Duke in the MLB: Stroman inconsistent in first postseason start

After the Texas Rangers stole Game 1 from the Toronto Blue Jays Friday, former Duke starting pitcher Marcus Stroman took the mound in Game 2 hoping to salvage a split for the home team. After surprisingly overcoming a torn ACL in spring training, Stroman returned for the month of September and went 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA.

But Stroman could not seem to get into a rhythm early in the biggest start of his career. In the first inning, two runs scored on an RBI single by Shin-Soo Choo and a fielding error by catcher Russell Martin. Stroman was able to escape the jam when first baseman Chris Colabello turned an unassisted double play to end the inning. In the second inning, Stroman walked Rougned Odor—who later came around to score on a sacrifice fly. 

Following that point, Stroman was lights out. The former Blue Devil retired the next 14 batters he faced and the Rangers offense struggled to make good contact on the ball. Stroman masterfully painted the corners of the strike zone from the third inning on and forced some Texas players to complain about calls. 

Stroman’s early struggles put the Blue Jays in an early hole that they slowly dug themselves out of behind a big second inning. But with the young pitcher performing well, the final batter he faced eventually helped the Rangers force extra innings. With a 4-3 lead, Stroman gave up a leadoff single to Delino DeShields and Stroman was taken out of the game. DeShields would eventually come around to score, helping the Rangers force extra innings. After a few innings of scoreless action, Texas would go on to push two runs across in the top of the 14th inning and came away with a 6-4 victory.  Read more »

Third and Goal: Duke football vs Army

Third and Goal: Duke football vs Army

Duke will hit the road for the first time since its season-opener against Tulane and take on Army at Michie Stadium at noon Saturday. Last weekend against Boston College, Duke squeaked out a 9-7 victory behind a stout defensive performance and three Ross Martin field goals. The Blue Devils take an impressive 4-1 record into West Point, N.Y., but there is still plenty of room for improvement before the team hits the meat of its schedule. Here are three keys to Duke’s final non-conference game of the season:

Take risks downfield in the passing game

A break in the Blue Devils' ACC schedule to play a 1-4 Army team presents an ideal opportunity for quarterback Thomas Sirk to regain some confidence and reestablish the offensive rhythm that led the Duke to blowout victories against Tulane and N.C. Central. Sirk threw for more than 600 yards and had five touchdown passes in these two games, but has struggled to adjust to better defenses in his first year as a starter. The Glen St. Mary, Fla., native has just one touchdown pass and three interceptions since his successful start to the season and has not surpassed 200 passing yards in a game during this stretch. Read more »

XFactor: Duke football vs Army

XFactor: Duke football vs Army

After winning a defensive slugfest at home last week against Boston College 9-7, the Blue Devils hit the road this week to face Army at noon Saturday at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y. Every week throughout the football season, we will break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest:

Duke: wide receiver Johnell Barnes

The Blue Devil passing attack has sputtered at times this season, but Thomas Sirk and his receivers showed flashes of potential last week. The unit looks primed for a big game against an Army secondary that is allowing 240.6 yards per game through the air, but it will need more production from Barnes. The Lehigh Acres, Fla., native began the season with 13 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown in his first two games, but has since only caught five passes for 43 yards against tougher competition. 

Granted, Barnes did miss the end of the Georgia Tech game and the first half of the Boston College contest due to a targeting penalty he committed on a punt, but he has been somewhat of an afterthought in the passing game lately. Barnes has shown us that he can whiz past cornerbacks with his top-end speed, but has had trouble executing big plays this season. Saturday’s matchup with Army will be the perfect opportunity for Barnes to have a breakout game, build chemistry with Sirk and gain confidence heading into the heart of the Blue Devils’ schedule. Read more »

Injury Report: Duke football vs. Army

Ahead of Duke's first road game since a season-opening win Sept. 3 at Tulane, the Blue Devils released their weekly injury report Thursday afternoon. Head coach David Cutcliffe's squad will be without a reserve duo along the offensive line Saturday at Army, but no starters are hurt.


