsistency is holding back this team’s growth.  He is still the player on this team that is the furthest from reaching his potential.

Cameo appearances were made by Jaemyn Brakefield (2 minutes; 2 boards and a missed shot); Henry Coleman III ( 3 and ½ minutes with a rebound); and the snake-bit Joey Baker, who managed 2 missed shots, including a wide open 3, and a turnover in his 2 minutes.

The Big Picture

This was a much needed win for Duke and is the reason for cautious optimism going forward.  The caution is warranted because Duke’s last four conference games have not been against elite teams.  For example, UNC visited Pitt last night and handed the Panthers, who beat Duke last Saturday, a 75-65 loss.  Duke has not faced the league-leading Virginia (11-1; 7-0 in the conference) or Florida State (8-1; 5-1).   Duke plays 2 more middle-of-the-ACC-pack teams next, Clemson and Miami, before being truly tested by UNC on February 6.  There is no question that this Duke win was positive medicine.


[CliffsNotes are abbreviated study guides for lazy and/or inattentive students that present  literary and other works in condensed, summarized form (with which I was more than a little familiar). Detractors of these study guides contend they let students bypass rigorous reading and deep understanding of the assignment]

  •  This was a pretty good imitation of Duke Basketball. Alan covered the details that tell the story: better defense, balanced scoring, getting to the foul line – and shooting 80%. As Ernie Lewis, my golf coach, always says: “Now, let’s confirm it (by repeating the shot)”. 
  • Mark Williams, who has been missing in action, was a productive force in the first half. In a year or so, I believe he will be the defensive center piece of a very good Duke team. Unfortunately, Joey Baker and Jeremy Roach are playing themselves out of significant playing time. I don’t understand why Brakefield isn’t the sixth man. He is big, athletic, and shoots the three better than anyone not named Matthew Hurt.
  • It was a pleasure watching Jordan Goldwire have such an instrumental role in this important win. I cannot remember any Duke player improving more in his tenure.

Next Play: Saturday, January 30, in Cameron versus Clemson at 12:00 pm on ESPN

Duke 79- Clemson 53 (Season 12 Issue 13 Game 12) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Against Clemson yesterday, Duke produced so many positives as the Devils’ played their best game of the season at both ends of the court that it is a pleasant quandary to decide which bag of goodies to open and analyze first.  ESPN’s so-called “bracketologist” opined Duke would not be invited into the NCAA tournament field.  ESPN statistics conceded only a 19.8% chance that Duke would  be invited, even after the win over Georgia Tech.  Duke’s performance against Clemson should send the resident “bracketoglogist” back to his Ouija Board to recalculate.  If, as Coach K and his players believe, the performance against Clemson constitutes the launching pad from which this young team continues to improve and “gel”, Duke is not only going to the NCAA tournament, but will also be a feared opponent for any team.  Duke’s performance against Clemson was transformational.  After 3 straight losses, I had written that “for reasons both understandable (few games, injuries, COVID’s distractions) and perplexing (talented players failing to play to their predicted potential), Duke has dramatically failed to live up to preseason expectations (Duke was ranked in the top 10 preseason and is now on the brink of failing to qualify for the NCAA tournament).  Why?  The whole is less than the sum of its parts! — so far.”

The Whole Was Dramatically Superior to the Sum of the Duke Parts

Duke was a fabulous cohesive unit against Clemson on both ends of the court.  On offense, the scoring was evenly balanced among 8 players.  Duke did not have a player in double figures in the first half even though the Blue Devils lit it up for 41 points.  Hurt led the first-half scoring with 8 points, followed by Jeremy Roach and Mark Williams with 7 each,  Moore with 6, Johnson and D.J. Steward with 5 each, and Joey Baker with a 3.   In the second half, Duke scored 38 points, with D.J. Steward’s 6 points leading the way.  Hurt, Moore, and Roach each scored 5; while Jalen, Mark Williams and JGold scored 4 each.  Joey Baker had a 3 (1-5 from long range in the closing stanza) and Mike Buckmire (walk on) scored his first basket for Duke’s last deuce.  That’s efficient balance! The team was a unified entity, whose cohesiveness came shining through. This was the Duke team finally in bloom.

Duke was just as in sync on the defensive end, shutting Clemson down so fiercely that, for all practical purposes, the game was over early in the first half.  In that opening period, Duke allowed Clemson just 16 points in the first 15:38; and only 8 points in the initial 12:37.  Duke’s switching was so smooth that an open look for a Clemson player was a rarity.  Duke led 41-22 at the half. It is a tribute to this young team that the Devils never allowed Clemson back in the game in spite of the human tendency to relax with such a big lead.  Coach K lauded, “At the start of the second half, we played like a veteran team and not allowing a big lead to determine how hard or how well we would play.”  Duke conceded just 53 points in the entire game to a team that won 9 of its first 10 games (before COVID caused an interruption to the Clemson season).  The Tigers beat Louisville (a team that beat Duke last Saturday) on Tuesday for its 10th win (10-4 prior to last night’s shellacking).  Duke put on a defensive performance worthy of Coach K’s philosophy.

The Continuing Tantalizing Emergence of Mark Williams

Elizabeth Williams’s baby brother, Mark, had his best game by far.  (Btw, her jersey hangs in the rafters with those of other all-time Duke greats).  In 14 minutes, Mark scored 11 points (4-6 from the field and 3-5 from the line), while grabbing 5 boards and blocking a shot.  Bill and I both believe that he had several back taps on offensive rebounds that resulted in Duke’s continuing possession that was not accounted for in the stat sheet.  Mark is Duke’s best rim protector and is learning both defense and how to be a force on the interior.  If Williams’ improvement continues, it is another reason no team will want to face Duke in the early rounds of the tournament (not in the later rounds either to be fair, but getting to the later rounds makes a successful season).  Coach K is pleased: “A big thing for Mark is because we weren’t able to play a lot of games in exhibitions, it took him a while to learn what college basketball is all about physicality wise. In the last week or 10 days, he’s really got a good understanding of that. He can be physical without fouling and someone can be physical with you and not foul. … the other thing is moving your feet and he’s done a good job with it.” 

Duke’s Defense Has Stopped Fouling in the Last Two Games

After a foul-prone and shoddy defense in the early going, the Blue Devils played a second straight game of efficient defense without fouling.  The improvement has been breathtaking, and allowed Coach K to retire the zone that had been employed as a band aid (primarily employed to protect Duke from fouling opponents who were driving to the hoop).  Duke played man-to-man the way Duke has done in the Coach K era.  The Blue Devils committed only 6 fouls in the opening half; 13 for the game.  Steward and Hurt each committed 2 first-half fouls, but only a single second-half foul apiece.  Moore committed 3 second-half fouls.  Those three were the only Duke players with as many as 3 fouls.  What a difference that makes!

Goldwire’s Floor Generalship Continued

JGold had lost his starting position for the game against Georgia Tech last Tuesday, and then came off the bench to play the best game of his career, leading Duke in his 35 minutes.  Goldwire was rewarded with the start against Clemson, and his play was just as good, maybe better.  He was the steady hand throughout, handing out 5 assists without a turnover.  JGold also contributed 2 steals and 6 rebounds while scoring 4 points (2-6 from the field including 0-3 from deep).  Coach K had Goldwire on the floor for 34 minutes (substantially more than any other Duke player) demonstrating who Coach K believes  has the ability to lead this team. JGold’s reemergence is a  big part of why the whole is beginning to exceed the parts.

The Offense and The Rotation

Transformingly, Duke had 20 assists against only 9 turnovers.  Jalen joined JGold with 5 assists each, while Hurt, Roach and Steward had 3 each.  Moore had the other assist.  D.J. did not have his best game, turning it over 4 times.  He committed 2 offensive fouls in 90 seconds in the early going, which resulted in Coach K substituting for him.  Duke’s scoring was efficiently balanced.  Hurt in 28 minutes led with 13 (4-7 from the field, including a cold 1-4 from deep, but 4-4 from the stripe); Roach bounced back with a solid game, scoring 12 (4-7 from the field, including 2-5 from deep and 2-2 from the foul line) while handing out 3 assists in 23 and ½ minutes; Wendell Moore (24 minutes), Mark (14 minutes) and D.J. (22 minutes) each scored 11.  Jalen added 9 in his 28 minutes of superb all around play.  Baker added 6 (2-6 from deep) in 14 minutes; and JGold’s 4 rounded out the scoring from those logging starter minutes.

Besides the 8 scorers above, Brakefield (4 minutes), Tapé and Coleman (2 and 1/2 minutes each) were all scoreless.

The Big Picture

As Coach K expressed, “We’re not this outstanding team. We’re a good team with great kids who are trying to get through this whole thing without the experience of a Fall and a non-conference. With a younger team, it’s going to take time.”  However, you can see this team grow as Jalen’s all around talent flowers, JGold and Roach emerge from slumps, D.J. burnishes his sizzle, and Elizabeth’s baby brother becomes a force.  Hurt has been an improvement over last year in every aspect of his game.  The potential for a season to make Duke fans smile has not been extinguished.

The calendar now turns to February with two games this week – at Miami on Monday and the initial game against UNC in Cameron next Saturday.  The test is for Duke to achieve consistency in its performances without serious backsliding.  This is a team that could fulfill its potential and make ESPN’s “bracketologist” eat every syllable of his dire prediction, or, if the improvement stagnates or dissolves, it will make him look like a seer.  We are all on for this ride, which looks far more promising than it did a week ago.


[CliffsNotes are abbreviated study guides for lazy and/or inattentive students that present  literary and other works in condensed, summarized form (with which I was more than a little familiar). Detractors of these study guides contend they let students bypass rigorous reading and deep understanding of the assignment]

  •  Two in a row! Well, I guess Coach K’s job is safe for a while longer. 
  • Deep into the first half, I thought ESPN2 was showing a tape from the good old days when Duke played good defense which led to good, loosey, goosey offense. Holy top ten, Dickie V, look at that ball movement and touch passes. These guys look like they have been playing together for years. And is that Elizabeth Williams’ not-so-little bro Mark (11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in 14 minutes) playing like his All-American Big Sis?
  • I couldn’t resist…. called Johnny Tar Heel to be sure he could see what a well-coached team looked like.
  • In Coach K’s words: “In the three losses, we were in position to win at certain moments. 55-55 against Virginia Tech and three straight exchanges, we were horrible offensively and it hurt us. Against Pitt, it was a one possession game. Against Louisville, we took a step up and really played well enough to be deserving of winning. It wasn’t like you messed up … you just missed. We’re not this outstanding team. We’re a good team with great kids who are trying to get through this whole thing without the experience of a Fall and a non-conference. With a younger team, it’s going to take time. They may never develop because you could lose confidence. Our guys are continuing to work hard and hopefully we can continue that against Miami on Monday.”

Next Play: Monday, February 1, in Cameron versus Miami at 7:00 pm on ESPN

Duke 75- Miami 77 (Season 12 Issue 14 Game 13) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Before the game began last night, I texted Bill that this was a classic “trap” game, which would make the game more of a nail-biter than the difference between the two teams suggested it would be.  Duke was a double-digit favorite after the best outing of the season against Clemson on Saturday.  Miami was 2-9 in the league, shooting under 30 % from behind the arc and giving up a league-high number of deep 3s on the other end.  But other human factors lurked.  Duke had only a day to savor the destruction of Clemson, which was based on Duke’s best defensive effort of the year (all man-to-man), handing out 20 assists and scoring at will on offense. And the young Devils were salivating for their first experience in the Duke-UNC classic rivalry on Saturday (February 6).  The Blue Devils had won two in a row, and would actually contend for the ACC title, if Miami and UNC were conquered as the calendar turned Crucial February.  In hindsight, it is obvious that Duke went to Miami expecting to win easily.  Although Bill dissents [See his CliffsNotes below], the”human factor” scenario is the classic set up for the “trap” into which these young Devils stumbled.

Humble crow will be consumed by your authors.  I retract my snarky reference to ESPN’s “so-called Bracketology guru”, whom I derided for predicting Duke would fail to be invited to the NCAA tournament.  There is no disputing that the Blue Devils did not appear to be NCAA worthy last night.  Bill’s snark to Johnny Tar Heel was a similarly rendered fandom-driven error by Duke’s soggy play against Miami.  (Nice response from Johnny Tar Heel in the CliffsNotes.)

Duke’s Descent to Previous Incompetence Is So Disappointing After the Transformation Against Clemson

Coach K’s perfect words are too bitter-tasting to put in my own mouth, so I’ll let him speak for both of us: “I’m disappointed in our team. It was a quick turnaround. We had two really good games and we acted like a really young team against a team that’s had a lot of—they’re still talented. Jim’s team’s talented. They’re older and they’ve lost close games  …  I don’t know on the quick turnaround if our guys felt this was going to be easy. We did not play well, bottom line. We can go through a whole bunch of things; I didn’t think we competed. I thought we were soft and I saw it in practice yesterday and tried to take steps to change that and we were not able to change it. I’m really disappointed in our team. They did not play like a Duke basketball team tonight and obviously I’m responsible for that. The last two games we won and were deserving to win; we were not tonight. We threw the ball to them about five times and threw it right to them and they got layups and we were very soft. We were very soft and just extremely disappointed, extremely disappointed. … When you get a one-possession lead, if you are really fighting this game, you get a stop. We did not get stops and a couple times just gave them the ball and they got something free. 

“They are really young and for us to win, we have to play really hard and well together. We’re just a good basketball team. We don’t have the old—we have talent, don’t get me wrong. We have to really play hard to win and if we don’t play hard, we’re going to lose. If we play hard, we still might lose. We’re going to get better and get after it, but we didn’t play hard tonight. It’s sad. It really is sad. … The best teacher is experience in anything and you have to learn from those experiences. Yeah, we brought that up like don’t be happy, be hungry. I told them, if we do the job, be happy on Tuesday and be really happy and giddy and so none of that worked. None of that worked. Again, that’s on me and I’m not just saying that. It is on me to get your message across. I wasn’t able to get my message across.”  (Emphasis added)

How Bad Was it?

Mark Williams, in just under 15 minutes, had twice as many assists as the combined efforts of D.J.(0 assists in 33 minutes), JGold (1 assist in 35 minutes), and Roach (0 assists in 12 minutes).  After dishing out 20 assists with only  8 turnovers against Clemson, against Miami, against Miami, Duke had only 8 assists (Moore, 3; Williams and Jalen Johnson each with 2 + Goldwire’s only 1), but 13 turnovers (Jalen, 4, JGold, 3, and Moore 2).  Duke threw the ball away repeatedly, had passes tipped and intercepted so frequently that 13 turnovers seems like an artificially low number.  In the second half, with the game on the line, Duke had only 2 assists (JGold’s only one plus one for Moore).  The Blue Devils were 5-18 from behind the arc and shot less than 50% from the field.  The offense was truly awful, but Duke lost the game on the defensive end.  As Coach K succinctly put it, “We couldn’t stop them. Our man-to-man was horrible.”  Duke retreated to the zone, and was destroyed.  Miami put the ball in the middle of the zone as soon as Duke’s perimeter edged out to prevent Miami’s 3 point shooting.  The zone was the same disaster that it has been recently.  Coach K: “It didn’t matter what we played, we didn’t play it well.”  Miami has been one of the worst deep-shooting teams in all of college basketball.  Last night, Duke “held” Miami to 5-6 from deep in the second half and over 50 % for the game.  Miami shot over 60% from the field in the second half (17-28), while torching the Blue Devils with 44 second-half points.  Duke did not even try to even try to contest Miami’s perimeter shots – sometimes there was not even a Blue Devil in the camera frame when Miami players launched.  Duke shots were contested; Miami’s were not.  Miami scored on layups, almost without resistance (40 points in the paint).  Even when Duke seemingly achieved a stop; the Devils could not complete the successful defensive sequence by securing the rebound of the missed shot.  Allowing second-chance points was one of Duke’s defensive soft spots..  

