Category Archives: Media

Lewis, Riley Earn NFL Draft Buzz

Junior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis earned a mention from ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Thursday. Photo by Max Masnick / The Chronicle

Junior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis earned a mention from ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Thursday. Photo by Max Masnick / The Chronicle

While Duke seems to dominates ESPN fodder from November to March, it’s been a long time since anyone on the Worldwide Leader mentioned the Blue Devils for football outside of using Duke as the punch line for a cliched jab. It’s been even longer since the last time NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. seriously discussed a Duke player’s prospects in the NFL Draft.

On Thursday, though, ESPN devoted about a minute to the Blue Devils, and Kiper dropped the names of two Blue Devils in his QB stock report (and yes, we can put aside the fact that the Draft is still more than seven months away).

Never mind the fact that Kiper’s talking points were basically taken straight from David Cutcliffe’s Wikipedia or that he offers no fresh insight in this case. He says Lewis is a junior, has the size, arm and ability to play in the NFL and has not thrown an interception in six games, before adding a nugget about Riley, a smooth and athletic senior wideout who has apparently drawn the interest of NFL teams . Anyone who has watched a Duke game—or, you know, reads The Chronicle or the Sports Blog—could tell you all of that.

The substance (or, as we have determined, lack thereof) of Kiper’s monologue is less important than the fact that Duke Football received a mere mention in college football and, further, NFL Draft talk on ESPN. It’s almost passe, at this point, to credit Cutcliffe for turning the program around on the field, even if it is true. His biggest contribution so far has been revamping the public perception of the Blue Devils, and it’s been a priority since day one. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if the head coach is open and willing to talk, the reporter will always be willing to listen. Cutcliffe has never shied from chatting with reporters—even after Duke’s first loss of the season—and the positive coverage has rolled in almost as predictably as Lewis has rolled out of the pocket. And, of course, winning helps the cause, too.

—by Ben Cohen

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Cutcliffe Cleans Up For Lunch

When former head coach Ted Roof showed up to his weekly media luncheons, he usually wore a Duke Football collared shirt, buttoned all the way to the top, and a morose mien that accentuated his soft-spoken words. It sounded more like a library–or worse–than a press conference.

On Tuesday, David Cutcliffe proved, yet again, how different he is from his predecessor. Cutcliffe strolled into the Yoh Football Center sporting a jacket, crisp white shirt and tie–no buttons undone–and held court with the local media for about 30 minutes. He stood behind the podium, unlike Roof, who typically sat behind a dais, and even offered an opening statement, which he had outlined on a scrap of paper he pulled from his brown coat. The enthusiasm was evident from his first words, when he deemed that because it was game week, he expected the best, most biting questions from the media. We’ll see if the demeanor is the same after Saturday’s opener against James Madison.

—by Ben Cohen

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Posnanski Flunks Krzyzewski

The Kansas City Star’s Joe Posnanski is perhaps the best-regarded sports columnist (and blogger!) in the country, which is why his latest column from Beijing is relevant–that, and it’s the sharpest rebuke of Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski yet. Posnanski’s column, “Give Coach K an F for diplomacy,” criticizes Krzyzewski for belittling a foreign reporter who asked the Duke head coach why Team USA felt the need to dunk even in garbage time of its 101-70 win over China Sunday.

“There was no showing off,” Krzyzewski said before glaring at the reporter. “You dunk when you have to dunk. They have 7-footers. If you don’t take it hard, Yao would block it. He did block one…. I don’t know your definition of showing off, to me that’s hard basketball. I thought we played very hard. I thought we took it to the basket hard. Don’t confuse hard with showing off.” Continue reading

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Filed under Media, Men's Basketball, Olympics

It’s Not Easy Wearing Notre Dame Green

Bundled with headlines in today’s Chicago Tribune about yesterday’s USA Basketball press conference, the inevitable 2008 Cubs World Series, and the daily Derrick Rose vs. Michael Beasley banter was this piece about finding a new athletic director at Notre Dame. In analyzing the difficulties of guiding one of the country’s most prestigious athletic departments, the story read more like postmortem No. 2 on the Kevin White Era in the land of the Golden Dome. The most interesting quote came from former ND athletic director-turned-Duke search consultant Gene Corrigan, who was reportedly the first person to reach out to White about the Duke position:

“It’s no secret Kevin was upset about that,” Corrigan said [of the firing of former head football coach Tyrone Willingham]. “He probably has turned down five jobs that would have paid him more money than he’ll get at Duke. He wasn’t running away from Notre Dame, but I think he was looking, and if the right thing came up, I think he felt like he would try it.”

Current LSU baseball head coach Paul Mainieri, who guided the program in South Bend from 1995 to 2006, said this:

“When you go to a place like Notre Dame that believes very strongly in a way to do things, you either adapt to the way Notre Dame does it, or you don’t work there.”

