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Travel conditions culprit in Duke basketball postponement

(02/13/14 10:46am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>There are more than 80,000 miles of road in the state of North Carolina. But Wednesday the eyes of a nation were trained on an eight-mile strip between Durham and Chapel Hill.The year's first showdown between Duke and North Carolina at the Dean E. Smith Center was postponed as Winter Storm Pax swept through the Triangle, bringing with it more than six inches of wintry precipitation. Despite the best efforts to prepare for the storm, road conditions were subpar enough to warrant the first cancelation of a Blue Devil-Tar Heel matchup in the rivalry's 94-year history."It was the right decision for public safety," said John Dailey, Duke's chief of police. "There were really two separate issues. The weather reports even up to a little while ago called for significant accumulation of freezing rains. That sticks to power lines. That has the potential for widespread power outages.... And just to re-emphasize, the roads are really not in good shape."The North Carolina Department of Transportation supported the decision to postpone the game, which aligned with the recommendations from Gov. Pat McCrory and Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata to avoid driving in the winter weather at all costs."We knew this was going to be a dangerous storm—a furious storm," said Mike Charbonneau, deputy secretary of communications for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. "While our crews are ready to handle what's coming, it's going to take some time. So we're going to encourage people to stay off the roads unless it's absolutely necessary."In a brief statement following the game's postponement to Feb. 20, North Carolina Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham cited the inability of Duke's bus to reach its campus and pick the Blue Devils up as the reason the teams did not play. ACC rules dictate that a game can only be canceled if either of the teams or two of the contest's three referees are unable to travel to the stadium. The ACC's referees were on site at the Smith Center at the time the game was canceled.A snowy blanket turned North Carolina's roads into a combination of an ice rink and a parking lot. In a team release at the time of the game's cancellation, Duke athletics estimated that the trip from Durham to Chapel Hill—which usually takes 15 minutes—would have taken between two and four hours. On North Carolina Highway 54, 2.5 miles away from the Smith Center, drivers began to abandon their cars. Members of the media made the trek to Chapel Hill more than six hours prior to game time before being instructed to turn around and head home.Charbonneau added that although the snow was expected to dump a heavy layer of snow and ice on the Triangle, an adjustment in Pax's patterns resulted in more difficult gameday travel for fans."This has been a rapidly changing storm," he said. "If you look at what they were predicting a couple days ago up and through this morning and afternoon, the models have continued to shift and change."The pace of the storm also made it difficult for crews to treat the roads. Snow began falling rapidly shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday and continued at a consistent rate through the early evening."When we get heavy snow, we're able to go out and pre-treat roads in advance," Charbonneau said. "In this case, with the amount of snow coming down so quickly in the Triangle followed by the ice that comes on top of it, there's only so much our plows can do."With many fans from around the state and around the country unable to make it to Chapel Hill for Wednesday's game, ticket prices plummeted in secondary buying markets, which led some Duke students to brave the storm and purchase seats. To fill the remainder of the arena, North Carolina was prepared to allow additional students to attend the game. The last time North Carolina allowed this was in 2000 for a game against Maryland after the Triangle had been hit with more than 20 inches of snow.At 6,000 strong, the Tar Heels already have one of the conference's largest student sections. With additional students in the stands to fill the rest of the Smith Center's 21,750 seats, a usually-hostile road crowd in Chapel Hill would have been exceedingly raucous for the rivalry game."It would be a disservice to have a game as big as the Duke-Carolina game when it would have been unsafe for the fans, unsafe for the teams, unsafe for the employees who are needed to support the game," Dailey said. "So I'm sure it was a difficult decision for [the ACC], but for public safety it was the right thing to do."

More UNC students could take in rivalry game due to weather

(02/13/14 1:34am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke and North Carolina—a rivalry built on blood, sweat, tobacco and... snow?Although that is not normally the case, this year's first installment of the rivalry will feature more than its fair share of wintry weather, and that will affect the types of fans that make it into the Dean E. Smith Center tonight.Fans from around the state and country are expected to converge on Chapel Hill for tonight's game, but with a snow and ice storm bearing down on the Triangle, North Carolina has already enacted a contingency plan to fill the seats of ticket holders who cannot make the game—more North Carolina students could earn a spot in the Dean Dome to help fill the void.According to Matt Bowers, North Carolina men's basketball sports information director, a similar policy was enacted back in 2000 for a game between the Tar Heels and Maryland. More than 20 inches of snow had fallen on Chapel Hill, delaying the start of the game by a full day."Once the game had started and it was clear that many seats were going to be unused, an announcement was made that any fans in the arena could move down to be closer to the court," Bowers wrote in an email. "The doors were opened at that point to anyone who could get to the arena—which was largely, but not entirely, students."No official announcement has made whether more North Carolina students will have access to the game due to declining attendance, but the North Carolina ticket office has made a plan available for season ticket holders to transfer their tickets to other fans.Despite the inclement weather expected to hit the Triangle tonight, it's more likely that hell freezes over than tonight's game get canceled. By ACC rules, a game can only be canceled if the two teams and at least two of the three officials cannot make it to the game safely. No plans to adjust the game time or postpone the game have been announced, and conventional wisdom says that the Blue Devils will be able to brave the eight snowy miles between Durham and Chapel Hill so that tonight's rivalry game will go on as planned.North Carolina's athletic department announced Wednesday afternoon that the game will go on as planned despite classes at UNC being canceled earlier that day. Regularly schedule shuttle busses for North Carolina fans will not run due to the snow.

