Captains Hood, Thornton Represent Duke at ACC Operation Basketball
Duke sent its two co-captains, redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood and senior Tyler Thornton, to represent the team at ACC Operation Basketball, the league’s annual media event hosted this year in Charlotte, N.C. The duo handled several hours of interviews with local and national print, online and television outlets Wednesday morning before spending the afternoon at ESPNU headquarters in Charlotte. The annual Operation Basketball has become a national forum for the Blue Devils and their ACC counterparts since its inauguration, and this year had an added air of excitement with the addition of college basketball powers Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse to the conference.
Duke Racks Up Preseason Honors at Operation Basketball
In a longstanding tradition at ACC Operation Basketball, media members in attendance submit ballots detailing their preseason predictions for the ACC’s order of finish, all-conference team, player of the year and rookie of the year. Duke was heavily featured on nearly every list, as the Blue Devils were picked to win the ACC with 50 of 54 first-place votes, Rodney Hood and freshman Jabari Parker were named to the Preseason All-ACC team, Parker was a near-unanimous selection as the preseason player of the year, and both Hood and Parker received multiple votes for ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Notably, neither Hood or Parker have played a game for Duke, as Hood sat out the 2012-13 season after transferring from Mississippi State and Parker is the top-rated recruit among Duke’s three-man freshman class this season.
Duke Earns No. 4 Preseason Rank
Along with the recognition Duke received at Operation Basketball in the context of the ACC, the Blue Devils also earned a top-five preseason rank nationally in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll, announced Thursday. Duke was the top-ranked ACC squad and one of five ACC teams in the top 25, leading a group that includes No. 7 Syracuse, No. 11 North Carolina, No. 22 Notre Dame and No. 25 Virginia. Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll for 113 weeks, a streak that should continue based on the results of the coaches poll.
Blue Devils on Display at Countdown to Craziness & SportsCenter Top 10
Finally after months of preseason hype, Duke fans got their first look at a Blue Devil team that Coach K has billed as one of the most athletic he has ever had. That athleticism was on full display Friday at Countdown to Craziness presented by PNC, as true freshman Jabari Parker had the highlight of the night during an evening that included enough plays to fill an entire SportsCenter Top 10 segment. Parker and freshman teammate Semi Ojeleye actually ended up on SportsCenter’s Top 10 later that night at No. 2 and No. 5, respectively, for a pair of thunderous dunks. Parker’s came during the second half of the Blue-White Scrimmage, and Ojeleye’s came during the dunk contest in which he was eventually crowned champion.
Parker, meanwhile, led all players with 24 points and 14 rebounds in the scrimmage while shooting 9-of-17 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Rodney Hood (17 points), Rasheed Sulaimon (16), Amile Jefferson (16) and Quinn Cook (15) also scored in double figures, while four other Blue Devils scored nine points apiece, including Ojeleye and graduate student Andre Dawkins who returned from a one-year hiatus from basketball due to personal issues.
To view Blue Devil Network's highlights from Countdown to Craziness Presented by PNC, click the link below:
Crazies Welcome Dawkins Back to Cameron
During player introductions before the Blue-White Scrimmage Friday, duly-hyped freshman Jabari Parker drew what seemed to be the loudest applause of the night. The Cameron Crazies were just getting warmed up, however, as they had saved their best for last.
Andre Dawkins, who took a year away from basketball during the 2012-13 season to deal with personal issues stemming from the death of his sister in a 2009 automobile accident, was the last of the 14 Blue Devils to be announced but drew easily the biggest ovation from the Crazies. Dawkins, illuminated by a single spotlight as his song of choice blared over the loudspeakers, stepped to center court, smiled and yelled to his fellow Blue Devils in the student section, “I’m back baby!”
It was quite a night for the 6-4 guard, who needed to make just one three-pointer to spark the Crazies into another uproar. While he finished just 1-of-4 from three-point range, Dawkins dished out two assists and hit all six free throw attempts, including a pair at the end of the first half that gave his blue squad a 36-34 win over a white squad that featured presumed starters Quinn Cook, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon.
“It was cool to get that kind of reaction from the crowd, a crowd I haven't been around for a year," Dawkins said. He should get plenty more this season.
NBA Preseason Update
With 16 active players on NBA rosters, Duke is well represented in the NBA preseason this month. Austin Rivers has been a fixture of the New Orleans Pelicans rotation, Kyrie Irving already appears to be in midseason form, and Duke’s newest NBA additions Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee have seen action as well. For a complete rundown on former Blue Devils in the NBA, be sure to check GoDuke.com Tuesday for the first edition of the Duke in the NBA Update.
Duke Elevate came to a close early last week, signaling the end to a four-day trip that sent the Blue Devils to a number of historically and culturally significantly sites in New York. Among the stops were the World Trade Center, the Apollo Theatre and the hallowed basketball grounds at Rucker Park. The Blue Devil Network was on hand to chronicle the entire trip, the aim of which was to build team unity while using different venues to teach and reinforce the values that comprise Duke basketball: perspective, character, pride and accountability.
Kyrie Irving’s ‘Uncle Drew’ is coming back (USA Today)
Parker’s reputation precedes him (Greensboro News & Record)
Hood’s health won’t be Duke’s Achilles’ heel this season (Star News Online)
Expanded ACC: ‘Much more than Duke and Carolina,’ Krzyzewski says (Greensboro News & Record)
Collins picks up the pace at Northwestern (Chicago Tribune)
Quote of the Week
“Jabari’s not as good as he’s going to be.”
– Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski at Operation Basketball