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R&R Q&A: Duke Hoop Blog

February 5, 2011

One of the neat things about blogging and Twitter is discovering folks who are diehard supporters of your bitter rivals and yet who are cool people you'd sit and share a pitcher with.

Adam from Duke Hoop Blog is one such person. He and his crew (are there multiple folks behind the curtains at DHB?) do an excellent job covering Duke in a way that's fair and informed.

You should alos follow him/them on Twitter, as I do; I have a feeling his group will have some solid insight about potential coaching candidates if when it comes to it.

For now, enjoy this Q&A between our two sites as we look ahead to tonight's game in Cameron:


We're merely mid-way through the ACC season and yet it seems like Duke has already ridden a roller coaster of highs and lows. The pressure of repeating as National champs…the dominance Duke showed early with Kyrie Irving at guard…the devastation of his injury…the adjustments made by the team without him…the destruction at the hands of St. Johns…and the resilient bounce-back road win against Maryland. For most teams, that's a season's worth of drama, and yet we're merely halfway home. Does it SEEM as crazy to someone covering the team as it does to me looking in?

It's not just you.  It's me too.  All throughout the summer, we heard that Duke and Coach K were retooling the offense around Kyrie's specific skillset of being able to breakdown the defense and push the ball up the court.  He was basically a one-man fast break.  After all the hard work put in installing a new system, Duke was forced to reinvent itself in the months following December 4th.  Honestly, that's still a work in progress.  That's why you see the ups and downs, the streakiness, the lack of consistency, etc.  People forget that this team is 70% underclassmen.  Although the two upperclassmen Duke has are amazing, there has been and will be an adjustment period for the youth on this squad. Until they mature and gain some valuable experience, there will be fluctuations in the level of their play.
Let's get this one out of the way: Do you think Kyrie returns at any point this year, or is he likely done for the year (and possibly forever at Duke)?

It would be pointless for me to speculate on Kyrie's return, either this year or next.  Nobody knows for sure, one way or the other, no matter what you hear or read.  I wish I could say one way or the other, but I can't.

Did the loss at St. Johns reveal any specific weaknesses that future teams could exploit?

That they are a team who is capable of not showing up for 20-30 minutes of a basketball game.  Also, if they shoot 1-21 from 3-point land in a game in the future, they're not going to win.  St. John's played a heck of a game and Duke played its worst in a year (Since Georgetown or the State game last year.)

I felt like Brian Zoubek's offensive rebounding was a huge linchpin in Duke's run to the title last year. I was also skeptical about Duke's chances of finding someone on this current roster that could fill that very specific void. Has anyone made strides doing so?

Mason Plumlee has been unbelievable on the boards, but mainly on the defensive end (he's actually a better defensive rebounder than Brian).  Brian was second only to Dejuan Blair as an offensive rebounder over the last decade.  That nobody's reached his level is not disappointing.  That Mason is cleaning up the defensive boards and limiting teams possessions is just as valuable as Brian's offensive boards were in increasing Duke's last year.

How do you feel about this team now relative to how you felt about last year's team at this same point in the season? Do you see anything now that you saw a year ago that leads you to believe this team could, in fact, repeat as national champions?

I think Duke is in the group of 5-6 teams who have a good-to-great shot at winning the title this year.  You've seen Ohio State be vulnerable recently as they have had some close calls to less than stellar teams like Northwestern and Michigan.  I don't thin they're as dominant as a lot of people make them out to be.  There are a lot of teams who can win it, but I think OSU, KU, Duke, Texas, and Pittsburgh, and maybe SDSU or Notre Dame have a better chance than the rest.  The tourney is such a crapshoot, but Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler plus the ever revolving cast of third wheels give Duke good odds.

Alright, I've avoided talking about State long enough…what is your prediction for the game?

I think Duke is still fired up after the loss to St. John's and are extremely focused.  There seems to be the opposite feeling in Raleigh right now.  I'll say Duke wins going away 91-68.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. ncsumi permalink
    February 5, 2011 8:51 am

    Cool, we are going to score 68 pts.


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