Duke and UNC signees predict tonight's Tobacco Road matchup

(02/12/14 2:53pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>On the eve of Duke's matchup with North Carolina, seven players who represent the future of the Tobacco Road rivalry cast their votes to pick the winner.Speaking with USA Today's Jason Jordan, future Blue Devils Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Grayson Allen and future Tar Heels Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson picked the winner of the 237th installment of Duke and North Carolina. Not surprisingly, each of the seven players predicted their future school would be the winner. In addition to voting for a winner, each player had to specify a reason why the other school could win the contest.Here are some highlights from the future college stars' responses:Jahlil Okafor on why Duke will win:

Rodney Hood compares Tobacco Road basketball to the Iron Bowl

(02/12/14 2:32pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood has never played in a Duke-North Carolina basketball game, but he will be a key piece to the 237th installment of the Tobacco Road Rivalry when the Blue Devils and Tar Heels square off tonight in Chapel Hill.Hood said he still followed the Duke-North Carolina rivalry when he was growing up in Meridian, Miss. Living in SEC country, Hood was able to contrast the relationship between the Blue Devils and Tar Heels with the annual Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama."It's different. I think Auburn-Alabama is truly hate. When I was growing up, this was one of the most respected rivalries—still is the most respected rivalry in all of sports," Hood said.Although Hood contends that the Duke-North Carolina rivalry is built on mutual respect, the Blue Devil captain said he cannot wait to participate in the game for the first time. Hood added that he has followed the rivalry closely since 2001, when he was just eight years old."Just watching this game, you always wanted to play in a game like this. It's just a different dynamic, but I think it's just as big," he said.

Quinn Cook sounds off on Marcus Smart's altercation with a fan

(02/12/14 2:14pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Anytime a Duke player steps onto a basketball court outside the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium, it is likely they will be playing in a hostile environment. When the No. 8 Blue Devils head down Tobacco Road to face rival North Carolina Wednesday night, the Dean E. Smith Center will spare Duke no mercy.But what happens when heckling goes too far? Last weekend, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart learned the hard way when he got into a fight with a fan at Texas Tech and was subsequently suspended three games by the Big 12. Although it is not clear what was said to set Smart off, it isn't unreasonable to think that Duke players that walk into opposing stadium with targets on their backs often hear similar jeers from opposing fans."My best advice would be if you get in the crowd and get in that situation, just walk away. Whatever's said, just walk away," Duke point guard Quinn Cook said. "It was unfortunate that Marcus Smart was put in that situation, but you never know what was said or how Marcus Smart heard it."The type of situation that Smart found himself in was one that could have just as easily happened in Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the fans are often ruthlessly critical and students stand just feet away from the court.When asked what type of preparation he employs to play in the ACC's most hostile environments, Cook elaborated that the shock value goes down quickly as players gain experience. Simply, being heckled on the road is part of being a Duke basketball player."Coming here, we're everybody's biggest game and we understand that. We understand a lot of people hate Duke, so Coach will tell us before we go to a hostile environment, 'This will be said. That will be said. Don't react.' That's a part of the process, being here that's what you have to go through. I think we're used to it now."