The final play of the game serves perhaps as a snapshot of Duke’s futility against the Hurricanes:  Miami kept the door open for Duke by missing crucial foul shots.  With 4.3 seconds left and Duke down by 2 (the final score), the Devils had to foul.  Astonishingly, Miami left the door ajar by missing the front end of the 1 and 1.  Duke had a chance to tie or win, but failed to even get a shot off.  Sloppy possession at the single most crucial moment of the game.

The Rotation

Coach K traditionally reduces the rotation when fine-tuning Duke for the run up to the post-season.  Last night, it was apparent that the calendar had changed.  If one discounts Joey Baker’s 2 minute cameo (without a statistic) in the second half, only 7 Duke players saw game action.  

Matt Hurt played a game high 38 minutes scoring a Duke-leading 21 points (7-14 from the field, including a disastrous 1-6 from deep, and a compensating 6-7 from the line).  However, Matt grabbed only 3 boards and turned it over once.  He added a block.

Wendell Moore played his best game in some time. In 35 minutes he scored an efficient 18 points on only 9 attempts (7-9 from the field, including 1-1 from deep and 3-3 from the stripe), while dishing out a Duke-high 3 assists (2 turnovers),  corralling 6 boards, and making a steal.  Moore is Duke’s most positive takeaway from this extremely disappointing game.

Jordan Goldwire played badly (after 2 great games) in his 35 minutes, scoring only 5 points (2-10 from the field including missing wide open layups; 1-4 from deep).  JGold turned it over 3 times (with only a single assist).  He had a pair of steals.  His play has mirrored Duke’s performances — both against Clemson (wonderful!) and against Miami (ugh!).

D.J. Steward scored 14 points on 13 shots in his 34 minutes (5-13 from the field, including 2-5 from 3land, and 2-2 from the stripe).  D.J. grabbed 6 rebounds (he is a terrific rebounding guard), but failed to dish out an assist, while turning it over once.  Duke was not able to press and run against Miami (D.J. thrives when the Devils do that); Duke had only 4 fast break points.

Jalen Johnson continues to perplex with his dramatic inconsistency.  The gurus believe he is a lottery pick and will be one-and-done.  Not judging from last night’s checkered performance!  In 26 minutes, Jalen scored 13 (6-12 from the field, including 0-1 from behind the arc and 1-1 from the stripe).  He led Duke in rebounding with 7, and handed out 2 assists against a troubling 4 turnovers.  Jalen played a strong second half after a desultory first period where he scored only 2 points in 12 minutes. Like the Longfellow poem, “when [he] was good, [he] was very very good, but when [he] was bad, [he] was horrid.”

Mark Williams, playing for 16 minutes, made his only field goal attempt,for 2 points.  However, he contributed 3 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, 2 assists and a steal, while committing 2 fouls and a turnover.  He played only 6 second-half minutes.  His upside is hard to miss or ignore.

Jeremy Roach failed to contribute meaningfully after his excellent outing against Clemson.  Jeremy scored 2 points in 14 minutes (1-3; 0-1 from deep) without an assist (1 turnover).  Roach played only 5 second-half minutes.

Duke went with the starters for the entire second half – Hurt 20 minutes, Moore and Goldwire 18 minutes each, D.J. 17 minutes, and Jalen 14.  It is hard to imagine how that unit could have played worse on defense, allowing Miami over 60% shooting, while giving up 44 points. 

The Big Picture

Carolina comes to Cameron on Saturday, giving the young Blue Devils a chance to earn their way into The Big Dance.  They were well on the outside of the tournament even before last night’s humiliation, according to ESPN “bracketology”.  If the Duke team that slaughtered Clemson shows up, Duke will have better than a fighting chance.  If the team that traveled to Miami plays Carolina on Saturday, I am not looking forward to writing the next DBP.

Game on!  Season On!


[CliffsNotes are abbreviated study guides for lazy and/or inattentive students that present  literary and other works in condensed, summarized form (with which I was more than a little familiar). Detractors of these study guides contend they let students bypass rigorous reading and deep understanding of the assignment]

Alan called this a “trap game”.  I disagree, because a definition of a “trap game” is one in which a playoff contender faces a losing team, but one that still has some motivation for playing hard, and possesses some matchup advantages. That is oh for two, because:

 1). Duke is a pretender not a contender. A reminder of what the great NFL Coach Bill Parcells said: “ You are what your record says you are.”

2). Except for Boston College, Miami is the worst team in a suddenly mediocre ACC — AND was missing four starters.

After Duke’s disappointing start to the season and a couple of impressive wins, an inability to “get up” or whatever for a “gimme” momentum game is just inexcusable for such formerly highly rated players. And speaking of overrated, despite a number of impressive plays, even halves, Jalen Johnson is too inconsistent….makes too many silly, casual mistakes—travelling, sloppy passes, fouls, not consistently playing hard and smart—to make my draft list.

 Coach K: “I told them, ‘if you come down to Miami to play, you will lose. If you come down to Miami to compete, we will win’. . . . A single game is the most selfish thing in our game. It is selfish because it does not care about what you did in the previous game. It does not care what you’re going to do in a future game. If you do not come completely immersed in it, it will not reward you.”

Johnny Tar Heel texted me: “I liked what Coach K had to say. Let’s face it, these one-and-done hot shots don’t have the maturity or guts to compete consistently at this level. They’ve been pampered and told how great they were from the 9th grade. But do they know how to compete? Nobody is going to roll over for them particularly this year when Duke hasn’t been near as good or dominant as in years past.”

Next Play: Saturday February 6, in Cameron versus UNC at 6:00 pm on ESPN

Duke 87-UNC 91 (Season 12 Issue 15 Game 14) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


I had a good feeling for a Duke win after the Jeykll-Hyde first half, in which the Blue Devils went from a somnambulist team that trailed the dominant Tar Heels by 10 with 8:21, to gaining the lead by 3 with 2:53 remaining — when Joey Baker cashed a 3.  Duke’s last lead of the half was by a point with just under 2:00 left in the half.  Duke never regained the lead, though the score was tied a couple of times down the second-half stretch..  My optimism was fueled by context and past performance.  UNC had shot 67% from behind the arc (6-9) in the opening stanza after its season-long frustration from deep.  The law of averages said UNC would return to bad form.  [Wrong: The Tar Heels continued at 67% — 4-6 from deep in the second half]. 

Going into the game, Mathew Hurt was scoring at almost 19 points per game, while shooting over 50%, including 40% from deep.  He has been Duke’s best and most (only) consistent player all year.  Hurt had been basically AWOL in the first half, failing to score a single point (0-1 from deep was his only shot attempt!) and grabbing only a single rebound (Hurt had been averaging over 7 a game).  Worse, he had committed 2 fouls while being dominated on the interior by the Carolina bigs.  (For example, Brooks, who is 6’10” and powerfully built, scored 10 first-half points).  Surely, the law of averages would contribute to Hurt having a superb second half. [Wrong: Hurt had still not scored when he committed his third foul with 11:22 left in the game.  Hurt got untracked with 5 points in the next 2 minutes, drawing Duke within 2 with 8:21 left.  Then,  Matt committed foul # 4 with 6:54 to go before tying the game at 77 with 4:43 left on a dexterous turnaround jumper.  However, optimism disappeared when Hurt fouled out seconds later, leaving Duke without its leading scorer at “winning time”.]

Duke started Jeremy Roach and D.J. Steward in the backcourt (along with Hurt, Wendell Moore and Mark Williams), while leaving Goldwire on the bench.  Duke’s turnover issues were apparent from the tip-off.  The Blue Devils turned it over on their first few possessions.  I believed that Goldwire and Jalen would steady Duke down in the second half. [Wrong: Duke gave up more points on live ball turnovers (29) than it had in many years.]

Carolina big guys had their way against the Duke defense, scoring at will on layups and put backs.  I thought Duke would emphasize rim protection and blocking out to cut down the Tar Heel advantage. [Wrong: UNC flat out killed Duke on the boards in the second half, out rebounding Duke 10-9 off Duke’s defensive backboard.  In addition to the 6’10” Brooks, Bacot (also 6’10”), and Sharpe (a 265 lb powerhouse) had their way when UNC missed a shot.  There were times when the Heels had 3 -4 shots on a single possession.  Duke’s only double digit rebounders in the closing period were Hurt with 2 and Jalen with 4.]

The Second Half was Different in Many Ways

There is no disputing that the Blue Devils did not appear to be NCAA-worthy last night.  A team that was ranked No. 9 in the AP’s preseason poll is on a trajectory to miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. “That is the Blue Devils’ fate, unless a miracle occurs and, indeed, starts occurring right now,” wrote ESPN on its website.  This team has players who have justly earned high level reputations, yet Duke has not at this point come close to “gelling into an efficient team.”  It is apparent that Coach K is as puzzled as we are. 

Coach K, “We just have to keep playing. I don’t have a long-term goal. My goal is to get ready for Notre Dame now. You start playing all those games, and again, people play those games, that’s what sports are about, but we can’t do that. We just have to work hard and take it one game at a time. Our guys are improving. They’re working hard. They’re coming in for extra work. They have great attitudes. They’re a young group. They were a team that were deserving to win too. And that’s all I ask for my teams is to keep playing that way. I believe in them and we’re going to keep working with them.”

Duke was efficient offensively in the second half, scoring 48 points by going small, to create penetration on offense and to press on defense.  The resulting Duke defense could hardly have been worse.  Duke gave up 50 second-half points!  Every Carolina 3 point attempt was uncontested and wide-open.  Carolina’s big guys creamed Duke’s rebounders.  Duke could not protect its own rim and ended up fouling excessively (12 in the second half).  Even in desperation, with Duke’s man-to-man being shredded, Coach K was unwilling to risk the zone defense which had proved so porous in recent games.

Essentially, Duke re-created all of its shortcomings against Miami last Tuesday, in this game against UNC. 

The Rotation Was Dramatically Different

Coach K traditionally reduces his rotation when fine-tuning Duke for the run up to post-season.  Last night, it was apparent that Coach K’s philosophy had changed to meet his team’s failure to develop an effective First Five and solid rotation.  Duke played 9, adding Joey Baker and Henry Coleman III to the 7 man rotation that Coach K had used against Miami.  Both contributed admirably. 

Baker hunted his shot and scored 11 points in just over 18 minutes (4-8, including 3-7 from behind the arc) to go with a rebound, an assist, and a blocked shot (2 turnovers). 

Coleman was a revelation, playing superbly on the interior both offensively and defensively.  He (and Jalen) gave Duke some grit inside.  In just over 12 minutes, Coleman scored 4 (2-2 on a layup and a put back) grabbed 2 rebounds, handed out 2 assists (without a turnover), blocked a shot, and drew 3 fouls (unfortunately, 0-2 from the stripe).  His performance will earn him more playing time, I predict.

Mark Williams is getting double digit minutes on the court, and producing – especially on the defensive end with blocked shots and rebounds.  Against the oversized Tar Heels, Williams pulled down 8 rebounds and blocked 3 shots in 14 and ½ minutes.  He added a field goal on two attempts. On the downside, Mark committed a foul and turned it over once.  Inexplicably, Duke was minus 19 while he was on the court.  

Jalen Johnson continues to perplex with his dramatic inconsistency – for the second straight game, his was a tale of two different halves.  Jalen played a strong second half after a mediocre first period where he scored only 4 points in just under 11 minutes.  However, Jalen turned it around in the second half,    scoring 10 second-half points, giving him 14 for the game (6-12, including 2-2 from deep), while he grabbed 5 boards, handed out 5 assists, to go with a block and a steal.  On the downside, he committed 3 fouls and turned it over twice. He (and Jordan Goldwire) led Duke in the second half. If Duke is going to make a run to qualify for the NCAA tournament, Jalen must morph into a consistently excellent player.  He has the talent to do that.

Jordan Goldwire played a great second half after a middling opening period.  He did not start, and contributed only 2 first-half foul shots without a first-half assist, while turning it over twice.  In the second half, JGold morphed into the floor leader Duke needs.  In the closing stanza, Goldwire scored 5 points in a little over 13 minutes (2-3, including 1-1, a crucial 3) while handing out 4 assists without a turnover.  On defense, he made 3 steals while disrupting the UNC half-court offense. 

Matt Hurt was rendered virtually useless by UNC.  When Coach K was asked how UNC accomplished that, he said,  “Well, the physicality of the game. They’re huge. When you have to guard those big guys, it wears you out. They played really good defense, especially early, and knocked us back. They knocked us back at the beginning of each half. And then we came back in each half but not far enough.”

Wendell Moore is regaining the form he showed last year, which landed him on the preseason Wooden Watch list.  In just under 30 minutes, he scored 15 (6-9 from the field, including 1-3 from deep and 2-3 from the stripe), while dishing out 4 assists (2 turnovers), corralling 5 boards, and making a steal.  But with 15 seconds to go in the game and Duke down 2 points, with possession of the ball, Moore turned the ball over by committing a traveling violation on a final drive to the basket.

D.J. Steward scored 11 game points in his 23 minutes (5-10 from the field, including 1-1 from 3land, but shockingly failed to get to the stripe).  But, in the second half, D.J. turned it over twice without an assist, while scoring only 4.

Jeremy Roach had a really good game, leading Duke in scoring with 16 points in 27 minutes (7-14 from the field, but 0nly 2-6 on wide open deep shots, and not a single trip to the line).  The best news is that Roach notched 5 assists against only 2 turnovers and added a steal.  Roach will develop into a solid ACC point guard.  The question is whether he can do it this season.

The Big Picture

Coach K, “People earn starting, and they have to keep earning it. That’s part of the growth. We have all these young guys; you have to keep earning it. That’s been part of our program.  Mark (Williams) has been playing really well. Tonight’s game was a very difficult one. It was so physical inside, and he was not ready for that level. He will be. Then offensively they really clogged up the lane when he was in. I thought Henry [Coleman III] gave us an amazing boost. We just have to keep looking at different things for our team and keep getting better. The kids have great attitudes and great work ethics, and that’s what I’m looking for. However that turns out, it’ll turn out the best that it could turn out based on good attitudes and work ethic. It may not reach the level of expectations of other people, but if our kids do that it’ll reach the level of expectation for me. I’ve coached some real young teams before and you gotta stay with it. You gotta stay with it.”

In past seasons, Duke has been superb in the final minutes of the games.  However, the final play against UNC again served as a snapshot of this season’s Devils’ futility in the clutch:  Duke failed dramatically against Miami last Tuesday even after the Hurricanes kept the door open for Duke by missing crucial foul shots.  With 4.3 seconds left and Duke down by 2 (the final score), the Devils had a chance to tie or win, but failed to even get a shot off.  Against UNC, Duke had the ball, down 2 with 15 seconds left.  Moore drove but then turned it over with a traveling violation.  Sloppy possession at the single most crucial moment of the game … again! 

The schedule gets more difficult now, with 8 conference games remaining before the ACC tournament.  After a game in Durham against The Fighting Irish (Feb 9), Duke travels to NC State and Wake Forest before returning home.  The Devils then play Louisville, Syracuse and UVA at Cameron.  Duke finishes on the road against Georgia Tech, and then on to UNC for the ever exciting Senior Night, this year in Chapel Hill.  Duke is now 5-5 in the conference and 7-7 on the season.  Not what the gurus predicted in November.


The last time Duke and North Carolina played a basketball game when both were unranked was 1960, which is so long ago Vic Bubas was in his first year as coach, Art Heyman was a freshman (not eligible to play on the varsity), and Alan Silber and I were seniors (in college, not in life, as is the case now). My kids used to refer to those as “the olden days”—and that was in the 1980’s.  Nevertheless, I must point out that was also the year Duke won their first Atlantic Coast Conference (established  June, 1953) Tournament Championship, beating South Carolina, North Carolina, and Wake Forest, therefore, being the only ACC team to play in the NCAA Tournament (that was the league rule in those days).

