DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke men's basketball team, ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll, tips off its 2012 exhibition slate on Saturday, Oct. 27 with a home contest against 2012 NCAA Division II National Champions Western Washington. The game is set to begin at 2:00 p.m. and will be broadcast over the internet by the Blue Devil Network - www.goduke.com/bdn.
The Blue Devils are eager to compete against an actual opponent after two weeks of practicing against one another in preparation for the 2012-13 season.
"Exhibition games are very important; you never want to take those for granted," said junior Josh Hairston. "We are very excited to go out and compete against other teams. It has been a long preseason playing against each other. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses, so for us to go out and play another group of five or ten guys is very exciting, and we are looking forward to it. We want to use the exhibition games to prepare ourselves for the start of the season."
Duke held its annual Countdown to Craziness event on Friday, Oct. 19 with two 10-minute Blue-White scrimmages as the capstone event of the evening. Senior posts Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee stood out, as expected, combining for 27 points (on 11-of-21 shooting), nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Junior forward Josh Hairston added eight points and five rebounds as well.
Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon and redshirt freshman Alex Murphy displayed terrific athleticism and versatility on the wings with 14 points and nine points respectively. Murphy also added a team-high eight rebounds and three blocks in 20 minutes of action.
Sophomore Quinn Cook, a player many national experts are expecting to have a breakout year, added 11 points, four assists and a steal during the Blue-White scrimmages. Cook, along with junior Tyler Thornton, give Duke a solid point guard tandem heading into the 2012-13 season.
Two Duke players expected to make a major impact this season, Seth Curry and Marshall Plumlee, sat out the Blue-White scrimmages due to injuries. Curry, a third-team All-ACC selection last season and one of the top shooting guards in the country, is nursing a leg injury, while the younger Plumlee is out after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot just prior to the start of the preseason.
Western Washington opened up its exhibition schedule with a hard-fought 88-78 loss to Washington on Wednesday at Alaska Airlines Arena on the UW campus. Seniors John Allen and Chris Mitchell each netted 17 points in the loss for the Vikings, while Austin Bragg added eight points and 10 rebounds. Western Washington has eight letterwinners, including three starters, returning from last year's team that won the DII national title and finished 31-5 overall.
Duke is playing the defending Division II National Champion for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The Blue Devils faced Barton (2007), Findlay (2009), Cal Poly Pomona (2010) and Bellarmine (2011) following their respective championship seasons.
Saturday's exhibition game will be aired on local radio by WKIX 102.9 FM in Raleigh and can also be heard on digital formats via Duke All Access. Adam Whitten (play-by-play) and John Roth (analyst) will call the game for both the radio and internet broadcasts.
The Blue Devils also have an exhibition game scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1 against 2012 CIAA champion Winston-Salem State. The contest is set to tip at 7:00 p.m. and will be shown live on the Blue Devil Network.
Duke opens the 2012-13 regular season at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Friday, Nov. 9 against Georgia State (7:00 p.m. - ESPNU).
Follow Duke men's basketball on Twitter @Duke_MBB.
Duke vs. Western Washington - Saturday, Oct. 27