THE RIVALRY RETURNS: Duke basketball set for showdown with UNC

(02/12/14 1:25pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Mike Krzyzewski said he is preparing for a matchup with his arch rival like it is "the next ACC game." This year, many are treating Duke's first showdown with North Carolina the same way.This change could not be more indicative of the way that ACC expansion has affected the conference's landscape. Despite a century of history and hatred between the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, the most-anticipated game remaining on Duke's schedule is a rematch with undefeated Syracuse after the teams' first ACC matchup was an overtime thriller at the Carrier Dome.Duke's stars Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood get their first taste of the Tobacco Road rivalry Wednesday when they head to Chapel Hill to square off with the Tar Heels.But a Duke-North Carolina matchup has something Duke and Syracuse—or any other team—never will: eight miles, 94 years and 236 games between them. When the ball goes up for installment No. 237 between the Blue Devils and Tar Heels Wednesday at 9 p.m. at the Dean E. Smith Center, don't tell the players that the Tobacco Road rivalry has lost its luster."This is a great rivalry because it's stood the test of time," Krzyzewski said. "We're lucky people to be a part of it.... It brings out the best in both of us."No. 8 Duke (19-5, 8-3 in the ACC) has won seven of its last nine matchups against North Carolina, and is seeking to win its third consecutive matchup in Chapel Hill for the first time since the 2001-02 season. After recovering from early-season struggles, the Tar Heels (16-7, 6-4) enter play riding a five-game winning streak.One of the key proponents of North Carolina's recent string of success has been the play of sophomore point guard Marcus Paige, who is the Tar Heels' leading scorer at 17.0 points per contest and dishes out 4.6 assists per game. Paige's ability to play both on and off the ball could present a matchup problems for the Blue Devils in the backcourt."He's a different animal this year," junior guard Quinn Cook said. "He's way more aggressive. I think he has that confidence where he's played in big games—Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky—and he's performed well.... It's going to be a challenge for us to make him work."North Carolina boasts a sizable front line thanks to a pair of players that stand at 6-foot-9. Junior James Michael McAdoo and freshman Kennedy Meeks have used their bulky frames throughout the season to help the Tar Heels pull down 41.1 rebounds per game as a team—good for ninth in the nation. In addition to McAdoo and Meeks up front, North Carolina boasts considerable frontcourt depth with 6-foot-9 Brice Johnson and 6-foot-10 Joel James coming off the bench. An often undersized Duke squad has still suffered occasional lapses in interior defense but has significantly improved its rebounding efforts since the beginning of the year. The Blue Devils dominated the glass Saturday against Boston College, outrebounding the Eagles 37-23 in the contest."It's been a fight not having a true big a lot, but sometimes that happens and I think our guys have adjusted really well," sophomore forward Amile Jefferson said. "It's just about fighting because a lot of times they're bigger, stronger... so it's just about fighting the entire game and making sure they feel me on every possession."The Blue Devils are led into the contest by a pair of players who have yet to take the court as a part of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry. Freshman Jabari Parker and redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood will each make their mark on Tobacco Road basketball for the first time Wednesday. Parker, a freshman from Chicago, is fresh off a career-high 29 points and 16 rebounds in the Blue Devils' most recent victory against Boston College. Hood has been one of Duke's most consistent offensive weapons this season and will have a height advantage when matched up against North Carolina sophomore J.P. Tokoto on the wing.Although Hood has yet to experience the ACC's most famous rivalry, the team captain said facing the Tar Heels is "one of the reasons why you come to Duke." Hood added that he has followed the Tobacco Road rivalry since he was growing up in Meridian, Miss., and that his first memories of Duke and North Carolina came back in 2001. "It was a Duke-UNC game at Carolina," Hood said. "Shane Battier was here, and I think he had the block on [Joseph] Forte. I think that was my first encounter. I was about eight or nine at the time."With Hood and Parker set to make their debuts against North Carolina, the duo—along with the rest of Duke's freshman class—will receive no shortage of advice from the team's seasoned veterans."You'll be nervous I think, at the beginning. And once that gets out—that'll probably go away once the ball is tapped—it'll be loud. It'll be noisy," Jefferson said. "Until the game starts you'll hear about it, read about it, see it on TV.... Once that ball gets tipped, the butterflies go away and you just play."Newcomers to the rivalry making a major impact has become par for the course on Tobacco Road. In the past three years, the Blue Devils have seen Seth Curry and Austin Rivers—one as a recent transfer and the other as a freshman —play major roles in their first game against the Tar Heels. It now may be Parker and Hood's turns to take part in the writing of the rivalry's next historic chapter.