Needless to say, there is a reason both teams are unranked again in 2021, for the first time in 61 years. As Johnny Tar Heel, with whom I watched the game, says: “Neither is a very good team. However, it still is Duke vs. Carolina minus the Cameron Crazies– and still counts. The fact that the Tar Heels scored 91 points and Duke 87 (the most each team has scored this year) speaks volumes about the defensive deficiencies of each team. To their credit, the Heels, big but a notoriously poor shooting team, hit 10 of 15 three point shots and had 15 more free throw attempts than the Devils. However, to John’s point, they hit only 13 of 22 (59%) free throws. What does that tell you? It indicates to me that until the Blue Devils start playing better defense, and smarter (why are Hurt and Johnson so often in foul trouble?), they are a mediocre basketball team. And, when their 6’10” best scorer (Hurt) is pushed around, held to 7 points, 5 rebounds, and fouls out with five minutes to play, he is not NBA ready—nor frankly is any other player.

Coach K did not start Johnson and Goldwire, saying that all players earn starting and playing time in practice, and played ten men, which is not a rotation I can remember this deep into the season. So, apparently he and his staff have not yet solved the riddle of this group of young, inconsistent players who are not yet ready for prime time. Perhaps there is just no there there on this team– or, perhaps the Basketball Gods are punishing Duke for all the close games the Blue Devils have stolen from the Tar Heels over the years.

 Johnny Tar Heel says: “Payback is a bitch, baby. Deal with it!”

Next Play: Tuesday February 9, in Cameron, versus Notre Dame, at 4:30 pm on ACCN

Duke 89-Notre Dame 93 (Season 12 Issue 16 Game 15) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”



“I am most concerned about Duke’s ability to keep the opposition from offensive put-backs and rebounds and to defend the rim against drives.  My take is, this season depends on how well Duke can defend.”

As Thomas Jefferson sings in the musical “Hamilton”:
“These are wise words, enterprising men quote ’em
“Don’t act surprised, you guys, ’cause I wrote ’em!”

And in fact I did write those words in the preseason (DBP#1).   If you want to know why Duke will fail to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995, look no further than the defensive disaster this season has become.  Against a Notre Dame team that was coming off a devastating loss to Georgia Tech, and was overall 8-10 for the season, Duke gave up 48 second-half points, allowing the Fighting Irish to shoot 16 for 28 from the field.  The Irish shot 53% for the game and punished the Duke defense with every offensive move, whether on the perimeter or in the paint.  Unfortunately, Duke is displaying a disappointing consistency on defense.  UNC put up 91 points (50 in the second half), shooting the lights out with uncontested shot after uncontested shot.  Thus, Duke surrendered 98 points combined in the second halves of their last two games.  Duke’s celebrated man-to-man defense has not been this inefficient in decades.

         Guarding the Perimeter

The problem begins with the Devils’ defenders unable to prevent the offensive player from sweeping to the basket.  There were times it was downright embarrassing watching the Notre Dame guards use the pump fake, or refuse the screen, to create straight line uncontested layups.  D.J. was a consistent victim, as was Wendell Moore (who had an otherwise superb performance).  “In the first-half, we over-helped,” Coach K said. “Part of their scheme is, they have really good spacing. . . . They got three 3s in a row with our over-help. Ryan really went by us a couple of times. We pressured him like he picked up his dribble instead of controlling the dribble. Our guys are playing hard but you’ve got to play that smarter.”

         Guarding the Pick and Roll

The young Blue Devils were even worse trying to guard ball screens.  The Fighting Irish guards made wide open perimeter shots.  When Duke tried to go over the screen, Notre Dame fed their rolling big men  open layups.  When help arrived (usually late), the rollers then fed their interior partner for another uncontested lay up.  Duke was almost always a rotation short.  Wendell Moore said in his post-game interview. “We couldn’t get a stop. They got every shot they wanted, they got every 3 they wanted.”


Duke returned to its “icky” fouling, putting one of the best foul shooting teams in the nation on the foul line, repeatedly.  The Fighting Irish made Duke pay!  Notre Dame got into the bonus with around nine minutes left in the second half, and hit 18-of-20 from the charity stripe. “We’ve got to try not to foul . . . and listen to the scouting report,” Moore said. “They were getting fouled and getting to the foul line. . . . we can’t expect to win when we put a great free-throw shooting team on the line.”


It appears that Coach K, based on what he has seen in this seasons’ games, has given up on the zone defense as an option, even when his man-to-man has been shredded.  Early in the season, Duke had some success with a pressing, trapping, gambling defense.  It appeared to me that smaller quicker players like Steward, Moore, and Goldwire had success in deflections in the passing lanes leading to live ball turnovers and transition baskets.  Duke has not employed such a gambling defense in its last 3 losses (Miami, UNC and ND).

What Is The Jalen Johnson Story?

The announcers continue to describe Jalen as “a lottery pick” with amazing talent.  Certainly, he has had a few amazing performances (none lasting more than a single half), but his playing time has been reduced as Duke has been losing.  There is no question that he has failed to perform to reputation in recent games.  His lack of on-court time against the Irish is beyond puzzling.  Noteworthy: he was not on the floor for the last 5:04 of the game where the outcome was being decided.  He played only 8 second-half minutes, scoring just 3 points (1-3, only making the 1 shot from behind the arc) with 0 rebounds, and a crucial turnover.  Jalen re-entered the game with 8:51 to go.  Duke led 80- 78 with 6:21 to go when the wheels started to come off.  With 5:39 to go,  Jalen made a really bad pass, which was easily intercepted.  Notre Dame missed the layup, but their “big man”, Juwan Durham, dunked the offensive rebound giving Notre Dame a lead. Coach K then pulled Jalen, who never re-entered the game.  This “lottery pick” played a total of 15 game minutes, scoring 8 (3-6 from the field, including 2-2 from deep).  In that brief appearance, Jalen committed two fouls without drawing a foul, and made 3 turnovers without grabbing a single rebound.  Inexplicable…unless there’s a story we don’t know about?

Failure When The Game Is On the Line

Roach tied the game at 83 with a clutch 3 at the 4:49 mark.  Duke did not score again for the next 3:06, with Roach, Hurt, Moore, and Baker all missing their shots.  Duke failed to convert on two promising fast break opportunities.  Moore finally scored to pull Duke within 2 points (85-83) with 1:43 to go.  Duke got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead with 1:10 to go when the critical bad play occurred – just as it did against Miami; just as it did against UNC.  Duke advanced into the front court, where Roach immediately committed an obvious offensive foul.  Hubb hit a circus 3 from deep, giving the Fighting Irish an insurmountable 5 point lead with 37 seconds to go.  Juwan Durham was 5-5 for the Irish at crunch time, all on offensive rebounds — disastrous! Duke couldn’t get a stop, even when the first Irish shot missed.

The Rotation

         The Good

Wendell Moore notched a double-double, while playing his best game of the season. In almost 35 minutes, he scored 24 points (9-16 from the field, including 2-5 from deep and 4-4 from the line).  He led Duke with 10 rebounds, had 3 assists without a turnover, and committed only a single foul.  He led by example and is finally rounding into the form that was expected of him at the beginning of the year.  He was terrific!

Jeremy Roach also played extraordinarily well, leading Duke in scoring in his game-high 37 minutes.  He is now the Duke point guard.  Roach scored 16 (7-12 from the field, including 2-4 from deep, without getting to the foul line).  He handed out 2 assists against a single turnover.  He added 2 steals.  But committed 4 personal fouls.

Mark Williams continues to improve and contribute. In almost 19 minutes, he tallied 8 on 4-7 from the field (missed his only free throw attempt), while pulling down 4 boards, blocking a pair of shots and handing out an assist, all without a turnover.  Duke played especially well while he was on the court.

Henry Coleman III – had a brief 3 minute cameo where he scored on an offensive rebound and converted the foul shot for a traditional 3 point play.

         The Bad

Goldwire and Hurt both seem to have regressed.  Hurt played 32 minutes, scoring only a modest 13 points (5-10, including 1-4 from deep and 2-2 from the stripe).  He had only 4 boards; just one in the second half.  Hurt seemed a step slow on defense and without his usual  rebounding intensity.  JGold’s playing time was reduced to 20 minutes(11 in the second half), during which he failed to score. 

D.J. Steward seems to have lost his dazzle.  In his 21+ minutes, he scored 10, but committed 4 turnovers.  He was clearly more efficient earlier this season.

         The Ugly

Joey Baker has been woeful. He hit a 3 for his only points in 16 minutes (1-5, including 1-3 from deep), while committing 3 fouls.

Brakefield has made only cameo appearances recently, but did not appear at all in this game against Notre Dame.

Tapé may be hurt, or may have just played his way out of the rotation. With Mark Williams earning more playing time and Coleman beginning to contribute, Tapé will have a hard time getting back on the court.

The Big Picture

The schedule gets even more difficult now, with only 7 conference games remaining before the ACC tournament.  Duke travels to NC State and Wake Forest, before returning home to take on Louisville, Syracuse, and UVA at Cameron.  Duke finishes on the road against Georgia Tech, and then on to another UNC (Senior Night) showdown.  It is now clear that Duke’s only chance of qualifying for the NCAA tournament is a win or deep run in the ACC tournament.  Unfortunately, seeming completely unlikely.  

So what is the role of Duke Fans following and rooting for an under-achieving team?  Perhaps, as Duke fans, we need to experience what the rest of college hoop fandom routinely go through.  We need to be tough during the losing times just as well as we are giddy and snarky in the winning days.  And then there is always hope.  The Duke 2015 National Championship team lost in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament, but somehow made the changes that morphed into the awesome defensive team that won.  And, as I have heard said, “hope springs eternal.”


After the first seven minutes, during which the Blue Devils played like a contender and went up by fifteen, I held my breath as Notre Dame started scoring points. Then I thought I was watching a rerun of the Carolina game and had a very uneasy feeling about the outcome. The second half confirmed that feeling.

This year, there is something(s) wrong with this team that Coach K has been unable to fix. They have had two losing streaks of three games each. In each streak, the opponents shot over fifty percent from both the inside and outside the three point line, and were awarded more free throws. Recently, Duke has scored almost 90 points against two mediocre teams in a row, and still lost. What does this indicate? It indicates, inescapably, that this is a bad defensive team, and that Alan is right: This team is less than the sum of its parts, because none of the players are complete basketball players and, possibly, there is a lack of chemistry amongst them. No one — except Moore, Roach, and Williams — are improving (from a subpar floor).   And what’s up with Jalen Johnson? Is his foot bothering him or are his feelings hurt? Whatever, he has been very inconsistent. Joey Baker’s shelf life is expiring as his defense is marginally better, but his once promising shot is in a free fall.

Unless there is a miraculous turnaround, I suspect there will be a big turnover in the squad for next year—and it won’t be because this year’s players were drafted into the NBA.

Misery loves company: Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina are all also having uncharacteristically bad years. It seems as though the entire country is turned upside down.

Next Play: Saturday February 13, at Raleigh, versus NC State, at 4:30 pm EST, on ACCN

Duke 69-NC State 53 (Season 12 Issue 17 Game 16) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”



Coach K: “We’ve been working the last few days on our defense, and pretty much that’s all we’ve been working on. We played really good defense today. By working on our defense, we also got to be more physical. In the first half, our defense was outstanding and we got loose balls, we got scrums and we won some scrums.”

Just how good was the Duke defense against the wounded, undermanned Wolfpack?  With just under 6 minutes gone by, NC State had scored 10 points and trailed by 1.  Duke held State scoreless for the next 5:34.  By the time State had 12 on their scoreboard, Duke led by 16 (28-12).  State made a free throw before they finally scored a field goal on an  offensive rebound dunk to score their 15th point at the 5:09 mark.  In sum, Duke had allowed the Wolfpack a measly 3 points in 9 first-half minutes, leading by 20 (33-13) before the Wolfpack had scored 15.  In retrospect, the game was already over at that point. 

Mark Williams played a season high (for him) 28 minutes of outstanding defense.  His ability to protect the rim is one of the reasons the Devils finally morphed into an efficient defensive force.  May it continue.  Williams blocked 5 Wolfpack attempts and made a steal while anchoring the interior defense.  Elizabeth’s baby brother was also Duke’s second leading scorer (13 points on 5-9 from the field and 3-4 from the stripe) while pulling in 3 rebounds.  While Mark did turn it over 3 times, he committed only 2 fouls. “Mark [Williams] is getting better and better. He’s learning how to play physical,” Coach K gushed.

Duke’s perimeter defense was excellent, led by Wendell Moore.  The sophomore had only an average offensive game (5 points in 30+ minutes on 2-7 from the field, including 0-3 from 3land, and 1-2 from the foul line), but directed and organized the perimeter defense.  Moore gets credit for Duke’s morphing from discombobulated against UNC and Notre Dame into a smooth-functioning, coordinated switching machine against the Wolfpack.  All the perimeter defenders improved dramatically.  Moore had 3 steals, as did JGold in his 26 minutes.  D.J. was back sizzling (led Duke with 4 assists against a single turnover) at both ends of the court in his 29 minutes.  While Steward recorded a steal, the stat sheet does not show his successful pressuring the Wolfpack guards, which helped to disrupt their offense with his deflections.   Jeremy Roach led Duke in minutes with 32 and ½, in spite of a modest offensive game.  He scored only 2 (1-3, including 0-2 from deep, without drawing a foul) while committing 3 turnovers with only a single assist.  Coach K kept Roach on the floor because he was superb on the defensive end – keeping the Wolfpack guards out of the paint for the most part.

Matt Hurt’s defense in the second half was improved over his last several outings..  He committed his 2nd foul in the first half after only 7 minutes on the court and rode the bench for the rest of the half (though he had scored 11 on superb shooting — 4-4, including 3-3 from deep).  He played 18 second-half minutes (without fouling), blocking a shot and anchoring the interior.  Coach K praised his improvement, “He was quicker than he’s been in over a month today, and that’s after a couple really hard defensive practices. He seemed more alive today. He was quick and he got his shot off quick. He had a heck of a game. With this scoring game – it’s a lower scoring game – to get 24 points, 6-for-7 from three. But he got his shot off quicker. He just seemed bouncy. Our team hasn’t been that for some reason, but Matt had a great game today. Maybe it’s because his parents were here.”  Nice personal touch.

Jaemyn Brakefield made the most of his playing time with an excellent floor game.  He defends both the interior and the wings efficiently. He missed a few near the rim that should have been made.  Even so,  in 14 and ½ minutes he scored 6 (2-5, including 1-2 from behind the arc and 1-2 from the stripe) to go with 5 rebounds.  Coach K: “Jaemyn Brakefield really helped us and he was close to having an amazing game. He missed a couple right around the bucket, but he was right there. His physicality and Henry [Coleman III’s was] really, really good.”  Coleman had 2 brief cameos — one in each half.

It is noteworthy that Duke committed only 14 fouls, just  6 in the second half.  Thus, State was only in the bonus twice in the first half (0-1 on the first; 2-2 on the last foul with 4 seconds left in the half).  A wondrous improvement from the Notre Dame and UNC fouling debacles.

What Is The Jalen Johnson Story?

Although the announcers continue to describe Jalen as “a lottery pick,” his play has not been of that caliber.  Jalen did not play in the second half at all after logging only 8 minutes in the first half, where he scored 3 on 3-5 from the line while missing both of his field goal attempts.  He had a steal and turned it over once.  Coach K does not think Jalen is prepared for the physicality of the college game: “Today – you saw the game – it was really physical. We had him in there a couple times and he is not back.  I would’ve put him back in, but Jaemyn [Brakefield] and Henry [Coleman III] and those guys – it didn’t knock them back.  Jalen will keep playing.  That’s the thing that all freshmen have to learn.  Mark [Williams] now has learned that. The physicality of this game is huge.  I have confidence in him, we’re going to keep working with him and he’ll have opportunities.” 

I have heard this strange rumor that the NBA game is quite a bit more physical than NCAA hoops.  Lottery pick?  Really?

The Rotation

Coach K’s rotation was longer than usual – 9 players.  Joey Baker and Patrick Tapé did not play.  As noted, Jalen played only in the first half while Henry Coleman III appeared in a cameo in each half (5 minutes total).  Brakefield was the main player off the bench with 14:38 game-minutes.  The other 6 players who logged starter minutes were Roach (32), Moore (30), Steward (29+), Williams (28), JGold (26), and Hurt (25+).  This rotation allowed each player to remain fresh, resulting in non-stop intense pressure on the Wolfpack.