TE Dan Beilinson (leg)

OG Cody Robinson (upper body) Read more »

USA Today: Krzyzewski called Chris Burns to congratulate him after the Bryant assistant came out as gay

Duke plays Bryant Nov. 14 in its second game of the season. But the Blue Devils and Bulldogs are already making headlines off the court.

Bryant assistant Chris Burns became the first active Division I men's basketball coach to come out as gay—his story was captured by USA Today and can be read here.

According to USA Today, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was among those to call Burns after hearing the news. Krzyzewski reportedly reached out to Burns—nine times—to congratulate him.

"My message to him is, first off, congratulations, I'm very proud of you," Krzyzewski told USA Today. "Next, please know you'll be accepted by your brothers in the sport of men's basketball. You're included now in a very strong way. I think this will be something coaches in our sport will love." Read more »

Duke women's basketball ranked No. 8 as Stevens nets preseason honors

Duke women's basketball ranked No. 8 as Stevens nets preseason honors

A week after their male counterparts hosted an open practice to kick off their season, the Blue Devils are starting to make some headlines on the hardwood as well.

Sophomore Azura Stevens led the charge for Blue Devils, earning second-team All-American honors from Sporting News and Athlon Sports earlier this week. The 6-foot-5 wing ranked second on the team with 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds during her rookie campaign, a performance that netted her Second-Team All-ACC and First-Team All-Freshman accolades. Stevens set a Duke freshman record with 10 double-doubles, and also etched her name in the program record books by recording the most field goals and rebounds by a freshman.

Stevens—who brought home a gold medal for Team USA in the FIBA 19U World Championships this summer— is one of three starters to return for head coach Joanne P. McCallie as she enters her ninth season at the helm in Durham. The Blue Devils struggled through an inconsistent regular season last year and took a No. 4 seed into the NCAA tournament, where they were knocked off by top-seeded Maryland in the Sweet 16.

Heading into 2015-16, Duke's roster is going to be bolstered by the addition of the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation—a quintet of Haley Gorecki, Kyra Lambert, Crystal Primm, Angela Salvadores and Faith Suggs. The infusion of new talent has the Blue Devils ranked No. 8 in Sporting News' preseason poll, and No. 13 in Athlon Sports'. Read more »

Nobel Prize or NCAA championship: Students debate

For the second time in four years, a Duke researcher has won the Nobel Prize. Paul Modrich, James B. Duke professor of biochemistrywill share the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Aziz Sancar of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Tomas Lindahl of the Francis Crick Institute in the U.K. for the trio's work on DNA repair mechanisms.

The Chronicle's Gautam Hathi and Samantha Neal talked to students on campus to find out what they thought about Modrich's accomplishment, and how it compares with Duke's NCAA men's basketball championship in April in terms of excitement, importance and meaning to the University community.

Duke in the NFL: Week 3 and 4

As the NFL season continues, former Blue Devils have moved into new roles on their respective teams and become to get more playing time. We take a look at what some of Duke's finest have done in the last two weeks: 

Jamison Crowder, WR – With an injury to DeSean Jackson two weeks ago, Crowder was finally given the chance to show what he can do in the slot in Week 3 against the Giants. Crowder responded with six receptions for 45 yards out of the slot in his team's 32-21 loss. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was so impressed with Crowder’s performance that he benched struggling veteran Andre Roberts and started the former Duke star in the slot against the Eagles this past weekend. Crowder cemented his place as a valuable asset on the team with seven receptions for 65 yards on 12 targets. Late in the third quarter with the Redskins deep in Eagle territory, quarterback Kirk Cousins launched a third down pass 22 yards downfield for Crowder, who made a leaping catch in triple coverage to pick up the first down.