First-half run pushes Duke basketball past Wake Forest

(02/05/14 9:22am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Coming off a long road trip and a quick turnaround from an emotional loss to Syracuse, Duke took some time to find its rhythm against Wake Forest. When the shots started falling, the game did not stay competitive for much longer.The Blue Devils used an 18-1 run at the end of the first half to break open the contest and blow by the Demon Deacons 83-63 Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Jabari Parker led all scorers with 21 points and Rasheed Sulaimon followed up his heroic effort against the Orange with 19 points."We beat the emotional hangover of being in two amazing games last week, and especially the game over the weekend when we lost a difficult game on a controversial play at the end," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "The last eight minutes of the first half we really started playing well defensively, and then our execution on offense was outstanding."With Duke trailing 28-26 with 6:02 to play in the first half, Parker hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to begin Duke's run. After Rodney Hood took a charge, the redshirt sophomore—who was scoreless to that point—found his shooting stroke by scoring eight points in the span of 1:24. After hitting from the right elbow, Hood stepped out and hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arc to energize the home crowd.After going just 6-of-16 from the floor against the Orange, Parker re-found his efficient stroke, shot 8-of-10 from the field and wowed the crowd with a pair of thunderous fast-break slam dunks. The freshman from Chicago also added eight rebounds.Tyler Thornton sealed the run for the Blue Devils (18-5, 7-3 in the ACC), making one of his three steals on the night and pushing it ahead to Parker for the slam. The Blue Devils' defensive tenacity was on display the entire night, turning 19 Wake Forest (14-9, 4-6) turnovers into 26 points for the Blue Devils."It was really exciting, all praise to him. A lot of people should give him a lot of praise and a lot of credit for the lead we ended up getting," Parker said. "His energy he had rubbed off on us."The senior hit a triple of his own on Duke's next trip down the floor to extend the Blue Devil advantage to 12. Later in the contest, Thornton earned a big high-five from Krzyzewski after making another defensive play to knock a pass out of bounds. The Duke head coach said that Thornton, "played like a senior captain.""Man, it's invigorating," said Sulaimon when asked what it was like to watch Thornton play defense. "Just to see him make plays like that, it hypes everyone up.... When we see Tyler making great plays like that, everybody gets on him and everybody steps up their level of intensity as well."Duke went into halftime holding a 46-33 lead after making eight of its final 10 field goals to end the period. The team's run to end the half was accomplished with a special guest in the stands as well. Stand-up comedian Jeff Foxworthy joined the Cameron Crazies with 6:52 remaining in the first half, just before the Blue Devils took their game-altering run.

Syracuse tops foul-ridden Duke basketball in overtime 91-89

(02/02/14 7:08am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>SYRACUSE, N.Y.—A buzzer-beater was not enough for Duke to pull off the upset.As the final 4.6 seconds ticked off the clock in regulation, Rasheed Sulaimon evaded two Syracuse defenders, stared down the rim and exhaled as he shot. When the ball went through the net, a record-setting crowd of 35,446 at the Carrier Dome was rendered speechless.Sulaimon's buzzer-beater sent the first-ever ACC matchup between Duke and Syracuse to overtime, where the No. 2 Orange prevailed against the No. 17 Blue Devils 91-89. Duke and Syracuse's long-awaited first ACC matchup lived up to the hype—it was an instant classic."I don’t think I’ve been involved in a better game here that I can remember where both teams played at such a high level," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said.Sulaimon finished with 16 points and six assists points off the bench and played his biggest basketball after the Blue Devils' two primary offensive contributors—freshman Jabari Parker and sophomore Amile Jefferson—had fouled out of the game.In overtime, Jerami Grant hit a pair of free throws to give Syracuse (21-0, 8-0 in the ACC) an 88-87 lead with 39.1 seconds to play. With a chance to take the lead, Rodney Hood drove the lane and went up for a monster dunk. Hood sustained contact to his left arm and his dunk attempt clanged off the rim and bounded away.Hood declined to comment after the game on whether or not that play should have been called a foul.“This game is too good to talk about one play," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski added. "We were hoping there’d be contact, and then you hope that you finish it. It was a hell of a play. It’s a big time play."Syracuse forward C.J. Fair had a field day with Parker and Jefferson on the bench with four fouls apiece, leading the Orange on a 12-3 run that appeared to have the Blue Devils on the ropes in the closing minutes of regulation.Just when it all seemed lost for Duke (17-5, 6-3), Tyler Thornton re-entered the game and took over. The senior started the game but failed to find a groove early, playing just four minutes in the first half—but Thornton hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions to silence the Carrier Dome crowd and pull Duke to within two points with 4:22 remaining.Parker re-entered the game with four fouls and made an impact quickly, finishing through contact to tie the game at 70-70 with 3:53 to go. Fair answered with a three-point play to give the Orange back the lead. The senior finished with a game-high 28 points, 17 of which came in the second half. Fair's partner on the block, sophomore Jerami Grant, added 24 points and 12 rebounds and made a number of big shots to keep his team in the contest.“Fair and Grant were sensational—not good, they were sensational," Krzyzewski said. "Fair is a top pro pick... and Grant is going to be a pro.”Parker spun along the baseline to lay it in with 1:42 remaining but was called for the offensive foul, forcing him out of the contest. A gutsy performance led the Blue Devils back into the game, as Sulaimon knocked down a three plus the foul with 47.6 seconds to tied the game at 75—but missed the free throw.Jefferson was a key offensive piece for the Blue Devils, finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists on 6-of-10 shooting. Playing against Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone, Jefferson took advantage of his position in the high post and helped to facilitate the offense. The Philadelphia native saw limited action at the end of the first half after picking up his second foul early. Jefferson was able to stay out of foul trouble until midway through the second half when he picked up his third and fourth fouls in the span of 56 seconds.Parker took over at the high post, and despite his early struggles the standout freshman nailed a jumper plus the foul on his first touch after Jefferson exited the game. But Parker too would soon fall victim to foul trouble, picking up his third and fourth fouls minutes later and leaving the Blue Devils without a rim protector. "We were scrambling a lot because of our foul trouble, and our kids scrambled well," Krzyzewski said. "They scrambled well enough to put us in a position to win."Duke looks ahead to a quick turnaround and a home matchup with Wake Forest Tuesday night, but the Blue Devils will also have another shot at Syracuse when the Orange travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium in exactly three weeks.Syracuse fans had billed Saturday's matchup as the beginning of a new ACC rivalry between the Blue Devils and Orange. With many Duke fans circling the teams' Feb. 22 rematch on their calendar, that game may have more hype to live up to than the first showdown.“I think it’s great for our conference," Krzyzewski said. "Rivalry doesn’t have to be hatred—a great rivalry is built on respect. And a great rivalry is built on the respect of excellence."