The Big Picture

Before we turn to next season for solace, it is worth evaluating this season’s struggles and Coach K’s approach.  For Alanalysis, this season has not been about wins and losses or conference championships or standings; rather it has been watching K’s efforts to augment this team’s growth and to become successful before the season ends.  It’s been a checkered ride.  Duke looked as if it would launch into a successful season when the Blue Devils demolished Clemson in Cameron on January 31 by 79-53.  The defense was glorious against a good team and the offense was smooth and efficient.  D.J. Steward proclaimed it “Duke’s launching pad.”  As we know, the launch failed and Duke lost its next 3 games embarrassingly badly (Miami, UNC and Notre Dame). 

 There is, of course, the potential that beating NC State in Raleigh will be the launch.  This year it is the quantum of improvement day by day that is worth scrutinizing.  Will Duke make the NCAA tournament?  It looks doubtful now, but there is a reason that we actually play the games.  Coach K: “[T]hese kids have worked hard everyday. They could’ve come in here down. You lose three in a row, you’re under .500, you lose some close games, you’re playing at Duke and all those things – they’ve not done that. They’ve really worked hard and have been enthusiastic, upbeat and we just have to keep doing that and don’t pay attention to anyone else. Just keep doing that and something good will happen. Something momentarily, because we won one game, happened today. You’ve just got to stay with it – that’s what our program has done – and see what happens if you do that.”

Indeed.  Let’s see what happens.  It just might be “good things.”


Duke gave Coach K a 74th birthday present near and dear to his heart– their best defensive effort of the year and a much needed win against a Tobacco Road rival. For his part, he made some changes that worked well. He started Hurt and Williams, who seem to complement each other very well, and substituted liberally a nine-man rotation, sometimes in waves. Everyone except Johnson and Coleman logged double digit minutes and Baker never left the bench. Make what you want about Johnson’s reduced minutes but the blunt truth is that he has been less effective than Hurt or Williams and today both Brakefield and Coleman played more enthusiastically, physically, and effectively. For whatever mysterious reason, since the sensational Chopin State game Jalen has played smaller than his height, weight, and reputation, while Williams has become much more impressive down low and Hurt’s range stretches the floor, opening it up for every other player.

Not to diminish the win, but North Carolina State is also a young team that has sort of hit the wall. Coach K says nice things about his players and is optimistic in a strong finish to an otherwise disappointing season. In the meantime, here is a column by Gary  Parrish of CBS Sports:

Duke lost again last week — for the eighth time this season, for the fourth time at home, for at least the fourth time to an opponent unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament. Consequently, at 7-8, the Blue Devils now have a losing record for the first time since November 1999. They’re 3-6 in the first two quadrants with two additional losses coming in Quadrant 3. So, barring a wild turnaround, Duke, arguably the biggest brand in the entire sport, is about to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995.

“My advice: Get your jokes off now.

“They’ll likely be useless this time next season.

“I was asked the other day whether I believe these wildly disappointing seasons at Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State are just one-offs or the beginning of the end of the dominance these programs have demonstrated under Hall of Fame coaches for more than a decade. Honestly, I’d lean toward the former, as I genuinely expect the Blue Devils, the Wildcats, and the Spartans to bounce back next season.

“And I’m all-in on Duke.

“My optimism is largely rooted in the recruiting class Mike Krzyzewski is likely to enroll. And before you yell, “But Duke sucks right now even though it just enrolled a heralded recruiting class, Parrish!” let me remind you that all heralded recruiting classes are not created equal. According to 247Sports, Duke’s most recent recruiting class, the one that comprises this current team’s freshman class, featured four five-star prospects — namely Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward and Mark Williams. On a surface level, that sounds great. But none of those players were ranked in the top 10 of the Class of 2020, which meant, for the first time since 2012, Duke did not enroll a single top-10 prospect in advance of this season.

“But that won’t be the case next season.

“Duke already has commitments from Paolo Banchero, a 6-9 forward ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2021, and AJ Griffin, a 6-7 wing ranked No. 7 in the Class of 2021. And the Blue Devils are also considered the leader for Patrick Baldwin, a 6-9 wing ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2021. So, at this moment, it appears Duke will eventually become just the fifth team in the past 11 years to enroll three top-10 prospects in the same year.”

Next Play: Wednesday February 17, at Winston Salem, versus Wake Forest, at 8:30 pm EST, on ACCN

Duke 84 -Wake Forest 60 (Season 12 Issue 18 Game 17) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Duke played so well that I am having trouble with the lead … Duke looked like a cohesive, strong team (worthy of a #9 ranking, which was Duke’s place in the pre-season poll).  I want to anoint the Duke team of these last two games as having been launched (finally) – as D.J. wrongfully predicted after Duke had whumped Clemson just before the triple disaster of losses at home to Miami, UNC, and Notre Dame.  Duke has been superb for the last two games at both ends of the court, but especially on defense;yet, neither Wake Forest nor NC State are even close to good teams. Wisdom teaches not to get burned on the flame of unjustified optimism … at least until the Blue Devils deliver this type of efficient performance against an elite team.  Saturday night, February 20 against UVA in Cameron at 8 pm.  Might just be worth watching. 

The Dramatic Transformation into Defensive Efficiency

While Duke has been efficient on offense, it is the dramatic turnaround on defense that produces new optimism about the eventual assessment of the 2020-21 season.  Coach K: “We changed our ball screen defense a week ago to better suit this team, and our kids have really done that well … We’ve had six straight days – the two before NC State and then [the game against] NC State – where we just had great practices and worked so hard, and then it translated to the NC State game. I gave them off Sunday. Again, we had two great days where these guys are working so hard, and then it translated tonight. My staff has done a good job.” 

Somehow, I doubt that simply making an “adjustment of ball screen defense” is the whole answer for this rather spectacular transformation.  I strongly suspect the adjustment was as much attitudinal as strategic.  Duke is simply playing harder on defense, communicating better, swarming in to help, and being really cohesive.  If this keeps on keeping on, Alanalysis can go back to treating ESPN’s “bracketologist” with renewed snark.  Duke’s first half was magnificent (held the Demon Deacons to 26 points, with only a late Wake flurry upping the score to even 26). Then human nature took over in the second half, where the Devils gave up 34 points after becoming a little lax due to leading by over 20 almost the entire second half.  It didn’t matter to the outcome, though, the game was effectively over by half time (45-26).

         The Perimeter

Duke begins with the trio of D.J. Steward (played one of his best games of the season; the sizzle has returned, but with discipline), Jeremy Roach, and Wendell Moore defending the perimeter.  Roach and Moore have been outstanding, even though it does not show in offensive statistics.  JGold is now coming off the bench; his insertion into the lineup has made the defense even more intense. The longer rotation has kept the perimeter defenders fresh and aggressive.  Only D.J. reached the 30 minute mark of playing time; Roach and Goldwire played 28 and 27 minutes, respectively, and Moore in at 24.  Coach K: “Wendell [Moore Jr.] is playing well. It doesn’t always translate into all the stats. His movement and talk – they’re just all getting a little bit more comfortable with one another. After those really tough, close losses, for these kids to have this great attitude and work ethic says something about them. Again, we’ve just got to keep it going.”  “[Jordan] Goldwire has been a key guy, too, for us because when you can bring in a veteran who is a starter, but bring him off the bench, he’s really our best athlete on the perimeter. He’s a heck of an athlete and he’s sharing the ball. Usually for Jordan – again tonight, he [had] four assists to one turnover – his assists to turnover ratio is outstanding. Not good, it’s outstanding. When he comes in, he’s strong with the ball and he’s sharing it, and then he’s as good of a defender as we have. So, coming off the bench like that, that’s been a plus for us.”

          The Interior

Duke’s interior defense has improved at the rate that Elizabeth’s baby brother, Mark, has grown – dramatically in the last few games.  Coach K: “Mark’s emergence – this is what happens with good, young guys – they get better. Mark is getting better. He’s a presence. Matt has felt good with him there. Also, it’s taken some of the load off of him [Hurt] defensively with a big guy. He never had to guard a five today.”  Jaemyn Brakefield replaced Jalen in Coach K’s substitution pattern.  He is a better (more willing) defender than Jalen had been.  Bill has been championing Jaemyn all season; yesterday’s 16 and ½ minute performance (including scoring 7 quick points – his only points – upon entering the game for the first time) was sufficiently impressive to make Bill preen.  Brakefield blocked a shot, got a steal, nabbed 5 boards, handed out 4 assists without a turnover, and drew four fouls from Deacon players.  Hurt was not only the scoring mainstay (22 points on 9 field goal attempts), he also played excellent defense, with a steal and 4 defensive rebounds.  He committed only 2 fouls (the second one was late in the first half) while logging a Duke game-high 31 minutes.  Joey Baker played for 16 minutes and was Duke’s 3rd high scorer with 12 points (4-7 from deep).


Duke committed only five fouls in the superb first half (only Hurt picked up a second).  While Duke committed 10 fouls in the second half, only Mark Williams and Brakefield had as many as 3.  For Duke to continue its newly found defensive prowess, the fouling has to remain under control.  It will be harder to avoid fouling against Virginia and Louisville (two elite teams that are next on the schedule).

          Rebounding, Steals, and Blocked Shots

Duke’s team rebounding was prodigious.  Everyone contributed (except Joey Baker), with Mark Williams (7 in almost 20 minutes), D.J. (7 in 30 minutes), Brakefield (5 in 16 minutes), Hurt (4 in 31 minutes), Moore (4 in 24 minutes), Roach (4 in 27 minutes), and JGold (3 in 27 minutes). Duke was in control of both backboards.  Duke had 5 steals (JGold 2, D.J. 2, and Hurt 1) and 4 blocks (Williams 2, Moore and Brakefield 1 each).  ‘The Devils’ pressure dramatically flustered the Deacons.

Offensive Efficiency

Coach K: “[W]hen you play that hard on the defensive end, you play better offense. You’re more physical and you run the offense harder. You can’t play that hard on defense and then not play hard on offense. [T]hey’re just playing hard and I think it’s translated. They’re sharing the ball. To have 17 assists and only six turnovers is really a good performance.”  Yes, 17 assists with only 6 turnovers is very worth celebrating and constitutes genuine improvement.  Hurt was astoundingly efficient (22 points on 8-9 from the field, including 3-4 from behind the arc; 3-6 from the stripe).  He scored whenever he wanted to.  D.J. scored 16 (7-12, including 1-4 from deep and 1-1 from the line), while handing out 3 assists without a turnover.  Add in 2 steals with those 7 rebounds and you have a helluva game for D.J.!  Baker’s 12 (I wanted to write “dozen”; if only he had scored 13!) and Moore’s 11 (5-9 from the field, including 1-3 from deep) completed the double digit Duke scorers.  Moore was a leader on the floor, even without gaudy statistics (2 assists; 4 turnovers; 3 fouls committed).  Mark Williams scored  9 (3-5 from the field and 3-4 from the stripe), Brakefield’s burst of 7 (3-5, including 1-2 from deep; 0-1 from the line), and JGold’s 5 (2-6, including 1-3 from 3land) completed Duke’s scoring.  Coleman failed to score in two cameos that totaled 6 minutes.  Tapé failed to score in his brief cameo (1 minute).

Duke Without Jalen

Jalen’s departure had  little impact on the game but big impact on the team

Going into the visit to Winston-Salem, who knew how Jalen’s departure from the team would impact the Blue Devil performance:  a) addition by subtraction, if Jalen’s attitude was a team problem, or b) a broken team because its most talented player decided to abandon ship.  It is too early for a final judgment, but it does appear that Jalen’s departure has been ‘addition by subtraction’.  Jalen’s performance on the court resulted in reduced playing time.  His shortened playing time had become an issue, even though he had little impact on recent games. Whether it was his health or his attitude we will never be known as Duke simply doesn’t engage in that kind of discussion.  However, Duke’s performance did not leave much doubt that Jalen’s departure did not damage the team – at least in the short run.  Time to remember when Duke won the NCAA tournament in 2015 whenCoach K kicked Rasheed Sulaimon off the team toward the season’s end.  Duke never revealed why (and nurtured Rasheed through graduation and transfer), but it was clearly his attitude.  Scuttlebutt is that Sulaimon wanted to lobby K for increased playing time.  There is no “i” in team. Not at Duke! The lesson from 2015 was that the team thrived after Sulaimon was terminated.  Addition by subtraction!  Grayson Allen moved into the rotation and Duke won its most recent championship.  Nice model to follow.

          Jalen and a (the) Team

I confess to a real antagonism (maybe even anger) at the cavalier manner in which Jalen Johnson has left Duke.  I am assuming he is eschewing his academics classes as he “prepares for the NBA draft.” His action makes a mockery of the term, “student-athlete.”  Duke is an elite institution of higher learning; the Duke brand on a resume is a huge asset in the real world (especially if the tag “brotherhood” goes with it).  Duke hoop scholarships are limited, and Jalen has “stolen” one from a deserving student-athlete who would have benefitted from not only from Duke’s world class education but also from being coached by K. .  Duke may be fortunate to recruit high-level players, but the players are lucky to have the Duke imprimatur into their future endeavors as an asset.  It seems to me Jalen’s actions are so irrational that there must be an unknown story that is driving the train.  I speculate (without knowing or having inside info) that Jalen’s role on the interior for this undersized team was not to his liking or his self-perceived strengths.  

 At the most basic level, a team member has to be committed to the team’s success for the entire season – regardless of the role assigned by the coach — in order to fulfill (their?) responsibility to the team.  Jalen had the option of not playing but still staying as a team member, cheering from the bench while working out at practices and using the support resources, including Duke medical, tutoring, trainers, etc.  Instead he chose to clean out his locker and leave.  I assume he is not attending classes either (I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it). In any event, an NBA team should (and likely will) weigh Jalen’s commitment to his college team when evaluating whether or not he will be a “team first” guy in the pros.  Jalen has not earned my best wishes for his future success.

The Big Picture

Will Duke continue to improve sufficiently to re-enter the NCAA tournament discussion?  Deeds are needed, beginning with the homestand coming up – Virginia on Saturday, followed by Syracuse and Louisville the following week.  The last two in March are on the road against Georgia Tech and UNC.  Opportunity for sure.  Then let’s not forget the ACC tournament.  Duke will have to be among the top 4 seeds in order to have to win only 3 games for the championship.  Let’s see if this year’s Duke can finally launch into the team we expected in the pre-season!


Jalen Who?

 Apparently Jalen Johnson did everyone a big favor by taking the advice of his family, friends, advisers, (future) agent, and various hangers on to, rather than play the remainder of this season, clean out his locker and move on to prepare for the NBA Draft. (So much for The Brotherhood, teammate loyalty, and getting a top ten education. Ya gotta love the new one half-and-done era!!) Despite what Corey Alexander kept saying on television about Jalen being a lottery pick, take the under on that bet, because he pulled the same stunt last year at the IMG Academy in Florida. So, in two seasons, Jalen Johnson has played less than one full season of basketball. (How long do rookie divas last in The Show?)  His former teammates celebrated by playing enthusiastically: tough defense and running a very effective motion offense in torching Wake Forest (a team that took Florida State to OT just before the Seminoles crushed Virginia) 84-60.

It appears this young Duke team is getting mentally and physically tougher, playing  pretty effective defense when anchored by Mark Williams and when running an offense through Matthew Hurt, who does a pretty good imitation of shooting a jumper like Larry Bird.

Coach K must have been reading my CliffNotes: I have been puzzled why, as multi-talented as he had appeared with limited minutes, Jaemyn Brakefield  had not been getting more playing time? Jalen’s funk and departure has opened up minutes and the West Virginia Player-of-the-Year responded with a second impressive outing, shooting 3-5, grabbing five boards, passing out four assists, and blocking a shot. (Remember when Rasheed Sulaimon was thrown off the team in midseason and it opened minutes for  Grayson Allen, who turned around the NCAA Championship game against Wisconsin?)  Joey Baker’s shot finally came off vacation, hitting four 3s. Duke also had an impressively low six turnovers, which looks even better when you realize that four of them were Wendell Moore’s– and the Devils shot more free throws than the Deacons.


