1. David Cutcliffe is angry. That’s the only way to sum up Cutcliffe’s eight minutes in front of the microphone, as he wasn’t too happy with the Blue Devils’ performance in the second half. Cutcliffe even seemed to imply that the team quit, and he wondered aloud who would respond this week with the team facing its biggest adversity of the season. The coach seemed particularly displeased with Eron Riley, who totaled at least four drops. Riley’s been struggling with a hand injury, but Cutcliffe said he was making those catches in practice. Further, Cutcliffe said his team was conditioned enough to play two more quarters, again implying that the late-game meltdown may have been more about a lack of effort than fatigue.This certainly wasn’t the same Cutcliffe who has cracked jokes in most of his postgame pressers.
2. The word from the Duke players was execution. The Blue Devils simply didn’t execute in the second half, with several drops and penalties killing drives.
3. In contrast, Duke did execute its gameplan to perfection in the first half, moving the ball on the ground and dominating time of possession. Those stats evened out in the second half, as Miami more or less manhandled the Blue Devils from midway in the third quarter on.
4. The big turning point was Matt Bosher’s 76-yard punt. Miami had consecutive three-and-outs inside its 20, and Bosher’s booming kick pinned the Blue Devils inside their 10-yard line. Duke’s offense couldn’t rebound, and the Hurricanes capitalized on good field position to take the lead. All day, the Miami offense looked skittish when backed up but unstoppable once they got around midfield.
Duke now goes on the road for its next two games at Vanderbilt and at Wake Forest. The Commodores dropped their second straight today, losing to Georgia after they had risen to No. 13 in the rankings. Expect an angry team looking to get back on track and qualify for its first bowl game in a quarter-century in Nashville Saturday.
1. Nolan Smith is ready to lead the Duke offense. After playing a complementary role in conducting the trio of Scheyer-Henderson-Singler in this first half, he took control in the second with a lineup that wasn’t as offensively minded and still thrived, this time as a scorer. He should get equivalent playing time to Greg Paulus, and we might even see more of the two of them together, especially after the Blue team ran a quasi-two point guard set with Smith and Jordan Davidson in the second period.
2. Pocius has recovered well from the ankle injury that sidelined him most of last season. He looked mobile, was an effective scorer in the second half, and played his role well without rushing any shots, Krzyzewski said. Expect the junior to compete for minutes at the guard position like he did last year before he went down against Eastern Kentucky.
3. Miles Plumlee was the most comfortable freshman out there. Krzyzewski said that he protected the basket, ran the floor well, moved well without the ball and had good hands. Defensively, he helped take Singler out of his rhythm in the second half. All of the freshman will have a learning curve, but Plumlee looked the most game-ready. Olek Czyz didn’t see much playing time, and Elliot Williams had the unenviable task of guarding the red-hot Henderson in the first half and Smith in the second half.
4. Krzyzewski was most effusive in his praise for Smith, who he said “played as well as anyone”, but also commended Dave McClure’s defense-particularly in the second half on Henderson-and Pocius’s veteran presence.
79-70 Blue, END OF SECOND HALF: And that’s a wrap. The second half took a significantly different trajectory than the first and with a different result. Pocius and Nolan Smith were the high scorers will 11 points apiece in the second session and Smith, David McClure and Miles Plumlee were the three Blue Devils to win both “games”. Postgame recap and quotes to follow.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski talks to his team in the Blue Devils' first open practice Friday. They tip the season Saturday in the annual Blue-White scrimmage. Photo by Chase Olivieri/The Chronicle
Check out The Chronicle’s photo slideshow from Friday’s open practice by following this link.
Freshman Elliot Williams soars for a dunk in Duke's open practice Friday. Photo by Chase Olivieri/The Chronicle
Freshman wide receiver Johnny Williams, the team’s second-leading wideout, is doubtful for the Blue Devils’ Saturday matchup with Miami because of a dental abscess, the program released in its weekly injury report Thursday. Williams has hauled in 20 catches for 231 yards in five games, trailing only senior Eron Riley, who has 27 catches for 288 yards and six touchdowns. He caught 11 passes for 135 yards in Duke’s Sept. 6 24-20 loss to Northwestern.
Defensive end Wesley Oglesby and cornerback Leon Wright are both questionable with leg injuries.
Full injury report:
RB Re’quan Boyette (leg) — OUT
C Marcus Lind (shoulder) — OUT
WR Johnny Williams (dental abscess) — DOUBTFUL
DE Wesley Oglesby (leg) — QUESTIONABLE
CB Leon Wright (leg) — QUESTIONABLE
CB Lee Butler (shoulder) — WILL PLAY
WR Eron Riley (hand) — WILL PLAY
WR Austin Kelly (back) — WILL PLAY
When he’s not going by King, LeBron James has been dubbed The Chosen One—or at least, he has since Sports Illustrated pegged him with that title when the King-in-waiting was only a high school junior in 2002. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski coached James this summer as he guided Team USA to a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.
One day, he told students at “Have a Coke with Coach Cut” Wednesday in the Great Hall, Krzyzewski was talking with James and the superstar had his shirt off, showing off the tattoo on his back that reads “The Chosen One.” Krzyzewski noticed the body ink and asked if he could get a tattoo of the same ilk.
“Coach, I really like you a lot, but no one would choose you,” Krzyzewski recalled James saying to the delight of the approximately 200 students in attendance.
—by Ben Cohen
Devin Hester has gone on to bigger and better things—the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl, to name two—but perhaps his most famous punt return came against Duke in 2005—sort of. Hester’s most-viewed YouTube clip depicts him criss-crossing and weaving through the Blue Devil special teams unit for a touchdown that was eventually negated by a holding call that barely affected the play.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, watch the video below and you will soon realize the fuss. And for those of you who have, it’s always worth watching again.