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Duke women's basketball ranked No. 7 in preseason AP Poll

New look, same expectations.

Despite losing four starters from last year's squad, the Blue Devils were ranked No. 7 when the Preseason AP Poll was released Thursday. Duke plays Limestone tonight in its first exhibition contest and has been ranked in the preseason top-10 each of the past 15 seasons.

The Blue Devils opened the season with their annual Blue-White scrimmage Sunday and three new faces showed they were ready to step up and fill the void left by the loss of decorated players Chelsea Gray, Haley Peters, Tricia Liston and Alexis Jones.

Redshirt freshman Rebecca Greenwell made her debut with 18 points—all of which came on 3-pointers—freshman Azura Stevens had 16 points and transfer point guard Mercedes Riggs added 13 points and two steals.

The trio and a host of other talented underclassmen will look to rally around three-time All-American center Elizabeth Williams and fellow senior Ka'lia Johnson when the regular season starts Nov. 16 at Alabama.

Duke's talent will be put to the test early and often, as the Blue Devils are slated to take on seven top-15 squads this season and nine top-25 teams in total.

Duke basketball, Okafor honored at annual ACC media day

The preseason accolades continue to roll in for freshman center Jahlil Okafor and Duke basketball.

The Blue Devils—who were ranked No. 3 in the Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll—were picked to win the ACC at the conference's annual "Operation Basketball" media day Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. Duke received 41 of 65 first-place votes and finished with a total of 935 points, 65 more than second-place North Carolina. The Tar Heels received 12 first-place votes.

Conference newcomer Louisville, Virginia and Syracuse rounded out the top five. The three squads joined the Blue Devils and North Carolina in the Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll top 25 and will likely also fare well when the Preseason AP Poll is released Friday with expectations for the conference higher than they have been in a long time.

After dominating Countdown to Craziness Saturday with 27 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes of action, 6-foot-11 center Jahlil Okafor was selected as the ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year... Read more

Touted point guard Derryck Thornton, Jr. narrows list to 10

He wasn't at Countdown to Craziness, but one of Duke's top targets in the class of 2016 announced his top 10 Tuesday and still included the Blue Devils,

Point guard Derryck Thornton, Jr. announced his top 10 to Scout.com Tuesday afternoon. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound guard will decide between Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, Louisville, Arizona, California, Miami, Southern California, UNLV and N.C. State.

Thornton went on to say this about each school:

Duke: "Coach K is a legendary coach, it's a great education and it's a great national program."

Kentucky: "Coach Cal is a great coach. My ultimate goal is to get to the league and they do a great job helping players get there."

Michigan: "I love the staff - it's a great staff - and all the coaches there are super supportive. I love the style of play and coaching staff."

Louisville: "I have a good connection with some of the coaches there... Read more

Stock Watch: Juwan Thompson, Duke football and Jahlil Okafor trending up as October comes to an end

The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has just rung again, meaning it's time for another taking a look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. Each week The Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics.

Bull Market—Trending Up

Juwan Thompson: The undrafted rookie, who played offense, defense and special teams at Duke, worked his way onto the Broncos' roster this fall and is seeing meaningful time during the heart of the NFL season. He had a breakout game last Thursday in a 35-21 win against San Diego, rushing seven times for 24 yards and two touchdowns. Although he is still taking second team reps behind starter Ronnie Hillman, he has seen numerous touches during the past three games and is Denver's best option near the goal line... Read more

Duke in the NFL: Thompson, Helfet, Rey excel given more opportunities

With week eight of the NFL season in the books, the Blue Zone takes a look at how three former Blue Devils have excelled on the gridiron in recent weeks.

Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos: The undrafted free agent has made an immediate impact for the Broncos in the absence of Montee Ball. Thompson rushed seven times for 24 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos 35-21 win over the Chargers Thursday. Thompson has been playing the complementary hammer role to the more elusive Ronnie Hillman. Until Ball returns from injury, Thompson will continue getting the ball at the goal-line. Against the Cardinals in his NFL debut, Thompson only rushed for 15 yards on three carries, but scored a touchdown. He has three touchdowns along with 107 yards on 24 carries in the month of October, despite not even being active in September... Read more

6 prospects attend Countdown to Craziness, Leaf cancels at the last second

Another week for the Blue Devils and it seems another target might crossed Duke off his list. T.J. Leaf, a player discussed here multiple times, decided late last week to skip Countdown to Craziness. Although the exact reasons for his cancellation are not known, it is possible that Leaf may have given a “silent verbal” to Arizona during his official visit there.