In the Miami post-game comments, Coach K said emphatically: “My team was soft and sad.  This is Duke and tonight was unacceptable. The guys who play from now on are going to be the guys who play hard and show toughness. I don’t care who that is – they’re gonna play. We are never doing this again.” After that, Jalen did not start nor play significant minutes. So, Duke may well have already made its decision about how to deal with Jalen Johnson and let the chips fall where they may. Jalen Johnson wouldn’t be the first player who might have thought that Duke needed him more than he needed Duke. This program didn’t get where it is by letting player egos dictate policy.

Jay Bilas, who bends over backwards to avoid the impression that he’s biased towards Duke, said that ”He’s coming off a game in which he played only eight minutes at NC State and it was a game that Duke played arguably its best game in the last month — essentially, without him — and for him to opt out now, optically, it’s very odd. But I’ll be interested to see what Duke winds up saying about this. I’m sure they’ll support the decision. But knowing how basketball works, that’s just an odd thing to do at this time of year.”

His ESPN colleague Seth Greenberg was more direct: “The Notre Dame game, the game’s basically in question, and he doesn’t even get into the end of the game. Here’s the thing, there’s a difference between opting out and quitting. See, if you opt-out, you don’t clear out your locker. You see, if you clear out your locker you’re basically quitting on your team cause he’s part of a group. He could say, ‘I’m opting out because I don’t feel good about myself. I kinda want to look in the mirror and reevaluate myself.’ That’s one thing, but you keep your stuff in your locker room. If you pick up and move out there’s a big difference there.”

Clean up on Aisle 5. Coach K:  “Our team loves Jalen. He’s a brother to these guys. For Jalen and his family, they were great – we talked. I’m a coach because of players, and these kids should have the choice to do whatever they want. We’re going to give them our guidance and talk to them about it, and then I’m 100 percent behind him. Our guys have followed up with that too. Especially with the pandemic, these guys have really gotten close. They haven’t been able to make friends anywhere else, so they’ve really developed a family atmosphere. We’re all supportive of Jalen and his family.” (Translation: Good bye and good luck. We won’t miss you, but don’t let the locker room door hit you on the way out.)

Next Play: Wednesday February 20, in Cameron, versus UVA, at 8:00 pm EST, on ESPN

Duke 66 -UVA 65 (Season 12 Issue 19 Game 18) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”

The Duke sideline celebrates a down-to-the-wire win against Virginia. Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne/Duke Athletics

The Duke sideline celebrates a down-to-the-wire win against Virginia. Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne/Duke Athletics

DUKE 66 UVA 65 Was A Great College Basketball Game In Any Season

Coach K: “This was an epic game. This was a great basketball game tonight. Every possession was fought … seemed like every dribble at times. They are an outstanding team and program. They’re veterans and they played like it. They’re so poised and they play great defense.”

If you watched the spine-tingling basketball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Virginia Cavaliers last night you saw stupendous college basketball played at a very high level!  Duke prevailed by the very slimmest of margins (1 point, and and the fraction of a second that elapsed between the game ending and what would have been the winning UVA dunk), 66-65.  I am not sure the “best team” won, but I am sure that the 2020-21 Blue Devils have never played together on both ends of the court as they did against the #7 nationally rated UVA.  A quality performance against a quality team!  The Wahoos are really good, and Duke stayed with them every step of the way.  The score was tied 7 times in the second half alone, even though Duke never led after the first minute of that half, until scoring the last 2 points of the game with 1:59 to go.  Then, the Devils  topped it off to win with desperately intense defense to preserve the lead.  The Cavaliers had a 3 point lead at 65 with 3:09 to go … and finished the game still with the same 65 points!  D.J.’s short jumper brought the margin back to 1.  Jaemyn Brakefield (who has replaced someone named Jalen Johnson in the rotation) made the winning plays with just under 2 minutes left and Duke trailing by a point.  UVA point guard, Clark, used a screen from UVA big man and star, Jay Huff, to make Brakefield switch off Huff to guard Clark (leaving Goldwire to guard the 7 foot Huff as the roller).  Brakefield stayed in front of Clark and blocked his shot. Then, Brakefield faked a handoff, and drove around Huff for an acrobatic reverse layup while being fouled by Huff.  Duke’s 66th, and final, point.  It would have been 67 if Jaemyn had made the foul shot.

Duke’s offense was beautiful in the first half (39 points) and sputtering in the second half (27 points; 2-11 from behind the arc).  Duke’s defense was beautiful the entire game, even when UVA was shooting 60% in the first half (sometimes good offense just beats good defense).


Duke’s man to man was tenacious, coordinated, and swarming.  Duke switched mostly everything, and rotated fiercely.  The strategy was to keep the mercurial Clark from dishing to the UVA excellent 3 point shooters (mainly their big guys like Huff and Hauser).  Duke’s plan was to make Clark take the shot himself after he had penetrated (he scored 15 points, but on 15 shots).  Both teams shot well in the first half, even though well defended.   In the second half, Duke’s defense performed as much on sheer guts as on coordination and communication.  Coach K: “[Jaemyn] Brakefield was spectacular tonight. Henry Coleman III coming off the bench and giving us five minutes. Obviously Matt Hurt was outstanding. We had everyone contributing.”

         The Perimeter

As  Duke’s perimeter rotation has solidified into the four guards rotating in 3 positions, the perimeter defense has become more than satisfactory; it has become exceptional.  Wendell Moore and Roach have been the glue, while Goldwire and D.J. have applied laudable pressure.  Coach K: “Our kids played great defense tonight too and came up with some really great plays. A block, a stop, a three, foul-line jumper … it seemed like everyone contributed to making big plays at the end. … Wendell [Moore Jr.] had yeoman’s work tonight with seven assists and one turnover.”  Coach had praise for his two freshman guards, Roach and Steward, as well as his veterans, Moore and Goldwire. Coach K: “For freshmen they’ve been really good. They’re not playing with a veteran team. When Tyus [Jones] played, he played with Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones. You had stability around him. Jordan [Goldwire] has really helped them in the last few weeks. They are out there and learning from their experiences. Jeremy had one of his best games tonight and D.J.  hit a huge shot. They’re good players and they will keep getting better as they mature physically and emotionally. They’re great kids and have great attitudes.”  

What has impressed me is the energy and communication (and Coach K’s adjustment with defending the ball screen) has transformed the perimeter defense from a liability to a team asset.  Let us see if it remains an asset..

          The Interior

UVA, with Huff and Hauser, had the advantage on the interior and the backboards.  Mark Williams saw little action (6 minutes in the first half; 1 in the second) and failed to score or impact the game.   Enter Brakefield, who played 29 minutes, guarding the much taller and very talented Huff.  K Wisdom: “Jaemyn made it work because he played so well. [Jay] Huff is a great player. He and [Sam] Hauser are two of the top players in America. Jay is such a good basketball player … his footwork, his touch and his ball handling. Mark [Williams] hasn’t guarded anyone like that. Jay is so unique and Jaemyn was able to move his feet better. We didn’t want to switch every time but when we did, he was able to stay pretty much in front of [Kihei] Clark. [Jaemyn had 4 blocked shots] Our guards were able to fight off Huff and sometimes bump another big guy there and switch. [Duke’s rotations were outstanding and the guards switching somehow kept the Virginia bigs from dunks and layups.]  For our young team, they had to communicate a lot tonight. They made really outstanding decisions on the defensive end of the court.”  

In the second half, Henry Coleman III played 5 outstanding minutes on both ends of the court (4 points on 2 offensive rebounds, and spelled Brakefield guarding Huff).    

The Offense

This is where we gush over Matt Hurt, who played 38 minutes and scored 22 points on 13 shots (8-13, including 5-8 from deep and 1-1 from the line).  Hurt and Hauser guarded each other all night; each played excellent defense, but neither could not stop the other.  Matt had 4 boards, drew 3 fouls from Hauser, and had a block.  Roach and Brakefield were Duke’s other double-digit scorers.  Roach (33 minutes) scored 12 (5-10, including 2-4 from deep, without drawing a foul) and dished out 3 assists (but 3 turnovers).  Brakefield scored 9 in an early blitz that had Bill calling to remind me Brakefield was “his guy from the beginning,” followed by Jaemyn’s acrobatic crucial game winner.  D.J. scored 9 (2-7, including 1-5 from deep and 4-7 from the line).  He was 4-4 from the stripe in the first half and 0-3 in the second half, including missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 9.4 seconds left in the game and Duke up by 1.  His miss gave UVA a last chance that almost won the game.  Clark lost his dribble and threw a prayer that Huff grabbed and dunked … but a nanosecond after the game had ended.  Moore (30 minutes), Goldwire (28 minutes), and Coleman (5 minutes) each scored 4 points.  Baker (4 minutes) and Williams (7 minutes) failed to score.

In the second half, Hurt had 10 of Duke’s 27 second-half points.  The remaining 17 points came from: D.J. 5 (but 0-3 from the stripe); Roach had 4; Coleman 4; Moore (1-5) 2 points, and Brakefield’s 2 (the game winner) in the closing stanza.  Defense won it.

The Big Picture

This was obviously Duke’s best win of the season and sets up opportunities for Duke to ascend to unimagined (as of 3 games ago) success … or descend from the optimistic perch the last 3 efforts have created.  Duke (8-6 in the conference) has Syracuse (7-5) and Louisville (6-4) this week in Cameron; and, the following week they play Georgia Tech (7-6) and UNC (8-5, after just crushing Louisville yesterday).  Florida State (9-2), Virginia (11-3), and Virginia Tech (8-3) currently lead the conference.  The first four teams get double byes in the ACC Tournament.  Hard to win the tournament without the double bye (Duke did it in Brooklyn a couple of years ago; the only team ever to do so).  How this current stretch of games play out determines if Duke gets the NCAA bid as well as determining my level of snark toward ESPN’s bracketology guru.  I do hope my snark is high.


After eight losses (none by more than 7 points) in half of a weird season, The Basketball Gods apparently decided “enough was enough” and helped the young Blue Devils finally prevail in a close game against the always tough #7 University of Virginia, the top team in the league. 

Down by five points with six minutes to go, tenacious defense and fearless offense earned Duke their third straight win! However, it was not a perfect closeout as Brakefield and Steward, who combined for Duke’s last 4 points, missed free throws in the last minute. With a one point lead and just 9 seconds left, Steward missed the front end of a one-and-one. UVA’s Clark, who up to that point had a terrific game, was pressed on a pick and roll and dribbled the ball off his ankle, recovered it, and threw up a long three that was partially blocked by Hurt, but caught by Huff, who dunked it just a second after time expired–a fitting end to a very close game against an always difficult opponent.

Among other things, we may have witnessed the culmination of an attitude adjustment on this team. Keep in mind that Virginia stars Hauser and Huff are 23 & 22 . Duke’s players are 18-20 years old—and not all years are equal in terms of maturity, strength, and ability to concentrate.

The Cavaliers were ahead 65-62 with three minutes remaining, but Steward drained a tough, contested, pullup jumper to make it a one point game. Then, as Clark received the ensuing inbound pass, the Blue Devils slapped the floor in unison– a patented program trademark blast from the past.  When it happened the announcer said, “haven’t seen that very much this year.” Virginia would not score the rest of the game. Then came the decisive sequence: Jaemyn Brakefield swatted away a Clark layup attempt, and followed the block with a reverse (fouled) layup past Huff at the other end to give the Blue Devils a slim 66-65 edge.

Here’s the post-game money quote by an ecstatic Brakefield, who incidentally was recruited by Virginia (among others): “That’s why you come to Duke, to make plays like that. That’s Duke basketball.” Not to pour salt on a fresh wound, but can you imagine Jalen Johnson making back-to-back plays like that, then excitedly saying something like Jaemyn did?


Almost everyone played at  a consistently high level at both ends of the court: Hurt has Larry Bird-like range and accuracy; Steward, the leading freshman ACC scorer, is settling into an all-court asset; Moore is a Swiss-army knife type player who is an indispensable part of the puzzle; Goldwire, leads to league in steals, and is a steadying influence; Roach is settling in but has to remember he is not back in Chantilly anymore. He is point guard (think assist first, score second) and shoots 26% from three point land and does not have to jack up contested threes; Mark Williams has become a pleasant surprise and gives the defense a much more versatile option; Coleman has demonstrated that he can be a tough, blue collar contributor in this league; only Joey Baker failed to contribute last night. His ability against the better teams is still in question.

At the end of January, Duke had beaten Clemson on a Saturday and then went to play Miami on Monday with great confidence.  The confidence was misplaced and “stinkers” against Miami, Louisville, and UNC followed.  Duke has won 3 in a row, including UVA yesterday, and now plays on Monday.  Has Duke learned its “overconfidence” lesson?  Stay tuned.

Next Play: Monday February 22, in Cameron, versus Syracuse, at 7:00 pm EST, on ESPN

Duke 85 -Syracuse 71 (Season 12 Issue 20 Game 19) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”

Mark Williams de-juices the Orange Photo Credit: Nat LeDonne/ Duke Athletics

It looked like a lost season after Duke had lost 3 straight games in early February in Cameron, giving the Blue Devils an under .500 record. Duke fans were understandably distraught [understatement].    However, it did not look like a lost season to Duke’s Hall of Fame coach.  After the loss to UNC, Coach  K said, “People earn starting, and they have to keep earning it. That’s part of the growth. We have all these young guys; you have to keep earning it. That’s been part of our program.  Mark (Williams) has been playing really well. Tonight’s game was a very difficult one. It was so physical inside, and he was not ready for that level. He will be. Then offensively they really clogged up the lane when he was in. I thought Henry [Coleman III] gave us an amazing boost. We just have to keep looking at different things for our team and keep getting better. The kids have great attitudes and great work ethics, and that’s what I’m looking for. However that turns out, it’ll turn out the best that it could turn out based on good attitudes and work ethic. It may not reach the level of expectations of other people, but if our kids do that it’ll reach the level of expectation for me. I’ve coached some real young teams before and you gotta stay with it. You gotta stay with it.”

After the Notre Dame defeat, this DBP asked, “what is the role of Duke Fans following and rooting for an under-achieving team?  Perhaps, as Duke fans, we need to experience what the rest of college hoop fandom routinely go through.  We need to be tough during the losing times just as well as we are giddy and snarky in the winning days.  And then there is always hope.  The Duke 2015 National Championship team lost in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament, but somehow made the changes that morphed into the awesome defensive team that won.  And, as I have heard said, ‘hope springs eternal.’ ”

Over the last 4 games, Duke somehow made the changes that morphed into the awesome defensive team that won!

Duke’s defense went from beyond porous (giving up 50 point halves to both UNC and Notre Dame) to awesome in wins over NC State, Wake Forest, #7 ranked UVA — and last night against the Syracuse Orangemen. Coach K talked about that process: “They are young but you get old through experience. Sometimes you get older by losing. As long as you don’t get down and lose confidence. We’ve been in a lot of tough games. When we were 7-8, you’re two possessions from being 5-10 but you’re a couple possessions from being 9-6. It’s not like they were horrible … we lost close games. They’ve learned from that without losing confidence. I’m really proud of them. They’ve been good the whole year and even when we lost, I told you they were good kids and they were working hard. We just wanted to play one game at a time and work to get better. We are getting better.”

“Getting better” is understatement for sure.  Duke’s defense in the last four games has been not less than awesome.  Years ago, Shane Battier explained a complex K-defense “Coach just said, ‘Shane, run around.’”  In this defense, there are five Duke players “running around” — but in cohesive harmony.  No longer do opposing guards penetrate.  Duke’s four guard rotation – only 3 play at a time – has been a revelation.  The freshmen have learned, especially Roach; he is playing great defense even though his offense has not been consistent (14 first-half points against Syracuse and 0 in the second half).  You can see him growing in confidence and maturity.  D.J. has also been learning and brings his special brand of sizzle to trapping and switching at the defensive end.  Both guards are rebounding.  Wendell Moore and Jordan Goldwire have stepped into leadership roles.  JGold comes in off the bench, but plays starter minutes.  He is Duke’s best point guard, bringing stability to the offense and aggression to the defense.  His steals have been fire starters!  