White doesn’t work at Notre Dame anymore, so it makes you wonder if the way he believes in doing things will ultimately lead him to find success at Duke.

by Meredith Shiner

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HBO Announces Duke-Carolina Documentary

Tony Soprano, meet Mike Krzyzewski, your newest network mate.

HBO has announced the production of an hour-long documentary about the rivalry between Duke and North Carolina, similar to the documentary about Michigan and Ohio State it produced in Nov. 2007. The documentary will likely air in March to coincide with the NCAA Tournament.

“Hopefully by the end of the year, we will have completed a film that not only chronicles the great rivalry on the court and the battles for the ACC and national championships, but give folks the idea of the psyche and culture and passion that exists around the importance of what this game means to people in your neck of the woods, which is pretty unique,” said George Roy, the film’s director and producer.

Roy, who also directed the Michigan-Ohio St. documentary called “The Rivalry” and has extensive experience in sports film, began shooting for this film last year and was in Cameron Indoor Stadium for North Carolina’s 78-68 win over Duke last year. He plans to shoot a rivalry game in the Dean E. Smith Center this year, and already has plenty of footage from the early 90s.

Roy and his crew have interviewed some of the most-recognized characters in the rivalry–“everyone from Vic Bubas through J.J. Redick,” he says–but he does not the want the film to be a simple history of the Tobacco Road rivals.

“This is a real story,” Roy said. “A lot of games, the more memorable ones, will act as templates because people remember specific games for specific reasons…. Certain games are significant because they supersede the actual game. Characters, personas, perceptions of Duke and Carolina fans, Duke vs. Carolina academically… the whole thing gets thrown into thte mix and gets stirred around and hopefully creates a story that’s a dramatic story more than a beginning-to-end.”

Roy was particularly affected by the impact of the proximity of the two schools. Ann Arbor, Mich. and Columbus, Ohio are about 200 miles apart, nothing like the eight miles that separate Duke and UNC. Michigan and Ohio State athletes don’t run into each other at the barbershop, or play in the same pickup games, or eat at the same Hibachi restaurants. The players don’t travel to enter a coliseum like a gladiator, Roy said.

And that’s not a bad thing, especially when tragedy strikes one of the campuses, as it did this year when UNC Student Body President Eve Carson was killed the week of the game in Cameron. This year’s game was unique because of the responses of both schools and how it transcended even the game, said Roy, who promised he had no allegiance to either school.

“Like anyone who goes into Cameron for the first time for a Duke-Carolina game, you’re immediately transported to a different place when the game starts,” said Roy, who was also fascinated by the Cameron Crazies. “I had been to a Duke home game, but it was my first Duke-Carolina game. I’ve been to a lot of sporting events–including Michigan-Ohio St. at the Horseshoe and the Big House–and there’s nothing that can even begin to compare to that experience.

“Between trying to carve out six inches of real estate to stand in among the bevy and masses of noise was challenging, but once I did, it was sort of remarkable to take in for experience, to imagine what it must be like to be both a student and a player when that is, in fact, the scene. When people look at the list that sports fans have to do before they die, I clearly would agree that that would be one that people should try to experience, because it’s almost indescribable.”

Almost. Because that’s exactly what the documentary will try to do: describe the indescribable.

–by Ben Cohen

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Filed under Media, Men's Basketball

Feinstein On White’s Hiring

Washington Post sports columnist John Feinstein certainly is not afraid to speak his mind about Duke Athletics, and that’s why we’re fans of him over at The Chronicle. Well that, and he was a two-time sports editor of The Chronicle in the 70s.

Perhaps his favorite target was Joe Alleva, and in a recent interview with ACC Nation and in an interview with The Chronicle in April, compared the former athletic director to a “cat”–and not in a good way. He says Alleva got the job at LSU because of the “15 letters of recommendation” he wrote for him.

Now, Feinstein’s sounding off on Duke’s hiring of Kevin White. The review? So-so.

Feinstein took umbrage that Duke would pay Gene Corrigan of Bill Carr & Associates, a consulting firm that assisted Duke, when the former ACC commissioner and Notre Dame athletic director offered to do the job for free as a member of the search committee. He’s also “disappointed” that the committee decided to only review current athletic directors, eliminating associate athletic director Mike Cragg, the director of the Legacy Fund who almost certainly had Mike Krzyzewski’s endorsement.

“What I said to some of my Duke friends is, if the committee had take this sort of in-the-box approach in 1981 when they were looking for a basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski would never have gotten the job as basketball coach. If you want to be great, you have to think out of the box. This committee thought in the box.”

Here’s Feinstein’s parting shot: “Kevin White will be an improvement on Joe Alleva. So would my cat.” Ah, yes. The feline frenzy, again.

–by Ben Cohen

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