Duke football's Ross Cockrell prepares for NFL Combine

(01/28/14 11:04am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke's Chick-fil-A Bowl loss was not just the end of cornerback Ross Cockrell's collegiate football career, it was the beginning of his push toward the NFL.Cockrell is not enrolled at Duke this semester, instead choosing to migrate to California and begin his preparation for the NFL draft. The former Blue Devil is doing his strength and conditioning training with Athletes First, the company that will represent the cornerback in his prospective NFL career.Less than three weeks after the Blue Devils' loss to Texas A&M, Cockrell was back on the gridiron. Although he was sporting a Duke helmet, the Waxhaw, N.C., native wore an unfamiliar red jersey as he suited up for the East squad in the annual East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Cockrell was one of the standout performers for his team, sealing the East's 23-13 victory with a one-handed interception in the final two minutes of the game."I got to spend time with guys from all different parts of the country, all different schools," Cockrell said. "We got to prepare for how professional football is going to be and make some lasting friendships."The East-West Shrine Game gave Cockrell the opportunity to practice and play in front of NFL scouts for the week leading up to the game, gain additional instruction from a new set of coaches and meet with executives from a number of NFL teams for interviews."You get the chance to sit down with NFL scouts and NFL general managers and let them get to know you a little bit," Cockrell said. "You get to let them see what kind of person you are."Cockrell added that after leading his squad to a 10-4 season and an ACC Coastal Division title, NFL scouts "know the story of Duke football."With the Shrine Game now in the rearview mirror, Cockrell's focus shifts toward the NFL Scouting Combine, the league's top exhibition of collegiate talent. More than 300 NFL hopefuls are expected to compete at this year's Combine, which will be held Feb. 22-25 in Indianapolis.As Cockrell continues his training in California, he said that improving his strength will be his primary focus for the Combine. "I'm working on total body strength and just making sure that I'm as healthy as possible going into the Combine," Cockrell said. "Those are the two things that I really want to accomplish."He also will focus heavily on the 40-yard dash, which NFL scouts typically use as a barometer for young cornerbacks. Although Cockrell was known more for his superior ball skills during his career at Duke and not for his blazing speed, the former Blue Devil said he is confident that he can break 4.40 seconds later this month in Indianapolis.

President George H.W. Bush attends Duke-N.C. State game

(01/19/14 4:03am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke had a special guest in the building for its 95-60 blowout victory against N.C. State.Former President George H.W. Bush was sitting courtside as the Blue Devils romped the Wolfpack, becoming the first U.S. President to watch a basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium."It was an amazing honor for us to have the 41st President of the United States here today," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He does not travel anymore, and over the last two decades we have become very close friends in the fight against cancer. For him to honor us in this way was as big an honor as we could possibly have."After the game, Bush spent some time in the Duke locker room interacting with players and coaches, providing the team with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "I just want to thank him publicly, for my team to have that experience with really one of the great Americans in the history of our country," Krzyzewski said. "You're talking about a guy who was the youngest pilot in World War II, a pretty good baseball player, a guy who opened up the doors for us to have relations with China, who led our country, was our Commander-in-Chief, and then privately over the last 15 years has started two organizations to fight cancer."Bush came to Durham to recognize Krzyzewski for his commitment toward eliminating cancer. Bush served for 13 years as the honorary chair for C-Change, a non-profit committed to assembling cancer leaders and eliminating the disease. After Bush stepped down, he offered the position to Krzyzewski. The Duke head coach said that the fight against cancer has become more personal for him after the death of his older brother Bill less than a month ago.Bush was also on hand during the 2010 NCAA tournament as the Blue Devils topped Baylor in their Elite Eight game in Houston to punch their trip to the Final Four. Duke went on to win the national championship that season. "He brought us good luck," Krzyzewski said. "I asked him what he's doing on Wednesday if he wants to come to Miami, but I don't think he's coming. We'll have to do it on our own."