The interior has been fueled by Mark Williams and Matt Hurt.  Williams has been delivering eye-popping blocks and dunks, not to mention  passing and timely steals.  His transformation stands out so vividly that you might not notice the wonderful defender that Hurt has become.  Now guarding the other team’s forward instead of their center, Hurt has not been in foul trouble.  He is alert to where his help is needed and he has become part of Duke’s amazing switching defense that leaves very few uncontested shots for the opposition.  Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman III have made timely, and sometimes game-winning, contributions.

Coach K on the four game run within 10 transformative days, culminating in last night’s dismantling of Syracuse: “I’m proud of my guys. A lot of my veteran teams would not have won tonight in this type of turnaround. …  Four games in 10 days … after Saturday night’s amazing game, to be able to play the way we did tonight was outstanding. We had to change how we prepared and that helped. The kids played great. We had 27 assists and got Mark [Williams] involved right away. Our guys threw those lobs and Mark had his best game with 18 [points] and 11 [rebounds]. The freshmen backcourt had 14 assists with great leadership by Wendell [Moore Jr.] and Jordan [Goldwire]. Matt [Hurt] was just solid. We weathered two storms that we knew they were going to hit us with their press in the first half. It went from 22-14 and then we were able to get it back to 18. After the first TV timeout, they hit us again and you worry about us being tired and emotionally spent and instead, after turning it over a couple of times, we started breaking the press and started to score and gave us our mojo back again. A really big win for us. This is tough. You play four games in 10 days, that’s tough for any team. For our kids to have four wins is great.”

The Rotation

Coach K has settled on a basic 6 man rotation.  Against Syracuse, the four guards — plus Hurt and Williams– all played starter minutes, with support on the interior from Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman III (tailored to the game’s needs).  Brakefield is almost a 7th man in the rotation.  

The offense has been scintillating.  Duke scored 52 in the first half, with 16 assists on 20 field goals, including 11-18 from beyond the arc.  Beautiful!  While Duke’s offense diminished in the second half, the defense did not.  Duke was even better on defense when the offense stagnated a bit.  Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim (the coach’s son) scored 8 straight meaningless (to anyone not named Boeheim) points at the game’s end to skew Duke’s second-half defensive statistics and drop the winning margin from over 20 to just 14.  

In a 11 minute stretch of the first half, Duke effectively won the game on both ends of the floor.  After 3 minutes 10 seconds had elapsed, Duke led 11-6.  For almost 11 minutes (from the 16:50 mark until there was only 5:55 left in the first half), Duke held the Orange to only 9 points while stretching the lead to 21 (36-15).  It was at that point that the game was effectively over.  When Syracuse made the small run based on its full court press, peeling the lead down to 14, Coach K inserted JGold who ran the fast break and squeezed the Orange press dramatically. 

Matt Hurt led in minutes played with 34 and ½ minutes, scoring 15 points (5-11 from the field, including 2-5 from deep and 3-5 from the stripe), to go with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks.  Superb basketball!  His shooting reputation draws the defense and opens up the floor for his teammates.  

Jeremy Roach and D.J. Steward each played 33 and ½ terrific minutes.  D.J. scored a game-high 21 (7-18, including 4-11 from deep and 1-1 from the line), sizzling in the open court and on defense (7 assists and 2 blocked shots with 3 turnovers).  Roach notched 14 points, all in the first half — an efficient 5-7 from the field, including 4-5 from deep.  Jeremy tied for the team’s assist lead with 7.  All this with only 3 turnovers while pulling down 5 key rebounds.  Wendell Moore scored 7 points in his 29 minutes (3-7, including 1-4 from deep), to go with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and a blocked shot.  He provides valuable leadership and maturity, and may be the team’s best one-on-one defender.  Goldwire played 26 minutes, scoring 6 points on 2-3 from deep, all in the second half.  JGold also handed out 4 assists, made 2 key steals and was most responsible for destroying the Syracuse press.  

Mark Williams was the Player of the Game with his first career double double in 25 minutes (9-11 for 18 points with 11 boards).  He was an efficient rim protector on defense, blocking two shots and altering a bunch more.  Coach K is slowly expanding Mark’s minutes.  I predict that by tournament time, Mark will be playing in the 30 minute range.   Brakefield and Coleman each scored 2 points in 7 minutes, spelling Williams.  Coleman had 5 rebounds in those 7 minutes.  

The comparison of the interior rotation between the UVA game and the Syracuse game demonstrates Duke’s current flexibility.  Against UVA, Brakefield played starter minutes and essentially won the game for Duke while Williams played little.  Last night was the reverse. Joey Baker played 3 scoreless minutes.  However, he has shown he can stroke the 3 when left open.  Duke’s flexibility is another newly developed weapon. 

The Big Picture

The ACC tournament could have an impact on Duke’s NCAA tournament hopes, though the last 4 games already reveal the Blue Devils as clearly tournament-worthy.  The first four teams in the regular season receive the double bye (though with the COVID driven discrepancy in number of conference games played, that calculation could be murky).  Here is how the contending teams stand before Tuesday’s conference games (with the remaining games listed).  The “maybe” is the games were postponed; the ACC has not yet decided if any will be played.





The Trap Game was a snap game. Suddenly, after a frustrating, rocky, start to the season, these young players are individually and collectively maturing at warp speed: Mark Williams had his first career double-double, 18 points (9 of 11 shooting), 11 rebounds and 2 blocks and owned the paint. As Mark said after the game, “I’m just trying to protect the rim.  If they don’t score, they can’t win”.  Jeremy Roach scored 14 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists; while Steward had 21 points and 7 assists.

Anyone worrying about this Renaissance Run coming to an end tonight relaxed after about six minutes of play as the Blue Devils executed their best half of basketball. The defense was enthusiastic and effective; sharp passing and ball movement produced 27 assists. However, the opposition gets more challenging these next few weeks.

Horses for courses: Here is an example of how versatile this squad is: Jaemyn Brakefield, the hero of the Virginia game, only played seven minutes tonight and scored just 1 point against Syracuse. Mark Williams, who only played 7 minutes against the Cavaliers, played 25 minutes against Syracuse, posting his first career double-double.

Johnny Tar Heel text wisely noted: “The most important stat is 27 assists on 35 field goals, plus great shooting. To assist on 80% of your field goals says all kinds of good things about this TEAM.”

Other Comments:

  • How can Matthew Hurt be one of the deadliest all court shooters in the country and be such a mediocre (70%) free throw shooter?
  • The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to winter athletes. Therefore, senior Jordan Goldwire will have another year of eligibility, allowing him to play next year. Goldwire has recorded 2+ steals in each of 18 of 19 games this season and his 18 multi-steal games are tied for the most by any player in college basketball this season.

Next Play: Saturday February 27, in Cameron, versus Louisville, at 6:00 pm EST, on ESPN

Duke 73-Louisville 80 OT (Season 12 Issue 21 Game 20) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Matt Hurt’s Game Deserves Special Mention

Matt’s game settled any discussion about whether or not he is athletic enough to succeed in the NBA.  He proved he is pro material by scoring in every conceivable way, with more than 50% of Duke’s points (37 of Duke’s 73, on just 21 shots).  Matt was 15-21 from the field (but only 2-6 from behind the arc; that is an astounding 13-15 inside the arc, many hotly contested) (plus 5-6 from the foul line). Hurt played 43 minutes (all 20 in the second half, fouling out with 17 seconds to go in the overtime). He grabbed 7 rebounds while creating a steal and blocking a shot — all that with 0 turnovers.  By himself, Matt scored more points than all of his teammates combined. (37 for Matt; 34 for the rest of the team).  His amazing performance would have been remembered in legend, if only Duke had won.  The Blue Devils lost a critical game partly by regressing into previous bad habits and partly because Louisville,  one of the ACC’s better teams, played exceedingly well.

Disappointing Regression – Against a Really Good Team (Louisville)

Louisville was the better team yesterday, but I’m not sure Louisville is an overall better team than Duke.  I had told Bill that I thought Duke would come out flat and fall behind in the first half.  After 4 scintillating performances – the Devils were not less than masterful in their last outing against Syracuse – you could feel a confidence that ultimately betrayed the Devils by scaling back their urgency.  Thus, Duke opened the game without any urgency, looking pancake flat.  Coach K:  “I thought they dominated the first half.  Their athleticism and maturity knocked us back, and I thought at halftime, we talked about it and our guys responded, and I thought we really fought the rest of the way at a high level.  Our kids were ready to play, but they did not realize the level that they had to be ready to play at and were knocked back, and we have the senior, we won four in a row, there’s a little bit of an edge that is taken off and we’re able to find that again at the half time, but to credit Louisville, if they don’t come out the way they do, you would have never noticed that we were not at that level. Louisville is responsible for that.” 

I did think the Devils, who had been playing so well in recent games, would come back to win this one in the second half.  I was almost clairvoyant: Duke overcame a 12 point deficit to lead 55-52 with 7:16 left in the game.  They had a chance at the end of regulation (leading 65-64 with 38 seconds left), but regression prevailed.

The Perimeter

Coach K nailed it, “their perimeter just knocked our guards back. They [D.J. Steward, Jordan Goldwire, and Jeremy Roach] did not have the games that they’ve had in the last couple weeks, but they’re also playing against high level guards.”   The three Duke quick guards had a disastrous game.   Besides Hurt’s 16 first half points, Duke scored only 10 in the first 20 minutes  (the Devils trailed 36-26 at the intermission).    The three quick guards combined for only a single point of those 10.   D.J. failed to score in 13 minutes (0-5, including 0-1 from deep) with an assist and a turnover;  JGold scored the trio’s only first half point in his 15 minutes (0-1, 1-2 from the line; 4 assists, 2 turnovers and a steal); while  Jeremey in his 11 minutes was scoreless (0-2, both from deep) with an assist and 3 turnovers.  The other 9 points in the first half were scored by Wendell Moore (5 points in 16 1/2 minutes; 2-4, including 1-3 from deep) and Mark Williams, who scored 4 points in his 13 minutes (2-3 from the field).   Joey Baker failed to score in his 9 first half minutes, and did not play in the second half. 

JGold, D.J. and Jeremy played big minutes in the second half when Duke used its press to fight their way back into contention.  While they were excellent in the press, the failure on the offensive end continued.  For the entire game, D.J. scored 8 in his 37 minutes (2-13, including 1-5 from deep and 3-4 from the stripe); Goldwire failed to score in his almost 19 second half minutes; while Roach was 1-3 from the field, including 0-2 from 3land and 1-2 from the stripe for 3 points in his 11 second half minutes. The backcourt certainly “did not have the games that they’ve had in the last couple of weeks”; that made the difference between winning and losing. 

The Interior

Mark Williams had a good game statistically, but did not impact the game as he had done  in the past few games. In 25 minutes, he was 4-8 for 8 points, had 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists and a steal, while committing only 1 turnover and 1 foul.  However, Coach K does not play him when the Devils are pressing, so he was not on the court much in the latter parts of the second half.  He was a non-factor in the overtime.  In the first half, Louisville had 7 offensive rebounds and scored critical second chance baskets, while Duke did not have a single offensive rebound in the opening stanza.  In the latter part of the second half, no Blue Devil could score, except Hurt, and as one reporter put it, “the Cardinals simply mauled Duke on the boards.”

Jaemyn Brakefield played 13 minutes (7 in the first half), scoring 3 points (1-2; 0-1 from deep and 1-1 from the line), grabbing a rebound, but committing 2 fouls.  Henry Coleman III made a cameo appearance.  The supporting cast simply did not support!

That One Play at the End of Regulation

Moore put Duke ahead 65-64 with 38 seconds left to play in regulation.  Jones, Louisville’s unstoppable guard, attempted a game winning shot with 14 seconds left.  He missed but was fouled.  Jones tied the game on his first attempt, but missed the second.  Duke had a very small line up on the floor — Hurt, Moore, Steward, Roach and Goldwater — and they failed to secure the rebound.  Even though Jones missed another attempted game winner, the failure to get the rebound cost Duke a chance to win the game with about 10 seconds left.   Coach K: “You put yourself in a position to win, we got five, seven points behind, the press helped us, we got the lead, and it comes down to the one possession and we actually got (Carlik) Jones to go left, but our help side has to come over. It didn’t come over, and then we blocked out on the free throw, but we’ve got to grab the rebound. That would have given us at least a chance. Jones, he doesn’t miss often, but he missed then, and it would have given us like nine seconds or 10 seconds, or whatever it was to push the ball down the court. Our game boils down to stuff like that, that one possession, and we were able to win that possession against Virginia, and we did not win that possession tonight.”

The Overtime

Duke was completely gassed in the overtime.   The defense did not ever stop Louisville, who scored 15 points in those 5 excruciating overtime minutes. The Cardinal shot 4-5 from the field (including 1-1 from deep) and 6-7 from the line.  That took all suspense out of the game’s outcome.

D.J. played all 5 minutes without scoring (0-3); JGold played all 5 minutes without scoring; Jeremey played over 3 minutes without scoring.  Elizabeth’s baby brother played less than 2 minutes without scoring; and Brakefield played 20 seconds without scoring.  Hurt was 2-2 for 4 points before fouling out with 20 seconds left.  Wendell scored the other 4 on 1-2, including 0-1 and 2-3 from the stripe.

 The Big Picture

Duke has now dug a huge hole for an NCAA invite.  The two road games this week are an opportunity..  Both Georgia Tech (Tuesday) and UNC (Saturday) have better records than the Blue Devils and had great wins over the weekend.  UNC beat Florida State for a significant win, and unveiled its own spectacular freshman 7 foot center, who led Carolina’s second half comeback; maybe the best Tarheel win of the season. Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech.  Duke will be an underdog in each game.  Duke is now 8th in the league and therefore would still earn a single bye in the ACC tournament.  It is conceivable that if Duke lost both games (that would make 9 conference losses), they could lose even the single bye.   


This improving Duke team, except for Hurt, is still not ready for Prime Time.  Big, physical teams push them around and figuratively kick sand in their faces.  No matter how lethal Hurt is, it’s nearly impossible to stay competitive against good teams when one player scores over sixty percent of your points.  And as hot as Hurt was, there were critical possessions where he did not touch the ball both early in the second half and in the overtime.

The Cardinals’ guards simply dominated the Blue Devils’ backcourt on both ends of the court.  Note: Carlik Jones, the star Cardinal guard, is 23 years old. Duke’s guards are teenagers.  

After the hard-fought comeback, which resulted in overtime, Mark Williams (in a first) lost the tip, Quinn Slazinksi, a sub, hit a three pointer, and Duke missed its first two shots.  Game, set, match.

To add insult to injury, Carolina, after losing to Marquette earlier in the week, rallied from 16 down to upset No. 11 Florida State.   7’1’’ freshman Walker Kessler had been languishing on the Tarheel bench; however, he did a pretty good Tyler Hansbrough impression against the Seminoles yesterday, leading UNC to the win with 20 second-half points.  Johnny Tar Heel has often commented that only Roy Williams could keep a guy as obviously talented as Kessler buried on the bench for most of the season.

Next Play:  Tuesday, March 2, 2021, versus Georgia Tech, in Atlanta, at 8:00 pm EST, on ACCN. 

Duke 77-Georgia Tech 81 OT (Season 12 Issue 22 Game 21) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Two mediocre teams played an important, tense, and hard-fought (but not a particularly well-played) game with a spot in the NCAA tournament seemingly on the line.  Georgia Tech won 81-77 in overtime and fully deserved the win.  Duke made two heart-stopping comebacks – one at the end of regulation to tie the game and open a chance to win; and one in the last 24 seconds of the overtime.  

In the overtime comeback, the Yellow Jackets led by 6 and had the ball  when Moore stole it and fed D.J. Steward for a fast break 3 pointer.  Duke then trailed by 3 with 8 seconds left.  Incredibly, Patrick Tapé, who had entered the game when Mark Williams fouled out with 28 seconds left, stole the inbound pass and made a great feed to D.J. who was WIDE OPEN at the 3 point line for the game-tying shot.  He missed!  Tapé got the rebound and was fouled.  He made the first one to make it 79-77, and intentionally missed the second one, but Duke could not get the rebound.  Oh that D.J. had connected!!  That last 24 seconds summed up the game, and might actually sum up the season.

