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Countdown to Countdown to Craziness: A guide to Saturday night's festivities

(10/24/14 8:44am)

The Blue Devils will ring in the 2014-15 season with their sixth annual Countdown to Craziness Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Doors open at 6 p.m., with player introductions for the women's and men's teams scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Following the fanfare, head coach Mike Krzyzewski's squad will take the floor for a 24-minute scrimmage, fans' first opportunity to see Duke's highly-touted recruiting class in action. The evening concludes with a dunk contest at around 9:30 p.m.

Parker, Hood, Dawkins await NBA Draft fates

(06/03/14 7:00pm)

There is just less than a month until Duke alumnus Adam Silver takes the stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York to conduct his first draft as commissioner of the NBA. When Silver takes the stage June 26, there are two other Blue Devils who will be anxiously waiting to hear their names called, with another one hoping to sneak his way into the draft.

Dawkins, Liston compete in 3-point championships

(04/04/14 7:12pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Although their basketball careers at Duke are over, Andre Dawkins and Tricia Liston got to take the court one final time last night in Duke blue, competing in the 3-Point Championships at the Final Four in Dallas. Dawkins struggled from the field in his round of the competition, finishing with 14 points to place him sixth out of eight competitors. He was four points behind Brady Heslip of Baylor for the last spot in the semifinal round. Heslip would go on to win the men's competition. Liston had more success than her Duke classmate. The senior guard advanced all the way to the final round by knocking home 22 points in the semifinals to set up a meeting with Louisville's Shoni Schimmel. Liston went cold however in the final round, scoring just 16 points to Schimmel's 22. Schimmel eventually defeated Heslip when the two went head-to-head, giving her the overall title. Both Dawkins and Liston were noted 3-point marksmen during their time in Durham. Dawkins finished his career shooting 41.0 percent from beyond the arc—good for fifth all-time at Duke. His 231 triples leave him eighth all time in that category. Liston makes Dawkins' numbers look mediocre. She knocked home 45.9 percent of her 3-pointers while at Duke. Her 252 total treys cemented her place as Duke's all-time 3-point leader and was good for seventh all-time in the ACC. Liston also set a single-season record for threes made this season.

Chris Capuano the only Blue Devil in the Major Leagues

(04/02/14 5:27pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>With another Major League Baseball season upon us, there will be just one Blue Devil alumnus on an Opening Day roster—left-handed pitcher Chris Capuano of the Boston Red Sox. Despite there being only one player on a roster right now, there are a number of other former Duke baseball stars who could make an appearance in The Show this season.The Big League MainstayChris Capuano, P, Boston Red Sox: Capuano used a very strong spring to secure a spot in the Red Sox's Opening Day bullpen. A starter for the majority of his seven-year Major League career, the move to the 'pen may be troublesome for the lefty. However, experienced southpaws who can get tough lefties out late in games are always useful. Should injury strike one of Boston's five starters, Capuano would be on the short list to replace him in the rotation.Hoping For Another ShotGreg Burke, P, Colorado Rockies: Burke spent a significant portion of 2013 working out of the bullpen for the New York Mets, compiling a 5.68 ERA in 31.2 innings of relief. That was Burke's first Major League action since seeing 45.2 innings with the San Diego Padres back in 2009. Not on the 40-man roster, Burke faces an uphill battle for a roster spot, but a return to The Show should not be ruled out for the 31 year old side-armer.He'll Be BackNate Freiman, 1B, Oakland Athletics: Freiman spent the entire 2013 season on the active roster for the A's last season as a Rule 5 pick, but this season was optioned to Triple-A before the regular season started. His .238 average this spring didn't exactly help his cause, nor did his inability to play a position other than first base, something that doesn't make a player all too attractive for a Major League bench. Having hit .274 in the Majors a season ago, Oakland knows he can hack it at the next level, but with Daric Barton and Brandon Moss already options at first, there just wasn't room to carry Freiman on Opening Day.Next in LineMarcus Stroman, P, Toronto Blue Jays: Stroman's time is almost here. The soon-to-be 23 year old was in consideration for the fifth starter job in Toronto, but ultimately was sent back to the minor leagues to get more seasoning. Stroman is considered one of the most Major League-ready prospects in baseball after being selected with the 22nd pick in the 2012 draft by Toronto, making him the first ever Blue Devil pitcher to be taken in the first round. He had had his share of troubles however, not the least of which was his 50-game PED suspension just two months after being drafted. Stroman bounced back strong from his suspension and tallied a 3.30 ERA in Double-A last season. The young hurler will more than likely get a look in Toronto this season, but the question remains whether he will get that look as a starter or working out of the bullpen. His diminutive 5-foot-9 frame has cast doubt in the baseball community as to whether or not Stroman can cut it as a starter in the Major Leagues.