Duke basketball posts a dominant 95-60 win against N.C. State

(01/19/14 2:07am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>With former President George H.W. Bush watching from his courtside seat, the Blue Devils picked up their most convincing win of conference play.No. 23 Duke used stifling defensive pressure to sprint past crosstown foe N.C. State 95-60 Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils forced 21 Wolfpack turnovers on the afternoon to climb above .500 in ACC play for the first time this season."We let our defense create our offense tonight, and it really worked well for us," sophomore forward Amile Jefferson said.Freshman Jabari Parker notched his first 20-point performance of ACC play, tallying 23 points. Though he shot just 7-of-14 from the floor and missed his first three attempts, Parker got to the foul line 10 times on the afternoon and found his rhythm as the game wore on.After settling for a number of contested jump shots in Duke's first four ACC games, Parker attacked the rim relentlessly against the Wolfpack (11-7, 1-4 in the ACC), throwing down a number of thunderous dunks in the second half.“Jabari really stepped forward today," Krzyzewski said. "This is a process of learning what you need to do at this level. You need to be an attacker, and he was today. He was an outstanding player today.”The opening minutes of the game were a track meet, with both sides pushing the tempo in hopes of jumping out to an early advantage. For the second straight game, Krzyzewski began the game by substituting five fresh players on every few minutes to keep his team rested.The Wolfpack dominated the glass early, jumping out to a 13-0 rebounding advantage on the Blue Devils (14-4, 3-2). After pulling down its first rebound of the game 6:27 in, Duke would rally on the glass, pulling down 35 of the game's final 54 boards to finish the game with a 35-32 edge. "Guys were going to the glass without boxing out, and they were just going over our backs," Jefferson said. "Coach was intense, and we responded. We started to block out, push the ball, make their guys run and we built a lead and never looked back."Duke stayed in the game by forcing 15 N.C. State turnovers in the first half, which led to 23 points and allowed the Blue Devils to take a 45-32 lead into the locker room. Duke turned the Wolfpack's 21 turnovers into 33 points—N.C. State registered just two points off eight Blue Devil giveaways."We turned the ball over too many times," Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried said. "We obviously have to be much stronger with the basketball, and they took those turnovers and turned them into baskets, which was the biggest difference in the game."Junior point guard Quinn Cook played stifling defense on Wolfpack point guard Anthony "Cat" Barber, holding the freshman to just seven points and forcing him to turn the ball over four times. Cook was also responsible for bringing the home crowd into the game, using his defensive play and timely 3-point shooting to create a raucous atmosphere at Cameron Indoor Stadium."He's a guy that can turn somebody over three or four times in a row," Jefferson said of his point guard. "That kind of pressure not only disrupts that player he's guarding, but it disrupts the whole team because they can't flow into their offense like they want to. When Quinn is being at his best, our team is at its best."N.C. State struggled to keep the game within 20 points in the second half as any comeback attempts were answered by a decisive Duke run. Five players ended the game in double figures for the Blue Devils.After the contest, President Bush paid the Duke team a special visit in the locker room. Bush became the first U.S. President—sitting or former—to take in a basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Gray leads Duke women's basketball despite misfortune

(01/16/14 9:42am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke milled about its usual practice routine Wednesday in preparation for an ACC matchup with Virginia, but the mood inside Cameron Indoor Stadium was a somber one.Senior point guard Chelsea Gray pulls aside her protege, sophomore Alexis Jones, to give pointers after Jones rotated out of a drill. This scene has become the norm for the Blue Devils during the past two seasons as the two-time All-American has mentored her up-and-coming backcourt mate.But Gray and Jones will never play together again at Duke. Gray fractured her right kneecap in the Blue Devils' win against Boston College Sunday, bringing her senior season to a premature end. She is set to undergo surgery Friday and faces a four-month rehabilitation process."She'll go down as one of the best passing guards in Duke history," said Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie as she fought back her emotions. "A creator, and someone who really understands the game. Immensely talented, and also a person who really has enormous character to deal with her incredible misfortune."Losing Gray early is nothing new for the Blue Devils. She injured that same knee last February, sidelining her for the entire NCAA tournament and forcing Duke to reinvent itself just before postseason play. That injury did not stop Gray from being named Co-ACC Player of the Year after averaging 12.6 points, 5.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game on the season.Gray rehabbed the entire summer to be ready to play in the Blue Devils' season-opener in 2013. Her scoring production dipped when she returned to the court, but Gray averaged a career-high 7.2 assists per game during her senior season. She dreamed of being a part of Duke's NCAA tournament run this season, hoping to guide her team to its first Final Four in McCallie's tenure as coach and break the streak of four consecutive Elite Eight losses. Instead, Gray will once again watch from the sidelines—but this time there will be no next year as a Blue Devil."I felt like I was cheated out of something I worked so hard to get back to it," Gray said. "It was really painful for me to deal with for a while. It still hurts, and it will continue to hurt for a long time until I can get back out on the court."Senior forward Haley Peters is the next player to rotate out of drills at practice. She walks up to Gray and puts her right arm around her injured point guard. Peters and classmate Tricia Liston held Gray as she cried in the locker room upon hearing the news of her injury. The trio has been through it all together in their four years at Duke, but Gray's injury has brought an abrupt ending to their time as teammates."As a basketball player, she's one of the best people who ever played here," Peters said. "She hasn't had the chance to finish off her last two years the way she's wanted to. A lot of it is on us now to leave a legacy for us as a team because Chelsea is the ultimate team-first kind of person."Now sidelined, Gray will serve as a full-time mentor to her Duke teammates. McCallie even went as far to say that she really feels like she has added an extra member to her coaching staff."She can see things people can't see when she's on the court," Peters said of Gray. "She's one of the few people that is always in my ear, helping me see things on the court and giving me confidence. It's going to be a good thing for us to have her."It does not take long to notice that Gray's upbeat personality is contagious. She is still the loudest one in the team huddle, and still the first person on the court to crack a smile. As fate would have it, staying positive is the only way she can help her team battle through the most adversity it has faced this season. Gray's Duke career may be over, but her teammates now have something new to play for."She's had such a great career, and two injuries to cut short both of her last two seasons—it doesn't seem fair," Peters said. "The best way we can honor the fact that she doesn't get to be on the court with us is to be the best team we can possible be."

