(Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics)

Duke freshman Gary Trent Jr. entering 2018 NBA Draft

Leave a comment

Duke guard Gary Trent Jr. became the latest Blue Devil freshman to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft on Saturday. Trent plans to officially turn pro by signing with an agent.

The 6-foot-5 Trent averaged 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game for Duke this season while shooting 40 percent from three-point range and 87 percent from the free-throw line.

Trent joins big man Marvin Bagley III and point guard Trevon Duval as other Blue Devil freshmen to declare for the draft.

A scoring guard, Trent hopes to join his dad, Gary Trent, as NBA first-round draft picks. The older Trent was the No. 11 overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft as he played nine seasons in the NBA.

Duke the betting favorite for 2019 title

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images
3 Comments

It’s never too early to look ahead to next year. A preseason Top 25 is just the start. How about some 2019 national title odds, courtesy of theΒ Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook:

  • Duke – 5/1
  • Villanova – 8/1
  • Kansas – 8/1
  • Kentucky 8/1
  • North Carolina – 12/1
  • Michigan State – 15/1
  • Virginia – 15/1
  • Gonzaga – 15/1
  • Michigan – 20/1
  • Oregon – 20/1
  • Auburn – 30/1
  • West Virginia – 30/1
  • UCLA – 30/1
  • Arizona 100/1
  • Memphis 200/1
  • Loyola Chicago 500/1

It’s little surprise to see Duke in the top spot with a recruiting class that features the top-three players in the 2018 class while Villanova, Kansas and Kentucky share both blue bloodlines and 8/1 odds, second-best nationally.

No. 1 Kansas bests No. 2 Duke in OT classic, headed to Final Four

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
9 Comments

OMAHA, Neb. — Kansas is back in the Final Four.

The top-seeded Jayhawks held off No. 2 Duke in overtime, 85-81, in a classic Elite 8 battle between two of the sport’s most storied programs.

Kansas will face Villanova in San Antonio on Saturday night in the national semifinals.

Malik Newman’s three-pointer with 1:29 remaining in the extra frame broke a 78-78 tie and ultimately secured the Jayhawks’ first trip back to the season’s final weekend since 2012. Duke did not score in the final 2:36 of overtime.

Newman starred for the Jayhawks, scoring 32 points to help the Jayhawks win the Midwest Region. Since the start of the Big 12 tournament, Newman is averaging 21.3 points and shooting 54.9 percent from three while making four threes per-game to lead Kansas to this seven-game winning streak.

The game got to overtime thanks to Svi Mykhailiuk. The oft-maligned veteran buried a three with 30 seconds left in regulation, the biggest shot that he’s made in a four-year career that hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations that were heaped upon him when he arrived in Lawrence.

And while Newman is going to get the plaudits — and rightfully so — an argument can be made that it was Svi that was the most important player for the Jayhawks on Sunday. The 6-foot-8 wing is more of a shooting guard by trade but has been forced into playing a small-ball four role for Kansas this season, which was problematic. Duke has one of the biggest front lines that we’ve seen in the sport in a long time, and that meant that Svi — who has sent four years being criticized for his lack of toughness and defensive acumen — would be facing off with Marvin Bagley III, a super-human that may or may not be from this planet.

Should I mentioned that Udoka Azubuike, the best big man on the Kansas roster, played just 19 minutes of the overtime contest because of fouls?

Svi more than held his own. He grabbed a team-high 10 boards, a number that is all the more impressive when you consider that Bagley and Wendell Carter combined for 12 total rebounds. He also added five assists, as the Jayhawks were able to navigate the Duke zone better than anyone we’ve seen since the Blue Devils made the adjustment a month ago.

All in all, it is nothing short of a miracle that Bill Self has gotten this team to the Final Four.

And it may just be the best coaching job of his entire storied career.

No. 2 Duke goes inside to defeat No. 11 Syracuse

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

OMAHA, Neb. — Second-seeded Duke made just 5 of its 26 3-point attempts against No. 11 Syracuse on Friday in the two ACC programs’ Sweet 16 matchup.

So the Blue Devils just went inside.

Marvin Bagley III and Wendel Carter, Jr. both had big games to help the Blue Devils outlast the Orange, 69-65, to put themselves in the Elite Eight on Sunday against top-seeded Kansas.

“This was a heck of a game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I thought both teams played their hearts out. A great game to win, a really difficult game to lose, because Syracuse played such winning basketball.”

While Duke couldn’t beat the zone that took Syracuse from the First Four to the second weekend with its outside shooting, its two big underclassmen provided plenty of production. Bagley had 22 points and eight rebounds while Carter added 14 points and 12 boards.

“It was a hard fought game. We knew they were going to compete every second of the game,” Bagley said, “and we just tried to compete as well. We had a little point in the game where we started turning it over, and things weren’t going our way, but we stayed tough mentally and we finished it out.”

Bagley was on the receiving end of a number of lobs behind the Syracuse zone that helped the Duke offense stay out in front.

β€œWe practiced it all week,” Bagley said. “We try to look for different things and different ways to score against that zone, and we did a great job at that and got the win.”

Tyus Battle had 19 points to lead the Orange. Oshae Brissett added 15 points and seven boards while Marek Dolezaj had 13 points.

Syracuse shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the second half while Duke shot 36.4 percent (and 11.1 percent from distance), but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Orange’s 16 turnovers or Duke’s 17 second-chance points.

Grayson Allen had 15 points and eight assists for Duke. The Blue Devils had 32 points in the paint.

Duke will now turn its attention to the Jayhawks, who defeated Clemson earlier Friday to make it to their third-straight Elite Eight. The game will tipoff Sunday at 5:05 p.m. (ET).

β€œWe just got to come out ready to play from the beginning,” Bagley said. “We were kind of slacking in this game. I think we’ll be ready for that game. Everybody’s going to be up. We should be coming out strong.”

VIDEO: Duke slaps the floor on defense…while playing zone

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
3 Comments

Slapping the floor on defense has its advocates and its detractors.

Some applaud the old-school, hard-nosed nature of putting hand to floor. For others, its a bit corny.

What everyone agrees on is that you don’t drop a floor slap if you’re playing zone.

Unless you’re Duke, apparently.

Presumably, the whole point of slapping the floor is to psyche yourself and intimidate your opponent with aggressive man-to-man defense. Not sit-back-and-guard-this-spot-whether-there’s-a-guy-there-or-not defense.

C’mon, Duke. You’re making it too easy for your haters.

 

Coach K receives birthday cake fit for an all-time great

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Tuesday Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrated his 71st birthday, and to mark the occasion he was gifted a creative birthday cake.

Coach K’s cake was a design of the Cameron Indoor Stadium court with a goat sitting atop half-court. Of course, the goat represents the moniker “greatest of all time,” and it also had medals around its neck to commemorate the three Olympic gold medals he led USA Basketball to in 2008 (Beijing), 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio de Janeiro).