A “silent verbal” is when a recruit tells a coach he will come to that school, but does not announce it to the world yet. It is interesting to also note that Billy Donovan, head coach of the Florida Gators, flew to Leaf’s home late last week and may have given a last ditch pitch to convince the big man to go down south... Read more

Standout strike safety Jeremy Cash named Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist

The leader of one of the nation's top defenses is quickly gaining national recognition.

Redshirt junior safety Jeremy Cash was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is awarded to the nation's top defensive back at the end of each season. This accolade comes after Phil Steele named Cash a midseason first team All-ACC performer last week.

He has the opportunity to become one of three finalists, which will be announced Nov. 24. One winner will be crowned during a nationally-televised awards show Dec. 11.

The Ohio State transfer has had his best season in a Blue Devil uniform thus far, registering 63 tackles, five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He ranks first in the ACC and seventh in the FBS with three forced fumbles this season and against the pass has four pass breakups and two interceptions... Read more

Around the ACC: Week 9

After another chaotic week in the Coastal, the Blue Devils now find themselves alone atop the standings, needing to win at Pittsburgh Saturday to stay there.

Miami 30, Virginia Tech 6

Thursday night’s ACC showdown witnessed Virginia Tech getting steamrolled for its second straight loss against visiting Miami. The Hokies (4-4, 1-3 in the ACC) fell behind 24-0 before halftime to the Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2) and dynamic running back Duke Johnson. Although he did not play against Virginia Tech last year due to a broken right ankle, Johnson rushed for 249 yards and one touchdown—adding 37 yards and another touchdown receiving—and propelled the Miami offense to 456 total yards in the contest.

The struggles continue this season for the Hokies, who only managed to produce 262 total yards and turned it over three times. Despite representing the Coastal Division in five ACC title games since 2005, Virginia Tech now falls to last place in the division, while Miami keeps its hopes alive with just two losses in conference... Read more

Thoughts on the AP Poll: Week 9

Only two teams in the top 25 lost in week nine, and both losses were to ranked teams. The Blue Devils sat out of action, but climbed to No. 24 in the nation.

Duke cracks top 25 for the first time this season

Despite having a bye, the Blue Devils advanced to No. 24 in this week’s AP poll due to a small shakeup in the rankings. Duke (6-1, 2-1 in the ACC) hovered around the top 25 after knocking off Georgia Tech and Virginia, but this new poll marks the team’s first entry into the top 25 this season. The Blue Devils, who now sit alone at the top of the ACC Coastal division, will play next at Pittsburgh Saturday at noon to try to keep climbing in the rankings.

Minor movement at the top as Tigers stun Rebels

No. 1 Mississippi State held onto its top spot with a 45-31 road victory against a recently-strong Kentucky squad. Florida State remained at No. 2 after a week in which the Seminoles did not play.

The big story of week nine at the top of the rankings was the matchup between Ole Miss and LSU, which were positioned last week at No. 3 and No... Read more

New season, new limits: Okafor lives up to hype as Duke basketball kicks off season with Countdown to Craziness

The Blue Devils got their season started with their annual preseason showcase Countdown to Craziness Friday night. After player introductions, Duke's intrasquad scrimmage featured two 12-minute periods and a dominant performance from freshman center Jahlil Okafor. The 6-foot-11 center scored 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in 24 minutes of action. A brief dunk contest followed the scrimmage, and 7-footer Marshall Plumlee upset Grayson Allen to take the title.

Observations:

  • All of the freshmen showed off some good dance moves during the player introductions, with Justise Winslow using a rehearsed routine to break it down.
  • Junior forward Amile Jefferson and senior point guard Quinn Cook also got creative, having the whole time join them to show off some collective rhythm. Junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon took a selfie of the whole squad dancing at one point.
  • Prized recruits Dennis Smith Jr... Read more