Cutcliffe elected to AFCA Board of Trustees

(01/15/14 11:17am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke head coach David Cutcliffe has been elected to the Board of Trustees for the American Football Coaches Association, the organization announced Tuesday. The announcement came less than 24 hours after Cutcliffe was named the AFCA's Coach of the Year at its national convention in Indianapolis.“I am deeply humbled to be asked to serve the AFCA in this capacity for a second time,” Cutcliffe said in a press release. “The AFCA is one of the true pillars of this incredible game we call college football, and it will be an honor to help guide our peers into the future. I look forward to the opportunity to work alongside Grant Teaff and the other members of this group to help give back to the sport which has obviously been such a significant part of my life.”Founded in 1922, the AFCA helps dictate policy and direction for more than 11,000 football coaches across all levels of competition. Among the organization's founders was John Heisman, for whom the Heisman Trophy is named.Cutcliffe was one of three new members elected to the board this year. The others were Liberty head coach Turner Gill and Southern Illinois head coach Dale Lennon.

Justise Winslow watches Duke-Virginia with Cameron Crazies

(01/14/14 9:00pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke signee Justise Winslow was in the building for Duke's 69-65 win against Virginia last night, and he got to watch the game alongside the fans who will be chanting his name next season.After spending the first half sitting behind the Blue Devil bench, the 6-foot-6 small forward joined the Cameron Crazies for the second half, standing in the front row of the student section at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Houston native will get to enjoy Duke games from the court next season, but Monday he got to watch his longtime friend and AAU teammate, Rasheed Sulaimon, come through in the clutch for his future team, scoring 21 points and knocking down the go-ahead 3-pointer as the Blue Devils toppled the Cavaliers.Winslow, ranked as the No. 14 player in the Class of 2014 by ESPN, will join a star-studded recruiting class in Durham next season alongside Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen.

Chelsea Gray to miss remainder of season

(01/14/14 3:50am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Senior point guard Chelsea Gray has played her last collegiate game for Duke.The senior, who earned All-America honors as a sophomore and during her injury-shortened junior season, suffered a fractured kneecap in Duke's 78-57 win against Boston College Sunday. Gray played 16 minutes in the game, scoring 11 points and recording four steals.“For all of us, it’s almost impossible to talk about right now,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said in a press release. “We are just working through it as best we can and trying to support Chelsea in all ways possible. Our hearts go out to Chelsea and her family.”The Manteca, Calif., native was averaging 10.8 points, 7.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game this season. Gray scored a total of 1,210 points in her four seasons at Duke, finishing with a career average of 10.2 per game.Gray holds the single-game and single-season records for assists. She is also the only player in Duke history to notch two triple-doubles during her collegiate career. Gray was just 35 assists away from becoming the program's all-time leader.Despite missing the back half of the Blue Devils' conference schedule last season after injuring her same knee, Gray was named Co-ACC Player of the Year in 2013.With Gray once again out of the lineup, primary ballhandling responsibilities will go to her partner in the backcourt, sophomore Alexis Jones. Senior Richa Jackson, who scored 17 points against Boston College and is typically the first player off the bench for the Blue Devils, is likely to slide into the starting lineup.“It is definitely the nature of sport where different people step up, especially in the face of adversity,” McCallie said. “There’s no question our team is strong and our team will do that without question. It’s just a little bit hard to fathom at the current moment, but we will.”This story was last updated at 8:16 p.m.