Seth Curry inks 10-day deal with Cleveland

(03/24/14 11:00pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The third of the Blue Devils' three seniors that made up the core of the 2012-13 team is back in the NBA.Seth Curry's first brief taste of the NBA came in late December, when the guard agreed to terms with the Memphis Grizzlies. However, just four minutes of game time later, Curry was waived. Curry waited on the Grizzlies to offer him a 10-day contract, as he was told they would do, but eventually headed back to the Santa Cruz Warriors—the D-League affiliate he had been playing with all season—empty handed.The Duke product had a very effective season with Santa Cruz, earning an All-Star bid in his first professional season. On the season, Curry is averaging 19.4 points per game—13th in the D-League—and added 5.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. With the Cavaliers, Curry has already reached a milestone. Playing on Saturday, the guard rattled home a 3-pointer—his first NBA basket. The Cavaliers currently have three Duke alumni on the roster, with Curry joining Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng. With Cleveland 5.5 games out of the playoff picture, Curry could see some time down the stretch as the new front office evaluates whether or not he is a long-term option for the franchise.

Duke basketball sticks together in season-ending loss

(03/22/14 2:02am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>RALEIGH—For the second time in three years Duke will not be playing in the Round of 32, but this is not Lehigh all over again."I don’t know, I think this team was more together, more of a team than that team [that played Lehigh] was, but it’s obviously still frustrating to have the same result,” graduate student Andre Dawkins said.When No. 3 seed Duke walked off the court Friday March 21 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. after a shocking 78-71 loss to No. 14 seed Mercer, it did so as a team. That's something that couldn't have been said about the players with "Duke" emblazoned on their chests two seasons ago, when C.J. McCollum and the rest of the Mountain Hawks stuck it to a disjointed group of Blue Devils.The emotion and camaraderie was evident to everyone with eyes after Friday's game. Point guard Quinn Cook took the long walk to the postgame press conference with crimson, tearful eyes. Redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood kept his head in his hands with his knees shaking while sitting in the locker room. Freshman Jabari Parker choked back tears. Guard Rasheed Sulaimon sat in the corner of the locker room, on the floor, needing to be left alone as he stared off into space. They weren't upset about only the loss—they were upset that their journey together had come to a close."Even though [both teams] lost in the second round, that team a couple of years ago, we weren’t really a team," senior Josh Hairston said. "And I think that if you went back and looked at the roster and asked those guys, did they feel like they were a collective team, a collective unit, they would definitely disagree. This group, we were a team—on and off the court we did everything together."That wasn't the only difference between the Mercer and Lehigh losses. Friday, the Blue Devils never gave up. The team fought together, kept its confidence high and trusted that the good looks it was getting at the basket were going to fall eventually. That same mindset wasn't there two seasons ago.

The key three: Duke basketball vs. Mercer

(03/21/14 5:40pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The road to the Final Four begins Friday afternoon for the No. 3 seed Blue Devils, who will face off against No. 14 seed Mercer at 12:15 p.m. in Raleigh. Duke will be looking to get back to its winning ways coming off of a loss to Virginia in the ACC tournament championship game last Sunday. The Atlantic Sun champion Bears are riding a four-game win-streak into PNC Arena Friday.Here are today's keys to the game:Crash the glassLet's just say Duke isn't the best rebounding team in the nation. In fact, its not one of the 192 best teams in the nation, averaging a mere 34.5 boards per game. The Bears rank 38th in the NCAA with 38.0 rebounds per game, despite not having an individual performer average more than 6.6 boards. Jabari Parker has been very effective on the glass, and Amile Jefferson has shown at times that he can be a dominant force. But as a whole, the Blue Devils have frequently failed to adequately box out, resulting in easy rebounding attempts for the opposition. To avoid another Lehigh fiasco, Duke needs to make a concerted effort on the boards.Don't look aheadThis has been a problem for the Blue Devils in the past. With its sights set on North Carolina, Duke collapsed late against the Demon Deacons in the penultimate regular-season game. The Blue Devils are a young squad, meaning they need the veterans to step up and provide leadership to keep the team focused on the task at hand. Andre Dawkins can speak to staying focused, having cut down the nets in 2010. Tyler Thornton is a senior captain, but he also is in constant foul woes, making it very difficult to be a leader on the court. The onus of keeping Duke focused could fall on the shoulders of redshirt sophomore and captain Rodney Hood, though he has never played in an NCAA tournament game.Slow down Langston HallMercer has talent, but no one on the roster can match guard Langston Hall. The Altanta product is the Bears' only double-digit scorer at 14.7 per game, and also leads the team in assists with 5.6 dimes per contest. Thornton, Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook will all see time on Hall defensively. Perhaps just as important as stopping Hall is staying out of foul trouble while doing so, as the Blue Devils can ill-afford to be bogged down in foul woes in win-or-go-home scenarios.