Coach K summed it up perfectly  (I have bolded sections particularly insightful):

“Two in a row in overtime. Obviously, we had a great shot to win right at the end of regulation. The kids executed the full-court really well, and that group got us back. We were eight points down and Joey [Baker] did a couple really good things, but that group played really good defense and gave us a shot at winning. We’re just not getting any production at all from our perimeter, from our guards. It’s the second game in a row where they’ve had a tough time against veteran guards. [Jose] Alvarado obviously is outstanding and [Michael] DeVoe, but even [Bubba] Parham – they’re older guys and they knocked our young perimeter back. We had open shots. For about five minutes in the second half – [from] about 15 minutes [remaining] to 10 or somewhere in that – we just kind of went nuts. We were doing some things – what are we doing? That’s when they got the lead. What are we doing? We had no poise during that time. That period and then right at the end of the first half – I thought we played better in the first half than a three-point lead. But we didn’t hit shots and then we had the ball underneath the bucket in the last 40 seconds and didn’t get anything. We had a blocked shot, then they hit the three. It was kind of like a five-point turnaround. Instead of being up six-eight, you were up three. Our margin between winning and losing is a narrow one. You have a number of these plays and it’s tough to win, although we had that [opportunity]. Even in overtime, we got down and our kids fought. [We] hit a three and I think it was 79-76, we had another open shot. You’ve got to hit shots. Our guys on the perimeter have not done that lately. I’m not blaming them for the loss – they just didn’t. They’re good shots. If you hit them, we win. … It’s been a year of ‘Almost.’ That’s about the fifth or sixth one-possession game that we’ve lost. You’re almost having a really good year. Instead, you’re having a .500 year. That’s the way the game is.”

The Offense Shriveled and Died for Most of the Second Half and Overtime

The First Half

The Blue Devils scored 34 first-half points, led by Wendell Moore’s 16 points.  Wendell was simply on fire in his 15 opening-period minutes (7-9 from the field, including 2-2 from behind the arc) with 2 steals, a rebound, and an assist.  Matt Hurt had an efficient first half, scoring 10 in his 17+ minutes (4-7, including 1-1 from 3land and 1-1 from the foul line).  He had 3 boards and committed only a single first-half foul.  Mark Williams was 3-3 for 6 points and contributed 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal, and an assist, all without a turnover.  However, he did commit 2 first-half fouls.  Jaemyn Brakefield scored Duke’s other 2 points in his 10+ first-half minutes (1-7, including 0-3 from behind the arc and 0-1 from the stripe).  He contributed 2 boards and an assist.  Critically for Duke,Jeremy Roach (15 minutes), D.J. Steward (15 minutes), Jordan Goldwire (12 minutes), Joey Baker (3 minutes), and Henry Coleman III (1 minute) all failed to score a single point in the first half — a real problem that got much worse when neither Moore nor Hurt could score efficiently in the second half.

The Second Half

Hurt scored 2 points to give Duke a  50-48 lead with 12:11 left in the game, and then didn’t score for the rest of the game! .  Bill and I chatted at that point.  I complained about our freshman backcourt turning it over and failing to run a cohesive and organized offense.  As if to prove my point, Goldwire turned it over on the very next play.  Patrick Tapé made his first appearance in a game in a long while and missed a layup.  Steward committed a turnover, which led to Hurt committing his 3rd foul.  Roach then turned it over.  Duke had gone a full 3 minutes without a point and trailed 54-52 when Williams slammed home a dunk at the 9:1o mark.  Hurt turned it over, committing an offensive foul (his 4th) with 8:26 to go.   He was done.  He played only 10 more seconds before fouling out.  Moore played all 20 minutes of the second half, scoring just 4 points on 9 shots (2-9) without drawing a foul.

Coach K: “The foul trouble for Matt [Hurt] absolutely hurt us. “You’re always better with a bunch of options, because if you only go to one, then they can key on him. Matt has been kind of the go-to guy. We don’t have another go-to guy, although Wendell [Moore Jr.] tried to do that. Wendell was a warrior, who has played his heart out and played well. But you have to score as a unit. We have  good talent. We’re not that talented that you just give somebody the ball and they’re going to do something. You’ve got to score together.”  

Duke did not ‘score together’ in the second half.  In fact, Duke hardly scored at all —  only 6 points in the 9:27 that elapsed from 12:11 until only 2:38 remained in the game.  Astoundingly awful!

Then, Duke made an amazing run, scoring 8 in just 1:15 –JGold made a jump shot, Joey Baker made a crucial 3 and bagged all 3 foul shots. That tied the game at 64 with 1:43 to go.  While neither team scored again, Duke had its chance.  Georgia Tech could not score, but got 3 offensive rebounds to keep trying.  Finally, JGold captured the fourth rebound with 1:04 to go.  But Duke did not (could not) make a genuine attempt at offense.  Moore finally threw up a contested prayer with 35 left on the game clock and the shot clock running out.  Nada. Duke had scored only 30 points in the entire second half. 


Mark Williams scored a dunk almost immediately to give Duke a 66-64 lead.  2:42 later Duke scored its next point when Williams went 1-2 from the foul line.  Duke trailed 70-67 at that point.  With 2:04 left, Williams again went 1-2 from the line.  Duke trailed 72-68.  The defense simply could not get a stop; Georgia Tech went 4-5 from the field in overtime and was 9-12 from the stripe when Duke  fouled, scoring 17 points in the 5 minute overtime (that is a rate of 136 points per game.).  

Georgia Tech star big man, Moses Wright, and Mark Williams traded dunks.  Duke trailed by 4 with 1:18 left, but just could not score.  Baker missed 2 three-point attempts, and Goldwire missed a 2 point jumper.  Wright made 1-2 when fouled, giving Tech a 6 point lead with 35 seconds left.  J.D. missed a 3, and Wright again made 1-2, as Williams fouled out going for the rebound.  Duke down 7 with 28 seconds left.   Goldwire raced down court and hit a 3 with 25 seconds left.  Duke down 77-73.  Alvarado made 2 foul shots for the Yellow Jackets. 79-73.  JGold misfired and Tech got the rebound, but Moore stole the ball and fed D.J. for a shocking 3.  Duke trailed 79-76 with 8 seconds left.  The rest you know.  Tapé made the steal, but D.J. missed the game tying attempt.

 The Big Picture

          For This Year

Coach K: “These kids have fought all year.  They have never given up.  Again, you have a unit that you don’t really practice that much with, and they’re in there and they figure out a way where really, we could win.  You’ve got a great shot there and that would’ve been unbelievable.  This group just hasn’t had anything unbelievable happen for them, but they’ve continued to work hard and compete.  They’ve been a good group. I’m very disappointed about tonight, but they will keep fighting and we’ve got to do that again on Saturday.  Every time we line up, that’s what we have to do. Our guys have done that.  Over the years, we’ve been very fortunate, so I don’t know if the basketball gods are evening things up a little bit.  We respect Georgia Tech and we’re not going to make any excuses.  We’re going to keep fighting and see what the heck happens.”

          For Next Year – Mark Williams’s Simply Great Game

Coach K: “I thought Mark [Williams] played a great game. For him to play 35 minutes – sensational … I think one of the real big pluses of the season is his [Mark Williams] development.  He’s going to be a real special player. He really fought.  The free throws – he’ll be a good free throw shooter because he has good form.  [Mark was only a deflating 0-2 in the second half and 2-5 in overtime]. He played really well.  His progression has been outstanding.  It’s one of the reasons we had a chance to win – his play.”


This year we know how Maryland, Carolina, and all the other teams felt whose hearts Duke has broken during the Coach K decades by pulling out an extraordinary number of close games.  In today’s woke climate, I guess it should be called “Duke Privilege.”  However, this year, for the first time in decades of watching Duke Basketball, I never felt confident these Blue Devils were going to win close games.  Call it reversion to the mean, the law of averages, or whatever.  But the truth is, this is what your record says you are—a .500 team that, except for Mathew Hurt’s exceptional shooting touch, could never consistently develop the guard-play or chemistry to be, on balance, more than the sum of the parts. 

Now, we can better understand how Charlie Brown feels when Lucy pulls the ball away at the last minute as he tries to kick a field goal. 

Next Play.

Next Play:  Saturday, March 6, 2021, versus UNC, in Chapel Hill, at 6:00 pm EST, on ESPN. 

Duke 73-UNC 91 (Season 12 Issue 23 Game 22) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


I have no idea how to write about this game.  Duke was ascendant after four straight wins – NC State (good bye, Jalen), Wake Forest, UVA (ranked team), and a perfect performance in dismantling Syracuse.  Visions of sugar plums danced in our heads, as we contemplated winning the double-bye in the ACC tournament and being a feared adversary in the NCAA tournament.  Then the clock struck midnight!  But the 12th stroke was not fully realized until Duke was simply humiliated last night by UNC 91-73.  Humiliating it indeed was because this is not The UNC-a-national-power; this is an unranked-UNC that is only a #6 seed in the ACC tournament. 

The midnight clock started sounding the chimes when Duke (on senior night, no less) lost its last home game, in overtime to Louisville, opening that game without any urgency and thus digging a hole for itself that proved inescapable.  The clock was probably on the sixth or seventh chime when Duke went on the road and lost another heartbreaking overtime game to Georgia Tech.  Perhaps we, as fans, did not understand how deflating those two overtime losses were.  Apparently, those losses took out all the hopes, dreams, and optimism that the four wins had generated.  The emotional deflation going into Chapel Hill — on UNC’s senior night — sealed Duke’s disastrous fate. 

Jim Carroll was an American author, poet, autobiographer, punk musician, and heroin addict.  Carroll is best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries; the book inspired a 1995 film of the same title that starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.  His Prep school basketball team was terrific and Carroll was the star.  He and his whole team were also hard core druggies.  Before each game, they would go to Central Park and score uppers and downers, taking the uppers before the game and the downers afterwards.  In The Basketball Diaries, Carroll describes one game where they mixed up the drugs and took the downers before the game.  The players’ feet stuck to the floor.  They couldn’t move.  The other team steamrolled them early before the coach could get them out of the game.  Duke’s first half against UNC last night brought Carroll’s stuck feet description to mind.  In the first half it looked as if every Duke player (except D.J. Steward) had downed  downers before the tipoff.

Coach K Took the Blame to Protect His Team

“Roy had his team really prepared.  I didn’t have my team prepared the way they did.  After two tough losses, I thought the things we did in practice were really good.  But they didn’t come to fruition; they didn’t work out.  They really played at a high level of intensity.  Their defense was outstanding. That’s on me because they knocked us back.  They played at a high level and we did not. They were excellent and we were not very good.  That’s on me. That’s my responsibility.  They completely knocked back with their level of defense, their level of intensity on the defense.  They played with intensity all the way, but the first 8-10 minutes they were at a high level.  They knocked us back.  I was not able to prepare them for the level of intensity and physicality they faced.  We couldn’t get shots.  They hit shots.  Their defense made their offense better.”

 “We had played outstanding basketball in the four games; then we were knocked back in the two games before UNC.  I need to help them more.” 

Coach K concluded by saying he would try and get the team back on track to face Boston College on Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the ACC tournament.

The Offense Shriveled and Died in the First Half; The Defense Was Dead for the Entire Game

The First Half

In the first 18 minutes of the first half of the game, Duke scored a measly 18 points and trailed by 22, (40-18) with 1:39 left in the first half.  The game was effectively over at that point.  D.J. had scored 8 of those 18, (including a four point play, which was Duke’s only free throw attempt in the entire first half). Roach, Brakefield, & Tapé each had a 2-point basket; Mark Williams added 2 hoops for 4 points.  Even though Duke finished the half scoring a flurry of 8 points (Hurt had a 3 and a layup for his only 5 first half points, and D.J. dropped a 3 bomb with 12 seconds left, bringing his total scoring to 11), Duke’s anemic first-half scoring was still only 26 points in total.  Duke never really cut significantly into the 22 point deficit that the Devils had faced with 1:39 left in the first half.  Duke trailed 42-26 at the half.  Duke’s ineffective man to man defense never stopped UNC’s offense. With 1:39 left in the first half, the game was over, leaving over 20 plus minutes of excruciating slow death for Duke fans who stayed through the second half.  WATCHING THIS GAME WAS NO FUN!

The Second Half

Duke scored 47 points in the second half, but UNC scored 49.  Duke simply could not get the defensive stops needed to make its offensive rejuvenation a comeback threat.  After having its man-to-man absolutely shredded by the Tarheels in the first half, Duke mixed in zone and a full court press.  The best the Blue Devils could do was make a little run with the press, reducing the UNC lead to 13 (44-31 with 18:39 left in the game).  The margin was never again that small.  Duke couldn’t manage a serious run as the game dragged on to its sorrowful conclusion.

 The ACC Tournament Starts Tuesday

I don’t think Duke has ever played in a first round ACC tournament since the league moved to 15 teams, necessitating the 5 round tournament.  The last five seeded teams (#10-15) play in the first round.  Duke, as the #10 seed plays #15 seed Boston College on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.  On paper, this should be an easy game where Duke can get its mojo back.  BC has fired its coach after a terrible COVID-ravaged season (2-11 in the conference).  But as we have all learned this year, the games are not played on paper.  Note: Florida State gave UVA the league championship when FSU lost to Notre Dame (the # 11 seed) yesterday.  The winner of Duke-BC plays Louisville (#7 seed) on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.  Louisville beat Duke twice in close regular-season games, but a Duke win is not unimaginable.  If Duke could beat Louisville (finally), that would set up a quarter-final game against Florida State.  In my opinion, three Duke wins will earn Duke a bid to the Big Dance.  Even two might.  

However, Coach K has wise advice against my way of thinking: “You can’t look at the tournament as a whole.  Look at the game in front of you.  If you look at the whole tournament it’s going to be daunting.  You will hear, ‘you can’t win 5; it’s never been done in the ACC,’ and a lot of other negative stuff.  We are all 0-0.  We have to get ready for Tuesday against BC.  One game at a time.  Let’s see how well we can play against BC.” 

Coach has promised he will have the Blue Devils ready to play BC on Tuesday.

In spite of Coach K’s sage advice, I need to point out that years ago, UConn’s season was so disappointing the Huskies had to play in the first of five rounds in the old Big East.  UConn not only won the Big East, but went on to win the NCAA tournament as well.  How is that for a warm thought to sleep with?


Congratulations to North Carolina. They outplayed Duke in every aspect of the game. It was a TKO from the first few minutes. The Devils did not hit shots or make stops—a deadly combination. Matthew Hurt’s atypically poor first half shooting clearly demonstrated how important he is for this team to be successful.

Question: With the depth of talent UNC has, how have they lost nine games?

Next Play:  Tuesday, March 9, 2021, versus BC, in Greensboro, at 4:30 pm EST, on ACCN. 

“Lucky Devil” Extra; Duke 70-Louisville 56; Duke 86 Boston College 51 (Season 12 Issue 24 Games 23 and 24) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Duke’s astounding performance in the first two tournament games is the catalyst for this unplanned “Lucky Devil Extra!”  Start with the fact that Duke gave up just 107 points in two games combined.  This is a direct result of simply superb Duke-defense, especially against Louisville, who had torched Duke at “winning time” in two regular-season games.  This analysis will focus on the second half of both games, paying tribute to the jaw-droppingly dominant Mark Williams in the paint on both ends of the court, Wendell Moore’s leadership, and Matt Hurt’s morphing into an effective Sundance to Mark’s new Butch Cassidy role.

Tonight’s game against second-seeded Florida State (The ACC’s highest ranked team nationally) will, in some ways, define the season.  A loss will in all likelihood deny Duke’s entry into the NCAA tournament.  A win opens all doors.  Uniquely, the teams did not play each other in the regular season because COVID required cancellation of the scheduled game.  Like UNC, Florida State is huge up front and will challenge Mark Williams’s new found star status.   This feels like the perfect opportunity for Duke as the season charges toward its championship climax (es).