Duke football ranked 23rd in final AP football poll

(01/07/14 1:05pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Even a heartbreaking 52-48 loss to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl couldn't stop Duke from finishing the season as a ranked team for the first time since 1962.The Blue Devils finished the 2013 season ranked at No. 23 in the country, garnering 190 points in the final AP top 25. Duke was ranked 22nd in the nation before its bowl loss, which was played in front of a record-setting national television audience for a non-BCS bowl game. Texas A&M, which defeated Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, finished the season ranked 18th.Duke also finished the season ranked 22nd in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Florida State, which won the national championship with a 34-31 win against Auburn, earned the unanimous top spot in both polls.

Duke basketball set to open ACC play at Notre Dame

(01/04/14 12:49pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Duke and Notre Dame will take the court for their first ACC game as two teams headed in opposite directions—one starting to hit its stride, the other forced to start from square one. But when the Blue Devils make the trip to South Bend Saturday to open conference play in their first-ever ACC matchup with the Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion at 4 p.m., they expect a tough first road test courtesy of head coach Mike Brey's Notre Dame squad, which is still reeling from the loss leading scorer Jerian Grant.

Mike Brey relives his time with Duke basketball as he battles his teacher

(01/04/14 12:15pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The last time Mike Brey coached a Duke-Notre Dame game in South Bend, he was an assistant coach in Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devil program back in 1994.Nearly 20 years later, Brey will begin his tenure as an ACC coach by squaring off with his mentor as his Fighting Irish host Krzyzewski's Duke squad in their first conference game as a member of the ACC."TV and the conference office loves interesting storylines, I guess," said Brey, who served as an assistant at Duke from 1987-95. "I think it's great for our players to be indoctrinated into the Atlantic Coast Conference with 'the program' of the Atlantic Coast Conference."Brey began his career with the Blue Devils without any head coaching experience. After concluding his collegiate playing career at George Washington, Brey was an assistant for five seasons at his alma mater, DeMatha Catholic High School. He was then approached by Krzyzewski, who was fresh off his first Final Four appearance at Duke, and made the jump straight from one of the nation's top high school programs to the ACC.After eight seasons in Durham, Brey emerged a grizzled veteran and was prepared to take the first head coaching job of his career at Delaware. Now 54 years old, Brey points to his time with Krzyzewski as one that helped to shape the coach he is today."I'll always be indebted to Mike because he hired me when I was a high school assistant coach and gave me an opportunity to go down there for eight years and really train me to be a head coach," Brey said. "I draw on that experience every day since I've been a head coach.... I owe him a lot."Brey's tenure at Duke was one of the most successful stretches in the program's history. In Brey's eight seasons, the Blue Devils made six Final Four appearances, played in four national championship games and captured two national titles."Eight years there were unbelievable. It was six Final Fours," Brey said. "It was not reality—quite frankly—in coaching."Another familiar face Brey will square off with Saturday when Duke and Notre Dame take the court will be Blue Devil associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who Brey recruited before the point guard began his collegiate career in 1994.Brey doesn't pretend to be shy about Wojciechowski's recruitment, either."Steve Wojciechowski owes me, because I was the guy who really forced Mike K and Tommy Amaker to offer him a scholarship after the ABCD camp in Ypsilanti, Mich., and I always tease Steve about that," Brey said.Wojciechowski, who was recruited mainly by Ivy League schools before Brey discovered him, said that his performance at the camp was made more impressive by the fact that he was the only English-speaking player on his team. After watching Wojciechowski paired with nine Russian players not long after the fall of the Soviet Union, Brey's recruiting pitch to Krzyzewski was not without its Cold War roots."As the story goes, Coach K and Coach Brey were walking to the car, and Coach K asked Coach Brey, 'Do you think this kid can really play at Duke?" Wojciechowski said. "And Coach Brey said, 'If he can lead a bunch of Russians, I think he can lead our team too.' I guess the rest is history."The last time Brey faced Duke was back in 2002, when the Blue Devils notched a hard-fought 84-77 victory to send Notre Dame packing in the second round of the NCAA tournament. "I remember we let one get away," Brey said. "Chris Thomas was on the line, probably an 88 percent free-throw shooter, with a one-and-one and a chance to go up seven," Brey said. "He misses and I believe Daniel Ewing hits a three in front of the Duke bench, and we just couldn't finish."With Brey searching for redemption from that loss more than a decade ago, Wojciechowski said there will be no love lost when Duke and the Fighting Irish match up to open ACC play—pleasantries can wait until after the final buzzer."It's different in the sense that the people you're competing against you also consider part of your extended family," Wojciechowski said. "Once the ball goes up in the air, all that goes out the window and your sole mission is to win the game."