No foul, no harm

(03/20/14 12:26pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke has as much talent as any team in the NCAA tournament, but that matters little if those talented players can't stay on the court.With the team much healthier than it was a season ago when seniors Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly were unable to practice while recovering from various ailments, injury isn't what will keep the Blue Devils' top guns off the floor: it's foul trouble.“It was important because it kind of dictates the way you play," point guard Quinn Cook said about foul woes following Duke's ACC tournament loss to Virginia. "You don’t want to play too antsy with three or four fouls."Foul trouble has been Duke's nemesis all season. Forward Amile Jefferson was relegated to the bench early in the team's season-opener against Davidson, and Cook's strong game against Arizona was interrupted by early fouls. Conference play spelled trouble for the Blue Devils in the foul department as well—most notably the game played against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, when freshman Jabari Parker, Jefferson and graduate student Andre Dawkins fouled out and were forced to watch from the bench as the Orange eked out a 91-89 overtime win to keep their pristine undefeated record intact.All of Duke's eight primary rotation players have suffered bouts of foul trouble throughout the season.It's not just one or two players who have been plagued by the foul bug this season, but instead a team-wide epidemic. In 25 games played against either conference foes or nonconference opponents that punched their tickets to the Big Dance, Jefferson, redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood and senior captain Tyler Thornton have been in foul trouble in 12 games apiece. Parker found himself in foul woes in eight of those games, guard Rasheed Sulaimon fell victim to personal fouls seven times, and Dawkins was culpable in committing excess fouls six times. When starters and key rotation players are forced out of games due to foul trouble, it disrupts not only the individual's performance, but the cohesion of the entire team.“It shouldn’t affect us, but it could make guys not as aggressive as they were at the beginning, just because you don’t want to pick up that fourth foul early in the [second] half, or pick up that third foul in the first half, so it knocks us back a little bit," Jefferson said following the second meeting between Duke and Virginia.The numbers suggest that fouling has a direct impact on Duke's ability to win games. Of those 25 games against ACC and tournament-bound teams, 11 times the team has committed at least 20 fouls. Of those 11 games, the Blue Devils lost seven. In the team's eighth loss—a 79-77 upset at the hands of Notre Dame—Duke was whistled for 19 fouls. Taking into account the entire season, the Blue Devils have won just 53.3 percent of its games during which the team commits 20-plus fouls.One must look no further than Duke's loss to Wake Forest for in-game evidence of foul trouble completely altering the course of the contest. Hood was whistled for his fourth foul with 9:28 remaining in the contest having already scored 16 points. He would not appear again in the box score until fouling out eight minutes later. No shots attempted. No rebounds. No assists. Despite limited minutes, Marshall Plumlee has also found himself in foul trouble for the Blue Devils five times this year.But that wasn't as damning as the evidence presented when Parker was tagged with his fourth foul. The forward sat down with Duke leading 66-61. What transpired immediately upon Parker reaching the bench was a 15-0 Demon Deacon run, ignited by the absence and timidity of the Blue Devils' foul-stricken stars.The question becomes simple for Duke moving forward: How does it keep its best players out of foul trouble and on the court? The Blue Devils aren't alone in their concern in this area. The third-most whistled team in the ACC, Duke ranks 49th of 68 teams in the original tournament field in fouls committed per game, with the likes of No. 2 seeds Kansas and Villanova and fellow Midwest powerhouse Louisville posting worse foul figures. Fortunately for Duke, the answer could be as simple as tightening the ship in practice. After Cook noted that the "ticky-tack grabbing stuff" that the referees were calling fouls against Virginia was the same sort of grabbing that was permissible in practice, the officiating became more stringent this week. From here on out, the key is simple, cerebral play.