Ben Leonard |
The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has rung again, meaning it's time to take a look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. The Blue Zone takes a look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics.
Kyle Rowe: Against its arch rival North Carolina Sunday, Duke quickly found itself in a 6-1 hole, tied for its largest deficit this season—until Rowe came to the rescue.
After losing six of his first nine draws, Rowe surged, earning 14 of his final 15 draws to propel the Blue Devils to an improbable comeback victory in Chapel Hill. On the back of Rowe and lockdown defense, Duke used an 11-2 run to stun the then-No. 18 Tar Heels 12-8. The Blue Devils dominated in crunch time, scoring five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter while holding the ball for roughly 13 straight minutes.
“Kyle Rowe was a huge part of that, not giving them the ball," junior attackman Justin Guterding said. "They had the ball for 75 seconds in the 4th quarter—that’s how you win games.” Read more »
Jack Dolgin |
Duke boxing? Duke boxing.
Not only were there Blue Devil ‘pugilists’ as The Chronicle put it, but they were also the first individual champions in school history.
As The Chronicle reported April 3, 1936, Duke’s Ray Matulewicz and Danny Farrar won the national titles for 175-pound and 145-pound weight classes, respectively. The school cancelled the program just four years later, and in hindsight, the NCAA did something quite interesting.
The school cancelled the program, according to former Duke boxer Al Mann in his book "The Six-Minute Fraternity", because it “was afraid that some visiting contestant would get hurt and the University officials did not want to face any such happenings." Read more »
Sameer Pandhare |
Superstar New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. took to Instagram this weekend to share a handful of videos from his time in Phoenix for the Final Four, including his brief handshake with Roy Williams—North Carolina's coach and the leader of a basketball camp that Beckham participated in long ago.
But the flamboyant receiver's teammates will be on the other side of the Tobacco Road rivalry Monday when they hit Durham for the beginning of a four-day training session.
Quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Brandon Marshall will visit Duke from April 3-6 as they look to work on their timing and spend time together before the start of official offseason programming. Beckham and wide receiver Sterling Shepard also received invitations to the training session.
The Blue Devils are no stranger to hosting a Manning brother, as former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and a group of wide receivers worked out at the campus in 2015 before the beginning of the regular season. The brothers began the tradition in 2013 when Peyton invited his Broncos wideouts and Eli brought his Giants wide receivers. Read more »
Mitchell Gladstone |
Season breakdown: One of the Blue Devils' captains yet again, Jefferson continued to be a vocal leader for head coach Mike Krzyzewski's team. With freshmen big men Harry Giles and Marques Bolden injured to start the season, it was Jefferson who controlled the low post for most of the nonconference slate. And even when the highly-touted recruits got healthy, the Philadelphia native did not relinquish his starting spot—he started all 35 of the games he played in, missing just two contests due to a right-foot bone bruise in January and setting the school career record for games played after sitting out most of last season.
As has been the case for his entire career, Jefferson's numbers rose across the board—excluding his redshirt 2015-16 campaign—as he posted career highs in points, rebounds, assists and blocks per game for his four full seasons. The graduate student was just fifth on the team in scoring, but collected 80 more boards than the next closest player for Duke.
The 6-foot-9 forward had a hotter start than anyone could have expected. Jefferson posted double-figure points in 13 of 16 games before suffering a foot injury Jan. 7 against Boston College. Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 10, he recorded six double-doubles in a span of eight contests—including a stellar career-high 24-point, 15-rebound, four-block performance against then-No. 21 Florida at Madison Square Garden. Jefferson also set a career high in boards with 18 against Tennessee State in mid-December. Read more »
Riley Pfaff |
Season breakdown: In his final season with the Blue Devils, Jones stood apart from the plethora of explosive offensive weapons Duke boasted. In a year in which the Blue Devils struggled to live up to the hype that preceded their season and didn’t come together as a complete team until late in the year, Jones was one of just two players to appear in every game. Although he struggled with offensive consistency throughout the year, his hustle on defense and experience on the court was critical to help Duke move past injuries and off-court distractions.