GAME 2:  Duke 70 Louisville 56

Mark Williams scored 23 points and, even more importantly, corralled 19 rebounds (7 on the offensive boards).  He controlled the game against Louisville.  Matt Hurt added 20 points to keep the Blue Devils safely ahead by double digits throughout the second half, making one crucial turnaround jumper from the post as he was losing the ball.  That shot took Louisville’s heart out. Mark and Matt were in beautiful sync.

Duke led by 1 at the half.  Goldwire, Roach, and Steward majorly struggled in the first half (collectively 2-11 from the field and 0-6 from deep), but they turned it around in the second half. Duke’s defense controlled Louisville’s all-league backcourt in both halves and was just as valuable as William’s star turn.  Coach K was asked, “Looked like you guys were switching all over the place. What was the key to being so successful? What did the guys do so well?”  K’s answer was revealing: “Yeah, what we did was in the past … our program — it’s not a zone, but we call it 1-1.  It’s still man-to-man, but it’s a switching man, which really protects the paint.  Instead of like trying to put a matchup in or anything like that, in the past we — not this year, but some of our teams in the past we did that, and we decided the best way to try to keep those two guards out of the lane was to do that.”

“One of the first things is to get back and not allow transition, which we did a decent job of.  But then we just tried to smother the lane.  And exaggerated plugs is what we call, you know, plugging from another guy. You would do that somewhat, but today the defense we played was exaggerated.

“He still got in there a couple times but not like he has in the first two games that we played against them.  Our guys were able to pick this up in an — they got our game plan in an hour, and they were able to execute it.”

Louisville’s coach said in the interview that Duke had not switched like that all year and acknowledged such agility flummoxed the Cardinals.

The Second Half

The defense, and Mark Williams, was the story of the second half.  Elizabeth’s baby brother scored 15 second-half points (5-7 from the field and 5-6 from the line).  It is worth mentioning that Mark missed all 3 of his first-half foul shots and his first one in the second half.  Matt went up to him after that miss and spoke to him intently.  Mark made his next 5 in a row.

Matt and Mark’s intense focus kept Duke’s working margin from their 9-0 run to open the half all the way through to the game’s end.  Duke never let the Cardinals back into the game.  In addition to shooting, Mark’s rebounding was on point– 10 boards, 8 of them protecting the defensive boards from Louisville’s aggressive offensive rebounding.  Coach K: “Mark was fabulous, not good. He only had one rebound yesterday, so he’s averaging 10 a game. Just to keep his ego in check.  But to get 19 rebounds in a game, and those defensive rebounds in the last eight, ten minutes were the deciding factor in the game, really.  He had a great game, an amazing second half.  The number of minutes and the physicality of the game — really good players are able to play tired at a high level, and he did that tonight. I thought Matt did, our team did that, but Mark really did that. That was very, very impressive.”

Mark recalls watching Duke women’s games from behind the Duke bench, cheering for Elizabeth.  He has been a Dukie from that moment; he wanted to play in Cameron and be like his big sister.  He has the potential to leave a similar legacy.

The rotation was interesting.  Only 6 played big minutes —  Moore (4 points), Hurt (7 points), and Steward (7 points) each came out of the game only briefly.  Williams (15 points) played 33 minutes.  Roach (7 points) and Goldwater (0 points) played 12 minutes each.   Brakefield, Coleman III, Baker, and Goldwire were the bench; but none scored.

Game 1: Duke 86 Boston College 51

Duke defended and BC was outclassed.  Duke expanded a 14 point margin at half time into a 30 point lead during the second half.  Duke scored 45 second-half points, but the leading scorers in that stanza had 6 points each (JGold and Baker).  Everyone played; everyone scored, including the walk-ons.  K’s grandson scored his first college game point.  

One sportswriter had this quibble, “There are plenty of things to pick out as potential problems – Hurt had four fouls, Williams only had one rebound which is kind of hard to believe, and Duke had 16 turnovers, with about ⅓    of those by Wendell Moore with five.”  That may be legitimate critique on the BC game, but Duke did not repeat those weaknesses against Louisville.


One of the reasons I dislike the One-and-Done Era is that it does not allow us to watch the most talented players mature.  Part of the joy of Duke Basketball has been watching Laettner, Hill, Hurley, Battier, Zoubek (just to name a few) hone their skills as players and teammates. However, this year watching Mark Williams’s improvement and his impact on the team has been like watching a movie on fast forward.  And, to a lesser extent, the same is true for D.J. Steward, who, while inconsistent, shows flashes of exceptional athleticism and playmaking creativity.  In addition, both exhibit a genuine, infectious  joy and enthusiasm for playing the game.

So, while this season has been a disappointment in the win column, the prospect of watching another year or so of these and other non One-and-Doners is a reason to look forward to next year.

A trademark of Duke Basketball is lightning quick runs that define a game. So, you don’t often see a team make a 14 point strike against Duke. However, in the first half Louisville ran off 14 straight points in the 1:42 that Williams was on the bench. What does that tell you about his importance to the team?

Florida State is a much larger, stronger team than Louisville. It will be interesting how Williams handles the larger front line.

Next Play:  Tonight, March 11, 2021, versus Florida State, in Greensboro, at 6:30 pm EST, on ACCN or ESPN.

Note: There will be one DBP ACC Tournament wrap-up with selection Sunday news added.

End of Season Wrap-up (Season 12 Issue 25) with Bill Miller’s “CliffsNotes”


Duke’s 2020-2021 team was never fully defined in this short-circuited, inconsistent (and Jalen-challenged) season.   Like last season, Duke played its best game of the year before its scheduled ACC tournament quarter final game.  In this season’s finale, the Blue Devils were superb in gaining revenge against Louisville, behind Mark Williams’s All World performance (23 points; 19 rebounds) and Matt Hurt’s 20 point game.  The backcourt came alive, and the defense was the best it has been all year!  

In last year’s finale, the Devils had looked simply awesome in defeating UNC on Senior Night at Cameron. The 2019-20 Blue Devils transformed when Justin Robinson earned a starter’s role in Blue Devils’ games down the stretch.  In both instances, the quarterfinal games (each against Florida State) were COVID-cancelled, ending Duke’s season – and preventing each team from being fully defined as it usually is, by tournament results.  We – at least I – will always wonder about the late season resolution that was denied to Duke’s last two teams.

Rumors have circulated that an additional seven Duke players have tested positive for the virus in the week since the season was canceled.  

This leads to the conclusion that we won’t really be able to evaluate this season until Duke’s 2021-2022 team begins to emerge.  By that I mean, let’s see who stays (Could Elizabeth’s baby brother leave on the strength of his last game?  Hurt might leave, but if he doesn’t, he will have a POY-type opportunity).  The NCAA has granted all players an extra year of eligibility, allowing all seniors (Goldwire; Tapé – who knows if grad students count?) to return if they choose.  Let’s see if the freshmen guards and Moore (+ potentially Goldwire) can morph into a reliable, steady and consistent backcourt.   It seems clear that Henry Coleman III, Roach, Steward and Moore will return.  Oh yes, and the heralded (aren’t they all) incoming recruits – for now, Paolo Banchero, a 6’9” power forward rated #3 by ESPN, and Adrian Griffin, a 6’7” small forward rated # 14 by ESPN.  Duke has 3 other offers extended. There has been speculation – but nothing official – that Joey Baker and Jaemyn Brakefield are contemplating using the transfer portal, given that the new recruits may reduce their already limited playing time

So, next year is a long way away from taking shape. There is potential for sure, and even possibly great potential.  Like this past season, next season could depend upon whether Duke’s backcourt can continue to improve, so that the absence of a true point guard does not derail the team at crucial times.  There were dramatic derailments that kept this year’s team from reaching its pre-season ranking.

 In retrospect, the whole Jalen Johnson kerfuffle might really have been a metaphor for the season.  I do not believe we have yet evaluated the destructive impact that the Jalen situation may actually have had.  I have no inside information, but unchallenged facts publicly exist:  

  1. Jalen was considered Duke’s best pre-season recruit and somewhat of a steal (his ranking dropped to # 10 because he was injured and did not play much in his senior year in high school).  He was, in fact, on the first team All-ACC Pre-Season team, to give you an idea of how much Duke was depending on him.  His reputation and skills exceeded his previous, actually demonstrated accomplishments (2020-21 did nothing to change that fact);
  2. The first half of his first college game against Coppin State set amazingly unrealistic expectations.  Here is what I wrote about it then, “Johnson’s first half was crafted by the gods.  He did not miss a shot in the entire game (8-8 from the field; 1-1 from deep and 2-2 from the line).  In the first half, he scored 15 of his 19 and had 11 of his 19 rebounds to go with 2 blocks and an assist with only a single turnover in 17 first half minutes.” It might have been the worst thing that could have happened for him and Duke; after that game, he was already publicly perceived as a one and done lottery pick; 
  3. Jalen was able to show his ‘Coppin State-form’ only twice more (both times he played a superb half in losses to Pittsburgh and Louisville); and 
  4. His play became even more inconsistent, turnovers more prevalent, and his sporadic defense effort caused a diminution of his playing time.  My speculation is that Jalen wanted to play on the perimeter, where his NBA future lies, but Duke needed him in the frontcourt (especially before Mark’s development), creating an underlying dissension that harmed the team.  

While the Duke team had a better attitude after he left school, the 2020-21 Blue Devils never possessed the talent level that had been anticipated, based on Jalen’s reputation and talent. What is so tantalizing: what if Jalen had had Mark Williams’ attitude and made that kind of team-oriented progress during the season.  If that fantasy had become reality, I believe this would have been a vastly more successful season, in line with Duke’s pre-season ranking (#9 Nationally).

Progress and Deficiencies This Year With a Bit of Prognosticating About Next Year

 The Backcourt

Duke’s backcourt never achieved the level necessary to be  National contenders.  Certainly, D.J. Steward and Wendell Moore showed flashes of playing that well, but neither could sustain that level of play consistently, and both had weaknesses that needed and need work.   If Moore can become an offensive threat and consistent ball handler; if D.J. can harness his natural sizzle at both ends of the court, the backcourt could become championship worthy.  JGoldwire, considering returning for a fifth year, could help (especially if his scoring improves) or could be complicated by holding back the improvement of others.  Jeremy Roach had a difficult year.  He had been projected as Duke’s point guard, but could never step comfortably into that role.  His play did improve as the year went on, providing hope that his improvement from freshman to sophomore could mirror the amazing improvement that Matt Hurt made between his freshman and sophomore seasons.  A Duke recruiting target is 6’5” shooting guard, Trevor Keels (ESPN # 19, to announce his choice on April 4).  Duke is not favored, but Keels was a high school teammate of Roach’s, so that draw keeps Duke in the running.

 The Frontcourt

Assuming Mark Williams returns, the frontcourt will be Duke’s calling card next year.  This is even more emphatically true if Hurt also returns (we hope so!).  Duke has inked Banchero as Hurt’s replacement if he leaves (or Danny Ferry’s freshman role on the 1986 Final Four team, should Hurt return).  Banchero is reputed to be a genuine stud.  Duke is also recruiting the #4 rated (ESPN) prospect, 6’10” center, Patrick Baldwin.  Inking Baldwin would be a coup; however, his father coaches Milwaukee, where the experts think he will wind up.  Adrian Griffin is a 6’7” wing, whose brother plays at Syracuse.  Duke could have really used a scoring wing this past season.

The First Year of Alanalysis

Bill’s participation – after several ball fakes at retirement – was one of the best events of the year for me. We have had so much fun and satisfaction over the years! This year was also the first that my daughter (Laramie) and  her mother (Jeanne) contributed to the synergy.  We (they) moved the DBP distribution to GoogleGroups (daughter in charge) and serious – highly competitive — editing was done in Google Docs.  Huge kudos for amazing editing and proofreading by both Laramie and Jeanne!!  Their participation made the product so much better and our mutual effort so much more satisfying.  

If the NCAA grants Bill, Laramie, and Jeanne another year of eligibility, we will all be back next year. 


Alan’s very thorough summary of the season does not leave me with much to add, except that I have always thought success in any endeavor is very difficult and fragile; therefore, a challenge to maintain and sustain. Oftentimes, the skills required to build success are not the same as the ones necessary to maintain it.  That is why what Coach Mike Krzyzewski has accomplished at Duke University over the last forty years is so extraordinary.  However, it is becoming increasingly difficult in a sport where there is so much player turnover.

Ultimately, coaching matters and it takes time and luck to develop an outstanding team. For example, of Coach K’s five National Championships, only one team featured freshmen (but also was stabilized by three seniors: Co-Captains Quinn Cooke, Amile Jefferson, and Matt Jones). Even the team featuring the sensational future pros — Zion Williamson,  R.J.Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones — did not make the Final Four.  The other necessary component is a strong point guard (which neither Duke nor Carolina had this year).  So, the obvious conclusion is that it takes time to mold a successful championship-caliber college basketball team and the extraordinary challenges of this year only further shortened the opportunity for coaches to coach.  This might explain why the so-called Blue Bloods—Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina — all had disappointing years.  A terrific case in point was when Wisconsin pounded UNC in the First Round on Thursday.  The Badgers’ Starting Five are seniors, none of whom were McDonald’s All Americans or even rated in the top 100 high school recruits of their year.  The average age of the Wisconsin Starting Five is older than the Starting Five of the Chicago Bulls.  The Badgers totally dominated North Carolina, a team loaded with McDonald’s All Americans, in every aspect of the game.

The same pandemic that short circuited last season, dramatically changed this season. For instance, consider this scenario:

The Duke players reported to the Washington Duke Inn on August 2nd where they underwent COVID-19 screening and checked into their rooms to begin a mandatory quarantine period.

I don’t know about other teams, but for the entire season, the Duke players were sequestered solo in the Washington Duke without a roommate, Zooming classes and team meetings, even picking up their meals in brown bags and eating them alone in their room.  Practices and travelling to games were about the only physical community times together.  They were so sequestered that they would probably need a map to get around campus. How is that for a freshman year?  

Do not assume next year will return to normal.  The NCAA’s recent decisions won’t allow it.  Every player has been offered another year of eligibility, and because of the new transfer portal rule, any player can change schools without sitting out a year, orcan jump straight to the NBA new minor league @ $100,00 a year– all of which presents a scholarship problem for college coaches.

The NCAA limits each team to just 13 scholarships.  Duke has three scholarship seniors: Graduate student Patrick Tapé, ex walk-on Mike Buckmire, who is moving on to medical school, and defensive specialist Jordan Goldwire.  Duke has two signees — Paolo Banchero, a 6’9” power forward and Adrian Griffin, a 6’7” small forward.  Does K bring Goldwire, a much improved and useful (but not topflight) point guard back or encourage him to finish his career somewhere else?  Does he encourage Joey (formerly “Buckets”) Baker, a disappointing role player, to transfer? Does intriguingly talented Jaemyn Brakefield take his skills somewhere he will be guaranteed more playing time?  Does Matthew Hurt notice last year’s three one-and-doners are all struggling away in the NBA G (Developmental) Minor League and not in the NBA.  Will he  think long term and determine he might be better off staying and being a Player of the Year candidate and a lottery pick in 2022, or does he take the money and run? Duke rarely takes transfers, but the new transfer portal changes everything.

Of those who we presume are staying: Mark Williams clearly is a potential breakout star; Wendell Moore may be the answer at the point; a late developing Jeremy Roach needs to develop a pass-first-shoot-second mentality to run the point; talented, versatile, and enthusiastic D.J. Steward could become the go-to shooting guard every true contender needs; Coleman will have to fight the two freshmen for playing time, and Joey Baker, having improved his defense, will have to find his jump shot to be useful.

One thing is for certain. There are a lot of very good basketball players one never hears of until tournament time.  The fifteen team ACC Basketball Conference has never been deeper or more mediocre (Virginia, Carolina, Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Virginia Tech all lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament) in spite of higher paid coaches, and more heralded players (for example, every year Florida State rotates ten or so big, athletic men).  This year, Boston College and Wake were the only easy outs, but that could change in a heartbeat—as Georgia Tech demonstrated in winning the ACC Conference tournament. 

Next year will be interesting.

Next Play:  Next Year….. if this Damn Pandemic Recedes