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Don’t forget about Thad

(09/15/10 8:00am)

Even though almost no one in the sellout crowd of 67,044 at the Edward Jones Dome for the St. Louis Rams opener took notice Sunday, the eyes of the Duke football community were looking down proudly. There, roaming the sidelines, was former Blue Devil quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, clutching a clipboard as the understudy to No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford.



Need a primer on the Cutcliffe era?

(09/03/10 4:26am)

More than a week before the start of the 2010 season, Duke had already sold out its season ticket allotment. These increased sales were a major sign of how much the Duke football program has changed in the two-plus years since head coach David Cutcliffe took the helm back on December 15, 2007. Along with the volume of ticket sales, something else has changed within Wallace Wade: expectations.



Duke holds last public scrimmage

(08/27/10 4:20am)

Even though there was no opposition on Tuesday night as the Blue Devils completed their second intrasquad scrimmage on the practice turf adjacent to Wallace Wade Stadium, there was certainly a great deal of intensity. A team consisting of mainly first and second-string players defeated reserves and redshirts 28-0 in a tune-up for the season opening tilt against Elon Sept. 4.





Trio of freshmen making impact on the diamond

(04/16/10 8:00am)

While it has been a bit of an up-and-down season as the Blue Devils have been forced to navigate through college baseball’s toughest conference, there is certainly reason to be excited about the future as a number of freshmen have been making significant contributions. Infielders Marcus Stroman and Eric Brady and starting pitcher Chase Bebout have been particularly impressive.


Pitching key to Duke success at DBAP

(04/09/10 8:00am)

After a tough series against ACC Coastal Division leader Georgia Tech resulted in three lopsided losses last weekend, the Blue Devils will get a shot at redemption as ACC Atlantic Division leader Clemson comes to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for a weekend set. In those three devastating losses to the Yellow Jackets, the Duke pitching staff failed to get hitters out with any kind of consistency and gave up 43 runs over the course of three games. While Duke (17-12, 3-9 in the ACC) enters this series in a bit of a tailspin, the No. 11 Tigers (22-8, 9-3) have been victorious in four of their last five outings. “Clemson is a very good team, having another terrific year and they’re a really aggressive team,” head coach Sean McNally said. “But our focus is really on us, we haven’t had good results lately... so we’ve got to perform better.” In order to have a chance to compete with the ACC’s premier programs, the Blue Devils need to get more consistent starts from their rotation and then follow up those efforts with solid relief outings from the bullpen. To this point in the season, McNally has yet to solidify the weekend rotation, having gone with six different starting pitchers in as many games.  Against Clemson, McNally will first turn to senior lefthander Christopher Manno, who has started the last two weekend openers and recorded a loss and a no-decision. Those are Manno’s only starts on the season, but he has been very effective out of the bullpen as opponents are hitting just .190 against him this season.  “A couple of years ago he made his debut against Clemson and pitched really well,” McNally said. “Our expectation is he goes out there, throws strikes and goes after their batters.” On Saturday, junior righthander Dennis O’Grady will get the ball. Even though he has yet to record a win this year, the workhorse has been one of the team’s most reliable starters, working deep into several games. McNally has yet to name a starter for the series finale. Last weekend, reliever after reliever for Duke saw baseballs shelled all over the yard. However, that is a bit of an exception for a unit that had been one of the best in the conference until that demoralizing series. Particularly impressive for the Blue Devils has been righty Ben Grisz, who leads the squad in appearances and boasts a 2.93 ERA to go along with his 2-1 record. Also, freshman Marcus Stroman, who doubles as a starting infielder, has provided quality innings on the mound and has a 3-1 record. If the Blue Devils’ pitching staff can quell the Tiger bats, Duke will look to steal a couple of games behind what has been a very timely offense. On the year, the team is hitting .301 with runners in scoring position. As of late, infielder Jake Lemmerman and outfielder Will Piwnica-Worms have been carrying the offense. Lemmerman is riding a 13-game hitting streak and has four home runs in his last six games. He also is currently batting .327 during the streak. If these hitters and others can stay hot, the Blue Devils will have a chance to surprise the conference-leading Tigers.  But, as always in baseball, it will start with the performance of the guys on the mound.



D.C. trip serves as measuring stick

(03/26/10 8:00am)

The Blue Devils travel north to our nation’s capital this weekend to face No. 10 Georgetown in an intriguing nonconference matchup that will serve as an indicator of how far this team has come after enduring a tough start to the season. No. 7 Duke (5-3) is riding a three-game winning streak during which the team is beginning to click on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field. One of those wins was an impressive grind-it-out performance against a top-10 Loyola team, while the other two wins were blowouts against lesser opponents in Penn State and Dartmouth in which the attack unit readily got the chance to get out and make plays in transition. However, the Blue Devils have not always had this sweet a taste in their mouths. After entering the season among the nation’s top-ranked teams, Duke suffered a couple of unexpected losses, albeit to perennial lacrosse powers Maryland and North Carolina and an up-and-coming program in Notre Dame. The Tar Heels and Terrapins are currently ranked third and fourth in the country, respectively. “Coming into the season, a lot of people assumed things would happen because of our experience,” senior captain Ned Crotty said. “Once it didn’t, we took positives from the negatives and learned what we had to do better and are now executing.” The Blue Devils are especially experienced on the offensive end, as the four leading scorers from the previous year’s Final Four team all returned to Durham for another campaign. Yet Crotty noted that even with all of the experience among the offense’s top performers, it still took game action for the group to fully develop its chemistry. The 15-goal outburst against Dartmouth in which seven different Blue Devils found the back of the net is a perfect example of the depth and offensive potential that this squad possesses. Making the offensive barrage particularly impressive was the fact that the Big Green stayed in a zone for entire game, forcing Duke into its more methodical zone offense, a style that it prefers not to play. “The Penn Sate game is the style people would expect when they think of Duke lacrosse,” Crotty said. “It was all about transition and getting up and down the field. We like to play fast.” In the Hoyas (4-2), the Blue Devils face a team that likes to play the uptempo game just as much as they do. Georgetown features some of the country’s more prolific offensive talents in Andrew Brancaccio, Travis Comeau and Rickey Mirabito,. “They have the ability to score lots of goals,” Duke head coach John Danowski said. “They have some guys that can really shoot it from the top—lots of firepower.” Another facet of the game in which the coaching staff has observed considerable improvements is on the defensive side. Over the past three games, Duke’s opponent was held to five or fewer goals twice, and Penn State’s 11 goals were more of a byproduct of the fast pace. This defensive success was not always the case, despite the fact that the unit contains several talented individuals, including All-American Parker McKee. “Defensively, we were disappointed that the sum wasn’t greater than the parts early on,” Danowski said. “We have some great parts, and they’ve been coming together as of late.” But, if the Blue Devils can have any success in limiting the explosive Hoyas and continue their fast play on the offensive end, they have the chance to build on their recent momentum with a signature win. “Being Duke, we have that target on our back,” Crotty said. “If we can get this one, it would prove to us that we really have made a big step in our season.”