Unlike his flashy, offensive-minded teammates, the captain earned his spot in the starting lineup on account of his superior defensive skills and leadership on the court. From the very beginning of the season, Jones matched up with opposing teams' top offensive threats, from Miles Bridges of Michigan State to Justin Jackson of North Carolina. His 63 steals led the Blue Devils by a wide margin, and his 41 turnovers on the other end of the floor were the fewest among players who saw significant time on the floor.
Jones started the season looking like yet another legitimate offensive threat for Duke, scoring in double figures for the first seven games of the season, including 11 against then-No. 7 Kansas and 13 against then-No. 21 Rhode Island. However, after scoring 10 in a blowout win against Appalachian State, the Desoto, Texas, native did not record double digits again for nearly a month and a half. He seemed to have found his groove early in ACC play, and was instrumental in a home comeback win against Miami that may have salvaged the Blue Devils’ season. But he struggled to maintain consistency for the remainder of ACC play, and entered the postseason having scored less than 10 points in eight of Duke’s final nine conference games. Read more »
Hank Tucker |
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Brian Pollack |
Season breakdown: Kennard was the Blue Devils' most consistent player all year long in a very up-and-down season, and his breakout campaign earned him a spot as a second-team AP All-American. Preseason injuries to freshmen Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden opened up room for Kennard in the starting lineup to begin the year, and he took advantage of the opportunity, quickly establishing himself as Duke's top offensive weapon and one of the most prolific scorers in the country.
The Franklin, Ohio, native was touted as an outstanding shooter coming out of high school as a four-star recruit, and he lived up to the hype with a sweet shooting stroke and quick release that helped him get shots up coming off screens. The lefty ranked second in the ACC with a 43.8 percent mark from beyond the arc and shot an efficient 48.9 percent from the field.
In addition to his shooting prowess, Kennard's development of a full arsenal of offensive moves allowed him to create great spacing on the floor for both him and his teammates. He became adept at finishing in the lane with both his right and left hands—though he shoots lefty, Kennard was a star right-handed quarterback in high school—and an array of polished head fakes gave him space to get his shot off against taller defenders inside. Read more »
Sameer Pandhare |
Season breakdown: With the Blue Devils lacking a consistent interior presence outside of co-captain Amile Jefferson, Vrankovic had a chance to step to the forefront as freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden battled injuries and inconsistency. But the team's coaching staff rarely seemed comfortable putting the sophomore on the court as Vrankovic was glued to the bench for much of the season and only saw action if Duke was faced with heavy foul trouble.
Vrankovic still lacks any semblance of a refined post game, but flashed the ability to battle for boards and compete on defense. The Delray Beach, Fla., native recorded his first double-digit rebound game of his career when he grabbed 10 boards against Marist in the team's season opener. Vrankovic then scored eight points apiece against Appalachian State and Maine, before spending the remainder of nonconference play and much of the ACC slate on the sidelines.
He played six meaningful minutes in a narrow win at Wake Forest Jan. 28 with most of the team in foul trouble and scored two points, but did not get off the bench for all of February. Read more »
Jack Dolgin |
You’ve taken your team to what is its ninth consecutive ACC crown. Your team just went to the national semifinals for just its second time ever in your second year. And you’re a title favorite as mid-March rolls around.
So why quit?
That’s the question Duke women’s tennis head coach Jody Hyden faced on March 26, 1997, two days after he stepped down during his third season with the Blue Devils. The Chronicle asked him this very question, and his answer was simple. Read more »
Dilan Trivedi |
Season breakdown: Despite joining the Duke squad last year as the No. 11 prospect in the ESPN 100, Jeter found himself at the end of the bench for most of his two years in Durham. With highly-touted recruits Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Marques Bolden entering the fold this year and Amile Jefferson’s veteran leadership on the floor, Jeter struggled to find consistent playing time.
Although he started the first four games of the season as injuries plagued the freshmen, Jeter was only able to produce an uninspiring 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in that span. His first start, opening day against Marist, was actually quite promising as he dropped 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 18 minutes.
However, as the freshmen were introduced into the lineup and Jefferson posted six double-doubles in an eight-game stretch, Jeter saw his minutes drop significantly. He only started two more games for the rest of the season, both in December against Maine and UNLV in his hometown of Las Vegas. Jeter last saw the court in a Jan. 14 loss to Louisville in which he scored zero points with two fouls and two turnovers. Read more »