With his consistent play, Crowder appears set to become a key cog in the Redskins' offense going forward.  Read more »

Off the Dribble: Highlights from Mike Krzyzewski's press conference at Duke basketball media day

Duke held its media day Tuesday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium as the Blue Devils prepare to defend their 2015 national title with a a mixture of returning veterans and the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. Here are some of the highlights from head coach Mike Krzyzewski's press conference, including an injury update and progress adapting to the NCAA's new rules for 2015-16.

"[Sean] Obi had been out for awhile [but] he's now practicing. The only kid that's been out the whole time for us is [freshman center Antonio] Vrankovic, he had a stress reaction earlier in the month in September. He's close to being able to practice—the other guys are in pretty good shape. Grayson [Allen] had not played for about three weeks because he had an annoying hamstring there in September, so we shut him down. He's only been practicing since the start of practice, but today he had a really, really good day."

Krzyzewski now has a full roster at his disposal after winning a national title with just eight active scholarship players in April. Allen's balky hamstring would appear to be the most serious concern, but based on his physicality and explosiveness at Friday's open practice and Krzyzewski's assessment of Tuesday's practice, the Jacksonville, Fla., native should be good to go moving forward. Vrankovic was in a walking boot at Friday's open practice but was dressed to participate. A stress reaction denotes the earliest stages of what could lead to a stress fracture.

"Ingram will be all over. He's that good of a player. Brandon's gained 23 pounds since July 1. A lot of it is muscle mass and so he's in the 190s now, he came in about 172 [pounds]. He's worked very, very hard."

The 6-foot-9 swingman can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor, and spent much of Friday's open practice rotating in with the rest of the Blue Devil guards. With his height and jumping ability, Duke may also look to utilize Ingram down low, where he faces a disadvantage because of his slight frame. Justise Winslow provided effective inside-out scoring for Krzyzewski as a freshman last year at 6-foot-6, but had already packed on plenty of muscle prior to arriving in Durham. Ingram's ability to deliver down low could be critical for a Duke team now without the services of dominant post threat Jahlil Okafor.

"We did an officials clinic today because there are a lot of new rules changes. They're going to have a big impact on the game."

The college game underwent a significant overhaul during the summer as the NCAA sought to increase scoring. Among the big changes are a reduction in the shot clock to 30 seconds from 35 and the elimination of the five-second closely guarded rule as long as a player maintains his dribble. Krzyzewski—who said he supports a further reduction of the shot clock to the NBA-regulation 24 seconds—particularly stressed the importance of a shift in officiating pertaining to defensive positioning. Post defenders will now be allowed to keep an arm-bar on their assignment in the post when the offensive player has the ball. Prior to this switch, defenders could keep an arm-bar on their man when the ball was elsewhere but had to remove it when the ball arrived, allowing the offensive player a better opportunity to back down in the post. That's a big thing," Krzyzewski said. Read more »

Week 5: Quick Hits from Lunch with Cut

Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference Tuesday, addressing Duke’s 9-7 victory against Boston College and the upcoming matchup against Army. The head coach touched on several topics including the Blue Devil’s offensive play calling, his use of Jeremy Cash, and the multiple run-options of the Black Knights. Duke (4-1) faces Army (1-4) Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at Michie Stadium. Here are some of the more notable sound bytes from Cutcliffe’s press conference:

Despite the Black Knights subpar record, the team remarkably has a positive point differential thus far. They have lost by two, five, three and six points so far against formidable major conference teams such as Wake Forest and Penn State.

“[We’re] going to be playing an Army team that really could be undefeated right now if you look at their tape, very easily. And they’ve played well enough to win every game, and obviously we know they have haven’t, they know they haven’t."

When Duke beat Georgia Tech two weeks ago, it held the then top-ranked rushing offense below half its average yards per game. Like the Yellow Jackets, the Black Knights also boast a multi-faceted rushing attack. Sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw leads the team with 85.3 rushing yards per game, followed by fullback Aaron Kemper’s 48.2 yards per contest. A total of six players average more than 30 yards on the ground per game and Army is ranked tenth in the country in rushing offense. Read more »